Forty Eight Thousand Years by Majou
Summary: The long and winding saga of John and Rodney's love begins with hot & dirty sex in Antarctica. But it is impossible to say where it ends.

Dark romance, angst, & so much homoerotic tension. In Pegasus a true bond and friendship deepens. The real story of the first 5 years must be told to understand the next 5 years and beyond. Warning: Non/con/Hurt/Comfort -but no bad stuff between John & Rodney. A very happy ending.
Categories: Slash Pairings > McKay/Sheppard Characters: Aiden Ford, Carson Beckett, Daniel Jackson, Elizabeth Weir, Jennifer Keller, John Sheppard, Richard Woolsey, Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex, Samantha Carter, Teyla Emmagan, Vala Mal Doran
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Episode Related, Established Relationship, First Time, Friendship, Humour, Hurt Comfort, Pre-relationship, Romance, Team
Warnings: Adult themes, Non-consensual
Challenges: None
Series: 48,000 Years
Chapters: 169 Completed: Yes Word count: 518557 Read: 85222 Published: 05 Nov 2016 Updated: 08 Sep 2017
Story Notes:

This story spans the five seasons of the show and many years afterwards
Credits for inspiration:
-A story I read once about John and Rodney in Antarctica. (details are different but the frenzy sexual passion is similar. Sorry I don't remember who wrote it, it was years ago)
-A story that featured Vegas John in an Aurora pod. Details are different, but I loved that AU Rodney kept going in to 'rescue' John. "Highway to Nowhere' by Madison.
-'In the City of Seven Walls' by Auburn. A story completely different than mine, but so epic in scope that it made me want to write something as grand and long (though mine is not quite so elegant).
-Also probably a lot more. I've read so many McShep stories over the years, I think there is a bit of inspiration from everyone. Somehow, it all coalesced in my mind until I had to write something myself and get it all out.
*previous count from old story page 46617

1. Step 1: Get McKay out of that fleece by Majou

2. Major Sheppard has his way with McKay by Majou

3. Taken in the supply closet by Majou

4. The Last Time by Majou

5. Why John Shot Rodney in the leg by Majou

6. It’s a MYTH that size doesn’t matter by Majou

7. You can call me John when we're off duty by Majou

8. Flirtatious flying lesson by Majou

9. Let the games begin by Majou

10. John so has an inner dork by Majou

11. A flash of pure desire in John's eyes by Majou

12. Oh my God- He's in love with John by Majou

13. Memorizing the feel of John against him by Majou

14. I can be romantic by Majou

15. It's not like I'm HOLDING BACK on you by Majou

16. He is important to you by Majou

17. I said- Don't- Go there McKay- EVER by Majou

18. John has no right to be possessive by Majou

19. I'm sorry we weren't closer by Majou

20. What if he had let McKay kiss him? by Majou

21. So long Rodney by Majou

22. Train wreck by Majou

23. This is not couch appropriate behavior by Majou

24. I do have a heart, you know by Majou

25. Aqua Velva by Majou

26. Just sayin', I think you could do better by Majou

27. Still hopelessly in love with John by Majou

28. John said if he really, really tried-- by Majou

29. What's the matter? Don't TRUST me? by Majou

30. The term is 'rakish' by Majou

31. McKay makes John give him what he wants by Majou

32. Rodney spills the sordid sexual details by Majou

33. John can't get over that blowjob by Majou

34. Kind of even missed you a little by Majou

35. Rodney keeps his distance by Majou

36. Buddies by Majou

37. Epic Cockblocking by Majou

38. Like when I stupidly downloaded porn by Majou

39. John's fingers brush Rodney's lips by Majou

40. Oh God- John is holding him by Majou

41. Pinning Rodney to the wall is John's job by Majou

42. You got one -I want one -Even by Majou

43. Everyone loves Ronan by Majou

44. We're actually-- We're quite close by Majou

45. Demons from Rodney's past return by Majou

46. Shoulda known it was too good to be true by Majou

47. The lessor model of Meredith McKay by Majou

48. John does some damage control by Majou

49. Captain Lyle Holland by Majou

50. The truth about Afghanistan by Majou

51. There are certain people I miss by Majou

52. I missed you too Rodney by Majou

53. He and Rodney have been getting so close by Majou

54. John was going to find the courage by Majou

55. I've loved you for some time now by Majou

56. Paper ring by Majou

57. I've got a plan, Rodney by Majou

58. Irresistible in that orange spacesuit by Majou

59. Maybe he doesn't have a heart after all by Majou

60. Scotland by Majou

61. Do not open until Christmas by Majou

62. John's therapy sucks by Majou

63. He won't push Rodney away again by Majou

64. PENETRATE? by Majou

65. Unrequited lust hanging over their heads by Majou

66. You won't even see it coming by Majou

67. Losing Rodney is John's worst fear by Majou

68. Sometimes you just need to get laid by Majou

69. Ronan discovers why John won't tell him by Majou

70. Think you're gonna find someone better? by Majou

71. This changes everything by Majou

72. We're trusting Rodney by Majou

73. Why is John in love with this guy again? by Majou

74. In desperation, John turns to Ronan by Majou

75. Sometimes he makes me cry too by Majou

76. John Sheppard's good looks and charm by Majou

77. It was a mistake coming back by Majou

78. Indifference was the best John expected by Majou

79. No son of mine is a fucking faggot by Majou

80. I think that he loves you too by Majou

81. You haven't been forgotten by Majou

82. John's lips lightly graze Rodney's mouth by Majou

83. Rodney followed him though 48,000 years by Majou

84. Been a pleasure by Majou

85. Jennifer can give Rodney what John can't by Majou

86. John acts like they didn't almost kiss by Majou

87. I'm not taking a bath with you by Majou

88. He'll always love his repressed soldier by Majou

89. John's never known how to say goodbye by Majou

90. Next of kin by Majou

91. Thought I heard a resurrection song by Majou

92. May the best man win by Majou

93. I really regret-- You being here by Majou

94. Should have made a move by Majou

95. You torture yourself everyday, John by Majou

96. If John doesn't care he'll date Jennifer by Majou

97. Earth under attack by Majou

98. Suicide run by Majou

99. Gone by Majou

100. He promised he would never leave me by Majou

101. The truth is I'm in love with you by Majou

102. Trauma by Majou

103. The sound of another person being destroyed by Majou

104. Rescue by Majou

105. Dignity's overrated by Majou

106. Come back to me by Majou

107. There are some men that need killing by Majou

108. Shower Do-Over by Majou

109. I'll do what I want by Majou

110. Hitting me isn't reward enough? by Majou

111. What are your intentions? by Majou

112. It's nothing, it's just-- I win by Majou

113. So much homoerotic tension, much kissing by Majou

114. Is this a relationship? by Majou

115. I just like saying your name by Majou

116. Like really, seriously in love by Majou

117. Dave was warned about the famous glare by Majou

118. Vala and Daniel uncover Rodney's secret by Majou

119. Rodney learns why John really left by Majou

120. It feels like Rodney has come back by Majou

121. Okay. Okay to everything. by Majou

122. Only for you, Mere by Majou

123. The seduction of John Sheppard by Majou

124. John's first time by Majou

125. I knew you wanted to take a bath with me by Majou

126. That a Ferris wheel in the background? by Majou

127. Do what you did to me before, please? by Majou

128. Translating all the meanings of 'Rodney' by Majou

129. He's fucked John well beyond 16 times by Majou

130. John belongs to him now by Majou

131. Conduct unbecoming an officer by Majou

132. The team rallies to protect them by Majou

133. Oma's instructions by Majou

134. Rodney's jealousy gets the better of him by Majou

135. Make-up sex by Majou

136. Rodney longs to have John fuck him again by Majou

137. An envelope and a tree by Majou

138. I'll marry you today by Majou

139. Solaris by Majou

140. Fucked by John's epic cock by Majou

141. Spa treatment by Majou

142. Rodney takes John slow and sweet by Majou

143. Gay enough? by Majou

144. Surrogate and extended family by Majou

145. The mission to Pegasus brings a new foe by Majou

146. He stays behind at John's grave by Majou

147. Rodney makes a daring rescue possible by Majou

148. You came back for me by Majou

149. I'll show you your destiny by Majou

150. Next time take the money and run by Majou

151. THEY solved the exotic particle issue? by Majou

152. Misguided Heroics by Majou

153. It's a wonderful life by Majou

154. You were always my destination by Majou

155. Nothing left unknown between them by Majou

156. That your eyes might be shining for me by Majou

157. A mysterious machine by Majou

158. He kisses Rodney in front of everyone by Majou

159. Mmm, you smell like gunpowder by Majou

160. Distress call from another dimension by Majou

161. Some bloodwork issues by Majou

162. There's lots of hugging in this family by Majou

163. Can I have an Anti-hydrogen beam? by Majou

164. Lazy Ferris Wheel circles by Majou

165. The mayor's balcony by Majou

166. Rodney has to save John one last time by Majou

167. Teyla and Wyatt have a plan by Majou

168. And death shall have no dominion by Majou

169. I'll always come back for you by Majou

Step 1: Get McKay out of that fleece by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 1 Takes place during the pilot episode 'Rising'

"Are you as hard as I am right now?" John licks his lips.
"Yes." McKay closes his eyes and lets his head fall back onto the couch.
Standing up, John adjusts his painfully crowded cock in his pants. He sets his beer down to the side of the couch and walks in front of McKay, touching his arm to get his attention.
"Do you want to do something about it?"
"Y-Yes. Yes." McKay looks up at John with his mouth hanging open in disbelief.

. Step One: Get McKay out of that fleece

The man in the orange fleece stares at him with startling blue eyes. He seems excited, holding John's gaze and gesturing with his hands.

"Major, think about where we are in the solar system."

John does as the man asks and a holographic display of the galaxy appears above his head. He blinks up from the throne chair, weapons platform, or whatever it might have been before the whole complex was buried under the ice and left by aliens thousands of years ago.

"Did I do that?" He looks up in wonder.

This day has turned out... Well, not at all as he expected. John starts to feel excited by all the strange alien things around him. The lights dancing above his head entice him to feel something other than the numb detachment he is used to. He blinks again and looks back down to the people in the room.

The General that John flew in earlier, the one who warned him not to touch anything, is speaking with that woman who seems to be in charge, Dr. Weir. General O'Neill, Weir, and another man talk amongst themselves and then leave the chamber. Beckett, the Scottish doctor John just met, introduces him to the fleeced man.

"This," Beckett gestures to the man in the orange fleece, "This is Dr. Rodney McKay"

They don't shake hands. John stays sitting in the contraption like a kid that just broke something he wasn't supposed to.

"Pleased to meet you." John says in astonishment, "I'm, uh-"

"Major John Sheppard, yeah, I heard." The man in orange, Dr. McKay, interrupts sounding irritated.

"Don't mind him," Beckett waves his hand, "he's just jealous that he doesn't carry the advanced gene."

"For the last time," McKay makes a sour face at Beckett, "it has nothing to do with being advanced. It is a random genetic characteristic, nothing more."

Tilting his head toward Beckett, McKay continues, "Random or not, it does seem you have a certain proclivity for activating Ancient technology."

"I imagine that Dr. Weir will probably want to see if you can assist with some of the additional testing." Beckett adds.

"Oh. Well, I've got my thing back at McMurdo, so, yeah." John smiles at them both, noticing how the orange jacket makes the blue of McKay's eyes stand out dramatically.

"If Dr. Weir is interested." McKay blinks flatly, "I doubt this would interfere with your 'thing'. We all work for the Air Force here."

"Interesting." John is puzzled. When he was told this might be an extended trip he packed a duffel bag, but he doubts he'll be here long.

McKay steps up on the platform and John find himself staring at the man. There is something about the way McKay looks at him. Something as rare as they say this Ancient gene is; something John has gotten good at detecting after all these years.

In the military, it is really important not to read these things wrong. Sure, the guy acts abrasive, but he is sure that McKay is attracted to him by the way his eyes are flitting over John's body.

"You can probably get out of the chair now." McKay sounds dismissive as he barks the command.

But John doesn't move. He smiles up at lazily at McKay and gives him a long, sure gaze. McKay flushes but holds the gaze. Then, his eyes get big before he blinks and looks away, seeming flustered.

John is confident that there is something of interest here. He likes this bright-eyed scientist. He isn't flashy but he is good looking. Honey colored hair, high angled cheekbones, John likes what he sees so far. It is hard to tell with that fleece on, but John imagines his body. McKay looks like the kind of guy who wouldn't have too much hair on him. Smooth arms and chest, maybe?

It has been so long since John got laid. Finally, he stands up out of the chair and rubs the back of his neck. He eyes Beckett who is busy on his computer and looks back at brusque scientist.

"Well" John steps in close to McKay, leveling his eyes flirtatiously with an easygoing smile, "That was different."

He watches McKay's face closely; he seems nervous but interested. John will have to make the first move with this guy, but he can tell McKay wants him. Besides, this whole outfit will be out of here soon. No one stays Antarctica unless they have to, not even for alien technology; John will never see the guy again.

It's worth taking the risk before he loses the chance. No one at McMurdo will find out. He wants to fuck McKay and he is going to see if McKay will let him.

"I'll see you later." John says softy, squeezing McKay's elbow as he walks by.

Walking down the platform, he speaks more loudly, "It was nice meeting both of you."

As he exits the room, John lets his cool demeanor fall away. He wanders through the busy corridors full of scientists wondering if they all work for this Stargate program. Beckett said it has been active for over seven years.

Undoubtedly, these people were recruited for specialized talents. These days John's nothing more than a glorified chauffeur. If he hadn't fallen backward into that chair... If he hadn't been asked to fly General O'Neill here... he never would have known about this secret base.

John's whole worldview is going through a radical readjustment It is really possible that influential leaders around the world are aware of this interstellar travel? The Air Force is sending people to other planets through a wormhole device located in Colorado? Right now, in 2004? And literally just 45 minutes SSE from where John has been stationed at McMurdo the last 11 months, there is an ancient alien weapons platform?

If he hadn't disobeyed a direct order, John would have still been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Or maybe deployed as part of the new US invasion of Iraq. But all the guys John knew are dead now and he's not really a soldier anymore. He just pilots a chopper in and out of McMurdo.

There hasn't been much to disrupt the glacial pace of his routine; quite different from his life as a pilot in a war zone. In a way he's come to admire the serene beauty of the landscape. At first, it all looked the same, but then John started to pick out the subtleties, the ripples in the snow, the undulating tufts.

Antarctica is a lonely continent, a good place to be in solitude, to disappear from your past. With a lot of drinking and a little Johnny Cash, it isn't so bad.

He's almost at peace here doing his penance. Ever since they exiled him here, hoping he would fade into obscurity. And John's has been happy to oblige. Well, not happy exactly, nothing ever feels happy anymore. Numb, it has gotten numb. Cold and quiet like the drifts of snow outside.

He stares in silence for a while and tries to make sense of the alien artifacts in the rooms around him, but the ideas swim in his mind. It seems like an elaborate joke. How can there be a battle waging beyond Earth itself without most of the world knowing about it?

"Colonel Sheppard, I've been looking for you." Dr. Weir, the woman from the chair room calls out to him.

John gives a friendly nod and walks her way.

"Rodney no doubt told you about the expedition?"

Feeling out of his element, John shakes his head apologetically.

"Well," she smiles, "as long as you're here with us, I'd like you to help test this Ancient technology. Dr. Jackson believes he may have found another outpost. If O'Neill allows us to use the ZPM to get there, we want to be prepared for what we'll find."


"Oh, yes. Short for Zero Point Module; it taps enormous amounts of energy from subspace, though explaining how it works is really more of Rodney's department. The ZPM we have here is what keeps the Earth defense platform working, and we would need to use some of its power to dial a gate that far away."

John squints in her even more perplexed and Elizabeth continues.

"See, if Earth is attacked again, the ZPM will be needed to send out a fleet of drones. A Naquedah reactor isn't sufficient to do this, so we'll need to make sure there is enough surplus energy. Rodney seems to think there will be, provided we can find a way to channel the ZPM through the gate."

"Naquadah? What –what do you mean, attacked again?"

Dr. Weir, or Elizabeth as she insists he call her, takes him by the arm and explains further as she shows him to some temporary quarters. The more she talks, the less John feels he understands what is really going on here.

The small bedroom is spacious by McMurdo standards. Elizabeth tells him that the members of the expedition will be in Antarctica for a few more weeks. She would like him to stay and assist with testing as long as he is able to. Providing his commanding officer and General O'Neill are in agreement, John consents.

Before she leaves, Elizabeth gives him directions to the mess hall and John asks for a favor.

"What is it?" She looks curious.

"Beer?" John asks hopefully, "You guys have that kind of thing here?"

She laughs and takes him to room nearby with a giant Television screen and a small bar, "Help yourself to anything you want while you're here."

For the rest of day, John makes himself available to the various people working with the Ancient technology. Nothing is as exciting as the chair, mostly interfaces for the outpost operating systems.

In between projects, John lurks around the chair room, waiting to see when McKay will be done. As the evening goes by, other people leave. The chambers get quiet and empty. But McKay types away at his computer, eating his ready-made snacks instead of dinner. John leaves to get himself some food.

When he comes back McKay is still working. John wants to get him out of that fleece. He has to have him and it has to be tonight. He doesn't know how long he will be here.

"Hey." John steps up close.

"Hey." McKay looks up casually and returns to typing.

John leans over the table where McKay is working, "I was hoping to get your help with something."

"Oh yeah." McKay rubs his brow, "What's that?"

This is not going to be easy. John sighs, tilting his head playfully, "Well, it's just, I'm really bored and I heard there was a game room."

"There is?" McKay blinks, "Oh yeah, there is. It's pretty small. Mostly some computer games, no one uses it really."

"Can you take me there?" John lifts his eyebrows.

Looking around the room uncertainly, McKay seems to decide it is okay to leave and stands up, "This way."

John follows McKay a short way and then tells him, "Hang on. I forgot something. Be right back."

Making a quick stop in his room, John dashes to the bar to grab some beer. When he returns with a six-pack under his arm, McKay looks irritated. They continue down a hall until they reach a small room at the end of a corridor.

Again it is luxurious compared to McMurdo, but no TV screen. That is probably why people opt for the movie room Elizabeth had shown him. Other than some board games and some older computers, it has a couch, some chairs, and a table.

As John sets the beer down, he sees McKay turning to leave, "Wait, you're not going to keep me company?"

"Oh." McKay turns confused, "You- Okay."

After he ushers McKay back in, John shuts the door behind them. The handle has a lock on it and he discretely turns it in his fingers.

"Here," John grabs McKay a beer, "have one."

"I don't usually." McKay frowns.

John shrugs, "Today has been an unusual day?"

Twisting the top off of his own drink John sits on the couch and sets McKay's beer on the table next to him, hoping he takes the hint. Picking up the bottle dubiously, McKay sits where John wants him.

To close more of the distance between them, John stretches his long legs up onto the cushions. Sitting with his back on the armrest, he lounges casually, facing McKay

"It's good." John takes a sip.

"Hmm." McKay takes off the lid and gives it a try, "Yeah, okay."

Next steps, figure out what makes this guy laugh and get him out of that fleece.

It turns out that McKay loves Sci-Fi movies and TV shows, anything to do with physics or math, and his cat. He likes to make fun of his coworkers, telling John stories about how brilliant he is and that they are not worthy to be his sidekicks.

"Really?" John teases, "'Cause you seem like more of a Robin than a Batman to me."

Though McKay gives him an infuriated look, John feels a growing familiarity between them, as if they have known each other longer than a day.

By the time they are on their second beers, John purposely turns the conversation to sex. He asks McKay questions, like if he's has ever done it in public.

Joining in the spirit, McKay asks John if he's ever had sex on a plane. They take turns asking questions and McKay looks less grumpy now, almost cheerful, laughing easily.

"Ever done it with a guy?" John asks when it is his turn.

McKay just blinks and doesn't answer.

"I'll take that as a yes." John smiles.

"Have you ever done it with a guy?" McKay takes a sip on his beer.

"Well, since I'm in the military and all," John looks at him seductively, "no comment."

McKay's eyes get big, like he finally understands that John is flirting with him.

"Have you ever," John pauses and looks at the other man with open desire, "let another man be inside you?"

The scientist seems shocked, flushed with arousal, looking down and then back up to John, "Yes."

"Would you," John asks without giving McKay his turn, "ever consider letting me-?"

As John tries to think of a sexy way to proposition the man, he falters. When he's done this before, there hasn't been a lot of talking.

McKay's mouth falls open. He stares at John, taking in short breaths. Worried, he may have gone too far, John's hands fumble with his beer. McKay looks like he might panicking.

But McKay doesn't panic; he holds John's gaze and nods decisively.

"I can tell you would make me cum really hard." John's chest is warm with growing confidence, "I could make you feel good, McKay."

 "O-oh." McKay's breath hitches.

"Are you as hard as I am right now?" John licks his lips. 

"Yes." McKay closes his eyes and lets his head fall back onto the couch.

Standing up, John adjusts his painfully crowded cock in his pants. He sets his beer down to the side of the couch and walks in front of McKay, touching his arm to get his attention.

"Do you want to do something about it?"

"Y-Yes. Yes." McKay looks up at John with his mouth hanging open in disbelief. 

John pulls the lube out of his pocket before he starts to take his pants off.

"What, here!?" McKay is stunned.

"Locked the door." John points.

Incredulous at the obvious premeditation of this seduction, McKay shakes his head.

"Take this off." John tugs on McKay's fleece.

Staring at John's tented boxers, McKay flushes and willingly takes of the jacket.

"Mmm." John looks him over, pleased as he runs his hand up McKay's perfect nearly hairless bicep. He kneels down and slides the table away from them, pushing McKay's shirt up and feeling the wonderfully smooth skin on his chest.

McKay starts to looks uncomfortable.

"So nice." John assures him. That seems to relax him. Running his hands up the inside of McKay's pants, John squeezes his cock.

Impressed, John tells him, "Very nice."

He starts to undo McKay's pants but McKay takes over to do it himself. So John pulls off his own shirt and boxers.

Major Sheppard has his way with McKay by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 2 takes place during the pilot episode 'Rising'

Sheppard starts to thrust, pumping in and out. Rodney feels like a ragdoll, skewered on his huge cock. He is slumped over the side of the couch, letting Sheppard use his body however he wants to. But dammit it feels good.
. Major Sheppard has his way with McKay

When Rodney looks up, Sheppard is naked next to him on the couch. Oh my God. His cock is enormous, very long but thick, too. Rodney can't believe that thing is going to fit inside him. Is it even possible?

The cock is straight and has a clean peach tone, not too veiny, not too anything- It is perfect, like Sheppard himself. Rodney gapes at it feeling a bit scared, as it stands to attention, ready to fuck. He can't believe this is even happening. This hot pilot guy wants to sleep with him?

He isn't used to really good-looking people wanting him back. And Sheppard is so, so incredibly hot. Rugged and yet boyish, with those long lashes over big green eyes. His skin is clear and light but not pale.

And that head of hair. That thick crop of dark hair pushing itself out from all angles -it almost looks too messy to be military. Sheppard's body is lean and strong. He looks so long and graceful, ready to pounce.

Rodney suddenly realizes he is still wearing boxers and a T-shirt. He is really just some average nerd, not out of shape exactly, but not toned or chiseled either. Feeling inadequate, he wishes the lights were off or at least lowered.

Sheppard grabs Rodney familiarly around the waist and turns him onto the arm of the couch. He palms one of Rodney's cheeks and makes a noise of approval. His hands push up under Rodney's shirt, along the curve of his back. Then he lowers them, catching and tugging on the waist of Rodney's boxers. This is all happening so fast. Rodney's head is spinning.

Easing Rodney's boxers down and pulling them off, Sheppard kneels behind him. Oh God, he can feel Sheppard's cock brushing against his balls. He pulls Rodney's shirt up over his head and runs his hands across Rodney's skin before bringing them back to rest on his ass. Sheppard seem to delight in his ass, playing with it and squeezing it. He even gives it a light swat or two, making a small smacking sound.

He leans away and Rodney hears him squirting the lube. Oh Fuck. This is really happening. Sheppard runs a reassuring hand under his chest and then grabs Rodney's cock.

Oh. That. Is good. Sheppard is stroking him, teasing him. Rodney has butterflies in his stomach.

Then Sheppard stops. He uses both of his hands to spread Rodney's cheeks and wet his hole with the lube on his cock.

Feeling afraid again, Rodney shivers. How did he end up here with this stranger? The size of that thing- Rodney feels Sheppard's fingers enter him, stretching him in preparation, then he feels something much bigger pressing against him. It almost feels like a fist. Sheppard pushes and pushes.

Rodney breaks out into a light sheen of sweat and bears down as hard as he can. He can feel the head start to work its way in.

He stifles a cry of pain as Sheppard holds onto his hips and uses them to push himself in past the ring. The head is all the way in and it burns, it's on fire. Rodney bites his lip and lets his head fall over his hands, onto arm of the couch.

Oh fuck. Fuck-fuck. It really hurts. He shouldn't be doing this. Sheppard is pushing in for more. He's just going to- Oh God. Sheppard tries to get it all the way in one intense thrust, but it just doesn't give. It's too big and Rodney isn't ready.

"You feel so good, McKay. Fuck. I can't believe how tight you are."

With smaller movements, Sheppard begins to grind instead. Rodney sighs in relief. This is better. The burn starts to ebb into a pleasant ache where his prostate is being stimulated. The sheer pressure of a cock this size is overwhelming, but Rodney starts to relax enough to accommodate it.

He feels Sheppard start to slide deeper and deeper into him. The pain is gone but he still feels afraid, vulnerable with someone he doesn't even know. No one has ever been this deep inside him.

Sheppard's hand closes around Rodney's cock again and he forgets about the fear. 'Oh yes. Touch me like that. Yes. Like that'.

Then Sheppard starts to thrust, pumping in and out. Rodney feels like a ragdoll, skewered on his huge cock. He is slumped over the side of the couch, letting Sheppard use his body however he wants to. But dammit it feels good.

His body shakes and heaves as the base of Sheppard's cock and balls ride up against his ass. Hearing the smacking sound as they slam into him, Rodney feels ashamed of himself for being such a slut.

But he is burning with pleasure now. The way Sheppard's hand is pumping his cock is- Oh, but the ache inside him is even more intense. That huge cock is driving him mad with desire, it feels even better than the hand job.

Major Sheppard is fucking Rodney hard. He has taken him completely, and Rodney feels so out of control. Helpless, he wants to resist this somehow, but he is about to cum.

Helpless. Please, oh, please. God. Sheppard's cock is so deep. It feels like it is reaching up Rodney's throat, squeezing the wind out of him. He breathes in time with the thrusts. Oh fuck. Fuck. He is going to cum. Rodney's body shakes and spasms under Sheppard's hard shaft, cumming in bright white shock.

Sheppard lets go of Rodney's sticky cock and uses both of his hands to grip Rodney's hips, pumping into him intensely. Rodney feels the cock in his ass tighten, the cum gushing into him.

"Oh God!" Sheppard screams. He leans his sweaty brow against Rodney's back, trembling a little, "Ohhh. Oh my God-Jesus, you are so tight."

The two of them breathe together for moment. Then Sheppard pulls out of his ass unexpectedly. Rodney makes a noise of discomfort. Sheppard presses his dry palm to Rodney's back and holds it there for a second, then he stands up. As he hears Sheppard getting dressed and getting his things, Rodney stays hunched over with his face hidden against the couch.

Is Sheppard leaving? Is he going to say anything at all? Rodney starts to feel small. His face is burning with shame. Why did he let this happen? This was a huge mistake. He can't face this man now, not after letting him do this to him.

Rodney hears the sound of the handle turning and then the door closing. He keeps his face hidden out of fear that Sheppard might still be there. Then he remembers that the door is unlocked and jumps up fearfully, locking himself back in the empty room.

In a panic now, he wants to put his clothes on but he has cum all over him. Rodney rummages and finds some paper towels, wiping his dripping ass and stomach. As he cleans up the spot on the couch as best he can, he feels the wetness dripping out of him again. Sheppard's cum in his ass. Rodney dries himself once more. He feels so hollow and empty.

It's like Alex said, no one would ever want him for anything more than just a cum-rag. Rodney vows not to let this happen again, no matter how hot a guy is. Probably just best to avoid guys all together, stick with women- not that they usually want him. Feeling humiliated, Rodney pulls the towel from his crack; the cum is probably done leaking out of him by now.

Collecting himself, Rodney hurriedly pulls his clothes back on. Then taking a deep breath, he opens the door. No one is there. He makes his way to his room and hides in the darkness.

The next day Rodney is sore. When he sees Sheppard in the lab, he can barely make eye contact. He tries not to think about last night, but he still feels the ache of Sheppard's cock deep up inside him, nearly into his chest.

Strange, Sheppard seems the same as before, casual and easygoing. Throughout the day he makes trips to the lab to speak with Rodney and Carson. They run several tests with Sheppard in the chair. Rodney monitors the results and tries to maintain the same kind of professional detachment Sheppard seems to have. He keeps the dialogue as limited as possible.

When the day is over, Rodney opts to stay out of the mess hall and hides in his room, eating some MRE's instead. Later than night, once he is in bed, there is a soft but unmistakable knock at the door. Bleary eyed, Rodney answers in nothing but his boxers.

It is Major Sheppard. He seems a bit drunk leaning in the doorway. There is a dark and dangerous look in his eyes. Rodney feels his stomach flip-flop. Oh no. He had told himself he was not going to do this.

No, he is not going to- Sheppard's hand presses onto Rodney's bare chest pushing him backwards to the bed. Rodney lets himself fall back onto it far too easily. He gives a soft whimper as Sheppard pulls off his shirt. It is dark but he can make out the solid sinewy lines of Sheppard's chest.

He can't take his eyes off the man as he unbuckles his pants and swings sloppily onto the bed. Bumping into Rodney as he takes off his shoes, Sheppard lolls his head into him.

The attraction is making Rodney's mind cloudy. His cock begins to harden as he feels the contact of Sheppard's bare arm leaning against him. This is the point where he should say no, he should stop Sheppard now. But he doesn't, God help him he wants this man. And he wants Sheppard to want him.

The Major pushes his pants and boxers to the floor and then pauses. He lifts a finger and smiles like he forgot something and reaches to his fallen pants pocket to retrieve a small bottle. Lube. Rodney swallows hard as he thinks about how big Sheppard's cock had felt in his ass last night.

"Take them off." Sheppard gives Rodney a smoldering look.

Rodney knows what to do. He pulls his boxers down and moves up on the bed a little defensively. He lays flat on his back, unsure of himself and worried Sheppard might be too rough given his intoxication. Last night had been rough enough.

As Sheppard lays next to him, Rodney's feels the inviting warmth of his skin make contact. Sheppard's hand pushes against Rodney's hip and rolls him to his side, where Sheppard is guiding him. The Major's body is warm against his back, he is breathing into the nape of Rodney's neck, heavy and deliberate. He moves in closer, his cock between Rodney's cheeks. It is hypnotic as Sheppard moves his body, pulsing and writhing against him. Rodney's cock is rock hard now.

Sheppard leans in closer, pressing his lips into Rodney's neck, trailing them until he reaches the curve of the shoulder. Rodney lets out a soft cry of surprise when Sheppard's teeth bite into his flesh. It is enough to let Rodney know The Major is taking possession of him, but not enough to really hurt.

"McKay." Sheppard releases and exhales in lust. He inhales just as deeply, raking his fingers down McKay's stomach.

Self conscious of his body, Rodney is glad that it is dark. Sheppard moves his hand to Rodney's hip and squeezes. He feels his own cock pulse in anticipation. The strong hand rocks Rodney's hip, sliding his ass against the waiting cock nestled in his crack. Rodney goes limp and lets the man move him any way he wants to.

His cock is bursting now and he feels so guilty that he wants to be used like this. Sheppard reaches back to the table for the lube, then Rodney can feel Sheppard's cock back between his legs, slick and ready. His fingers are wet too and they press into his tight crease.

Rodney widens his legs to help Sheppard find what he is looking for. The fingers fumble over Rodney's balls before they find their way up to his hole. Then Sheppard wobbles back away from Rodney, to make more room for entry. He knees one of Rodney's legs, making him spread wider.

Now Rodney is at an awkward angle, halfway between lying on his side and bending over. He grabs at his pillow with his free arm and hugs it into his chest to stabilize himself. Sheppard sits up with one of his hands resting on Rodney's back and the other working its way into his pucker. The finger moves inside, opening him, playing just enough to get him wet.

Then Sheppard lies back down, guiding his cock between Rodney's cheeks. He finds his target and begins to push against the entrance. It is so impossibly big; it feels like it can't possibly get in. But Rodney knows Sheppard will breach him, just like he did last night.
Oh, God. It is moving in past the ring and it hurts.

"Ohh." Sheppard gasps with the effort and stops there for a moment.

Rodney exhales, trying to relax into it; his hard cock is pressed into the bedding, aching.

The Major leans his body up again holding himself up with one arm and grabbing onto Rodney's shoulder with the other. Sheppard pushes his cock deeper and Rodney chokes, trying to catch his breath. It is so intense. Fuck. Breathe. Fuck.

Thankfully, Sheppard has stopped moving momentarily, he pants on Rodney's shoulder, heavy with lust and the smell of beer.

"So good." He mumbles.

It isn't even close to being all the way in. Rodney squeezes his eyes in fear and anticipation. He knows what it feels like when Sheppard is all the way in. Like a punch somewhere up inside his stomach that makes his whole spine go to jelly. At first it burns, and then after it stretches, it aches so good, sending waves of pleasure down his legs and up his into chest.

He feels like a puppet that Sheppard controls, completely at his mercy, being used and loving it. The cock slides in deeper, he is grateful that so far Sheppard is being more careful with him than he was last night.

Sounding frustrated that this angle won't allow him to go as deep as he wants to, Sheppard prompts Rodney "Up."

He obeys, bowing to his stomach with his legs spread wide for the Major, taking care not to dislodge Sheppard's cock in the process.

Sheppard moves Rodney into the new position and groans, "Yeah."

Here it comes. Rodney breathes. Sheppard pushes in all the way. So big-so big-so big. Rodney concentrates and he tries to relax, to get used to the size of the thing. But Sheppard doesn't wait and begins thrusting deeply into Rodney with desire.

Oh God. It is too much. Rodney squeezes his eyes tight from the pain. He feels like he is isn't going to be able to take it, he's still so sore from last night. Sheppard quickens his pace, slamming in balls deep. Rodney gasps as Sheppard grips his legs, spreading them even wider and pulling Rodney up into him with each thrust.

"Please- please-please" Rodney whimpers, as his eyes water from the pain.

Alex said Rodney liked to be hurt. He must have been right. He shouldn't have let Sheppard in when he saw he was drunk. He shouldn't have let him in at all. Rodney breathes in time to the thrusts.

The pain subsides a bit and then Rodney starts to feel some enjoyment from all the deep pressure. The friction on his prostate is intense. And the sensation of been fucked so deep, so far inside, is starting to ache so good.

Rodney's skin burns with passion and shame. He shouldn't want this, to let someone use him like some kind of disposable toy. It feels wrong and dirty but he can't say no this man. He wants Major Sheppard to fuck his ass. Even if it means he will hate himself later, Rodney wants it now. It feels so good to be wanted by somebody, even if it is just for a moment.

He fists the sheets to keep himself in place as Sheppard's thrusts propel him forward. It is all Rodney can do just to breathe and accommodate the cock moving inside him.

"Fuck, McKay." Sheppard gasps.

Feeling Sheppard's hand curl around his cock, a thrill races through Rodney's body. The pleasure begins to overload as Sheppard pumps his shaft, and he feels like a puppet again.

Sheppard is taking him from inside and out. Rodney gives into the sensation, letting Sheppard ride him to the brink of an orgasm. As Sheppard squeezes his cock Rodney explodes, pulsing in staggered waves. As his orgasm slowly subsides, the cock in his ass swells even bigger as Sheppard cums inside him.

"God! McKay." The Major grips Rodney's shoulder as he spasms.

He waits quietly to see what will happen next. Sheppard stops shuddering and pulls out. Rodney hears him picking up his clothes off the floor and getting dressed.

Right. Of course. Rodney stays on his stomach but presses his legs back together. He doesn't want to look any more pathetic than he already feels. The Major finishes getting dressed and Rodney hears the door open and close.

Did this just happen? It seems so surreal. He just lies there for a while in the dark. Rodney starts to move and moans. He puts his hand on his lower belly. God, it really aches. Doesn't hurt too much, but he feels the ache deep inside him every time he moves. He is probably going to be feeling this for days.

Every step he takes, every time he sits down, he is going to be feeling like he got fucked hard by Major Sheppard.

So stupid. Thinking about it now gives him a flutter of butterflies in his stomach. He shouldn't be doing this. Sheppard is so far out of Rodney's league and he obviously doesn't want anything more from Rodney than a quick fuck. As afterglow of the deep orgasm fades, Rodney gives into the great sadness that has overtaken him

He sighs and turns the light on to clean himself up. After changing the sheets and wiping himself down with a damp cloth, he puts on some fresh boxers and gets back into bed. He feels so pathetic and worthless. To hide his shame and let the oblivion of sleep take him, Rodney turns the light back off.

Taken in the supply closet by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 3 takes place during the pilot episode 'Rising'

Panting from the struggle, Rodney tries to think. Of course Sheppard knows he wants it. Sheppard knows he can take Rodney however he wants, whenever he wants. Rodney is as shaken by this realization, as he is by Sheppard's sudden attack. He lowers his eyes silently to his pants around his ankles.
When Sheppard pulls down Rodney's boxers, he is completely hard.
"Now." He leans into Rodney's ear sounding satisfied, "Tell. Me. That you want it."
"I," Rodney swallows, his face warm with shame. He whispers, "I want it."
. Taken in a supply closet

Seeing Sheppard the next day is so disconcerting. It is weird how natural he seems, as if nothing has happened between them. Rodney joins in the act and serves Sheppard some acerbic barbs. The Major serves right back, bantering easily, seeming to enjoy himself. It unsettling how comfortable this man feels intruding into Rodney's life and personal space.

In public, Sheppard appears to have no special interest in Rodney. He doesn't treat him differently. It's like it never happened. It probably won't again. Rodney loses track of Sheppard after work and spends the evening catching up with Carson over dinner.

When Rodney gets ready for bed in his quarters he thinks about Sheppard. He has the stupid thought maybe Sheppard will come for him again. Rodney feels excited by the idea then kicks himself for being so pathetic. He won't come, even if he does, Rodney vows to send him away.

Yes, the man is sexy and he makes Rodney cum like he's never cum before, but the price to his self-esteem is too high. After Alex, Rodney had thought that was the last time, the last time he let someone use him and make him feel low.

But here he is 6 months later, giving himself to the first man that wants quick fuck. No, Rodney won't do it. He turns on his pillow with resolve. Then he hears a soft knock. It can't be. The knock comes again. All Rodney has to do is leave it unanswered, but his body feels like it is not his own. He feels himself rise and walk to the door without any internal struggle. He has no willpower at all.

And there he is. The sexy pilot, leaning into the door frame with an easy smile. His eyes are clear tonight, sober and sparkling with desire.

Sheppard opens his wide pouty lips, "I couldn't stop thinking about you all day."

Rodney gulps. Sheppard has been thinking about him? He moves back to let the man into his room. Sheppard closes the door behind them and starts to take off his clothes.
Rodney stands awkwardly before he thinks to do the same.

Oh God. What is this man going to do to him tonight? It doesn't matter. Whatever he wants, Rodney knows he will let him do it. He shivers. Then he feels Sheppard stand behind him and run his warm hands up and down Rodney's chest. Though Rodney has always thought his chest his least attractive feature, he submits to the attention.

"I couldn't wait for tonight," Sheppard says as he rests his chin on Rodney's shoulder.

Speechless, Rodney has butterflies in his stomach. Sheppard's hands play lower along his belly, finally reaching for Rodney's hard and ready cock. His knees go a little weak as Sheppard's sure hands grip the shaft. He nudges Rodney toward the bed and lays him down on his side.

Sober Sheppard seems more certain of what he is doing. He props Rodney's head on a pillow and moves his legs open at just the right angle for Sheppard to fuck him on his side. He lubes his cock and lies down next to Rodney. His fingers gently play and wet Rodney's hole. Breathing heavily against Rodney's back, he moans as he places his cock against Rodney's entrance.

He doesn't force it, but gives it to Rodney in inches, working his way in. Rodney feels light and fluttery, he likes this softer approach. One of Sheppard's arms is wrapped around the front of Rodney's chest, holding them close together as Sheppard grinds slowly up into him. It feels amazingly good. As the cock hits the parts of Rodney that felt bruised earlier, the sensation changes to one of a pleasurable ache.

As the Major works his way up, deeper and deeper, Rodney clutches at his arm for support trying to take in the entirety of the massive cock. Sheppard lets Rodney hold onto his arm, seeming to be okay with this small amount of intimacy.

Then Sheppard moves his other hand onto the soft flesh between Rodney's hips and presses back, arching Rodney's ass even closer. Rodney feels them together both breathing heavily in satisfaction. Sheppard moans with desire as he begins to circle his hips, making small thrusting motions.

Gasping, Rodney feels his body melt; it feels good to let the Major do whatever he wants to him. It feels so damn good. The movement starts to rock more deeply, thrusting lightly in and out. Sheppard presses Rodney's chest firmly into himself and starts to play with Rodney's cock. He begins lightly, dancing his finger around the base and balls, then teases the tip.

Finally John's strong hand takes ahold of the length and strokes him. Rodney flutters as the cock inside him moves faster and with more intensity. He groans and trembles under Sheppard's movements. What has this man done to him? He can't think straight.

Sheppard winds the tension up higher and higher until Rodney is out of control, moaning and muttering incoherently. He takes Rodney over the edge, screaming when he cums. Then Sheppard drives deep into Rodney's ass losing control himself.

"God. Fuck. McKay!"

Still holding onto one of Sheppard's arms, Rodney doesn't want him to go. This time felt almost tender, almost close -at least compared to what it had been. But Sheppard sighs and pulls away, leaving Rodney alone on the pillow.

This time Rodney doesn't feel quite as ashamed as he hears Sheppard getting dressed and leaving. He doesn't know why he wants this man so much but he will take what little he can get. Tonight felt so good, he has to admit to himself that he isn't going to be able to say 'No' to this. He will let Sheppard take him, take control, regardless of how much it terrifies him.

The next week and a half is a confusing jumble of activity. Everyone is so busy trying to prepare for the expedition, even if they don't know whether or not they will be allowed to go. It all depends on whether the IOA will allow them to use up a big chunk of the ZPM energy that powers the chair weapons platform.

During the day, Sheppard is always the same with Rodney. Lightly bantering, detached and amused by his surroundings. Then at night, he comes for Rodney, sometimes rough and hard, sometimes more careful. Rodney can't predict the moods; just that Sheppard will come to him, wanting, and ready to fuck.

He feels thoroughly used, yet enjoying it. Sheppard fucks Rodney like he's never been fucked before. Usually it is raw and purely sexual. But some nights, when Sheppard is almost gentle, Rodney lets himself imagine it could develop into something more. A silly fantasy that fades when Sheppard abruptly takes his leave.

Rodney knows Sheppard just wants to cum, and when Sheppard is finished, he is done. But Rodney has come to crave the time he spends with the man, even at work. Though they snipe at each other frequently, it feels familiar, like they are buddies, almost.

When Sheppard tells Rodney that Elizabeth has asked him to join the expedition to the Pegasus galaxy, Rodney's heart skips a beat.

The idea of having Sheppard near him, not having to stop whatever this is -it sounds too good to be true. Rodney gushes and tells him that it is the opportunity of a lifetime and that he should say yes. Sheppard looks pensive and unsure.

"Look," Rodney tells him, "I know you kind of like Antarctica and all, but this is the sort of thing that most people don't even get to dream of doing. Only the very best and brightest have gotten the opportunity-"

"Whereas, I got a lucky gene." Sheppard cuts him off with a sardonic smile.

"It doesn't matter why." Rodney continues, "You should really consider that this is an amazing opportunity."

"Okay," Sheppard smiles again, this time more amused, "maybe I will."

Later that day, Rodney is walking down a corridor by himself when sees Sheppard walking toward him with a strangely dangerous expression on his face. As he gets closer to Rodney, he stops in front of him.

Rodney raises his eyebrows.

"I'm coming to Pegasus." Sheppard growls, "Just have to get my stuff from McMurdo."

His eyes narrow at Rodney, then he looks around the hall tactically. Rodney wonders what Sheppard is looking for and turns to see himself.

Suddenly Sheppard's strong arms grab Rodney around the waist. He opens a nearby door and peers into the small dark storage closet. Pulling Rodney in, he shoves him up against the wall and he bites his neck.

"Ahhh." Rodney cries out, "Wh-What are you doing?"

Pushed flat against the wall, Rodney hears the Major unbuckling his pants.

"Wait. I-" Rodney is anxious; Sheppard has never been like this before, "I don't know if this is such a good idea, I-"

The two of them wrestle a bit as Rodney struggles. Sheppard keeps him pinned as he drops his drawers; he is fumbling with Rodney's pants now.

"No," Rodney isn't able to put up much of fight and protests instead, "Wait."

Easily holding both of Rodney's hands with one of his, Sheppard he uses his other hand to finish undoing Rodney's pants.

"I know you want it." Sheppard whispers, "Tell me you don't want it and I'll stop."

Panting from the struggle, Rodney tries to think. Of course Sheppard knows he wants it. Sheppard knows he can take Rodney however he wants, whenever he wants. Rodney is as shaken by this realization, as he is by Sheppard's sudden attack. He lowers his eyes silently to his pants around his ankles.

When Sheppard pulls down Rodney's boxers, he is completely hard.

"Now." He leans into Rodney's ear sounding satisfied, "Tell. Me. That you want it."

"I," Rodney swallows, his face warm with shame. He whispers, "I want it."

Roughly spinning Rodney around, Sheppard leans him against a low shelf. He grabs and squeezes Rodney's pert, full ass, playing with the cheeks and slapping them.

"Mmm. So tight McKay. So fucking tight."

Sheppard rustles with a small bottle. Oh thank God, he brought lube. Quickly lining up his target, Sheppard spreads Rodney's cheeks and pushes in.

"Ahhha!" Rodney cries out.

"We just gotta be quiet." Sheppard holds his hand over Rodney mouth as he thrusts his way into the tight hole.

"Mmph-Mmph. Ohhm. Mmph."

Rodney's cries are muffled. Unprepared to be taken this fiercely, he whimpers into the Major's hand as he pulls in and out of him, deep and fast. His eyes water and he moans against the shock of penetration, hoping that the pain will pass soon.

"-Mmgh –Mmph-Uhgg –Ughh -Mmm"

As Rodney stretches, his muffled noises become less frantic. Sheppard reaches for Rodney's wilting erection and pulls on it. There is pleasure but it has a sharp edge to it. It is all so intense. Sheppard wants to cum fast and he is trying to take Rodney there with him.

The scene of it all, humiliating at first, is now turning Rodney on. He gives in and sags into the shelf, letting Sheppard have complete control. He hates that being used turns him on, he feels so helpless with Sheppard fucking him like this. But Rodney cums fast into Sheppard's hand.

"God. So hot." Sheppard rasps as he turns his full attention to penetration, "Your ass is so fucking tight."

Driving deep, Sheppard rides the orgasmic ripples; his body shaking against Rodney as he swells and releases, spurting his cum into Rodney's ass.

"Ahhhhh. Oh. So fucking tight." He pulls out releasing Rodney's hips.

"I'll be gone for the night at McMurdo." Sheppard quickly pulls his clothes on before closing the door behind him.

That had been hot. But Rodney feels bare, conflicted. He just wishes he and Sheppard were closer. It feels so weird to let somebody he hardly knows have all that control over him.

Sheppard probably thinks Rodney is as pathetic as he feels. He knows Rodney will let himself be used. For some reason Rodney lets himself hope that there could be more between the two of them, that he could be closer to this man. Still, he's glad to have a night off. Rodney is so sore now and doesn't think he could do it again tonight.

But that night when Sheppard doesn't come, Rodney misses him. Not just the sex, but having someone interested enough in him to want to spend time with him. He hates how pathetic he is.

After flying back the next morning, Sheppard acts casual and aloof. Obviously Sheppard didn't miss Rodney. The day is unspectacular and Rodney finds himself retiring early. Afraid that Sheppard won't come, he is relived when he hears a knock at the door.

When Rodney lets him in, Sheppard smiles but his eyes look serious. Instead of stripping right away, Sheppard sits on the end of the bed. Rodney follows him and sits nearby, waiting.

"I got my stuff." Sheppard turns his face to look at Rodney.

Perplexed, Rodney answers, "That's good."

"It's just," Sheppard shifts his weight on the bed, "I wasn't planning on leaving here. At least for a long time."

"I think you made the right decision." Rodney smiles.

Sheppard furrows his brows like he is uncertain but nods. Then he gets up off the bed. Turning on the bedside lamp and the overhead light off, he stands by the door taking Rodney in.

What does this guy think of him? Rodney feels insecure and small. Sheppard breaks his gaze and pulls the lube out of his pocket, placing it on the nightstand. Then he begins to strip.

This part Rodney knows; he takes his clothes off even though being under the light is making him feel awkward. But Sheppard looks at Rodney as if he likes what he sees.
Rodney starts to turn over, but Sheppard's hands stop him and roll him onto his back.

Kneeling over him on the bed, Sheppard takes Rodney in again with his eyes. Rodney shivers a little under his gaze. Sheppard's heavy palm touches Rodney's chest; he stares at it, moving both his hands over Rodney's chest and stomach.

Then Sheppard lifts one of Rodney's arms that are plastered to his side. He rolls his fingers up and down the length as if there is something about he enjoys. He releases Rodney's arm and runs his hands over Rodney's cock and then down his legs.

He examines one of Rodney's legs in the same way he did the arms. Rodney has always felt self-conscious about his scant amount of body hair, especially on his legs and chest. But Sheppard smiles in a way that eases his insecurity.

As Sheppard folds his legs up into a bent position, Rodney understands. Sheppard wants to take him from the front. Looking thoughtful for a minute, Sheppard then uses his easy access between Rodney's spread legs to play with his cock.

Closing his eyes, Rodney lets himself relax. Sheppard is taking his time tonight, he is not demanding. He nurses Rodney's erection before wetting his own cock with lube. Then he lifts Rodney's legs higher than he was expecting.

Surprised, Rodney's eyes go wide as he feels his legs being lifted over Sheppard's shoulders. Sheppard gazes down at him and smiles softly; the expression on his face almost seems tender and Rodney relaxes again. Sheppard positions himself to enter but leans forward so that he is looking down at Rodney's face. He watches him intently at he begins to push his way inside.

As the head begins to breach him, Rodney's mouth goes wide and his breath hitches. He is hyperconscious now of the faces he is making. He bites his lip and inhales sharply as Sheppard sinks in.

Little gasping noises keep escaping him each time Sheppard drives his cock deeper.
It feels intense, but it doesn't hurt, Sheppard is watching closely and making sure he doesn't go too fast. Rodney feels so exposed and vulnerable. Pulses fluttering, like some sort of current radiating through each time Sheppard moves inside him.

And Sheppard is watching him, seeing how much he moves Rodney, seeing how he can make Rodney feel. Sheppard keeps the pace slow and steady, sensing just the right timing needed to keep Rodney's eyes rolling back in his head. Rodney can't fight this. He surrenders to Sheppard as he always does, letting himself be lifted into pure ecstasy.

He feels bared with Sheppard staring down at him, so strong and intense; Rodney can't read the expression. His eyes flutter up and back again. Sheppard seems to know just when Rodney is ready for more. Thrusting harder in and out, Sheppard uses the lift he has on Rodney's legs to pump into him.

Rodney cries out in pleasure. He is completely under Sheppard's dominion and Sheppard has discovered just how to use Rodney's body, to play it like an instrument. As he gasps and moans, he can hear Sheppard moaning too.

God. His cock is so hard and Sheppard isn't even touching it. Rodney feels like he could cum just from this. He loves this feeling of John's cock moving inside him. Rodney hasn't let himself think of him as John before. But he wishes he could call the man who has so much power over him by his first name. Oh. John is touching his cock now. Oh. It's too much. He is cumming-

"Oh God! John!" Rodney screams out without thinking.

Sheppard's cock swells inside him. He shudders and groans, finally letting go of Rodney's legs as he pulls out. Catching his breath, Sheppard leans back to the end of the bed for a minute resting on his hand.

It feels like Rodney has broken some kind of unwritten contract by using Sheppard's first name. He hadn't meant to. Rodney watches him anxiously. Without meeting his eyes, Sheppard pushes himself off the bed and collects his things.

This time Rodney watches him get dressed. He is surprised by how shaky and nervous the other man appears. Sheppard is always so confidant but the look on his face now is almost fearful. Carefully keeping his eyes averted, Sheppard's hands seem to tremble as he pulls his clothes back on. When he is finished he leaves without a word.

For some time Rodney lies there unmoving, wondering what could possibly be going in Sheppard's head. Whatever it is, there is a lot more to the story than Rodney knows.

Tonight, at least for a while, it seemed they were close in a different way. But now Sheppard is gone and he feels lonely and unlovable again; disgusting for wanting sex with someone who only wants to use him. Rodney just came harder than he ever has in his life, but Sheppard doesn't care about him. He knows Sheppard isn't mean; he just didn't care for Rodney that way.

And Rodney likes Sheppard so much, whether it is fucking or just talking at work. Rodney wants to be around him whenever he can. It scares him how much he wants this man. It is pathetic and stupid. Looking down at his pale hairless body, Rodney feels contempt. Why would anyone feel anything other than disgust for him?

He tries to keep the darker thoughts away, the ones at the edge of his mind. But the sound of Alex's voice crowds into his mind. Rodney curls himself into a ball and tells himself to calm down.

Nothing good will come of remembering the past. He can't let it ruin the little bit of pleasure he has been able to find since then. Rodney forces himself to stand; he cleans up and puts on some fresh boxers. Feeling a little less vulnerable now, he turns off the light and curls back into a ball on the bed.
The Last Time by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 4 takes place during the pilot episode 'Rising'

Rodney knows he is kidding himself to believe that this time is different, but it really feels that way to him. When Sheppard moves inside him, he feels less helpless and more held. The way Sheppard is leaning his head into his neck and shoulder feels so intimate. Rodney moans as the thrusts get stronger, he feels so taken by this man. It feels so right.
. The Last Time

When Rodney wakes the next morning he feels empty and still so tired; like he got no sleep at all, only nightmares. Fortunately they have faded. Though he is pretty sure they were about Alex. Rodney gets ready for the day in a haze.

A terrible sick knot is stuck in the bottom of his stomach. He doesn't even feel like eating. He will have to force himself. There is a lot to do today; the military and the IOA, the civilian oversight committee that runs the Stargate program, have both given the expedition the green light. It will be less than a week now before they head to the military base in Colorado Springs where the Stargate is kept.

Rodney still can't believe that he called Sheppard by his first name last night. So embarrassing. The fact that Rodney sees very little of Sheppard throughout the day leads him to believe that he has made a fatal error.

Of course, Sheppard would be repulsed by the idea that Rodney might want something more familiar with him. Sheppard doesn't care about him. He had never misled Rodney to think otherwise. It is a very emotionless arrangement. They both cum and that is all there is to it. But Rodney has gone and fucked it all up, now he wasn't even going to get that.


That night, Rodney can't help but hope that Sheppard might come after all. But the window of time in which Sheppard would usually knock comes and goes. It is late and Rodney can't sleep. He decides to take a shower to try and relax. The showers here are pretty nice by Antarctic standards and the water rationing not as severe.

He is taking some deep calming breaths under the hot water when he hears a noise. Startled, he looks up and sees Sheppard. Glorious and beautifully naked Sheppard. He is so tall and lean. He looks very Irish, with those green eyes and a thick mop of black hair. His skin has a pale golden hue and his face is achingly handsome.

It's hard for Rodney to place his finger on what exactly makes him so impossibly good looking. It is everything. The playful glint in his eyes, the sinuous curves of his torso and limbs, the soulfulness in his face, and of course that perfect cock. Rodney's stomach flips when he sees him.

"I thought I might find you here." Sheppard seems at ease, setting his clothes down on the bench, walking from around the pillar by the door and right up to Rodney.

Why would it ever occur to Sheppard to look for him here? Rodney gapes in wonder as Sheppard runs his hand up his back. God, he has missed that touch so much. It has only been since last night, but he has missed it. He could almost let himself believe that Sheppard missed him too.

There is something in the way Sheppard is touching Rodney that is different, more intimate. Rodney knows he is probably just coloring in emotions that aren't there because he is feeling so much for this man.

Sheppard's hands run over his chest, touching him with such familiarity. He cups Rodney's ass and squeezes it affectionately. Moving his lean body up against Rodney's back, the two of them stand there together skin on skin under the water.

This feels different. He wants to turn around and face Sheppard, to touch him, kiss him. But Rodney knows somehow that wouldn't be allowed.

Leaning down with his head on Rodney's shoulder, Sheppard rests it there. "I want you."

Oh. Rodney trembles with emotion. Sheppard wants him. He wants him back. Without moving, Rodney reaches for a bottle of conditioner. Sheppard understands what Rodney is thinking and takes it from his hands.

While putting some on his cock, Sheppard leans his head into Rodney's shoulder. To keep from washing lather away, Rodney turns the water off. Sheppard reaches his long arms around, pulling him back into his chest and moving Rodney to face against the tiled wall.

With his head burrowed against Rodney's shoulder, Sheppard hugs Rodney's chest in a possessive yet gentle way. His other hand wraps around Rodney's waist and then strokes over his hips and stomach. Lightly caressing him, the hand works down to his waiting cock and Rodney gasps. Sheppard slowly pumps the shaft and teases the head before trailing his fingers back to Rodney's ass and preparing him.

They both moan as Sheppard slowly eases it in. There is a desperation about the way Sheppard is touching him tonight, like he is trying to reach something in Rodney that he hasn't gotten before.

But he is not rough. When he gets his cock fully inside, he sighs with relief, moving with a shallow, even tempo. Each time it seems like he can't get deep enough. He pushes Rodney into the wall, but the arm that is hugging around his chest protects him from the force of the thrust.

Rodney knows he is kidding himself to believe that this time is different, but it really feels that way to him. When Sheppard moves inside him, he feels less helpless and more held. The way Sheppard is leaning his head into his neck and shoulder feels so intimate. Rodney moans as the thrusts get stronger, he feels so taken by this man. It feels so right.

When Sheppard moves his arm down to stroke Rodney's stiff cock, he feels himself unraveling. Light is bursting through him and pulsing out to his extremities.

Every part of his body is orgasmic. He realizes that Sheppard is cumming too as he spasms and drives his cock in, trying to get even deeper. Sheppard lets out a cry and goes slack. His body slumps against Rodney's and they just stay there breathing together.

After a time, Sheppard touches Rodney's back gingerly and pulls out. As Sheppard stands behind him, the hand remains on his back. Then almost reluctantly, it drops away.

Uncertain of what happens next, Rodney stays facing the wall. He wants to believe this time is different somehow, but he doesn't want to watch Sheppard walk out. Really, he doesn't want Sheppard to see his own face, how pathetic he feels each time Sheppard leaves.

It is quiet for a moment. Sheppard is still behind him, Rodney wants to turn around and-

No, Sheppard is leaving. Gathering his things, dressing-

As the door closes, Rodney feels all the air go out of him. He clings to the wall for support, so empty. A sob is stuck in his throat. Everything that Alex said is true. Rodney is disgusting and worthless. No man will ever want him for anything more than a throwaway fuck.

He wishes he were something different, better. The wetness streaking down his face confirms how pathetic he truly is. Rodney gives up as the emotion tears through him and lets himself slide to the floor. The choked sob escapes his throat, but it isn't enough. Another sob, and then another, well up, push out of his chest.

The room seems like it is closing in on him and Rodney feels so alone and afraid. He hugs his knees into himself and lies there brokenly on the cold tile floor.

Sobs come heaving out of him now. In between, when he can catch his breath, he whimpers, "Please-please-no."

His body shakes involuntarily against the intrusion of the old painful memories.

"Please. No." He twitches again violently; there is no stopping the tears now. Rodney feels so pathetic and disgusting. He is so stupid for wishing Sheppard cared about him.

No one will ever care about him. He is so stupid and alone. All he can hear is Alex in his head over and over.



John stops himself and turns back down the hall to the shower. He had wanted something more tonight. He doesn't know what, but he still wants it from McKay.

He turns the doorknob quietly and steps in. The post obscures him, but he sees around the corner. McKay is slumping onto the floor. He looks hurt and afraid. He is choking and trying not sob. It is the saddest thing John has ever seen.

McKay looks terrified and curls into a ball, sobbing, "Please-please-no."

His body is shaking like something horrible has happened to him. What happened to him?

Oh my God. Is this is how John makes McKay feel? He doesn't know what he did wrong, but somehow, he has done something very, very wrong.

"Please. No." McKay shakes and sobs wretchedly, begging for it to stop.

John feels sick to his stomach. He thought McKay had been okay with this. Is it possible that McKay didn't really want this? He doesn't know, only that he has hurt this man without realizing it. He hurt him even though he really, really didn't mean to. The last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt McKay.

Silently backing away, John returns to the hall. He is horrified with himself. This can never happen again. Never again.



The following day Rodney doesn't see Sheppard in the lab at all, which is odd. Rodney asks Carson if he knows where Sheppard is. He says the Major isn't coming with them after all and has gone back to McMurdo.

"Oh." Rodney feels a dull pain and tries to hide it.

Carson continues, "Yes, well Elizabeth isn't happy about it. She said the expedition needed people like Sheppard."

Reviewing the math absently, Rodney returns to his work, his plans to tie the energy of the ZPM into the Stargate. If his calculations are correct, and they always are, it should be enough to send them the long distance to the Pegasus galaxy.

Once more he feels the dull pain. He hadn't known last night was the last time. Had Sheppard known then?

The last time.

He will probably never see Major John Sheppard again. Rodney had known it was bound to end eventually, but he still feels incredibly sad.

The next few days are a blur, getting everything finalized, packed up. Most of their supplies and secondary team members are sent ahead to the SGC headquarters where the Stargate is located.

As Rodney boards the C-130 military plane destined for Cheyenne Mountain, he is shocked to see John Sheppard's face again. Afraid to meet his eye, he turns to Elizabeth, asking her why he is here.

"Let's just say," She smiles, "It goes a long way when a commanding General orders someone to go."

"You really went that far?" Rodney tilts his head.

"I did." Elizabeth looks satisfied.

Trying to sort through his complicated feelings, Rodney doesn't approach Sheppard. Okay, so, they are going to be working together. Rodney can do that. Sheppard has always been decent at work, friendly, bantering.

Despite how fucked up Rodney feels about everything, he really likes the guy. Well, he more than likes him, he still longs for his touch. But he is okay with Sheppard, mostly. He can be okay with this.

When they arrive at the SGC, he and Sheppard stay far apart. Rodney soon looses track of him. He is so ecstatic that his ZPM interface works, that he forgets about his other insecurities, proud of himself for being so brilliant.

As Rodney watches, the giant metal Stargate in front of them begins to move. The gate activates by spinning several times, turning back on itself like a lock combination, before eventually stopping. A rush of blue liquid appears in the middle, at first flowing out toward them, then collapsing back into a gentle ripple along the surface.

They send in a robotic MALP to determine viability of life support on the other side; the control room announces they have a go.

This expedition is likely to be a one-way trip to the Pegasus galaxy, but Rodney has never been more excited in his life. Entering the event horizon, green hues curve out in front of him in arcs and spirals. There are blinding flashes of light and then just darkness as he steps forward into the unknown.

Why John Shot Rodney in the leg by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 5 takes place during Season 1: episode 2

This is the most fun he is had in a long time.
It feels thrilling that Sheppard is treating him like one of the guys.
It almost feels like they are friends now instead of reluctant comrades.
. Why John shot Rodney in the leg

Everything that has happened since arriving here a couple days ago, defies belief. John's mind is still reeling from all he has learned about the Stargate program, now he is trying to integrate a whole galaxy and threat.

These creatures here, the Wraith, remind him of a demented tale from a children's storybook... sucking the life out of their human victims with their hands as they absorb the energy. They regenerate each time they feed, able to live for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years; culling the planets of this galaxy, as humans would cull a herd of cattle.

John stares out across the darkened water that surrounds the floating outpost, or rather, the star-shaped city they have dubbed Atlantis.

Ignoring the sounds of gaiety and celebration behind him for a moment, he thinks about how precarious their position is. Stranded, without the power of a ZPM, they have no weapons or shields. They can use the Naquadah generators to dial local gate addresses, but they are sitting ducks.

Elizabeth had insisted on celebrating when John came back from the rescue mission; making a big party for the expedition and their new Athosian allies.

He still feels out of place, being the only member of the expedition who didn't actually volunteer. He isn't one of the 'best and brightest' of the many countries represented here. Funny, he hadn't realized that McKay was Canadian until he saw the uniform with a maple leaf flag on it...

It's not that John hadn't wanted to come. What he had been trying to avoid, was his guilt, over what had happened with McKay. If he is going to be working with the guy again, he should try to make things right somehow.

He grips the balcony, thinking about the man he failed to bring back, Colonel Sumner. It doesn't feel like a successful mission to him. As Elizabeth joins he and Ford on the balcony, she hands each of them a glass to toast their victory. John lifts his cup and obliges her, but his face is cheerless.

"You did good, John." Elizabeth tells him.

"I don't know about that." John tells her honestly. He thinks about the Wraith Queen's dying words, warning him that by killing her, he had awoken the Wraith from their slumber –ALL of the Wraith, she had said.

Elizabeth meets John's eyes, "Hey... There was no way you could have saved Colonel Sumner."

"I have to live with it." He looks at her blankly.

He will never forget image of that creature sucking the life out of Sumner until he was nothing more that a gray husk, begging for John to end his suffering... And John had done it. He had fired the shot to end Sumner's life.

Sighing he tells her, "I'm beginning to think you were right. I have made things much worse. I haven't made us many more friends out there."

"No?" Elizabeth turns to face the huge vaulted gate room behind them. It is teeming with members of the expedition as well as Athosians, "Look around you."

Teyla, the leader of the Athosians moves forward from a neighboring railing, "I agree Major Sheppard." She places her hands on John's shoulders and leans her head in.

John has seen the Athosians greet each other by touching foreheads and wonders if this is the gesture she is trying to make. He leans forward uncertainly and tips his head to rest on hers.

Lifting her head back, Teyla tells him, "You have earned both my friendship and that of my people. With our help, you will make many more friends."



Rodney stands next to Carson awkwardly eating hors d'oeuvres. He watches Teyla give an embrace, an Athosian "hug" to Sheppard. In the moonlight, Sheppard looks so striking. Rodney feels a twinge of jealousy that he has never been alluring - or maybe it's jealousy that Sheppard...

He feels little flip-flops in his stomach as remembers Sheppard's hands on him, the force of Sheppard's cock deep inside him. Never mind, best not to think of such things. Rodney walks away kicking himself for caring.

He had been so relieved when Sheppard made it back safely from the mission, but now he feels soured to the whole situation. Technically, now that Sumner is gone, Sheppard is the ranking military commander. How did this happen? Rodney is the genius that has been working with the military, like, forever.

Rodney's the one with all the know how. This guy, just drops in from McMurdo one day and has the stupid blind luck to have the Ancient gene that activates the technology. Now the pilot with the 'I don't give a fuck' attitude is technically in charge of the military arm of this Pegasus expedition.

The pilot who had fucked him... fucked him repeatedly and acted like it never mattered... He... had fucked Rodney, and used him, and Rodney still aches for more... It's all so pathetic. Great, and now this guy can order him around him on 'his' own project. None of it is fair.



John sees Rodney inside standing next to Dr. Beckett. He meets John's eye and quickly looks away, walking back into the crowd where John can't see him.

Elizabeth speaks again, "One more thing, Major, something I'd like you to sleep on. I have a few thoughts on it myself."

"Thoughts about what?" John asks.

"Who the members of your team might be." Elizabeth continues.

John lifts a corner of his mouth in amusement, "My team?"

"Well, you are the ranking military officer now..." Elizabeth explains, "Or do you need to be reminded of that?"

He blinks, silently pensive. John is not the kind of guy to be in charge. He is the fuck-up, the one they sent away to get rid of. Of course, Elizabeth and her International Oversight Advisory are the ones calling the shots, but still, second in command seems...

"We need to get back out there, do what we came to do." Elizabeth says firmly.

"You realize that could get us into all sorts of..." John smiles and leans on the railing, "trouble, right?"

Elizabeth smiles back and nods unafraid.

McKay is the first person that comes to John's mind. He doesn't need to sleep on it. Despite everything, John still wants to be close to him in some way. John enjoyed all the time spent bantering with him and trying to piss him off. Besides, McKay is always bragging about what a genius he is, maybe that would come in handy.

Who else? Teyla, the hot leader of the their new Athosian allies seems like she could handle herself in a fight, plus it would be a diplomatic choice. Military? Lieutenant Ford would do just fine. Right, easily sorted. John sighs, feeling a little better, almost even pleased with himself.



Over the next few days, Sheppard appears constantly in Rodney's lab pestering him about what he is working on. It seems Sheppard has nothing to do right now but annoy Rodney. It is his new pastime. Seriously, The guy pops in and out all day.

Rodney finds himself acquiescing, albeit reluctantly, to his new sidekick. But Rodney is sure to never let himself quite seem to be a willing participant. He rolls his eyes and snipes at Sheppard whenever possible, secretly he is glad to be in Sheppard's company again.

Maybe that is one of the reasons he agrees to try Carson Beckett's experimental ATA gene therapy. Odds are only about 50/50 that it will work, but he'll take what he can get. He just wants to be able to use Ancient technology like Sheppard. God, Rodney has got to stop thinking about him so much.

Throughout the day he eagerly fumbles with the small green jewel-thing that sits in his pocket. He has an idea about what it is used for, and he wants to show Sheppard. But Rodney wants to be the one to activate it, if this new gene therapy works.

Mid-way through the day it powers on. Eureka! He pulls it out of his pocket in excitement and attaches it to his chest. It stays there and a green energy pulse washes over him.

If Rodney is right, and he thinks he is right, this device acts as some kind of personal defensive shield. He runs like an eager kid to show Sheppard... and possibly, hopefully taunt him with Rodney's newfound abilities.

It's about lunchtime, Rodney should be able to find him in the cafeteria. He spots Sheppard disposing of his tray and decides to come back later for his own lunch. This is more important.

"Major!" he calls out.

Sheppard gives a polite nod as Rodney approaches, "McKay."

"We found something very important. Only someone with a strong gene like yours should be able to control this Ancient technology. Come with me."

Lifting his shoulders amiably, Sheppard agrees, "By all means."

Rodney takes them to a large warehouse room with an upper and lower level. Some of the expedition supplies are stored here. The room has a nice wide-open area, perfect for what Rodney has in mind. He stages himself in the middle and waits for Sheppard to join him.

"So..." Sheppard looks confused, "I don't understand what I'm supposed to do?"

Smiling with a bit of condescension, Rodney tells him, "It's okay, you aren't capable of understanding the complexity of this technology. That's why I'm here. All I require from you is a bit of brute force. Which I'm sure, as soldier, you should be able to provide."

Sheppard frowns at him as if he is trying to decide whether the insult was intentional or not.

Clearing his throat, Rodney lifts his chin, "Major, will you please attempt to move me from this spot."

When Sheppard merely tilts his head at him, Rodney begins again, "I am using an Ancient device, one that I believe will make my strength superior to yours. I require your assistance in testing it. If you like, you may begin with a simple punch to the-"

"Ahha. Ah." Sheppard's fist glances off the side of Rodney's face. He looks up in wonder, "What the hell was that?"

"That," Rodney tells him smugly, "Would basically make me a superhero."

Rodney smirks that his new toy that made him tougher than the Major. "We could try something else?"

"Oh yeah." Sheppard looks around the room conspiratorially and lifts up a large piece up metal tubing. "You ready?"

Nodding in excitement, Rodney feels nothing as the bar goes flying out of Sheppard's hands with the force of the momentum.

"Okay." Sheppard tells him, "So you have a good defensive strategy, let's see if you can attack."


Jumping in front up him with his fists up, Sheppard challenges, "Hand to hand combat."

"Oh, I don't kno-" Rodney sees Sheppard's fists recoiling from the force of the green shield and his confidence grows. He jabs out a right hook into Sheppard's chest and watches in amusement as he flies across the room.

"Major!" Rodney runs to him, "Are you all right?"

As he gets closer, he can hear Sheppard laughing and climbing down from one of the cargo crates. "That was really cool."

After that they try out all kinds of scenarios, hitting Rodney with different objects, having him jump off of a steep ledge. Sheppard seems as giddy and playful about Rodney's new personal shield as he is. They run all around the city looking for new ways to test it out. Out of breath and laughing, Rodney races to keep up with Sheppard.

This is the most fun he is had in a long time. It feels thrilling that Sheppard is treating him like one of the guys. It almost feels like they are friends now instead of reluctant comrades.

"Okay... What haven't we tried?" Sheppard strokes his chin.

"Bullets." Rodney's eye's flash, "I bet it repels bullets too!"

"Uhhhh." Sheppard frowns. "Might not be the best idea."

Sighing, Rodney tries another tactic; "You know that I'm a genius, right?"

"Ah, you keep telling me that." Sheppard says tightly.

"Okay, when I say genius, I don't just mean genius. I'm talking, probably the smartest person that ever lived."

"Ever? As in Einstein, Newton, Hawki-

"EVER." Rodney exaggerates "So when it comes to this little device, I'm sure I could easily create another one... Would you like one?"

Sheppard grins, "That would be very cool."

"See, then we could be like a superhero team. Mine's green, so I could be... 'The Green Hawk'. Yours will be pink, so you could be 'Pinky the Brain'" Rodney lifts a finger "–no wait, you're not smart."

"Mine would be Pink?!" Sheppard frowns angrily.

"Yeah, well, they can't both be the same color..." Waving his hand as he thinks, Rodney tries out a few names, "Pink Magic... Pretty in Pink..."

"You know what," Sheppard's mouth twists into a sour expression, "forget it, McKay."

"Or..." Rodney taunts, "you could shoot me and pick your own color?"

Sheppard rolls his eyes. "I'm not going to shoot you, McKay"

"'Pink Princess Power'... you might need some tights to go with that one though." Rodney notices Sheppard's hand drift down to his holster and decides to keep going.

"'Pretty Pink Pony'... you could have a little tail... and we could braid bells into it," Rodney sneers, "so the bad guys know when you're coming."

The gun comes out; Sheppard points it at him, but still shakes his head –unsure if this is a safe idea.

"Ooo- Oh. Oh. I got it. 'Cotton Candy' It's perfect because you may not have a lot going on upstairs," Rodney smirks as he taps his temple. "but physically you can-"

Sheppard's eyes go dark and he squeezes the trigger. A bullet glances off of Rodney's thigh and he stares down in amazement.

"That. Was awesome!" Sheppard shouts. Grinning like a kid, he tells Rodney, "Still... I think I'm gonna call this thing 'Idiot Armor', since even you can make it work."

Rodney gives him a sarcastic glare, but finds himself quickly pulled back into Sheppard's fun-loving excitability. Sheppard has another idea. He wants to see if Rodney can take the fall all the way down from the tall balcony in the Gate Room. Rodney takes the challenge and follows to the upper level.

Once there, Rodney eyes the distance nervously. Leaning on the railing, he peers down.

"If you just step up a little, I can push you over the edge."

Sheppard raises his eyebrows expectantly at Rodney. His eyes are full of mischief and makes Rodney feels invincible.

"Okay, I'm ready." He tells Sheppard as he steps up.

And then he is flying over the railing. He hits the floor below and hears Sheppard's voice laughing, asking people incredulously, "Did you see that?"

"I'm fine." Rodney proclaims raising his arms, as he jumps up unharmed.
It’s a MYTH that size doesn’t matter by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 6 takes place during Season 1: episode 2

Was Sheppard trying to remind him of how huge his cock was? That he had taken Rodney with it?
He somehow feels dominated all over again, at the Major's mercy.
. It's a MYTH that size doesn't matter

Looking up at Sheppard on the balcony, Rodney sees him smiling like he never has before. Rodney is grinning so hard himself that his face hurts. When it comes to Sheppard, he feels too exuberant to worry about danger the way he normally does.

But when Rodney reaches down to pull the shield off, his own hand doesn't pass through the shield. This isn't how it is supposed to work. He doesn't understand. Suddenly all his normal fears and anxieties come rushing back. He should have been more careful. He has to get this thing off of him. He wonders if Sheppard can tell how scared he is now.

Rodney attempts to drink or eat but nothing can get through the shield. He concentrates and tries to will the thing off of him. Waiting with his eyes closed, nothing happens. "I'm a dead man," he moans.

Feeling sorry for himself and wondering why no one else seems to be as concerned, Rodney mopes in the control room. Elizabeth is outlining safety precautions for the staff as they explore the city, how it is important that no one touch anything they are unfamiliar with unless it's been cleared first.

"It's very important." Rodney adds bitterly, "I mean, you never know. Even a tiny, little innocuous thing can... can kill you."

Rodney raises his hand and looks at Sheppard uneasily, "Dead man talking."

As the senior staff assesses different aspects of the massive city structure, he continues to sulk. The Command personal will each be required to memorize their own 16 digit self destruct code...

"Well, don't bother giving me one." Rodney interrupts, thinking no one is taking his situation seriously enough.

Elizabeth continues to explain how if the city is attacked, they must consider this as the last line of defense against Earth. Two codes will be required to overload the Naquadah generators.

"You sure it'll do enough damage?" Ford asks.

With a weary expression, Rodney leans over the console. "Ever see a 20-kiloton nuclear explosion?"

"I have." Sheppard sounds nonchalant.

He looks up at Sheppard in shock. Sheppard seems uncomfortable that all the eyes in the room on him now; he shifts his hands on his hips and takes a dismissive tone, "Not up close."

Rodney wonders, not for the first time, what Sheppard's story is, what he was doing before he got to McMurdo. He could easily hack into the files... Rodney has never minded using his skills that way before, but somehow with Sheppard it would feel too much of an intrusion.



John is more worried about McKay than he is letting on. Elizabeth seems to think that the green thing will drop off when McKay is calm enough.

True, it doesn't make sense that the Ancients would design a personal shield to kill someone. But he is still a little concerned.

He has already asked Teyla and Ford to be a part of the team but he hasn't said anything to McKay yet. He seems to pretty freaked out right now about the shield not coming off. And it feels like McKay is just starting to relax around him again.

John doesn't want to aggravate him too much right now, once this shield thing has been sorted out, he will try to have a talk with McKay and convince him to say yes.

His mind is drawn back to the present crisis developing. They are getting reports of sightings... some kind of strange shadow-like creature on the loose.

Elizabeth thinks it is possible that a Wraith presence is projecting illusions. McKay runs some diagnostics and thinks it might be related to the wild power fluctuations the city has begun to experience.



Rodney feels weak but moves from his console when he sees Sheppard enter the control room.

He is so drawn to Sheppard. He can barely think straight without eating or drinking all day and night, his body drawn toward the other man automatically.

He hears Sheppard's voice talking to Elizabeth. He hears himself talking as well. But he feels so far removed and lightheaded. Not long after that, the lights flicker overhead and then everything goes black.

"McKay! You with us? McKay?" He wakes up with Sheppard peering over his face; he is curling his hand over Rodney's shoulder, shaking him through the force field.

Other faces from the control room are looking down at him as well. "Are you okay?" Sheppard asks.

"Can you stand up?" Sheppard is still has his hands over Rodney's shoulder.

Nodding, Rodney isn't quite sure, but he doesn't want to seem pathetic around Sheppard. He can stand. Sheppard helps him to his feet, then pats Rodney's back, or rather the the shield around his back.

"We're going to the infirmary." Sheppard tells Elizabeth. Then he nods at Rodney, "After you."

Rodney walks past everyone staring at him, feeling sorry for himself. As they make their way to the infirmary, Sheppard walks closer than he usually does, out of sympathy maybe for the fact that Rodney is dying.

After some tests, Rodney sits on an infirmary stool expecting to hear the worst. He must be very close to death now.

"He fainted." Carson makes his pronouncement.

"There's got to be a better word." Rodney objects.

"'Faint' is the proper medical term." Carson tells him.

"I passed out." Rodney argues. "From mainly hunger."

Sheppard sounds amused, "Well, hang in there."

Rodney blinks to himself feeling stupid.

He hears Sheppard radio with Elizabeth, "Dr. Weir, this is Sheppard. Ah, McKay's okay. He... He fainted." Sheppard makes a taunting face at Rodney.

"Oh, yeah," Rodney yells after Sheppard as leaves the room "it's very sympathetic. Let's all mock the dying man!"

Despite his glum condition, Rodney returns to the control room and dispenses some advice about the creature that seems to be drawn toward energy sources. Waving an uneaten Powerbar he has been clutching, Rodney tells the room, "If this thing feeds on energy we could be in big trouble. And when I say 'we', I mean 'you' because I won't actually be around for much longer."

Rodney bravely forges on, going with John to investigate the anomalous energy readings in another section of the city. A transporter box takes them to a room where he finds the containment vessel once used to trap the energy creature. He concludes that the Ancients captured the being for research purposes, probably to study Ascension.

When Sheppard asks what Ascension is, Rodney can't believe how little this guy knows about the Ancients. He explains with some exasperation.

"Well, at some point during their evolution, the Ancients reached an, uh, advanced stage of being where they were able to rid themselves of their physical bodies and rise to a higher plane of existence, one in which they live as pure energy."

Upon studying the device, it turns out to be much simpler than he thought. Telling Sheppard and Elizabeth, "It's kind of like a mousetrap." He shows how the device emits an energy signature that attracts the creature.

"The only downside," He explains, "is it looks like someone's actually going to have to be here to press the buttons."

"I'll do it." Sheppard volunteers.

"Okay." Rodney agrees and turns to go.

Elizabeth stops Rodney and suggests that he would be a better volunteer for the job due to the protection of the personal shield.

At that moment the shield suddenly detaches from Rodney's chest.
He catches it before it falls to the floor. God, he is so hungry, he rips the wrapper off of the Powerbar he's been carrying around and bites in enthusiastically.

Sheppard narrows his eyes.

Elizabeth gives him a dismissive look, "I had a feeling".

"What do you mean? Had a feeling about what?" he mumbles with a mouthful of food.

Then he realizes what Elizabeth is implying and walks back over to her. "What, you think I wanted it to come off just now? You think I'm scared? I'm not scared. I'll stay. I'll do this"

"No, that's okay," Sheppard gives Rodney a mocking look, "-you might faint again".

He flounders, "Look, it's just not working anymore that's al- look" Reaching out to Sheppard, he presses the device to his chest "See, it doesn't work on you either"

Rodney is so thirsty now he needs something to help him swallow the food.

"I just meant that it wasn't going to let you die," Elizabeth takes a diplomatic tone.

"It is just a coincidence that it happened to stop working now." Rodney objects. "God I need a drink!"

"Go." Sheppard gives him leave.

He quickly avails himself of some much needed food and drink. When he returns to the control room Rodney bites into food wrap he stole from the kitchen.

With a mouthful of fresh food, he asks Elizabeth if she is ready to turn the off power, so Sheppard can capture the thing. She gives the go ahead and the control room shuts down power in the city. Rodney chews and waits.

"It's coming." Sheppard speaks into the com.

Rodney looks at Elizabeth in anticipation.

"I think we're going to need a bigger boat." Sheppard speaks into his headset.

"Size doesn't matter". Rodney replies.

"That's a MYTH" Sheppard quips.

Jesus. Rodney nearly chokes on the food in his throat but maintains his composure. "It'll FIT."

He quickly continues on with a scientific explanation to make his remark seem as innocuous as he intended.

"The device traps the creature in subspace. You just need to be sure it gets all the way inside the containment vessel."

So unfair that Sheppard can get away with an obvious innuendo like that and nobody bats an eye.

Was that remark directed at him?

Was Sheppard trying to remind him of how huge his cock was? That he had taken Rodney with it? He somehow feels dominated all over again, at the Major's mercy.

Well, it had fit - just barely though. Rodney feels empty and hopes his reply had sounded... 'All the way inside'?

He hadn't really thought it through. Probably best left that way. The Major was just being... well, the Major. Rodney thinks he did a good enough job of sounding like the oblivious scientist. If Sheppard was trying to get a rise out of him, it appeared he had failed.

From the outside, at least.

But the creature doesn't go for the ploy. It must be smarter than he thought. They try rigging up a Naquadah generator to MALP, to get the creature to follow it into a wormhole, but that doesn't work either.

It hovers just at the entrance to the Stargate. The MALP must have lost power before it made it though.

"It could be feeding off the generator or off the Stargate." Rodney tells them, "I mean, this is a disaster."

He tries to shut the gate off but the controls are dead. Glancing at Sheppard, he suddenly feels the need to prove he is strong enough, not afraid. He grabs the shield device out of his pocket and wills it back on.

His stomach is sick with dread but he backs away from the group, quickly walking down the stairs and toward the creature before he changes his mind. He hopes to God this shield will really protect him.



John is alarmed when he sees McKay making his way down the stairs. What is he doing? He doesn't need to do this to prove himself. He's not a soldier...

"McKay?" he yells jumping to action to try to stop him.

It is too late. McKay already immersed in the darkness. John's chest rises and falls sharply as he stands at the edge of the dark void. McKay...

Wait. The creature seems to be finally moving, retreating and disappearing through the open wormhole. When it is gone, McKay is lying on the ground next to the MALP. The Naquadah generator is gone too; McKay must have thrown it through the wormhole.

John runs down the rest of the stairs and drops to the ground next to him. He is unsure of how to touch him. When John had touched his arm earlier, there had been the barrier of the shield between them. He hasn't actually touched McKay since...

Well, before today, John hasn't really touched McKay since John pulled out of him, that night in shower. It's too much. He shouldn't be touching McKay at all.

But John pushes the thoughts aside and reaches tentatively for him anyway. He touches lightly just above McKay's wrist. Gently, just to let him know that he is here.

Then John pulls back for a moment, surprised that the momentary contact has made him flush with warmth. He reaches back to grasp the arm more firmly, feeling anxious as the rest of the team arrives to stand around McKay's body. Is he unconscious? Lifeless?

Running his fingers softly up the inside of McKay's jacket arm, John uses his other hand to activate his com link, "Medical team to the Gate Room!"

Next to him Elizabeth is talking, "He's breathing"

Eyes wide with adrenaline, John looks up at her in relief. He is still touching McKay, willing him to be better.

And then, McKay wakes up.

Elizabeth rests her hand protectively on his chest. "McKay?"

"What happened?" McKay asks.

"You did it." Elizabeth smiles proudly.

"I did?"

"It went through the gate." Elizabeth reassures him.

John pulls his own hand away and smirks, "You must have passed out"

"Well," McKay smiles, "thanks for not saying the other thing."

Yeah. He is going to be just fine. Despite whatever fears McKay may have, he can actually be quite brave... for a scientist. In fact, McKay is going to make a fine member of the team, -just as soon as John tells him.
You can call me John when we're off duty by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 7 takes place during Season 1: episode 4

So, he is allowed to call him John now? His mouth feels dry, he opens it to speak, but nothing comes out for a moment. He is transfixed under Sheppard's gaze.
Finally he finds his voice, "Uh, okay... John."
It feels strange saying his name like that. He blinks, offering his first name in return, "Rodney."
This is so weird; it is like they are introducing themselves again, and he feels so nervous.
. You can call me John when we're off duty

Rodney continues to feel perplexed by how often Sheppard seeks him out. Sheppard obviously isn't interested in Rodney sexually anymore or else he would be coming for him a different way. Sheppard usually just takes what he wants. But Rodney is happy for the attention in any form.

He hasn't had a lot of friends in his life, and isn't used to people trying to spend time with him. Skipping so many grades made him a target for bullies. So, Rodney had learned use his words to cut his attackers and get them to back off.

He had retreated into his own mental world of math and physics. And it had stayed the same throughout college and his professional life; Rodney kept mostly to himself.

No one really bullied him after high school, but he always felt the need to defend himself. Not that anyone really noticed him; mostly he seemed invisible.

The only way Rodney knew how to get attention romantically or otherwise was to push himself to the other extreme, coming on way too strong and overbearing. Almost always, he was rejected, but occasionally it had worked.

Rodney wonders if he and Sheppard are friends now. It has almost felt that way the few weeks. The two of them have been exploring some of the unknown sections of the city at night. It has been fun, kind of scary and thrilling. He is glad Sheppard has a gun with him, just in case. So far, there have been no monsters, just old labs and equipment.

Tonight, Rodney doesn't wait for Sheppard to come to the lab; he leaves early and goes to find Sheppard in the control room. Sheppard looks up as he approaches, his face has that slightly amused expression.

"Ah," Sheppard turns to Elizabeth, "we're going to... go check some stuff out."

Elizabeth looks to Rodney and back to Sheppard, "Let me know what you find."

"Will do." Sheppard stretches up from his seat.

When they get to the transporter, Sheppard points playfully to the map on the controls, "Which way should we go?"

Rodney randomly selects a section with his finger and the doors close. When they open again it is very dark. Rodney waits for his eyes to adjust. But Sheppard makes his way out into the hall. His long gun has a small light on it that beams into the darkness.

And then the lights start to flicker on, not too bright at first; just enough make their way down the corridor. Sheppard lowers his gun and starts to move briskly.

"I don't see what the big rush is, this stuff had been here for thousands of years..." Rodney yells after him.

"Major?" Rodney calls out as he tries to keep up.

Sheppard stops and saunters back to Rodney. Rodney has to stop himself abruptly so as not to run into him. He comes to a standstill about a foot away.

There is an unreadable expression on Sheppard's face as he looks at Rodney, "You know, you don't have to call me Major when we're off duty."

Out of breath and trying to seem unfazed, he meets Sheppard's stare. It reminds Rodney of the way Sheppard looked the night he took Rodney from the front. As Sheppard's eyes meet his with a silent intensity, Rodney remembers the feeling of his hands, his fingers slowly working him open, twisting up into him as Sheppard readied him to take his cock.

"John." Sheppard's mouth curves into a small side smile as he speaks.

Rodney swallows. So, he is allowed to call him John now?

His mouth feels dry, he opens it to speak, but nothing comes out for a moment. He is transfixed under Sheppard's gaze. Oh. He feels flutters in his chest the way he did that night Sheppard had held Rodney's legs over his shoulders and fucked him slow, folding his body over Rodney's and watching his face to learn what Rodney liked while he moved inside him...

Finally he finds his voice, "Uh, okay... John."

It feels strange saying his name like that. He blinks, offering his first name in return, "Rodney."

This is so weird; it is like they are introducing themselves again, and he feels so nervous.

"Okay..." Sheppard's smile widens, "Rodney. Let's go."

He gestures and Rodney follows. He follows... John.

They find a lab that looks interesting and Sheppard fiddles with some of the controls even though Rodney told him not to.

"Look, don't touch that... you never know."

"You're touching things." Sheppard is flippant.

"Well, I'm qualified." Rodney purses his lips, "and you should just wait for me to- "

He stops speaking as Sheppard leans close in over his shoulder to look at a screen. Losing his train of thought, Rodney trials off, "Just..."

As he moves hands over the controls, he can feel Sheppard's eyes on him. Rodney feels his skin flush with warmth and he looks up at Sheppard from the corner of his eye. Sheppard has that affable smile he often does. Where was he?... Rodney looks back down the controls.

"You know," Sheppard's lazy voice comes from behind him, "I was thinking... Just a thought, here. But you might want to consider coming out with us in the field."

"Hmm. No thanks." Rodney frowns at the screen.

"So, that's your answer?" Sheppard turns around next to Rodney, leaning his back on the console.

"Answer to what?" Rodney looks up at him.

"I'm trying to ask you to be on my team." Sheppard sounds exasperated.

Is he serious? Rodney gives his full attention now. Confused, he blinks a few times, staring again.

"Okaaay... So, now I'm supposed to go out in the field too? Risk my life at every opportunity?"

"C'mon McK- Rodney," Sheppard lowers his head in a mischievous way, "It'll be fun -finding all kinds of new Ancienty devices-"

"Ancienty," Rodney cut him off sarcastically.

"It's a word." Sheppard gives him his best smile, head tilted down, eyes looking up with those dark lashes.

And Rodney loses the will to argue. Whatever fear he feels is overcome by a crushing sense of pride that Shep-John has chosen him. He can't say no to John.

"Okay," he blurts out.

"Is that a yes?" John tilts his head looking pleased.

"Okay... Yes." Rodney nods with more clarity.

Then John flashes Rodney a smile that he could almost mistake for being flirtatious.


After a sudden rush of air, Rodney is inside the cockpit with everyone else. Ford must have succeeded in getting the Jumper through the wormhole all the way -they can't have been in pattern buffer long.

Rodney turns to see Teyla pull herself out from under John's lifeless body.

Oh, God... he looks so crumpled like that. Rodney's stomach drops. Oh, no-no-no-no. He knew this was a bad idea.

At least they got rid of huge bug thing that was sucking the life out John. They had tried everything, even firing a gun into it, but it had just kept regenerating itself. Teyla says it was related to Wraith somehow.

They had stopped his heart to get it to let go of his neck. It had worked, but they hadn't been able to bring him back.

Ford steps in from the back of the Jumper; at least he is alive. They are all alive... Just not John. Rodney is jittery, moving towards John's body where it lies motionless.

Biting on his thumb, Rodney rocks his chest slightly in apprehension. The ship lifts into the Jumper bay where a medical team is standing by. He can see John's lean, lifeless chest, with the dog tags hanging to the side.

He remembers seeing those dog tags... falling so perfectly from John's long chest when John had fucked him...

They aren't going fast enough! John is just lying there. Rodney feels no elation at getting the Jumper or himself back safely. It's all empty, just a deep dread about John's condition as he watches the medical team try to revive him. All he can do is stand by, helpless, and feeling far worse than anything he thought possible after this day's misadventure.

Carson jolts John's chest with the paddles. Nothing. The heart rate stays flat.

"Again." Carson makes another try.

Nothing is happening.

Someone lifts a respirator over John's mouth and pumps air in.

Rodney hears the flat tone of the machine. It is supposed to be beeping with the sound of a heartbeat.

He watches as Carson leans over with a stethoscope. That isn't going to do anything. Help him. God.

The tone of the monitor shifts. A blip, and then another. Then it goes flat again. No, no, no, no.

Carson preps the paddles a third time.

"Well done, Rodney." Elizabeth says to him; he had barely noticed she was here.

"We'll see." Rodney's tone is bitter as he watches John in desperation.

The machine beeps again. Oh good, good, it is still beeping.

"We've got a pulse." Carson confirms.

The sounds keeps ticking, it stays steady. Rodney holds his breath.

"Getting stronger... He's going to be okay". Carson sounds confident.

Okay, okay. Rodney still can't stop holding his breath. He has to walk out of the Jumper to get his bearings.

His hand pulls back across his brow and over his hair. He paces back and forth, in and around the hanger bay. He isn't used to being this affected by someone.

He still has that empty feeling in his stomach. Like he has lost something... Like he's lost his friend. He's not very good at this; Rodney hasn't had a lot of friends.

Then he walks back into the Jumper, shifting his feet nervously as he looks at John's face and chest. So achingly beautiful, John looks so peaceful and beautiful.

Fuck. Rodney has to leave. It's too much. He walks back out of the hanger to be alone. He has to get back on solid ground.

Making his way to his quarters, Rodney tries not to think about John. After he takes a shower and changes out of his uniform, Rodney starts to feel like himself again. He heads down to see John in the infirmary. They should have covered his chest with something by now.

He sees Ford, Elizabeth, and Teyla are already there. And John is shamelessly flirting with the blonde nurse attending his neck wound. Flirting seems like second nature to Sheppard. Maybe that's just how he is with everyone...


Doesn't matter, Rodney is just happy he's alive. And happy isn't something Rodney feels too often, it's nice.

Before Rodney leaves, John looks up at him with sincere gratitude, "Thank you... again" There is no disaffected, affable haze. He means it.

John doesn't blame him for his bout of cowardice earlier in the Jumper. He doesn't think Rodney is liability. John's just glad they got out the mess.

As he leaves the infirmary, Rodney's happiness soars and he swells with contentment. Again, something he doesn't feel too often.
Flirtatious flying lesson by
Author's Notes:
Chapter 8 takes place during Season 1: episode 5.

He rubs his palms together nervously standing next to John, who is wearing one of those long black T- shirts that hug his lean body so well.
Oh God, he is standing so close. John never seems to have the slightest problem assuming intimacy with Rodney's personal space.
. Flirtatious flying lesson

It's been 98 days now since Rodney first met John Sheppard. Everything had changed since then. The only time they have really been apart was when John changed his mind about coming to Pegasus and went back to McMurdo for 5 days.

Rodney always knows exact figures. Numbers come easily for him. He normally just knows things like this. It isn't because of John or anything. He knows lots of numbers off hand. Like, well... It doesn't matter.

Rodney just thinks it's weird that they've become so close over these last 98 days. His life before John Sheppard seems distant, unimaginable now. Sometimes they hang out with the rest of the team, but a lot of nights, it is just the two of them, looking for mischief.

They explore little sections of the huge city. They walk out along the ocean on the piers. They tease and make each other laugh. John is one of the only people Rodney has ever known who rebuffs his sarcasm and arrogance as if they were barriers that didn't exist. Rodney feels too transparent with him, John always seems know how to banter back and hit a nerve. So infuriating. But a lot of fun.

He tries to put the rest of it out of his mind. Not to let himself stand too close. But John doesn't seem to have that problem with personal space. He is always waltzing right up to Rodney in his amiable, lazy manner.

Up close, too close. Rodney starts to feel things he shouldn't when John stands too close. Maybe it is just another way for John to try to taunt him. Rodney does his best to seem unbothered, but if he is honest with himself, John always seems to have the upper hand, by just a little bit.

Rodney smiles to himself and turns his attention back to the diagnostic he is running in the Jumper bay with some guy... What's his name? Zelenka, Radek Zelenka –what a mouthful. Rodney spots command subroutine he hasn't seen before. Then he hears a noise and looks up to see a roof panel open to the sky.

Lifting his head back to stare, Rodney gapes, "I had no idea the roof could do that." Oh, he has got show this to John, he will love this.

Rodney radios right away to tell him what he found. John sounds excited and tells Rodney he will be by to check it out as soon as he is finished up with something. He waits in the hanger, buzzing with barely contained excitement.

"Rodney." John comes in with Ford and smiles at him.

John and Ford walk briskly into one of the shuttles. Rodney trails behind and then realizes that Ford is sitting in the copilot seat.

Oh. He swallows his disappointment. He had thought maybe John would take him since... Oh well, it doesn't matter. He finds something else to work on.

When the two of them get back, Rodney is annoyed to hear they found a whole continent on the planet.

"It's huge." Ford brags.

"Define huge." Rodney thinks about something he shouldn't for a minute.

"15 million square miles..." John answers, "Well, give or take."

Rodney takes a place on the opposite side of the briefing table and fumbles with his fingers on the surface. He tries to hide the fact that he feels left out.

John tells them it is only a 25 minute trip. He points a finger, "And, I saw some sweet breakers on the South tip. There may be surfing in our future."

Rodney tries to smile. That is probably another trip John won't invite him on. He has never been very athletic. Bet Ford can probably surf.

He turns his mind to more practical matters like the possibility of food production. Now that the Athosians want to move to the mainland, it might be a beneficial arrangement for the both of them.


Great, John has some cracked idea to capture a Wraith that will probably get him killed. Rodney is starting to regret joining this 'team', but follows the others to the armory.

He rubs his palms together nervously standing next to John, who is wearing one of those long black T- shirts that hug his lean body so well.

Oh God, he is standing so close. John never seems to have the slightest problem assuming intimacy with Rodney's personal space.

It's just good that Rodney knows now it doesn't mean anything. John just likes toying with people. Rodney creases his brows together and tries to concentrate on the task at hand.

"You seem nervous," John looks at him intently.

Fuck. "No." He quickly adds, "I'm a part of this team. I'm doing this." Rodney stares straight ahead.

Still staring at his face John adds coolly, "Yes, you are."

Rodney turns to look at John but then John turns away from his gaze.

"I just said you seemed nervous," John adds.

With John looking away, Rodney shifts his gaze straight ahead again.

"Oh, really?" Rodney quips with a little bite to his tone, "I thought you said 'Rodney you don't have to do this'." He adds a little side glare in case John didn't catch his tone.

Good, Rodney just sounds like he is having nerves about the mission, not anything else like sexual tension... John is just trying to get under his skin -and like always, he manages to.

"Yes, you do." John smiles up at him blithely.

"Damn right I'm doing this." Rodney says defiantly, "Despite the fact that feeling hasn't completely returned to my extremities."

He hopes reminding John of how he almost got taken as prey when one of those Wraith stunners hit him on the last trip out. He hopes it will make him feel just a little bit guilty.

No way to ever tell with that impassive face.

Rodney tries to calm himself with the fact that at least the Wraith use non-lethal weapons to stun their prey rather than kill them. All the better to eat them with later that way.

By the time they are suited up and ready to head out John is dressed looking like the regular Major. Still sexy very though...

On the planet, John has Rodney team up with him. Is it to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't fuck anything up?

Rodney crouches against John feeling almost like real soldier until the Wraith show up. Not much of a soldier after all. Too bad all the energy got drained from his personal shield device. He can't stop staring at his gun and wondering if he's going to be able to stand up and shoot.

"You still seem nervous." John leans into him, this time there is no teasing in his voice, it sounds gentle.

"No, it's good- it's good," Rodney sputters out too quickly "- I'm all good. All good." His eyes are downcast and he tries to say something else but his mouth just moves wordlessly. God he feels pathetic.

John turns around, trying to get a look at the enemy, then signals Teyla. The explosions don't seem to take as many of them out as they'd hoped.

When John stands to start shooting, Rodney finds his body mirroring John's movements and he is squeezing the trigger too. The combined fire takes most of them down. Teyla chases one into the woods.

John moves to the last one standing in the clearing, "This one's ours boys!"

Rodney moves without thinking, joining John in the clearing and firing his Taser so they can take it captive as planned. The Wraith looks unconscious but he seems to have had time to activate a self-destruct. Suddenly everyone is running for shelter as fast as they can.

He lies in the grass, choking on dust when he hears the Major's voice nearby, "You okay?"

"I'm fine, Rodney answers as he stiffly rolls onto his back, trying to breathe and sound relaxed, "I'm fine. This is... This is fun for me."

The Major jumps up easily and runs off after Teyla to help capture the Wraith. By the time Rodney is getting himself up off the ground Teyla and John have managed to bring the remaining Wraith to the gate as a prisoner. As they all head back to Atlantis, Rodney is thankful it is over and he didn't embarrass himself too badly this time.


Lately, John has been too obsessed interrogating his Wraith prisoner to make their evening card games. Rodney doesn't understand why John is spending so much time with the Wraith. It's not like it's going to break and talk. And it isn't going anywhere from behind that strong Ancient holding cell.

Without John, the 3 of them decide to play Rummy instead. Rodney prefers playing Spades, partnering up with John against Teyla and Ford.

Teyla, of course, insists on popcorn, which she has become addicted to, even though that is more of a movie tradition. But Rodney decides he is too listless to play the game. He makes an excuse and calls it an early night.

On the way back to his quarters, John catches up to him. He has brought Rodney an extra sandwich. Brightening, Rodney eagerly agrees to head down for some exploring on the East pier.

They search a number of rooms that night, and return eventually to one of the more interesting ones to eat their sandwiches. They were here once before, when John asked him to join the team.

Everything springs to life as soon as they enter. It is quite an impressive layout, with several unusual looking ancient consoles and huge view screens. Rodney sits in one of the chairs examining a large screen with a map on it.

He takes a bite of the sandwich. Oh that is really good. He mumbles to John, "It must be some kind of geological facility, look this map must represent the Lantean mainland."

He feels John leaning in close behind him. "Cool." He tells Rodney.

Then a warm hand drops onto his shoulder, Rodney gets goose bumps as John peers at the screen with him. He decides that as much as he hates the way John intrudes into his personal space, he loves just a little bit it more.


Over the next few weeks, Rodney doesn't see John as much he would like. John's still busy with his Wraith prisoner. But rather than waiting for John to come to him, Rodney finds himself venturing out of his lab to seek John out whenever possible.

John has agreed to give Rodney a flying lesson and this afternoon, Rodney is going to take him up on it. He finds John down in the makeshift shooting range that the military has set up and waits for him to empty his clip.

If John could hear him, Rodney would make some sarcastic remark, about how hard it must be to make holes through a piece of paper. But he has to admit, John is a really good shot. John steps away and takes off his ear-set.

The way he smiles when he turns and sees Rodney, makes Rodney's skin tingle. He saunters up close, just a little too close. Rodney's own smile is less warm.

He blinks nervously at John, trying to hide whatever he is feeling, "Uh, hi."

"Hi." John is easygoing and unreadable.

"Ah, I was just hoping," Rodney presses his palms together nervously, "if you had time, maybe, uh, I could take you up that flying lesson?"

"Let's go." John lifts his hands in bemusement and lifts his brows.

Right. Okay. That was easy. John likes the fly so this should be-.

"This way." John taps Rodney on the shoulder as he walks ahead.

Rodney knows the way to the Jumper bay. Why does John always have to walk too fast? He follows John into Jumper. John takes the copilot seat and Rodney takes the pilot's chair.

"Okay, now what?" He is a little out of breath.

"Turn it on." John drawls.

Right, right. With his mind. Rodney feels the systems coming to life, seeing the lights flickering on. He lifts his hand uncertainly over the panels on the console. John gets up off his seat and crouches next to him.

"You want hold on here, and don't let go." John reaches his hand down, almost under the panel and points to where the joysticks are located.

He has seen John fly before, he should have remembered. Rodney grips it in his palm.

Then John reaches down and closes his hand over Rodney's. Oh. There are flutters in his chest and lower, in his cock. God. As John presses his fingers down and Rodney feels there the buttons on the joystick.

"Here." John explains, "And here... You're going to want to... do this." He tilts the joystick showing Rodney the kind of motion he is going to want to make. His hand is warm and dry.

"Okay." Rodney squeaks out.

"Keep holding on and..." John moves back to his seat and retracts the ceiling panel, "Now lift it with your mind."

The Jumper quivers and moves shakily upwards. Not smooth and clean the way John does.

"Good start." John tells him, "Just try to keep it steady. Think in your mind about where you want it to go."

It shoots up quickly, too quickly. Had Rodney been thinking about space? They almost hit the side of a building on the way out.

"Whoa." John stops him, "Just hold it here for a minute."

Can he do that? Yes... Yes, the Jumper is coming to a halt.

John pulls up a screen of the mainland on the front window, "How about we head here and do some slow flying over the mainland?"

Rodney puzzles at the image, "I don't know where that-"

"Just think about it." John gestures with relaxed wrist.

Looking at the image first, Rodney closes his eyes trying to concentrate; he can feel something happening. When he opens his eyes the Jumper is moving again.

"Okay," John looks at the screen, "not exactly on course, but in the general direction. That's what we want to see."

Rodney glances over to the handsome pilot next to him.

John smiles. John has a lot of different smiles. Most of the time they are some variation on some sort of bemusement. He seems flirty and assessable but still so detached, unreadable. It's like nothing can reach him, least of all Rodney.

But Rodney smiles back, he feels like he is starting to get the hang of this thing when the radio crackles. The Control Room is calling them back.

"Rain check." John promises Rodney before he takes over and flies the Jumper easily back into the hanger bay.

Disappointed, Rodney doesn't give up, he is able to get a few flying lessons in over the next couple weeks. Other evenings he makes his way through the empty city alone. He stays in the areas that have already been cleared, just to be safe. It is downright spooky out here.

He stumbles back over the geologic lab that he and John found before. The room whirrs and comes to life as Rodney enters. Rodney runs his hands over the controls and flips through some of the different subroutines.

Strange, this thing doesn't have any real geological data. It is more of an interface for... What is this? Rodney enters in some data sets and blinks at the outcome. This thing almost seems like a game of some kind. John likes games.

Rodney stares at the screen in excitement, "Sweet!"
Let the games begin by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 9 takes place during Season 1: episodes, 1-13.

Rodney walks up behind John in the enclosed space. His front shoulder makes contact with John's back and stays there.
John notes with some happiness, that in the months since Antarctica, Rodney has become far less skittish around him.
He might be comfortable being this close to Rodney, but Rodney never ventures into John's proximity like this.
. Let the games begin!

"McKaaay!", Speaking over him, John tries to cut Rodney off before any more diplomatic damage is done.

Today is one of those days where Rodney doesn't make him want to rip his hair out in frustration; today Rodney's quirks are making him feel humorous and affectionate.

This second day spent on Hoff is proving to be just as dull as the first. It was supposed to be a promising world in terms of technology, at least in this neck of the woods. But as the Chancellor gives John's team a never-ending tour of his nation's 'advances', it seems diplomacy and handshaking is the only thing they can accomplish here.

That is, until the leader of the Hoffan people mentions 'a viable defense' against the Wraith that they are working on.

"Defense?" John asks, his ears pricking up. "Really?"

Rodney walks up behind John in the enclosed space. His front shoulder makes contact with John's back and stays there.

John notes with some happiness, that in the months since Antarctica, Rodney has become far less skittish around him. He might be comfortable being this close to Rodney, but Rodney never ventures into John's proximity like this. And Rodney seems so completely at ease right now.

Focus, John.

"We've been here two days before you mention that?" John asks

"I had to learn that you could be trusted." The Chancellor confides. He goes on to explain that his people are hoping this 'weapon' will protect them from the next Wraith culling, which is expected in 50 years or so.



"50 years you say?" Rodney winces and gives John an accusatory look.

John's eyes grow; he presses his lips together tightly before licking them and taking a breath. Yeah. And John just woke them up early.

Rodney takes a mental note that John always seems to press his lips together when something is bothering him.

Suddenly he is aware that their bodies are actually touching, that he can feel the heat between them. And now he is staring at John's lips. They look full, too perfectly bowed -not like his own unremarkable lips.

He still wishes John had given him the chance to kiss those lips, at least once... Rodney wants to know if they feel as good as they look.

"How about that weapon?" John's voice brings him to reality.

"Yes, yes" the Chancellor beckons "If you'll just come this way."

The weapon turns out to be a drug, an intended vaccine against the Wraith. When Carson tests it, he is brimming with excitement over its potential. He convinces Atlantis they should use the captured Wraith for experimentation and perfection of the drug.

Rodney is hurt when John doesn't even ask him to accompany the rest of them on the trip back to Hoff with the Wraith prisoner. He tries not to take it personally that he is the only member of the team that is grounded.

Days go by, and Rodney preoccupies himself with working on the game, learning how it works.

Then Atlantis receives a communication about a dire turn of events. The vaccine worked -it not only immunizes but kills the feeding host as well. Only, people are dying by the hundreds of thousands, about 50% of the population is dying form the vaccine.

After Hoff heard the Wraith were reawaking ahead of schedule, they pushed forward in desperation, disregarding Carson's precautions about limited human trails and inoculating the entire civilization.

Now there is nothing they can do really except help dispose of the dead. Rodney joins the rest of the team on Hoff to help with the medical emergency. When he arrives, it is a grim scene. No one really acknowledges him; they all look too sickened by the consequences of this alliance.

John in particular, has a haunted expression in his eyes. Rodney knows him well enough to realize he is blaming himself for this. Maybe Rodney can cheer him up when they get back, show him the game.

For the next few days, John manages to avoid all of them after work. John eyes seem faraway and less amused than usual. He certainly isn't going to be coming by the lab like he used to, so Rodney decides to take matters into his own hands.

That night he joins John for dinner while he is sitting at one of the long benches in the cafeteria. John barely acknowledges him and keeps eating. Rodney talks nervously, filling in the gaps. He is apt to do that when he is nervous. Nothing he is saying is important and John doesn't seem interested. Rodney swallows a bite and watches John.

"What?" John feels him staring and looks up.

"Oh." Rodney starts, "Um, I have something I want to show you... In one of the labs."

John lowers his head and keeps eating.

"It's a game." Rodney offers, "I think it's an Ancient game room"

"What kind of a game?" John looks back up slyly.

"I think it's a, kind of a..." Rodney snaps his fingers in excitement, "'Risk' and 'Settlers of Catan' combination." He looks at John questioning, "You know those board games?"

A smile is tweaking at one side of John's mouth as he nods.

"Well, I think, it's kind of like that, but more complicated." Rodney adds.

John lifts his nearly empty tray off the bench and stands up.

Rodney wolfs down another quick bite or two and follows suit.

They get their laptops first and some cords to help interface the machines, then Rodney takes John down to the game room.

He shows John the map again, explaining, "Two societies separated by a river straight down the middle. Each with their own resources and talents."

Rodney reveals the many features and facets he has found for these fictional civilizations. The variables they can input to this simulated world are almost infinite.

He types into one side of the two opposing consoles, "Yeah, what you do is, you take these countries that are already in the database and assume control of them. You can control everything, proper sanitation systems, water delivery..."

"Transportation, warfare..." John starts typing into his side, getting into the swing of things.

"I mean every detail can be manipulated." Rodney moves his finger over the board, "I mean right down to the women's hairstyles."

Selecting a blonde short spiky hairdo that looks like Samantha Carter, He smiles and speaks to the image on the screen with approval, "Hello there."

John stands up and peers over Rodney's shoulder, "Blonde, huh?"

"Yeah, I have a thing for blondes with short hair..." Rodney admits, "You know, like Samantha Carter."

He forgets for a moment that John hasn't met Colonel Samantha Carter, then offers another explanation, "Only the brightest physicist in the SGC, after myself, of course."

"Of course." John nods, "So, you and this Samantha Carter, dated then?"

"No..." Rodney tilts his head thinking, "We didn't exactly. Well, no... There was a kiss on the cheek, perhaps."

He turns in his chair to look at John. John has his eyebrows raised humorously. Rodney folds his arms over his chest, "No, but, okay... I dated Teresa Geldar, and she's the one I named my country, Geldar, after."

"Geldar huh? Blonde?" John smirks.

"Yes." Rodney looks at him evenly.

John squints one of his eyes in thought, "Mmm. So when you say, dated...?"

"We were an item... for a time." Rodney purses his lips.

John looks dubious and Rodney keeps talking because that's what he does when he is nervous, "Technically, it was only two dates. But I spent a lot of time with her after that, too. We would talk when I saw her in the library or when I would go to the coffee shop where she worked. I think we had quite a connection."

"So... You were stalking her?" John lowers his chin in jest.

"It wasn't stalking." Rodney sighs in exasperation, "She technically agreed to both of those dates, so..."

Embarrassed, Rodney types into his laptop to change the screen.

"Whoa." John sees one of the images Rodney is flipping through, "What was that?"

"Oh. You like that?" Rodney flips back to an earlier page, "It's my new flag. For Geldar. I designed it myself."

John's eyes are wide for a moment as he takes in the pixilated mug of Rodney's proud-looking face.

Rodney is startled by the sudden sound of laughter behind him. He spins around to see John pointing with one hand and clutching at his side with the other.

He glares in fury but John keeps looking at the screen and laughing, "I'm sorry. Oh. That's just... quite possibly..."

John inhales to stop a laugh, "The dorkiest thing. I've ever seen."

"Oh." John looks at the image and laughs more deeply, "That face you're making."

"It's. My. Face." Rodney is glaring so hard he can barely see John through his eyelids.

"Oh. Oh..." John snickers with his fist on his brow. "McKay. You slay me."

He had thought it looked pretty good; Rodney looks at the flag again.

John is biting his lips and trying to stop himself from laughing.

"Well... Then, what are you going to use?" Rodney asks indignantly.

"I think I'll just go with whatever's in there already." John waves his hand back toward his side of the game.

Rodney stews, silently plotting. At least John seems like he cheered up a bit, even if Rodney is the butt of the joke. But he will make John pay for mocking him. Geldar will have its revenge. Sweet, sweet revenge.
John so has an inner dork by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 10 takes place during Season 1: episode 9

John makes Rodney forget everything he knows. Rodney feels so powerless to please him. And just as eager to hide that fact with his sarcasm.
It feels like John can see through him anyway. He just breezes through whatever shields Rodney has, as if they don't exist.
. John so has an inner dork

After a unexpected breakthrough -finding a planet capable of powering a return trip home- Rodney is happy to be back from a galaxy where danger lurks around every corner. He returns from his debriefing at the SGC, eager to be get home to his apartment.

In the low light, he notices that his message machine is not blinking.
He presses the button anyway. It announces, "You have no new messages."

"Huh, must've been a...power failure or something," he answers out loud. Or could it be that his absence wasn't even missed? Much more probable. He sighs softly.

With another exhale, he reaches for his remote, settles himself into the comfortable couch, and turns on the TV. This is good he thinks, I don't need anyone - I never have, and I don't now.

His self-talk is not working; he can feel the emptiness in his chest. Over the last 6 months, he can't remember having any down time without one of his team members present.

Usually John. Why does it always come back to John? God. Why can't a nice, attractive woman come into the picture? That would be a healthy distraction. He should really find someone...

There is a knock at the door, interrupting his thoughts and snack munching. It's his neighbor, the girl who said she would watch his cat for him even though she thought he was a jerk.

Not knowing what to expect. Rodney offers a meek, "Hi."

The conversation goes surprisingly really well. In fact, she says she missed him and wants to see him later tonight. 'To catch up', whatever that means.

Rodney happily agrees and returns to his snacks feeling much more relaxed and less lonely than before. While watching one of his favorite 'Twilight Zone' episodes, he drifts off into a light nap.

A knocking on the door wakes him up. Is it his neighbor Stephanie again? Disoriented Rodney calls out "Hang on" as he stumbles off the couch to open the door.

It's Elizabeth. Embarrassed, Rodney is suddenly aware than he is wearing only his 'I'm With Genius' T-shirt and some underwear.

In a rush to get his pants on over his boxers, he explains to her that he has a date with the neighbor who is watching his cat -Apparently missed him.

Elizabeth cuts Rodney off to tell him that there has been an accident with the spaceship Prometheus, the one that is supposed to be their return ride back to Atlantis.

He mentally scraps the idea of a date with his neighbor, and returns to the SGC to find a solution. The idea of not returning home... Rodney stops. Since when has Atlantis become home?

Okay well, the idea of not returning to Atlantis, actually sounds unbearable. He may not feel comfortable with all the Wraith around but he feels safe in a different way there, a way he has never felt before and doesn't want to lose.

Maybe it's the feeling that he matters, or at least matters to some people there. It is different from the isolated world Rodney has always lived in. 'Rodney the scientist' on Earth, well, no matter how brilliant his work, no one seemed to care about him.



John arrives at 'his' house with Teyla, smiling because it is a house full of things he never had but wished he did at some point.

"Just like I left it," he speaks out loud, waiting for the wizard to come out from behind the curtain.

Nothing seems to happen so he prompts Telya to follow him, assuming that some beer will magically appear in fridge under the bar.

"Perfect," he proclaims pulling two out and handing one to her. Teyla is asking him about his house and he decides to play along with this charade until he can get to the bottom of it. When she mentions something about his friends and the doorbell rings.

At the door, he is greeted by two familiar faces, Mitch and Dex. He tries to smile but he is confused and horrified.

The men at the door are his friends all right, the only kind he seems to have, dead ones. They pepper him with friendly questions but John can only stand there numbly gaping in the doorway.

He knows none of this is real but it hurts deep down below the walls he has built up to protect himself. It's a painful reminder of how alone he is and that he ultimately has failed everyone that ever meant anything to him.

"So you so going to invite us in or what?"

The question makes it through the fog in his mind. John jumps to sound casual, "Yeah, sure. What the hell?"

As he shuts the door behind them, John fights for composure, trying to remind himself that this is a military situation. He has to get control of his emotions to properly assess the threat level.

The smile on his face is weak and faltering like a kite wavering in the wind. His chest feels like it's on fire. And it is only the beginning.

More people from his past keep showing up, creating an impromptu party in this fake bachelor pad. His Air Force buddies take center stage telling tales about past military exploits.

He watches the scene unfold passively, feeling sick to his stomach when they toast him on his flying skills. He wonders where Ford and Rodney are and if they are holding up better than him in this tortured reality or whatever it is.

On cue, Ford rings the bell and steps through the door. But no sign of Rodney. He doesn't know if that is good or not. This might not be the real Ford, or the real Teyla for that matter.

What he wouldn't give for a little real Rodney right now... John pulls at the front of his shirt and feeling hot and claustrophobic.

The room is just filled with too many people. People who don't exist in his life. People that would only exist for a person that knew how to have friends, not an 'emotional cripple' as his ex-wife had called him.

Thank God she isn't here. He quickly tries to banish her from his mind before she appears as well. Her and the person he misses the most...

He strolls back to the crowd where his Air Force buddies are still telling war stories. He's losing patience, he does not want to think about Afghanistan again... not ever. Before he has think about losing Holland, he interjects into their timeline.

"...Then, two days later," John swallows and looks up with a bit of mock surprise, "you guys were killed outside of Kabul."

John pulls his chin up higher and lets his face fall into an impassive challenge.

"What do you mean?" Teyla asks.

"Their chopper took an RPG when it touched down for a Medevac." John tells the room. More softly he continues, "There was barely enough left to bring back for a military funeral."

Dex spits out the question, "What?!"

John raises his voice in turn, "You guys have been dead for years."

Realizing there is too much venom and pain in his voice, John drops back to a casual sounding cadence. "Now don't get me wrong, it's really nice seeing you..."

Trying to obscure the grief he is feeling, he continues pointing out the various figures from past periods of his life that don't belong. Nobody belongs here. Least of all him.

John doesn't have friends.

"Shep, I think we should take you to see a doctor." Dex replies.

Incredulous, he replies, "Oh really?"

"Yeah", Mitch pipes up, "Yeah, you're acting pretty strange."

Laughing and feeling a bit manic, Sheppard retorts, "Oh, I'm acting strange, huh?!"

He grabs his gun impulsively, looking at Mitch. 'Your not real'. John shoots him in the shoulder.

"Major!" Teyla shouts in alarm.

"You shot me!" comes the accusation.

John stands with his gun still leveled at Mitch, "You're already dead!", he shouts.

Ford tries to jump in between Sheppard and the other man "Sir, give me the-"

"I'm beginning to have my doubts about you too, Lieutenant." John turns the gun on Ford and he backs away, "I wouldn't put them to a test."

Then, with the gun still pointing at the group, he takes a swill of beer to cool his head. John grits his teeth in frustration, "Now somebody..."

Swaying his arm to freely target his audience, John bellows, "explain to me WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!"



Suddenly Rodney is back in the SGC gate room and an alien is explaining that they have all been immersed in false realities. These aliens were the 'mist' that Rodney had mistaken for energy.

To keep the team from using their life force as a power source to dial Earth, the aliens created these illusions to keep the team immobilized.

But now the illusions have been broken, especially by John, who alien says is "uniquely capable of manipulating his own fabricated reality."

John cuts in, "When I think of the scenarios I could have thought up, I'd kick myself". He throws back a nod to Rodney.

Rodney gulps nervously. He doesn't know if he is being taunted, but he was just thinking he could have had John. The way he wanted him. Personal and close, with kissing even.

Oh God. He had been watching television and eating junk food.

And he'd imagined going on a date with a somewhat cute neighbor who hated him. Which never even materialized. Oh well, crappy self esteem, what are you going to do?

"So none of this is real?" Rodney states rhetorically. After a pause, he continues, "The cute brunette. Of course, I should have known. I mean, how do you go from... 'You're a pig, but I like your cat', to 'I missed you'?"

Stupid, no one has ever missed him. Rodney knows this is not the appropriate time to be feeling self-pity but something about this fake reality has made him incredibly sad.

The alien explains, "We lacked a sophisticated understanding of your world, as a result the illusions we created from your thoughts were ultimately flawed."

"Well, the dead people were a dead giveaway." John grimaces.

Rodney stops feeling sorry for himself and wonders if John experienced any kind of pain in his reality. "Dead people." he begins, "What were you doing?"

John gives him a nonchalant expression. He's seems fine. The Major doesn't seem to be bothered by much of anything.

The alien still seems to think the team is a threat... that they would knowingly kills millions of the alien life forms just to return to Earth. But the team manages to convince it that if they are allowed to return to their bodies, they will not attempt to try to gate to Earth.

They are returned to where the bodies have been lying, in front of the alien stargate. Rodney begins removing the special DHD crystal, the only one capable of dialing Earth.

"Rodney, be careful with that," Elizabeth tells him. "I want to make sure we can get back home."

"You mean Atlantis." He corrects her automatically.

John speaks up, "I think that's what she meant".

And Rodney realizes that Atlantis HAS become home, for all of them. Still, he finds something argumentative to say to John. Because, in a way, that also feels like home.


Eyeing the clock, Rodney closes his laptop. It's time to meet John in their secret liar. When he steps into the room, he sees that John is wearing one of those long black shirts that clings to his tall lean chest.

Did Rodney ever get to touch that chest when they were... whatever they were?

He doesn't think so, he would remember that. Rodney sure remembers what John looks like with his shirt off. Sex personified. Not an ounce of fat, long toned arms.

The whole body just seems to radiate ease and confidence. Rodney thinks about John's naked body. His chest. There is a small line of hair that trails down from his smooth muscled torso, reaching from the small dusting of short dark hair above his nipples and over his chest.

It stands out as a dark line over the light skin, down along his stomach. The trail accentuates the lines, the length of him. And lower... It flows into the dark bush of hair in his groin. Just above that amazing cock.

In his mind, Rodney can see the angular hips that frame it. Oh. The way they ground into him, as John that pushed that cock up deep, deep into him.

Rodney's own cock twitches involuntarily and he feels the fluttery rush of arousal. No, no, no, don't think about John that way. Forget the past... that way is only pain. Focus on the game.

Why does John still have this effect on him? It is so unquantifiable. Rodney likes proofs, figures, facts... They leave him on solid ground. That way he always knows the answer, knows he is right.

It is easier living in world without emotion. Without fear or longing. A world of numbers, right and wrong. Feelings are unpredictable; they have always scared Rodney, left him with no footing.

John makes Rodney forget everything he knows. Rodney feels so powerless to please him. And just as eager to hide that fact with his sarcasm. It feels like John can see through him anyway. He just breezes through whatever shields Rodney has, as if they don't exist.

It isn't right, he shouldn't be thinking about John like that anymore. But Rodney finds himself pushing further, doing things that are far out of his realm of comfort. Trying to impress the Major by doing things like wielding a gun or attacking an enemy... The kinds of things Rodney would never, in a million years, consider doing before.

Being with John is so unpredictable, infuriating... but exciting.

He tries to forget the past and think about the way things are now. John likes Rodney more, now that they are friends. At least he thinks he does... Why else would John spend so much free time with Rodney?

Rodney just has to find his footing. Be less affected.

Looking at his screen, he sees that a lot of his variables have yielded positive results. Now there are so many more new perimeters to examine. Rodney can't believe how involved this game is. He plots fresh strategies and enters them into the console.

Sheppard's country looks like it is lagging behind. He feels pleased with himself for looking at the bigger picture, the long run. John is always looking for quick, easy solutions without thinking through the infrastructure.

Rodney squints his eyes at John and wonders what kind of technological advances John is giving the people in his side of the map. Probably he can't provide the kind of technical schematics Rodney can.

Not that Rodney would provide them with nuclear power or anything like that... but Renaissance level, perhaps. It could be a definite advantage.

Sometimes at night, Rodney feels guilty when he strokes his cock thinking about John. He should be over this by now. But over time he just wants John more instead of less. Maybe if Rodney didn't spend so much time with the man. But it is so fun, making kitchen raids late at night, playing their games together.

He feels a little bit special when he is with John. He feels light and breathless, despite how cool and detached John is, teasing Rodney mercilessly. Of course, Rodney gets his digs back in.

And then John drops the cool act altogether and gets dorky with him. Talking about favorite dinosaurs or best comic book heroes... They got into quite a debate recently over Batman vs. Superman.

John gets most of Rodney's obscure TV references to old Sci-Fi and Horror shows. Rodney has even invented a game where one of them lists an actor while the other tries to guess the show they appeared in. Most people wouldn't know the shows, let alone the actors.

John so has an inner dork.

There must be something wrong with Rodney for feeling so happy. He is happy just to be around John, no matter how out of reach, no matter how much Rodney lusts for him.

Looking up over his game screen, Rodney peeks at John. With his legs slung up on the console, John scowls and looks over at Rodney suspiciously. Rodney squares his shoulders back, staring at John behind his large opposing screen.

Typing into the keyboard on his lap, John feigns disinterest. So Rodney types back, entering new parameters into the game. He catches John leaning over, not enough to really see anything, just enough to be playful.

Rodney scowls in mock irritation. The two of them keep making changes to their countries. They take turns popping their heads up and stealing glances over the screens. It is just too much fun.
A flash of pure desire in John's eyes by
Author's Notes:
Chapter 11 takes place during Season 1: episode 11

They just stand there. And Rodney lets his body move just enough to lean in and enjoy the sensation of John up against him. He can feel John's bulge pressing up against his ass. Not fully hard, but definitely there. Oh, this feels so good.
. A flash of pure desire in John's eyes

After the massive storm and raid by their new foes, the Genii, John speaks with Elizabeth and Rodney to assess the damage. They didn't come out unscathed, but the city is still intact, thanks mostly to McKay's plan. Using the lightning rods to harness enough energy from the shield, protected them from the Tsunami.

John can't let himself think about how scared he had been when he thought he might lose Rodney, in fact he can barely bring himself to meet the other man's eyes.

That Genii bastard, Kolya, had hurt Rodney. John knows Rodney probably feels bad about revealing the plan. But Rodney had handled himself well, activating the intercoms and tipping John off. Then Rodney had managed to save Elizabeth's life when Kolya had sworn to kill her.

When John had been on his own in the abandoned city, taking on the Genii soldiers, it had felt like Rodney was there with him. He had talked himself through it, 'Okay. What would McKay do?'

In Rodney's lab, John saw a sign propped on some boxes. It read, 'Really Really Dangerous Don't Touch -McKay'. He could almost feel Rodney there about to scold him. John tried to put himself in his friend's shoes and come up with a brilliant plan to save the day. And it came to him. Power. McKay would go for the power source and take it out.

Right now, John can't look at McKay, he keeps his focus on Elizabeth. He doesn't want to betray how much emotion he feels over the fact that Rodney is safe... or how close he came to losing it when he thought Rodney might die. Instead, he stands away aloof and disinterested.

Rodney tells them that Beckett is suffering from a concussion, as he and Teyla were attacked in the Jumper Bay. Rodney points to a bandage that has been applied over his jacket, "I mean look at this. I had to do this myself."

It is probably just a scratch knowing McKay; the guy doesn't have much a tolerance for pain, John doubts that Kolya did much lasting damage. Still, he burns with rage thinking of anyone hurting Rodney. It felt good to sink those 2 bullets into Kolya's chest as he fell back into the wormhole. When John is done checking the status reports, he will come take a look at Rodney's arm himself.

Then Rodney finally catches John's eye and gives him a weak smile, he looks unsure of himself. Probably still feeling bad about giving the plan away to Kolya... John will definitely look in on him later.

After finishing up with Elizabeth and making sure their personnel are returning home, John circles back to find Rodney, grabbing a med kit along the way. It will be a while before the all the evacuated personnel are back and someone should look at his arm.

When John spies him, Rodney looks sad, alone, stooped over a console. The bandage over the jacket looks a little too bloody. Rodney starts when John walks in. His eyes look sad.

"Let's get you looked at." John walks up reaching for Rodney's arm, the part that isn't hurt.

"Uh, who's going to look at it?" Rodney is flustered, the way he always is when John touches him.

"I once dated a field medic." John shrugs.

Rodney looks at him dubiously.

"I do know basic first aid. I can put on a Band-Aid." John adds.

Rodney glares but doesn't move from under John's touch. John pulls the gauze off his jacket.

"Careful," Rodney winces, "it really..." he stops talking as John's hands move softly over his arm.

Gingerly holding the arm in place while unwrapping the make shift bandage, John inhales sharply when he sees the blood pooled on the jacket. He looks at Rodney a little guiltily.

"Ouch, that's gotta hurt."

"Yes, thank you, it hurts." Rodney makes a face.

"We gotta get this thing off." John eyes the jacket. He reaches his hand up tugs on the front.



Oh God. John did not just tell him to take off his jacket? Rodney flushes and closes his eyes.

"Here." Rodney feels John pulling on the zipper.

He looks up at John startled. But John is focused on the jacket, he has it completely unzipped now. Rodney's mouth is dry as John starts moving the jacket off the uninjured arm and Rodney cooperates, moving easily out of it.

"You ready?" John walks behind Rodney and lifts the collar gently on the other side.

Rodney nods as John slowly peels the jacket down to the elbow.

"Okay, just like a Band-Aid," John places his other hand on the sleeve, we'll-"

Son of Bitch, that hurt!

"Ow, ow, ow, ow," Rodney complains loudly as John dabs at the wound.

"This might hurt a bit." John stops, frowning. He hands Rodney the loose gauze and gets something out of the medical case.

"Just make it quick." Rodney says holds the padding under his arm.

Holding Rodney's wrist in his fingers, John looks at him. Those green eyes are so unreadable but the way John is looking at him makes Rodney forget about the pain.

John just keeps looking at him and Rodney feels nervous.
Is he upset because Rodney fucked things up with Kolya? He doesn't look that upset.

He feels the heat of John's fingers on his wrist. Rodney loves the way it feels when John touches him.

"Okay." John blinks softly with those long lashes and looks down at the wound.

Oh Jesus. Sweet Jesus. Rodney braces himself. This hurts worse than when they carved him up. He bites his lip and tries to be brave.

He hates seeming weak in front of John, something that happens far too often. While John cleans it up, he winces and lets out some soft whines but keeps from doing anything too embarrassing.

"Okay buddy," John moves his grip and captures the back of McKay's hand in his palm, he straightens out Rodney's arm into the light, "That looks pretty bad. You might need some stitches, and some..."

Waiting for the rest, Rodney gazes at John's face. He doesn't feel as vindicated as he hoped he would. Mostly, just defeated and sad about letting everyone down.

"Hey." John squeezes his hand.

Rodney blinks at him.

John's face is so inscrutable, there is something deep in those eyes, but Rodney can't place it. John's voice is soft, "You did a good job there."

As Rodney starts to roll his eyes, John squeezes his hand again, "I've been captured by the enemy before."

When he looks back into John's eyes, they are stormy. John's voice is a little hoarse, "I've been tortured and I don't blame you for doing whatever you needed to survive. I understand."

Sighing, Rodney wishes he knew more about John's past, more about what goes on behind those eyes. Rodney looks at the mysterious Major. John's face reveals acceptance not judgment.

Hesitantly, John places his other hand on Rodney's shoulder, and moves it across his back in soft, uncertain strokes.

And then Rodney sees something unmistakable.

A flash of pure desire in John's eyes. Whoa. Okay.

Rodney's mouth falls open.

"Thanks." He stares up at John in wonder.

John's face has slipped back into its' easy mask as he escorts Rodney to the infirmary, to wait for the other medical staff to return. But Rodney knows what he saw, even if it was just for a moment.


The next few weeks are a whirlwind. Nothing bad happens. It's just the rush of being with John makes Rodney feel lightheaded lately. Rodney lets himself indulge completely in his fantasies at night.
The two of then practically spend every spare moment together now.

Tonight John wants to take Rodney to the gun range and teach him to 'handle his weapon properly'. Not the kind of thing Rodney would normally be doing, but he can barely contain his excitement as he makes his way down. John looks so sexy in his long sleeved black shirt.

And Rodney could swear he is being sultry with his expression. John has seemed to take every opportunity to touch Rodney these days and tonight is no different.

John gives instructions physically as well as verbally. He positions Rodney and stands behind him. He leans in close, folding his arms around and holding the gun with his hands on top of Rodney's.

Trying to keep the gun steady at the target, Rodney inhales shakily. John moves his hands to the rest of Rodney's body, shifting his weight. He bends his knee into Rodney's to show him how to stand. Rodney blinks happily. Then John's hands move away and Rodney feels heavy earmuffs go over his head.

It's okay, John doesn't need words to communicate what he wants from Rodney. John puts an ear set on his own head and returns behind Rodney again.

His body is pressed up so close, his arms hugging against Rodney's. And the hands, the hands moving over Rodney's hands... He feels John moving the gun angle and then his finger presses Rodney's, letting him know to squeeze the trigger.

Rodney pulls and recoils into John's chest. John lifts the earmuffs off of Rodney's head and explains verbally how to breathe into it and keep his arms steady instead of pulling away as soon as he fires. Returning the earmuffs, John physically positions Rodney again.

Every touch radiates through him, he feels so relaxed. He can do this. John is holding him and Rodney lets himself press back into John instead of pulling the trigger again. John doesn't object.

They just stand there. And Rodney lets his body move just enough to lean in and enjoy the sensation of John up against him. He can feel John's bulge pressing up against his ass. Not fully hard, but definitely there. Oh, this feels so good.

John's hand closes over his again and brushes against Rodney's trigger finger. Rodney exhales deeply and pulls.
Oh my God- He's in love with John by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 12 takes place during Season 1: episode 12

When John makes that kind of face he looks so young and innocent, his lips look so pouty and kissable. Rodney wants to kiss him right now; he wants to kiss him so much it aches.
He wishes that he could be like John and just take what he wants.
. Oh my God- He's in love with John

Finally. John is finally letting Rodney pilot the ship on a real mission. It's exhilarating. He doesn't mind the way John so attentive and consumed with every move Rodney makes.

Usually Rodney doesn't like people telling him what to do, but with John he doesn't mind. John likes to stay in control when it comes to certain things. And Rodney is just happy to be the one piloting this mission.

"Ease up on the controls a little." John smiles.

"I'm fine," he tells John. Rodney is concentrating for all it's worth; maybe he is a little tense.

"You're going to snap the damn things off. Ease up." John persists.

It sounds ridiculous coming out of his mouth but Rodney says it anyway, "I'm just seeing what this baby can do."

One of the guys in the back of the Jumper, Abrams, snorts, "Did you just say 'this baby'?"

"It's perfectly appropriate space pilot parlance." Rodney bristles. But it comes out sounding like more of a question than a statement. Dammit. How is it that John can get away with saying things like that and he can't?

"Just fly the baby in a straight line." Lifting an affectionate nod toward Rodney as he says the last word, John looks like he is trying to hide his amusement.

"I'm flying in a straight line." Rodney tries to make another statement but it sounds like a question.

John pulls up a view screen that reveals Rodney's anything but straight flight path. "Not so much." He offers gently.

"Well in space, all motion is relative." Rodney looks to John for reassurance but he just raises his eyebrows in response.

The other guy in the back of the Jumper, Dr. Gall, is complaining about motion sickness.

"These things have inertial dampeners, you shouldn't feel a thing." John tells him.

Gall explains, "I know we're moving, that's enough for me."

"Why'd you choose this guy for the mission?" John whispers conspiratorially to Rodney.

"Brendan's the one that discovered the Lagrangian Point satellite was out here, Elizabeth felt he should see it for himself." Rodney leans over to explain.

"Don't let go of the controls!" John suddenly extends his arms over to Rodney's side, gesturing.

"Snapping doesn't help!" Rodney raises his voice back.

"This is why parents get someone else to teach their kids how to drive." John sighs.

"I'm both insulted and touched by that." He retorts.

As they approach the satellite, John murmurs, "McKay..."

Rodney knows even before he says it that John wants the pilot controls. The two of them rise and seamlessly fold around each other in the tight space -as they have on many previous flight lessons.

It's a dance that they can do without even moving their eyes from the view screen. Rodney feels like there is something very intimate about this, knowing someone well enough that you can anticipate their movements.

"Yes, yes, of course, please." Rodney mumbles softly without realizing it.

The weapons satellite seems to be dead but they pick up a weak Wraith distress call from the planet below.

They radio Elizabeth so Rodney can tell her the findings, "Look if any part of that ship is intact, the wealth of scientific and military knowledge we could acquire is invaluable."

John is nodding while Rodney is talking.

"So what are you saying?" Elizabeth asks cautiously.

"We have to go down and take a look." Rodney pleads.

"You have to?" Elizabeth sounds guarded, "It took you almost 15 hours to get to there."

While Elizabeth is talking, Rodney turns to John and mouths very dramatically 'Help me!'

John's eyes go big and damn he looks good in that tight black shirt. Rodney doesn't understand how someone who is so strong and fierce can also be so boyish and adorable.

When John's eyes go big Rodney feels fluttery and thinks about Antarctica... back when John had wanted him and took what he wanted.

When John makes that kind of face he looks so young and innocent, his lips look so pouty and kissable. Rodney wants to kiss him right now; he wants to kiss him so much it aches. He wishes that he could be like John and just take what he wants.

John keeps looking at Rodney all wide-eyed, his lips moving just barely, like he is parsing out what Rodney wants. And then he gets it. Suddenly his face shifts back to 'the Major'.

Before Elizabeth can continue, John sounds serious, "Well, all the more reason we should..." His cadence falters for a moment but he continues, "have a look. We're already here."

Gall pipes up about how the planets atmosphere is extremely ionized and radio communication could be difficult.

Rodney gives him the quick shut-the-fuck-up signal by waving his hand across his throat.

'This is weird' Rodney muses, since when has he become the guy so eager to go confront danger?

Since he met Sheppard, he realizes. John's really changed him. Rodney wonders if that is good or bad, objectively speaking, but realizes he doesn't care because it feels good. It feels really good to be with John.

"And", Elizabeth continues, "it would take at least 15 hours to send out any kind of rescue."

"We'll-be-fine" Rodney blurts.

Elizabeth asks, "Major?"

Rodney turns to John, knowing his answer already, "I agree with McKay" he says, as if he has given it careful consideration and thought.

"Of course you do", Elizabeth isn't buying it, she sounds a bit sing-song and sarcastic. "How could either of you resist exploring a crashed alien spaceship?"

"Exactly." John says frankly.

Trying to sound mature, Rodney tells her, "I assure you our interest is purely professional Elizabeth." The moment he says it Rodney is hit by the irony of that statement.

Yeah right, his interest in John is purely professional.

"Seriously," John sounds convincing, "the amount of intel we could gather from their weapons system- codes, shields..."

"All right," Elizabeth consents, "Proceed with extreme caution, please, and check in with me in three hours."

"Oh, three hours, that's hardly enough time-"

"Will do." John cuts him off, giving Rodney a pleased look that says 'this is going to be great'.

John probably would have been the most fun kid growing up; Rodney wishes he had known him then.

Of course Rodney never had these kinds of fun adventurous in childhood, and John would have been too cool to hang out with a dork like him.

For some reason, the mental image of he and John in a tree house comes to mind.

The planet turns out to be a desert. While John is still in the Jumper, Rodney discretely applies his SPF chapstick and snipes with their two sidekicks.

John steps out all looking tough and cool with his aviator glasses on and tells them to head out.

As they all walk through the sandy plain towards the Wraith ship, little sparkly flies swirl up out of a dirt hole. Rodney loses whatever bluster he had, swatting and sputtering about what a severe bee allergy he has.

John just smiles, naming them 'space-bugs', while Gall laughs at him for his 'girlish' fear.

Rodney ungracefully stumbles out of the area and they continue to the crashed vessel.

Once inside, they split up into teams of two. John and Rodney start to speculate on the odds that a Wraith could survive in these conditions for 10,000 years. It seems unlikely, but to be safe John radios the other scientists and tells them to regroup.

But by the time they get back it is too late. Abrams is already dead, and Gall is barely alive. Rodney tends to Gall even though he appears to be dying. He tries to reassure the injured scientist, "I'm sure the paralysis is just temporary, you'll be alright in a few hours."

"I told him where we left the Jumper, he took my remote." Gall confesses.

John's body stiffens and Rodney knows he knows he is planning to try to take the Wraith out by himself. Feeling both guilt for missing the life sign reading and panic that John is going to leave him, Rodney tries his best to argue with him, raising his voice for effect.

"I don't have time to argue about this!" John screams right into Rodney's face, but his eyes don't look angry.

Rodney goes quiet and John's voice drops back to normal, "Now set your radio to channel 2 and don't use it until you hear from me." With that he is gone.

"Major!.. Major!" But it is too late.

He turns his attention to tending Gall's wound and tries not to worry about John.

A few minutes later the radio comes to life, "McKay."

"Still here." Rodney answers.

"Son of a bitch beat me to it. He's fast." John sounds sore, like a boy scout who failed the prize."

"Then you should get back here." Rodney tries to take control of the situation again.

"Negative." John drawls.

Rodney clamors, "There's no point in you being out there-"

"He's aboard my ship." John states possessively.

"What are you Captain Kirk?" Rodney taunts, "What good's it going to do him?"

"I don't know." John admits innocently, "Maybe he can hot-wire the damn thing. I don't want to take a chance."

He tries in vain to point out again that it makes more sense to wait for a rescue party given how dangerous the Wraith are, but John is obstinate, insisting that if all goes well, he can come back for them in the Jumper.

"And if all doesn't go well?" Rodney argues uselessly.

"It will." John sounds cocky.

With a pragmatic pessimism, McKay points out, "Things haven't gone all that well thus far."

"You know, Rodney, these guys do die if you have enough firepower." John sounds instructive the way he does on a flying lesson.

Yeah, Rodney thinks bitterly, and one guy going after a Wraith alone isn't a hell of a lot of firepower. This is such a stupid argument, "Well, eventually yes but-"

John interjects with that infuriating Driver's Ed instructor voice, gentle, reassuring, and mildly condescending, "Try and stay positive."

Sure he'll keep it positive while looking into Gall's deathly eyes. Rodney isn't as scared for himself as he usually is, mostly scared that John is going to do something rash and get himself killed.

He can't really imagine life without John anymore. Rodney feels so close to him. Of course, everybody likes John. Most people in Rodney's life haven't cared much for him.

And even though he and John never talk about what they mean to each other, he does feel at least a little bit important to John. Why else would he seek Rodney out whenever he had free time? It isn't mandatory to give your teammate flying lessons. Or shooting lessons...

It's impossible to say, John is so hard to read. Rodney just knows that he loves him, so...

Oh. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. Bad, Rodney. Very bad idea. He tries to will the thought away. But is still there. Rodney realizes, maybe it always has been.

Oh my God. He's in love with John.

Okay... so whenever he started to... love John, he obviously realized that it was a bad plan and kept it repressed for a reason.

Hence, he is quite capable of repressing it again. It can be a purely professional relationship. No reason it should be any different now, should it? Rodney's had plenty of experience with wanting people who didn't want him back. It should be easy-


"Major!" Rodney's voice is sharp with relief, "What's happening?"

"I thought you should know- round one was a draw." John's voice is less confident.

"I don't like the sound of that." Rodney worries.

"Me neither." John agrees. "I took some fire."

He should be out there with John, watching his back. Rodney is feeling an anxious pit in his stomach, "Are you injured?"

"Yeah, that's what I mean by 'I took some fire'. But... I don't think it's too bad, but my P-90's out of commission. He found a 9 mil in the Jumper, figured out how to use it pretty fast."

"Well, the Wraith will heal itself." Rodney points out the obvious.

"Yeah, no kidding, I put at least 20 shots into him and a couple more for good measure" John sounds tired.

While John is theorizing about why this Wraith is so strong, Rodney's eyes dart from side to side thinking about how he needs to get out there to help him.

"Can Gall move his fingers yet?" John asks.

"Barely" Rodney answers.

"All right," John directs, "Then stick a gun in his hand."

Confused, Rodney asks, "Major?"

"Just in case I don't make it back. Sheppard out."

The bottom drops out of Rodney's stomach. No-no-no-no-no, he can't let this happen.

He tries to act nonchalant for Gall, "That's comforting, huh?"

Not much later he hears an explosion and yells into his earpiece, "Major, what the hell what that?"

John sounds unconcerned, "I almost blew myself up."

"What?" Rodney is stricken.

"Stay off the radio I'm busy" John tells him.

"Right, he's busy." Rodney mutters. He makes an effort to keep Gall's spirits up. And to keep himself from getting lost in his own thoughts.

"You want to get out there and help him, don't you?" Gall eyes Rodney carefully.

"What?" Rodney's eyes go big shakes his head in disbelief, "Me go up against a Wraith? Are you kidding?"

"You do," Gall smiles with approval, "I can tell." He takes a breath and looks softy at Rodney, "You've changed."

Rodney shifts his weight uncomfortably as Gall continues, "You really want to get out there."

"Shut up," Rodney blurts, not wanting to talk about any of this.

Gall is undeterred, "Don't get me wrong. I'm impressed. You want in the fight. The Rodney McKay I knew would never-"

Inwardly he completes the sentence '-would never fall in love with his commanding officer?'

Out loud he tries to sound official, "You heard the man. We're staying right here."

He kneels down and gives Gall the extra gun as Sheppard instructed. As he looks into Galls pain filled eye, he tries to project strength.

But Gall isn't doing well. He tells Rodney with calm assurance that he is dying and can feel what the Wraith did to him, "He left me with just enough strength so that you would have to watch me die."



John has figured out that the 'space bugs' are attracted to food and uses a Powerbar to lure them nearby in order to get the Wraith to come out in the open.

He has set up a grenade under a radio. The Wraith falls for the ploy but even the blast does not seem to injure him.



Rodney hears a second explosion, "Did you hear that? I think the Major may be in trouble and if he's in trouble, we're in trouble."

Hopeful, Rodney asks Gall if he can move but Gall says "Not a chance, I'm not going anywhere."

"Okay. That's okay". Rodney tries to contain the rush of adrenaline he is feeling.

"Go. Rodney just go. Save the day" Gall urges him.

Rodney knows he can't and won't leave Gall behind. He feels like a 13-year-old girl right now, gushing out his thoughts about the Major without thinking.

"What I really want to do is call him on the radio, but I'm afraid if he's hiding from the Wraith, I might inadvertently give away his position, and let's face it, what chance would we have against the Wraith if Sheppard can't take him out? I was hoping you'd be strong enough that I-"

A loud gunshot punctuates Rodney's rambling speech. He spins around in terror to find Gall has shot himself.
Memorizing the feel of John against him by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 13 takes place during Season 1: episodes 12-13.

Rodney has been drawn into John's orbit... And now, it is where he belongs. It's not Atlantis that feels like home, Rodney realizes, it is John.
John has become his home.
. Memorizing the feel of John against him

The Wraith is coming for John now. He pulls out his gun to fire what remains of his ammo but it isn't enough. Knowing his odds of survival aren't good, John still pulls out a knife and goes in for hand-to-hand combat.

He is no match for the Wraith. It tosses him down like a rag doll and is about to feed on him when Rodney shows up and shoots it once in the back.

John is flooded with relief when he hears Rodney scream out, "Major?!"

"McKay." He calls back.

"What do I do now?!" Rodney is pointing the gun at the Wraith and screaming.

"Keep firing everything you've got!" John struggles to sit up.

That's right Rodney; just keep firing like I taught you.

The Wraith is making its way towards Rodney. Rodney keeps firing until he empties the clip.

"Okay, now what!?" he yells.

"Reload!" John yells back.

Now Rodney is emptying a second clip into the Wraith. Okay, John's gotta come up with some kind plan-

A radio call interrupts his thoughts. Thank God. The rescue Jumper is within range.

He has an idea. While the Wraith is making it's way to Rodney, he fumbles with another Powerbar.

"No more bullets!" Rodney screams.

Before the Wraith can reach Rodney, John makes a lunge for it and manages to wedge the Powerbar in its armor before being thrown free again.

As he hears the sound of the space bugs buzzing, he orders the rescue Jumper to fire on the biggest life sign they can detect. He just hopes he and Rodney can get far enough away.

"McKay, run!" He calls out. John can see Rodney running as the blast hits. He falls to the ground with the force of the explosion, then lifts his head up, "McKay?"

He needs to know if Rodney is safe.

And then he sees Rodney peek up from behind a distant rock and wave cheerfully, "Still here!"

The radio sputters to life, "Sir, this is Ford, the target is gone."

"Well", John replies, "It's about damn time."

Teyla speaks up apologetically, "We got here as soon as we could, Major."

"That's not what I meant." John shakes his head because he didn't mean to say that out loud. He meant... it was about damn time that the Wraith died and about damn time Rodney showed up.

He had told Rodney to stay away but he was proud, really proud of how he had handled himself. He had gone from being a thin-skinned scientist to a guy that John could really rely on.

And it has been a long time since John felt looked out for like that. There is something more, a warm feeling in his stomach when he thinks about Rodney. He tells himself maybe it's just the kind of feeling you get when a guy saves your life.

Not one for self-reflection, he usually tries not to think about this stuff. But he knows if he's honest, it has always been more with Rodney. This desire to be close, to draw Rodney into his world...

John knows he fucked up whatever chance he had for more back in Antarctica, but he is happy for whatever they have now.



Rodney runs up to John feeling too gleeful... considering everything that's just happened. He feels like hugging him but stops himself just a few feet shy, feet firmly planted in the sand.

He looks down to hide the emotion swelling in his chest. When he looks back up, John is gazing at him, the sunglasses are gone and his face looks dirty.

His expression is hard to read but John blurts out a hoarse sounding, "Thanks."

Unsure of how to respond, and still out of breath, Rodney manages a, "Yeah. You too. You okay?"

"Other than this," John gestures to his shoulder, "and a few cracked ribs..."

Now Rodney is really glad he didn't hug him. Besides the fact that would have been really, really stupid... He doubts that anyone under John's command has ever hugged him after a mission. The two of them stand awkwardly together for a moment catching their breath and occasionally giving each other sidelong glances.

John asks him about Gall and Rodney looks down in grief, shaking his head, "No." he answers softly.



When Rodney can't meet his eyes, John realizes that Rodney hasn't been afforded the vast experience that John has had with people, friends, dying under your command.

Once the thrill of surviving wears off, this is going hit him hard. He's got to make this up to Rodney, maybe more flying lessons.

He walks toward the Jumper to take Rodney's mind off things, "You'll have to put the ship back together, provided you can disarm the shield."

"Fine", Rodney follows behind, "As long as we get to go home."

"You can drive." John smiles at him.

"Oh, thank you." Rodney says sounding tired but pleased.



Fortunately, Rodney's job of getting the shield down is made much easier by the assistance of the second Jumper. The Wraith has made quite a mess of the insides; Teyla and Ford lend a hand in getting it back together.

One of the other guys from the rescue ship helps Sheppard get out of his field vest and shirt. Rodney tries not to stare while he is taping John's ribs and redressing his shoulder.

A shirtless John no matter how sweaty and dirty is always a beautiful sight. Then John lazily pulls his shirt back on. They say their goodbyes and thank yous to the rescue party.

"See you back at Atlantis." Teyla smiles.

"I don't know," John quips, "Rodney's driving".

Ford laughs on his way out of the Jumper and Rodney shoots John a dirty look. When the door closes, John stands silently with his arm on the low roof.

Rodney moves to the front of the cabin but makes no move to power the Jumper. John doesn't seem ready to go yet, so he waits.

After a few minutes, he hears John shift his weight, "Rodney?"

The voice sounds both heavy and fragile. Rodney hears it as 'Come-here-please' rather than a question to be answered.

He stands up and walks to the back of the Jumper. John's eyes are full but Rodney cannot read the expression.

John steps very close to Rodney looking at the floor, then imploringly at Rodney's face. John's eyes squint up suddenly and he casts his gaze down again. Rodney waits for whatever it is he needs to say, hesitantly watching him.

He lifts his face up to Rodney again, meeting his gaze, John begins, "Can I just-"

Then he takes a resolute step forward without finishing and folds his arms around Rodney with a sigh.

Rodney is too shocked to say anything. Not that he would want to say anything and break the spell. His arms are pinned to the side of his body by John's embrace, so he is not really participating in the hug, rather just receiving it.

This is heaven.

This is everything he's ever wanted from him. It feels so good with John's chest against his; every part of his body that is touching John feels on fire with pins and needles. Pins and needles but very, very good. Exquisite.

John's body relaxes, his tall lanky form stoops a bit and he drops his head to Rodney's shoulder.

Rodney let out a quiet gasp but neither man says a word. Rodney never wants this to stop. He leans into the hug and nestles his face against John's chest. He wants to let John know that he wants him to keep doing this, he never wants it end.

As he feels all the tension draining from John's body, Rodney realizes that John needed this even more than he did. He wonders if John ever lets his guard down like this with anyone.

Certainly not when he and John had been lovers. Had they even been lovers? Was that what to call it? Rodney doesn't think so, there hadn't been much love involved, at least not on John's part. Rodney has gotten to know the man a lot better since then. And if Rodney didn't love him then, he knows he does now.

John is very hard to resist. He is charming, open and friendly with everyone. He seems easy, playful, and unflappable, but Rodney knows better. He knows John can't stand being close to people, that he keeps them at arm's length. John has created a deceptive garden in front of the armored walls of his heart.

Most people will never get to know John well enough to realize those formidable walls exist.

For John to share this vulnerable moment with him is... huge. John never asks for anything, never seems to need anyone...

Of course, Rodney could easily be describing himself. Except in his case there is no garden, just a venomous pit of sarcasm and bad temper. Doesn't leave a lot of room for people to get to know him, or ever like him for that matter. He supposes it is easier to give people a reason not to like you than to wonder they don't why later.

John's body moves imperceptibly and his hands squeeze Rodney's back like he is bracing to let go. Rodney pulls in closer to John's chest.

'No please, don't go John, please don't go. I love you, John. Don't let go'.

And John's hands move a bit, patting Rodney's back, as if he has read his thoughts and is trying to give Rodney comfort too. Rodney lets out a big sigh and relaxes again.

He tries to savor every last moment, memorizing the feel of John against him, the feeling of his hair tickling his neck, the stubble on John's chin poking through the shirt on Rodney's shoulder. His beautiful body relaxed against him, curving into him.

Feeling every breath rising and falling. It is the most perfect, the happiest Rodney has remembered being in a long time. It could only be better if his arms were free to reach back, to touch him and show John how much he feels.

But Rodney knows better. John likes to be in control, this is probably the only way he could let himself go, and if Rodney does too much or says too much it really will break the spell. John will shut down and give him an empty smile.

So Rodney contents himself with the pleasure and closeness he can feel now. It is already more than he ever thought he would get from John. John lifts his head and steps back with his hands on Rodney's shoulders.

He looks at Rodney with weary and grateful eyes. "Thanks." he whispers.

Rodney's eyes are big and soft, he just nods.

"I feel better now." John bobs his head and gives a small but authentic smile.

His hands drop from Rodney's shoulders and he gestures an arm toward the cockpit, "Shall we..."

Again, Rodney just nods and follows him.

As Rodney takes the pilot seat, John turns to look at him, asking, "You ready to take this baby up?"

He is smiling, looking like his usual self, but Rodney can easily see the affection and tenderness shining from his eyes.


Since their mission to the desert planet, it feels like he and John are getting so close, it seems like more than friendship. The way John looks at him, Rodney feels...

Oh. Too much. He wants John in every possible way. He feels like he belongs to John, he has ever since Antarctica.

Even though John has that infuriating way of acting aloof and flirty at the same time... But Rodney lets himself imagine that John wants more with Rodney than he does with most people. He can't be sure; he has never been great at reading these things.

Rodney feels so much himself; he is worried that he is coloring in emotions that aren't there for John. Still, he starts to reach out himself, trying to act flirty, using every opportunity to have physical contact.

Like when the two of them make late night kitchen raids, Rodney grabs food out of John's hands just to get into a wrestling match. They are brief of course and John always wins.

When he and John go to the shooting range, Rodney pleads, "Can you just show me how to hold it again?"

John obliges and they spend most of the hour with their bodies pressed close. It feels like more than friendship... If someone were to walk in on them, Rodney is sure it would raise some eyebrows. At work John is completely professional, aside from the sniping and banter of course.

But Rodney has always sensed something cagey about John. The way he leaves abruptly, the lack of intimacy. Rodney knows that closeness doesn't come easily to John and is afraid that if he makes a move, John will bolt like a wild horse.

Maybe for now it is just better to be hopelessly in love and enjoy the closeness he has. Just because Rodney is used to getting rejected doesn't make it any less painful. In fact, it makes the pain more acute and humiliating.

In the past, there have been times when Rodney has mustered the courage to come on really strong and brash. But that has taken a lot of effort and he has always maintained an air of condescension to fall back on once he is almost inevitably rebuffed.

And that has only worked when Rodney doesn't care about or really know the person. Yeah. He hasn't gotten much result with that tactic. But he hasn't had much success with the wait and see method either.

He hadn't thought he would be interested in anybody after things ended with Alex. He had felt broken through and through, possibly forever. The last thing he ever thought was that he would fall in love with John. But there it is.

And Rodney wants him more than he has ever wanted anyone. There is something about him... It's not just how sexy he is or the way John can make Rodney feel when he is fucking him...

It is John himself, as a being, as a soul. Rodney is drawn to him, like an irresistible planetary force, Rodney has been drawn into John's orbit... And now, it is where he belongs. It's not Atlantis that feels like home, Rodney realizes, it is John. John has become his home.


As the weeks tick by, Rodney keeps debating with himself over whether or not to reach out, try to get closer. The sexual tension is palatable, Rodney is sure he is not imagining that.

John never seemed to have a problem taking what he wanted from Rodney in the past. And Rodney doesn't know why John isn't doing anything about it now when it feels like they are on the verge of fucking all the time.

Still, Rodney has had some pretty bad malfunctions with radar before and he doesn't want this to be one of them. He just couldn't take it if John rejected him. Rodney wants to be sure of all the facts before he takes a risk and tells John how he feels.

Rodney is puzzling over his dilemma when a contagion hits the city. Two deaths occur, members of a large science team that Rodney had searching distant areas of the city.

They were exposed to something that was released from a containment vessel during the storm. A nanovirus is the cause, giving the victims terrifying visual hallucinations before they die of a brain aneurysm. The city is quarantined but one of the scientists breaks loose, infecting a large number of personnel.

John offers to save the day by delivering a massive EM pulse. The only problem is that he has to use a Jumper to drop the nuke 20 miles above the city to make it work... The city would be safe from a radiological standpoint, but John will be at risk trying to outrun the blast wave.

Rodney is just coming to terms with the fact that he has fallen in love with... the Major. Now he is feeling morose about never getting a chance to tell John how he feels.

While John positions a Jumper over the city, Rodney tries to think of something else he can do to help. He cautions, "You're only going to have 30 seconds once you release it before it explodes. You need to get as far away as you can."

"Get as far away from the nuclear explosion as possible." John repeats back to him, "That's good advice, Rodney. Thanks."

"You're welcome." Rodney's mouth curls up with a sour expression. Okay that was pointless.

John voice crackles over the radio, "I'm releasing the generator... Now."

Rodney knows John can accelerate the Jumper pretty fast. He just hopes it is enough to outrun the shockwaves.

He feels the blast from the pulse reach city and Elizabeth calling, "Major Sheppard, come in."

There is nothing but silence. Rodney looks up even though he can only see the ceiling. 'Oh please. Oh please. Oh please'. Rodney doesn't believe in deities but this is closest he has ever come to a prayer.

Elizabeth keeps on the com, trying to reach John but there is no response.

'Oh please. Oh please... If he's alive I'll tell him I love him, I will stop being such a coward, even if John doesn't feel the same. I'll take the risk, just let him be alive, let him be alive still, let-'

"This is Sheppard, I've cleared the blast. I'm returning home."
I can be romantic by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 14 takes places during Season 1 (between episodes 13 &14)

Rodney makes his move... the aftermath is messy.

. I can be romantic

Over the next couple days, Rodney can hardly think straight when he is around John. He tries to imagine how he could possibly admit to being in love him. It's not like it's going to come up in casual conversation. They are always bantering and joking around, but serious talks don't exactly seem like John's cup of tea. They aren't really Rodney's forte either.

The idea of a letter crosses his mind, but he dismisses it as too 13-year-old girl. Maybe there is another way. John likes to drink and Rodney won a bottle whiskey off Carson during a chess game. Carson had thought he could hold his own against Rodney. A rookie mistake. No one can beat Rodney at chess.

Not that Rodney had really wanted the bottle, he had just wanted to win. Maybe one of these nights when he and John go out on the pier... Maybe with a little alcohol, Rodney could work up the courage. Maybe. Maybe tonight.

Rodney heads out of the lab early. John always comes by to find Rodney when he is finishing up. If Rodney leaves now, he will have time to get the loot and make it back before John shows up.

He races to his room, grabs the bottle and couple of small cups. But he doesn't want anyone else to see this and try to join in the fun. Rodney snaps his fingers thinking... A small blanket... he has one, it's around here somewhere. He wraps it over the contents, hoping it doesn't look too conspicuous, and heads back to the lab with it tucked under his arm.

Feeling flushed from his brisk walk, Rodney waits impatiently. Maybe it's not the walk that his him flushed. He hopes his cheeks don't look too pink and tries to calm himself.
He is so nervous. What is he going to say?

Oh God, what if John rejects him. Maybe Rodney doesn't have to say too much. Just something to let John know that he wants more.

Better not to think about it. Just let it-. John walks in looking casually sexy as always. Rodney has been sitting facing the door in anticipation, usually he waits for John to lean over his shoulder and ask what is he doing.

"Let's go." Rodney jumps to his feet and races to the door.

John follows him; waiting until they are in the hall to ask, "Go where?"

Rodney stops and unfolds the cache.

"Whoa." John raises his eyebrows, "Cover that back up. We don't want anyone else to see it."

"The pier?" Rodney suggests.

"Let's go." John tells him, looking pleased.

The two of them make their way out to the empty North pier and sit on the edge with their feet dangling. This is one of John's favorite spots, Rodney knows he prefers this pier to the others. Not sure why though, they are pretty much the same even before the sun goes down.

"Oh, this is good." John smacks his lips, "Good plan Rodney."

Rodney sips his glass; it burns in his throat and makes him feel warm. He and John talk, the way they always do.

This is going to be harder than Rodney thought. He feels like they already have something intimate... but how can Rodney take it to the next level? He refreshes their drinks and stops looking for an opening.

He just isn't good at this kind of thing... He'll leave things the way they are. Maybe he can just love John from a distance and not risk the rejection. Rodney doesn't like risks or rejection. But something about John makes him want to try anyway. Chugging the rest of his glass quickly, Rodney makes a face as it goes down.

"All right, Rodney." John laughs.

Oh. Maybe that was too much. Rodney feels like it is going to his head already. He leans back and looks at the stars, "You know, none of these stars here in the Pegasus galaxy have names."

"They have names, Rodney." John smirks.

Staring up at the night sky makes him feel calm. He always liked looking up at the stars. It is one of the only times he feels safe being small or insignificant in the universe. Physics is the closest thing to spirituality to him. The elegant design of the cosmos.

He sighs, "It's still beautiful."

"Who knew you were such a romantic?" John sounds surprised.

Rodney tilts his head back and looks at John, speaking softly, "I can be romantic."

John stares at Rodney with those inscrutable dark pools, those bewitching eyes.

And Rodney stares back. John must be able to see how much Rodney is longing for him. He must.

"You know, we could name them." Rodney quietly ventures.

"Okay." John looks up thoughtfully.

Pulling out the blanket, Rodney folds it into a small pillow. He sits up and hopes John will follow him. Placing the blanket on the ground, he lies down on his back. There is just enough room for John to join him on the makeshift pillow. Rodney holds his breath as John moves over to him.

John looks down at Rodney inquisitively before kneeling, but he lays down right up against him. They are so close. Rodney's breath hitches; he can feel John's arms and legs resting along side his. So close but still too far away. Rodney sighs.

Using his free hand to point, Rodney asks, "What about that one?"

"That one?" John points to the same prominent constellation.

"Yeah it kinda looks like wings... If you look at the –"

"Yeah," John interrupts, "I see it. So, what do you want to call it?"

"The Batcape?" Rodney puzzles.

"Okay, your naming privileges are officially revoked." Rodney can feel John's head brushing against his as it shakes lightly.

"Well, after my favorite superhero."

He can hear the smirk in John's voice, "Yeah, I got that."

"Well, what then?" Rodney frowns.

"I think it looks more like chariot... Momento Mori."

"Moment what?"

"Momento Mori." John says with confidence, "It's Latin for 'remember that you will die'.

"That's cheerful." Rodney retorts.

"See, the Roman generals..." John explains, "When they came back from a victory, to the waiting throngs... There was this guy who rode in the chariot with him, calling to the crowds, 'Momento Mori, Momento Mori'...

It was a reminder not to be overconfident. A victory one day can be snatched away the next. Enjoy life while you have it and don't be overconfident. You know... one day you may feel exuberant and immortal, the next day you could be gone."

John pauses, "I think it's kind of romantic."

Turning his head to gaze at John, Rodney doesn't make his usual snippy comment.

As John stares up at the constellation, Rodney admires his profile. But then John turns his head on the pillow and gazes back at Rodney. Almost close enough to kiss.

"I think it reminds us to cherish the most essential things in life." John tells him "Not to forget that we are human... sometimes we can mistakes."

He looks away for a moment, then gazes intently into Rodney's eyes, "You know, sometimes I make decision early on... I can get locked into one way of thinking..." he says it as if he might be talking about Rodney.

"There are some decisions I wish I could take back, or maybe I just wish I been more..." John blinks at him with soft eyes, "done something more. Let myself..." His eyes bat down almost shy.

Rodney trails his fingers over the back of John's hand next to him.

When John looks back up, his eyes are full of longing, but John stays very still.

It seems like John wants this as much as he does. Rodney's breath is coming in shallow and he feels dizzy now. He curls his fingers around John's hand, holding it softly.

"Uh, I, sometimes..." Rodney licks his lips, "I've been thinking that I want live life more... I mean, sometimes I hold back... a lot..."

Lifting his head off the pillow, Rodney can't believe he is about to do this, "I don't want to hold back anymore."

He leans forward, inches above John's face. And John's hand flutters under Rodney's. Then it squeezes Rodney's hand tightly into his. John gazes up at him, his face full of desire under the alien moonlight.

Rodney leans in slowly to take what he has been wanting for so long.

As he feels John's breath on his lips, warm and just a whisper away, John suddenly releases Rodney's hand out from under his and stumbles back away.

With a horrified and disgusted expression on his face, John tells him, "I'm sorry," he shakes his head like he has tasted something sour, "I don't know how to do this."

All of Rodney's usual defenses are returning, he makes a bitter and sarcastic face as he reels from the sting of rejection, "Really? Because I kinda thought you did."

"No, I- I can't." John walks backward, "Sorry, McKay" Then he turns away and is gone into the darkness.

Oh. Okay. Now he's McKay again. Rodney feels cold and empty. What ever led him to believe that John would want him again? It was stupid, so stupid. Rodney hates himself so much.

He isn't the kind of person that anyone would care for that way. Why did he get his hopes up? How can he ever face John again? Rodney doesn't usually drink but he feels like the rejection has shocked him sober.

Well, he doesn't plan on staying that way; tonight he plans on drinking plenty. He is going to get good and drunk to forget all this. Numbly reaching for the bottle, Rodney tries to crowd out the dark thoughts in head. Just long enough until the liquor does it for him.
It's not like I'm HOLDING BACK on you by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 15 takes place during Season 1, Episode 14

John, of course, is acting like nothing happened. Not a care in the world, glib even. He should stop thinking of him as John; from now on it will simply be Sheppard or the Major.

. It's not like I'm HOLDING BACK on you

John wakes up drenched in sweat. Had he been screaming?

It happens from time to time when he is stressed. The nightmares about Afghanistan come back.

He had been so afraid earlier when McKay had been about to kiss him. Now the knot of fear has spread; it is tangled up with dead people and the past. He sees Holland's face and squeezes his eyes to make it go away.

His hands wring the pillow under him. God, the fear is just so twisted up inside. John could never try to explain it to anyone else. He can't even explain it to himself. He just has to fight it back down and try to sleep before the mission tomorrow.



Rodney wakes up with a searing hangover the next morning. The night before comes rushing back at him and he feels the shame. Oh God, he had tried to kiss John.

The team has to go off world today and Rodney will have to see him. He is in a terrible mood as he gets ready, being heartbroken doesn't really agree with him. It is going to be hard to face John after what happened. Rodney will just have to rely on his usual shield of bad humor and condescension.

By the time he sees John, Rodney is unpleasant, even by his own standards. John, of course, is acting like nothing happened. Not a care in the world, glib even. He should stop thinking of him as John; from now on it will simply be Sheppard or the Major.

Approaching the planet, the Jumper is attacked by some Wraith Darts; the weapons fire takes out some of their systems. Sheppard complains to Rodney to get their weapons back online.

"McKay!" John shouts to the back of the Jumper. Apparently Rodney isn't going fast enough for him.

"I'm almost there!" Rodney yells back.

A few moments later he informs the Major, "Okay, you should have weapons now."

"Negative." Sheppard replies.

"Are you sure?" Rodney is confused.

"Positive!" Sheppard shouts while trying to avoid the Wraith fire.

"I'm pretty sure I fixed it." Rodney looks back to the screen.

"Well, obviously you didn't!" Sheppard sounds like he is losing his patience now.

The Jumper is rocked by a small explosion.

"McKay!" Sheppard spits out his name like it is a swear.

Thinking about how Jo- the Major treated him last night, Rodney is angry himself. He uses his words to make a point. "It's not like I'm HOLDING BACK on you!"

That should shut him up. And it does.

Fortunately, the weapons become a mute point when a strange energy device destroys the Darts for them. Sheppard decides they should land on the planet to find out more about what kind of weapon so easily destroyed the Wraith ships.

The village on the planet seems rural rather than technologically advanced. To Rodney, the people seem overly superstitious about their Godhead, Athar. If there's one thing that gets under his skin it's the false illusion of religion. And all the injustices and prejudices that come with it.

The people on the planet claim no knowledge of what Rodney can only assume is an Ancient weapon protecting the planet. The team is guided on a strenuous hike to meet the high priestess, Chaya. As Rodney walks through the gate entrance he sees the Major gaping at a beautiful woman.

He knows Sheppard well enough to tell when is aroused, or at least he thought he did. In this case it is unmistakable. Sheppard doesn't know this priestess at all but she is staring back at the Major with open lust.

When Sheppard speaks to Chaya, he sounds nervous, like a boy with a crush. Rodney rolls his eyes.

Chaya holds Sheppard's hand, lingering for a long time and then turns to the rest of the team, welcoming them all by name.

Rodney bristles and juts his chin out as Fords asks him. "How did she know that?"

"Please. The abbots ran ahead and told her" Rodney abhors superstition.

The Major seems completely enthralled by her, his smile and conversation seem saccharine, and unlike the man thought he knew.

Sick of all the niceties, Rodney confronts her about the presence of a weapon. But Chaya acts innocent and denies knowing anything about it.

"Are you sure about that?" Sheppard asks softly.

She directs her full attention to him, "Yes".

"Oh, please". Rodney groans.

Sheppard shoots him a look that says 'Shut-up-Rodney' and reminds him out loud, "Rodney, best behavior."

Oh, it's Rodney now, is it? He responds, "This is as good as it gets, MAJOR."

Continuing curtly to the priestess Rodney winces, "Chaya, the only reason we're alive is because of a powerful energy weapon that emanated from somewhere on this planet. It destroyed the ships that were shooting at us. That weapon is what's keeping the Wraith away."

"No Dr. McKay," Chaya instructs, "it was Athar who protected you."

"Athar?" Rodney throws his head back in contempt.

"Yes," Chaya answers coolly even though Rodney is sure she is lying, "Athar saw you were in need".

As Sheppard steps in to smooth over the ripples, Chaya seems to purr to the sound of his voice. In the background, Rodney shakes his head in disgust.

Chaya leaves to go pray for guidance over Sheppard's request. They are hoping this planet could provide sanctuary to the others in the galaxy who are suffering from the Wraith affliction.

Rodney confronts Sheppard, "You're buying into this?"

Sheppard says something about religious tolerance, and that Chaya doesn't strike him as the lying type. He believes she is being honest about her lack of knowledge concerning the weapon.

A hiss involuntarily escapes Rodney's lips. This woman seems to have him wrapped around her finger. He mumbles, "So pay no to attention to the man behind the curtain."

An hour or so later Chaya finally returns to tell Sheppard that 'Athar' is not able to provide sanctuary for anyone else.

"And you really had to chant all that time to come up with that?" Rodney asks.

"McKay." Sheppard whispers menacingly.

But he can't help himself, "You're hiding behind your religion to justify your complete and utter selfishness."

"Rodney..." Sheppard's tone is more aggressive.

"If 'Athar' existed, she would be ashamed of herself." Rodney knows he crossed the line some time ago, but the way Sheppard is acting with this woman is making him crazy.

"We wish only to be left alone and in peace." The abbot professes.

Rodney is losing himself to rage, "So untold thousands, possibly millions of people will die out there when they could have been saved, all in the name of 'Athar'. How very, very peaceful of you."

"You should be grateful to Athar" Chaya's eyes darken.

"This is a waste of time." Rodney declares.

She ignores him and looks soulfully into Sheppard's eyes, "Athar regrets that she cannot help you."

"And I'm sure those were her exact words." Rodney tries to break the spell with the light of reason and his acerbic tongue.

"That's enough!" Sheppard shouts furiously at Rodney.

Rodney closes his mouth.

"Head back to the Jumper," Sheppard orders, "I'll be there in a minute."

"Why?" Rodney asks weakly.

"Because you're not helping."

Rodney heads back to the Jumper with Teyla and Ford, noting glumly, that Sheppard is now completely in the clutches of that alien woman.

Finally, Sheppard does return to the Jumper, but with Chaya in tow. Rodney shouldn't be surprised, that Sheppard has invited her to come back to with them Atlantis, but he is somehow is. The Major has apparently convinced her that Athar should consider all the people of the galaxy as part of her family, since they are all human and distantly related.

Upon return, Elisabeth welcomes Chaya warmly and promises to give her a tour once she has been medically cleared.

"Major Sheppard has already promised to do so." Teyla teases.

"Of course he has", Elizabeth demurs, noting the chemistry between Sheppard and their new guest.

Rodney looks away, he can't watch this anymore.

"Of course I have." Sheppard smiles.

Elizabeth invites the two of them to follow her to the infirmary.

"Maybe I should tag along," Rodney pipes up, "in case you have any questions-'

"I think I got a handle, Rodney." Sheppard pats him dismissively on the shoulder as he walks by.

Sadly watching them leave, Rodney babbles, "There are a lot of systems you know, absolutely-"

"Got it covered!" Sheppard yells over his shoulder.

Teyla leaves too and he standing by himself feeling dejected. "Fine." He says to no one in particular.

Eventually, Rodney finds himself heading to the infirmary anyway. It's like a car crash, he just can't look away. He stations himself in a nearby alcove and peers out at the medical entrance.

A few minutes later, he sees John practically skipping to the door. He stands in the entryway offering an arm to Chaya, like an old-fashioned gentleman. The two of them link arms and walk away looking completely taken and familiar with each other.

Rodney stays out of view as they walk away. He can't take much more of this, so he decides to make a plea to Elizabeth about how suspects Chaya of deception. This is not entirely about his hurt feelings, despite the stalking. He believes her to be a viable threat to the city and he owes it to everyone to follow up on that.

As the day goes by Rodney follows Elizabeth around on a fact-finding mission. They go back to the infirmary to get medical results from Carson. He tries to keep his mind off of the fact that John is still with her.

Elizabeth doesn't seem to take Rodney's concerns very seriously. She tells him she will consider what he has said, but thinks it best he not attend the negotiations. So Rodney busies himself trying to get to the bottom of things on his own and finds something suspicious about Chaya's biometric signature.

"Someone should be keeping an eye on her", He complains to his assistant.

"Major Sheppard is." comes the reply.

"Oh, I'm sure he is", Rodney grimaces.

"Not entirely for the reasons you think. Dr. Weir asked him to."

The guy is more perceptive than Rodney gave him credit for. Feeling too transparent, Rodney snaps, "Oh I'm sure she did." before quickly taking his leave.

He roams through the halls hoping to run into Sheppard and spies him holding a basket, talking to Teyla. He can just barely make out what the Major is saying. "I'm an ambassador, and she is...a... diplomat."

"On a late night...picnic?" Teyla seems bemused.

Sheppard stands tall, "Yes".

Teyla reassures him, "I know that as ranking military officer here in Atlantis, that you feel a heavy burden of responsibility." Sheppard shrugs and Teyla continues, "But you... are allowed to have feelings for others."

"Oh." Sheppard laughs, "No, this is a... this is an ambassadorial diplomatic picnic outing."

"Without... having to justify them to anyone." Teyla smirks, "Goodnight, Major."

Rodney knows he will not be welcome at this 'picnic' and heads back to the control room to talk to Elizabeth.

"You want to send her back?" Elizabeth seems perplexed by his determination.

"All I know is she's not who she is pretending to be."

"And you know this because?" Elizabeth sounds wary.

"What I'm not allowed to have intuition?" Rodney asks.

"You?" Elizabeth doesn't skip a beat, "No."

"Oh." He says flatly.

"I asked Major Sheppard to keep an eye on her."

Rodney guffaws, "Which is like asking a fox to guard the henhouse" He follows her to her office and makes his case, outlining all the variables.

Elizabeth finally concedes, "There is obviously something very different about her, yes. But that doesn't necessarily make her a threat."

"It doesn't rule it out, either." Rodney has to point out.

Giving her verdict, Elizabeth tells him, "Then for the moment, I think what we could gain by securing a treaty, is worth the risk of her being here." She exits the room to prepare for negotiations.

Feeling dejected once again, Rodney says to no one in particular, "Fine."
He is important to you by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 16 takes place during Season 1, episode 14

Whatever this is with John, Rodney has to get away from it. It is killing him inside. He feels like a moth to the flame, no one has ever made him this crazy before. He's been running around like a jealous lover all day and now John only hates him for it.

. He is important to you

John's picnic is going well, the food is impressing Chaya.

She murmurs, "This is delicious"

"Well enjoy it while you can because it's the last of what we have." He says sheepishly.

"Then I am honored." Chaya tells him reverently.

He stretches out and finds himself musing, "When McKay finds out, he's going to kill me."

Chaya looks at him smiling seductively, "Athar will save you."

They both laugh as John replies, "Oh, good."

The conversation rolls along easily until Chaya stops with a serious tone "I... wasn't completely truthful with you about something."

John's face loses its smile.

"On Proculis when I told you I did not feel lonely..." Chaya continues, "coming here and being with you..."

John smiles again.

She looks at him longingly as she finishes her thought, "It reminded me what it was like not to be alone."

John finds himself standing up and backing away, his gut response to emotional intimacy. He likes her, of course he likes her, but his first instinct is to bolt. It helps that she isn't moving towards him. She's just sitting on the blanket looking sweet. He smiles at her awkwardly.

"What?" she asks.

He laughs nervously, thinking about the last night when he and McKay were out on this pier "Well, I mean, nothing. It's just that... This is the first time I've been in a romantic situation with a woman"

God, why did he just say woman, it makes it sound like there's another option. He quickly continues, "-from another planet, and it just strikes me as really, um..."

"Wrong?" Chaya offers.

"No." John backpedals, "God. No. Just... Just... Funny."

Chaya looks hurt.

He backpedals again, "I'm sorry. I just thought that I would, uh..." he shakes his head unable to continue.

"You said it yourself- we're both human." She smiles.

Thankful she has rescued the conversation, John steps toward her, "Yes, we are. I'm really glad you didn't say 'family' otherwise I'd have to leave."

"Don't", she whispers softly, looking at him with eyes full of desire.

John kneels back down on the blanket, feeling steady again. He looks deeply into her eyes and tells her something he suspects is not just about Chaya anymore, "I'm not going anywhere."

He reaches his hands up and cradles her face. He kisses her softly at first, then with a consuming desire. Her drinks up everything she is offering with those sweet lips, takes the comfort where he can.



Rodney is in the mess hall looking for the Major when he runs into Ford. "Hey, have you seen Sheppard?"

Ford smirks, "I saw him go into his quarters a couple hours ago with Chaya."

"Thanks." He manages to mumble. Rodney's stomach lurches as he runs toward Sheppard's quarters.

Just as he is approaching, he hears the door open and sees Sheppard stretching lazily with a cat who ate the canary grin.

He doesn't care if it looks like he's been spying, Rodney steps out of the hallway and greets him with an icy, "Major."

"Rodney." Sheppard barely looks his way and keeps walking, "What are you doing up so late?"

"I was just uh..." Rodney's brain has stopped working, then a palatable excuse comes out in a rush, "I couldn't sleep so, so I was going back up to the control room to do a little research. What about you?"

"Oh, no thanks." Sheppard keeps walking and Rodney wonders if he even knows where he is going or if he is just trying to avoid talking to him.

What kind of answer is that? You'll have to do better than that, Major. "No, I mean, what were you up doing so late?"

"I'm always up late, Rodney." Sheppard spins around to face him.

Rodney folds his arms behind his back defensively. Of course he knows that, Sheppard used to spend his time hanging out with him in the late evening and early mornings.

"A word of caution-" Rodney pinches his mouth up into a bitter expression, "the whole Captain Kirk routine is problematic, to say the least, let alone morally dubious."

"What routine?" Sheppard spits out.

"The romancing the alien priestess." Rodney points back to Sheppard's quarters, "It's very 1967 of you. Actually I'm surprised-"

Sheppard cuts him off, shocked and angry, "If and when, ANYTHING I do becomes your business-"

Rodney coldly interjects, "It becomes my business, Major, when an alien woman who is clearly not who she claims to be has the ranking military officer wrapped around her little finger." Yeah, fuck you too, Major.

"Don't go there, McKay." Sheppard growls, his eyes shining with anger.

"I'm sorry." Rodney lies, he isn't sorry, "I know I'm not normally Mr. Sensitive but you've got to believe me when I say there is something about her."

Sheppard is striding toward him like he might hit him, but Rodney manages not to cower and continues, "I know it's intangible, but I can feel it-" Sheppard stops inches from his face.

Rodney has never seen his eyes so stony. It chills him to bone.

"I said, don't GO there." Sheppard's voice shakes with rage.

Sheppard holds Rodney's gaze intently until he gets it. And Rodney gets it. Right. There's no us, there never will be. Whatever kind of emotional connection Rodney thought they had...

An image of Gandalf appears in Rodney's head thundering 'You shall not pass!' If his heart wasn't breaking into a million pieces right now, Rodney might have laughed at himself... But there's more to it than that, isn't there? What if Sheppard really is in danger?

Inside he is dying, Rodney's voice sounds steady if not a little small, "It's just a matter of time before I prove it, Major. I'm just recommending that in the meantime you keep your..."

But Sheppard's eyes are sliding over Rodney's shoulder now. Rodney turns to look. Chaya is standing in the open doorway of Sheppard's room, her arms folded and a pouty expression on her face.

She gives Rodney a disapproving glare and stomps back into Sheppard's quarters. When Rodney looks back to Sheppard he can't hide the deep hurt he is feeling.

He shivers under Sheppard's gaze, it is unforgiving, so hard it is vicious. He's never seen Sheppard look at anyone like that; it seems like contempt or even hatred.

Rodney is falling apart inside. What did he do to make John hate him? All he did was try to get close to him. And why her instead of him? He knows it's a stupid question. She's beautiful and a woman, and he's pasty, weak, annoying, unlikeable, the list goes on...

Whatever this is with John, Rodney has to get away from it. It is killing him inside. He feels like a moth to the flame, no one has ever made him this crazy before. He's been running around like a jealous lover all day and now John only hates him for it. Rodney returns to his room.

Physically he feels like shit, he should be sleeping but he can't. He can't stop thinking about John with that woman. Rodney reaches for his laptop again and starts to design a program that should enable him to secretly take better bio readings of Chaya.

He is still up running simulations and comparing data when the sun comes up. Rubbing his sore eyes, he peers out the window at the sunrise. He'll just take a quick shower and drink as much coffee as can. If he can show Elizabeth what he came up with, she should see there wouldn't be any harm in letting him sit in on the negotiations.

After downing a few cups of coffee, Rodney seeks Elizabeth out and explains that he can use his laptop surreptitiously to scan Chaya for anomalies. "If I really am crazy, you and I are the only ones who need to know. What's the harm?"

"All right", Elizabeth agrees. "but be discreet."

"I am Mr. Discreet" Rodney scoffs.

Before Elizabeth can dispute this remark, Rodney flits away to prepare.

He meets back up with everyone in the briefing some. Things go normally for a short time. But then Chaya starts to confront him about his readings. John leaps to her defense and demands to know what's going on.

At that point Rodney lays it all –that Chaya is not who she claims to be; she is an Ancient. It's the only thing that explains her perfect health, the energy weapon, and the fact that she has the gene...

Chaya drops the ruse and addresses the Major, "I see that in my desire to come to Atlantis, I have revealed too much of myself."

She admits she can never offer sanctuary to the people suffering in Pegasus. She turns a fierce eye back to Rodney, "But you are wrong as to why I came here."

"Why did you come here?" Sheppard asks cautiously.

She turns to face Sheppard, her face soft, "You, John."

"Me?" Sheppard's eyes lift in disbelief.

Chaya lowers her head again, "I have lived in solitude for so long that when you asked me to come to Atlantis, I..."

Rodney groans from across the table and collapses back into his chair, "Oh, my God, he is Kirk."

"So this was never about, uh...", Sheppard looks to Chaya. He licks his lips, unable to finish the sentence.

She shakes her head to him apologetically.

Sheppard raises a finger to the group and asks, "Could we just have a moment to ourselves here?"

"NO!" Rodney raises his voice, almost standing up protectively to make his point. Surprisingly Teyla and Elizabeth chime in with the same sentiment. He feels a momentary swell of relief.

"That's all right," Chaya stands up sadly, "I've stayed here long enough." She says walking out of the room.

Sheppard's eyes dart from her to Rodney.

Rodney looks at him plaintively, thinking 'Please don't go'.

Looking away from Rodney, Sheppard follows Chaya out the door.

When Rodney comes out of the room he is disgusted to see Chaya swooning Sheppard's arms.

Just let him go. John will always go, Rodney. 'Don't GO there Rodney'. He sighs and stands back watching passively as Chaya disappears in a glowy non-corporeal form and flies away.

Sheppard goes after to her, of course, taking a Jumper back to Proculus.

Empty with exhaustion, Rodney walks stiffly back to his room.



When John finds Chaya, she offers him a parting gift, a kind of mind-meld. She explains, "We will know each as well anyone ever can."

John closes his eyes and let's himself be enveloped in her shimming light. The sensation is pleasant, he can feel everything about Chaya, her loneliness and isolation, banishment from the other Ancients due to interfering in human affairs, her punishment to continue protecting the planet where she interfered, thousands of years alone, her life before Ascension, everyone she ever knew and loved, including him... her feelings for him...

"This is cool" John gushes.

He feels warm and relaxed even as he sees his own life flash around him, the people he has loved and lost, the death of his mother, his father's rage, getting beaten at school, and even worse, his father finding out why. Leaving home right after that. The last word his father ever said to him ringing in his ears 'faggot'.

John knows Chaya can sense the emotional walls he built between himself and the rest of the world, his training in the military only hardened him. A string of affairs with woman over the years and a handful of anonymous sexual encounters with guys. John tried to make an attempt to get close to someone with his ex-wife Nancy, but he had failed, utterly.

After the divorce John had met Holland. Just a friend, but John had felt so much more, and sensed Holland did too. Then he had died. There had been plenty of death in Afghanistan to keep him hard. Finally, Antarctica and solitude, lonely but safe. Until McKay.

John can feel Chaya wondering, 'Rodney?'

He has never told anyone about these experiences and can't believe he isn't panicking or running away. Something about the Ancient glowy mind-meld relaxes him. He can tell that Chaya understands what it means to be in the military and does not judge him.

She tells him mentally, 'He is important to you'

And John knows he can admit it here... with her. Even if he can't anywhere else... not even to himself.

I said- Don't- Go there McKay- EVER by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 17 takes pace during Season 1, episode 16

He has come to terms with the fact that Sheppard doesn't care about him; it will become bearable over time. Rodney just has to let go. He can put up his own walls. He can be stony and cold like John, can't he? He will bury his hope deep down where he will never find it again.

. I said- Don't- Go there McKay- EVER

Rodney gets ready for bed early and collapses in exhaustion. He feels safer under the comforter. Less humiliated and small. It was bad enough feeling disgusting and unwanted, but it really seems like Sheppard hates him now.

He hugs the pillow into his face. His voice is muffled when he speaks into it, "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck."

It feels like the pillow is muffling Rodney's raw emotions. He chokes into it, he doesn't want to cry. He really doesn't want to feel any more pathetic than he already is.

But the tears come and there is no stopping them. Rodney sobs and gasps into the pillow letting his body contort in pain. No one is here to see him be so weak.

"I'm sorry." He pleads out loud, "I didn't mean to. Please, no. No... No... I'm sorry." Rodney isn't sure who is talking to, mostly Sheppard he thinks. Maybe a little bit Alex.

"Please don't hate me..." he whispers and dissolves into another fit of sobs. Oh God. This hurts too much. If he had known how bad it was going to hurt, he would never have... God, he feels so alone.

He has come to terms with the fact that Sheppard doesn't care about him; it will become bearable over time. Rodney just has to let go. He can put up his own walls. He can be stony and cold like John, can't he? He will bury his hope deep down where he will never find it again.

But the thought that Sheppard truly hates him is what he cannot bear. He has to say something, to apologize, to let Sheppard know that Rodney is sorry he made a mistake. No matter what he does, things will ever be the same between them.

The friendship feels like it is over. The way Sheppard had looked at him with horror and disgust... and then later with hatred. It makes Rodney feel so helpless, like his soul is dying. He doesn't know if he can live with himself if Sheppard doesn't forgive him. If he can just fix that one thing, it will be enough. If Sheppard will just forgive him... Rodney cries into pillow.

Waking the next day, Rodney feels hollow but functional. He goes through the motions emptily. The day goes by, ticking away like clockwork, empty mechanical movements... Rodney knows Sheppard won't be coming by the lab anymore but he lingers a little while just to be sure.

Then, Rodney takes a circuitous route back to his quarters, walking slowly, lost in thought. He glances up in surprise to notice someone is walking toward him from the other direction.

Oh God, it's Sheppard. Rodney freezes.

Sheppard does the same; he is just standing still staring at him.

Unsure if he should try to speak, Rodney takes a careful step forward, "Uh, listen, I... just wanted to say sorry for earlier-"

"I don't want to talk about Chaya." Sheppard interrupts and shifts his gaze over Rodney's shoulder.

Swallowing his distaste at hearing her name, Rodney steps closer to Sheppard, just out of arm's reach. Sheppard still won't look at him.

"No, I wanted to say sorry..." Rodney pleads, "about us, I didn't mean-"

Turning his head with a flash of fury, Sheppard lunges. He strikes his palm hard into Rodney's chest, forcing Rodney up against the opposite wall.

Sheppard is shaking as he projects, "I said, don't. Go there. McKay. EVER."

Rodney blinks in shock and cringes. Is Sheppard going to attack him? He shouldn't have said anything at all. The butt of Sheppard's hand is piercing into his chest, but that pain is nothing compared to the way Sheppard is looking at him right now.

Then Sheppard recoils and pulls his hand away as if it is burning him to the touch. He averts his eyes and looks more shocked than angry by what has just happened, leaving abruptly.

Staring after him in horror, Rodney hugs himself against the wall. Oh God, he has to give this up, everything he has tried has only made things worse. Internally he struggles. Part of him feels sure he is disgusting and worthless and deserves to be treated this way but another part of him is angry.

He is tired of being hurt. He doesn't want it anymore; maybe he doesn't even deserve it. It doesn't really matter, he just can't take this thing with Sheppard anymore... he has to get away, at least as much as possible when you work with someone nearly everyday.

Maybe tonight Rodney will see if Carson wants to play chess again, maybe he could even let the guy win. Maybe. And no more masturbating to Sheppard, from now on it will only be Samantha Carter allowed in his fantasies.

Rodney closes his eyes and visualizes a shield that no one can penetrate, least of all Sheppard. He feels better, steadier now. Sheppard hadn't really hurt him, just scared him really. Rodney sets his face into one of grim determination, tries to gather what remains of his dignity and walks back to his quarters.



Over the next few weeks, John notices the absence of Rodney's familiar presence. He regrets the fight, pushing Rodney into the hall. He has tried bringing offerings by the lab, as an apology, treats that Rodney likes, but he refuses them politely always saying he just ate.

John's invitations to spend any time together are equally unsuccessful. Rodney seems to always have plans with Beckett instead. John tries not to admit to himself how much he misses the man. Even just a simple late night visit to the kitchen makes him think about Rodney, 'McKay is going to kill me if finds out I ate this without him...'"

He teases Rodney at work, hoping to fall back into their old routine. He interjects where can, trying to get a response. Rodney may seem like his normal grouchy self to the outside eye but John can tell it is more. He is sure Rodney will get over their fight if John keeps trying. No need to talk about what happened. It will sort itself out.

A familiar numbness has settled around him. It reminds John of the old days at McMurdo; he doesn't mind too much. He goes through his routine... work... eat... run... sleep... It seems like Rodney barely has time to talk to him anymore. Too busy in the lab or hanging out with Beckett.

Moving on, John tries to find other activities to occupy his downtime. Teyla is pretty good at fighting with those sticks of hers and John spends time with her in the gym, trying to learn a new martial art. It is challenging, he nearly always loses, but it keeps him busy. That and taking solo laps around the city outskirts. Physical exercise is always good to keep your mind off things.


John takes the team to follow up on a promising lead for a ZPM. The world reminds him of medieval Europe. The locals lead them to a library room where ancient manuscripts speak of a device that resembles their coveted energy source. Apparently the locals have regarded the ZPM as a religious relic. They even had a society known as the 'Brotherhood of 15' who once guarded its secret location before the knowledge was lost over time.

While Rodney is sifting through the library records, John sits at a big table with Teyla and Ford laughing heartily and joking around.

Rodney walks over to them and demands. "What is going on here?"

"Just having a little fun McKay." John says slouched over the table. Grumpy Rodney seems to have no patience for John at all. Nothing John says these days can make him laugh anymore. Even on his time off, Rodney just seems peeved. And he never wants to relax or play games.

"Can we get back to work now?" Rodney looks unimpressed.

Ford grumbles about how they aren't going to find anything and Rodney launches into a full scale rant outlining how close could be to finding a ZPM and roundly shaming them all for their lack of effort or concern.

Teyla and Ford look admonished but John keeps a scowl on his face to hide his embarrassment. He feels like Rodney has just become the team leader scolding the naughty children.

Well, Rodney scolds a lot, it's just usually no one takes him seriously. John decides to take this mission a little bit more seriously but not so much that Rodney will notice.

What John does notice though is that Rodney seems to be taken the brunette librarian, Allina, who is showing them around. He seems to be hanging on her every word. Rodney's face is radiant; he actually looks happy.

"Fascinating", Rodney tells Allina as holds her gaze longer than needed.

John frowns looking at Rodney and then back to Allina "Yes. Fascinating." He states dryly.

As Rodney frowns coldly at John with a warning look, John can almost hear Rodney's thoughts 'Don't fucking go there, Major'.

"Please go on." Rodney smiles back up at Allina warmly.

She tells them about how the Brotherhood left clues and hints about the ZPM behind, should the order ever be destroyed. Allina shows them 3 stone tablets, 6 of which are still missing. She believes they form a map when complete.

"Mmm," Rodney moves close to her to inspect the tablets. "Amazing.' He murmurs.

"It is actually." John confers.

Rodney looks up at him sharply like he is expecting a sarcastic barb. But John likes puzzles and is truly interested in the tablet, talking about how is seems to be an ancient numbering system.

Disinterested in what John is saying, Rodney and turns back to compliment Allina, "Excellent work, I mean, seriously, I'm very impressed here."

Has he ever heard Rodney give a compliment before? John's attention is back on the pair of them. He feels a twinge of something... John has saved people's lives... including Rodney's. On a regular basis. And all he gets in return are digs about his intelligence and sarcastic eye rolls. She finds a few rocks and Rodney is praising her lavishly.

"That's very kind of you Doctor." Allina sounds pleased.

John rolls his eyes and goes back to inspecting the rock. And Rodney continues on trying to impress the librarian with his theories.

He dislikes the way he feels watching Rodney flirt. Who would have thought he was any good at it? Allina seems to be taken with him as well.

Rodney pulls out a local map and makes a connection with the stones. He is brushing next to Allina as they examine it together. As Rodney points out a pattern to her, she gets excited.

She is attracted to his brain, John realizes. Guess that's not so unusual. Rodney is attractive, but John likes Rodney for his brain, too. He just isn't used to other people having the same reaction.

But she just hasn't seen Rodney's dark side yet. It's all fun and games when he's excited about a new idea, but then he turns on you when his blood sugar gets low, or he gets tired, or frightened, or... if you run away when he tries to kiss you.

Yeah, that's when things got a lot grumpier. John finally admits to himself that whatever is going on isn't due to Rodney's moods or his workload.

Rodney has been making a deliberate attempt to put some distance between them. Oh, and then there had also been John's public affair with Chaya right after the kiss that never happened.

And... he pushed Rodney in the hall when he had tried to talk to John about it. Okay. So things had definitely been weirder since then. Rodney has barely spoken to him since. He can't really blame him. John lets it sink in.

After hearing Rodney's plans for excavation, John splits them up into two teams. He separates himself from Rodney, taking Teyla and Ford with him. Rodney goes with the librarian and her friend.

A couple hours into the dig John finds the stones where Rodney said they would be. Rodney has also found success on his dig. The teams reunite at the library to assemble their findings.

That evening John watches from a distance as Rodney and Allina take a break to examine a mural on the wall. "It's beautiful." Rodney offers.

Allina looks thoughtful, "It is... and yet my eye is drawn elsewhere." She gives Rodney an intent look, but he is still staring at the mural oblivious.

"Hmm?" Rodney asks, "How so?"

"I'd like to restore it one day, but I'm afraid of damaging it." Allina pauses asking coyly, "Perhaps, you could help me, Doctor?"

"Really, you need to start calling me Rodney."

How is Rodney not realizing that she wants him? He seemed so with it earlier. John watches as Rodney takes a deep breath and sits down on the bench by the mural. Allina joins him and continues to try to flirt, but Rodney looks tired and doesn't take notice.

Before Allina had started showing clear interest, Rodney was doing fine. But when someone gives him genuine attention, the guy gets oblivious? John feels a pang of guilt realizing that Rodney probably isn't used to taking romantic risks. Rodney had taken a risk with John... and he had handled it pretty badly.

Rodney gets up from his seat across the room and stumbles past the team, announcing, "I'm heading to bed."

"Which bed might that be?" John asks.

"Huh..." Rodney stops for minute confused, "What?"

Ford grins, "I think Allina might have a little crush on you, Doc."

"Oh, she does?" Rodney leans forward in disbelief like he is waiting for the punch line.

Teyla is serious, "It is very clear to us all."

"It is?" Rodney is incredulous.

"Well, everyone but you, apparently." John says dismissively.

Rodney leans over John's shoulder and whispers, "Should I have um..." He asks uncertainly, "Are you sure about this?"

Now John regrets saying anything. But with Teyla and Ford egging Rodney on he tries to sound casual and supportive, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure."

Asking John again, Rodney keeps his voice in a whisper, "What should I do?"

John's face drops still for a moment and his heart lurches in his chest. Fortunately, Rodney can't see him because John is sitting with his back turned. He can't give Rodney romantic advice, this is so wrong. He decides to fall back to teasing instead, "You don't know what to do?"

"I know what to do –eventually." Rodney sounds flustered and adorable to John, "I mean what should I do now? Should I say something tonight?"

He looks to his teammates for help, but they are giving him nothing. John thinks about the self-assured Rodney he saw flirting earlier today and tries to offer him the best advice he can think of, "Tell you what Valentino- Wait till tomorrow. You'll be more on your game after you get some rest."

"Oh. Right. Right." Rodney leans back up to a standing position, trying to sound confident, "Good answer."

"Goodnight." John inhales sharply and sounds constricted.
John has no right to be possessive by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 18 takes place during Season 1: Episodes 16 & 17

John pushed Rodney away so he shouldn't... He has no right to be possessive.
Of course, Rodney's going to move on, John never offered anything, so... What else was Rodney supposed to do?

. John has no right to be possessive

Masking with boredom on his face, John tries to keep eating with Teyla and Ford. But his heart is beating really fast and his chest feels tight. Not tired at all now, he excuses himself, saying he is sleepy. He just needed a reason, any reason to get away and breathe for a minute.

Well, this feels shitty. John pushed Rodney away so he shouldn't... He has no right to be possessive. Of course, Rodney's going to move on, John never offered anything, so... What else was Rodney supposed to do?

If Rodney would just stop avoiding John maybe this wouldn't feel so bad. They could go back to how things were. But maybe Rodney doesn't want that anymore?

What was it his ex-wife had said? A train wreck. 'John, you're an emotional train wreck'. He knew it was true even though he had never taken the time to examine the wreckage or try to figure out what the hell was wrong with him.

So much of his life... The few people he had managed to let himself care for, it all got so twisted.

'I don't know how to do this.'

That was the most honest thing he could say, but such a feeble explanation. Rodney deserved more. John rubs the back of his neck trying to keep a headache from coming on.

Why now? Why is he thinking about all this shit now? He's left well enough alone for this long, and it's worked.

The blending with Chaya... The important puzzle pieces of his life were all together, there for her to see. And John had seen it too. It was harder to deny now. More, Chaya had seen everything that he was and she didn't hate him for it.

That acceptance had shifted something in him. Not that John knows what any of the puzzles pieces mean yet. But because of Chaya, he has gotten his first sighting of the actual wreckage. Who knows, maybe one day he could go back and try to do some damage assessment.



Rodney so totally freaked out. This is too bizarre getting dating advice from Sheppard of all people. Still, if there was someone who knows how to seduce it is the Major. He can, and does, get whatever he wants. Of course, the dashing good looks and personality don't hurt.

But, it's too confusing for his tired mind, trying not to love Sheppard and asking him how he should hit on a woman are two things that just don't go together well.



The next day at the dig, John sees his advice is not working out well. Rodney is sputtering and going down in flames, so nervous he can't seem to complete a thought.

"You're very, very smart, and, uh... and attractive and whatnot, and, um... uh... You've got a lot of things going for you even when things don't... you know."

John walks up to the two of them, giving Rodney another moment to pull out of the nosedive but it just gets worse.

"Is everything all right?" Allina looks at Rodney with curiosity.

"Everything's great." Rodney flounders, "It's great. Everything's really... going well... Why... wouldn't it be?"

He makes the call and decides to give this failed attempt at seduction a mercy killing, interrupting, "You sure we're in the right place?"

Ford calls over to them and tells them he has found something. Not a little stone but a really big one. It is covered in ancient writing and warns trespassers not to enter the chamber of the Brotherhood.

The team removes the stone and enters the chamber below. Ford stays behind guarding the entrance. The room is relatively small, there is a stone medallion on the wall and a tall table with handprint devices on either side.

Allina places the stone tablets onto the table. Rodney tries activating it but is unable to make it work. He says the stones represent a gate address, where the last stone will be.

Then they hear gunshots from the surface and call out for Ford. Ford does not answer but the voice that does is familiar to John.

"Major Sheppard, I'm afraid Lieutenant Ford has had to step away for a moment."

Rodney approaches John, "Who's that?"

"Can't be." John mutters. He can't believe this guy is still alive after John shot him twice in the chest.

Teyla continues, "It sounds like..."

"Kolya?" John screams up to the opening above.

Kolya offers up his terms menacingly, they surrender the ZPM or Ford dies and the rest of them get closed into the chamber for good.

"We're not there yet." Rodney is trying to explain, "Look the ninth stone is hidden on another planet. All we have is the gate address."

"Dr. McKay..." the voice falsely cheerful, "So wonderful to hear your grating voice again." after a pause, Kolya continues, "How's the arm?"

John goes cold thinking about the scars Kolya left on Rodney's arm. He is going to kill that bastard. When Rodney joins him at the opening of the chamber to face his attacker, John is surprised

Rodney pulls on the rope with his scarred arm, seemingly unafraid, "Do you want to keep trading barbs all day or do you want to find the ZPM? Look, lift me out of here and I'll help you find it but then you let my team go"

"Shut up, McKay." John protests in a loud whisper.

"You got a better idea?" Rodney retorts.

There has got to be a better way... but Kolya knows Rodney is the one who can make this stuff work. He doesn't want Rodney in Kolya's hands again. Why hadn't Rodney just stayed hidden in the back? John would have figured this out.

Eventually John admits, "No."

With Rodney gone, John paces the dimly lit room trying to find an advantage or way out. He is worried, it has been too long, and he needs to come up with a plan. Teyla and Ford help him rustle up an idea on how to ambush the Genii once they are back. It might be enough, with the meager supplies Kolya left them and a few things they found in the room.

When Kolya returns with Rodney and the ninth stone, the 3 of them are forced to stand to the side with their hands behind their heads while Rodney tries to configure the stones.

Not understanding the puzzle, Rodney is reticent to try a combination, so Kolya orders his man Pranos to activate the center stone. Pranos places his hands into position to activate it. His wrists are locked into place momentarily and he receives a dose of lethal poison into his palms.

Obviously the wrong combination. Kolya blames Rodney for his man's death even though Rodney protests, saying, he tried to warn them something like this would happen.

"What's the correct order of the stones?" Kolya demands.

"I'm not sure yet." Rodney states unequivocally.

Kolya paces the room assessing the librarian and the rest of Rodney's teammates. "Well, you'll have four chances to get it right."

He steps up to John with distaste, "You go first."



Rodney frets as he and Sheppard discuss the puzzle and tentatively move the stones. If he can't figure this out fast... Ugh. Rodney chews his lip. Shep-... John is dead. He can't panic now; he has to find a solution. But a solution isn't coming. Fuck. Why can't he figure this out?

John sets down a stone cautiously, "Any time you want to start... "

"I'm thinking," Rodney's pulse is racing and he waves a trembling hand at John, "I'm thinking. All right."

"We tried one to nine." John says soberly.

"Thank you." Rodney's lip is starting to bleed, and he sounds short-tempered "Yes."

"How about nine to one?" John asks.

"Possibly." Rodney blinks furiously trying to clear his mind, "Pranos was right. The center stone is the only one that locks into place. All the others must move around it. I'm just trying to think of a combination that makes sense with five in the middle."

Rodney often talks out loud to think things through but he isn't used to someone else butting in.

"15." John speaks with confidence, "it's got to have something to do with 15... or 9, or 5-"

"Shut up" he says harshly. Rodney can't keep his calculations straight like this. Then, a little regretfully he adds, "Please? I'm trying to think."

"I'm not going to shut up, Rodney" John's body is tense and his voice incredulous. "My life's at stake."

"Exactly, so simmer down, and let me save it!" Rodney wishes he had time to be polite but he just doesn't. He presses his sore lips together and gives John a dire look; John isn't paying attention.

"You ever heard the term two heads are better than one?" John argues.

Rodney's chest is on fire, he shouldn't be so angry at John right now but he is. "That's a common misconception." He snaps, and returns to biting his lip to keep himself from screaming.

"Give me the gun." John directs himself to Kolya, "I'll shoot him myself."

"This is taking too long. Choose and go." Kolya warns.

Rodney's anger flares at a more appropriate source, "What, you got somewhere you got to be?"

"Choose and go." Kolya is adamant.

"I got nothing." Rodney whispers back to John in terror.

John stares at the stones a moment then dismisses him, "Thanks for the pep talk."

'I'm so sorry John, so sorry, please forgive me'. Aloud he mumbles, "Nine to one. It's all I can think of."

He stares at John in remorse, but John is studying the stones. 'God help me. Don't let these be my last words to John'.

"Okay. Step back" John orders.

"I'm sorry." Rodney whimpers.

"I'm not dead yet." John still won't meet his eyes.

Rodney tries to sound convincing for John's sake, "Yeah." He steps away but he breaks back down, again confessing, "Sorry."

Now John is left alone with the stones and Kolya orders him, "Major. Now."

Nothing happens for a few breaths and Rodney is wondering if he can try to tackle Kolya. He would get shot, but John might make it. There is so much blood in Rodney's face right now, his temples are throbbing. His eyes are getting watery and he wants to scream. He has to stop this; He is going to stop this.

"I got it!" John suddenly exclaims.

"What?" Rodney starts back toward him.

"The Brotherhood of 15." John sounds excited.

Rodney anxiously moves closer, "What about it?" His head leans over John's shoulder hopefully.

John sounds sure when he speaks, "The numbers 1 to 9 can be put in a 3-by-3 grid so that they add up to 15 in every direction.

"Oh, you're right." Rodney's face lights up. Amazed he asks, "How'd you know that?"

"It was on a Mensa test." John smiles a little sheepishly.

"You're a member of Mensa?" Rodney is stunned.

"No," John is still looking at the stones and answers reflexively, "but I took the test."

"When?" Rodney can't quite picture the John he knows willingly taking a test of any kind.

John suddenly seems conscious of Rodney and turns to look at him, "You want to talk about this now, Rodney?"

Yeah. He kind of does. How could he not know that the Major was a math whiz? Why did John let Rodney make all those digs about his intelligence and never say anything back. It's worse that John is off-limits now because this is such a huge turn-on.

It makes Rodney respect him even more than he already does. While Rodney looks up at John's graceful stature, he has the impulsive thought that he would really love to kiss him right now. And he doesn't kick himself too hard for thinking it because John almost died and he can't be responsible for fleeting thoughts under such stressful situations.

Before he can do anything stupid, Rodney turns his face away, "Right. Right. Okay." He helps John arrange the stones then back again.

He is still quivering with fear and anticipation, but the scream that has been sitting in his chest has dispelled. Rodney's eyes, still a little glassy, shine with relief when a ZPM emerges from the medallion. John is still alive.

Breathing a sigh of relief, John nods a signal to Teyla and Ford. A stun grenade immobilizes the Genii and the team takes them out in hand-to-hand combat. Rodney would join in the fight but he wasn't expecting this, he can't even see straight after that flash grenade.

"I can't believe you never mentioned the Mensa thing." He tells John on the way out.

John steadies the rope, "I took the test. I never joined."

"But you passed?" Rodney asks, somehow knowing it is true.

"Yes." John answers offhandedly as he continues his rope work.

Wondering if John would be interested, Rodney offers, "Well, you know we have a chapter on Atlantis. You could become-"

"Rodney, Rodney, up the rope."

By the tone of voice, Rodney can tell that is the last thing John would ever want to do.


Things go downhill after the team recovers the ZPM from Kolya. Allina and her people decide to take the it back into hiding for religious purposes, so the whole mission was fruitless.

Once they get back to Atlantis, there is worse news. 3 Hive ships have been detected on long-range sensors. Without a power source for weapons or a shield it will be pretty impossible to mount a defense.

Rodney has an idea in the staff briefing. It isn't a viable defense against the kind of all out assault they will soon face, but rather, a message in a bottle. A way to send detailed intel back to Earth in a high compression data wave.

If Rodney is able to harness their remaining power sources simultaneously, he may be able to open the gate back to the Milky for approximately 1.3 seconds. He tells them that he could include a massive amount of information in that data burst.

"All that in one second?" Ford in unbelieving.

John corrects him in mock seriousness, "1.3"

"You jest," Rodney winces at John. "but if I can finesse the compression ratios, you'll be looking for things to add."

Elizabeth thinks it is worth trying. "Do it." She orders.

Rodney jumps up from the briefing table, "Doing it".



John catches up with Elizabeth on the way out of the briefing room to remind her that if the SGC was able to send help, they would have already done so. They are going to have to face these incoming Wraith ships on their own.

She is resolute, "We have a responsibility to warn Earth."

"Even if it's last thing we do?" He questions.

"Especially if it is the last thing we do." Elizabeth remains confident.

John leaves with Teyla on a recon mission to gather intel, gating to a planet along the course the Hive ships are taking. He has orders to stay in stealth mode and not to try to take on any of the Wraith ships that are culling the planet.

He had repeated the command to Elizabeth like he was committing it to memory, "Don't take on an alien armada single handedly. Understood."

Once on the planet, Teyla introduces John to some of her friends. Knowing they are soon to be attacked, she instructs them to come to the cloaked Jumper if the Wraith arrive.

"I can't make that promise." John clarifies to Teyla and her friends.

Teyla face is cold as she asserts, "It will be the very least we can do."

"If there's time." John attempts a concession hoping it will be enough for Teyla.

Once they are alone again, John reminds Teyla that this wasn't supposed to be a rescue mission.

She entreats John to understand, "If someone close to your family..."

'Sorry Teyla, can't help you there, I don't have a family.'

She continues as if responding to his thoughts, "A dear friend, was in danger of being taken by the Wraith, would you have not done the same?"

"Not if it jeopardized the mission." She can't know that John has already done the same, back in Afghanistan. He disobeyed orders and went back in under fire. So no, he thinks, it's not that simple Teyla. John keeps his face hard.

As Teyla tries to appeal to him emotionally, John's face remains impassive but his eyes are haunted, "You can only fight the battles you can win."



Elizabeth seems pleased by the efficiency of Rodney's data compression and the extra time it will allow for expedition members to leave personal video messages to their loved ones back home. Rodney smiles politely and heads out of the briefing to get back to work.

She stops him on the way out, asking gently, "Rodney, you don't want to send a message to anyone?"

To who? His cat? Instead he plays the part of the overworked martyr, "You know what, maybe with all my spare time I'll just record a message myself, hmm?"

Rodney tries deflecting the question back to her, "You?

"Yes."she says sincerely.

"Good. Good." Rodney punctuates to let her know that the conversation is over.
I'm sorry we weren't closer by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 19 takes place during Season 1: Episode 17

There has to be more to him than this, Rodney thinks to himself.
He can't really have spent his life with so little connection?

. I'm sorry we weren't closer

The Wraith have dialed into the planet's Stargate so no one can escape. Forced to wait out the attack, John changes plans and cloaks the ship at the rendezvous spot Teyla had given her friends.

She looks over at John sadly, "Not long ago, you would have blithely left them behind."

"Well, the situation has changed." John speaks like a soldier.

She looks sorrowful and disappointed by his attitude.

"Look", John voice is hoarse and impassive, "Look, Ford and I are military. We've spent a lot of our lives training how to survive."

Teyla offers no excuses, "I have spent my life surviving the Wraith."

His voice becomes more insistent, "Part of that training is knowing who you can save and who you can't."

"And that decision is yours alone?" Teyla narrows her eyes.

John is defensive but firm, "I said that I'd wait for your friend if there was time. Now there's time." Blinking in confusion, he asks her, "What else do you want from me?"

Turning away from him, her voice heavy with emotion, she tells him, "Too much, I fear."

Realizing that nothing he says now is going to change her judgment about him, he wearily replaces his binoculars to watch to the horizon, "It's going to be a long night."



Rodney has only slept 6 hours in the last three days so he is not at his personal best when he begins recording his message. Fluffing his hair a bit, Rodney clears his throat, and stands tall.

"This is Dr. Rodney McKay speaking to you from my base of operations in the lost city of Atlantis, located," he gestures dramatically, "deep within the Pegasus galaxy. I record this message on the eve of our darkest hour. As I speak, an alien armada of biblical proportions is on its way, bent- dare I say hell bent, in keeping with the metaphor- on our destruction."

Feeling clever Rodney smiles, "We will do our best to starve off the attack, but I am afraid that defeat is all but inevitable. I, and the other members of my team, face the most horrific deaths imaginable as our very lives are... are sucked out from our chests in a- in a..."

Rodney curls his hand toward his chest for effect "a horrific... "

Uh. That's not good. Don't want to go out looking like a coward. Waving his hand in front of his face, Rodney motions for a time out.

"Okay, um... Okay, starting again, starting again."

Pacing a bit trying to find his bearings, Rodney returns to face the recording device with a bright smile.

"And in 5, 4, 3... My friends, I'm Dr. Rodney McKay of the Atlantis expedition, and as the facts of our heroic struggle against the Wraith and our untimely demise are already known to you, in that light, I'd like to pass along some final thoughts. Now, my extensive education, training, and firsthand experience in the field of astrophysics has given me a unique perspective that few on Earth, or, ah, well, any other planet, for that matter- can match."

He takes a self-satisfied breath and continues, "I'd like to take a few moments now to pass along that perspective to you."

Fumbling with a stack of index cards he states, "I'll begin with a few observations on a subject that is both near and dear to my heart."

Smiling with in sleep-deprived confidence He pulls the top index card out, "Leadership."

But Rodney's thoughts quickly digress from his subject entirely. He sits down and forgets about the recording, rambling about the people he has loved in his life and how few of them had returned his affections.

April Bingham, a cute blonde who he'd lost his virginity to, after a disastrous first kiss that had given him Mono. It had taken Rodney a long time to work up the confidence to sleep with her even once they were officially an item. She had been nice but after graduation but she went to another college.

Philip, Rodney doesn't mention him by name, but just describes him as another blonde in college. He thought it was love while it lasted, but it turned out the feelings weren't completely mutual.

After college there was a lot of rejection. Rodney muses, maybe it's just really hard to meet people in his field. There were a handful of women that he'd dated but only one that seemed to care for him much, Kendra. She had ended things eventually, just like everyone else.

He doesn't mention Steven or the drunken encounter in a gay bar that he regrets to this day. And he leaves out his last actual relationship, which he shudders to remember. Alex was just cruel and Rodney's participation in whatever that had been was just sadomasochistic, proof of his own self-loathing.

Switching gears Rodney thinks about another cute blonde- Samantha Carter. He'd never dated her but if he had spent more time at the SCG, maybe. He hopes. He really prefers women with shorter hair and a kind of boyish charm about them.

"Mmm... He muses out loud, "Samantha Carter, if you're watching..."

Placing his hand over his heart, Rodney sighs. "The torch is still burning. Sadly, Soon to be extinguished, but ah, you know, you should know I think you are just so... Well, you're great, you're really, really great.

And I would go so far as saying you're the hottest scientist that I've ever worked with. In fact, there is not a night that goes by that I don't find myself, uh... "

What the fuck is he talking about anyway? Rodney winces to himself. What is it with him and blondes?

Well, there had been that brunette in Antarctica. Sheppard.

Out loud, Rodney says, "Let's get back to um, leadership."

He certainly is not going to talk about whatever happened between him and John on tape. The fact that the Major had just breezed right into his life and pushed past his defenses. Made Rodney give himself over entirely, despite the fact that Rodney knew it wasn't safe. And Rodney had given him everything; he had felt so much, even when it was painful.

Even when it was over Rodney couldn't stop feeling, watching himself helplessly falling in love with the Major. The cold, heroic, flippant, and unreachable Major. It had been a disaster.

There has to be more to him than this Rodney thinks to himself. He can't really have spent his life with so little connection? Brightly he remembers his cat and begins to extol the virtue of the feline companionship.

"Cats are self sufficient, they're dependable, you shake the box, they come running. The cynic would say it's because of the food, but my cat, see, I truly believe that he enjoys my company. There's something very comforting about coming home from work at the end of the day and having a familiar face waiting for you, you know?"

Rodney stops his reverie for a moment realizing how pathetic he sounds. Most people would probably have an actual human face greeting them at home not just a cat. He reaches back for the index cards.

"I digress, where was I? Uh... right. Leadership."



The wormhole closes and John moves to dial Atlantis before the Wraith can block them again. But Teyla refuses to leave without her friend. She grabs her gun tells John she is staying behind to search for him.

"You can't do that." John orders.

She spins angrily back to face him, "I consider Orin as family, Major. I am sorry if you do not understand what that means-"

John knows it sounds disingenuous but he has been here before and doesn't want to make the same mistake, "I understand it, Teyla, but that's not the point-"

She is unmoved "With or without you, I am staying." She runs out of the Jumper to go help her friends.

He can't leave Teyla behind; John gives in and goes after her.



Rodney's rambling has digressed again. He is morose bemoaning all the things he will miss out on due to dying... he knows he sounds whiny, listing inconsequential items, rather than anything really matters.

What really matters?

"My sister..." He sits back up alert again, "Jeanne, it's your brother, Rodney. Obviously. I want to say, um... I want to say something, uh... Family is important. I'm come to realize that, because the people here have become a sort of a, kind of a, surrogate family to me. -Now, I know what you're thinking. I've never really been the poster child for that kind of sentiment, but when contemplating one's own demise, one tends to see things more clearly."

Rodney realizes the immense honesty of what he had just said, how much he cares for everyone on Atlantis, especially John. He resolves to get over the emotional hang-ups he has, forgive John for not loving him, and salvage the friendship if he can. In whatever time they have left, that is.

He continues magnanimously mostly to his sister, but a little bit to John, "I really do wish you the best, you know, and I'm sorry we weren't closer. Perhaps, um... If by chance I make it out of this, perhaps one day we can be, and I would like that."

Rodney is overcome with emotion for a moment and he snaps himself out of it, "Now, if there's time I'd like to go back to that subject of leadership."

But there isn't time. The recorder has stopped. Huh. He can't believe how fast that went by. Rodney sets off to give the tape to Ford, since he is in charge of compiling the personal messages.

In the hall, Rodney spots Lieutenant Ford and tells him he has finished recording his message. Ford seems surprised since he has been the one doing the taping.

"Now, it may require some... editing." Rodney confesses.

"Editing?" Ford asks.

"Yeah, I went on a bit. Actually I used the entire tape."

"You talked for an hour?" Ford sounds disbelieving.

"See," Rodney muses, "I found it rather therapeutic, actually... Now I'm fairly confidant I've come up with several valuable insights. In fact, I'm sure of it... but, uh, I've only slept 6 hours in the last few days, so, um..." Rodney waves his fingers next to his temple to indicate his possibly diminished capacity.

"Who's it for?" Ford asks.

Rodney lifts his eyebrows considering the question, "Humanity in general, my sister... Look, I don't expect you to cut it down to just a few minutes. I mean there is gold in here."

Ford nods and Rodney continues, "So just make sure mine's last, and that way if it gets cut off, fine... but, ah, if the gate holds the connection for a few extra milliseconds, then we won't have wasted the time."

"Well, I'll look forward to it." Ford blinks at him.



When John returns with Teyla, he brings a small contingent of survivors from back with them to Atlantis. In the staff briefing, John tells them tersely, "We saved a few, that's worth something."

On his way out of the room, Elizabeth stops him to ask if he would like to include a personal message to anyone on Earth.

John is reminded that he has no one back on Earth that would miss him, "I'm good" he says, looking away uncomfortably.

She tells him that she has already recorded personal messages for the family of the team members they have lost, but she thought John could say a few words about Sumner, his fallen commander.

He blinks a few times, remembering how he shot Sumner in the chest to end his final moments of suffering at the hands of the Wraith. He supposes it's the least he can do.


Unsure of who to address, John speaks to the camera, "I'm not sure if Colonel Sumner's parents are still alive. I'm not sure he even has a family back there."

John explains, "Not all of us do..."

He takes a breath, "But if he does have family, they should know that he died with honor and courage in the performance of his duty. He carried the burden of a leader, and he carried it well."

Sumner was a far more capable leader than John has been. Trying to think of what else he can say about this man, John continues, "I didn't get the chance to know him well..."

"But I know this." John speaks more confidently now, "Considering the type of man he was and what we're up against? Yeah, I wish he was still here."

'Yeah. Instead of me.' Sumner was a better man than John. And John shouldn't even be here. Saying a stilted "Goodbye", he stands up because he can't talk to the camera anymore and he has to be alone.

This fucking train wreck in his head is too loud right now and he has to be alone.

Taking a moment to compose himself in his quarters, John tries to quiet the noise. He has to do something about this twisted mess. He knows he doesn't deserve to be here, but he has to stay strong. He can't be thinking about all the dead or missing people from his life right now.

Or Rodney. Fucking Rodney won't even talk to him.

This is not how John wanted it to go down. He hadn't meant to hurt Rodney, not again. But there is nothing to do but pull himself together, no other choice. John has to stand alone and stand strong, the way he always has.

Unless... There is that therapist Heightmeyer... No. Out of the question. John will handle this on his own; he can't risk anything getting out. He can't seem weak. Besides, he has never been good at talking about stuff.

John paces and breathes long enough to turn the volume down in his head. He is actually looking forward to the coming fight. That is when he's at his best, in the midst of action and chaos. There is no noise then.
What if he had let McKay kiss him? by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 20 takes place during Season 1: Episodes 18 & 19

What if he had let McKay kiss him? What would it have felt like?
He imagines for a moment, closing his eyes. No, John tells himself, he has a lifetime full of regrets and now is not the time to think about them. Now is the time to fight to the death, like a good soldier.

. What if he had let McKay kiss him?

Everyone busies themselves trying to find a way to fight the Wraith. There is little time, even to take even short naps. Rodney blinks at his computer screen. He is so tired. Maybe he will close his eyes and rest for 30 seconds or so to recharge.

Rodney's mind drifts and he thinks about how therapeutic it felt to ramble to the camera. He wonders if that is what therapy is like. Maybe he should consider speaking to the expedition therapist Dr. Heightmeyer. If, for some weird reason they survive the Wraith attack.

God knows, Rodney has a lot of issues to work out. He really is screwed up over this thing with John. And he has never told anyone about what happened with Alex. Too ashamed. For now he just has to drink more coffee get back to work. It is going to be another late night with little to no sleep.

He opens his eyes and keeps typing. His hands move over the keys methodically as he looks over the Ancient schematics, searching for something, anything that might be useful to defend the city. He stops typing, feeling someone looking at him. He turns his head to the doorway.


Rodney hasn't seen much of him lately at the lab. Even before they found out about the Hive ships, John had been coming by less and less often. He doesn't step inside, but just looks at Rodney from hall. He has dark under circles under his eyes. They probably all do right now, but John looks... worse.

Standing uncertainly, Rodney joins him in the hall. He gives John a wary look. John says nothing but presses his lips together and looks down. Then John whispers, but it is nearly inaudible.

"What?" Rodney doesn't want to risk walking any closer to him.

John's eyes dart around the hallway anxiously. There is no one here but he walks forward, away from the view of anyone in the lab. Cautiously, Rodney follows. Then John edges closer to him, keeping about a foot of distance. He inhales and exhales slowly, closing his eyes, "Sorry."

Are they really going to talk about this now? Rodney doesn't know what to say.

"I'm sorry." John gazes steadily at Rodney with wide eyes. He looks ragged, like he really means it.

"Oh. Um. I'm sorry, too." Rodney blinks and looks down.

"No..." John's tone is sorrowful, "you don't... I'm the one who should... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

Lifting his gaze, Rodney sees John is still staring at him with those haunting and unreachable eyes. Rodney wonders if his own face looks as faltering as it feels. Probably. He has always hated how expressive his face is.

Oh. Then Rodney realizes John is waiting for answer. "Um, it's okay?"

Lifting his eyebrows uncertainly, John bites his lip and knits his brows together, "Uh, maybe we could hang out again, one of these days..."

Rodney gives a small nod and John continues, "You know, maybe just watch a movie or something?"

"Yeah." Rodney finds his voice. "Okay, a movie."

John gives a weak smile and Rodney isn't sure what else to say. They look at each other awkwardly for a moment, then Rodney offers John an out, pointing his thumb back to lab, "I should probably..."

"Yeah, I know, me too." John nods.

Rodney turns to go but then spins around, "Hey. I'll... See you later."

"Yeah, later." John smiles more enthusiastically.


So, John wants the team to go check out the Alpha site for evacuation, but to get out of it, Rodney makes up a valid-sounding excuse about working on the control chair. It is a legitimate problem.

Trying to determine if, uh, they can siphon off enough of the city's power to use the weapons array. It just so happens that right now Rodney is not actually working on the chair –not that it would have worked anyway.

Rodney keeps an eye out on his way to Dr. Heightmeyer's office; he doesn't want anyone to know that he came here. Once inside Rodney feels even more ill at ease, maybe this was a bad idea.

He has never liked the way Heightmeyer looked at him. She is attractive enough but he dislikes her way of seeming concerned and smug at the same time. If someone is going to smug, Rodney prefers they do it honestly. As long as she doesn't say anything than it should be okay.

After some preliminary greetings, Rodney asks if he can lie on the Freudian style couch rather than sit across from her in a chair.

Heightmeyer responds, "Well, I usually prefer, especially if I'm meeting with someone for the first time, for it to be face to face." She looks like she is used to people doing what she tells them to.

Rodney lies down on the couch, "I just have a few things I'd like to get off my chest-"

"Yes, Rodney what brings you here?" She rudely interrupts.

"Well, if you would just stop talking," Rodney is annoyed already, "I was about to tell you... Obviously I'm very stressed. I have a very important job here. Lots of people depending on me-"

Heightmeyer interrupts again, "And how does that make you feel?"

"If you would just shut up, I was about to tell you." Rodney's voice is sharp.

Her reply sounds condescending, "Well Rodney, it's my job to ask questions and-"

He waves his hand, "Can you just try to keep it to a bare minimum please. I'm not looking for a lot of input. I just need to be able to talk. Something I can't do, if you are interrupting me every time I open my mouth."

Offering a compromise, Heightmeyer suggests, "How about I let you get whatever you need to off of your chest, and then you let me talk to you and ask some questions".

"Fine." Rodney sighs, "30 minutes is better than nothing."

She is talking again, "I didn't say-"

"Talking now." Rodney lifts a finger, "As I was saying, I have a lot of stress that I need to vent about. Work. Well, everything is work. The people I work with. The people who work for me. It's all very problematic, and, uh, I wish it was as easy as it is with my cat, but, uh...

You know, my cat is the one person, well, I realize he's not really a person, but he actually likes me. Other people, not so much...

And I know you could say that is my fault, for being so caustic, but I can tell you, they never liked me, either way. This way, at least I've got something to defend myself with. I just don't understand why it's so easy for some people, everybody likes them...

My whole life I've been alone, toiling under great pressure, completely underappreciated. Am I bitter about it? Sure, a little. But, when else can I do? It's not like you can force people to like you. Can you? I mean, is there some magic solution?"

Heightmeyer doesn't answer and Rodney leans up to look at her.

She asks, "Did you want me answer that question?"

Rodney leans his head back on the pillow, "Well, it was a question wasn't it?"

"No," Heightmeyer sounds hesitant, "I don't think there is any magic solution, but sometimes talking through our feelings can help us discover-"

"That would be a no, then." Rodney speaks over her, "It's fine, I'm a genius, if there was a solution, I would have come up with it by now. So, that means I'm just left with this terrible, alone... feeling.

That doesn't do away. Only, now it's worse than ever, and I don't mean because we are all going to die soon, though that is a consideration. But no, just the empty, empty, nothing that pervades all existence...

Well, not everyone one suffers from it, apparently, but some of us are smart enough to realize the futility of emotion." Rodney sighs, "Futile emotions yet trapped nonetheless by the soul crushing impact...

I, I, don't even think it's a low self esteem thing, because it's actually true that no one has ever cared much for me. And, and, I seriously doubt they ever will. It's just a fact, one that I have to live with. Still, I suppose self-esteem is a consideration...

Well, I don't have any, so that would be more like negative self-esteem. Which is surprising when you consider how brilliant I am. But emotionally, it's a real mess..."

Rodney has accidentally given Heightmeyer too much of a gap. She asks, "What would you say, is bothering you most?"

He isn't sure how much he wants to reveal to her, "I... I, don't know. That isn't enough? The meaninglessness and futility of existence?

I mean, I suppose... There is one person in particular that I'm having problems with... Someone I have... feelings about... They don't have feelings for... They don't feel the same way about me."

"That sounds painful." Heightmeyer sounds saccharine.

"Yes, of course, it's painful!" Rodney makes a noise of frustration, "Why else would I have bothered to come here? Maybe this just was a mistake."

Heightmeyer holds her tongue and Rodney continues," It's all... just so fucked up now. There's other stuff... Stuff that happened in the past that... it still effects me –And no. I don't want to talk about it.

It's just hard to separate it all out. The way I feel about myself... It's, ugh. I just want to stop feeling anything, I don't... I don't know what I'm doing with this person. I can't stop myself from wanting more, but that's never going to happen."

Rodney snaps his fingers a few times, "Okay. Yes, That is the reason I'm here. That, that, wanting more, and, and, and the way it feels. I don't know how to stop it..." Rodney sighs and is grateful Heightmeyer keeps silent.

He begins again, "I, uh, I want to stay friends, because, in a way he-they, this person, is the closest friend I've ever had. That's pathetic I know, but I haven't had a lot of friends, so... There's that.

But over the last year we've gotten pretty close... There was even a time when we were... more. I don't know exactly what it was... I guess, they were pretty aggressive about seeking me out. I was flattered, and I let them... sexually... Well, it felt sort of good but also bad. I felt empty, used afterwards.

But then it stopped; I guess they were done with me. Which isn't that surprising, since that how it always ends. You know, when they're done with me. But, ah, this time, it was different. We still spent so much time together... It felt so... so close, you know? I let myself start to think..."

Rodney puts a hand over his eyes, "I... fell in love... and, now I can't get out of it. I can't stop feeling this way. I feel like I screwed everything up, with the friendship, I mean. I, uh, kind of made a move... and it was, uh... painfully bad. The reception, I mean. Probably the move, too.

But I've actually been angry about it... I don't understand exactly... I just feel toyed with, drawn in and then pushed away. Literally, pushed away. And I think if I had friend who... maybe felt more for me than I wanted... I just think I would have been nicer about the whole thing. I don't know, it would have been awkward either way, but I mean, the way he-"

Realizing he has made a slip up, giving away the pronoun, Rodney decides to continue without addressing it, "It was bad. The whole thing has been bad. And then they waltz back and start acting like nothing ever happened. It's too confusing. I haven't had a lot of experience with friends, but it feels like... I don't know. The way they act with me is... confusing..."

"That sounds confusing." Heightmeyer comments.

"Uh." Rodney refrains himself from an acerbic retort, "Yeah. Confusing... I doubt I'll live long to have to worry about it much longer, with the Wraith attack imminent, but... I've been keeping my distance... but I don't want to anymore.

After he apologized, I just had to admit to myself how much I've missed him. It doesn't matter if it hurts, I just want him... in whatever limited way I can, I mean. But it just hurts... all the time. I want to stop feeling this way. I want to stop caring so much. I don't suppose you know some way to achieve that?"

"No, I'm afraid it isn't that simple." She answers, "But as I was saying earlier, sometimes talking through the process can help alleviate the feelings, or help us move through them."

Rodney gets distracted and irritated by the rest of the session. Heightmeyer can't seem to stop asking rhetorical questions and offering simplistic platitudes. He felt better when he was talking to himself alone in a room. After the hour is up Rodney does not make another appointment.

On his way out he sees Teyla and quickly makes up an excuse he hopes sounds plausibly believable, "I was just, um..." Rodney lowers his voice to a whisper, "We're seeing each other."

"You and Dr. Heightmeyer?" Teyla looks skeptical.

He steps out into the hall so as not to be overheard, "Well you know how much I love woman with great, um... minds. And uh, just don't say anything to..." He catches himself before he says 'John', instead saying "anyone"

"Your secret is safe with me." Teyla says with a seriously bemused expression on her face.

"Right. Very good. Excellent." Rodney hopes to God this lie doesn't get out. It would be even more of an embarrassment than admitting he needed help with his emotional problems. He bolts before anyone else sees him in this corridor.



John is in the large briefing room listening to Rodney explain his plan for reviving the dead Langrangia weapon satellite. The one that the two of them had almost visited on that 15 hour flight from Atlantis.

The time that McKay had saved his life. And later, in the back of the Jumper, John had held him. Just for a few minutes, but it had seemed like an eternity... John can't ever remember feeling better than when he had Rodney in his arms.

Snapping back to the present, John is struck by how handsome Rodney is. God, he doesn't know when he's seen Rodney look so good. Even though John knows he has barely been sleeping, Rodney's skin seems to glow.

Maybe it's all the caffeine? His arms look muscular and toned folded in front of his chest confidently. Even his blue shirt hugs his body in a flattering way.

From his perch, John is drinking everything in. He is supposed to be listening to McKay right now, everyone else is. So why not keep looking?

His light brown hair looks soft and his face boyish. The pitch of his cheekbones matches perfectly with his nose and jawline. The eyes are so blue and expressive. John stops on the lips. What if he had let McKay kiss him? What would it have felt like?

He imagines for a moment, closing his eyes. No, John tells himself, he has a lifetime full of regrets and now is not the time to think about them. Now is the time to fight to the death, like a good soldier.

John isn't sure if it's sentiment or military concern that makes him offer to pilot Rodney's away mission. But Elizabeth tells John he is needed back on Atlantis and assigns another pilot to help Rodney restore the weapons satellite.

On the way out of the briefing room Elizabeth speaks, "Well Rodney, I don't mean to put any undue pressure, but at this moment, that satellite is the only thing standing between the Wraith and Atlantis."

Rodney's shoulders stoop a bit and John walks over to him, leaning in playfully as he passes by, "No undue pressure."



Knowing this is John's way of trying to cheer him up, Rodney smiles a little bit despite himself. On the ride to the satellite, he has a lot of time to think. Too much time. Everything with John is just so... Ugh. And if the Wraith breach the city, it will be necessary to self-destruct Atlantis in order to save Earth. If he can't take out all of these ships by bringing the satellite back to life...

He hopes John is able to find a new planet for evacuation, an Alpha site. And he hopes that John and everyone else will be okay while he is gone.

But mainly John... Oh, God. Rodney wishes they were back in time, when everything between the two of them was... almost perfect. Back in time before certain destruction from the Wraith was bearing down on them. Rodney has to make this work; he has to save the city.

Upon assessment, the damage to the satellite is severe and Rodney does the best he can to patch it. He spends hours in in heavy, claustrophobic spacesuit, repairing damage to the circuits on the external face of the structure so the Naquadah generator can restore basic power.

Atlantis is on a deadline. And Rodney can feel it; he does everything he can with the panels hoping it will be enough for power to get through to the weapon. They get the thing powered up in time before the Wraith vessels arrive, but they are only able to take out one of the Hives before it overloads.

After the long ride home, Elizabeth updates Rodney that the Wraith pace has remained slower than it was. But she feels that in the near future they are still out of options. Feeling he has failed, his heart sinks. It is time to evacuate to the Alpha site.

John stands next to Elizabeth to arm the self-destruct codes. Rodney watches as the only place that has felt much like home is about to be obliterated. He looks at John as he enters the codes and wonders how he can do this. But it is done. The alarm is blaring and Rodney has never felt more defeated.

Elizabeth orders Rodney to dial the Alpha site and he begins pressing the buttons numbly. Before he can complete the dialing sequence to the site, an incoming wormhole opens with Stargate Command's identification codes. They drop shields immediately and run down to the gate.
So long Rodney by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 21 takes place during Season 1: Episode 20

It is over. John is gone.
Some kind of chasm has opened up in Rodney's chest; he can feel it gaping, like he must be bleeding out on the floor of the control room.
. So long Rodney

John is stunned when military personnel began streaming into the room with supplies. A man named Colonel Everett introduces himself and politely relieves them of duty.

"Sir, we were about to evacuate." John states.

"Without a fight." Everett challenges.

"Yes, sir." John frowns uncertainly.

Elizabeth jumps in "On my order."

Everett is dismissive, "That evacuation order is rescinded. I assume you've armed the self-destruct device?"

"Yes, Sir we have," John confirms, "but as Dr. Weir was trying to tell you-"

Everett couldn't be less interested; "I am going to need you to disarm it immediately."

"Hold on a second Colonel," Elizabeth tries to get through to him, "I don't think you fully grasp our situation here."

"You have 3 Wraith Hive ships bearing down on your position and precious little to defend yourselves with." Everett impatiently rattles off the facts "That about sum it up?"

Rodney's face lights up, "You got our message."

"We got your message." Everett answers.

Elizabeth updates him, "It's down to 2 Hive ships. We managed to destroy one."

With a hint of condescension Everett keeps talking, "Good for you. That makes my job a little bit easier."

John is kicking himself for wishing there was another military commander on Atlantis, "What exactly is your job, Sir?" He asks.

Everett's voice booms with confidence, "I should think that would be obvious to you by now, Major." He gestures his hand with authority pointing at Sheppard. "We are going to defend Atlantis at all costs."

Taking charge of the situation, Everett makes little time to explain the plan to Elizabeth's team. But Rodney pieces together that they must have found a ZPM. Everett affirms that it will be arriving in their new spacecraft the Daedalus in 4 days, and that they only have to hold out that long.

The Colonel calls for a tactical briefing. John doesn't like the way Everett is dismissive towards Elizabeth or the tone of his voice when John that he'd read his mission reports cover to cover.

After following Everett's commands to recall the evacuations from the Alpha Site, John trains Everett's pilots with the Jumpers. The rest of the military personnel are setting up gun batteries



Rodney works with Zelenka to hook up the new Mark II power generators to the weapons chair. Everett expects John man it when the time comes. Still, Rodney is uncertain if he is going to be able to tie in the generators, powerful as they are, into the Ancient power system.

His body is aching from lack of sleep. He is delirious but the adrenaline is keeping him afloat. And his mind wanders to the image of the chair in Antarctica, where he saw John for the first time.

Blinking heavily, Rodney realizes he needs more to keep him awake. After a quick bite and some stims from Carson, the 2 of them return together to test the chair. And now he is getting grouchy because Carson can't work the chair the way John can. No one is like John, but Carson isn't even trying and it's driving him crazy.

"I'm serious. Major Sheppard's your man." Carson tells him.

"Of course he is." Rodney swallows, feeling sad.

He wishes John was his man, but that one... is unreachable.

Out loud Rodney chatters on in irritation, "But he's training pilots and deploying space mines right now, so we're stuck with you."

After some more verbal chiding on Rodney's part, Carson finally sets his mind to it and brings the chair to life. Once Rodney can get some readings, he realizes that the drones have been nearly depleted, from thousands, to a few dozen.

He runs up to the control room to inform Elizabeth and has barely delivered the bad news when the proximity alarms start to go off. The Wraith have a found a way to take out their space mines and overload their sensors.



John is not pleased that they have just lost their primary line of defense now that their space mines are gone. He leaves with Everett to discuss the military situation, but their discussion falls to something more personal.

"Major..." Everett begins, "I think I should tell you that Colonel Marshall Sumner was a very good friend of mine. We served together a lot of years and you know... I cannot for the life of me, figure out how it is that you could go as far as you did and not save him."

A warm shame rises through John's body, he presses his lips together and lowers his eyes.

Everett continues, "How you could get that close-"

John speaks up, "By the time I reached Colonel Sumner-"

"Worse," Everett takes command of the conversation again, "you admit to firing the shot that killed him."

Raising his voice to be heard, John explains, "Because I believed that's what he wanted me to do."

His face full of contempt, Everett steps closer to John, "You knew him that well, did you?"

Answering more softly, John shakes his head, "You weren't there, Sir".

"I wish for his sake, I was." Everett moves in inches from John's face.

He matches Everett's stare, trying to hide his shame and uncertainty, but he eventually he breaks, admitting, "There isn't a night that doesn't go by where that moment doesn't play in my head..."

John's lip curls downward betraying his disgust with himself, "And every time it does-"

Before he can finish throwing himself at the Colonel's mercy, a radio call interrupts his confession.

He'd been about to admit everything. How he'd failed Sumner, just like he'd failed everyone... How he was never good enough for this command, that he is as worthless a soldier as Everett thinks him to be.

"We'll finish this later." Everett promises, and tells John to man the chair for an incoming wave of Wraith Darts.


Atlantis goes dark waiting for the storm... and then the bright colors cross above the city, lighting the sky with weapons fire. The siege has begun. Rodney is already in the weapons control room getting the chair synced with the generator when John comes racing in.

"McKay, fire it up!"

Rodney is short, "It'll take a minute."

"We don't have a minute." John reminds him.

"Look this generator can only power the chair because it operates in a state of barely controlled overload- "

"Just get the damn thing working."

"That's what I'm trying to do." Rodney says through clenched teeth.

The city starts to shake with larger explosions... something is making an impact that feels bigger than weapons fire.

"You've got power, go!" Rodney shouts.

John leans back and takes control, slipping into peace.

He can feel the city, he can feel the drones, and he guides them strategically without any effort.

He visualizes the whole battle that is happening above, directing the remaining drones where they are needed, and filling any empty gaps in the defense. He gets the last dart as it is trying to make a getaway, then sits back up and smiles at Rodney.



It is amazing seeing John in that chair again... he looks so relaxed and radiant. Very Ancienty, Rodney decides, remembering the wonder he felt the first time he saw John.

The first time he saw John, ever. Rodney had been instantly attracted to him, mesmerized.

When they have done all they can, Rodney heads back to the control room with John and Zelenka to assess the damage. Seeing how many primary systems are down, Rodney lashes out at Everett.

With the chair out of drones, John suggests they target the Hive ships instead.

"With what?" Everett turns to ask.

John sounds confident now, "We fly the Puddle Jumper in stealth mode right down their throats."

"Are you volunteering for a suicide mission?" Everett questions.

Rodney knows that he is. He doesn't know why John does this, but it goes beyond the military or trying to save people's lives. It's a good cover, but Rodney knows John likes doing this, likes playing Russian roulette with his life as often as he can.

John always seems as his best in a crisis, riding the wave of adrenaline, but there really is something so wantonly reckless about him that it is suicidal. Rodney wishes he could reach beyond John's wall and find out why.

"It won't be a suicide mission if McKay and Zelenka can figure out a way to remote control the Jumpers." John offers.

To officially file his complaint, Rodney gives John an obligatory look of distaste.

"Can you do it?" Everett asks.

"I knew this was going to happen." Rodney complains.

"Is that a fact?" Everett says sarcastically.

"Yes, it's a fact. Look you show up here with your guns and your brush cuts, but when it comes to actually saving the city, you turn to the scientists."

Rodney is expecting someone to interrupt his rant but since everyone is silent, he turns back to his console muttering, "And every time what you ask is impossible."

"When was the last time you slept, doctor?" Everett cracks.

"Yeah-ye-ye." Rodney waves his hand at him, "Shut up. I have an idea."

"The chair." Zelenka chimes in.

"Of course, the chair," Rodney is dismissive, "the problem is trying into the Jumper systems.

"Without overloading the generators." Zelenka agrees.

Rodney continues conferring with Zelenka about how to create the kind of remote controlled Jumper that John envisioned. The two of them start chattering in incomplete sentences that only they understand.

As they start walking out of the room to go to work on it, Everett calls after them, "Is that a yes?"

"No, it's a possibly." Rodney casts a look of supreme condescension over his shoulder.



"I'll take it." Everett looks back at John, "Still, how much damage can one Puddle Jumper do?"

John has an idea about that too, if Rodney can finish putting together some of those incomplete nukes the Genii are building.

While Rodney and Zelenka work on the Jumper, John organizes personnel to fan out across the city and weed out Wraith who beamed in during the attack. He and Ford head out together and get to killing as many as they can find.



Once he has more stims in his system, Rodney is able to complete the nuclear bombs Elizabeth brought back from her diplomatic mission with the Genii. As he prepares the nukes to load into the Jumper, it is without a moment to spare. The Hive ships have just dropped into orbit. Rodney thinks he has figured out a way to remote control the Jumper and heads down to the weapons control room with John and Zelenka.

"McKay!" John is impatient while Rodney struggles with the generator.

"There's something wrong, power levels are dropping." Rodney yells back over the din.

The city is taking a brutal second assault and Rodney can't get the power to come on line.

"Rodney, nothing is happening." Zelenka points out.

There is another explosion and Elizabeth yells into her radio, "Why are there no Jumpers in the air?"

"We must have exhausted the Mark II's energy output. It's dead." Rodney answers.

The city is being pummeled by explosions and Rodney is desperate, "There's got to be a way too..."

He looks up in time to see John's lithe figure slip out of the chair. He is almost out the door before Rodney can process what he heard John say as he sat up from the chair.

"So long, Rodney."

Jumping to his feet in a panic, Rodney screams, "MAJOR!" But John has disappeared down the hall.

Goddammit John. Rodney is trembling a little bit from the stims, but mostly because he knows what John is about to do. Fuck. Rodney paces, shaking like a leaf.

'So long, Rodney'? No. John. Oh God. This is really happening and Rodney can't stop him.

He can't think straight as he half runs, half limps to the control room.

John is already speaking over the radio but not to him, "You know, if this thing works somebody might have to do it again."

Rodney turns his face away from the others because there is no way he can hide the grief.

"Understood." Elizabeth replies.

"You let Sheppard fly that jumper?" He turns to face her with a growing horror.

She gives a slight nod and he gapes at her, feeling complete betrayal. Elizabeth lowers her eyes. Why? Rodney wonders is it out of shame that she would sacrifice him for the city? Or maybe it is pity for the pain she sees on Rodney's face? He turns away unable to look at her anymore.

But she doesn't give him a reprieve; Elizabeth is resolute. She orders Rodney, "Help me arm the self-destruct, in case this fails."

He follows her to the front console, obedient, but looking at her darkly. There is a lump in his throat that he is trying to swallow as he punches in his command codes. The alarm begins to blare and when Rodney looks over at Elizabeth again he sees her as she has never been before.

Steel resolve, cold and hard. The power she exudes is impressive, almost like a wicked queen from a fairy tale. Rodney has never feared Elizabeth before, he does now. The lump in his throat is getting bigger and his eyes are getting too watery. He will have to be careful about blinking and keep his eyes wide or they will spill over.

"They haven't detected my approach." John is speaking over the com again, "The weapon is armed and ready. I'm going in"

Rodney feels numb, pacing but trying to sound professional as reports to Elizabeth, "Detonation in 5, 4, 3, 2.."

There is a flash on the view screen that confirms the explosion.

It is over. John is gone.

Some kind of chasm has opened up in Rodney's chest; he can feel it gaping, like he must be bleeding out on the floor of the control room.

"He did it." Elizabeth had pride in her voice.

"Yeah." Rodney can't move, his voice is bitter and so sad, "He did it."

The last words haunt him, 'So long, Rodney'.
Train wreck by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 22 takes place during Season 2: Episode1

Is he having a nightmare or this just what it feels like to be John? Either way, Rodney can see that John is hurting. He drapes his arm softly around John's back, praying that it won't wake him up.
John shudders a little and Rodney tenses. But then John relaxes and seems to cradle himself into Rodney. He makes a moan, a muffled sound of distress and his buries his face deeply into the side of Rodney's chest.
Pulling him in protectively, Rodney tightens his arm around John. John shudders again and then finally relaxes. His breathing falling into a steady cadence of deep sleep.

. Train wreck

Carson turns around to gives Rodney a sympathetic expression, it is cut short by another sensor alarm.

Someone is saying, "Dr. Weir I'm picking up another ship."

"Another Hive ship?" She asks.

"Negative. I'm reading IFF"

Another voice comes over the com, "Atlantis this is Sheppard."

"John?" Elizabeth is incredulous.

"What other Sheppards do you know?" The response is wry and sounds an awful lot like John.

Carson is clasping Rodney's shoulder in relief, "Oh thank God."

"No, no, it can't be." Rodney walks forward in disbelief, "We saw the Hive ship go up."

An unknown voice speaks over the com, "I assure you Dr. McKay that Major Sheppard is alive and well."

Swallowing hard, Rodney knows he is not going to be able to hold back the emotion now.

The voice introduces himself. "Colonel Stephen Caldwell, Commander of the Daedalus. We are ready to assist you"

"Oh thank you." Rodney gasps. He collapses into a chair with his hands over his face to hide some of the unbidden tears falling down his cheeks. He can hear the self-destruct being aborted and Elizabeth speaking to Caldwell. He's got to pull himself together.

"Dr. McKay?" Rodney flinches when he hears Caldwell addresses him and quickly rubs his eyes with the butt of hands. Bolting out of the chair, he is upright again.

"Present, yes." He answers, blinking furiously to fight back tears that still want to come.

Caldwell beams a ZPM for Rodney to place into the Atlantis systems. And Rodney's smile returns as he gleefully he explains to a surprised Carson, how the Daedalus has been outfitted with Asgard beaming technology.

John's warm voice speaks into his earpiece, this time addressing him directly, "Rodney. What do you say we get the shields back up?"

His face is flushed with happiness and an ear splitting grin. "What say we." Rodney pulls out the coveted ZPM. The world is suddenly so beautiful.

The Daedalus moves to take out the remaining Hive ship, promising to help retake the city from the rogue Wraith once the ship has been neutralized.

The assault continues above and throughout the city, as teams try to fight off Wraith intruders. An escort leads Rodney down to install the ZPM. But they run into trouble before they got too far. His escorts are taken out and Rodney faces his attackers alone with uncharacteristic bravery.

Probably just an overload from all the stims, but he turns the them screaming, "So this is how it's gonna be, huh!? Just me?!"

He pulls out his handgun and points it at them doing his best tough guy impression, "Okay, that's fine! You want some of this, huh?! Huh?!"

As he pulls the trigger, the clip falls out of the gun, rattling unsympathetically on the floor. Oh shit. Time for plan B.

"This is McKay I'm in trouble down here!" He screams into the com.

Someone is already shooting from behind, coming to his rescue. Thank God, it's Teyla.

She assures Rodney as they head out to install the ZPM. "I thought you were very brave."



John has convinced the Asgard aboard the Daedalus, Hermoid, to alter the beaming technology to allow them to place a warhead within the last Hive ship. The plan is successful and takes out the main carrier, but some small remaining cruisers jump to hyperspace and escape.

Daedalus tries to destroy the Darts that have already been deployed, but they are regrouping and headed straight for Atlantis. It looks like the Darts are making a suicide run on the unshielded city, and Daedalus is too far out of range to take them out.

There is no way of knowing what is happening, not with all the interference from the explosions. John can't seem to get Atlantis to come in. It is the first time in the last few days that he has been truly afraid.

"Atlantis, this is Sheppard." "Come in." He feels an icy grip in chest.


He feels hollow but keeps asking, "Elizabeth, I repeat, this is Sheppard. What is your status?"

Finally, Elizabeth's voice comes through, broken with static, but alive. "We're still here. That's our status."

"Don't scare me like that." John goes limp with relief. Rodney must have gotten the shields up in time.

John returns with the Daedalus crew to help get rid of the remaining Wraith roaming the city on foot.

When he beams back into gate room, John tells the men to secure Stargate operations. He calls out a sarcastically "Well, I'm home."

Elizabeth walks up to him, stops a few paces away, and then clasps him in an unexpected hug.

Stunned, John just stands immobile with his arms to his side. He has not have a lot of experience with displays of physical affection in his life. Of course there was his mom before she died, his ex-wife Nancy, ... and that time with McKay. That had been the best hug ever.

He starts to wonder if this Rodney had felt as uncomfortable as he does now. But John immediately knows the truth, when he had hugged Rodney... Rodney had really been there with John... really connected with him.

John isn't much good at connecting with people. And he can't connect with Elizabeth, though he knows he should, given everything that has just happened. He stands woodenly and tries to lift a hand to pat her back.

'Train wreck', he thinks, wincing internally.

"Yes, you are." Elizabeth stands back beaming at him.

For a minute, he is shocked that she agrees. He is- Then John remembers that she is just answering his statement about him being home.

"I truly thought..." Elizabeth shakes her head.

"Yeah, yeah." John cuts her off, "I thought the same about you a minute ago. We gotta stop that."

"I'd like that". Elizabeth's smile is bright.

Although he tries his best to match it, there is barely any expression on his face. John wants to get back to the business at hand but Elizabeth tells him, "Before you do anything... Colonel Everett insisted on speaking with you. He's in the infirmary."

He finds Everett in poor condition, his life nearly being drained by a Wraith. John keeps it professional updating him about the military situation but Everett tells him, "I wanted to finish our conversation."

"Yes, sir." John bites his lip and swallows, bracing himself for what is coming.

"I owe you an apology." Everett croaks.

Surprised, John tells him, "No, sir you don't"

Everett continues in a weak whisper, "I think I have a pretty good idea. I would've done the same thing as you did when you found Colonel Sumner. That's what I wanted to tell you."

"Well none of that matters right now, Sir." John doesn't know how to process this amnesty he feels he doesn't deserve.

"I'm trying to say... I wish you had been there for me." Everett looks emotional and closes his eyes to hide his pain.

Never been good with emotion... John feels hollow. He tries to think of something reassuring, "You're going to be fine, sir, once you get back to Earth..."

"I said what I had to say. Get back to work". Everett dismisses him.

Pulling back from the bedside slightly, John looks intently at the Colonel and gives him a stiff, deeply respectful statute. "Yes, sir."

He hopes Everett will understand that.

Leaving, John returns to the control room to try to help locate Ford. He has gone missing while defending the city. They find body, finally, in the water and beam him to the infirmary.

A Wraith is still attached to his chest. Despite being submerged in water for so long, somehow Ford is still alive. Beckett says it has something to do with the enzyme the Wraith inject just before feeding.

Beckett believes that Ford has so much enzyme in his body that they will have to wean him off slowly so that he doesn't die. But with so many dead Wraith on Atlantis now, they can easily harvest more of the enzyme.

Upon returning to control he is faced with more bad news. 12 more Hive ships are on their way. Rodney estimates only 36 hours before they reach Atlantis. Those cruisers that got away probably called for reinforcements.

The Daedalus makes another run at the ships, but this time the Wraith are blocking their beaming technology. With the shields failing they have no choice but to engage the hyperdrive and return to Atlantis.



Just before the fresh attack on Atlantis begins, the Daedalus makes it back. Wraith weapons are firing constantly on the shields and Rodney is not sure how long they will hold. He estimates they have a matter of days before the new ZPM is depleted.

Rodney walks with John toward the briefing room. Not everyone has arrived yet. Instead of sitting down, Rodney walks out to the balcony to see the sight of the sky on fire. John follows behind him.

Pools of angry weapons impact radiate out. A multitude of red, orange, and white ripples against the cool blue arch of the Atlantian shield. Rodney stares up silently feeling the presence of John next to him. Things almost feel normal for a minute before Rodney remembers the circumstances.

He looks over to John and sees his profile peering up at the sky. Too impossibly handsome. Rodney sighs and looks back at the lights shimmering above. He can't help but think about the night they had lain down together, looking at the stars. Before Rodney had tried to kiss him and everything went so wrong. It had so seemed so right at the time.

"Momento Mori." Rodney hears himself say the words before he realizes he has said it out loud. Uh oh. That might be a bad memory to invoke.

"Yeah." John sounds weary but not at all upset, "This might be that day, huh?"

"I hope not, " Rodney frowns, "I'd, I'd personally like to live long enough to have a few more victories... there's a lot left I'd like to..."

"Yeah." John agrees.

Rodney glances at John before lifting his head back, "Almost pretty isn't it"

"Almost..." John is thoughtful, "but not quite."

Yeah. Not quite. They should probably head back in. They return to the briefing room and join the discussion. John poses an abstract idea about making the city disappear and it sparks something in Rodney's brain. Using the cloak from a Jumper, they could fake a self-destruct with a nuclear reaction... Then as the smoke clears, it would seem like the city had been destroyed.

"What the displacement issue?" Zelenka asks.

"Coplaner emulation, that's the easy part" Rodney sniffs.

"Okay." Zelenka persists, "What about the hard part?"



John was just marveling at how quickly Rodney can use his brain to solve problems, and he palls to imagine it's about to get more complicated, "Hard part?" he asks.

Rodney explains that the cloak and the shield cannot be activated simultaneously, which means they will be exposed to the Wraith if the deception does not work.

Since Teyla was recently able to use her trace amount of Wraith DNA to link with the Hive mind, she guesses she may be able reestablish a mental link. As she was previously able to discover the true intention of this attack, to reach the new rich feeding ground of Earth, she supposes that she may be able to similarly 'reveal' their own intentions. If she can connect to the Hive just before detonation, she may be able to convince the Wraith that Atlantis intends to destroy the city rather than let it fall into enemy hands.

Caldwell assures them that the shields on the Daedalus should be sufficiently recharged be the time they execute the plan, in case they need a backup escape route.

On the way out of the briefing Beckett comes to tell John and the others that Ford has escaped from the infirmary.

"He was able to disarm one of the marines and got away with all the Wraith enzyme I had left." Beckett tells John.

On his radio, John calls out, "Ford, this is Sheppard, come in... Ford? I need you to come back to the control room, buddy. We're all going home."

There is no reply but he knows Ford should still be able to hear him, "Lieutenant, do you copy?"

The channels clicks open and John hears Ford's voice, "You're just afraid of me, Major. You're afraid of what I can do now. I'm not listening to you."

Fuck. Ford is just a kid. John tells Elizabeth and Beckett, "I'm going after him."

Breaking into a run, John hears Elizabeth shouting behind him, "Now's not the right time." But he ignores her.

He doesn't leave his men behind, especially not Ford. He's only 25 for Chrissake, all hopped on the Wraith enzyme and out of his mind.

John grabs a Wraith stunner from the armory and using a life signs detector to try to track him. Every time he thinks he is on Ford's tail, the kid keeps losing him. John trails through the halls and empty corridors. He will find Ford and bring him back.

When he feels the blast wave from the nuke hits the city, he is still searching.

Then John turns a corner into an open area. Ford is standing ready for him.

"I could have shot you a couple times by now." Ford tells him.

"Well, I'm glad you didn't." John lowers his stunner and he walks forward with a hand facing up in a sign of surrender.

"Look, why don't you and I just go someplace where we can talk?"

"You're trying to change me back." Ford steps away from him.

"No, I'm just trying to help you." John doesn't want to lose him, not when he is so close.

Ford's face looks alien now with one eye gone completely black and the skin all pinched around it. His other eye still seems human and John hopes he can still get through.

The Lieutenant leans his head to one side, assessing John and then replies, "No you're not." He walks into the transporter, about to make an escape.

"Oh crap" John mutters as he shoots Ford in the back with his stunner.

Ford doesn't even flinch when the pulse hits him. As the transporter doors close Ford looks back to John as if he has just proven a betrayal.

John races to the transporter and steps in as soon as the doors reopen. Where the fuck did he go?



The cloak has been activated and Rodney is whispering in the control room "I don't think they've detected us".

Elizabeth lowers her voice, "Why are you whispering?"

Rodney keeps his voice quiet, "I don't know, it just seems like to right thing to do."

"Is it working or not?" Elizabeth asks in a normal tone.

Suddenly, the Stargate goes active and Elizabeth turns to Rodney, "What the hell?"

Before he can answer, John comes running into the control room and joins Rodney at the console.

Out of breath, John asks, "Where's Ford?"

As a Jumper lowers into the Gate Room, Rodney states the obvious. "I assume that's him in the Jumper."

"Can they detect that?" Elizabeth demands.

"I don't know" Rodney admits.

John runs down to the open gate and Elizabeth tells Rodney to shut down the wormhole down. He tries but he can't, the Jumper has assumed control.

"Ford, stand down. This is a direct order." John's voice is commanding and loud. He stands right by the gate staring at Ford through the Jumper window.

Rodney doesn't know what John sees when he looks at Ford, but John's face looks defeated and hollow.

The Jumper flies through the gate and Ford is gone.

"Where the hell is he going?" John turns back to and stares at Rodney. His face is red and angry.

Elizabeth is tense. "It won't matter if the Wraith can detect the gate activity through the cloak."

"There's only one way to know." Rodney looks up at the ceiling expectantly.

They all stand in silence waiting.

Then Caldwell radios in to announce that the Wraith fleet is breaking orbit.

"I think they bought it." Rodney confirms the readings with relief.

John just stands at the gate, staring and holding the stunner as if he's on guard. Rodney watches as Elizabeth makes her way down to him. He can just make out what she is saying,

"The gate address will be in the log. There's still a chance..."

"Doesn't matter where he goes." John answers, "The second he gets to wherever he's going, he's gonna ditch the Jumper, turn around and dial another address, one we can't trace."

"We'll find him."

"Maybe." John sounds unconvinced.

"Hey." Elizabeth speaks forcefully, she waits for John to turn his head, "At least we're still around to try."

And Rodney hears John try to give Elizabeth what she wants from him, "Yeah."

But the expression on John's face makes Rodney's stomach lurch.

Sighing, he reactivates the shield, leaving to go get some well-deserved rest. But back in his quarters he keeps seeing John's face, the despair and self-loathing. Is it just Rodney that can see through the mask now? Or is John really slipping?

Rodney realizes he can't sleep like this. He pulls his pants and shirt back on and grabs a laptop. He has never come uninvited to John's quarters. Not unless you count that time with Chaya... when Rodney semi-stalked him.

It doesn't count; besides, he hadn't actually tried to enter John's quarters. He had just been, lurking... nearby.

This is a flimsy excuse, but Rodney can't let go of the idea that John needs him right now. He takes a deep breath and heads for the transporter. Before he can change his mind, he rings John's door.

There is no answer. Maybe John is already asleep. Rodney feels foolish, but just in case, he calls out, "Major?"

"Come in." John's voice is clear and dead calm.

The door opens and Rodney steps in cautiously. John is sitting on the edge of his bed, stunner still in hand. The way he is staring blankly ahead is deeply disturbing... He is surprised John isn't asking him why he is here.

"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" Rodney offers tentatively.

"Shouldn't you?" John is still staring at nothing, his voice impassive.

"Yeah, well," Rodney laughs nervously, "yeah, I, uh... couldn't sleep".

When John turns his head heavily to look at him, his expression is blank. There is nothing in his eyes but Rodney feels the storm behind the mask, something dark and haunted. John is hanging on the edge, he can feel it. It was the right thing to come.

"Look, uh, I actually brought, uh, something. I don't know if you're too tired but I have this movie on my laptop. And I just thought if you were awake...?"

"Yeah, thanks. I'd like that" John is smiling weakly and nodding.

Looking at the stunner in his hand, John stops as if he is just realizing he forgot to turn it to the armory.

"Tomorrow." Rodney steps forward taking it from him and resting it against the wall.

John is taking off his shoes and Rodney is unsure of what to do, so he stays standing next to bed and flips open his laptop.

"So this movie, Galaxy Quest, is like a Sci-Fi movie, but it doesn't take itself self too seriously, it's kind an action-adventure but also a comedy."

Folding his shoeless feet up onto the bed with him, John scoots himself over to the far side.

"Here take a pillow" He tosses one of his to the side of the bed closer to Rodney. That is, if a bed this small can really have 'sides'.

"Okay." Rodney answers meekly. He takes off his own shoes and sees John resting with his hands expectantly behind his neck.

"Let's see this movie McKay".

"Yeah." Rodney lies down. He is careful not to lean too close onto John. He rests back on the pillow and props the laptop on his waist since there is nowhere else for it to go.

The movie starts and Rodney is wondering if this is the kind of flick John would even like. What the hell? He had liked 'Back to the Future', so his bar can't be that high.

As John watches, his eyelids look leaden. He isn't laughing yet but they haven't really gotten to the funniest parts.

It's all about character development. Rodney turns his attention back to the film, he's seen it so many times but it never gets old. He waits for a scene that he is sure that will make John laugh and turns to look at him. John's eyes are closed.

Not wanting to wake him up, Rodney stops the movie. He closes the laptop and carefully sets it on the side table. He is about to sit up and get off the bed, when John whimpers in his sleep and turns to curl into himself.

He is leaning into Rodney's side. John's brows are furrowed and his breathing staggered.

Rodney holds himself still. Then, John pulls in tighter, coiling into himself and pressing his face and knees against Rodney.

Is he having a nightmare or this just what it feels like to be John? Either way, Rodney can see that John is hurting. He drapes his arm softly around John's back, praying that it won't wake him up.

John shudders a little and Rodney tenses. But then John relaxes and seems to cradle himself into Rodney. He makes a moan, a muffled sound of distress and his buries his face deeply into the side of Rodney's chest.

Pulling him in protectively, Rodney tightens his arm around John. John shudders again and then finally relaxes. His breathing falling into a steady cadence of deep sleep.

After days of no sleep, coming down off of the stims and coffee, Rodney stands guard; he doesn't mind at all. There are so many times that he has wanted to be closer to John and right now it feels like Rodney is close enough to comfort whatever is hurting him. He will lay here with his arm aching until John gets what he needs.

It's hard to say how much time goes by, maybe an hour, before John stretches his legs back out and begins to turn over. Rodney lifts his arm out of the way, holding it up and holding his breath. John looks peaceful, still sleeping.

Rolling carefully off the bed, Rodney tucks his laptop under his shoulder. He takes one last look to make sure John isn't going to wake from his slumber and then slinks quietly out of the room.
End Notes:

More to Follow: Rodney and John are getting closer again, but then John takes things too far, taunting him and pinning down to the couch. Why does John always act so intimate when he obviously doesn't mean anything by it?
This is not couch appropriate behavior by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 23 takes place during Season 2: (between episodes 1 & 2)

Rodney and John are getting closer again, but then John takes things too far, taunting him and pinning down to the couch. Why does John always act so intimate when he obviously doesn't mean anything by it?
. This is not couch appropriate behavior

Rodney can feel that he and John are close again... Maybe even closer than they were to begin with. It's intangible really, not just about spending time together. There is something different in John's manner with him since the siege ended, something less guarded.

He doesn't think John remembers anything about Rodney holding him that night they watched Galaxy Quest. John had been sleeping, or having a nightmare that he never really woke up from. But maybe subconsciously something has gotten through because John feels closer now.

Not long after the Daedalus leaves Atlantis on its return voyage. Rodney, John, and Elizabeth gate back to Earth for a standard debriefing. Well, not standard exactly, they have been out of touch with the SGC for a year now.

It feels surreal to be headed back to Earth so causally, after all this time. Rodney greets some familiar faces at the SGC then heads to the cafeteria until they are ready to debrief him.

What follows is an exhaustive review by some particularly annoying IOA guys. Rodney tries to keep his bad temper in check and eventually he is free to head back to his apartment. It will be a while before the Daedalus arrives on Earth. Atlantis doesn't want to waste the limited ZPM power on a return trip through the gate, so Rodney will get some well-deserved time off while they wait for their return passage.

Gathering the small bag of belongings he brought with him, Rodney makes his way to the elevator. As he walks to the lift that will take him the surface of the Cheyenne complex, John meets up to him in the hall.

"Hey." John has a tote bag over his shoulder and falls into step with Rodney.

Rodney smiles. "Hey."

"So, I was kinda hoping I could bunk with you while we're here." John suggests.

"Uh..." Rodney stops in front the elevator, "I only have a couch..."

John smiles lazily, "Sounds great. It's gotta be better than the military beds here on base."

"Well, I can't make any promises." Rodney frowns.

The lift arrives and they step in. John answers, "Understood."

Stargate Command has provided them each with a car to use, Rodney tells John to follow behind him on the way so he doesn't get lost. John insists he wouldn't, since he attended the Air Force Academy here, but he agrees to Rodney's plan.

When they arrive, Rodney leads John into his humble apartment.

Walking in, John lifts his brows, "You know Rodney You're a slob."

"Sorry, blah, blah, military" Rodney rolls his eyes.

John laughs and makes himself at home, picking up some of the items strewn on the couch.

"It actually is rather comfy, you know" Rodney admits as he grabs some the clothes and junk food off the cushions

Looking skeptical, John sits down and leans back, "Oh yeah. I thought so, this is going to be sweet."

Rodney nervously continues picking up stray items off the floor.

"Leave it, Rodney" John tells him.

He stops cleaning and sits on the opposite side of the couch.

John stretches his long leg and begins playfully kicking at Rodney's knees.

"Hey. Hey." Rodney protests, "This is not couch appropriate behavior."

"Sorry, blah, blah, appropriate behavior..." John pouts, "So what do you do in Rodney-land when your not fighting aliens in the Pegasus galaxy?"

Besides work, there's... Rodney tries to think; he's not coming up with anything.

"Anything you like to do for fun?" John offers.

"Well, there's my cat." Rodney blinks, "He's with my neighbor right now but..."

"The brunette?" John asks.

"Yeah, the brunette who thinks I'm jerk." Rodney nods, "That didn't work out so well."

"What did you say to her?" John gives Rodney a playful look.

"Oh, I don't know," Rodney shrugs, "the usual. Tried to ask her out."

"You going to talk to her while you're here?" John questions.

"Uh, to get my cat Binky?" Rodney thinks, "Maybe, I'm not sure if I want to get his hopes up. We're not going to be here that long, but I really have missed him. He's the best little guy..."

"So..." John looks amused, "other stuff in Rodney-land besides... Binky?"

He feels inadequate trying to think of something to impress John.

John breaks into Rodney's reverie, "We'll have to fix that and have some fun while we're here. There's a lot of stuff to do in Colorado Springs, golf, video game arcade, shooting range..."

"Golf?" Rodney makes a face.

Leaning forward, John asks, "Have you ever really played golf?"

"No." Rodney admits.

"Okay," John's eyes flash, "I'm going to teach you how to play golf, you'll see, it's a lot of fun. Do you have any beer?"

Rodney shakes his head. "Just coffee."

"Okay, we'll have to fix that too," John smiles lazily, "let's get some food and drink."

"I am hungry." Rodney confesses.

"You're always hungry." John grabs his keys off the table, "Come on, I'll drive."

"I am hypoglycemic, so... valid medical excuse here." Rodney protests on the way out.

When the two of them return, they stay up late watching TV and gorging themselves on some of their most missed foods. They entertain and amuse each other for hours. Talking and joking around with John is one Rodney's favorite ways to waste time.

Since he normally doesn't drink, Rodney gets sleepy from the beer. Before he goes to lie down, he brings John some bedding.

A few hours later, Rodney wakes up. Too much beer, he has to pee now. He trudges to the bathroom. On the way back, he notices the glow of the Television and sees the back of John's head sitting upright. Is he still up?

Rodney walks over to the front of the couch and sees John staring all the TV. But he isn't really watching. He has the same look on his face as the night they lost Ford. Hollow, sad, self-loathing... John doesn't turn his head when Rodney sits down.

"Having trouble sleeping?"

"It happens from time to time." John stares ahead.

"Hey." Rodney puts his hand on John's shoulder.

When John slowly turns to look at Rodney, his mask is gone; there is grief and self-hatred written clearly across his face.

"Nightmares about Ford?" Rodney squeezes John's shoulder with concern.

His voice is raw when he answers, "Nightmares about everyone... not the first person I've lost." John's eyes look vulnerable and he lets Rodney see him.

Rodney nods sympathetically.

John closes his eyes and presses his lips together in a grimace of pain.

Feeling protective and not knowing what else to do, Rodney keeps his hold on John's shoulder, "We might still find him, and you did everything you could... You're very... strong, John."

"No." John opens his eyes and looks surprised. His voice is gravelly, "No, I'm not Rodney."

Rodney tries to argue but John cuts him off sounding gruff.

"No. I'm... just GONE. Like I've lost myself along the way, too. I'm missing something I should have... It's not the same thing as being strong."

"I mean, you've done a good job". Rodney moves his hand slowly over John's upper arm, trying to soothe him, "You couldn't have done anything more."

His eyes full of grief and bitterness, John stares at Rodney, "I've. Failed. Everyone I ever cared about."

Shaking his head, Rodney tries to disagree, "No-"

"Not to mention a lot of other people I was responsible for." John adds.

Rodney's eyes soften, "I think maybe you feel responsible for more than you really are."

"Thanks, but, ah..." John lowers his eyes wearily, "I deserve to feel guilty about the mistakes I've made."

"No. No, you don't. You absolutely don't." Rodney frowns in concern and shakes John shoulder urgently.

John looks up and places his hand over Rodney's. His eyes are sad and wistful, "Thanks, Rodney. I, uh, appreciate the..." He squeezes Rodney's hand.

Moving his palm gingerly under John's, Rodney turns it to hold John's hand in his. , Holding onto each other lightly, they let their hands fall onto the couch cushion below. Rodney moves his hand softly, trailing a finger over to top of John's hand, delicately caressing John's long fingers. John moves his hand uncertainly, returning the caress.

Rodney has never appreciated just how hard it must be for John to connect until now. He cherishes this little bit, this brief moment when John isn't pushing him away.

When Rodney looks back up at John, he cannot read the expression. It feels like something gentle though.

"Thanks, Rodney." John sighs. He squeezes Rodney's hand to let him know he is done, "I think I can sleep now."

"Okay." Rodney gives John's hand a final squeeze and reluctantly lets go, "If you... okay. I'm here if there's anything..."

As John moves to stretch his legs out under the covers, Rodney stands up. John looks adorable the way is hugging the blanket up to his chin.

"Okay. Goodnight." Rodney sighs.

"'Night" John closes his eyes.

The next few days are in fact a lot of fun. John takes Rodney on all the promised adventures, and he shows no further signs of being distressed by Ford's disappearance. Rodney checks, late each night just to make sure, and John isn't having any nightmares.

Golf isn't something Rodney is very good at; but having John instruct him, having him hold Rodney's arms and teach him how to swing, is worth a day spend walking from hole to hole. All this time together, just the two of them, feels like such a luxury. And it will another 10 days before Daedalus is expected to arrive. Rodney is starting to come up with some excursion ideas of his own that might appeal to John.

Later that night while they are relaxing on the couch, Rodney tells John that he has elected to bring his cat home, even if it will be a short homecoming.

"Can't wait to meet him, after all the build up..." John smirks, "You worried about seeing your neighbor?"

"Well, I wasn't but thank you for bringing it up." Rodney rolls his eyes.

"How bad can it be?" John kicks Rodney playfully from across the couch.

Rodney twists his face into a frown and John asks, "So, what exactly did you say to her?"

"How should I know? People always think I'm a jerk anyway. When I'm nervous sometimes I get... I don't know, I might have started rambling about how I usually prefer blondes, but in her case I would make an exception."

"Oh, Rodney." John bursts into laughter, "You're priceless, but... Wow. You gotta get some better moves."

Glaring at John he insists, "I have moves. I have moves you don't even know about."

John keeps laughing and Rodney feels infuriated. He leans over and hits John a few times on the arm.

"Whoa. Whoa." John puts up his hands defensively.

"Just shut up." Rodney throws a few more uselessness punches at John.

Much to Rodney's chagrin, John keeps laughing at him, "McKay. Whoa. You trying out some of your moves, now?"

With a noise of fury and frustration, Rodney launches himself at John, attacking.

He feels John move effortlessly. His knees fold out from under him and Rodney falls on his back hard enough for all of the air to exit his lungs.

"Ooooph." Rodney gasps.

John has him pinned down into the couch. He is lying on top of Rodney with his body pressed tight against him. Rodney tries to move but he is helpless, he feels too vulnerable. John's body is pressed right against his... Oh God, why does John always act so intimate with him when he doesn't really mean it?

Rodney's breath comes in shallow as he looks up at John's face to see if there is chance he might mean it. John's eyes are mocking; clearly Rodney means nothing to him. His anger rises as he thinks about how John doesn't care how any of this makes him feel.

Then John snorts and laughs, "Yeah, I think I've seen your moves."

And that is too much, that is below the belt. Rodney's body gets stiff with the hurt he is feeling.

His voice is loud and low as he growls, "Get off."

John freezes and Rodney glowers at him, "OFF!"

As John jumps back into his seat, Rodney stands up shaking with rage, "You know what? There really is something wrong with you. Something important is missing.

I mean, you seem normal enough at first. It's like, they were passing out all the basic human components, 2 arms, 10 fingers... Oh. But they neglected to give you the necessary parts to from a heart."

"Me?!" John looked stunned, "It's not like I'm the one..."

Glaring at John with clenched teeth, Rodney internally dares him to finish whatever he is going to say.

John seems to think better of it and closes him mouth. His face is still but his eyes flash with anger.

Rodney isn't backing down. He isn't going to just forgive John for this.

They stare in a silent stand-off for a few moments, then John speaks, "Maybe I should I go."

"Maybe." Rodney's voice is steely.

Blinking at Rodney for another moment, John shakes his head, grabs his bag and heads out.
All Rodney can do is stare at the closed door. This has been the closest he and John have been since that awful moment when Rodney tried to kiss him. Rodney really thought they were back to being friends.

But any kind of intimacy with John is impossible; he can see that now. Rodney is not going to feel guilty for lashing out at John. He deserved it.

Maybe Rodney had hit below the belt too, when he used what John had confided against him. Still, John started it and it was true... he is heartless. Heartless and uncaring and cruel, to toy with Rodney like this... And... Rodney still loves him.

He knows John won't be back, just like he knows John won't ever love him back. This is probably the end of everything. Rodney feels like a dry husk, hollowed out emotionally.

John is the one who owns Rodney's heart, and now that John is gone, Rodney is missing one too. He stands staring at the closed door. His chest hurts, he can physically feel the pain as if someone has carved his heart out with a dull blade.

Nothing has ever felt like this. Rodney has been heartbroken before, but this is by far the worst. This incurable, chronic heartache... Lifting his hands, Rodney can see that they are still shaking. What is he supposed to do now?

Walking over to the entertainment center, he flips through some of his old CDs. There are a few that have been traditional balms for him when he has been heartbroken. Then he finds one he hasn't heard in years. It seems like it would be perfect right now.

Grabbing his old portable CD player, Rodney climbs up to the roof of his apartment complex and lies down to look up at the stars. He starts with a classic Smiths song, 'How Soon is Now?'.

Then, Rodney pulls out an album by The Church, they have a song titled 'Under the Milky Way Tonight'. Rodney remembers it being sad and lovelorn, so he and plays it next.

Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty,
Sound of their breath fades with the light.
I think about the loveless fascination,
Under the Milky Way tonight.

Wish I knew what you were looking for,
Might have known what you would find.

And it's something quite peculiar,
Something shimmering and white.
It leads you here despite your destination,
Under the Milky Way tonightr32;

Wish I knew what you were looking for,
Might have known what you would find.

The song feels like an anthem for being heartbroken over John. He puts it on repeat, and stares up at the constellations of the Milky Way galaxy. The view up here isn't perfect, but Rodney can see the images of Hubble photographs, various galaxies up close in his mind. And while he grieves, the lyrics of the song seem so perfect. His chest wells with sorrow as he tries to understand this loveless fascination John has with him.

That's what it is for John, a loveless fascination. Why doesn't he just leave Rodney alone? He doesn't love him. Whatever it is that draws John to Rodney, it is clear he looking for something else. Something shimmering and white... Maybe something like Chaya. Whatever John is looking for, whatever his destination, Rodney knows it is not him.

Rodney lets the song wash over him. Maybe admitting it, feeling the loss so acutely will allow him some sort of release, an exorcism his own fascination with John. He lies outside for hours staring up at the sky until his eyes are too tired to keep open. But as he makes his way back down from the roof, Rodney knows that the love he feels for John will not be so easily abandoned. Still, this CD will be one of the things he brings back with him to Pegasus.

A few days later, Rodney gets a call from Elizabeth to catch up and ask him if he will be at John's promotion ceremony. Rodney is hurt that he wasn't invited even though he doesn't want to go. He plays it off well, explaining that he will be busy despite the fact he doesn't even know the date.
End Notes:

Song 'Under the Milky Way tonight', quoted from the band "The Church"
I do have a heart, you know by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 24 takes place during Season 2: episode 2

Rodney and John are getting closer again, but then John takes things too far, taunting him and pinning down to the couch. Why does John always act so intimate when he obviously doesn't mean anything by it?
. I do have a heart, you know

John was more exited about being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel than he thought he would be, but he can't shake the feeling he really doesn't deserve it. He had hoped to see Rodney there for the ceremony... Even though they haven't spoken since the night John left his apartment. He supposes they will see each other soon enough, when the Daedalus heads back to Earth in a few days.

Steeling himself emotionally, John knocks on the door of the house where Ford's cousin lives. His cousin Patrice greets him warmly and explains how close she was with Aiden, the guy John always called Ford.

"I want you to understand, as far as I'm concerned, he's still alive..." John explains to her, "Until I see evidence to the contrary, I intend to keep looking for him."

Patrice tells John that she doesn't want him to speak to their grandparents, she doesn't want them to get their hopes up in the face of such uncertainly. She wonders if maybe she should just tell them that Aiden isn't coming back at all, at least that way they can have some closure.

"We're- We're not there yet." John tells her, feeling heavy with the weight of responsibility.

Patrice examines him and speaks, "You know, Aiden mentioned you in that tape message he sent. He said you were a good man, that he trusted you with his life. You tell me, Colonel, was that trust misplaced?"

John stares at the floor for a long time before he answers, "I don't know."



Rodney doesn't see John again until they board the Daedalus with all the new team members, headed back to Earth. As the voyage commences, Rodney keeps his distance.
Occasionally, they speak on the bridge but keep it professional.

As the 18-day trip draws to a close, it seems to Rodney that John is starting to try to be familiar and joke around again. He doesn't know if he's ready for that, even if it is just while they are working.

On their way back to Earth, just as the Daedalus begins to enter the fringe of the Pegasus galaxy, the ship itself seems to succumb to a malfunctioning computer virus. A couple members of the crew are killed. Hermiod, the alien Asgard on board, deduces that the virus, Wraith in origin, is to blame.

It has probably been dormant until they got close to the Wraith controlled territory. Now it is acting like an artificial intelligence, infecting most of the ship's systems and trying to take navigational control. This means until they figure out a way to get rid of it, they can't use the hyperdrive.

Fortunately certain systems, like life support, are isolated so it can't simply kill them by venting atmosphere. But the team knows they cannot let the ship fall into Wraith hands, as it would lead them directly to Earth and give them the hyperdrive technology to get there.

The ship has begun broadcasting a distress call to the Wraith. Rodney plans to wipe the virus by doing a full systems reboot. But it is going to take him some time to set everything up.

In the meantime, the Daedalus will be a sitting duck for any Wraith nearby. John heads to the fighter bay to pilot a ship and take out the communications array with weapons fire. The plan works; Caldwell congratulates John on a job well done and tells him to head back to Daedalus.

John voice comes in over the coms, "Oh, here's a problem. My controls aren't responding."

"Say again?" Caldwell asks.

"Well, the Daedalus is behind me." John replies, "I can't seem to turn around and... I am however, picking up speed."

Rodney is kicking himself, "I should have seen this coming. The navigational software on the F-302 is compatible with sub-light systems, which will be infected. The virus must have uploaded itself onto his ship."

"What about the transport beam?" Elizabeth suggests.

"That would work." Rodney brightens, "Those systems are still clean."

Elizabeth tells John that they are going to try to beam him out.

Rodney straightens back up from the controls to tell her there is a problem. He explains, "The transport beam is tied to an Asgard sensor. It's what we use to lock onto targets."

"So", Elizabeth prompts.

"So," Rodney continues, "so that particular piece of equipment was located in the array that we just destroyed." Rodney begins snapping his fingers in a brainstorm, "I can key the system to lock onto his radio signal. It's what they used to do on the Prometheus before they had Asgard sensors."

Caldwell is pragmatic, "You'd better do it quick because in about 3 minutes he's gonna be out of range."

Elizabeth radios back to Sheppard, "John, we've run into a slight snag. Rodney just has to make a few adjustments before we can get you out of there."

"Okay." John sounds unsure.

"Don't worry" Elizabeth assures him, "We're not about to give up on you yet."

When Rodney is done, Elizabeth speaks on the radio again, "We're going to use your radio to target the transport beam. We'll have you out of there in just a minute."

"Sounds good", after a moment John asks, "So, I'm still in range, right?"

Rodney covers his earpiece to keep John from hearing, "Truth is, it's never been tested from this distance."

"Rodney seems to think you'll be okay." Elizabeth bluffs.

"Well, that's good" John remarks, "Wouldn't want to leave any PARTS behind"

Rodney feels a pang of guilt; he never should have said that. If Rodney knew how to be any kind of friend at all, he would never have used that information against John. When he sees John appear on the bridge in a flash of light, Rodney is beyond relieved.

"Are you all right?" Elizabeth asks John.

"Yeah. Two arms, ten fingers." He looks at Rodney pointedly, "I'll check the rest later."

He vows to make it up to John and be a better friend, just as soon as he has this virus problem licked. While Rodney gets the system ready for another reboot, John offers his always unwelcome insights to Rodney's technological endeavors.

"This is what I do when I have problems with my laptop. I turn it off and then I turn it back on again."

"I think this is a little bit more complicated than that." Elizabeth smiles.

"I'm just saying, that if we're taking a page from the John Sheppard book of computer repair, we're really desperate."

Ignoring the critique, Rodney tells Caldwell to prepare for a full system shut down. When the systems come back online it looks like the virus has been destroyed. The hyperdrive will take time to get back online, so they head away from their current position at sublight speed.

But when the ship plots a new course, Rodney soon realizes that the virus has managed to return. Navigation has them headed straight for the coronasphere of a star. The trajectory will kill everyone on board while leaving the ship intact for the Wraith.



Knowing now that the virus can jump to the F-302's, John heads with Rodney to the hanger bay to pull all the memory storage modules from the small craft, so they can attempt another shut down. As they approach the bay, an access door seals in front of them. John starts for another door only to have it seal off as well.

"It's the virus." Rodney tells him, "It must know what we're trying to do."

"How is that possible?" John asks.

"It's thinking ahead, it's anticipating our moves, like in a chess match," Rodney answers.

"I hope you're good at chess." he quips.

Rodney sounds arrogant, "I don't get to play much. It's tough finding challenging opponents."

John gives a sidelong glance of disgust. Sometimes Rodney is just too insufferable. He thinks his mind can solve anything, maybe thinks it can compensate for his lack of other parts. John could probably beat Rodney at a game of chess, but he isn't so arrogant that he is going to brag about it.

Caldwell confirms that the entire section has been sealed off. So John tells him to use the beaming technology to send them inside the hanger.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa." Rodney interjects, "Wait a minute. The transport beam wasn't designed to beam from one point to another inside the ship. We could end of re-materializing half inside a wall."

"Well," John lifts his eyebrows dismissively, "we're just going to have to take that chance." He moves to stand next to Rodney.

"Right, of course." Rodney twitters nervously, "Why not?"

As John looks over at Rodney, he sees him curled in on himself, as much as any person can be, while still standing upright.

"Colonel, we're ready." John tells Caldwell.

They both arrive intact and take a few steps forward.

"It worked." Rodney looks at John with surprise.

A light starts to flash and an alarm goes off. The hanger doors start to decompress.

"Oh, boy." Rodney's voice sinks.

John turns to stare at him, and Rodney stares back.

There is no time to do anytime. This is it, endgame. The bay doors are completely open and the two of them keep staring at each other.

"We should really, really be dead right now." Rodney tells him.

"I don't feel dead." John answers in confusion.

They keep their eyes locked on each other as if they are in some kind of trance.

Then Hermiod comes over the com, explaining that he has raised a force shield to protect them, but it will not last long.

Both of them seem to break the gaze at the same moment, coming back to reality and the urgency of the situation. They separate and hurry to pull the memory modules as fast as they can.

Almost done, the shield looks like it is about to collapse. They scramble into the last unfinished fighter and pull the final module.

John speaks into the radio, "This is Sheppard. We're okay. We managed to get in the last F-302 before we lost atmosphere. Any chance you could beam us out?"

Elizabeth answers, "Sorry, John, we lost the transport beam. You're gonna have to sit still for a while."

Rodney pipes up from the back seat, "We pulled all the memory units. Another shutdown should work."



Feeling a bit claustrophobic in the back seat, Rodney tells John, "You know, I've never actually been inside of one of these before today. It's a little, uh... cramped, huh?"

"Just relax Rodney." John sounds patronizing, "We're safe, for the moment."

Short of breath, Rodney's mind is racing, "Right. Quick question, though, just out of curiosity. How much uh, like, air do these things carry?"

"Lots," John says.

Great, imprecise as ever Rodney thinks, "I'm just saying because if this doesn't work and we have to come up with another plan, who knows how long we could get stuck in here and, so, it would..."



Oh my God, shut up. John is losing patience. Out loud he says, "You know what Rodney? You're exactly right, it's a limited supply. So why don't we conserve it by you not talking."

Rodney starts to make a noise from the back and John wags a finger at him, "At all."

The ship goes dark again from the reboot. When it comes back online, they are informed that the ship is still headed for the star.

John starts turning on the crafts flight systems and Rodney sputters, "What-what are you doing?"

"It's the last F-302, Rodney, the one we left behind. It's tracking us."

"Yeah, that makes sense, but we can't just go after it." Rodney sounds concerned, "We have no computer assisted navigation."

"I don't need a navigational computer to fly this thing." John reminds him, "Besides, we're not going far."

He speaks into his com, "Engine Room, this is Sheppard. Prepare to initiate another shutdown on my command."

Elizabeth asks, "John, What are you doing?"

"Getting rid of the last place the virus can hide."



Rodney sits back into his chair with dread, and then tries to strap himself in "Wait, wait, wait. I haven't got my belt."

As John takes off gracefully and then arches the craft in a U, Rodney crushes himself into the seat. Flying upside down and headed in the direction of the other craft, a quick correction flips them upright again. Sometimes Rodney forgets how good John is at this flying thing.

He is still plastered to his seat when he hears an alarm, Rodney starts, "What's that beeping?"

"Somebody just locked into us. Hold on." John sounds relaxed.

The craft veers suddenly and Rodney stomach lurches.

Dear God, they are completely spinning now, it feels like free fall. John takes them into a series of wild dives, occasionally straightening out into some vector or another before flipping the ship in another maneuver.

It is methodical and chaotic at once. Rodney is impressed but wishes to God it wasn't him spinning out of control. Kind of like being around John himself.

"Whoa, what happened to inertial dampeners?" He asks.

John is concentrating and answers as an afterthought, "With these speeds you're gonna feel the tight turns even with the dampeners."

"Aghhh.", Rodney complains, "Now he tells me." The pin turns and sudden drops continue, not to mention the spinning, Rodney can't really see anything that is out there except the blinding sun. It looms closer and closer.

"We're just going to tap on the brakes here." John warns.

Rodney braces himself but lurches forward anyway. He swallows and hard to keep his lunch from coming back up. John would never let him live it down.

John sees something, "He's making a break for the coronasphere."

"Any point in mentioning that we have even less protection in this ship than we did in the Daedalus?" Rodney says with a sense of surrender.

"Not really." John replies.

"Didn't think so." Rodney answers as they speed even closed toward the star. "Is it just me or is it getting a little hotter in here?"

Transfixed, John tells him, "Hold on, I almost got him."

Rodney moves his hand in from of his face, to stop the blinding glare of the star. He knows John is trying to focus and this isn't helping, but he can't stop himself from talking when he's really nervous, "See, thing is, I have very fair skin. I tend to burn very easily.

"Just a few more seconds." John tries to sound patient with Rodney's complaining.

Biting his tongue, Rodney waits in uncomfortable silence while John tries to acquire the target.

Then John fires and the ship in front of them explodes. "Daedalus this is Sheppard. Target is destroyed. I repeat, target is destroyed. If you try one more shutdown I think it might just work."

Rodney examines his skin to try to determine how badly it has been burned, he is feeling too deflated to comment on the correspondence with the Daedalus. He will just wait here sinking into the co-pilot seat and trying to recover his dignity until the system wipe has been successful.

"You did great back there, Rodney." John's voice sounds more reassuring than mocking.

Embarrassed, Rodney feels like John is handing him a peace offering.

Then John asks, "Wanna take the stick?"

"Really?" Rodney feels touched.

"No." John answers a little sheepishly, like he hadn't really expected Rodney to take the bait.

Of course, Rodney whinges to himself, give the controls to the panicking coward. Maybe he had been too hasty in his earlier resolve to apologize to John. He settles himself in for the ride back and doesn't say a word.

He avoids John as much as possible for the rest of the short trip home. Once they are back on Atlantis, Rodney visits the infirmary. His skin is all red and burned from the encounter with the star's corona. Just like he knew it would be. John just looks burned as well but not nearly as bad.

Carson prescribes a cream and then Rodney is left alone in the empty infirmary. He sits for a minute or two thinking about everything that happened on the trip back to Earth. He isn't sure how he feels about it. Does he want to apologize to John or is he still too angry? Probably... he should probably he keep his distance.

John walks in.

"Carson isn't here." Rodney waves his hand toward the door.

"I came to see you." John walks up to the gurney Rodney is sitting on.

He eyes the Colonel with a guarded expression.

"How's your, ah, skin?" John asks.

"Isn't it obvious?" Rodney narrows his eyes.

John bites his lip and Rodney feels a little guilty since John is trying to make nice.

"My nose is peeling." He offers.

Looking down, John tells him, "I do have a heart you know".

Feeling completely guilty now, Rodney fumbles, "I'm sorry I said that, I never should have-"

"It's just really, really..."

Rodney waits for him to continue.

John picks a word uncertainly, "Buried?... Under... stuff."

"Stuff?" Rodney asks softly.

"My ex-wife called it..." John looks uncomfortable and shifts his eyes around the room, "an emotional train wreck. So, I guess that's like, a lot of stuff twisted up and... buried under other stuff. I don't mean to seem so heartless"

John's eyes look open, like he is asking for Rodney is pardon him, to understand.

As he looks at Rodney beseechingly, John continues, "Because I'm really not, you know?"

"I know." Rodney sighs. He knows John has a heart; it just doesn't belong to Rodney. Not the way Rodney's heart belongs to John.

"Hey, it's not like I'm the poster boy for 'having a heart' myself." He smiles weakly.

"You've got a huge heart, McKay."

He isn't sure how to take that. Does John mean that Rodney's emotions play out over his face too easily? That he is thin skinned? That everyone can tell how he feels?

"You know you push people away when they try to get close to you?" Rodney blurts out an unpremeditated question.

"Yeah. I know that, Rodney." John winces.

"Right. Sorry." Rodney sputters, "I just wondered why."

"There are so many reasons I don't even know myself anymore..." John looks at Rodney without the mask of indifference. His eyes are haunted, "Look, I just wanted to say I'm sorry for... the way I am sometimes."

"No, no." Rodney shakes his head, "I'm sorry for what I said, I knew it was wrong when I said it. I was just angry. I know you have a heart... It's just... Sometimes I wish it was easier to be close to you."

John's eyes flash with emotion, something Rodney can't read. Suddenly he reaches over and clasps Rodney to him. Rodney is caught by surprise and his arms are pinned to his side, just like the first time John hugged him.

This time John squeezes Rodney deeply, like his life depends on it. Then he releases just as suddenly, saying, "Yeah, me too."

After letting go, John can't meet Rodney's eyes, and quickly leaves the room. Rodney smiles knowing that is probably as close as John can go, feeling touched and slightly sad at the same time.



John is making a real point to be more careful with Rodney. Sometimes he has let himself get too careless. And he doesn't like hurting Rodney. He never means to, but it seems to keep happening.

He can't forget the horrible image of Rodney sobbing on the shower floor the last time John fucked him. Rodney has never realized that John saw that, and it will stay that way. But John has never understood what he did so terribly wrong to cause Rodney that much pain. He had thought Rodney wanted it too. All the more reason to be careful.

And back on Earth, John had let himself act without thinking. He had pinned Rodney to the couch, just playing around... He never should have done it, and Rodney had been so upset.

John knows that Rodney was probably more hurt than he would ever let John see. Rodney... Rodney seems fragile, but in so many ways, he is strong, stronger than he seems.

And yet, the ways you wouldn't think Rodney is vulnerable, he is. So vulnerable.

Now that Rodney is letting John back in again, he is more cautious. He keeps more physical distance; he doesn't assume the same familiarity. They still play their games and laugh together but... John really, really doesn't want to hurt Rodney anymore.
Aqua Velva by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 25 takes place during Season 2: episode 3

Rodney and John are getting closer again, but then John takes things too far, taunting him and pinning down to the couch. Why does John always act so intimate when he obviously doesn't mean anything by it?
. Aqua Velva

Hurrying on his way to the Jumper bay, John is excited to have a lead that may allow them to rescue Ford.

In the corridor, Caldwell calls after him, "I was wondering if I needed to remind you that Lieutenant Ford is a significant security threat to this base." There is a hint of malice in his voice.

"He's also a friend in need." John replies.

"His condition forces him to seek out the Wraith." Caldwell continues, "If he's caught, he would compromise..."

John spins around and points at Caldwell, "Look. I'm going to find him and I'm going to bring him back."

With a sour expression, Caldwell tells him, "According to Dr. Beckett's report, there may not be anything that can be done to help him."

Walking back, John faces Caldwell, "With all due respect, Sir, I hope your not saying what I think you're saying."

"Lieutenant Ford has already proven resourceful enough to penetrate security and escape the city." Caldwell's face is grim, "I'm saying, if you encounter him and there's any chance whatsoever that his capture might prove elusive, you are duty-bound to eliminate the threat."

John pushes his lips together and looks hard at the floor.

"Lieutenant Ford may have been your friend, but he's not anymore. I know you understand. You'll do what's right."

After a moment Caldwell adds, "You didn't seem to have a problem with mercy when it came to Colonel Sumner."

Looking up sharply, John keeps his emotions in check while maintaining eye contact with the other man. There is no defiance in his eyes, only a shield to hide the pain.

The Colonel looks at John like he is waiting for him to sufficiently process his order. Then Caldwell his locks eyes in for the kill, saying lightly, "Dismissed."

'Got it. You outrank me, don't need to be reminded'. John heads out, more slowly now, toward the Jumper bay.

The team arrives on the planet while it is still dark. John tries to get a reading from the Jumper but gives up, "Life-signs detector's useless".

"I told you so." Rodney says crisply from the co-pilot chair.

"Just preserving your streak of being right, officially?" John asks. He starts giving orders to the group. "Let's start a sweep. Teams of Two."

Rodney points out the window "Dr. Parrish believes that the indigenous plant life retains enough residual radioactivity absorbed during daylight to, uh, well, to screw up our sensors."

"Making it to perfect place to hide." John says as he walks to the back of the Jumper.

"Yes." Rodney calls after him, "Or, the perfect place to be exposed to dangerously high levels of solar radiation."

Halfway through giving instructions to his team, John wrinkles his nose in confusion "How come it smells like I'm on vacation here?"

He turns back to face the interior of the Jumper and sees Rodney rubbing cream over his face and neck.

"Mmm, could it be the simulated tropical aroma of cocoa butter?" Rodney trills.

"Strong enough for anyone within 5 miles to smell you." John cracks.

Rodney is flippant, "Oh yeah, like they haven't been tipped off by the Aqua Velva."

John's face flushes in the moonlight. That's right, Rodney knows what he smells like. He doesn't wear enough for anyone to notice unless they are up very close.

"It's dark." He adds more sarcasm to his voice to hide his embarrassment.

"Yeah", Rodney argues his point, looking at his watch, "and the sun will be up in 2 hours, 43 minutes, and 10 seconds."

"It's raining." John argues as he steps out into the clearing.

Rodney is undeterred, "So, we'll be cold and miserable. Look, the cloud cover will depreciate a small percentage of UV rays, but 95% of deadly is still deadly."

Major Lorne adds, "Dr. Parrish said a day or two of exposure wasn't going to kill us."

"Yes", Rodney continues rubbing has tropical sunscreen on his neck and face, "and Dr. Parrish has a PhD in what? Right, botany."

John splits the group into teams. He takes Teyla with and him informs Major Lorne, like he has won the booby prize, that he will be with McKay.

"Oh, lucky me." Lorne murmurs.



It isn't fair, Rodney's skin has just healed from his exposure to that star en route back to Earth. Now he must once more face exposure to possibly deadly radiation. He and Lorne search until the sun comes up. Then they head back to the Jumper to update Elizabeth.

Teyla and John have fallen out of radio contact and Elizabeth sends for some back up.
When the reinforcements arrive, Rodney finds none of them seem to be taking his words of caution about solar radiation to heart. He seems to be the only person putting on a radiation suit to go back out.

"Okay, that- that's just reckless." Rodney is dismayed, "There are four suits."

Lorne seems exasperated, "Not exactly designed for moving through dense brush and rough terrain. Not to mention possible combat, huh?"

He sullenly pulls the bulky hood over his face and follows Lorne back out. The renewed search for Ford, Teyla, and Sheppard is not going well. Rodney is stumbling, he can barely keep up with Lorne in the heavy suit; his vision is almost completely obscured by his fogged up headpiece.

"It's so hot." he complains.

"Oh, come on." Lorne is impatient, "Step it up, McKay, would you?"

Rodney is weary, "I am moving as fast as I can. I'm very hot. Aren't you hot?"

"Actually," Lorne sounds cheerful, "I'm quite comfortable. But I'm not wearing a 50 pound rubber suit, am I?"

"I can't breath, I gotta stop." Rodney gives in and pulls off the headpiece, "Sweet relief. I think the- the fumes from the sunblock are making me dizzy." He pants, "I gotta -I gotta just rest here".

"Unbelievable." Lorne stops his pace and looks at McKay with disgust.

He sits down, resting against a large tree. Rodney has barely begun to catch his breath when Lorne stalks up to him.

"Okay, you've had your fresh air. Come on, let's go."

When Rodney protests and suggests they return to the Jumper, Lorne informs him that they have only been gone 15 minutes.

"Oh really?" Rodney looks at his watch, seeing his error "I thought... It feels longer."

"Wow, you must REALLY be some kind of genius." Lorne shakes his head.

"Well, as a matter of fact, I um..." Rodney struggles to get back up, "Wait a minute. See, why would you say that now?"

"Something has to have kept Colonel Sheppard from shooting you all this time."

Rodney feels small but jokes, "Yeah, yeah, like I didn't see that one coming, huh?"

Lorne is suddenly hit by a Wraith stun blast. Rodney didn't see that one coming.

He grabs the radio and screams "Mayday! Mayday! We are under attack. Lorne's been hit. I repeat we are under Wraith attack!"

Then he remembers his gun and pulls it out. Oh my God. It's Ford walking toward him.

"How about you drop your gun, I know what you're like with weapons. I wouldn't want it accidentally going off while it's pointed at me." Ford tells him.

He is speechless as Ford takes the gun from his hand. Ford is telling Rodney that he is fine, better than fine due to the Wraith enzyme and they are going to prove by rescuing Teyla and Sheppard.

"Right and you know where they are?" Rodney stalls.

"Yeah" Ford answers easily.

Rodney cocks his head, "Which way did you...?"

Gesturing with his guns, Ford makes conversation along the way, happy to hear that Atlantis wasn't destroyed. He asks Rodney, "Anything else happen since I've been gone?"

"Ah, Major Sheppard got promoted to Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard."

"Really?" Ford sounds pleased.


"Good for him." Ford grins.

Rodney feels flat; he misses the Major. Things really haven't been the same between them in a while. It feels like the Colonel is someone Rodney doesn't know yet. He replies with a dull ache, "Yeah."

The walk is getting long and Rodney is feeling the sun. Ford keeps rambling about his plans and isn't making much sense. Rodney tries to get more information, "You say this guy has them?"

"Yeah." Ford replies.

"Well, what guy?"

"I don't know" Ford answers like he hadn't really considered it, "What do you mean, 'What guy'? A guy."

Ford tells Rodney he was on a planet scouting out the Wraith and this 'guy' was there. Then he digresses to talk about the enzyme and how Atlantis could create an army of super soldiers with it.

Rodney tries to reel him back, "You were saying?"

"What?" Ford is distracted.

"About the guy?" Rodney prods.

Ford explains that he followed one of the Wraith to this planet, thinking it would be easy to take out and harvest his enzyme. Ford figures the Wraith was chasing 'the guy'.

"How do you know?" Rodney asks.

"Well, he was running from the Wraith when I killed the sucker." Ford says proudly.

Out of breath again, Rodney stops, "Okay, so what does 'the guy' want with Sheppard and Teyla?"

"I don't know." Ford admits, "When I save them, we'll find out."

Trudging on wearily, Rodney suspects that Ford has no clue how to find Sheppard or Teyla. Finally he stops, folding his arms across his chest stubbornly.

"Why are you stopping?" Ford demands.

"Because I am tired and you have no idea where you are going."

"How do you know?" Ford backs up angrily.

Rodney gestures, "We've been walking around in circles for hours."

"So that's it." Ford's voice takes an edge, "You just give up? Is that it? That's what you do, isn't it? You just -you give up on your friends when they need you most!"

His heart sinks, "No one's given up on you, Ford. We want to help you."

Ford is getting more erratic, "I'm talking about Major Sheppard and Teyla!"

"Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard." Without thinking, Rodney corrects Ford, like everyone has been correcting him of late.

"Oh right..." Ford scoffs, "Lieutenant Colonel. So Ford's lost it. Ford's all crazy. Ford can't even remember a simple little thing."

"Hey, I never said that." Rodney tries to reason with him, "Although the fact that you keep referring to yourself in the third person does indicate clinical dissociation."

"You don't even know what a friend is, do you, McKay?!" Ford shouts.

And Rodney feels all the air leave his chest. He looks up at Ford bewildered and sad, thinking, he is right, he is so right.

"All you care about is yourself!" Ford declares.

The fact that he has hit a sore spot doesn't mean Rodney is going to concede defeat, he tries to sound unruffled, "Will you relax?"

"You relax." Ford sneers, "You're pathetic."

Rodney is feels his chest tighten again, Ford's words hit too close to the mark. Pathetic. That's what Rodney thinks of himself and how he imagines most people see him. It's what Alex used say...

Ford is still yelling, his words running all together, "You were always making fun of me. You wanna play a game? Pick on Ford? I could shoot you and leave you here to die."

"Shoot me?" Rodney is incredulous, "When did this escalate to physical violence?"

"You're the one who thinks I'm nuts!" Ford looks maniacal now, "I'm capable of anything. I could go off at any time."

"All right," Rodney steps forward defiantly, "you wanna shoot me? Shoot me. Fine. I don't care."

Strangely he feels like he doesn't care, but he ramps up the performance for good effect, "It'll just save me suffering one of the many horribly painful deaths I have lined up for me, having been exposed to this much radiation! And quite frankly, it just proves how far gone you are! Now, I'm heading back to the Jumper and you're welcome to join me!"

With that, he turns his back and begins the walk into the underbrush. He hears gunfire erupt all around him and cringes waiting to die. He doesn't seem to be hit.

"Are you crazy?" He turns around livid and screaming, "You could have killed me!"

"I'm sorry..." Ford looks confused and backs down, "Look, you don't know what it's like, almost dying like I did, having your friends turn on you, no one trusts you. I'm out here all alone."

Rodney feels a wave of compassion for the man. He knows what it's like to feel alone. "You don't have to be alone, Ford. Look this drug is messing with your head. Just come back to the Jumper with me, we'll go back to Atlantis and Dr. Beckett may even figure out a way for you to keep your new superpower, all right?"

"You think?" Ford looks like he wants to believe him.

"Sure, why not?" Rodney hopes he is finally getting through.

But Ford is resolved that he has to find Teyla and Sheppard first, he tells Rodney to go back to the Jumper and he'll meet him there. Rodney can't bring himself to leave Ford like this and follows after him. He won't leave Ford alone. See, he can be a friend.

It is getting dark again and Rodney is struggling to keep up with Ford's punishing pace. Ford thinks he hears something. He suddenly shoves Rodney against a tree, gives him a gun, and leaves.

A few military men come through the brush moments later. Rodney waves his gun in the air, "Don't shoot, it's just me."

From behind Rodney somewhere, Ford shoots both of the military men with a Wraith stunner.

"What the hell were you doing? Those were our guys!" He exclaims.

"I can't trust them." Ford looks at the unconscious bodies in disdain.

"Oh, that's it." Rodney thinks it is time for some tough love, "Yeah, I've had it." He turns his gun on Ford trying to do his best Dirty Harry impersonation, "Just drop your weapons, now!"

"You're gonna shoot me?" Ford laughs.

"I will if I have to", Rodney keeps his voice steady, then with more determination, he adds, "Ford, I'm taking you in. Look, you may not believe this, but it is for your own good."

Ford's face goes dark and he brings his own gun up to match Rodney's. Rodney quickly pulls the trigger, shooting Ford in the shoulder in hopes he will drop the gun. Those shooting lessons with the Maj,- the Colonel, are really paying off.

But Ford barely notices, the wound does nothing but enrage him. He touches his shoulder and sees the blood, looking back to Rodney with murderous eyes.

Rodney takes off in a run, firing his gun in the air and screaming, "Help me! Help me!"

In his panic, he realizes he has fired the entire clip. He keeps running in the dark hoping he is headed away from danger, when some kind of a trap pulls him by foot and leaves him dangling upside down and helpless from a tree. He flails uselessly to no avail. With this suit on, he must look like a big orange target.

Ford catches up with Rodney laughing, "Well, look at you."

"Yes, look at me." Rodney tries to sound calm, "It's funny, huh?" He tries to simulate laughter but it sounds false and hollow. Shit, he has to try another tactic.

"You set this up?" He asks Ford, "That's clever."

"Wasn't me." Ford says wide-eyed.

"No, huh?" Rodney attempts a conciliatory tone, "Well, I'm glad we can both uh..." he waves an arm for effect, "still laugh about this together." Rodney emits another cartoonish sound that is meant to sound jovial, but comes out more like a bird cawing.

"Hey," Rodney suggests, "How about cutting me down now?"

"No," Ford shakes his head, "I think I'm still going to kill you."

"What?!" Rodney sputters, "What do you mean 'still'? When did this escalate to killing?"

"When you shot me." Ford replies in flat tone.

"It's a flesh wound! I knew it wasn't going to hurt you! You're -you're Super-Ford, remember?"

"You tried to kill me!" Ford is beyond his reach now, yelling and lifting his gun point blank to Rodney's head.

He knows he sounds pathetic, but Rodney pleads for his life, "You can't kill an unarmed, upside-down man!"

The gun fires, but again there is no pain. Opening his eyes, Rodney sees a strange man tackling Ford. This must be 'the guy'. While 'the guy' fights Ford, Rodney tries to free himself, but it is pointless and he gives up.

The two of them seem about matched and Rodney can't tell who is going to win, Ford or 'the guy'. The guy is huge, massive; they are fighting with knives now. Ford is reaching down for his fallen gun, and then Rodney hears John's voice issue a warning.

"Lieutenant... Don't." John is pointing his gun straight at Ford.

Ford looks indecisive. Some Wraith Darts fly overhead and Ford uses the distraction to run.

"Ford!" John runs after him.

Rodney looks at the guy. Yes, a very, very big guy. "Hi. It's Dr. Rodney McKay." he reaches out his arm as if to shake hands, "Could you get me down, please?"

The man looks feral and fierce, eyes and teeth flashing in the dark, like some kind of barbarian. Rodney wonders if he is going to try to eat him.
Just sayin', I think you could do better by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 26 takes place during Season 2: episodes 3 & 4

Rodney and John are getting closer again, but then John takes things too far, taunting him and pinning down to the couch. Why does John always act so intimate when he obviously doesn't mean anything by it?
. Just sayin', I think you could do better

John chases Ford to the edge of a clearing where the Darts are scanning, "Ford!" he yells again. "Keep your hands where I can see them."

Ford turns and John is firm, "We wanna help."

The Lieutenant shakes his head and lowers his hand to his weapon.

Wincing to himself, John shoots Ford in the leg.

But Ford does not seem to be much affected and looks at John as if he is trying to decide whether or not to kill him.

"You're not getting off this planet." John tells him.

Ford spies a Wraith beam coming in behind him, blocking his exit from John, "I'll show you." His face wriggles up in disgust screaming, "You see!" as he lunges into the path of the Wraith beam and is gone.

As John looks up to the already empty sky, his chest sinks; he has failed again. He heads back to the Jumper where he is happy to see a rumpled Rodney rubbing his ankles.

The guy, Ronan, is also here, looking none the worse for wear since the operation they performed in the field to remove the Wraith tracking device from his back. John is glad Ronan has agreed to come back with then to Atlantis, he hopes he can convince Ronan to become an ally.

The flight back is quiet. No one says much of anything.

Back on Atlantis, Caldwell admonishes John, "You had him in your sights and you let him get away."

Trying to offer an excuse, John tells him, "I shot him once. It didn't slow him down."

"I shot him too." Rodney pipes up.

"He ran into the beam." John explains defensively.

Elizabeth is incredulous, "Are you suggesting he wanted to be taken?"

John gives his considered opinion, "I think he saw it was his only way off the planet."

"I can tell you from the quality time I spent with Ford, he was definitely not thinking straight." Rodney adds.

Caldwell answers Rodney, "Now thanks to you, he's in enemy hands with information that could compromise all of us."

Before Caldwell can leave, John speaks up agian, "I don't think he'll give us away."

Caldwell comes back into the room addressing John with flagrant disgust, "Oh, thank you so much for your assurance, Colonel. I'll be sure to include your feelings in my report."

That shuts John up. He knows it doesn't matter what he thinks about Ford's loyalties. He had failed another member of his team and failed Atlantis. It is another strike on the list of things John won't forgive himself for.

He turns his thoughts back to Ronan. Now John has to break the news to him about his home world, Sateda. It has been utterly destroyed by the Wraith.

Bringing Ronan up to the control room, John shows him video footage the MALP recorded from the gate on Sateda. After taking in the sight of the ruins, Ronan impassively walks away. But John knows that look, he knows Ronan is breaking under the surface and goes after him. The guards still follow at a distance, but John tries to show Ronan around make him feel more at home while he is here.



John has been spending a lot of time with the barbarian, Ronan. These days the two of them are often together, training, running... whatever. It seems like John has finally found a buddy who likes to do all the same stuff he does. Rodney can't help but feel jealous. There is just no way he could be that kind of guy. He's just a brilliant but nerdy scientist who will never excel in athletics.

When John finally does have time to hang out with Rodney, he excited and talking about his new pet project, Ronan. John explains a bit about Ronan's backstory. Apparently, he was a solider on a planet that was destroyed by the Wraith. The Wraith captured him and placed some kind of tracking device in his back, in order to hunt him down.

The Wraith do this once in a while, for sport, they think. The people with the tracking devices are called runners. Ronan had been on the run for 7 years before Carson was able to remove the device. John brags that Ronan is a skilled warrior and tracker.

He smiles at Rodney, "I think I'm going to ask him to join the team."

"Oh." Rodney feels bitter but smiles, "That's great... Great."

After John leaves, Rodney considers that maybe it's time to find someone of his own to spend time with... Someone besides Carson. There is that botanist, Katie Brown... Rodney has asked her out a few times but always ended up cancelling due to...
Well, probably due to being in love with John. But the healthy thing to do would be to follow up with that. Rodney resolves to work up the courage to ask Katie out again.


While assessing some damage on a recently culled planet, Rodney walks through a grassy field with Carson and Lieutenant Cadman. Cadman starts teasing him about his date tomorrow night with Katie, and for the life of him Rodney cannot figure out how she would know about it.

"What's this now? Carson is amused, You have a date, Rodney? With a woman?"

Rodney pulls his hand over his mouth nervously, "It is simply two adults sharing some friendly..." he stop in his tracks, "Yes, with a woman." He is perfectly capable of dating a woman, why wouldn't he be?

To his chagrin, Cadman is laughing about it and taunting him, saying everything comes out at girl's poker night. Rodney tries to tell her to let it go and that this is inappropriate field conversation, but they are interrupted by the whirring sound of a Dart. Cadman radios in and warns the other team members.

John's voice comes over the radio ordering everyone on the ground to take the Dart down at all costs; they can't risk blowing Atlantis's cover. The last thing Rodney remembers is running through the grassy field. Then there is nothing, darkness.


He is standing in the field again. Except, now everyone else is here. And he is standing in front of some wreckage from a Wraith Dart.

"Rodney, you okay?" John asks.

Nothing again, blackness.



John supervises the transport of the Dart wreckage back to Atlantis and heads to the mess hall before he checks up on Rodney. Beckett has said Rodney is going to be fine. It was Cadman's life sign that got lost. When the beam took the two of them into the storage device, they had only been able to get one out.

Thank God it turned out to be Rodney. The doc says he should be back to his old self in no time. John walks to the cafeteria and sits next to Ronan who is stuffing food into his mouth with relish.

"So what do you think of Atlantis?" John smiles.

Ronan mumbles through a mouthful of food, "'S'fine."

Okay. So far this conversation is not going as planned. He continues, "Have you thought about what you wanna do after you're done here?"

Looking up from his dish, Ronan asks, "You want me to leave?"

"No, no." John has been misunderstood, "Stay as long as you like."

He tries again, "I'm just saying, you know your way around, you can take care of yourself in a fight, you hate the Wraith as much as we do."

Ronan shovels some food into his mouth with a glare.

John corrects, "Okay, maybe more than we do. The point is, we could use a guy like you around here and you look like you could use a place to stay."

Understanding what John is asking him now, Ronan stops for moment. He turns to look at the ever-present guard that has been with him since his arrival, "I'm not sure I'd fit in here."

"There's only one way to find out." John offers.

Ronan licks his fingers, "Do I have to decide now or can I finish eating?"

"Take your time... and uh," John pulls out some silverware and holds them up, "Try these, they work great."



When Rodney comes back out of the darkness he realizes that he is not alone inside his own mind. Somehow Cadman's consciousness is there. It must have happened when he was removed from the Dart.

He wastes no time in joining the science team combing through the wreckage and gives Zelenka a thorough dressing down for his ineptitude. Clearly it will be up to him to come up with a solution, which is very hard with Cadman chattering away inside his head. She makes a snide comment about how his mind doesn't feel very healthy.

Rodney wonders if she can read his thoughts. He can't read hers... but it sounds like she knows something about the state of his mind and that makes him really uncomfortable.

He tries to ignore her but then she just starts yelling, making him lose his temper and scream at her. John teases him and tells him he looks crazy. It is the last thing he needs, with his sanity hanging by a thread.

Now Rodney is shouting at John too. "I'm sure I do." he says angrily gesturing to Zeleka, "But only because Dr. Fumbles McStupid over here was in way over his head!"

Zelenka is defensive, "Yes. Yes. I made a mistake trying to save your life. Now, do you want to try to fix it or do you want to continue to berate me some more?"

"I am perfectly capable of doing both at the same time!" Rodney snaps. He runs down a quick list of what Zelenka has tried already and sets himself to the task at hand.

Cadman keeps talking and trying to get his attention and Rodney erupts in complete fury, "Yes! What?!"

Everyone in the room is a spectator as he gets into a full on screaming match with himself.

After his outburst, Elizabeth insists that he speak to Heightmeyer, the condescending bitch. This day just keeps getting worse and worse.

On his way to Heightmeyer's office, Rodney continues talking to Cadman out loud, telling her that all she had to do is keep quiet while he was working and this is all her fault.

She complains, 'You have no idea what it is like in here, okay.'

Rodney can't believe what he is hearing, "Yes, yes, I do." he insists, annoyed that she is commenting on the state of his mind when she doesn't even have a right to be there, "I know exactly what it's like in here because I in live here. I like it here."

A voice asks from behind him, "Rodney?"

Oh God, he knows that voice, "Katie. Hi."

Trying to regain some composure, Rodney tells her he was just talking on the radio. Katie heard he ran into some trouble off world and wonders if their date is still on for tomorrow. He stiffly assures her that is the case, wishing he could blame his fumbling on Cadman.

But the truth is, he has always been awkward around women who might be interested in him. For some reason, when they are out of reach, his usual arrogance keeps him afloat. If they like him back, he loses all dignity.

"Yes, yes. Yes, actually, I'm very much looking forward to it..." Rodney rambles, "In fact, I'm sure it will be a... you know, a wonderful... evening -and whatnot."

Katie is forgiving about his lack of poise and excuses herself politely.

Once Katie is gone, Cadman criticizes him, 'You really know nothing about women, do you?'

"I know plenty." Rodney points his finger in defiance.

'Maybe this is a good thing?' Cadman reflects.

Rodney gasps, "Excuse me?"

'I could teach you a thing or two about the opposite sex, McKay. Lord knows, you need it.'

"This is hell. My own personal hell." He stalks the rest of the way to Heightmeyer's office.

As usual Heightmeyer is smug, offering platitudes with an easy smile. Everything she has to say is irritating and not at all helpful. She seems to be trying to tell Rodney to let Cadman have more control, rather than understanding she should be quiet while he fixes the problem.

Of course, Cadman agrees with her. Simpering, yes that's what Heightmeyer is, simpering and saccharine and condescending all at the same time. Cadman finally consents to let Rodney get back to work and he bolts, hoping half a session is will be good enough for Elizabeth.

Back at the lab, Zelenka tells Rodney that he is making simple mistakes with his math and he concedes that having another mind in his consciousness is taking a toll. His is forced to leave his fate in Zelenka's hands, a chilling prospect.

Walking back to his quarters, Cadman blares in his head, 'It's really good that I came along when I did, Rodney. This date with Katie is going to be the perfect opportunity for you to get over your feelings for John.'

Horrified, Rodney stops dead in his tracks.

She continues, 'You know, what ever was going on between you guys was really unhealthy, I can tell you're pretty fucked up about it. I think you deserve better, Rodney. I really do. Lucky for you I came along to help you find your way back to the wonderful world of women.'

He waits until he is back in his quarters to say anything. No one was ever supposed to find out about what happened between he and John. And he sure as hell isn't going to take the risk that he will say something in the hall where it can be overheard.

What can she possibly know? He is quaking in humiliation. Can she just access his memories, his emotions? This is so wrong.

'You there Rodney?' Cadman asks 'I really think we should talk about this.'

Ducking into his quarters, Rodney closes the door, "We don't need to talk about anything. This is so off limits I can't believe you would..."

'Come on Rodney, who else are you going to talk to, Heightmeyer? I already know everything, so that should make it easy.'

Sitting on the bed with his head in his hands, the reply is muffled, "Easy."

Cadman gives her analysis, 'Look, I know you like men and woman, and let's face it, your relationships with men haven't gone so well. I think if you just learned to get over your own crippling sense of inadequacy you'd find that a woman might actually fall for you.

You- you just never let it get far enough to go anywhere... I mean, you just need to be yourself, you know? Like, the way you are around John.

How come you turn into a ball of nerves whenever a pretty girl gives you attention? You only seem to flirt when you think there is no way she'll like you back. You just need to learn how to talk to women.'

The barrage of truth is too much for Rodney to take; he can't lift his head from his hands or respond. All the anger has drained from him, now he just feels exposed. Too mortified to move, he hears himself whimper, "Please, stop."

'Jeez, I was only trying to help.' Cadman must sense his emotions because her chipper tone changes.


'Okay Rodney... sorry' Mercifully, Cadman leaves him in peace. He has almost forgotten she is there when he goes to find a late night snack in the mess hall.

On the way back to his quarters, he hears John's voice behind him, "You're up late."

Rodney stops pinching his brow and turns around, "I, uh, couldn't sleep. I was trying to clear my head" he can't quite seem to meet John's gaze.

John looks unsure of himself, "I, uh, hear the transformer test didn't go so well."

Trying to sound chipper like Cadman, Rodney shifts his head to the side, "Well, you heard right." He lifts his chin and stares at John.

"Ah, listen" John says uncomfortablely, "I wanted you to know that I gave the command to take the Dart down."

Oh that's what this is about, more of John's misplaced guilt. Rodney sighs, "Much as I'd like to pretend that this is remotely your fault, the thought of what would've happened if you hadn't shot the Dart down is, ah..." he trails off with a hiss, shuttering to think of waking on a Hive ship.

"So... We're cool?" John asks.

"No, you're cool. I'm fine" Rodney answers wearily.

"You should get some sleep." John looks concerned.

Cadman finally breaks her silence, 'I could actually use some rest, Rodney.'

"She says she's tired." Rodney points to his head.

John raises his eyebrows, and backs away, "Goodnight."

Once John is out of sight, Cadman says, 'I'm just sayin', I think you deserve better.'
Still hopelessly in love with John by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 27 takes place during Season 2: episodes 4 & 5

Rodney and John are getting closer again, but then John takes things too far, taunting him and pinning down to the couch. Why does John always act so intimate when he obviously doesn't mean anything by it?
. Still hopelessly in love with John

Ronan has spent the day being taken through some sort of initiation rite. At least that's when it seems like. Sparring at the gym, overview of weaponry, target practice... There wasn't anything John threw at him that he wasn't already really good at... but he still isn't sure what to make of this place.

Even through he is still being trailed by 2 guards, he seeks Teyla out in her quarters that evening. He is worried that he took things too far when sparring with her earlier. She had asked him not to go easy on her, but she and Sheppard had seemed alarmed when he flipped Teyla on her back so suddenly.

"I wanted to apologize." Ronan speaks from the doorway.

"Come in." Teyla gestures.

He walks cautiously into the room and Teyla continues, "Do not worry, Ronan. It was impressive."

She offers him a chair, "Please... How are you finding your training?"

Ronan sits down, "You mean my testing?"

"Is that what you think?" Teyla frowns.

"Am I wrong?"

Teyla smiles at him, "Colonel Sheppard believes you can be of great help to us."

Ronan studies her face and then asks, "Why did you join them?"

"My people are strong and proud," Teyla tells him, "but Atlantis is the best hope for us all. I suspect you see it too, or you would have already left."

He drops his head slightly, thinking. She is right. Atlantis is the best chance they all have to fight the Wraith.



After waking up naked in Cadman's bed, Rodney was outraged. What else was she doing with his body while he was sleeping? He doesn't even want to imagine.

Cadman has insisted on 'helping' him with his date tonight. Why has she become so determined to solve his romantic woes, he does not know. Maybe a single day inside his head was all she could bear before trying to do something about it. Anyway how much worse could it?

She leaves Rodney alone, mostly, until it is time for his date. Then she gives him her opinion about what to wear. Rodney gives in because it is taking too long. And he has to admit, he doesn't look half bad in the jacket she picked out. When he arrives at Katie's quarters, he surprised to find Carson there.

Katie reassures Rodney about being late saying Carson has been keeping her company, "Sit down the first course is all set to go."

Wait... Rodney flounders, Carson is staying? He looks at his friend in confusion, "Carson?"

"Rodney?" Carson sounds relaxed.

He whispers, "What are you doing here?"

Carson blanches, "You invited me."

Unamused he retorts, "Oh I did, did I?"

Then he realizes. This is Cadman's doing. He changes his tone to sound like a casual answer to his own question, "Yes."

Katie gestures for them to sit down and Rodney starts eating the salad immediately.

'Don't start eating, you idiot.' Cadman hisses, 'Make a toast first.'

Rodney likes the idea, saying aloud, "Yes, yes. Yes."

Carson and Katie are staring at him.

He blurts out, "A toast... to you. We've been working together for... some time now, a short time. -But in that time... I've... often found our interchanges very, um. What I mean to say is, that you're very funny and smart and uh, ... And from- and from what I can tell you make a delicious salad."

Katie smiles encouragingly and Rodney continues, "So... to you."

"Yes. Cheers." Carson sounds relieved that Rodney has finished.

'All right, good.' Cadman pipes up, 'That wasn't so bad. She's obviously into you. So we have that working for us.'

Thinking Cadman must be wrong, Rodney gulps at his wine. Nobody is ever into him, at least not once they get to know him. How is he supposed to get over this crippling sense of inadequacy when he is, in fact, inadequate? Cadman is talking about her next idea but Rodney isn't listening.

When Cadman notices how fast he is downing the glass, she tells him 'Stop drinking the wine. You're gonna get drunk! Actually, wait. Yes. You need that to loosen up a bit. Finish it off.'

He drains the rest of the glass and Cadman congratulates him like he is a dog, 'Good boy. Yeah.'

The table sits in silence and Cadman prompts him, 'Say something, McKay. Come on, say something that'll start a conversation.'

"," He rubs his nose nervously "...Do you... uh... um..." Rodney has started the sentence before thinking it through and now he is coming up empty.

"Yes?" Katie asks hopefully.

He waits for a moment and then claims, "I forgot what I was going to say."

Katie looks so disappointed, so he tries again, "What was, um..."

Cadman takes control of his body, standing up, "Okay, this is ridiculous."

With a confident look, Rodney's body walks over to Katie and takes her hand, "Katie, I really like you. In fact, the past few months here have been made more livable, thanks to you. Katie beams and Carson gapes as Cadman continues with Rodney's voice, "I wanted tonight to be special, but for reasons I can't go into now, I gotta leave."

Looking crestfallen, Katie and stands up, "I'm sorry to hear that."

"But", Cadman continues, "I don't' want you to be insulted or wonder whether or not I'm interested in you, because I am." Cadman delivers a smoldering look to Katie, "I am very, very interested." With that Rodney's arms reach out and swoop Katie into a romance novel embrace.

He, or rather Cadman, dips her back and kisses her soundly before pulling her back up. Rodney's voice sounds so suave, "See you soon", he says to a breathless Katie.

Before Cadman struts out of the room, she places a hand on Carson's face and gives him a look that puts the whole heterosexual romance of the kiss into question.

As they head down the hall Rodney demands, "Give me back my body, we have to go back."

'And do what?' Cadman asks coolly, 'I bet that is the most honest you've ever been with a girl, and it wasn't even you.'

He tries to exert his will over the body, "I can't believe you're doing this", he says through clenched teeth.

'We just tried to do too much, too fast, McKay.' Cadman reasons.

"Please, please. Go back." He pleads.

'Nope.' Cadman is adamant.

There is a struggle in the hall, resulting in a face slap and a disappointing game of rock, paper, scissors. Cadman wins, but they both respond when the intercom blares, "Dr. McKay, report to the hanger."

Rodney has the displeasure of watching Zelenka run an unsuccessful test with some mice while trying to rematerialize them with Wraith beam.

John cracks, "Now, I'm no scientist, but those mice used to be a different color."

"This is never going to end." Rodney moans. Sounding more bitter with each word he glares accusingly at Zelenka, "I'm gonna be stuck like this... forever."

He ends up back in Heightmeyer's office arguing with Cadman about how she hijacked his body. Spitting mad, Rodney's face goes impossibly hot and he begins to seize up, contorting and eventually losing consciousness on the floor.

When he wakes he is in the infirmary again. Carson tells him that that his body is giving out under the strain of containing two minds; one of them is going to have to let go -otherwise they will both die.

Cadman takes control of his body again and tells the room that she can feel herself fading already, she is fighting just to keep herself intact. She assures everyone that she will let go so Rodney can survive.

Despite her valor and his recent rage, Rodney isn't willing to let her die just yet. Zelenka's mice are still not surviving the re-materialization. But Rodney comes up with a plan to use the Stargate's ability to dematerialize matter instead of the damaged Wraith technology.

He leaves the infirmary, despite Carson's objections, to help Zelenka with the interface. They have to attempt a transfer before he has a fatal seizure.

Carson, John, and Elizabeth burst into the lab and Rodney exclaims, "Ah, about time."

John steps forward, his hand gesturing close to Rodney's chest, "Hold on Rodney, I thought all the mice died."

"Well," Rodney says flippantly "what are we, mice or men, hmmm?"

"Are you sure about this?" Elizabeth asks.

"Absolutely. Yes."

Rodney steps back into the field of the particle beam and braces for salvation or oblivion. But Cadman puts up a finger and takes control of the body once more, saying, "Wait."

He sees himself walk over to Carson. As his hands fiercely grab Carson's medical jacket, Rodney watches in horror as he delivers a passionate kiss to his colleague.

Oh God he is kissing Carson in front of everyone. Fucking Cadman, he should have let her die.

Carson isn't responding to Rodney's ministrations but Cadman continues to press his body up against him and kiss like there is no tomorrow.



John narrows his eyes. Emotions are speeding around in his head, jealousy, confusion, embarrassment, jealousy.

Rodney suddenly pulls away from the Doctor in a definitive smack; he is looking self satisfied, still holding onto a baffled Beckett.

"Just in case this doesn't work." Rodney says explains.

But Rodney and Beckett are just friends, aren't they? ...Or maybe it wasn't Rodney that kissed Beckett... is it possible Cadman took control for a moment?

This thing had better work. John has learned to trust Rodney on these things and he hopes to God Rodney is right.



Rodney has control again and releases Carson in disgust, "Ugh." He backs away without making eye contact and utters, "Oh" like he is going to be sick to his stomach.

Backing into the field, he closes his eyes to block out the room and the utter humiliation he is feeling.

Cadman justifies her actions, 'Come on, like you've never kissed a guy before.'

"Just... just... hit it." Rodney speaks weakly, his face is completely hidden behind his hand.

Nothing happens at first and then Rodney hears John tell Zelenka, "Get them out of there!"


Rodney feels himself waking up. With blurry vision he can see John, Elizabeth and Zelenka looking anxious on the far side of the infirmary.

He hears Cadman's voice, "Feelin' better?"

"Oh, no." He groans.

The voice returns this time seeming to call from outside his head, "Over here." Cadman waves saucily at him from a neighboring bed."

It is unsettling to see her, Rodney feels bared to the soul when she looks at him.

John and Elizabeth walk toward Cadman and Zelenka walks to Rodney's side.

Deciding it's time to say something positive, Rodney tells Zelenka, "Nice work."

"It was your idea." Zelenka says modestly.

"Well of course it was, but you... You were... there." Rodney blurts.

He can overhear John speaking to Cadman, "Lieutenant, way to survive what I think may be my worst nightmare."

She smiles a little too wide, "Thank you, Sir." giggling a bit when she says 'Sir'.

Unnerved, Rodney quickly interjects, "Yes, thank you."

He doesn't know who he is thanking, it doesn't matter, he just has to stop Cadman from talking to John. He looks up to John, terrified that somehow he is going to know, that she knows.

John smiles lazily. For a brief second he gives Rodney an uneasy look, then his eyes dart away.

Cadman is talking again but nothing seems directed at John. They will be released to their own separate worlds. Never even to meet again, he hopes. Eventually the others leave and the room goes quiet.

Catching Cadman's eye, she gives Rodney a knowing look. He lets her see the fear plainly written across his face. She gives him a smile that says, 'No one will ever know' and Rodney smiles back with gratitude.

Then she doubles down on the expression, to make sure Rodney gets the message; he nods and lays back into his pillow with a deep sigh.


After Rodney has recovered sufficiently, he is cleared to go back on missions with the team.

He can't believe Elizabeth was okay with letting John's shiny new toy join the team. But that had been what John wanted and Rodney knows from experience, it is hard to say no to John.

Ronan's first mission out... The first thing he had done, was walk over to a smelly pot and spoon some gunk -or whatever it was- into his mouth. The barbarian had actually eaten some of it.

Rodney had warned him, saying, "You don't know what that is, that could be their laundry!"

The guy had just grunted, "Pretty good."

Granted, the guy is pretty good looking. He has a chiseled face with caramel colored skin, big chunks of hair worn in dreads that hang about his face like a wild frame of tusks. But Ronan hardly seems capable of stringing more than two words together and Rodney has doubts about more than his linguistic capability.

He hardly seems worth all the attention John is giving him. It reminds Rodney of how John had been with him when he first joined the team. Is it insulting or flattering that John doesn't seem to think Rodney requires training anymore?

It's not that he hasn't seen John at all since the caveman arrived; John still makes time for Rodney, just not as much. Rodney and Carson have gotten to be pretty close in the meantime.

Carson is actually refreshing to be around, little to no sarcasm, very sincere and easy to talk to. Not as funny or as fun as John, but the safer friend alternative. Carson had been really understanding about the whole kiss thing that happened when Cadman took over his body. He hasn't teased Rodney at all and there has been no residual weirdness once the whole question of who kissed who was cleared up.

Maybe friendship is supposed to be more like how Rodney feels around Carson. I mean, you're not supposed to jack off thinking about your friend at night. Rodney tries not to, but he still cums hard to those images of John from the past. Oh yeah. And you aren't supposed to be hopelessly in love with a friend either.

Rodney sighs, tossing on his bed. He can't sleep with his mind racing about John. He decides to listen to the song that helped him get through that heartbreaking night back on Earth. It makes it better and worse at the same time.

He hates that he isn't what John is looking for; Rodney will never be John's destination. It is all so hopeless. And now that he has humiliated himself with Katie, Rodney's best chance at getting over John has evaporated.

Since the unfortunate incident, there is nothing he can do but avoid Katie and Cadman at all costs. Nothing left to distract him from his heartache... Rodney stares up at the ceiling and sighs. He imagines he is back under the stars in the Milky Way. Only this time John hasn't left the apartment, he is up on the roof with Rodney. They are watching the night sky together.

Fuck. Rodney turns the music off. It never happened that way; he is just torturing himself. He gets out of bed and pulls on some pants. Maybe some food will help him get sleepy.

He sneaks into the kitchen for a late night snack and is startled by John's voice in the darkness, "Rodney."

"Whoa, uh." Rodney jumps and turns around, "Don't do that to me."

"What are you doing here?..." John sounds playful, "Looking for a midnight sandwich, perhaps?"

Guilty, Rodney tries to shake off the thoughts that were just running through his head... Being in love with John... Jacking off at night while thinking about John...

"I wasn't looking for anything." Rodney sputters, "Just taking a... walk."

John walks closer, "You really suck at lying, Rodney."

"Yeah. Whatever." Rodney snaps his fingers to distract himself, "I think I know where they're keeping the good stuff." He leans down and reaches to the back of a cabinet.

As he pulls out a package of beef franks and hotdog buns, John smiles at Rodney in appreciation, saying, "Oh, yeah."

Rodney smiles trying to hide the sadness in his eyes, trying to be casual and somewhat aloof like John. But he has to glance away; he does kinda suck at lying, and he doesn't want John to see how much his heart is really breaking over him.
John said if he really, really tried-- by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 28 takes place during Season 2: episode 6

Trust can be such a fragile thing... the trust one has in one's self, the trust one learns to have with another person...
. John said if he really, really tried--

John pilots the Jumper into the wormhole before they are caught up in the blast. The one Rodney says will take out ¾ of the Dorandan solar system. Thank God it's uninhabited.

Where did it all go so wrong? It started with Rodney picking at Ronan when they were first scouting the place out. No. That's not where it started, Rodney always picks at Ronan. He just hasn't really seemed to warm to Ronan yet. It's hard, missing Ford, but John is sure Rodney will come around eventually.

No, it started with Rodney picking at John, acting smug and spouting off technical terms that he didn't think John would understand. Even though Rodney was being bossy and arrogant, ordering John around like his personal bellhop, he didn't mind too much.

Watching Rodney get so excited, John couldn't help feeling caught up in the thrill. Explaining the find, Rodney had told John that there was no direct link between the weapon and the main power control systems, no tie in between the power generator and the primary capacitor.

"Cool." John had grinned happily at the idea of finding a souped-up space gun.

Folding his arms, Rodney had gazed at John in condescension. "Which, I'm sure, means nothing to you."

"Means they could fire multiple blasts without having to store up more power for the next firing sequence."

Rodney had looked perplexed.

Sometimes he likes bursting Rodney's bubble, since he is always underestimating John. Rodney seems to think most soldiers have no more that a high school education. John could always set him straight and tell him that he has an advanced degree in Aerospace Engineering, but he doesn't like to brag the way Rodney does. Plus, he doesn't like to talk about himself much.

Looking sufficiently confused and impressed, Rodney had replied, "Yes. Very good."

John had reiterated his original point, "Which leads me back to, 'Cool'"

Yeah, it had all been fun and games until the capacitor overloaded and killed an engineer.

Then John had been mesmerized by Rodney's overwrought plea... that if they didn't return to uncover the mystery, the man who died in the containment field would have given his life in vain.

Rodney had looked up to him with wide blue eyes, "I have never asked this of you before, but I think I've earned it."

Locking his eyes beseechingly with John's, he had begged, "Trust me."

And Rodney said he had all the equations right, that he would succeed where the Ancients failed. Even though it seemed like a bad idea, John believed him. He had come to trust Rodney more than he realized. He didn't understand it completely, but since Rodney believed in it that much, John had let himself believe too.

Elizabeth had been more skeptical about trying to power up the weapons platform again. She told John that Rodney sometimes needed to be protected from himself. But protecting Rodney was something that had become instinctive to John by now.

They had gone back to Doranda because Rodney asked John to trust him. John had tried to protect Rodney from himself when it all went wrong, to pull him out of there. But Rodney hadn't listened, not until it was too late. If the Daedalus hadn't shown up when it did, fielding them from the weapon, they never would have made to the stargate.

John is angry now, angrier then he should be. It sure didn't help that Rodney had been trying to instruct him on how to dodge weapons fire. He'd had to scream at Rodney, literally telling him to shut up, just to get him to... well, shut up.

If there's one goddam thing John knows how to do, it's running flight interference. I mean, Jesus, after all-


"Shut up, Rodney."

"I was just going to-"

"Shut up, Rodney."

They travel the rest of the trip in silence.


As soon as they are on back, Rodney is called into a private briefing with Elizabeth. It gives John the chance he needs to get away. He is so pissed right now; he doesn't want to have to look at Rodney.

It's not even that he's so angry with Rodney. John is angry with himself. He thought he could protect him but... but John's feelings for Rodney compromise his judgment. This whole mission was a mistake and John should have been able to see that.

Instead, he let personal feelings get in the way. John has to put more distance between himself and McKay if he is going to be an effective commander. He should have learned this lesson by now.

After everything that happened with Holland... He needs to protect himself from his own emotional susceptibility. He hadn't realized how absolute his trust in McKay was until it was so shaken. He has let himself become far too vulnerable to Rodney.

As John makes his way around Atlantis, several people inform him that Rodney is looking for him. He decides to hide out in his room for a while and lay low, but just as he is about to step into the transporter, he hears Rodney's voice calling out from behind.

"Oh, Colonel."

John keeps walking to the transporter.


He continues without turning around, hoping Rodney will get the hint. He doesn't.

Rodney is out of breath, "I've been looking all over for you."

"I heard". John rolls his eyes at the transporter in front of him. Then he turns around to face McKay. Folding his arms over his chest, he gives Rodney an angry glare. What is it now McKay?

Rodney lowers his head sadly and looks at the ground, "I suppose I deserve that."

Okay, he's going with the pity card. John isn't going to fall for the poor sensitive Rodney act.

"Look, I just, ah..." Rodney continues, "I wanted to apologize about what happened. I was wrong. I'm sorry... And, and I wanted to assure you that I intend on being right again. About everything, effective immediately."

John's expression falls to one of bemusement, despite himself. He quickly corrects to a more stern and angry face.

Rodney shrugs and smiles weakly.

Nope, not falling for the 'I'm so quirky and funny even when I don't mean to be' routine either.

"That was a joke." Rodney offers.

Yeah, got that Rodney. John lifts his brows unsympathetically, "Good one."

To indicate that the conversation is over, he turns around and heads into the transporter.

But Rodney runs to the open door before John can escape, "I've already apologized to Elizabeth. And Radek and... And I thanked Colonel Caldwell for caring enough to spy on the experiment from orbit. Sent him a nice little email, actually."

John keeps an expression of mild distain on his face.

"But I saved you till last 'cause..." Rodney looks sincerely at him, "Honestly, I would... hate to think that recent events might have permanently... dimmed your faith in my abilities.

Rodney's countenance falls as he adds, "Or your trust... At the very least, I hope I can –I can, earn that back.

"That may take a while." John gives him a stony stare.

"I see." Rodney whispers in choked voice. He looks completely broken and dejected.

Oh dear God, Rodney looks like he is about to cry. John feels a pang of guilt. He has never offered Rodney such a sincere or heartfelt apology -even when Rodney has deserved one. And Rodney has always forgiven him.

John just needs some... distance and perspective. He can't be around Rodney right now. He tries to offer Rodney as much as he can muster right now.

"But..." John forces himself to smile, "I'm sure you can do it if you really, really try."



The transporter doors close and Rodney is devastated. He takes a small breath and stares at the ground.

He nods to himself, of course John doesn't trust him anymore, not even as a scientist. Rodney feels like he has lost the last shred of connection that he and John had...not lovers or friends... now barely colleagues.

Rodney knows he is to blame. He had been so convinced that his calculations work that he had convinced John as well. And he hadn't taken no for an answer, practically demanding that John trust him.

Now, of course, whatever trust John did have is gone. Rodney wonders how he can really, really try. What would it take for John to forgive him?


At weeks go by, Rodney looks for opportunities to prove himself, but nothing arises.
John is always with Ronan these days. The two of them go for runs, doing laps around the city. They laugh and joke around on their way out of the gym making references to movies that John has obviously introduced him to.

All Rodney can do is watch John from a distance.
What's the matter? Don't TRUST me? by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 29 takes place during Season 2: episodes 7-9

Trust can be such a fragile thing... the trust one has in one's self, the trust one learns to have with another person...
. What's the matter? Don't TRUST me?

Ronan sets out with Sheppard and Teyla to find the Wraith girl that has taken Carson's trial retrovirus. It seems to be having the opposite effect, rather than stripping away the Wraith DNA and allowing her to become more human, she has reverted to a more extreme animalist version.

The creature surprises them, jumping out of the brush and knocking Teyla unconscious. Sheppard orders Ronan to stay with Teyla and tend to her head wound while he goes after the thing alone.

He obeys and waits. Teyla regains consciousness shortly and tells Ronan she will be fine if he leaves her; she can't believe Ronan let Sheppard go off on his own.

Perplexed, he asks, "Aren't we supposed to follow his orders?"

"Sometimes we are allowed to make exceptions." Teyla tells him.

"Who decides when it's one of those times?" Ronan asks sincerely.

Teyla takes an emphatic breath, "We do."

"Good enough." Ronan leaps to his feet.


When he finds Sheppard, he is wrestling with the Wraith. She has him pinned to the ground. The girl's hands have become claw-like and one of them is pinching into Sheppard's forearm, drawing blood.

Ronan fires and knocks her off with the blast. He keeps firing and Sheppard joins in. It takes everything they have to take her down.

"You okay?" Ronan asks

"Yeah." Sheppard looks at his arm, "She tried feeding on me".

Ronan reassures John that she beyond saving and gives him a friendly back pat, happy that he is safe.



Rodney notices John's arm is bleeding when they get back to the Jumper. Carson pulls out a med kit and applies a tourniquet, then John and Ronan head to the front of the Jumper.

Guess Ronan is copilot now?

Right. Rodney will just sit in the back. These days, he is really feeling like John wishes he wasn't on the team anymore.

Earlier, John couldn't stop praising Ronan's amazing tracking abilities. When Rodney had questioned him, he had gotten a smack on the back of his head in response.

After that, Rodney had just trudged at the back of the group, feeling the sting of rejection. Okay sure, the barbarian tracker is good at what at what he does, but Rodney has... other talents. Once John's new sidekick Ronan found the cave, John had ordered Rodney to stay back with Carson while the rest of them went searching for the Wraith.

Feeling left out again, Rodney objected, "Ah, medical research, not really my thing."

"And hunting Wraith?" John said as he assessed him coolly.

Rodney had tried pleading with his eyes but John only narrowed his back in return.

"But I could stay and help... Beckett." Rodney had added.

A stony stare had been his reply, making Rodney doubt himself about whether he was really good enough to be on the team.

When the Jumper reaches Atlantis, Carson makes a fuss over John's arm and pays no attention to Rodney's injury.

John complains as he is taken to the infirmary on a stretcher, "This really isn't necessary, doc."

"Yes it is," Carson insists, "you've got a serious laceration on your arm and you've lost a good deal of blood."

No one seems to care about his hand and Rodney is surly, "Yeah, well enjoy the ride Colonel, they're making me walk."

"You have a splinter, Rodney." Carson says dismissively.

In the med lab, Rodney hoists himself on a stationary bed next to John's "A very painful, nasty splinter."

"This may hurt a wee bit." Carson tells John as he removes the bandage.

Rodney yelps in pain as a nurse tries to remove the splinter.

John raises his eyebrows in disapproval as he looks over at Rodney. He turns back to Carson, "I'm sure it will."

"I know you have a high threshold for pain, but this..." Carson seems surprised by John's reaction as he cleans off the blood.

"This is what?" John asks.

Carson stands back in disbelief; the wound is gone -completely healed.

John reasons that maybe it wasn't that bad to begin with, but Carson insists on taking blood samples to get to the bottom of it.



Ronan heads out for a run with Sheppard. Usually he is the one sprinting ahead, but today he just can't keep up. Ronan is panting by the time they finish the last lap, but Sheppard looks like he hasn't even broken a sweat.

"I thought you said you were a runner?" Sheppard jokes.

"That's funny." Ronan tries to catch his breath with his hands on his knees.

"I can usually barely keep up. What's with you?"

"What's with you?" Ronan makes dour a face.

Sheppard offers a bottle, "Water?"

Ronan takes a mouthful and frowns over the edge of the railing.

"Hey, sore loser I don't act like a jerk when you beat me." Sheppard accuses him.

"Yes, you do." Ronan makes a scowly face again and takes another swig of water.

"Okay, then we'll go around again." Sheppard offers.

He hands back the bottle, "Go ahead."

Sheppard calls after him as Ronan walks away exhausted. "Okay, grumpy. I will."

Ronan still hasn't caught his breath as he hears the sound of Sheppard's feet running along the metal floor of the upper catwalk.



Rodney hears the bad news from Carson. The retrovirus is effecting John's DNA. It will be a matter of days before he degenerates into the kind of creature it turned Wraith-girl into. The plan is to try to get some Iratis Bug eggs and use their stems cells to develop a cure.

He sets to work quickly, finding an appropriate planet where the creatures live. After selecting a planet, Rodney joins the away team. Once more, Ronan is tracking for them, he leads them to yet another cave.

Squatting, Ronan picks up a handful of guano and sniffs it, "They're in there." He proclaims.

"Oh, now, that is disgusting" Rodney's stomach turns.

"And you had to pick it up to smell it to figure that out?" He sneers.

"To know it's recent." Ronan peers up at him earnestly.

Lorne sets up the strike strategy and the team goes in. But the mission is unsuccessful. They aren't able to get far enough into the cave without the horde of insect creatures attacking.

After the failed mission, the Rodney sits with Ronan and Teyla in the cafeteria. None of them seem to be able to sleep and they keep each other company for some time. After John's crazed escape attempt from his confined quarters, Carson has put him in a medically induced coma. He says it will be less than 24 hours before the John Sheppard they know is completely gone.

Elizabeth comes by to tell them that if any of them would like to say a private goodbye, now would be the time.

Rodney's voice cracks as he asks, "Are we really there?"

"I think we might be." Elizabeth lowers her head.

The last time he saw John had been in the infirmary he had seemed fine. Completely fine. This can't really be... Rodney feels completely broken inside.

Then Carson he has a new idea. Since John has mutated so far, he is excreting the same pheromone; it may allow him to enter the cave without being attacked by the bugs.

Carson explains that he has stopped giving John the inhibitor because it was losing effectiveness. But they could try to give him one last megadose of viral suppressant to keep him clear-headed for a short time. Perhaps long enough to complete to mission.

"Yeah," Rodney frowns, "but won't giving him that much inhibitor, like..."

"Kill him." Carson finishes the thought, "Yes, it's a definite possibility. Even if I knew it was for certain, I'd be tempted to offer him one last hour of lucidity."

"Do it." Elizabeth tells the team, "Gear up, take him as far as the cave."


After they are all suited up, Rodney turns to Ronan, "Now you realize that you may have to, uh..."

"It's already set to stun." Ronan interjects.

A hooded figure is walking across the room with Elizabeth. John's head is stooped so the cloth covers his face. Rodney looks up anxiously.

"He's ready." Elizabeth tells the team.

Rodney smiles as John comes closer, "Ah, good to see you up and, uh..."

He feels cold when he sees John's face, hurrying to finish he thought, "about."

Oh Jesus this had better work. That isn't even John anymore, just some strange blue reptilian-looking thing.

If they can bring the stem cells back within 24 hours, they might have a chance of bringing John back as well. Carson follows John to the gate, taking charge of the mission, "All right come on. We don't have a lot of time."

Can he even talk? Rodney watches John anxiously as they make their way to the cave. He hasn't said a word.

Carson gives John implements and instructions once they reach the cave. He tells John how to collect the eggs. John wordlessly takes the equipment and heads inside.

Rodney's heart is pounding while they wait. He keeps checking his watch; it took them longer to reach the site than he thought. They are running low on time. Carson's watch beeps and Rodney spins in alarm, "What was that?"

"That's how long I estimated the inhibitor would work." Carson tells him.

"So that means..." That means he's gone. Rodney's heart sinks.

"There's no way to know for certain." Carson answers. But there is nothing to do but keep waiting.

After a while, Ronan announces, "We should go in."

"And do what?" Rodney tries to hide his emotion by being sarcastic.

Teyla shakes her head, "If the inhibitor has worn off..."

"Then he's beyond our help." Carson finishes the thought.

"I hear something." Ronan turns to the cave.

It is John; he is running from the entrance, screaming like a maniac. He has the container in his hand. Ronan shoots before him before he can get away and John goes down.

Examining the canister, Carson tells them he thinks he has enough eggs to attempt the stem cell treatment. Ronan grabs John up off the ground and easily carries him back to the Jumper. Rodney wishes he could be that brave and strong.

After John has received his first treatment, Carson tells the waiting group, "It's not going to happen overnight, you can bet on that. But the process has begun to reverse itself."

"Well done, Carson, for once again elevating medicine to actual science." Rodney says gratefully.

Carson frowns at him as if he is not sure how to take that, "Well, thank you Rodney."

After Elizabeth and Caldwell leave, Ronan tells Carson, "We might, uh..."

"Stay a while." Teyla interjects.

"Well, if that's all right?" Rodney hugs his arms tighter into his chest.

"Of course." Carson is agreeable as always.


The 3 of them stay in the infirmary all night, taking shifts with food runs or bathroom breaks. Rodney wants to be here when John wakes up. Even if John doesn't know him anymore, or worse even he knows Rodney but still doesn't want to talk to him.

When John wakes, the team goes in to see him. He is still kind of reptilian looking, but one of his eyes is back to normal. John seems happy to see them all and talks with them for a while before telling them to go get some rest.

Rodney keeps vigil as much as he can over the next couple weeks. Usually he brings sandwiches, made just the way John likes them.

But Ronan is always in the infirmary visiting John, too. John and Ronan always seem to be laughing and talking when Rodney arrives.

He gives John his sandwich and sits in on the conversation for a while. Rodney feels a bit left out but he doesn't want to give up. He wants to win John's trust back.



It is good to finally be back on active duty again. After all those weeks being cooped up in the infirmary, his DNA has been cleared as 100% John Sheppard. He is eager to see this Ancient warship Rodney has found them.

Surprisingly, there are hundreds of stasis pods still powered up inside. John radios Caldwell to explain that it looks like the original crew is still alive, in a kind of suspended animation.

"Not entirely suspended, however." Rodney interjects, "The pod has slowed their aging considerably, but their bodies are virtually moribund." He says the pods are the only thing keeping the Ancients alive, so they can't be removed.

By time Rodney has interfaced his laptop with a pod, he is very excited, "This pod is magnetically shielded. I'm reading cortical signals."

"Which means?" John asks.

"The pod's equipped with a neural interface." Rodney tells him, "It's indicating definite brain activity, as though they were perfectly conscious." He speculates that if all the pods are interconnected, it is possible they are interacting in a virtual reality.

"Any way to figure out what they're saying?" John asks.

"Yes, of course", Rodney turns and gives him a sarcastic look, holding up his tablet screen and gesturing at it, "It says right here. Why is the smart one having to stop and answer so many questions?"

John really hates it when Rodney does this 'I'm a genius and John's an idiot' routine.



Rodney wants to try out his theory that is may be possible to use an empty pod to interface and communicate with the Ancients. But John seems skeptical.

"You sure this is such a good idea?"

"What's the matter Colonel? Don't TRUST me?" Rodney feels bitter and lets it come through in his voice.

John looks hesitant but answers honestly, "No."

"Fine." Rodney winces and looks at John defiantly.

How is he supposed to win back John's trust if John doesn't ever let him try.

When Teyla begins expressing concerns about how safe it will be, Rodney rolls his eyes, "Would I be volunteering to go if it wasn't?"

Ronan steps forward, stating definitively, "No."

"Which is exactly what makes it safe enough for me to go." John concludes.

"What?" Rodney shakes head.

"Better to have you on the outside in case something goes wrong." John reasons.

"It won't" Rodney suddenly feels much more afraid about the idea of John going in there.

"But if it does." John sounds playfully condescending.

"It won't." Rodney doesn't like feeling that no one has faith in him, "How many times do I have to say this?"

"Rodney." Teyla cuts in diplomatically, "Between the two of you, if something were to go wrong, which would be the greater loss?"

She is just trying to appeal to his vanity, but Rodney is ready to stop arguing, "Well, I never thought of it that way..."

To hide any of his real feelings Rodney gives John a look that says 'Hey, she's right. I'm more important than you, you should go.'

He explains that John will need to concentrate and think about exiting the system to disconnect. Rodney assures John that he will be able to monitor his EEG pattern from the controls. And, in the very unlikely event that something anomalous should present itself, he should be able to disconnect John manually.

"Good." John sounds pleased.

"Without permanent brain damage." he adds.

"Rodney?" John turns his head sharply.

"Well," Rodney whines, "the opportunity to speak to a living Ancient is worth the risk, hmm? Now when I close the lid, the pod systems should activate. Ready?"

John looks worried. "I was."

"Good." Rodney says unsympathetically as he activates the pod.
The term is 'rakish' by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 30 takes place during Season 2: episode 9

Trust can be such a fragile thing... the trust one has in one's self, the trust one learns to have with another person...
. The term is 'rakish'

About 15 minutes later, John disconnects. He tells Rodney and the others that he was taken to a holding cell because the Ancients thought he was an intruder; they don't realize they are in a virtual reality or that 10,000 years have passed.

The crew of the Ancient ship are mostly focused on modifying the engines to reach Atlantis more quickly; they believe they are still fighting a war with the Wraith. But the Captain has a communiqué containing valuable information about a weakness in Wraith technology. John wasn't able to get ahold of it, so he goes back into the stasis pod to try to retrieve the information.

While Rodney is waiting the second time around, Caldwell radios to inform them that 2 Wraith ships have been detected about an hour away. Caldwell wants the team out of there in time to avoid being discovered; they can't risk letting the Wraith know that Atlantis survived the siege. He orders Rodney to disconnect John manually if he isn't out in 30 minutes.

Rodney will just have to wait and hope it doesn't come to that.

Minutes later, Teyla radios him to discuss a problem in one of the other stasis chambers. She and Ronan have found a woman's body lying outside one of the pods. Inside the chamber is Wraith.

Shit. John is in there with a Wraith.

Caldwell gets impatient and beams 3 of them back for an update. Rodney attempts to explain why it could be damaging to Sheppard if they use a manual override. He is sure John can still disconnect anytime he chooses and there must be reason that hasn't come out.

Ronan frowns, "Knowing Sheppard, he wouldn't leave without getting the information from the communiqué."

'Yes, yes, and you know Sheppard so well now, being here all of 5 months.' Rodney bristles internally.

Fortunately, the magnetic shielding prevents Caldwell from beaming John back, but he gives Rodney a short deadline to retrieve him.

Back on the Aurora, Rodney's anxiety goes up a notch as he reads the Delta wave readouts on John's pod. John must be unconscious. Nt only that, Rodney is seeing significant manipulation of the feedback loop. The Wraith may have booby-trapped the system. Disconnecting John manually could pose a significant risk.

Over the com, Caldwell continues to argue about it with Rodney, and Rodney gets frustrated, yelling, "We're talking about Sheppard's life here!"

In a louder voice, Caldwell barks, "And I'm talking about the lives of not only every person on this ship, but every person in Atlantis, when the Wraith find out it wasn't destroyed. I'm well aware of what's at stake here, Doctor. Get him out of that pod. Or my men will. Caldwell out."

Briefly, Rodney considers his options, then tells Teyla and Ronan, "I'm going in. Look, stall Caldwell, buy me some time, just a few minutes, at the most."

"What if you are unable to disconnect?" Teyla asks in concern.

Ronan reminds him, "Caldwell's gonna blow that ship whether you're in there or not."

"See," Rodney explains to Ronan, since he hasn't been around that long, "the thing is, Colonel Sheppard and I have sort of gotten into this habit of saving each others lives, and it's my turn."

He gives the two of them quick instructions on how to manually disconnect them from the pods, should it come to that. Then he scoots into the horizontal chamber trying to keep a lid on his claustrophobia.



John wakes to the sound of Rodney's voice.

"Where are you taking me? I told you I am with Colonel Sheppard. I am a member of his team...

Rodney's voice gets closer, "Someone must have shot him from behind while he was trying to get through to the Captain. Colonel John Sheppard, he's about- he's about so high, uh, uh, brown hair "

Lifting himself off the floor, John sees two guards bringing Rodney into the room.

The physical description continues, "A bit mussed, the term is 'rakish'?"

Rakish, huh? John smiles.

Rodney sees finally him and John gives him frustrated look. "McKay."

"What are you doing in there?" Rodney looks confused seeing John behind bars.

The door to cell opens and a guard gives Rodney a shove in.

John looks at him wryly, "I was about to ask you the same thing."

"Wha- I came to help you." Rodney sputters.

"I feel better already." John says sarcastically.

"Right." Rodney looks glum, he eyes the holding cell and looks at John with concern, "Have you been unable to disconnect yourself from the system?"

"No," John explains, "I'm still trying to get the information on that communiqué."

"Oh good." Rodney sighs with relief.

John moves to sit down on the Spartan bench and Rodney joins him saying, "We thought maybe it was preventing you from exiting the program."

"It?" John asks.

"We found a Wraith in one of the stasis pods. It's manipulating the neural feedback program, your EEG patterns were irregular-"

"No kidding, I got stunned."

Rodney sounds protective, "I didn't want to risk pulling you out until I knew more."

Frowning, John thinks, "First officer."

"What about him?" Rodney asks.

"Her. John stresses, "She's a Wraith, she has to be. There's something very odd about her, and she keeps preventing me from talking to the Captain."

"The Wraith we found was male. The first officer must have been female, it took her place." Rodney reasons.

"She knows I want that information, and the Captain is the only one with access to it." John narrows his eyes.

"We don't need the Captain." Rodney sounds dismissive, "I've been able to decipher enough of the program to overwrite the protocols. All I have to do is get to a terminal within the virtual environment, and I should be able to access any file stored within the database."

"Then we just need to break out of here." John looks around the cell.

"Hold that thought." Rodney tells him and then folds his arms over his chest in a way that reminds John of that TV show, 'I Dream of Jeannie.'

John doesn't know why he finds Rodney's dorkiness so adorable sometimes. When he disappears, John finds himself smiling again about the fact that Rodney thinks he is rakish.

The energy in the cell begins to fluctuate. The shield goes down and the door opens. Way to go McKay. John walks hesitantly to the door and sees two guards coming at him with raised stunners.

He stays in the cell and lifts his hands innocently. The two men suddenly fold to the floor, unconscious. Okay. That is more like it. John walks out of the cell and Rodney reappears next to him.

When he looks at Rodney he feels affectionate, but is careful not to let it come through in his voice, "Hi."

"Hi." Rodney says awkwardly.

"Nice." John nods his head in appreciation. He moves to take a stunner from a fallen guard and Rodney does the same.

Since Rodney has a better sense of the schematics, he takes the lead, telling John, "Should be the next hallway."

There are some footsteps approaching, so the two of them quickly hug the wall to conceal themselves.

John taps Rodney's shoulder with the back of his hand "That's her."

"That's the Wraith?" Rodney whispers and points towards the blonde in the hall.

"Yeah." John whispers back.

"Wow..." Rodney's eyes get big, "She's hot."

She is a babe, he will give Rodney that.

"I mean, seriously hot." Rodney gapes.

"Rodney you're drooling over a Wraith." John reminds him.

"I know," Rodney pulls his head back looks contrite, "I disgust myself sometimes."

They step up the pace, dodging and darting their way around corridors. Rodney finds a control interface and John stands watch while he accesses the data.

"The communiqué has been erased." Rodney blurts out.

"Why would the Wraith do that?" he asks.

"Well," Rodney sighs dramatically, "it says right here, 'I, the Wraith, delete this important information to keep you from seeing it'."

John matches Rodney's sarcastic tone, "Obviously he did it to keep us from seeing it, but why didn't it end the damn program? What's the point of continuing?"

"Oh, no." Rodney's voice is low.


Rodney turns around, "You said they were trying to modify the hyperdrive?"

"So they can get back to Atlantis faster." John answers.

"Well, according to the Atlantis database, there are 2 different types of Ancient hyperdrives; there's the more basic interstellar kind, like the one the Aurora has, and then there's the powerful, intergalactic kind, similar to the one the Asgard provided us for the Daedalus."

"Why would the Wraith want to soup up the hyperdrive?" John whispers.

"Because the Wraith hyperdrives are nowhere near as advanced as the Ancient hyperdrives. All the technology the Captain is feeding her right now-"

"She'll learn how to modify the Wraith hyperdrives from interstellar to intergalactic." John finishes the thought.

"Which means they'll make it as far as Earth." Rodney says with alarm.

"That's what this whole thing is about," John realizes, "their new feeding ground. And this is just step one."

"Even if she doesn't have all the information she needs, we need to stop her from sending what she's learned so far to the Wraith ships that are on the way."

John steps towards Rodney, narrowing his eyes, "There are Wraith ships on the way?"

"I'm" Rodney gulps and looks away nervously, "–I'm sure I mentioned that."

"No, you didn't." John walks closer, staring Rodney down.

"Well, it... It –It –It threw me when she was so hot."

"How many ships?" John whispers angrily.

Rodney takes a breath speaks tightly, "2 cruisers."

Thinking, John looks down at the floor, "Can you disconnect her?"

"Him." Rodney corrects, "No, from the inside, no... I should be able to disable the pod interface from the outside."

"Well," John asks sarcastically, "why didn't you?"

"Because I didn't know what that would do to you." Rodney sounds hurt.

John makes a face, "Well, that's very thoughtful of you, but now she knows all about Atlantis."

Rodney looks at John in shock, "You told her?"

The expression on his face changes and Rodney folds his arms over his chest, asking accusingly, "Why?"

Now it is John's turn to be flustered. He is sure his face looks guilty, but he tries to exonerate himself, "Because I was trying to convince them that... Just go and unplug the Wraith while I talk to the Captain."

"The communiqué is blank." Rodney argues.

"Yeah, but he might still have some intel on the Wraith weakness." John raises his voice emphatically, "Now, Rodney, is there anything else you'd like to tell me?"

Rodney looks uncomfortable, "Only that Caldwell is probably going to destroy this ship at any moment."

He stares Rodney down and this spits out a simple order, "Go!"

"Going" Rodney obeys.



Rodney emerges from the Wraith pod and calls out for Teyla and Ronan. There are gone. He sighs, still laying down in the open pod, "Oh I can't believe it. Two minutes in the pod, I'm abandoned."

"Come on. Let's go, let's go, let's go." He groans and tries to talk himself through it, wincing as he sits up. He is so stiff, "Oh, right..."

Grabbing his tablet, he heads for the Wraith pod "Okay." Once Rodney plugs into the Wraith system and finds it harder to disengage than he thought.

"Come on." He keeps talking himself through it.

"Disable." He speaks out loud in frustration. Okay there it goes. "Ha." Rodney proclaims in triumph.

The pod containing the Wraith opens and Rodney stares at it in terror, "Oh, no."

The thing isn't moving, maybe he will get lucky. He pulls out his gun and cocks it, taking a few steps toward the Wraith. It still isn't moving. Rodney points the gun at its head, but starts back when it suddenly roars to life.

As he runs away, he shoots the gun behind him without looking. Definitely not the way John taught him to do it. Rodney turns in a doorway and fires at the pod, aiming this time. Then he races out of the room, running back towards John's pod.

John hasn't disengaged yet. He needs to hurry.

"Come on, come on." Rodney speaks out loud. He changes the clip in his gun and looks at John's EEG readings.

Finally, John exits his pod and Rodney tells him, "It's about damn time. What did you do, play a round of golf? We've got serious problems."

"What happened?" John asks. Then looks like he sees something behind Rodney. He shouts, "Get down!"

Rodney ducks and John fires his clip into the Wraith.

"That happened." Rodney exclaims. He aims his own gun at the injured creature, "Not so hot now."

"Our ships are coming." The Wraith growls, "They will retrieve what I have learned. Earth will soon be ours."

"Not if I can help it." John answers. He fires another couple shots into the Wraith, killing it completely.

Although, the Aurora Captain never saw the contents of the communiqué, he gave John his assurance that he would activate the self-destruct code once the Wraith cruisers get close enough to be taken out with the blast.

All John has to do it enter the command codes manually and the Captain should be able to do the rest. As the Daedalus slips out of range Rodney and John watch the explosion unfold in the distance.


Rodney had been hoping this his efforts aboard the Aurora would have been more fruitful. He imagined himself rescuing John in some dramatic fashion... Doing something that would have proved his worth again.

But it hadn't really worked out that way.

He has sincerely been trying over the last months since the Doranda incident, to make it up to John. Only, nothing has made much of a difference. Rodney wants to give up this desperate need for approval that he has, this desperate need to have John like him.

Staring up at the night sky from his position on the West pier, Rodney listens to his sad song, 'Under the Milky Way Tonight'. He wishes he could stop caring so much but he feels completely as John's mercy. Helplessly in love with him.

Things have only gotten worse since their trip to Earth. And Rodney can't even imagine that John has a loveless fascination with him anymore. There is no kind of fascination at all. John simply tolerates him.

Rodney wishes he was something more. More interesting, more courageous like Ronan... More anything. But he is just Rodney. And no one really likes Rodney. He should be used to it by now.
McKay makes John give him what he wants by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 31 takes place during Season 2: episode 10

Trust can be such a fragile thing... the trust one has in one's self, the trust one learns to have with another person...
WARNING: Dubious consent (Not exactly non/con but sort of)

. McKay makes John give him what he wants

On their next off world outing, Rodney is in a sour mood. He doesn't know why John even bothered to include him on this low priority mission. Frankly it is beneath his talents, running around on a wild goose chase, looking for an unlikely ZPM.

Complaining, he tells the team, "Every second I am out of my lab is a second the galaxy goes without another ground-breaking..."

Something cold and hard hits his body with force and Rodney falls forward into darkness.

When he wakes, he is tied to a chair. A sack blindfold is pulled away from his face and Rodney sees that he and the rest of the team are tied to chairs at some kind of macabre dinner table.

They don't recognize the men or understand why they have been taken at first, but then they see familiar face. Ford.

Ford tries to put them at ease, telling them they are among friends and to eat the food.

Rodney digs in eagerly and speaks with a mouthful, "Maybe you should start with how you managed to escape being culled by the Wraith Dart, hmm?"

John glowers at Rodney.

"What?" Rodney keeps chewing, "I get nervous, I get hungry."

They listen to Ford's story of how he escaped from the Wraith after he was taken in the beam. Still chewing, Rodney reflects, "It's the enzyme, it makes you immune to the Wraith stunner. When you re-materialize, you're awake as opposed to-"

"As opposed to dead." Ford finishes the thought. He explains how he recruited other men to take the enzyme as well. Together they have been killing Wraith and harvesting it from them.

Ford is emphatic, "I mean look at me. Look at me! ...I walked off a Wraith cruiser. It works!"

Ronan has joined in eating, "Wait a second, All your people here, they're on the enzyme?"

"Of course." Ford is proud. He goes on to detail the growing scope of their operation, how they even have Wraith captives on their base, to feed their supply.

"Why'd you jump us?" John asks.

"Yeah." Ford paces, "Yeah, I'm sorry about that, but it was the only way to get you here."

"Why didn't you just tell us where you were?" John frowns, "You know we would have come."

"Yeah, you and a special ops team." Ford licks his lips.

"No, no" John tries to deny it.

"I know you think I'm crazy." Ford is dead serious, "I brought you all here to show you that you're wrong. I mean, do I look crazy? Do I seem out of control?"

Rodney mulls over the recent kidnapping and the last time Ford said he was going to kill him, "We speaking in relative terms, or, um..."

Everyone eats in silence for a while as Ford tells them how they have refined the drug, learned how to regulate and administer it a variety of ways.

"We've gotten so good, we can even lace food with it." He adds.

Immediately, they all stop eating.

"Excuse me?" Rodney mumbles through a mouthful of food.

"Congratulations," Ford looks at him, "you just had your first dose."

"What?" Rodney chokes on the food his mouth and violently spits it out onto the table.

Ford claims that he thought long and hard about how to convince Dr. Weir and the military that the enzyme is safe. He believes that it is the first step to defeating the Wraith.

"Are you out of your mind!?" Rodney screams in outrage as he stands up.

"Hey, settle down, McKay!" Ford shouts.

"No, I will not settle down!" Rodney slams his palm onto the table, "I've been drugged against my will you little punk!"

"You should not have done this Aiden!" Teyla is furious.

Ford laughs and claps his hands, "Hey, be as mad as you want. Couple days? You'll be thanking me. We'll have a good laugh about this. Now eat up."

Ronan tries to lunges at Ford again but is pushed back by Ford's men.

"I'm itchy." Rodney frets, "I'm itchy all over. This is exactly what happened when I toked pot once in college."



John speaks with Ford privately and tries to talk some sense into him. Ford tells him that John's food wasn't laced like the others. He wants John to testify as a witness to Elizabeth that the drug works. In the mean time, Ford tells John the team is free to have their run of the base.

When John and the others reach the DHD, they soon discover the reason Ford is unconcerned about having them roam free. The control crystals are missing. There is no way to dial out.

They consider their options. John suggests that they play along and wait for Ford to make a mistake. Teyla and Ronan hope the drug will not have much effect since they don't seem to be feeling it yet and speculate about refusing to eat in the future.

"Well this thing is useless." Rodney shakes his hand at the dialing device, "And I ate my face off, and I can tell you I can feel it working."

"There's a good possibility that everything you're feeling right now might be psychosomatic." John says trying to calm him.

"Oh, is that right, Professor Science?" Rodney snipes, "Is that your expert opinion?"

"Yes it is." John answers.

But Rodney keeps going, he always seems to have to have the last word, "Well, I can tell you, when they up the dosage, the side effects will be VERY real, and VERY unpredictable."

By the time they return to the dining area, Rodney is pacing around recounting the list of his perceived symptoms, "Seriously... I'm getting, ah, chills and hot flashes, chills and hot flashes, again and again... none of you are feeling that?

"The enzyme's side effects are going to be the least of his concerns if he keeps this up." Ronan growls to John.

"I know, just be patient." John mediates.

"Historically, that hasn't been a strength for me." Ronan tells him.

"I know." John keeps his voice steady, realizing that everyone on his team seems different, more edgy or intense than their usual selves.

Ford strides into the room and announces that he will be talking Sheppard and Teyla with him on an off world mission -to show them the ropes.

"What about us?" Rodney asks.

"Jace," Ford gestures to a slight man, "will give you the grand tour, show you what we've done with place. How does that sound?"

"Oh, it sounds delightful." Rodney sounds bitter.

"Okay, good, then if Sheppard tries anything off world, you'll be nice and close for me to kill you both."



Rodney realizes he has just had his life threatened, but he feels odd... hot and excited, not scared the way he normally would be. Yeah, fuck off Sheppard. This is SO not psychosomatic.

He is given a tour of their hodge-podge lab. But Rodney is restless and having trouble listening. He snaps his focus back when Jace starts talking about deciphering the Wraith language.

Interesting. They have deduced that the Wraith are working on a way to limit inter-ship communication. Ford and his guys have been able to gather enough intel to predict the course of a nearby Hive ship and where it will stop to feed over the next week or so.

Then, they take Rodney for another dose, this time shooting it in directly in his arm. This is so wrong, Rodney has to look away. It hits him in a rush, he feels flushed and excited... And good, impossibly good.

When John and Teyla get back, Ford outlines the details of the plan to take out the Hive ship. He smiles, asking John what he thinks.

After a long pause, John simply says, "Wow."

"Wow?" Ford asks softly.

"You heard me." John stays ambiguous.

With the heat in his chest rising, Rodney is unable to contain his opinion and he blurts out, "Let me see if I can couch what Colonel Sheppard means by, 'Wow', in more explicit terms. That is a terrible plan-"

"Rodney." Teyla breaks in.

"Made all the more frightening by the fact that you think it's a good plan." Rodney finishes.

Ford takes them all on a walk through the fields to show them a Wraith Dart that has been hidden at the edge of the tree-line. He says that it needs some repairs and a real pilot.

"This is why you brought us here." John says with realization.

"It's the reason I waited till now, yes." Ford admits.

One of Ford's men hits Rodney on the shoulder, "Assuming this guy can get it working again."

"He can." Ford says confidently, "These people are the best at what they do."

The guy standing next to Rodney explains that all John has to do is take them in and drop them off in the Hive ship. Once they've laid the charges, John can just scoop them back up in the pattern buffer

Rodney objects, telling them that the plan is far from perfect.

He is surprised to hear John answer, "But, it IS possible."

"Are you honestly considering this?" Rodney sputters.

"It's on it's way to a culling, Rodney." John says casually.

"Yeah, and I am sorry about that, but this is insane." Rodney feels so hyped up; he has to focus just him himself standing still.

"Maybe not." John tilts his head.

John has gone insane.

When Ford asks Rodney if he can fix it, he tells him, "Probably not."

"That usually means, yes." John betrays him by telling the truth.

Fuck you, John. Rodney stares at him incredulously, "Aren't you the one NOT taking the enzyme? You're supposed to be the clear voice of reason here."

"Look, can you fix it?" Ford sounds annoyed.

Rodney is irate, "Even if I could, I wouldn't." He lifts a finger at them, "I'm sorry, drug me all you want, I'm not doing this."

He turns and walks away from them with his heart pounding. So this is what it feels like to be high. It feels amazing... but Rodney hates feeling so out of control.

They stuck that needle in his fucking arm! Rodney walks for a while in the tall grasses, feeling the pleasantness of the fronds brush across his legs. He feels like he could run a marathon right now.

"Rodney." He hears the sound of John's voice behind him.

Walking angrily forward, Rodney doesn't turning around to reply, "Look, maybe you are on the enzyme, maybe Ford lied, because no rational person would think that was a good plan."

As Rodney is walking so quickly, John struggles to keep up with him.

Jogging close enough to talk, John continues, "Look a million things can go wrong, I know that, but just..." He gets impatient and yells, "Just, stop! Shut up and listen."

Fine. He stops and faces John to hear him out.

"You fix that Dart, we all get out of here. I know it's risky, but Ford's not thinking straight, so..."

"What are you talking about?" Rodney glares at John, his face flushed from the rush of the drug.

"I'll insist you're all on the away team." John furrows his brows, "I'll scoop you up, and instead of flying out to the Hive ship, we fly out to Atlantis.

"How?" Rodney folds his arms defiantly. John looks so sexy when he's trying to be the sincere team leader. Rodney just wants to-

"That Dart's gotta have it's own DHD, right?"

Rodney tries to focus on what John is saying. Yes... he's right. "Of course." Rodney answers.

"Well," John keeps the small furrow in his brow, but his voice is excited, "you get that thing fight-worthy, we all go home."

Relaxing his arms, Rodney feels stupid. Why didn't he think of that? Probably because he is high out of his mind. "Right, of course." Rodney gestures, "See, now, you see, I would have thought of that myself before I became a drug addict."

John looks so damn hot right now. God. He is standing so close-

"I'm sure you would have."

Conflicted, Rodney tries not to think of John that way. He should be keeping a clear head, not flying off the handle all the time. He buries his face in his hand, "I'm sorry."

He is awash with guilt for a moment but the feeling fades into a pleasant rush of adrenaline. His hand drops away from his face as he turns back to walk in the direction of the base.

Then John touches Rodney's arm, he squeezes it affectionately.

It's been a while since John has done that. Oh God. Rodney is burning up. A warm sensation arcs through his chest and into his groin.

Rodney feels his cock begin to harden. John lets go and the two of them continue walking.

Ugh, it's getting too hot. Rodney places his hand on his forehead to see if he is as warm as he feels. He can't tell. Struggling with his jacket, Rodney stops walking completely. He finally gets it off and throws it to the ground.

"Hey buddy, you doing okay?" John walks up to him and puts a hand back on Rodney's arm.

Trembling with desire he stares at John, feeling angry and aroused at the same time, "Oh, am I you're buddy again, now? Is that what this is?"

John looks confused. And Rodney is consumed by the overwhelming desire to knock him back to the ground.

The same way John threw Rodney onto that couch and pressed his body up against him.

"I, uh-" John opens his mouth.

He does it without thinking, lunging himself at John, kicking the back of his legs out from under him and pinning him the ground. It is surprisingly effortless.

"Okay. Easy, budd-... Just easy." John stares up at Rodney in surprise.

Grabbing John's hand, he pulls them over his head. He can feel John resisting, but Rodney overpowers him easily. Rodney uses his legs to keep John's lower body in place and lets him chest lie against John's.

Oh. So, this is what it feels like to be strong. It feels good. John looks worried as a smile creeps over Rodney's face.

"Rodney?" John's voice comes out choked.

Now Rodney is lost in the wonderful sensations running through his body. He rubs against John and moans. Just for a minute. He just wants to know what it's like to take something you want. Just for a minute. Rodney breathes heavily against John neck.

John struggles under him but Rodney holds him down. Why is this such a turn-on? Having John under him, powerless... He lifts his head to look at John.

"No Rodney, not like this." John whispers with wide eyes. He is breaking the spell of warm intoxication.

"How then?" Rodney hisses angrily, "You just always take what you want and YOU don't care how anybody feels..."

Thinking better of what he is saying, Rodney's voice gets calm again, "That's not what I'm trying to do. I'm just... It's not fair that you get to do whatever you want... I should be able to do what I want..."

"What do you want Rodney?" John's mouth hangs open.

Moaning unrepentantly, Rodney lets himself grind on top of John. He knows John can feel his hard cock rubbing against him. It feels like John is hard too. Staring intently, Rodney lowers his face until it is almost touching John's.

"I want to make you feel good."

John has stopped struggling for the moment. He must realize Rodney has the upper hand, as his body stiffens and his voice gets stern, "Rodney, this is not the time."

Why is he resisting this? Rodney knows John wants it. He lifts his head back and peers deeply into John's eyes.

The words come out in rush, too fast, "But there's never a time-you know that. And-and I know-I'm so out of my mind right now-I wouldn't be doing any of this if I wasn't on the drug. So-so-so why not now? There can only be now."

He easily holds John's hands in place with one arm and uses the other to start unbuttoning his pants. Yes, John is hard. John struggles against him but Rodney knows he wants it. Rodney tells him breathlessly, "You can stop me if it doesn't feel good... Can you tell me that you really don't want this?"

Turning his face toward the ground, John moans. Rodney has almost got his pants down off his hips but John bucks and struggles.

Using his newfound strength, Rodney pushes John back to the ground. Wow, it feels good to be so strong, stronger than John. Rodney would never hurt him, he just wants to make John feel something... to make John want him, the way John has made Rodney want.

It isn't fair. Until this stupid enzyme started fucking with his brain, Rodney had been trying so hard to get over him. Now he is so hard for John. Too hard, and Rodney needs him to feel something now. He takes John's cock out and tightens his hand around it. It's gloriously hard and so huge.

Reluctantly, he lets it go and uses both of his arms again to hold John's hands above his head. As he keeps John's body in place with his own weight, he can feel John's cock pulsing under him.

Leaning next to John's ear, he whispers fiercely, "Tell me that you want it."

John turns his head away from Rodney, burying his face against his shoulder. Rodney moves his lips down to the edge of John's neck where it meets his black T-shirt. He bites down, harder than he means to and John cries out.

Suddenly he releases John's hands, worried he has hurt him. John's body goes slack and stays submissively under him.

Rodney feels emboldened. He leans in again to whisper, more plaintive this time, "Tell me that you want it."



John's eyes are closed and he is conflicted, but then he speaks clearly. "I want it."

He doesn't know what Rodney plans to do with him but, God help him, he does want it. Why does he want this? He knows it is wrong. Every time he gets too close to McKay, something goes wrong.

The image of the last time he fucked McKay has haunted him for over a year. That horrible scene with Rodney crying in the shower... He'd sworn he would stay away. He doesn't know how he hurt Rodney but he can't do it again. Only now Rodney is making him feel too much desire... He can't resist.

It's wrong letting Rodney do something he will regret later. John is the only one thinking straight, so it is up to him to be clear headed. But it is so hard to think with all the blood rushing to his cock. And Rodney is touching his cock ...And he can't, he just can't think anymore.

Oh God. He's got John's pants down around his ankles. And now Rodney's lips are spreading around his cock, sucking him.

An incredible warmth ripples throughout John's body and his back arches. It is too late. He can't stop himself now. John has never felt anything like this; it is totally different having a man's mouth on his cock.

Rodney's wet mouth on his cock... And he is taking John so deep in his throat. His hands, such strong hands, fondling his balls. The licking, the sucking, the rhythm... Rodney is too good at this.

John had once wondered if Rodney had much experience with men, now he knows. Rodney seems to sense just how much is needed to take John right to the brink and pull him back again.

A thought that someone might find them like this passes through John's mind, but the thrill of pleasure makes the fear disappear.

He can't believe what Rodney is doing to his body. 'Fuck. God, Rodney. What are you doing to me?'

Fuck, it's so good. John's hands grasp and release at the tall grass growing up around them, he writhes under Rodney's ministrations. Helpless to the pleasure.

'Oh, God. Rodney, I never knew it could feel like this.'

One of Rodney's hands stretches up under John's shirt, trailing down his chest and onto John's pelvis. As Rodney sucks, he uses his hands to heighten the sensations. He pets John stomach and threads into the dark patch of hair between John's legs. John hears himself moaning.

The pace is more intense now, Rodney is going to take him over the edge, there is no room for guilt anymore, just utter abandon.

John screams and chokes out Rodney's name in a blinding flash of white ecstasy. Rodney is sucking, swallowing every wave of John's pulsing cock.

And it keeps coming; wave, after wave of pleasure. He can feel Rodney' throat groaning around his cock as he sucks the last of John's cum, draining him completely.

He can't move, can't open his eyes. John is radiating, his whole body tingling and limp.
It is too much...

Everything is so still and quiet.

Where is Rodney? He can't feel him anymore. John opens his eyes and tries to sit up. He is alone in the clearing.

What has he done? "Rodney?"

"McKay?" He calls out.

Now is the time for guilt. This was bad John, very, very, bad. He remembers Rodney chiding him earlier about the unpredictable side effects of the drug.

And John had let this happen anyway. He had let Rodney do something, that even Rodney admitted he would never have done if it hadn't been for the drug in his system.

Reaching down to pull up his pants, John feels remorseful. He's got to pull it together; he's the goddamn team leader. John brushes as much of the loose grass off of his clothes as he can and decides to talk to Ford about decreasing Rodney's dosage.
Rodney spills the sordid sexual details by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 32 takes place during Season 2: episodes 10-11

Trust can be such a fragile thing... the trust one has in one's self, the trust one learns to have with another person...
. Rodney spills the sordid sexual details

"How'd that go? Ford greets him back in the bunker.

John's face goes flush before he remembers that Ford is talking about the Dart repairs. "Well, he'll do it, but we need some conditions."


"Dial back McKay's enzyme doses." John tries to sound impassive.

"No." Ford says rebelliously.

"Look," John's voice betrays some strain, "we're under some time constraints here."

He tries to be diplomatic, "I'm not saying the enzyme wouldn't help, I'm just saying we need him standing still and thinking not running laps because it feels good."

Ford looks like he is considering it, "Ronan and Teyla?"

"Stick to the plan." John assures him.

"Fine," Ford agrees. "What else?"

"I'll fly it, that's obvious, but I want McKay, Teyla, and Ronan on the strike team.' John continues.

"It's not a good mission for McKay. It could get rough in there." Ford looks suspicious.

John's got to keep Rodney with him.

"Look," realizing he sounds too adamant, John tries to bring his tone back to an easy cadence, "If suddenly we need a door open, or a computer hacked, McKay should be there to do it. That's why he's on my team in the first place."

Ford seems to give in and gives a handshake on the deal.

Letting out a sigh of relief, he goes to find Ronan and Teyla.


John doesn't see Rodney again until it is time his next dose. Ford's men have been injecting his team few a couple days now. John watches to make sure Rodney is getting a lower amount, as Ford promised.

Rodney flickers to meet his eyes for a moment and John smiles, trying to convey to him that it will be okay. But Rodney ducks back out to work on the ship repairs; John decides to give him some distance.

Over the next few days they see little of each other and don't speak when they do. No one seems to notice. When Ford tells John that he is needed to test flight controls, he manages to get into the craft without making any eye contact with Rodney. Rodney busies himself with the circuitry, frowning in concentration.

They say few words. John wonders if Rodney hates him now.

Later that night, John's guilt gets the better of him; he seeks Rodney out while he is alone with the Dart. They are losing daylight John knows Rodney has to head back soon anyway.

When Rodney sees John, he looks frightened and cornered.

"Rodney." He is so sorry for what happened and has to say something to ask Rodney's forgiveness.

"Look Colonel," Rodney cuts him off, "I am truly sorry for what happened and I promise it will never, EVER happen again. They've got me on a lower dose now and I'm feeling much more like myself."

"No," John tries to jump in, "Rodney it wasn't your fault, if anyone should be sorry it's me, I'm the one who should be thinking straight-."

"So we can put this behind us?" Rodney sounds desperate, "I would just hate to think...."

"Yeah, Rodney." John's chest feels heavy, "We can do that."

It's not like they haven't done that before, and that's all he really wanted, wasn't it? For Rodney to absolve him from his guilt?

"Right." Rodney winces a smile, "So another one for the 'don't talk about' file."

"Sure." John sighs and offers a meager smile himself.

Rodney looks sickened, as if he can't bear to face John anymore. He turns back to the ship, "So, I'm almost done here, if you want to let me..."

Not feeling any better, John backs away. As he heads to the bunker, he thinks about how he much he hates this. He hates failing people he cares about. And he has done nothing but fail Rodney. Just like he has failed Ford everyone else that ever mattered.

Wretched with guilt, John tries to set things right with Ford instead. Hoping to appeal to his sentiment, John tells Ford about how he visited his family on Earth while he was there.

"They miss you. A lot. This whole MIA thing is killing them."

"They're strong. They can wait." Ford tells John that he wants to go home but is resolute that his master plan is more important.


Feeling very alone, John tries to talk to Teyla and Ronan, "Well, part of me thinks he brought us here because he knew we'd bring him back. I think subconsciously he knows what our plan is, and he's fine with it."

They don't seem to be listening and break out into a fistfight with each other over some food.

"Stop guys- Stop!" John intercedes, but Ronan throws him to the ground.

He tries to right himself, "What the hell has gotten into you two? Oh, right. Never mind."

John wishes he had someone to talk this out with, but he is the only one left that is thinking clearly. This fact is made more apparent by the fact that Ronan and Teyla seem to have changed their minds about the enzyme and think Atlantis should consider it.

Rodney comes in to tell them that the Dart is ready. He flits his eyes about the room, not settling his gaze on any of them.


He doesn't see Rodney again until the test flight the following morning. While John is in the cockpit, Rodney leans over him to supervise John on the controls. He relays a lot of information but it is so indirect, without any eye contact.

He watches Rodney's face while he talks but Rodney keeps his head facing forward, talking to the controls.

John turns back to the screen to understand Rodney's instructions, then he feels Rodney looking at him.

The hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He still has a mark on his shoulder from where Rodney bit him.

Ford approaches them, pleased that the Dart is ready.

Climbing down the latter, Rodney lowers himself. His head is eye level now with John's.

And finally, he looks at John directly. His eyes are worried and resentful as if he is telling John, 'This really, really sucks.'

Rodney doesn't actually say it, but it feels like he did. John gazes back at him, trying to say how sorry he is with his eyes.

As Rodney walks away Ford remarks, "Seems a little nervous."

"You know McKay, he'll be fine." John plays nonchalant.

But Ford tells John there has been a change of plans and suddenly Ford's men have weapons pointed on Rodney from all sides.

"What the hell are you doing?" John demands.

"McKay's gonna stay here while we do the op." Ford tells John. To his men he yells, "Take him!"

"What? No! No, no, no, no!" John hears Rodney struggling as they take him away. His face goes to fury, "This wasn't part of the plan."

"Neither was you heading back to Atlantis. You didn't really buy the whole 'I wanna go home' speech, did you? Huh? Always underestimating me, Sheppard, you need to stop doing that." Ford goes on, "Complete the mission and McKay lives."

"We can't complete the mission, Ford. It's a bad plan!" John groans.

Ford pauses, "You said it was a great plan."

"You didn't buy to the whole 'It's a great plan' speech, did you?" John is sour.

Unmoved, Ford tells John to get the Dart in the air and beam the team up. He adds that the Dart DHD will only dial the gate for the mission and back, "Just in case McKay's life isn't enough to get you to do the right thing."

Keeping his rage in check, John gathers his self-control. He has no choice now but to complete Ford's fucked up mission.



Back at the base, Rodney fidgets as he watches the men shoot themselves up with the drug; it is a very disturbing sight. He stands up from the table, pacing and ranting about long the mission is taking. Where are John and the others? They should be back by now. He tries to calculate the exact amount of time it would take but his brain is firing erratically.

He knows it has been too long; John should have been back by now. Hours have gone by and Rodney tries to appeal to the addled men. He begs them to give him the control crystals so he can go for help. But they refuse to allow him in Ford's office and tell him at gunpoint that if he wants the crystals, he has to go through them first.

Fighting his self pity and despair, Rodney stalks away, trying try to come up with another plan. Then he slinks into the lab where the enzyme is stored, finding the bottles of the stuff. He looks at the case grimly, this might not be the best plan he's ever had. After wrestling with himself internally, he decides it's his only option.

His face set in determination, he reaches for one of the small bottles. Then, he changes his mind, taking the largest container instead. He shoots himself up. Needle-full after needle-full. Oh, he can barely hold his arm still. As he injects the last of the bottle, he is gasping. He might be about to have a heart attack...

No. He can do this. He feels like a superhero. He can destroy anything in his path. Rodney catches his breath and runs back to where the men are guarding the crystals. He grabs them and flings them easily about the room. They know how to fight, but they can't match his strength.

"And that's what happens when you back a brilliant scientist into a corner!" Rodney screams at the unconscious men on the floor.

By the time, he reaches the gate, Rodney feels like he is losing his mind. He blinks telling himself manically, "Okay, focus. Focus."

It feels like he is having an aneurism and an orgasm at the same time. Fuck. He talks through the dialing process, hearing his own voice rattling incoherently back at himself.

When the wormhole opens, Rodney shakes in concentration, "Okay, go home."



Carson meets Elizabeth and Caldwell outside the infirmary to give them an update on Rodney's condition, "I've sedated him." He looks back into the room where Rodney is secured to a gurney, "I've administered a beta-blocker to bring his blood pressure down to a more manageable level. It's a wonder he didn't suffer a stroke."

Caldwell asks if Rodney has said anything else to help them locate the rest of the team.

"Nothing coherent, I'm afraid." Carson is sorry report, "By the time he arrived here, he was hyperventilating, pulse extremely rapid. He could barely get out a word." He looks back to his friend twitching on the hospital bed, "Although, being Rodney, he certainly tried."

When Elizabeth hears what an incredibly high dosage Rodney took, she wonders if they can wean him off it.

"I wish I could." Carson tells them, "Unfortunately, Lieutenant Ford took the last supply of our enzyme when he left Atlantis, so an incremental withdrawal is out of the question."

Even if they managed to harvest more from some Wraith it be too late to keep Rodney from going into withdrawal. Carson tells them gravely "No, I'm afraid, for Rodney, the only choice is-"

"Cold turkey." Caldwell answers.

"Aye, to put it bluntly. I can administer some drugs to help ease the process... anti-nausea medication, pain reliever, benzodiazepine for anxiety, as well as a multivitamin injection to bolster the immune system."

"Good." Elizabeth nods.

He continues, "But there's no dodging the fact, it's gonna be difficult, possibly even deadly."

Carson licks his lips nervously as he looks back to his friend. He feels a great affection Rodney and he will see him through this to the end.


When Rodney comes to and regains consciousness, he orders Carson, "Don't just stand there, get me more enzyme."

"We don't have any." Carson tells him softy.

"It's the cave, Ford's cave." Rodney gasps, "He's got a whole cabinet of it. There's dozens of vials."

If they could get more of the enzyme, they could taper Rodney off, the risk of death would go down dramatically. Carson leans in and enunciates, "Do you know the address?"

"No." Rodney's face is red as he huffs.

"I'm sorry Rodney." Carson leans back sadly.

"You don't have to scream at me!" Rodney yells.

Carson keeps his voice low and reassuring, "I'm not screaming."

"Well this is fun for you, isn't it, watching me like this?" Rodney sputters angrily.

"I assure you, it's not." Carson looks at him with compassion.

"What is this payback?" Rodney rages, "You're jealous, huh? You're jealous of how vital am to this mission. Vital, vital –Nnn, jealous of how-how I get to go offworld."

Rodney's voice cracks as he yells, "and you get stuck in this stupid, pathetic excuse for a hospital."

"You know that's not true." Carson tries to reason with him.

Struggling in his restraints like he is having a seizure, Rodney accuses him, "Jealous I get all the woman and you don't."

"Excuse me?" If Carson weren't so worried about Rodney he would laugh.

"Please, just give me little enzyme, just enough to take the edge off. I'm dying here." Rodney begs.

"I told you we don't have any." Carson is patient.

"What you think I don't know you're lying?" Rodney flies into a rage.

"I'm not lying." Carson shakes his head.

"You are." Rodney insists, "You think I don't think you are, but you are. And don't think I won't forget it!"

Rodney makes a choking sound and Carson asks, "What?"

"I don't know." Rodney sobs and leans back into the pillow, "Just kill me."

"I wish I...." Carson sighs to himself, He wishes could do something more for Rodney.

"I'll pass." He says trying to sound strong.

"Don't shout! I am right here!" Rodney convulses.

Carson turns to the nurses in the adjoining room, "Perhaps we should move him to a more secluded area."

"What, so you can kill me in private? Stab another knife in my back, huh?" Rodney panics.

"Rodney, no one's trying to kill you." Carson places his hands gently on Rodney's chest.

Rodney struggles and looks like he is trying to figure out what is real and what isn't. Carson thinks if he can get Rodney into environment that feels safer, he might be able to reassure him.

"You have no idea of the agony I'm going through." Rodney pleads.

"Oh, I have an inkling." Carson looks down with empathy.

Carson has his assistants help him wheel Rodney into a private room. While they get everything set up, Rodney yells at them all incoherently.

He keeps assuring Rodney that no one wants to kill him while he ushers the assistants out and closes the door.

Then he pulls up a chair next to Rodney's bedside, where he can watch the vitals on the screen and easily reach any off the medications he might need to administer at a moment's notice.

"You never liked me, you just want to see me suffer." Rodney spasms.

"You know that's not true, Rodney. I'm your friend." Carson reaches out and pats his arm.

"I don't have friends!" Rodney sneers.

"Yes, you have lots of friends here on Atlantis." Carson assures him, "There's Colonel Sheppard, and-"

"Oh, God!" Rodney chokes and lunges against his restraints, "John. Oh, no, no, no, no. What have I done?"

Concerned, Carson asks him, "I don't know Rodney, what have you done?"

"Oh, fuck." Rodney shakes his head from side to side on the pillow. "Why did I do that to him?"

With horror on his face, Rodney stares up him, "Oh my God. I just want to die. Now really want to die."

"Is Colonel Sheppard all right?" Carson asks.

"Mmmmmm." Rodney makes a high-pitched moan, "I don't know- I don't know."

"It's okay." Carson pats Rodney's arm, "What happened?"

Rodney starts to hyperventilate and Carson pets him arm reassuringly, "It's okay. Just breathe."

"I was trying to make things up to him- after Doranda." Rodney looks up at the ceiling still breathing hard.

"He was so mad, and, and, I then I- I, was on the enzyme, I wasn't on this much, not this much, but he hadn't had any, so it wasn't a fair fight."

"Did you fight Colonel Sheppard, Rodney?"

"No-no-no-no" Rodney shakes his head, "I gave him a blowjob. I made him tell he wanted it. The way he made say I wanted it, when fucked me in the supply closet. I shouldn't have-shouldn't have."

Sure that Rodney is delirious, Carson pats his arm one final time, "It's okay Rodney, you don't know what you're saying right now."

"Oh, I know what I'm saying-I know what's real." Rodney bucks against his restraints.

"And let me assure you, this is very real. It's been real since the day you first introduced me to him. I thought, I thought, he was hot, but I never thought he would.-

You-know-what? He fucked me, okay? He fucked that first night, on the couch, in the game room."

Carson looks at Rodney with confusion.

"Yeah!?" Rodney yells, "You remember Antarctica?

That was fucking real! He fucked me every day we were there. Every day until he changed his mind and left, and, and, and, you told me he changed his mind, I-I think it had something to do with me, I don't know why.

But that's when he stopped fucking me. But, but, does-he-stop-fucking-toying-with-me?!

No! He comes to stay with me back on Earth, stays in my apartment, always, always with the touching.

Rubbing up on me while he gives me shooting lessons, getting close, flipping me over, pinning me down-

But, no! When I try to kiss him, he pushes me against the wall. Then he fucks Chaya instead of me."

As he listens to the bizarre story, Carson's eyes are getting wider. There are some factual details mixed in there... Could any of this possibly be real?

"Yes, yes! Chaya, you remember Chaya? That was real. That happened. Just like I gave him a fucking blowjob on Ford's planet! Okay?!"

"It's not fair." Rodney pants for a moment, then cringes and moans into the pillow "You don't know what it's like.

Missing him all the time. Missing his hands on my skin, I –I –I can't get over him and, and he won't let me go, even though he doesn't want me anymore. He toys with me and won't let me go, and I still want him, I want him, I want..."

Rodney sobs into the pillow, "I love him. Oh. Oh, God. He's going to hate me even more now. But he let me do it. Why did he let me do it? Why did he let me? Why-why-why-why?..."

"I don't know, Rodney." Carson takes a breath and shakes his head.

"There's something wrong with me." Rodney moans, "Why do I love someone who will never love me back? I hate myself. I hate myself and I want to die."

"No, Rodney you want to live." Carson reaches over to touch Rodney's arm again.

"I want to die." Rodney shakes his head in misery, "He doesn't care about me, nobody cares about me. It's like Alex said, like he said."

"Alex?" Carson inquires softy.

"Always said I was worthless." Rodney's face bunches up in pain and chokes out, Pathetic. No..."

He shakes his head, "So mean to me. Said I deserved it, cause I'm, I'm... Oh. Pathetic."

Rodney makes another sobbing sound.

Seeing that Rodney's vitals ticking up, Carson tries to stop the train of thought, "Rodney?"

But Rodney continues to sob; his face is getting red. It looks like he is holding his breath to stop himself.

Standing up, Carson and leans over his friend and puts his hands on Rodney's chest, "Rodney, Rodney, breathe."

Finally, Rodney opens his teary eyes and starts breathing more normally.

"Okay keep breathing." Carson holds his gaze, "In and out. Slowly... In and out."

Though Rodney can't seem to manage to do it slowly, he otherwise complies. He continues to rant and rave about John, his past relationship with Alex, and the fact that nobody cares about him.

Carson tries his best to calm Rodney down. At several points Rodney describes sexual scenes in such graphic detail that Carson doesn't doubt that he is recounting real memories.

The last think Carson wants to think about is Colonel Sheppard's cock. Clearly, Rodney thinks about it a lot. He just wishes that Rodney would stop being so graphic.

As the hours go by, Rodney seems to hit a turning point. His vitals start to ease back down. When Carson gives him the next dose of painkillers, Rodney passes out. He is through the worst of it now and should be able to rest. Carson finally lets himself relax.

Elizabeth steps into the room and asks Carson, "How is he?"

"Asleep, finally, mercifully." Carson sighs with relief.

She smiles and wonders, "Has he mentioned anything about Sheppard and the others?"

Well, Rodney mentioned Sheppard, but nothing relevant to finding him. Carson answers, "No, not yet... Our conversation was of a different sort." He confides, "I feel not unlike the priest in 'The Exorcist'.

Now, that's all he's ever going to say about that. Carson looks back to Rodney, "But he's lived through the worst of it. The nausea has passed, his pulse has returned to normal, blood pressure in a more reasonable range, considering his borderline hypertension before taking the enzyme."

"Good." Elizabeth is pleased.

"I hate to say it, but his stubbornness is probably what sustained him through the ordeal." Carson admits.

Elizabeth lifts her brows, "We won't tell him that though."

"Aye, mustn't feed the beast." Carson agrees.

"No... You look exhausted. You should get some rest." Elizabeth tells him.

But Carson isn't leaving until Rodney is back to normal. "I'll stay with him just a wee bit longer, just to make sure he's out of the woods."
John can't get over that blowjob by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 33 takes place during Season 2: episode 11

Trust can be such a fragile thing... the trust one has in one's self, the trust one learns to have with another person...
. John can't get over that blowjob

When Rodney has recovered from his withdrawal, he tries not to think about what happened between he and John back on the planet. He pulls himself together and briefs Elizabeth on everything he knows about the mission Ford took the others on.

He gives them the coordinates of the planet that the Hive ship was headed towards and they leave aboard the Daedalus, hoping to intercept them in time to rescue the rest of the team.

When they arrive at the planet, there are two Hive ships in orbit, confounding their ability to ascertain which one John and the team might be on. They are unable to make radio contact or activate the subspace transmitters to beam them out.

Caldwell is skeptical about their survival and plans to take both Hives out by beaming nukes under their shields. But the Wraith are deploying countermeasures, jamming out the frequency.

Then the Daedalus starts to come under attack. They return fire but are outgunned. Rodney tells them that the shields are losing power fast. Worried that the location of Atlantis has been compromised, Caldwell is adamant they need to take these ships out.

"We need to win this." He tells Rodney.

Wondering how in the hell that could possibly happen, Rodney stares out the window. He sees something odd and points it out.

"Look. See that? It's a Dart firing on one of the Hive ships."

"Why?" Caldwell asks.

"Sheppard." Rodney's heart surges.

Some of the other Darts begin to break off their attack on the Daedalus, firing on the Wraith Hives instead.

"I don't believe what I'm seeing." Caldwell is stunned.

Lorne sounds impressed, "Sheppard's actually getting them to fire at each other.

Rodney's face lights up with joy, he knew John was going to make it out of this. One of the Hive ships breaks up in an explosion and the wreckage from the blast breaks through what is left of the shields on the other Hive ship.

His eyes go wide after the second blast. Both Wraith ships are gone along with all the Darts in the vicinity. As Rodney stares out the window, his stomach knots up in dread. He runs to a view screen to scan the debris and sees nothing.

He feels cold and empty as he delivers the news, "The blast has destroyed everything in a 15,000 meter radius." Rodney barely keeps his voice from breaking at the end of the sentence.

"Did any Darts survive?" Caldwell asks.

A pilot answers, "Negative sir."

Swallowing, Rodney thinks about the last time he saw John. He was climbing down the ladder while John got ready to pilot the Dart.

The expression on John's face had seemed like it was meant to be reassuring and kind. Rodney is sure of that; John was trying to tell him everything was okay between them.

And what had Rodney said with his own face when looked back at John?

Nothing good enough, not nearly good enough.

Rodney hates this feeling... the feeling that John is dead. Why does it keep happening? This time makes 3; Rodney has kept score. Not including all the times that John has almost died, just the times he has actually died. In Rodney's mind, at least. First time by bug, then it was a nuke, and this time a Dart.

And is this really the end? It can't be. 'John, come back.'

'Come back, John.'

He waits...but this time John doesn't come back. This time he is really gone. Rodney leaves the bridge to find a place to be alone. That way no one can see him quietly come undone.


The ride home is excruciating for Rodney. He can't stop thinking about John's face the last time they saw each other. He can't stop seeing John's beautiful face. Rodney bites the inside of his lip to stop himself from losing it completely. He has to hold it together while he is on the Daedalus.

When the Daedalus lands, Rodney gets the news that John, Teyla and Ronan are alive. The have just dialed in through the wormhole and are getting a checkup from Carson. This is longest John has ever been dead, and Rodney has to find him so that it isn't real anymore.

As he gets off the ship, Rodney breaks into a run. He has to see John. Rodney tries not to think about his experience with Carson earlier. Whatever was said falls under doctor patient confidentiality. And Carson would never say anything, would he?

He bursts into the infirmary and demands, "Why aren't you dead?"

"It's good to see you too Rodney." John turns, looking so self satisfied.

"No, no I mean..." Rodney stutters, "Well, you know what I mean. Why aren't you dead?"

John stands with his arms folded easily into each other, "Well, I knew when the Hive ships started to shoot at each other, it was just a matter of time before they blew each other up, so I went to the space gate, and dialed an address where I could land safely."

Sighing, Rodney nods his head; he can't believe he didn't think of it. John sounds too relaxed. How can he be so relaxed right now?

"I didn't think the Dart could fit in out gate room." John jokes.

"The Colonel was kind enough to make us whole again, and we returned home." Teyla says.

"I'm curious Sheppard," Caldwell asks, "how did you know the Wraith would fight each other?"

"Uh, a little intel from Ford and the gang, plus, uh, I kind of goosed things along with the queen." John answers.

Rodney is astonished how calm he sounds for a man who has just returned from the dead.

"It would appear that the Wraith are becoming more territorial than we had thought. There is definite tension growing among them." Teyla adds.

"Which is good for us." Ronan grunts.

Elizabeth agrees, "It certainly is. It also opens up a brand new strategy in fighting them."

"And, and, where is Ford?" Rodney wonders.

John doesn't answer.

Teyla breaks the silence; "He was aboard the Hive ship when it was destroyed."

"He was last seen aboard the Hive ship." John corrects her.

"What does that mean?" Rodney asks.

"Well, you know Ford..." John lowers his eyes. Rodney watches John's lips instead; it is the best way to read his emotion. "Wouldn't be surprised if he was still alive."

Right. John has made it his personal mission to find Ford and bring him back to safety. He is not going to want to give up on this. John looks at Rodney and holds his gaze for a few moments before looking away. The expression is hard to read.



Carson has noticed that Rodney has really been keeping his distance. He has conveniently 'forgotten' any plans that the two of them have made over the last few weeks.

When Carson visits the lab, Rodney doesn't even meet his eyes. He just says he's too busy. But Carson knows Rodney is lying; he's a pretty bad liar.

This afternoon, Carson has a new idea to lure Rodney out of the lab. He brews a thermos full of his best stash of coffee and stops by to tell Rodney about the premium Sumatran blend. Doesn't hurt that he has a bag full of fresh donut holes from the cafeteria, either.

"Thanks, you can just leave that here." Rodney flits his eyes over the thermos.

"Oh, no." Carson laughs, "This is coming with me for a walk on the pier. Course, you are always welcome to join."

'Come on, Rodney. We haven't talked in weeks.' Carson shakes the bag of donuts, "Guess I'll have to feast on these but myself. Pity, they're so fresh, and I won't be able to eat them all."

"Okay, where are we going?" Rodney rolls his eyes and stands.

"Right this way." Carson grins.

They walk until they find a private cozy bench overlooking the water. Carson sets out the treats and begins pouring them each a cup.

"Ohhh. That smells good." Rodney breathes in the aroma.

Carson holds out a cup and Rodney tries to take from him without any eye contact.

He keeps his grip until Rodney looks up at him, questioning. There he is. Carson smiles at him and lets go of the cup.

"Mmm... Mmm... Worth the walk." Rodney pulls it to his lips and sips lightly so as not to burn himself. The coffee is still quite hot.

"It is good." Carson sips on his own cup with satisfaction.

Rodney nods, looking out over the waves.

Wondering if Rodney will say anything on his own, Carson watches him. Probably not.

"You've been avoiding me." He blurts out.

"I've busy, that's all." Rodney frowns, his eyes locked on the horizon.

"You've been avoiding me ever since you got through the detox." Carson repeats himself more certainly.

"Oh, yeah," Rodney's shoulders hunch forward a bit, "thanks for that, by the way. And I'm sorry for anything I might have said when I wasn't it my right mind."

"Uh, well," Carson takes sip of his coffee, "you kept ranting and raving about how no one likes you and you had no friends-"

"Burden of genius, I suppose." Rodney winces, still staring straight ahead.

"You know you have friends, don't you, Rodney?" Carson looks at him with curiosity.

Shrugging, Rodney just drinks his coffee.

Carson frowns, he has often wondered why Rodney is so prickly and sarcastic and wished that the scientist would let down his guard a little. He has long suspected that Rodney is far more sensitive than he leads people to believe.

Rodney's face alone is so expressive, Carson can often see deeper emotions flash across the surface. He knows Rodney uses his intellect to hide behind, he just hasn't known why Rodney feels the need to be so defensive.

Leaning forward he confesses, "Well, I'm your friend Rodney. You're probably my closest friend here on Atlantis, and I miss you when you aren't around."

Finally, Rodney looks at him. He seems shocked with his mouth hanging open. Carson prepares himself for a sarcastic barb, but it doesn't come.

He urges Rodney, "This is the part where you say something like... 'Oh, Thanks Carson, You're my friend too.'"

Rodney closes his mouth and then offers, "Uh, thanks? I think? I mean, if you consider me a friend."

Carson gives Rodney an exasperated expression.

"I just... haven't had a lot of experience with friends... So, if you are indeed being serious, and not mocking me, then, thank you. And, I consider you a friend, also."

"Why in the world would I be mocking you?" Carson shakes his head in disbelief.

Rodney's face looks guarded.

What happened to Rodney to lead him to believe that people are out to hurt him? Maybe it has something to do with that abusive relationship Rodney had told him about, with that guy... Alex.

"Well, I'm not mocking you." Carson sighs, "I like you a lot Rodney. Sometimes I wish you were a little less prickly, but all things considered, you are pretty likeable and fun to hang out with."

The expression on Rodney's face looks less shielded. He peers at Carson uncertainly but with honest and open eyes.

There is another Rodney in there somewhere, someone he hasn't met yet, but would like to. Carson smiles, pulls out a donut, and offers it to him.

"Thanks." Rodney gives a small but genuine smile. He stuffs the donut hole in his mouth and talks while chewing, "You missed me?"

Waiting for the sarcastic comment, Carson lifts his brows.

But Rodney just says, "No, that's, that's really nice. I don't think anyone's ever missed me before."

"Wait." Rodney swallows, "This isn't cause of everything I told you about... I mean, because I'm not, not interested in you, that way-"

"I know Rodney." He cuts him off before he can make it any more awkward, something Rodney is very good at.

"That's not what I'm trying to say. Look, I don't... I'm only interested in woman when it comes to that. I was SIMPLY trying to tell you that I consider you a friend."

"Right. Sorry. I know that." Rodney drinks his coffee nervously, "Didn't mean to..."

"It's fine." Carson assures him, "Now that we've got that cleared up... More coffee?"

"Please." Rodney reaches his cup out eagerly and Carson pours them both more of the prized liquid.

"Uh, so..." Rodney flits his eyes anxiously, "That was pretty weird, when I was coming off the enzyme..."

"Do you remember?" Carson furrows his brows.

Cringing Rodney tells him "I remember everything. I wish to God I didn't but... I remember what happened on the planet and... I remember everything I said to you..." He trails off sadly.

"So, all that really happened?" Carson asks gently. "All that... stuff?"

Rodney glumly nods.

"So the two of you... Really?" Carson still can't believe it, "The first day we met him?"

Eyeing Carson warily, Rodney's expression softens, "He... He seduced me and... I fell for it."

He listens as Rodney goes on to describe the bizarre relationship between he and Colonel Sheppard in a more coherent, chronological manner. Rodney seems embarrassed at first, but when he realizes that Carson isn't judging him, he begins talking at a less rapid pace.

Hearing how physically and emotionally battered Rodney was by Alex, Carson starts to feel very protective towards his emotionally fragile friend. Then John had come into picture, treating Rodney pretty callously. Carson can understand why Rodney says he is fucked up over it.

What he can't understand, is why Rodney thinks he is in love with John Sheppard. Carson has a theory that Rodney just isn't used to healthy, positive relationships. That is why he is fixated on Colonel Sheppard.

As the story unfolds, Carson agrees that the Colonel is just toying with Rodney. And Carson doesn't like it. Either the Colonel is deeply confused himself or he is purposely cruel.

After Rodney has talked himself out, Carson admits that he is worried about him when it comes to Sheppard. He tells Rodney that he thinks it would be best of he stayed away from the Colonel. Even if Rodney is in love with him, the Colonel sounds incapable of returning the feelings.

Explaining that he just doesn't want to see Rodney get hurt, Carson tries to offer reassurances that Rodney will find someone to return his affections. He tells Rodney that he a likeable, attractive guy, that someone else will come along, someone who can treat him with love and respect. Rodney listens to Carson's advice and seems to take it to heart. Carson just hopes Rodney have the good sense to stay away.



John has been feeling 'off' ever since escaping from the Hive. What happened between he and Rodney on Ford's planet, that was... It was... something John should never have let happen, but it changed everything for him. He can't stop thinking about how Rodney made him feel.

When Rodney wrestled him to the ground, John had finally surrendered to it. Given in to the feelings that scare him the most and make him want to push Rodney away. John isn't sure what it means, he knows he can't let himself be with another man, but the desire he feels is so strong.

Over the last few months, John has kept Rodney at a distance, but Rodney is the one keeping his distance these days. Rodney used to seek John out throughout the day, always telling him about some new breakthrough.

Even when John had been in the infirmary recovering from the retrovirus, Rodney had brought him a homemade sandwich every day. Despite the fact that John has kept Rodney at arm's length, Rodney has still tried to make it up to John about Doranda. After all, John had told Rodney he could win his trust back if he 'really, really tried'.

John hadn't meant for Rodney to try so much though... like when he tried to come to John's rescue aboard the Aurora, or again when John was on the Hive ship. None of it had been necessary, but Rodney kept trying.

He had told himself he wanted some distance and perceptive. To try to get his head clear... Because John feels too much when he's close to Rodney, too conflicted; he shouldn't care so much about one particular team member. It compromises his command ability, that's all. That's all there is to it, right?

When Rodney had made that plea to go back to Doranda, John should have been objective enough to see it was a bad call. Rodney had asked John to trust him and John's heart had taken over.

But it has been unfair to mislead Rodney and let him blame himself this whole time... to let him try to make it up to John. It's never been a matter of forgiveness; it's just been an excuse to shut himself down.

Really, John was just trying to get away from himself, but he has let Rodney think it is all his fault. Yeah, Rodney made a bad call. Rodney got overconfident. But it's a mistake John has made himself many times.

Sure, John had been upset, but it was the realization of how much he trusted Rodney and relied on him that had freaked him out the most. John prefers to be invulnerable, unaffected. But now that Rodney is giving him that distance, John feels more confused than ever.

He regrets how often he has pushed Rodney away. John never means to hurt Rodney; he doesn't even realize he's doing it at the time. But looking back, John admits to himself that this is the 4th time in a year and a half that it has happened. First in Antarctica, then when Rodney had tried to kiss him, the incident on Rodney's couch, and finally Doranda...

Then there is the whole mess of what happened back on Ford's planet. It shouldn't surprise him that Rodney is done with him. John has no right to ask anything from him, but he misses him a great deal. He wants to be around Rodney again, be close the way they used to be. Back on the planet, Rodney had seemed so angry when John had called him 'buddy'.

"Oh, am I you're buddy again, now? Is that was this is?"

John can't stop thinking about that amazing blowjob. He knows Rodney would never have done it if he were thinking straight. He feels so guilty for thinking about it at night while he strokes his cock. He doesn't mean to cum thinking about Rodney, but it feels so good. So fucking good. No one's ever made him cum that hard.

The problem is, that whatever is between he and Rodney, it isn't going away. No, the problem is, John doesn't want it to go away. He hates feeling so out of control.

The way Rodney makes him feel is like a current, something he just can't get away from. It is all so wrong. It has been wrong from the beginning.

And it's all John's fault. Everything is his fault.
End Notes:

More to follow: John is done pushing Rodney away. Now he just has to win back his friendship. Maybe he will even open up about a bit about his past...
Kind of even missed you a little by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 34 takes place during Season 2: Episodes 12-13.

John is done pushing Rodney away. Now it is his turn to try to win Rodney back..
. Kind of even missed you a little

John has gradually adjusted to life here. After 6 months, he has stopped waiting for the rescue party that never comes. He knows there must have been a good reason why they didn't come back for him, but it still hurts that he has been left behind. It's a dull kind of pain.

It reminds him of how he felt in Antarctica, numb and empty. The people living in this place are okay, they are just really, really dull.

Even Teer, his lover... She has no sense of humor. Everything is so somber and sincere. It was explained to John once he passed the threshold, that this village was created by the Ancients as a place to prepare for enlightenment. There is no return through the portal that brought him here; he is committed to remain for the rest of his days. Cheery.

Trying to find a way out, John has run every inch of the perimeter and there is no way to escape the confines of the sanctuary. Nothing but a village on the edge of a grassy plain.

So there is nothing left to do but join them in their constant mediations or keep watch out for the 'beast' that occasionally roams the fields. The thing appears sometimes but it is mostly invisible. John hasn't been able to pierce it with his bullets and it seems to disappear when he tries to fight it.

John wasn't really expecting to return to a life of silence and solitude, not after the last year and a half spent on Atlantis, but he has resigned himself to it. He misses Rodney the most.

He wishes he'd had a chance to make things right before they went on that last mission, the one that left him marooned here. He still dreams about Rodney, the blowjob and everything else... Sometimes it is sexual, but often it is just a feeling of being held or holding Rodney in his arms.

Then, when John wakes, he feels Rodney's absence. He remembers that he never held him at all. Sometimes he thinks he has a memory of Rodney holding him.

Maybe... that night after the siege ended, when Rodney came to his room. John had fallen asleep while watching the movie and he'd been having a nightmare.

In his dream, Rodney held him and made the fear go away. Was it a dream or was it real?
He thinks it was real. John feels guilty for pushing Rodney away so much. Rodney had always been a good friend and John hadn't been fair with him... not the way he should have been.

It doesn't really matter now that his military life is over. He can let himself imagine Rodney in his arms, in his bed... And that blowjob had been like nothing John had ever felt before. He had never cum so fucking hard.

Teer is nice, she gives him comfort, but the pleasure is nominal. Like everything else here.


Joining the villagers for one of their wholesome meals, John is amused that they are discussing the concept of the 'thrill of life'. Something he has told them repeatedly that they are all missing out on.

The conversation goes quiet suddenly. And then Teer tells John that she senses 5 of his people coming for him.

Is it possible? Are they coming back for him at last? John's heart pounds in his chest.

"They're here?" He stares at her, "Are you sure? That's the best news I've heard-"

"No, John," Teer stops him, "I sense something more. The beast is nearly upon them."

He breaks out in a run toward the fields. He has been out of ammo for a while now but he has a knife. John hears gunfire as he gets close. The thing is just ahead of him and he lunges from the wooded path to grab hold of it.

The beast disappears and John falls flat onto the grass. When he gets back up, he sees Elizabeth, Rodney, Carson, Teyla, and Ronan. There are all here. They didn't forget about him.

"What the hell took you so long!?" John shouts at Elizabeth.

"Believe it or not," she tells him, "you were only gone for a couple of hours."

"Try 6 months." John frowns.

"You don't understand." Rodney jumps in, "You've been trapped in a time dilation field."

"What?" John looks at him in exasperation.

"What was that bloody thing?" Carson interrupts.

"I don't know." John turns back to Rodney, "What's a time dilation field?"

Before Rodney can explain, the beast has reappeared. It roars in front of them, larger than John has ever seen it. Knife in hand, he steps forward. Ronan steps to his side, ready to do battle.

But Teer and the others arrive, joining them in the field. As they walk toward the beast, the things gives a final roar, then fades away completely.

"That's it? That's all it took?" John asks.

Teer replies, "You were right John, we were afraid. The beast was the final burden we had to shed, manifest from our own fears. You gave us the courage to face it."

She reaches her hand out for him, "Come with us."

He sees that she is starting to glow like Chaya had. But John wants to be here with Rodney and the others.

"I'm not ready for that yet, I'm not sure I'll ever be." He tells her.

"One day, perhaps?" Teer looks at him with affection.

"Yeah, one day." John glances at the sky wondering what it would feel like to fly through it as a beam of energy.

"I'll look forward to it." Teer smiles.

The others begin to Ascend, but Teer keeps her human form a little longer, staring at John with knowing eyes.

He wishes there was something more her could express to her, but he has never been able to goodbye. He knows she can sense this, she can sense everything he is thinking and feeling, he doesn't need to tell her.

And then she is gone too.

"What is it with you and Ascended woman?" Rodney walks over to him shaking a finger at the sky.

John just shrugs.

"Well, the beard is interesting." Elizabeth teases.

"First thing to go when we get home." John scowls. Yeah. He has really missed home.

"I never thought I'd see any of you again," he admits.

"Kind of even..." John glances at Rodney, "missed you a little."

Ronan sounds unemotional, "Yeah, well, it was only a couple of hours for us, so-"

"-Ronan." Teyla cuts him off, "We were all quite worried about you."

"Of course we were." Beckett nods in agreement.

"We're just sorry we didn't get here sooner." Elizabeth confesses.

John glances around him and notices that Rodney is uncharacteristically quiet.

He decides to put an end to all this mushy talk, "Let's get out of here."


After 6 long months John doesn't want any more time or space between he and Rodney. Not much time may have passed for Rodney, but for John, it is the longest the two of them have been apart since they met almost 2 years ago.

Well, for John, it's been longer now. John missed Rodney more than he would have thought possible. But when he tries to seek Rodney out and spend time with him again, it becomes apparent just how much distance John has managed to put between them.

And this time it feels different, it doesn't feel like Rodney is mad. He seems... really... detached, maybe? He interacts with John easily enough... and when he tells John he is too busy to hang out, he doesn't seem hurt or withdrawn. Just ambivalent.

When John sees Rodney hanging out with Carson after he has just lied about spending time in the lab, Rodney doesn't seem guilty or worried. He barely takes notice. John has finally pushed Rodney too far. He isn't coming back.

Was it the drug-addled blowjob that did it? All the times John gave Rodney the cold shoulder after Doranda? Maybe the fight in Rodney's apartment on Earth? Or the way John had pushed Rodney away after he'd tried to kiss him? Could be just the accumulation of everything? Too much...

Whatever it is, John realizes how much he has taken Rodney's friendship for granted. For some reason, he had assumed that Rodney would still be there, waiting and wanting to be buddies at the end of the day. He has always been able to get through to Rodney before... He'll just have to keep trying. Maybe Rodney will give in if he keeps trying?



The next month is pretty uneventful except for a bomb scare that took some doing to get to the bottom of. A splinter group known as the Trust, was infiltrated by the Goa'uld, parasitical creatures from the Milky Way. They had taken Caldwell as a host and used him to time a ZPM to overload with the gate dialing sequence.

The Trust is not the only government splinter group with a stronghold on Earth, but certainty the most dangerous. Fortunately, they received warning from Earth just prior to dialing up for the weekly transmission.

Rodney hates to admit it, but Lieutenant Cadman was instrumental in saving day... She still completely creeps him out. And it is more than a little weird that she and Carson are dating now.

Sometimes when he sees the two of them laughing together, he feels afraid that they are laughing at him. But he doesn't let his insecurities get the better of him. Carson would never laugh at him that way.

In all the time he has known Carson, he has never ridiculed Rodney. Carson is his friend and Rodney has to trust that he would not betray him. He can only hope the same of Cadman.



Carson is proud of Rodney, he has been doing a good job of keeping a distance from Colonel Sheppard. He knows it isn't easy for him. Even though Carson has been enjoying his new relationship with Lieutenant Cadman, he makes sure to keep plenty of time available for Rodney, so as not to neglect their friendship.

And Carson has been extra busy lately, ever since the infiltration of a Goa'uld symbiote. Elizabeth has insisted that everyone on the Atlantis be tested for the mind-controlling parasite and it has taken up a lot of his time.

When Carson and Rodney hang out, they mostly talk of other things, but John does come up eventually, even just for a little progress report. Rodney tells Carson that John has begun treating him differently since he came back from the Ancient sanctuary.

He seems really sincere about wanting to spend time with Rodney. But Rodney hasn't fallen for it. He is polite, even friendly, but doesn't give in. Carson is pleased and hopes that this will be enough for Rodney to get over his twisted feelings for the Colonel.

Carson knows John is being persistent; a few times he has even tried to approach Rodney while he and Carson have been out together. It's nothing he would ever have thought twice about it before, but now when John approaches Rodney, Carson sees something sinister and dark- no matter how affable and easygoing the Colonel might act. Carson knows Rodney doesn't need him to fight his battles, but one time John had been insisting that they all go do something together.

Letting his emotions get the better of him, Carson had been a bit curt, saying, "Thank you, Colonel. But we already have plans that don't include you."

Before traipsing away, John had shrugged playfully, saying, "Just checkin",

For Carson, that was rudeness dialed up all the way to 11. He'd felt uncertain about his reaction and looked to Rodney, to see if he had gone to far. But Rodney's face had smiled back at hi, warm and grateful.
Rodney keeps his distance by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 35 takes place during Season 2: Episodes 14-15.

John is done pushing Rodney away. Now it is his turn to try to win Rodney back..
. Rodney keeps his distance

John is rattled when he hears the news that Rodney's Jumper has gone down over the Lantean Ocean. Zelenka is pessimistic that he survived the crash since the front part of the Jumper was flooded, cutting out communications.

He tells John, "If they didn't make it to the rear compartment in time-"

"They made it." John interrupts emphatically.

Still, Zelenka says it is going to be very difficult to locate them, and even if they could he doesn't see how they could rescue Rodney and the pilot at that depth.

"I'll handle the rescue, you just worry about finding them." John is adamant.

He has an idea already. Time to put that engineering degree to work. John directs his crew to keep soldering. He has designed a massive winch with a magnetic grapple, which he plans to attach to a pair of F-302's.

Even through the mechanism won't be strong enough to lift the Jumper all the way out of the water, it should be enough for a cutting team and rescue divers to reach them. John is sure that Rodney is still alive. He can feel it. And when Rodney gets back, John will try harder to make up for the past.

They've just got get far enough down... John's only got 1,000 feet of grappling, but the rescue Jumper should be able to submerge another 1,000. Zelenka seems to think Rodney's Jumper is deeper than that by now. But there is no way to be sure since the ocean floor of the search area varies widely.

Trying think of another way, John asks Zelenka is he can turn the Jumper's cloak into a shield.

"That would hold back the water," Zelenka answers, "yes, but it would take significantly more power."

Pleased, John tells him, "Well, we shut down everything we don't need."

Zelenka argues that it would take too long to reconfigure.

John is undeterred. "Take what we need, we'll make the changes down there."

Backtracking, Zelenka insists that he can't go because he doesn't even know how to swim.

"There's not a lot of swimming under 1,000 feet of ocean." John says wryly.

"Look, I'm not gonna order you to go." Elizabeth tells Zelanka.

"I WILL!" John raises his voice to a shout.

Finally, Zelenka relents. John pilots the ship to search coordinates Zelenka gives him and takes the Jumper down into the water. As they climb down, the radio to Atlantis starts to go out.

Before they lose contact completely, John tells Elizabeth to have the divers on Jumper 8 standing by. He can't help but be impressed by the fact that their Jumper is holding up under all the pressure. Leveling out and holding steady at 990 feet, John asks, "How's it coming?"

"All I'm getting is sporadic life-sign readings." Zelenka says uncertainly.

"As in sea monster life-signs?" John turns back in his chair quizzically.

The hull of the Jumper makes a groaning sound and John reminds him, "We're going to need those shields up and running."

"Well then," Zelenka is terse, "stop talking, please."

For a moment Zelenka reminds him of Rodney and he smiles, "Will do."

Once the shields are ready to operate, Zelenka tells him that they are drawing more power than he would like; he tells John to wait. But they are only going to have no more than 30 minutes of power to find Rodney, so John takes the Jumper down anyway, confident Rodney is alive and waiting for him.



Rodney has tried everything he could, it's a miracle he has kept the Jumper from completely flooding by now. But with a head injury and the water level reaching up to his neck, he feels himself slipping away from consciousness.

At least Sam had been there to keep him company in his last hours... Well, not really, but it turned out to be a good hallucination after all when she finally took her top off and started kissing him.

"Mmm... sexy minx."



John and Zelenka are having trouble detecting the Jumper but find a sea monster on radar. It is swimming is circles and John thinks it might be significant. He pilots the Jumper on that bearing to check it out.

Zelenka confirms he is right; the creature is circling the sunken vessel. They have a reading on the Jumper but it's dead, no power. The grapple won't work either because the Jumper has taken on water. A lot of water, it is nearly flooded.

Convinced Rodney is still alive, John demands they try anyway. Zelenka it adamant it won't work, saying it is a matter of physics.

"We're not coming this far without doing something!" John yells. He knows Rodney has to be alive.

At John's insistence, Zelenka comes up with another possibility. He surmises that they could use the shield to extend around both Jumpers.

"We have enough power?" John asks.

"Yes if –if we touch down on the ocean floor to conserve engine power, it should just be matter of walking between the two Jumpers."

That sounds better. "All right." John tells him, "I'll get us close."

As he sets the Jumper down on the ocean floor, John radios, "McKay, Griffin do you copy?"

"Sheppard." Rodney answers.

"Hey buddy." John's voice is full of warmth and tenderness. His heart leaps through his chest; he knew Rodney would make it. "What say you lower your door?"

Rodney sounds like he is spitting water from his lips, "That's probably a bad idea"

"Listen," John explains, "Long story short, we've converted the cloak into a shield, and extended it around your Jumper. I'm standing outside right now."

John pounds on the side of the Jumper for effect.



"What?" Rodney's head wound is making it hard to think clearly.

"All you have to do is open your door," John says patiently, "walk to my Jumper."

Rodney moves to open the hatch but stops himself, speaking to Sam, "What if it's another one of my hallucinations?"

"McKay, what's the hold up?" John's voice sounds less patient now, "We need to do this sooner rather than later, the shield ain't gonna hold forever."

After arguing with Sam, Rodney finally agrees to open the door. He's about to die anyway, not much to lose. As the water begins to drain around him, he sags to floor, coughing but barely conscious. He feels hands close over him, his arm and his back. He knows it is John before he can see him.

Zelenka is there too, asking if Rodney okay.

John has pulled Rodney up so that he is leaning into his lap.

Letting his head relax there for a moment, Rodney gasps, "I will be."

He wants to reach up and hold onto John but Zelenka is grabbing his free arm.

"Where's Griffin?" John is asking.

Rodney's head lolls back in guilt, looking at the cabin still flooded with water, "He was in there."

"All right, let's get you home." John grabs Rodney's other arm and slings it around his shoulder.

As the two of them help him walk to the other Jumper, Rodney hears the whale that has been circling him, "Oh. See ya pal. Sorry, you're not going to get to eat me today."

"He's the reason we found you." John tells him.

"Really?" Rodney is stunned.

"Almost thought we lost you." John says gruffly.

"I knew you'd think of something," Rodney tells him in confidence. He sees his hallucination, Samantha Carter, waving to him from the broken Jumper. As the hatch closes, he adds, "Subconsciously at least."


While Rodney is in the infirmary being treated for his concussion and hyperthermia, John checks in on him. Carson shoos John away and makes him leave. Rodney hadn't really wanted him to leave, but he knows Carson is just trying to look out for him.

Later in the evening, Rodney hears John in the adjoining room. Carson is telling him that Rodney isn't up for visitors, which is totally a lie since Carson was just about to discharge Rodney.

When Rodney gets back to his quarters to rest, he finds himself thinking about his conversation with Sam. Well, not really her... Rodney's own critiques of himself.

Asking why they had never dated, she had said he was petty, arrogant, and bad with people. She had told Rodney that he doesn't listen to people or he trust them.

"I have every reason not to." He argued with himself. Then, worried that his own hallucination could read he thoughts, he had gone on a mini-rant about Zelenka and his ineptitude rather than talking about the real reasons.

The whole thing had been so weird. Arguing with a hallucination of Sam Carter for hours. He had even tried to kiss her, but she had rejected him. No, wait, just to be clear he had rejected himself. That's how low his own self-esteem is.

Yeah, Sam's right. He is very bad with people and he definitely doesn't trust them. Maybe he should try harder, maybe open himself up more. He thinks about Katie Brown and how badly that went.

But he mostly blames Cadman for that. Katie had seemed to like him more than most people... No. No. Better just to stay away from the pain. Just like he is staying away from John.

Like he told Sam, Rodney had good reasons for not trusting people, not the least of which was his last relationship. God, it has been almost 3 years but Rodney shudders to remember. He doesn't think he can ever forget. Something about what Alex did to him, what Rodney had let him to do, would scar him forever.

Rodney had been lonely and vulnerable when he met Alex. Alex had sensed that and taken advantage of it. He doesn't ever want to be that vulnerable again with anyone.

For now, he has his fantasies of Sam and that is enough. Fantasies can't hurt you the way people can. Rodney closes his eyes and imagines Sam without the bikini top on, those full breasts up against him as they kiss. Rodney reaches for his cock.

Oh, yeah, Lieutenant Colonel Siren.



John walks out to the balcony to tell Elizabeth about the good news about latest mission. "Got the drones, we got a few Jumpers, I even got the girl."

"You got the girl?" Elizabeth looks amused.

"Well, I mean I could've got the girl. I turned her down." John admits.

"What did you offer them in return for the drones and the Jumpers?"

"Supply of medicines and an IDC if they need to reach us. We also offered to help them come up with a new way of running things when the time comes."

"They didn't offer you king?" Elizabeth suppresses a smile.

Guess she heard about that already. John raises his brows, "I turned that down too."

On his way back inside, he smirks. Why can't they all be planets with cool technology and open-minded women?

John sees Rodney making his way from the control room and stops him. "Hey, Rodney. Wait up."

Rodney turns with a neutral expression on his face. John can't ever seem to catch a moment alone with him these days.

"So, I was thinking..." John gives Rodney a playful look, "I never did get a chance to see the rest of that movie, The Galaxy Quest or whatever."

"Yeah, good movie." Rodney nods.

"I thought you said it was your favorite movie?" John smiles.

"Not favorite, I don't know, maybe one of my favorites." Rodney seems annoyed now, "Why?"

"Well," John shrugs, "I thought maybe it would be fun to watch it again."

"Yeah, sure," Rodney turns to leave, "I'll send you a copy."

"Wait." John speaks before Rodney can go, "I meant, you know, like maybe we could watch it together sometime."

"Yeah, sure... Sometime. See you later." Rodney looks ambivalent.

John doesn't try to stop him again. He heads for the transporter to get cleaned up. While he is in the shower he thinks about the girl he almost got back on the planet, Mara. Mara had been adorable. Blonde with perfect little ringlets.

She had taken John by surprise in the opulent chambers appointed to him. Wearing a robe, she asked if there was anything she could do to make him more comfortable.

He had been taken completely off guard when she dropped the robe, offering her young, ripe body. He had just stood there in shock, taking it in and wondering why it was he never saw stuff like this coming.

"You don't find me pleasing?" Mara had been confused.

"No, no," John found her pleasing all right, "it's not that. It's just..."

She had lunged at him eagerly, taking John's mouth and placing a playful hand on his cheek. Then she pulled away to examine his face, to see if he was pleased. She seemed to like what see saw.

Why fight it? A beautiful nimble blonde girl was just what he needed to burn the image of Rodney and that blowjob out of his mind. John had given in as Mara leaned in for another kiss.

Pulling away again, she asked triumphantly, "What you said at dinner, did you mean it?"

"Absolutely" John's cock was so rock hard and he had no idea what she was talking about. He had melted into another kiss with her, giving into his desire. Once they pulled away for a breath, he had murmured, "What did I say again?"

As John kissed her neck passionately she answered, "About the villagers. My brother thinks it is a sign of weakness, but I know that it means you'll be a great ruler some day."

"Right." hungry for more, John took her lips back in his. Then her word hit him. Confused he asked, "Ruler? What are you talking about?" '

"My father has promised that if we are married, succession will fall to me." Mara beamed at him, biting her lip in anticipation.

She pushed John back into the bed and he let himself fall. Why fight it? It wasn't like they were getting married anytime soon and his cock was so hard. He took Mara into his arms, rolling her under him on the bed. He had wanted to lower his lips onto those pert breasts, and feast on her delicious body.

He didn't want to listen to his mind; it was telling him, bad John, have some self-control. Then he remembered. This was exactly what had gotten him into trouble with Rodney, thinking with his cock, letting himself take advantage of someone else's momentary weakness. This wasn't based on fair play and John couldn't let Mara think....

Groaning, he had reluctantly pulled away. "I'm sorry Mara, I can't. I have my own people and I can't be some kind of... ruler with you. It's just not going to happen."

Now that he is in his shower, John plays the story out in his mind a little differently. He takes Mara's nipple in his mouth and cups her other breast with his hand. He imagines his clothes are gone and Mara can feel his huge, hard cock, waiting for her. Hard, like it is now. John strokes himself.

He takes Mara on the bed in every way imaginable. John has a mental image of her body from various angles and he makes use of it. Oh, yeah. He wants to cum, but the potency of the visual is wearing off, he needs something to push him over the edge.

Rodney's mouth on his cock. Rodney taking him in that field and making him- Oh... Oh.... God. Oh.

Why does he always cum so hard thinking about Rodney? He has to stop doing this. John sighs against the shower wall as the pleasant reverberations of the orgasm flutter through him. Then he rinses, trying to shake off whatever the hell this is with Rodney.
Buddies by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 36 takes place during Season 2: Episodes 16-18.

John is done pushing Rodney away. Now it is his turn to try to win Rodney back..
. Buddies

A few weeks later John is in the infirmary with Elizabeth. They are both recovering from the effects of having temporarily housed the consciousness of alien beings. Elizabeth had told John he was a hopeless romantic for agreeing to it in the first place.

How wrong she is. Just ask his ex-wife; John doesn't have a romantic bone in his body.

His own consciousness had been suppressed, but he had witnessed the whole meltdown. The two aliens, who had convinced everyone that they were husband and wife, had attempted to assassinate each other once they got control of the bodies. Nearly killing John, and a whole lot of other people in the process.

"Hey... You doing okay?" Rodney's voice takes him by surprise.

John looks up to see a worried expression on his face. Wow. He hasn't had any success getting Rodney to spend time with him in over... Well, in a long, long time. He wasn't expecting Rodney to come by the infirmary.

They don't have much privacy, since Elizabeth is lying close by, sleeping. John leans up and whispers, "Yeah, I'll be fine."

"Good... good, it's good to have you back, buddy" Rodney smiles.

John grins when he hears that. He wonders if Rodney means it. Are they buddies again?

"It's good to be back." He smiles up at Rodney.

There is a suspiciously sentimental look in Rodney's eyes as he gazes at John, "Almost thought we lost you."

This feels familiar. Oh, that was what John had told Rodney when he rescued him from the bottom of the ocean.

"Well, you didn't lose me." John's expression becomes sincere and hopeful, "You still have me."

"Well, I just came by to see if you were..." Rodney glances at Elizabeth even though she is still sleeping. He clears his throat and then says, "uh, and to, uh, see if you... when you're feeling up to it, if you want to play the game again, sometime."

Is Rodney is giving him another chance? John blinks in relief.

"I'd really... really like that." John smiles warmly.

"Okay. Then, good, I'll see you later." Rodney nods anxiously.

John watches him leave, his heart beating fast in his chest with excitement and hope that Rodney is letting him back in again.

This time he won't blow it.



Rodney has been spending more time with John lately, playing the game and generally just hanging out. It isn't quite the same as it used to be, but it is nice to be friendly again. It's been a long time since he and John were close.

He thinks about their early days on Atlantis. How it used to be, the lost year... Maybe it wasn't quite a year. More like 9 months, before Rodney tried to kiss him, before Ronan came, before everything got so screwed up. Rodney knows it is done and over with.

There is no going back. He is just glad to have salvaged a bit of what they once had.

When Rodney next sees Carson, he wastes no time in pointing out how much Rodney and John have been spending time together again. Rodney feels guilty admitting it, but he tries to convince Carson that it is different. Rodney is wiser now; he knows John will never want him. And he knows not to read into anything.

It just feels so good to around him. Rodney can ride the edge... Just because he is in love with John doesn't mean he will let himself get hurt.

Carson tries to convince Rodney that this isn't love and that he will meet someone else.
While Carson may be right about meeting someone else, as far as his feelings for John go, well... He has loved John for a long time. If it wasn't real, he would have known by now -or at least, been able to make it go away.


Mulling over his recent conversation with Carson, Rodney is sitting by himself in the cafeteria. Carson is busy with a new experiment, trying to use the retrovirus on a captured Wraith, so Rodney eats alone. Why is Carson so sure that Rodney should stay away from John? Rodney can accept being just friends. He can-

Spotting one of those kitchen guys coming by to bus his table, Rodney complains, "Ah, hey, what ever happened to the blue Jell-O? My favorite? All the sudden it's off the menu. What gives?"

The disinterested kitchen guy clears the table and shrugs without an answer.

"Thank you" Rodney says sarcastically as the guy walks away.

Grabbing his tablet off the table, Rodney walks by a familiar face.

"Ah, Lieutenant Kenmore." He stops to say hello.

The man looks confused, "Well so they tell me. Call me Michael."

"Michael, right, Yes, of course, Michael." Rodney corrects himself.

There is an awkward pause as Rodney tries to think of something else to say.

"I'm sorry," Michael tells him, "Um, I'm probably supposed to know you, but..."

"Right" Rodney points to his head. "Right, the amnesia. Yes, of course, I heard, I'm, uh, Dr. McKay." Holding out his hand out, "Rodney McKay, Doctor."

Michael leans out of his chair and gives Rodney a firm shake.

"So, you've been, um, released, I see?" Rodney asks.

"Just now." Michael nods. He points to the guards standing nearby, "I have some bodyguards following me around everywhere, and, Colonel Sheppard's probably somewhere close by. They wanna keep an eye on me in case I suddenly, you know... freak out."

"Yes, freak out." Rodney laughs and tries not to sound nervous, "Yes. Well, but I don't think you're... I mean, you're not gonna..." He eyes Michael anxiously, "You're fine, aren't you"

"I think so. I –I feel fine." Michael shrugs, "I guess time will tell. Hopefully the amnesia won't be permanent."

Michael's eyes drop to Rodney's tablet and Rodney looks down to see what has captured his interest.

"Wraith materializer schematics?" Michael asks.

"Yes." Rodney lifts his head up, "Yes. I was just, um," He clasps the screen to his chest so it is no longer visible, "studying them, you know."

"How did I know that?" Michael looks thoughtful.

"Ah," Rodney tries to think of a valid sounding excuse, "one of your team's objectives was to, um, infiltrate, uh, a Wraith ship and obtain... you know, uh, intelligence."

"And our mission was successful?" Michael questions.

"Yes. Very successful." Rodney smiles.

"Except for getting captured." Michael adds.

"Ah, well," Rodney acts nonchalant and smiles at the guards next to him, "we've –we've all been captured by the Wraith at one point or another, haven't we?"

Michael frowns, "It's just-"

"The important thing is that you were rescued. Safe and sound." Rodney continues.

"Safe, yes. The sound part, I'm not so sure of."

Rodney smiles and gives an uncertain laugh, "Y-y-yeah, well, it's, uh..."

Another one of the awkward silences follows.

"Well..." Michael speaks up, "I guess I'd better be going."

"Right." Rodney tries to sound friendly. "You got it." He looks at his screen again as Michael walks away. He should have been more careful with that.


The following day Rodney joins the staff for a briefing on Michael's status. Teyla says Michael is having nightmares about the Wraith and Elizabeth asks Carson if there is anything more he can do.

"Perhaps I could give him a sedative to help him sleep. Or I could increase his dosage." Carson suggests, "Although I'd caution against it at this time."

"Why? If it's helping, what's wrong with giving him more?" Rodney asks.

"Because, Rodney, I specifically calibrated his regimen according to his current physical condition. Any alteration could adversely affect his recovery. I say we remain patient, wait to see if he has any more dreams. If it's merely psychological, then Dr. Heightmeyer should be able to help him through it."

Heighmeyer? Yikes, poor Michael.

Teyla wonders if it would be just be better just to tell Michael the truth. That he is a Wraith that has been stripped of the Iratis DNA.

Turns out Teyla was probably right. It doesn't take much longer for Michael to put together the pieces himself. And he does not react well, becoming angry and withdrawn about what has been done to him.

When Rodney hears that Michael has made an escape attempt, killing a Sergeant in the process, he isn't surprised. He knows this is Carson's pet project, but it always seemed like a bad idea to him to try to convert a Wraith into a human.

Now Michael is in a holding cell and Carson doesn't want to have kill him. Carson hopes to see if he can still be successful with the treatments at an increased dosage. John is supposed to take Michael to the Alpha site, since he poses too much of a danger here on Atlantis.

Staying behind, Rodney continues working on his Wraith schematics. The team is offworld for some time, and when they return from the Alpha site, Rodney joins in on the debriefing. They report that Michael has escaped again.

"He completely transformed back into a Wraith?" Elizabeth asks.

"Well, not completely, but well on his way." John answers.

"His reversion occurred at a much more accelerated rate than we anticipated." Carson admits.

"Unfortunately," Teyla laments, "his memory of what we did to him remained intact."

"I should have killed him when I had the chance." Ronan says regretfully.

Rodney is appalled by the abject failure of this mission and he agrees with Ronan, "He's right, we are completely screwed. Not only has out dear Lieutenant rejoined the Wraith, but he's taken with him the knowledge that Atlantis still exists."

"God knows what kind of intel he was able to pick up during his stay." John says tensely.

"They will send another wave of Hive ships." Teyla warns

Ronan looks angry, "Probably already on their way."

"And this time," Rodney adds bitterly, "I'm guessing they're not gonna fall for the whole invisibility thing."

Carson looks guilty and no one says anything for a moment.

Then Elizabeth speaks up, "We need to come up with a new defense plan."

John's eyes look fierce, "We're going to need more firepower."


Rodney goes out of his way over the next week to cheer Carson up. He knows what it is like to be at the helm of a project that ends in disaster. He consoles Carson, telling him that he did the best he could with the knowledge that he had at the time. Rodney isn't sure he believes it, but he tells Carson that one day the retrovirus may play an important role in defeating the Wraith.

He tries to act like he thinks a friend should, taking Carson's side, and defending him. Not that anyone is attacking Carson about it. Mostly Carson just blames himself, so Rodney tries to defend Carson against his own worst fears.

Tonight though, Rodney isn't hanging out with Carson. He has plans with John. Plans Carson probably wouldn't approve of. Rodney is meeting John in his quarters to watch Galaxy Quest.

Admittedly, he is a bit nervous. It should be okay though. No matter what John does, Rodney will just keep himself in check. He won't let himself get carried away. It's just a movie after all.

John answers the door looking sexy. His eyes sparkle and he is wearing one of those fresh, black long-sleeved shirts that hang so well from his lean torso. Rodney blinks.

Not off to a good start here. He lifts the computer between them as an offering, and as some kind of reminder to himself. He has to keep a physical distance between the two of them.

Leading Rodney in, John gestures to the bed and lies down on the far side.

Oh. This is trouble. They could just sit on the couch? Rodney frowns to himself. Should he make an issue about this or let himself lay closer to John than he really should? His resolve caves and he sets the laptop down on the side table so can take off his shoes.

As he stands back up, Rodney examines the bed. It is small, but if he is careful, there is enough room to keep from touching John. Rodney positions himself on the bed carefully. He is tense and puts the computer on his lap, starting the movie before anything awkward can happen.

"So, this isn't your favorite movie?" John asks.

"No, um, just a favorite." Rodney shakes his head, looking at the screen, "It's really good though. Funny."

"Okay." John sounds skeptical.

But Rodney knows John will like it; they watch the same kind of films and practically have the same taste. Well, not always. But, if John doesn't love this movie, it might just be enough to get Rodney to stop loving him.

The movie is partly a parody of Star Trek and yet a good enough Sci-Fi film to stand on it's own with the action-adventure. Mostly it is hilarious, and it seems that John agrees.

Laughing heartily, John gasps, "I can't believe I've never seen this before."

"I know, right?". Rodney grins.

When the film is over, John tells Rodney that he is like the dorky alien who proclaimed, "Never give up, Never surrender."

"That really doesn't sound like me, if you think about it." Rodney rolls his eyes, "And I suppose you're Captain Taggart?"

"Of course." John shrugs.

"Such a Kirk..." Rodney shakes his head, "You know who I am? Dr. Lazarus."

"Yeah. I see it." John cocks his head to the side, "The one who's always complaining about Taggart. Good call, Rodney."

Suddenly Rodney is aware of how close he and John are physically. He feels a little light-headed. Maybe he should go.

John seems to sense Rodney's haste and stops him, "So, what is your favorite movie, then?"

"I don't know." He thinks for moment, "Hard to pick a favorite. You? -And please don't say Back to the Future."

"Top Gun." John smiles.

"No." Rodney opens his mouth, gaping in horror that John would pick something so cheesy.

"Kidding." John breaks into a peal of laughter. He seems pleased with himself for getting Rodney so upset and keeps chuckling.

"You know," he gives John a look of exasperation, "The thing is, that is almost believable. That's what makes it so wrong."

Thoroughly amused with himself, John keeps chuckling.

"What then?" Rodney asks.

"Mmm," John takes a lazy breath, "somewhere between 'Aliens', 'Terminator', and 'Road Warrior' I suppose... Oh, and cause of McMurdo and all, I have a special place in my heart for 'The Thing'... Yeah, the 'The Thing', I'm gonna go with 'The Thing'"

"All acceptable answers." Rodney nods in approval, then furrows his brow, "Wait, the John Carpenter version or-"

"Carpenter, of course." John raises his hands in disbelief.

"You have chosen well." Rodney smiles, "Though... I did notice you neglected to mention Star Wars..."

"Oh." John makes a face of disgust; "I'm trying to put that behind me. My once cherished childhood memories, twisted into something so-"

"Yes! Yes!" Rodney bobs head emphatically, "Episodes 1 and 2 were a betrayal of the most heinous nature to those of us who... Damn you George Lucas," Rodney shakes a fist, "damn you to hell!"

"Yeah!" John gets excited, "It was a betrayal. That last one? The scene where they are rolling down a hill of flowers giggling together. It felt like a fucking chick flick."

"So, I take it you won't be seeing the third installment when it comes out." Rodney smirks.

"No." John sneers, "I actually think it came out already, last year. But, no."

Rodney visualizes John watching a chick flick and laughs out loud.

"What?" John peers at him.

"Just imagining you watching 'Steel Magnolias'." Rodney laughs again.

"You do realize, Rodney," John gives him a curious look, "that you're laughing about something that never happened?"

"Doesn't matter." He snorts, pointing his temple, "I can see it right here."

"Okay." John closes an eye, "Two can play at that game. Let's see... Rodney is watching... 'Sense and Sensibility'."

When John sees Rodney's frustrated expression, he laughs. "Not so funny, now, huh?"

"Okay, okay." Rodney narrows his eyes, "John... is crying... while he watches 'Sleepless in Seattle'."

"Ouch." John winces, "Low blow... Um, Rodney is crying... and masturbating, while watching... 'Beaches.'"

He so did not just go there. Rodney looks at John in shock. He is biting his lip playfully, waiting for Rodney to retaliate. Danger, Rodney, do not engage.

"Okay, that is wrong on so many levels. You win." Rodney shakes his head.

Part of him thinks this would be a good time to leave. But he doesn't, the other part of him wants to stay.

Instead he takes a breath, "You know, one of my favorite movies, -other than 'Beaches', that is-... Is, ah, 'Solaris'."

John shakes his head like he doesn't know it.

"It is a bit obscure," Rodney explains, "a Russian Sci-Fi film from the 70's -But they just did a remake. And I actually preferred the remake to the original. You haven't heard of it?"

"No." John answers, "What's it about?"

"Kind of esoteric, there are a lot of themes. I suppose, the nature of what is real, what is memory or consciousness, the flawed human attempts to achieve connection and communication."

"That sounds vague." John tells him.

Rodney reflects, "I suppose in a way it is, there is a surreal quality, a haunting sense of longing about it... But the story, the story is about these scientists who come into contact with a planet that is a life form.

The planet manifests painful or repressed memories in the form of human copies... uh, people. Like, the main character's wife, she committed suicide in the past, but then she reappears on the space station.

In a way, it is a love story. -And, no, it's not a chick flick. It's more about the nature of connection, not anything supernatural, but like pure physics."

John is looking at Rodney with curiosity, so he continues.

"Okay, so the main character is given a second chance. He tells his wife that he came back for her. The day they fought and he came back, only to find her lifeless body. They forgive each other...

And then he joins her, he lets go of control, of knowing whether he is even alive or dead. He and surrenders to the blending of boundaries, the true meeting of their souls."

He looks at John to see his reaction. His face has a soft expression.

"I guess you, ah... You're a romantic after all."

"Just don't tell anyone." Rodney jokes.

Almost seeming sad, John looks at him pensively. Then he asks, "Have you ever lost anyone?"

"No." Rodney answers honestly, "Never really had anyone to lose... Thought about killing myself a few times though."

John's eyes flash with concern and Rodney tries to lighten it up a bit, "But hasn't anyone with half a brain, at least considered it, from time to time?"

Still looking sad, John shakes his head lightly.

Then Rodney realizes he is being oblivious to what John is talking about.

He lowers his voice and says, "You lost someone."

John nods slowly.

"I'm sorry." Rodney says softly.

When John looks up at Rodney, his eyes are haunted. Rodney feels like John wants to talk about it, but probably won't without some prodding.

"Who... did you lose?" He ventures.

"Uh," John presses his lips together into a line and then answers, "I lost my, ah, mother, when I was young... she killed herself."

Rodney inhales sharply but John keeps talking, "And I lost someone else... very close to me. Well, too many to count, really."

Wanting to say something, to offer the right words, Rodney can't think of anything that seems right.

Finally he says, "Death shall have no dominion."

"What?" John looks puzzled.

"Sorry," Rodney shakes his head, "it's a Dylan Thomas poem... it's in the movie. I don't know why I said it. I just wanted to say something to make it better or..."

"Tell me." John looks at Rodney with clear affection in his eyes.

"Oh. Yeah." Rodney tries to remember, "It's about death, but it's more triumphant than melancholy. "And Death Shall Have No Dominion'"

"And what does the rest of it say?"

"I only remember part of it, the part from the movie. She has it written on a piece of paper. It's crumpled in her hand when he finds her body. It, it, uh, let me think.

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon.
When their bones are picked clean
And the clean bones gone
They shall have stars at elbow and foot.
Though they go mad they shall be sane.
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again.
Though lovers be lost love shall not.
And death shall have no dominion.

When Rodney finishes John is staring at him with deep emotion in his eyes. He opens his mouth and whispers, "That is beautiful."

Feeling pleased with himself Rodney smiles a little. Who knew John would like poetry?

"Can you say it again?" John asks.

Nodding, Rodney recites it with more emotion than he did the first time.

"Rodney? Do you think- Could you write it down for me?" John looks very moved, "I would go online, but there's no internet here."

He agrees enthusiastically. John gets him a pen a paper and returns to the bed, Sitting upright, Rodney writes on the hard surface of his laptop case. He has always been told he has good penmanship for a mathematician.

Rodney likes this feeling. Sharing something with John and having John want it. He feels like he has been able to share a small piece of himself and give it to John without it being rejected. He would share so much more if he could.



John takes the paper from Rodney and reads the lines a few times, mulling over and digesting it. He wishes he could believe that all is not lost in death. That love survives...

'And death shall have no dominion'. It is romantic, but it could also be a battle cry.
He imagines himself and Rodney going into battle together. Rodney might not be the perfect soldier but John feels he will always be there for him, will always have his back.

As long as John doesn't push him away. And he isn't going to do that anymore.

He's never quite had a friend like Rodney. In some ways Rodney reminds him of a soldier he once knew. Holland used to always make John laugh his gloomy pessimism and sarcasm.

But the similarity ends there. Rodney is better; John wouldn't change anything about Rodney. He is perfect just the way he is.
End Notes:

More to follow: Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...

Quoted a stanza from a Dylan Thomas poem, "And Death Shall Have No Dominion"
Epic Cockblocking by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 37 takes places in Season 2: episode 19.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. Epic Cockblocking

Rodney is sick to death of how John is acting on this mission. At every turn, he seems to be trying to make Rodney look bad to the gorgeous Norina... Referencing how he blew up an entire solar system... Minimizing his ability to understand Ancient technology...

But as Rodney pulls out his laptop, he notices that Norina still seems impressed.

She is watching him with her mouth slightly open in admiration, "I'm sure I could learn a lot from you, Doctor."

Okay, a little appreciation is nice, but Rodney never knows what to do when a woman gives him positive attention.

His arrogant demeanor toward John is replaced by a nervous uncertainty. "Oh." he gulps. "Well, I'm sure I can learn, um..."



John is getting annoyed watching this woman fawn all over Rodney. To take her focus off of Rodney, he finds himself vying for her attention at every opportunity. She is truly beautiful, with a striking and graceful figure. But what he enjoys more is the look of dissatisfaction on Rodney's face every time John flirts with her.

It stings a little that Rodney is winning this competition. Not by much, but he is winning... the prize being Norina, of course. Not Rodney. Not today. He doesn't want to let himself think this way anymore, but the burning in his chest confirms that he is just a little bit jealous.

When John has to leave to update Elizabeth on what they've found, he feels a bit resentful. Rodney is going to score a lot brainiac points while he is gone. Norina seems to go for that kind of thing. Whatever. At least he won't have to watch her drooling all over him.

What is he worried about? Firstly, Rodney has no inkling how to handle positive attention from a woman. He is sure to go down in flames. And secondly, secondly.... maybe John is more than a little jealous.

He thinks back to a couple years ago, when he had expressed interest in Rodney. Rodney had been nervous all right, but he had let John take what he wanted. He would have guessed that maybe Rodney just didn't know how to be in control of a sexual situation but he knows that isn't right either.

Rodney had taken a risk last year with John and tried to kiss him, it was John who had been afraid. And of course, there was that incident 6 months ago that they both agreed to never talk about. The time when Rodney had been under the influence of a super charged alien enzyme. Rodney had been pretty sure about what he wanted then and John had let him take it.

So maybe it is just that John doesn't like the idea of Rodney being with anyone else, the thought that he could someday belong to anyone else. John realizes how wrong it is that he even thinks of Rodney as his.

John made it clear to Rodney that it will never be more than friendship, and yet maybe it is more to John, despite the fact that he won't allow it to be. He tells himself that he will figure out how to let go of this unnatural attachment to Rodney, just as soon as this blonde is out of the picture.

After he is finished discussing the situation with Elizabeth, John takes a deep breath thinking about Rodney back on the planet and says, "I'm gonna get back there now, make sure he's not distracted."

Elizabeth is confused, as that doesn't sound like Rodney, "Distracted?"

John stops at the door wishing he hadn't said that last part out loud, "Well the lead scientist, she's very, umm..."

When John doesn't finish Elizabeth prompts, "Hot?"

"I was gonna say attractive," John feels flush, "but McKay is acting very, uh..."

"Smitten?" Elizabeth folds her hands under her chin with a smile.

"I was gonna say pathetic." John tries to seem uninterested.

He ducks his head and tries to leave before Elizabeth asks him anything else, but she stops him to say she will be joining the negotiations with the Taranan leader.

Standing close to John's warm face, she asks about the Taranian leader, "What's he like?"

"Oh, you know," John holds his expression in a masculine semi-scowl, acting ambivalent, "he's a guy. Didn't pay much attention."

That should make it clear that he wasn't noticing Rodney. He doesn't notice men, only women. Yeah, that it cleared up.

"Sorry" John raises his eyebrows and exhales, then turns bolts out of the room as fast as he can.



Before Rodney realizes it, John is back trying to pull off his Kirk routine. Ignoring the bedroom eyes John is making at Norina, Rodney keeps his mind on the job.

He has to explain to Elizabeth and the Chancellor that they need to evacuate the planet immediately. This outpost was not designed to continuously use the geothermal heat below; Running the shields at full strength all this time has created a geothermal hot spot. They are now in the middle of a caldera that has expanded over 40 miles wide. The earthquakes will continue as the pressure from the magma pours in.

John asks. "Is there anything we can do to relive the pressure somewhere else? Maybe we can fire a drone down into the crust on the other side of the caldera?"

God, that is so stupid, John, even for you. Rodney enunciates his words, "Every problem has a military solution in your world, doesn't it?"

It takes another round of explanations for Rodney to convince them that nowhere on the planet is safe.

He sighs, "The dust cloud will envelop the planet within weeks, blocking out enough sunlight to kill every living thing. We are talking about an extinction level event."

Elizabeth and the Chancellor leave with the first waves of evacuees through the wormhole. Which is lucky for them, because a bed of magma opens up shortly thereafter and swallows the Stargate entirely.

Now they are stranded and so, so screwed.

"Elizabeth will try to dial us back." John keeps his voice firm and authoritative, "When she can't get through, she'll send the Daedalus."

Directing himself to a panicking Beckett, John says, "The ship in the hanger. Maybe McKay can fix it."

"Oh, maybe I can fix it!" Rodney groans angrily, "Place the pressure squarely on my shoulders for a change."

"Well," John's voice is loud but his eyes are sincere, "I've discovered you're pretty good under the threat of impending death."

There is a compliment in there somewhere, so Rodney clears his throat instead of yelling back. He knows John is just trying to get him to calm down.

Thinking of his appearance to Norina, he steps forward and whispers to her, "I am, actually."

Rodney takes his leave to go look at the broken Aurora class Ancient ship that the Taranans have in one of the hangers.



John is pleased that Rodney appears to be having some success with ship, but is less pleased that Norina follows him around like puppy, impressed by everything he does. The ship has one of those really long Greek sounding names and he and Rodney soon get into an argument over renaming it. Postponing the debate, John tells him they'll name it later.

The radio signal from the Daedalus is barely coming through, so John has Rodney get communications online to see if they can boost the signal.

As Rodney leaves to go work on it, he pats John's arm. Weird, Rodney doesn't usually touch him. It all happens too fast for John to really take it in.

Once Rodney makes some adjustments and they are able to communicate more clearly with the Daedalus, Caldwell tells John and his team to leave to shielded area of the Taranan outpost so they can be beamed back.

But John refuses to abandon the people they came here to help, he tells Caldwell to make as many passenger trips as he can, to ferry survivors in the mean time. He knows there isn't likely to be enough time to save everyone with such a strategy, but John sends Beckett, Teyla, and Ronan off to help treat the wounded and organize people into groups. They will beam as many survivors aboard the Daedalus as they can.

"And plan B, is what?" Caldwell asks.

"We found a sister ship to the Aurora, called the-" John smiles brightly at Rodney, "Orion."

"Oh." Rodney groans in disapproval.

"McKay is trying to get the sublight drive online."

"Really?" Caldwell sounds impressed, "Well, a ship that large, you should be able to get everyone else out in one trip."

"Yeah, well," John makes a face, "whether or not we live or die is all up to Rodney."

"This is so unfair." Rodney clenches his teeth and stalks away.

Norina gushes at Rodney over one of the consoles, "I have already learned so much from you, just over the last few hours. Perhaps one day I could study under you."

Jesus Christ. John stretches his head back in annoyance, looking to the ceiling.

"Yes, well." Rodney blusters, "I really-really look forward to that."

John keeps himself from groaning out loud. Sure Norina, Rodney would love to have under him.

"But first we need to get off."

Rodney did not just say that... What is the matter with him?

"Uh", Rodney amends himself, "first we need to get off the planet. First, we need to get off the planet, and then you can be under me..."

Before Rodney can continue, another eruption interrupts them from the planet below. John lunges toward the center control to assist Rodney and Norina. Somehow, he ends up with Norina in his arms while Rodney ducks under the control table.

"You all right?" John straightens back up holding Norina close.

"I'm fine." she smiles, seeming to enjoy the contact as she holds onto John's waist gingerly.

Yeah. John wouldn't mind having her under him, either.



Getting up from under the console, Rodney and sees John holding Norina. He is furious. John has been angling to get her attention ever since he realized she liked Rodney.

And Rodney should know firsthand, it doesn't take much of that one-on-one charm, for John to get under your skin. It's so unfair, John can get laid any time he wants to and Rodney hasn't been with anyone since... well, since John.

It's just not fair. Rodney pats the edge of the control table loudly and clears his throat announcing, "All good under there."

John is still just holding her, without a second thought. Rodney walks out of the room to rid his mind of the traitorous scene.


By the time John and Norina have made back to the ship with another wave of refugees, more fissures have opened, creating lava flows up to 30 feet thick above them. Even if Rodney can get the engines fixed, there is no way for them to escape now.

Of course, John immediately thinks to use the drones to blast through the hanger door, but that would bring the molten lava right down on them.

Still Rodney has another idea about getting the shields operational...



"What are you doing?" John asks.

"I have an idea." Rodney stares at the panel.

"What kind of idea?" John lifts his arms in frustration.

Rodney raises his voice, "Can't talk, busy-"

John insists, "Just give me a basic-"

"Not now, please!" Rodney shouts over him. He is lost in his own world

"I hate it when he does this." John confides to Norina in frustration.

Still, he knows Rodney is about to come up with something brilliant and feels just a little bit proud of him.

When the last group of Taranans arrive, Rodney finally explains his harebrained scheme. He hasn't been able to get sublights working; all he has done is bolster the shields. They won't last long, a mere 4.1 seconds to be exact.

John tries to get it straight, "So your plan is to not blow a hole in the hanger, but to sit here and wait for this cataclysmic eruption to take place?"

"With the shields and inertial dampeners at full strength, yes." Rodney emphasizes.

Beckett speaks up, "I think I may be missing something. Correct me if I'm wrong, but when the volcano erupts, don't we as well?"

"That's the plan." Rodney snaps his fingers and points.

"That's the plan?" John asks.

"That's the plan." Rodney smiles.

"That plan sucks."

"Aye." Beckett agrees.

Rodney still seems convinced. "This ship will be ejected along with the magma and steam several thousand feet in the air."

"The ship can survive that?" John is puzzled.

"For exactly 4.1 seconds, yes." Rodney lifts finger, "Look, the hanger should disintegrate. The moment we're clear, we open a brief hyperspace window, jump to space before the explosion depletes our shields and incinerates us, hmm?"

"Okay." John furrows his brows; this is starting to sound better.

Norina gazes at Rodney in admiration.

"What?" Rodney asks flustered.

Beckett admits. "That's very clever, Rodney."

"Huh. Well, don't thank me till it works..." Rodney looks uncomfortable, "Which it probably won't. Excuse me."

He ducks under the console, most likely to adjust something, not to hide. John is curious and leans down to see what Rodney is doing. Beckett and Norina crouch down as well.

Crying out in pain suddenly, Rodney yanks his hand back from the control panel.

"What?" Norina asks in concern.

"Uh, I bent my fingernail back! I hate that!" Rodney cradles his hand.

"Yes," Norina answers, "that can be painful."

"Yeah, will you look at that?" Rodney shows his finger to Norina.

Those are some great moves you got there, Rodney. "Are you done?" John asks impatiently.

"Almost." Rodney tells him, "Look, does anyone have any nail clippers?"

"Rodney." Beckett says his name with disapproval.

For the love of God, shut up about your bent nail. John smacks the side of Rodney's leg.

"Not helping." Rodney looks at John angrily, but at least he gets back to work.

Finally Rodney announces that they're good to go. He gets up from under the console, swaying for a minute, "Whoa."

"What?" Norina is hanging on his every word.

"Got up too fast." Rodney tells her.

Not long afterwards, the ship starts to rumble but Rodney tells them, "Don't hold your breath. It could happen any time in the next half hour."

The rumbling grows and John feels the burst hit them. They are moving up into the air... There is a flash and suddenly they are in orbit.

Rodney did it. The bridge is silent for a moment and the Beckett states the obvious, "It worked."

"You really are a genius." Norina glows.

Gripping the console in front of him with his arms outstretched, Rodney simply looks stunned.

"Rodney?" Norina asks.

"I'm good." He says quietly.

Norina smiles back at Rodney flirtatiously.


Fortunately it turns out that John's epic cockblocking seemed to do the trick with Norina. Not that he had gotten any either, but at least Rodney is still his. Not his...

But... Well, it's just that John is having crazy dreams about Rodney. During the day he keeps himself distracted by work and ogling every attractive woman he sees, but at night he dreams of McKay.

He dreams about that amazing blowjob, the best one he's ever had. Rodney's lips around his cock, sucking... Grabbing McKay in the supply closet and spreading him, pounding into him as deep as he could.

He dreams about McKay's eyes the night he took him from the front. The helpless wonder and surrender as Rodney's whole body moved with him. The feel of Rodney's back and chest as he ran his fingers over him in the shower.

Sometimes he just dreams about things that never happened, like holding Rodney. Not the hug John had given him in the Jumper, but something more. John knows just holding him would feel so good.

Then there are the dreams where Rodney is the one holding him instead. It is the old dream he had when he was marooned for so long. Had that possibly happened? The night they were watching a movie in his bed... Had Rodney held him?

John remembers curling up in exhaustion... and something else. Fear, a shudder had passed through him. And Rodney had put his arm around him, pulled him in close until he wasn't afraid anymore.

That fear that John has never told anyone about had gone away and he slept a deep and dreamless sleep. At least, it seems maybe it happened that way. Maybe it is only an image, a wish passed on from a dream. In the mornings, when John wakes, he aches for Rodney, for release.

He can't stop himself from reaching for his hard cock. It has become a habit that John is ashamed to even think about. He doesn't WANT to think of Rodney this way, but he does. He has tried thinking about other women or even other men, but it doesn't get him off the way he needs to get off.

There is only Rodney. And he needs Rodney -at least dream Rodney, so fucking bad. After he finishes, he tells himself that he will get this under control, that this was the last time, but he knows it is a lie he tells himself. He believes it long enough to look Rodney in the eye during the day, to be normal. But late at night and early in the morning, Rodney is his.
Like when I stupidly downloaded porn by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 37 takes places in Season 2: episode 20.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. Like when I stupidly downloaded porn

The more Rodney gets to know John, the more bizarre it seems that John ever fucked him in the first place. For starters, he seems to be completely straight and very attracted to women. Rodney has never otherwise gotten a hint that he might have inclinations for men.

Of course, the Colonel could be keeping it very, very discreet, but Rodney doubts that is the case. John has his pick of some very attractive men on the expedition and it has never seemed... Still, no one would ever have known about he and John either, so it could be a cover.

Rodney gets the feeling that John doesn't like anyone to get too close. He seems to vastly prefer women but keeps everyone at an arm's length. There still is no explanation for what happened in Antarctica. The only thing Rodney can come up with is that John must have been very sexually frustrated by the end of his time stationed there.

Perhaps he had thought that Rodney was someone who would come and go quickly, without ever meeting again. An anonymous fuck. But then they had become colleagues. So, John had managed to become friendly with him despite the awkwardness of their initial contact.

Well, there wasn't just the initial contact. Rodney tries not to think about what happened 6 months ago. He had given John a blowjob... but John had seemed to want it. He had cum so hard for Rodney.

John hadn't been under any alien influence at the time, which is Rodney's excuse. John had given in. Or had he? Rodney had been so much stronger at the time; he had overpowered him easily. But then Rodney had let go, given John the chance to stop it.

"I want it." John had told him.

Maybe if Rodney were a different kind of guy, stronger and surer, like Ronan. Maybe that is the kind of thing that turns John on. But Rodney hadn't been himself back on Ford's planet. That's not who he is.

It seems John has forgiven him. In fact, after that, it's been like Doranda never happened. John has forgiven him for demanding his trust professionally... and then fucking up massively by blowing up a solar system.

Rodney had thought the last legs of their connection had gone out over that. But now it is better. It's not quite how it had been, that first year. But things between them are good enough. And Rodney contents himself with that.



The Taranan Chancellor was gracious enough to allow them to use the Orion after they rescued everyone. It took Rodney about a month to get it marginally functional, but John is grateful for what they have. They are going to need it. Michael has brought a Hive ship to their doorstep.

Instead of attacking, the ship opens negotiations, they claim they are the only Hive to know of Atlantis and they want to be allies. To gain the upper hand against their rivals, they want to use the retrovirus Dr. Beckett developed, to turn them into humans they can feed on.

As a show of good faith, Michael sends jamming codes that would enable them to beam nuclear weapons aboard Wraith ships. But he warns that if Atlantis makes a move to destroy their Hive, they will alert every Wraith in the galaxy to this location.

It was what the retrovirus was created to do. Though John doesn't like the idea at first, he understands why Elizabeth decides to cooperate. They are essentially getting what they wanted.


Over the last couple hours John hasn't had much to do. Even though he knows Rodney is still aboard the Hive, he heads to the lab out of habit. He often brings Rodney coffee, so it seems like the natural thing to do.

He greats Zelenka, "I know you guys have been burning the candle at both ends, so..." John sets the tray and coffee cups down on the desk.

Zelenka pauses and after moment asks, "Any word from Rodney yet?"

"I'm sure he's fine." John feels suddenly transparent; he acts disinterested and doesn't make eye contact with Zelenka.

Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Zelenka nodding and looking at him intently. He takes a gulp of his coffee.

The silence feels awkward and John excuses himself. Rodney will be fine; Ronan is up there to look out for him if anything goes wrong.



Ronan is keeping a watchful eye on the Wraith who has been guiding he and Rodney through the Hive. The Wraith stops and turns to face Rodney; Ronan is ready to pounce if he makes one wrong move.

It asks, "Do you think we will be able to come up with an adequate delivery system for the retrovirus?"

"Hmm." Rodney's expression is self-assured, "Well, I know that you don't know me, so you couldn't possibly know this, but-"

"The short answer is yes." He cuts in. Ronan doesn't want to listen to one of Rodney's longwinded speeches about how smart he is.

The Wraith nods, saying, "This way." placing a hand on Rodney's shoulder.

Ronan lunges, throwing the creature up against the wall and holding a knife to its throat.

"Ronan, are you crazy?" Rodney exclaims in the background, "Do you wanna get us killed?"

"You don't touch him." He growls into the face of his enemy.

"He was guiding me down the hall, not sucking the life out of my shoulder." Rodney whispers urgently.

While Ronan keeps his grip, Rodney apologizes, "We are sorry. Say you're sorry."

Remaining silent, Ronan backs up warily.

"That will not be necessary." the Wraith says, "He was protecting his superior. I would have done the same."

"He's not my superior." Ronan keeps his eyes glued to the creature.

Rodney's voice sounds smug, "Certainly..."

Sensing reflexively that another one of those annoying moments is coming, Ronan turns to look at him.

"not in every sense." Rodney concludes.

He gives Rodney a dark look but turns his attention back to the Wraith.

"My apologies." The Wraith tells Rodney.

"You wanted to take us somewhere?" Ronan asks defiantly.

"Please, this way." The Wraith gestures.

Giving Rodney a dirty look, Ronan takes the lead.



John heads out on the Daedalus to test the retrovirus canisters with their new Hive ally. But as soon as the Daedalus exits hyperspace they are hit with weapons fire.

A pilot on the bridge yells, "I have 2 Hive ships are bearing down on our position, Sir. One of them is the friendly."

The ship is rocked by a small explosion. John scowls, "Not so friendly."

Caldwell returns fire but they are outgunned. This betrayal doesn't make sense. The Wraith don't even have the gas canisters they wanted. As Caldwell prepares to deploy nuclear weapons, John asks him wait a little longer for Rodney and Ronan.

"They've got until we reach weapons deployment range." Caldwell tells him, "If they can't activate their emergency transponders by then, there's nothing we can do about it..."

Trying to buy some time, John takes out a group of 302's to destroy the enemy hyperdrives. Dodging the Darts, they fight their way to the targets. They are almost there when Caldwell orders them all back to the ship.

John tells the other pilots to return to Daedalus, but he can't leave his two closest friends behind. He pushes forward to try to take out a hyperdrive himself.



Oh God. How can this be happening? Rodney struggles inside the cocoon but it has him completely immobilized. The Wraith said the Hive is heading for Earth. How could they know where Earth is?

Stricken in horror, Rodney tries to think it through by speaking aloud, "They couldn't have.... Even if they somehow deduced the location of Earth, they still wouldn't be able to get there, not unless they...

They downloaded something along with one of the Hive ship plans... Aw, something like spyware. It's like when I stupidly downloaded porn..."

Rodney self edits, remembering that Ronan is listening, "Music! When I downloaded music!..." Yeah, music. Not porn.

There was something in those files he missed. Oh. This is all his fault. Rodney laments, "...It has to be... I did this. I'm responsible for the destruction of my planet."

"If anybody was going to do it, it'd be you." Ronan answers from the pod next to his.

"Thank you!" Rodney thrashes against the mesh of the cocoon, "Thank you so much for that!"

"Stop worrying about it now. Just focus." Ronan sounds relaxed.

"Focus on what?" Rodney squawks, "What is there to focus on? I'm stuck in a cocoon."

"On getting out of here." Ronan whispers.

"Oh, right, of course!" Rodney is sarcastic, "Why didn't I think of that? Of course. Here it goes, um... No, still can't move... I'm pretty sure they're struggle-proof there, big guy."

Why does John like this stupid caveman so much? Something about him being the brother he never had... Rodney is glad he never had a brother.

Oh. Now he is obsessing porn collection. Nothing left but his own torturous thoughts to entertain him before his untimely demise...

Dr. Rodney McKay... his final moments spent worrying about porn. What an inglorious way to meet one's one demise, obsessing about who will see what's on his computer.

Half of it is pretty tame. But all that stuff about officers in the military, woman who look suspiciously like Colonel Samantha Carter... men who like suspiciously like Colonel John Sheppard...

Some of the man on man action is kinda dirty, even for- Damn it, he is not going to go out like this.

La, la, la... happy thoughts, bright blue skies...

La, la, la... destruction of Earth his fault....

La, la, la... everyone laughing about his porn...

La, la, la... brilliant scientist dies in obscurity....

La, la, la... soon to be eaten by a Wraith...

Rodney's head is a mess. Nothing pleasant to be found there. After indulging in a full blown panic attack he feels spent and finally relaxes.

"Now you see," He tells Ronan, "they're actually quite comfortable. Surprisingly warm, take all the pressure off the spine. I suppose they're as good a place as any to witness the end of humanity as we know it."

"You're wasting your energy talking." Ronan sounds out of breath.

"Okay," Rodney is permissive, "let's say a magic fairy comes down and grants you one wish and we break out. Then what, huh? We're still in the Hive. We're still traveling though hyperspace, probably in the massive void between our two galaxies where there aren't even planets, let alone Stargates.

What then, huh? We fly home on the wings of imagination? Is that what we do, Ronan?"

"You can sit here and die if you like, but I'm not giving up." Ronan says angrily.

"Oh, fine, I will." Rodney is carefree.

"Fine!" Ronan growls with clenched teeth.

"I wonder what they'll do to us?" Rodney continues talking to himself, "Feed on us probably? I mean, that's what they do."

"It's not going to come to that." Ronan tells him.

"Maybe." Rodney feels sad. His voice gathers some cheer as he says, "Earth will probably mount some kind of defense, in which case I imagine death would be instantaneous...

Unless we're tapped on a deck with a fire or something, then we'd be burned alive. Well, burned alive or suffocate. I wonder which would be worse, life sucked out by the Wraith or burned alive? I honestly couldn't consider two worse options."

"Stop talking." Ronan whispers hoarsely.

"You know what? Make me!" Rodney feels unflappable right now. "What are you doing?" He hears the sound of something cutting through Ronan's cocoon.

Then Rodney spies the glint of a knife sawing its way through, "Where did you get that?"

Ronan is emerging from the cocoon, "I was trying to get my hands free so I could get to it."

"Would it have killed you to tell me?" Rodney complains.

Ronan gives a final grunt and breaks completely loose. He walks up to Rodney's cocoon, "Maybe I would have if you'd shut up for more than a minute."

"What?" Rodney's voice gets high pitched, "Don't just stand there, cut me loose!"

"Only if you put and end to all this, 'We're gonna die, there's no hope' talk." Ronan holds out the knife and bargains.

"Well, now there is hope." Rodney proclaims.

"Ready?" Ronan places his blade.

"No!" Rodney feels scared again.

Ronan cuts anyway and Rodney tries to get out but is stuck on some tendrils, "God, a little help, would you?"

Finally, he wrests free with Ronan's aid. "Oh!" Rodney exclaims, "Oh, it's freezing out here!"

Unsympathetic, Ronan asks, "Would you prefer to go back in?"

"No." Rodney answers quietly.

"So, now what?" Ronan asks.

"What?" Rodney wrinkles up his nose.

"How do we get out of here?" Ronan elaborates.

Rodney begins, "Well, I don't'..." he trails off and clamps his mouth shut.


"You said no more death talk." Rodney reminds him.

"McKay?" Ronan keeps his voice low and even.

"Look, fine," Rodney tries to keep himself from panicking again, "we're out of the cocoons. So what? We're still stuck on this ship? And there's no way off it without... Well any survivable way."

"You'll think of something." Ronan tells him confidently.

Rodney whines, "It's not a question of thinking..."

"You'll think of something." Ronan says more firmly.

"Fine can we at least go somewhere else? Can you get this off me?" Rodney claws at one of the Wraith entrails left behind from the cocoon. "It's down my back! It's down my back!"
John's fingers brush Rodney's lips by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 39 takes places in Season 3: episode 1.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. John's fingers brush Rodney's lips

Wandering around the corridors, he and Ronan manage to remain undetected for the better part of a day. Ronan convinces him they should attempt to sabotage the ship and so they set out to find an interface system to see what kind of damage they can do.

Suddenly the ship is rocked by a massive explosion. Rodney looks up at the ceiling, "What the hell?"

More small explosions follow. Someone is attacking the ship. They duck behind a pillar to avoid some Wraith running through the halls. They ship is engaged in a battle of some kind. When the hall is clear, they move back out to continue searching.

After finding some controls, Rodney gains access to the system. The ship is rumbling in a most unsettling way. He complains to himself while Ronan keeps a lookout and demands updates.

"Okay," Rodney tells him, "this ship has been seriously damaged. It's hard for me to find something to overload."

Then Rodney hears John's voice, "Let Mikey try it."

How is John here? And with Michael!?

Ronan pulls out his blade at the sight of Michael.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa." John approaches with his hand up, "He's trying to help us."

"Where did you come from?" Rodney is overjoyed to see John.

"I managed to latch onto the hull of the Hive before it went into hyperspace." John tells him"

"Nice move." Ronan stands down.

"Saw it in a movie once." John quips.

The ship is rocked by another large explosion. John looks to Michael, "We've got to get to the Daedalus."

"The Daedalus? The Daedalus is here?" Rodney is stunned.

"First we need to get to the transport." Michael responds.

"Now why should I trust you?" Ronan looks at Michael murderously.

Michael steps closer to Ronan, "Because I'm trusting you."

He hands Ronan his weapon. Then Michael turns his back and begins to walk towards John, but Ronan pulls out his gun and powers it up.

John's hand closes over the energy pistol and he lowers Ronan's arm, "Because I said so."

Rodney looks to Ronan to see if it will be enough to still the savage beast in him. Ronan lets go and puts away his weapon. It is amazing to see how much respect and loyalty Ronan has for John. Not as much as Rodney has for John, but still, impressive.



As John pilots the Dart out of the bay, he starts immediately broadcasting on the Daedalus com frequencies, "This is Colonel John Sheppard. Authentication code Alpha Seven Tango Three. Please respond."

"Colonel Sheppard, we'd written you off." Caldwell answers.

"Now don't get all emotional on me now. Look, I've got McKay, Ronan, and Michael aboard a Wraith transport."

"Michael?!" Caldwell barks.

"Yes, sir." John answers, "And he's got a plan I think you're gonna like. It probably won't be long before they start shooting at us."


John finds the Daedalus in shambles. It has no shields, is out of nukes, drifting and venting atmosphere with only 9 hours left of breathable air. At least the Orion was able to take out the second Hive ship before it went down. Caldwell was able to beam the crew back to the Daedalus, but it is a wonder they survived at all.

Whatever the retrovirus did to Michael, it seems that his people no longer see him as one of their own. He claims that he was also deceived about the Wraith's true intentions; he honestly thought they were planning to use the retrovirus. Michael gives his cooperation, helping the Daedalus come up with a plan for survival.

They can't risk the Hive making it to Earth or sharing the intel with others. And since the disabled Wraith ship has the only breathable oxygen within light years, they use Michael's jamming codes to send in the retrovirus gas and neutralize the Wraith. If they can wait them out long enough, the Wraith will become harmless humans with no memories.

Michael reluctantly agrees to pilot the Wraith vessel once they get on board. The retrovirus needs 10 hours to run it's course and they are almost out of breathable air, so they rotate the crew in and out of the 302's. They wait as long as they can, but CO2 levels are getting dangerously high aboard the Daedalus.

Finally, John goes in with a strike team to make sure it is safe. There are bodies of transformed Wraith lying on the floor. Some of them are walking about with pale and confused human faces. John has his men find a holding chamber for the survivors and they bring the rest of the Daedalus crew aboard the alien ship.


The next few days are rough. The crew has to make it back to Atlantis with very little food or water. John barely eats at all. He sets most of his rations aside for Rodney, since he is hypoglycemic.

Of course, he doesn't tell Rodney what he is doing. But John keeps a watchful eye on him, and doles portions out when Rodney is looking especially jittery. Near the end of the trip, Rodney is in pretty bad shape.

John goes to check in on him, where Rodney is working down at a remote Wraith command center. When he asks Rodney how it is going, Rodney just mumbles something incoherent in reply.

"Are you feeling okay?" John looks at him with concern.

"Of course," Rodney waves his hand dismissively, "I'm okay, I'm just irritable and hungry."

He leans over Rodney's shoulder to look at the alien characters. They make no sense to him but Rodney seems to be able to decipher them. Then he looks back at Rodney's face. His eyes are almost closed. No, they are fluttering...

Before John realizes what is happening, Rodney faints -or whatever- passes out on floor. John doesn't manage to catch him completely, but at least softens the blow before his heads hits the floor.

He pulls Rodney up against the side of the console. Rodney is out cold. He can't sit up by himself. John presses the back of his hand against Rodney's cheek and then forehead. He is cold and pale.

"McKay!" John speaks loudly, "Rodney! Wake up!"

"Mmm," Rodney's eyelids flutter, but he doesn't rouse completely.

His hands are shaking; it must be the hypoglycemia. John keeps his arms on Rodney's shoulder and guides him to lay down with his head propped up on John's legs.
Opening his a vest pocket, John and takes out what he has left, about a third of a Powerbar.

"Rodney... " John tries to wake him again.

"Rodney. Rodney! Come on!" He shakes Rodney's shoulder.

"You need to eat, buddy." He breaks a smaller chunk off the end and presses into Rodney's hand.

But Rodney doesn't hold onto it. John closes his hand over Rodney's, pushing his fingers together around the bite of food.

"Rodney, Come on..." John is worried, "Got some food right here, you just need to..."

"Food, Rodney. Eat!" He lifts Rodney's hand to his mouth and shakes it so that Rodney can feel his own fingers on his lips.

Finally, John uses his own fingers to touch Rodney's lips...

Why are they so soft? He brushes them lightly and coaxes his mouth to open.

The food is in his mouth now, if he would just..."

"You have to eat! Eat, Rodney!" John speaks loudly. Rodney seems almost conscious; maybe a little... he makes a small noise, seems to take notice and moves his lips.

"Yes. Eat. Good." John encourages him, as Rodney chews the morsel.

"More." John quickly shoves the rest of the Powerbar into Rodney's hand; Rodney takes the whole thing in his mouth and chews. His eyes are still closed and his hand still shaking in John's.

Keeping a firm grip on Rodney's open palm, John rocks him slightly.

"There you go." He watches as Rodney tries to open his eyes. "Get your blood sugar up and... Yeah. You with me?"

"What happened?" Rodney swallows and looks up with his eyes barely open.

"You, ah... You passed out." John smiles.

Struggling to open his eyes, Rodney moves to get up.

"Whoa. Whoa. Whoa" John stops him, "Just, stay there for a minute."

"Thanks for... not saying the other thing." Rodney mumbles.

John smiles and lowers Rodney's hand to his chest. It isn't shaking anymore. He should let go of Rodney's hand... but he holds onto it, moving his fingers lightly over the back of Rodney's palm. He has always loved Rodney's hands; they are so expressive when he talks. And the skin is so, so soft.

Someone could come in and see them like this. What would he say? It is easily explainable, isn't it? And John would hear someone if they were coming down the hall... But he just wants to make sure Rodney is going to be okay.

Looking sleepy, Rodney's gazing up at John.

"How you holding up?" John smiles tightly.

Blinking a few times, Rodney just nods.

"Should be back home in a couple hours." John tells him, "Just... hold on till then, okay?"

Rodney gives another nod.

He can feel Rodney's hand trembling under his again. He thought Rodney had stopped shaking? His blood sugar must have crashed pretty hard. John keeps moving his fingers in a reassuring sway over Rodney's hand.

"Okay..." Rodney closes his eyes briefly, he opens them again, "Uh, the room is still spinning."

"Just give it a minute to kick in." John sweeps his fingers across Rodney's skin.

"I thought there wasn't anymore..." Rodney frowns with his eyes half closed.

"Yeah, they found some." John lies, "But that's the last of it."

Giving John a strange look, Rodney sighs deeply, "I –I think I can get up now."

As Rodney struggles to his feet, John holds him steady. His hands move to Rodney's shoulders to assist him.

Then Rodney gives John the same strange look and tells him, "Okay. I can stand on my own."

When he lets go, Rodney wobbles, bracing himself against the console.

John reaches out, but Rodney gestures him back, "No, I'm good. I got it."

"Are you sure?" John asks with concern.

"Yep, I'm fine." Rodney turns his back to John, working on the console again.

"Blood sugar levels restored." He says confidently.

Conceding, John leaves to go check on the prisoners.

By the time they reach Atlantis John feels ready to pass out himself, but keeps his voice strong as radios in, "Atlantis, this is Sheppard. Come in."

"John!?" Teyla sounds relieved on the other end.

Elizabeth chimes in, "You made it?"

John knows it is probably a shock, seeing all of them show up in a Wraith ship. He tells them, "We're out of food, water, and we haven't slept in days, but, yeah, we made it. So now would not be a good time to fire on us. After all, you wouldn't want to damage your new Hive ship."
Oh God- John is holding him by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 40 takes places in Season 3: episode 2.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. Oh God- John is holding him

Being sufficiently recovered from the recent ordeal, Rodney heads out to assist with repairing the Daedalus. He gets his team in place and begins the arduous task of piecing the ship back together. At least there is plenty of food now. The Daedalus isn't space worthy yet but it is a start.

He focuses on the Daedalus for a couple weeks, then braces himself to work in the Hive ship Michael piloted back to Atlantis. He isn't looking forward to getting back on the Hive. All those creepy Wraith/human creatures are in still in stasis aboard it.

Since the Hive's power generating capacity has been nearly destroyed, it is not possible to keep the Wraith suspended in the pods. Elizabeth eventually comes to a decision about what to do with the Wraith survivors; they, along with Michael, will continue to be given doses of the retrovirus and marooned on an isolated planet where Carson will study them their progress.

When John and Ronan return for a briefing with Elizabeth, Carson isn't with them. He has opted continue the experiment and to find a way to make the transformations more permanent. Of course, John left him with a crew of armed guards.

Elizabeth tells the team she is happy to be back from her interview with the IOA on Earth. She smiles at them all warmly.

"I'd just like to say that seeing you now, sitting across from me... looking your faces." Elizabeth stops and looks emotional.

She takes a breath and continues, "It makes me feel very..." Elizabeth trails off and looks down.

"You don't have to say it." John speaks up.

"We feel the same way you do." Teyla leans forward on the table.

Rodney feels awkward and makes a sarcastic joke, his default setting, "Oh, she feels hungry, too?"

Then he looks back to Elizabeth and sees he has made her smile.

He gives her heartfelt expression to let her know how much she means to him. Rodney feels that way about everyone in this room, John, Teyla... well, maybe not Ronan. But if Carson were here, the room would contain everyone in his surrogate family.

Elizabeth asks Teyla how it went attempting to use her Wraith DNA to fly the ship and Teyla tells replies that it was more difficult than she had hoped.

"And that was just flying in a straight line," Rodney interjects, "I mean she'll never be able to pull of anything complex, like, combat maneuverability, weapons control.

John swivels in his chair and asks Rodney, "How many maneuvers can you pull off with your manual interface."

"Well there's, um..." Rodney sees the point; he taps his finger on the table nervously, "Does standing still count as a maneuver?"

"No." John frowns.

Elizabeth smiles in amusement. The door opens and Rodney turns to see a man with a briefcase walk in.

He announces to the room, "Well, sorry I'm late. My interviews are running a little longer than expected."

"And you are?" John asks.

The man is opening his briefcase with his back turned to them and Elizabeth answers for him.

"Richard Woolsey. He is chief liaison for the international committee that overseas the Atlantis expedition. He will be conducting individual interviews with each of you."

Woolsey rolls a chair forward and speaks with an arrogant demeanor, "As well as observing all senior staff meetings."

He sits in his chair and rolls it into Elizabeth's spot, forcing her to move.

"Right." Elizabeth says, graciously moving aside.

Rodney feels an instant dislike for the man.

"So, what did I miss?" Woolsey asks smugly.

John points a thumb behind him, "Rodney was about to run down all the progress he's made adapting the Hive controls."

Oh, John is going to pay for this later when Rodney's superior country, Geldar, kicks his remedial ass all the way to the Stone Age. Rodney stares murderously at the back of John's head.

"Excellent, please continue." Woolsey narrows his eyes.

Rodney gives a tight smile, and tells John, out of the corner of his mouth, "Thanks."

After giving an elaborate explanation of nothing, Rodney suffers through the rest of the briefing. By the time it is over, Rodney is sure he hates Woolsey. At least he doesn't seem to be alone in that sentiment.


When Rodney returns to the control room he sees something disturbing. There is a Hive ship on long-range sensors headed straight for the planet where they left Carson and the prisoners. It could be possible that a large group of Wraith may be able to strengthen the normal telepathic link and send out a distress signal to another ship.

With the hyperdrive on the Daedalus is still offline, they have no choice but to use their Hive to get there, even through it is badly damaged and won't survive an encounter with another ship.

They arrive at the planet, just ahead of the other Hive and are able to rescue Carson. All other Atlantis personnel have been killed. The fail-safe nuclear device they left behind does not detonate. They can only assume Michael disabled it.

Since they can't risk another Hive ship learning what Michael knows about them and Earth, they do the only thing they can with their meager resources -Launch the entire ship at the camp coordinates on the planet. They can only hope that they are able to destroy everything on the surface in time

Now they will just have to sit in their cloaked Jumper, waiting for the Daedalus to mount a rescue mission. It may be a while, since it is still under repairs. The team settles themselves in for the long haul, divvying up rations and whatnot. These cramped quarters are going to be even more uncomfortable than waiting it out in the Hive.

They stay awake as long as they can, then shuffle into makeshift sleeping arrangements. Teyla and Carson get the benches in the back. Somehow Rodney ends up sandwiched in between Ronan and John on the floor. Great. At least he gets his own meager blanket.

Ronan turns to his side, his back facing Rodney like a big shelf. Rodney rolls his jacket into a makeshift pillow and lies stiffly on his back. No matter how tired he is he just can't imagine sleeping like this. As John kneels down by his side, he gently shakes Rodney's shoulder.

Looking up, Rodney sees John has part of a powerbar in his hand. "I forgot to give you the rest of your last ration."

His stomach growling, Rodney takes it from him gratefully with a quizzical expression, "Are you sure this was mine?"

John nods as if he could care less and continues trying to make a softer surface to lie on with various items of clothing and a small blanket.

As Rodney watches him, John comments, "I'd rather skip the blanket if it means lying on something softer than this floor."

"Um, you don't have to give me extra... I-"

"Rodney." John's voice is authoritative, "Go to sleep."

Fine. Rodney finishes eating the last of the Powerbar, sighs, and closes his eyes.

He is aware of time passing... Somehow he is able to drift off into a light sleep.


As Rodney adjusts, he is surprised by how comfortable and warm he feels. Who would have thought the floor of the Jumper could provide a good night's sleep? He starts to stretch... Suddenly, strong arms pull him back.

Oh, God. John is holding him. How did this happen? Rodney is lying on top of one of John's arms... he must have rolled onto somewhere in the night.

And now both of them are clasped firmly around Rodney, holding him to John's chest. He doesn't dare move. He has a feeling that John would be very upset if he realized...

"Rodney" John murmurs softly, "...'S... keep you safe."

Oh. John... Rodney's chest tightens with emotion. In his own way, Rodney always knew John cared... He knew that John was looking after him by giving him those extra rations. If only John cared for him the way Rodney wanted him to. But he lets himself relax into the embrace and enjoy it.

John always smells so good, woodsy, manly... a hint of Aqua Velva. He doesn't dare move when John's hands lightly run over his chest. He just submits to the wonderful sensation of being so close.

Just for the moment. Then he'll find a way to extricate himself before John realizes. But for now he'll just let himself drift...


The next time Rodney awakens, John's arms are hanging limply around him. Okay, he should be able to roll over without waking him. Reluctantly, he turns away from the softer bedding, back to his own narrow confines.

He is still lying on part of John's arm. And just then, John stirs.

Rodney freezes as John attempts to move. He doesn't seem fully conscious as he pulls his arm out from under Rodney and turns to face the wall.

As Rodney lays there in the dark, trying to get back to sleep, he can't stop thinking about earlier when they were on the Hive ship. He had been lying in John's lap... And John had touched his lips to wake him up. Oh. He can't stop thinking about the feeling of John's fingers brushing across his lips. Softly opening them...
Pinning Rodney to the wall is John's job by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 41 takes places in Season 3: episode 3.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. Pinning Rodney to the wall is John's job

Rodney is disappointed by the results of their search. They only find one lousy gate. How is he ever going to get the intergalactic gate bridge completed at this rate?

It may have been Colonel Carter's idea, but he is the one that is going to make it happen. If they can seed enough Stargates across the void between Pegasus and the Milky way, they'll be able to take a Jumper back and forth without taxing the ZPM or waiting 3 weeks for the Daedalus. All in all, travel time could be cut down to 30 minutes.

When they return to brief Elizabeth, Rodney complains, "I'm never going to meet the quota at this rate."

Coughing from his head cold, John squints, "What quota?"

"My quota." Rodney blinks at him.

Lifting a hand dismissively, John reminds him that they won't be able to begin in earnest until the Daedalus repairs are completed anyway. He asks Elizabeth, "Did Beckett bring back anything worth anything?"

Elizabeth answers, "No, he hasn't returned yet. He radioed in earlier and said he'd like to stay a little longer. Apparently he's found something of interest."

"Hmm." Rodney gives a miserly grunt, "Well good for him."


Carson returns soon enough. It seems he has brought someone back with him, that lout they met on a recent mission, Lucius.

They join Elizabeth to speak with Carson in the observation deck. Looking down, Rodney can see the isolation room where Lucius is being held. He recalls how Lucius had seemed so sure they the team would trade anything he wanted with them.

First he demanded a Jumper and when John had humorously refused, he had tried to ask John how he got his hair 'to go like that'. Rodney has often wondered why John's hair seems to stand up from his head in all directions. He has seen John with his hair wet, and even then it stays ruffled in a kind of perpetual bed head. Rodney's most educated guess is, an abundance of cowlicks.

"I can't believe you brought him here without permission." Elizabeth is irate.

"I didn't think you'd mind." Carson seems unconcerned.

"You didn't think I'd mind?" Elizabeth is shocked, "You know the protocols. You even helped come up with them."

"There's so much he could offer us!" Carson innocently insists.

"Is this the same guy who said he could cure my cold in a week?" John asks.

Carson insists that Lucius has priceless medicine as well as many valuable herbs and spices, and gourds.

He can't believe his ears. Rodney can't stop himself from asking scornfully, "Did you just say gourds?"

"Yes, Rodney," Carson sounds hurt, "gourds. We don't know everything, despite what you may think."

Carson doesn't seem like himself and Rodney is perplexed.

"He could prove to be a very powerful ally." Carson confides to Elizabeth, "He's a very wise and kind man."

"Are you feeling all right?" Elizabeth narrows her eyes at Carson.

"What do you mean?" Carson asks oblivious to her concerns.

John frowns, "It's just you're acting a little..."

Elizabeth finds the word, "Smitten"

"I had another word in mind." John says.

While Rodney and John head back out to scout for more gates, John tells Elizabeth to be careful checking the guy out. "Tell Teyla and Ronan not to let him out of their sight." He adds.


Their next foray out gate hunting proves even less fruitful that the first. There was one gate that could have been used, but John tells him it is out of the question.

On the way out of the Jumper bay Rodney argues, "One tiny settlement on the entire planet. Look, all we have to do is relocate them."

"We're not evacuating an entire planet so we can take their gate." John shakes his head at him.

Rodney looks around the control room. Where is everybody? There is just one guy standing off the side idly.

He greets Rodney and John in a casual manner, "Hey! Welcome back."

"Where's Zelenka?" Rodney asks.

The answer is nonchalant, "Well, he's not here."

"No one's here." John observes.

The guy just stands there unconcerned.

John throws his hands out emphatically, "Where is everyone?!"

The guy says they are probably with the others, hanging out with Lucius.



They two of them head to the cafeteria. It is packed with people. Lucius is sitting in the middle, telling his boring stories. The audience is rapt in attention.

As John gets closer he sees Ronan perched next to Lucius. In fact, all the senior staff are here. Everyone but he and Rodney.

What the hell is going on? Everyone is acting... very smitten. John places his hands on his hips and takes in the disturbing scene.

Elizabeth has her hand on his cheek and she is purring, "Amazing."

"You did it?" Ronan asks Lucius guilelessly.

"Oh, oh, yes, oh, my giant friend." Lucius tells Ronan, "I did and let me tell you this, I had no trouble finding female companionship that night, if you know what I mean!"

The crowd erupting into sounds of enthusiastic approval.

"Repeatedly!" Lucius laughs heartily.

The room breaks into peels of laughter. Ronan grasps Lucius's arm affectionately and Elizabeth sidles up to place her hand on his knee. This is so, so wrong.

John looks at Rodney and the two of them stare at each other in bewilderment. They manage to corral Elizabeth, Ronan, Beckett, and Teyla into a private room to get to bottom this.

"What the hell is going on?" John asks.

"What do you mean?" Elizabeth looks unconcerned.

"What do I mean?" John narrows his eyes, "We leave for a few hours, and Lucius has turns you all into Stepford wives!"

"What did he do to you?" Rodney has look of disgust in his face.

Elizabeth looks back at Ronan, Teyla and Beckett. They all seem to be an agreement as Elizabeth insists, "Absolutely nothing. Carson was right about him."

"I agree." Teyla grins, "He has much to offer us."

"Herbs and gourds?" Rodney folds his arms and asks uneasily.

"Please, the medicines alone are worth whatever he asks." Beckett sounds defensive.

"Are you really telling me the ointment is worth something?" John makes a derisive face.

"I haven't actually tested it." Beckett shrugs.

"Oh, you're just taking his word for it." Rodney sounds angry.

Ronan take issue with the challenge, "You got a problem with that?"

"Me?" Rodney's tone changes, "Uh, no." He points at John, "He might."

Trying a new line of questioning, John asks, "Teyla, this is the man who asked you to be his 7th wife?"

She looks embarrassed about her earlier refusal, "I know. I hope I didn't upset him."

"You just haven't taken the time to get to know Lucius." Beckett pleads.

"Carson is right." Elizabeth says enthusiastically, "Again. Look, I think he could be a great asset to us. He has traveled extensively throughout this galaxy and gathered a tremendous amount of intelligence."

"Has he shared any of this, uh, intelligence?" John asks.

"Not yet, but" Elizabeth smiles, lifting up a gourd with a candle stuck awkwardly in the middle, "he did give me this."

Elizabeth and the others smile appreciatively at the gourd. Okay they have officially lost it. Their judgment has been completely compromised by whatever Lucius did to them.

John looks at Rodney and he appears as horrified by this as John is.

Ronan gazes at the gourd lovingly. "A very wise and kind man."


The two of them split up to investigate and later John meets Rodney back at his lab.

"This is creeping me out." John says, pacing the room.

"Yeah, reminds me of an old Batman episode, actually." Rodney checks the city's data logs on his laptop.

John sits next to Rodney and looks at the screen.

Rodney types and tells John, "Catwoman used a drug to put a spell on Batman, making him fall in love with her. Ended up doing all kinds of evil things for her."

Lifting his head, Rodney tells him, "It's kind of a turn on, actually. Its Julie Newmar in a cat outfit..."

Offhandedly John agrees, "Eartha Kitt was Cat Woman."

"Not till Season 3" Rodney smiles with a finger in the air.

"Really?" John looks up at Rodney.

"Yeah. You didn't know that?" Rodney looks at John like his opinion of the other man has just taken a considerable nose-dive.

John shakes his head as Rodney continues looking down at him with that distasteful expression. Somehow John feels embarrassed despite himself.

Only Rodney could make feel him embarrassed about not knowing some dorky comic TV trivia. He isn't sure why he cares what Rodney thinks anyway.

"Oh so, anyway," Rodney finally turns his attention back to matter at hand, "I did a little investigating and..." He pulls up a video, "Surveillance footage from his quarters."

The video shows Lucius drinking something from a small bottle. Rodney pulls out the bottle and shows it to John.

"I took the liberty of searching his room. There's some residue from the liquid still in the vial. It'll take some time to break it down. I could have used Carson's help on this, but, um-"

"He's off picking daffodils for his new friend."

"Right." Rodney concedes.

It turns out there just isn't enough of the liquid left in the bottle. They are going to need more to analyze it properly or make an antidote.

Rodney sounds distressed when John says he will go back to Lucius's village to retrieve some. "What, you're leaving me here alone?"

"Well, you said you need the liquid." John lifts his arms.

"Yeah, but the place is turning into a nuthouse!" Rodney complains.

"So, somebody's got to stay." He reasons, "Just keep away from the nuts. And you've got to disable the DHD as soon as I'm gone to prevent anybody from dialing out, okay?"

Before Rodney can argue further, he heads off.


John finds a very different village than the colorful happy hamlet he had seen before. Everyone in the village seems sick. They beg John to tell them where Lucius has gone; they say it hurts them to be away from him for so long. When John inquires about the liquid, they offer to give him some if he will bring Lucius home.

When John first steps through the wormhole back to Atlantis he sees people mulling about the gate room in a normal enough fashion. Then, he hears the boorish laughter of Lucius. He turns his head up to Elizabeth's office and sees Rodney laughing with him. Not good.

He walks slowly and deliberately to the office, scowling as he sees Rodney clasping Lucius' arm in mirth.

"I thought you were going to stay away from the nuts." John tells him.

"Yes, well," Rodney smiles and gestures to Lucius, "I tried to keep to myself."

Placing an affectionate arm on his new friend, Rodney continues, "but Lucius here was concerned for me, so he just came down, Ronan held me against the wall, and Lucius and I had a nice, long talk.

"Oh, you did?" John grimaces.

This whole situation is disturbing but what John feels really bothered by, is the idea of Ronan holding Rodney up against a wall. John doesn't want anyone, other than himself, holding Rodney up against a wall.

Pretending to share in the amusement, John discovers that Lucius has sent Teyla, Ronan, and Beckett to the planet where the Wraith have set up an outpost.

Given that Rodney is now under the influence of whatever this thing is John shouldn't be surprised he failed to disable the DHD. He tries to get through to Rodney but it is no use.

The image of Rodney, struggling and being pinned up against a wall is something John can't get out of his mind. A burn of anger swells in his gut.

Lucius gives John a saccharine and menacing smile.

Before long the gate room is suddenly abuzz with activity.

Beckett's voice comes over the com, "Atlantis this is Beckett! We're coming in hot!"

Hoping no one has been injured, John races down the stairs with the others. Wraith weapons fire is coming through the open wormhole.

Suddenly the Teyla, Ronan, and Beckett appear. They are laughing hysterically and carrying big bags full of something, but they seem to be intact.

"You all right?" John asks.

"Yeah, it was a little rough, but we're good." Ronan grins.

"It was all terribly exciting." Beckett tries to catch his breath.

"Well," John points out, "I guess we can assume there are Wraith on that planet."

"Yes, many." Teyla laughs.

"Now don't overreact, John." Elizabeth says.

He turns to her with disgust, "Are you kidding me? You send a team, led by Beckett, to planet full of Wraith. How do you expect me to react?"

"Well," Elizabeth is pithy, "firstly, they volunteered-"

Beckett interrupts, "And secondly," He lifts his bags triumphantly, "We got the herb!"

The room claps and cheers.

Lucius points at Beckett, "Carson, I will tell people of the tale of your bravery for many years to come."

"You will?" Beckett steps forward with emotion.

"Yes, I will!" Lucius clasps him in hug.

"You sent them to get an herb?" John demands.

"We wanted to go." Teyla smiles.

John feels a fury building in him. He nods his head, "Okay. I've just about had enough." He reaches forward to grab one of the bags but Ronan pulls his pistol on him.

"Whoa." Ronan looks ready to fire as he glowers at John, "Don't touch it."

"What on Earth is wrong with you, John?" Elizabeth shakes her head, "We were just helping a friend, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Lucius leans over to Rodney, "I think there's something wrong with him."

"Hmm..." Rodney seems to agree.

Everyone in the Gate Room is staring at him with suspicion. Okay, maybe John has underestimated to situation here. They are about to turn on him or lock him up. Time for a change of tactics.

"You know what?" He tells them, "I'm just tired, it's this damn cold."

He turns to Lucius, and as much as it sickens him, he says, "I apologize."

"Maybe you should get some rest." Elizabeth still looks angry.

"You're probably right," John smiles amicably, "I just need a good night's sleep." He backs out of the room warily and plans his next move.

First, he snags Rodney computer and a couple drives from the lab, everything Rodney was using to research the liquid, and a bunch of medical supplies.

Then, he makes contact with Beckett, popping his head into the infirmary, "Uh, Doc? Can I speak with you for a sec?"

Beckett walks to the doorway and looks at him expectantly.

"I... think there might be something wrong with me." John tells him.

"It's all right, son." Beckett puts his hand on John's shoulder, "Admitting it is the first step."

Nodding as if he is ashamed, John tilts head to gesture towards the empty room next door, indicating a desire for privacy.

"So you finally came around, did you?" Beckett follows him in, asking, "You see once you get to know Lucius, he's really a very wise and kind-"

Pulling of his stunner, John shoots Beckett in the chest. He catches him on the way down and drags him off to the Jumper bay. After securing him, John then uses the manual interface to open the roof.

He takes the Jumper to a remote area on the mainland; then John pulls out the computer and tries to gain Beckett's cooperation.

"Call it an intervention..." John says as he walks over to one of the drives, "You probably don't realize it right now, but what you're going through is, uh, kind of like, uh... a detox."

John coughs suddenly into his fist, then clears his throat to continue, "Now, according to the research Rodney was able to do before joining the Lucius fan club, that liquid he's been drinking contains some kind of a... chemical.

It interacts with the body and causes a... secretion of a, of a, pheromone, and then there's something about gamma activity in the prefrontal cortrex"

"Prefrontal cortex", Beckett interrupts, "the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions."

"See?" John bats Beckett on the arm, "That's why I need ya. It seems that when people are exposed to this pheromone in close proximity, it makes them, uh... easy to influence, and the longer they're exposed, the worse the addiction gets."

"You mean literally an addictive personality?" Beckett asks with a stricken expression.

"That's what it looks like." John hopes he is getting through.

"It's rubbish!" Beckett shouts.

"Check for yourself." John points to the computer, "I will bet you a year's pay that the liquid in that vial is some kind of an extract made from the herb that you collected for him... He made you his mule."

"If this is true, why weren't you affected?" Beckett asks.

"My cold." John gestures to his nose, "I can hardly breathe. Plus, I haven't been around him much...

Look, I would just kidnap him and take him away somewhere till the pheromone wore off, but the people on his home planet are starting to get sick, and it looks like their gonna get worse before they get better. I don't want to put our people through that."

"You're doing it to me right now!" Beckett yells.

John gives Beckett a solid punch to the chest.

"Ow!" Beckett yelps.

"Buck up Carson!" John yells, "You haven't been exposed that long."

John grabs the other man by the shirt and peers at him intensely, "Look, I need you to figure out a way how to counteract this thing. There's got to be an antidote of some kind."

Beckett's countenance falters. John raises his brow quizzically. Is he getting through?

"I can't" Beckett chokes out the words.

He releases a sniffling Beckett from his hold and insists, "Yes, you can. You can beat it."

"But he needs me." Beckett begins weeping openly.

This doesn't seem like the right time to give Beckett another punch to the gut. John kneels down next him and pats his arm, "Hey, it's going to be okay... This'll pass-"

"No, he's..." Beckett is inconsolable, "He's the most important person in the world to me."

"No," John presses him, "you just think that now, but if you think back, a couple days ago... before you met Lucius."

"I, I won't have anybody if he's gone." Beckett sobs.

"Hey you, have lots of people." John leans in, "I mean, there's Rodney. You guys are good friends, right?"

Looking teary and unconvinced. Beckett sniffs.

"And hey," John continues, "you got me, I'm your friend too."

"You are?" Beckett looks at John; "I don't even remember you ever calling me by first name until today."

"It's a military thing," John lifts his hands, "doesn't mean we're not friends, Carson. What could be more friendly than a, a... well intentioned intervention?"

"I don't know," Carson hangs his head, "I just don't know anymore."

"What if..." John ventures, "we just see if I'm right first. You can be the judge. If I'm wrong, well, I take you back with a sincere apology... Will you just take a look?"

Carson stays in his stooped position, staring at the floor.

"Carson?" John shakes him by the shoulder gently.

"Okay, I'll look." Carson glances at John reluctantly.


After Carson has synthesized an antidote and inoculated himself, they let themselves get recaptured. Carson pretends to be under the influence still, so he can have time to produce enough of the antidote for everyone on Atlantis.

John lets himself be temporarily confined while Carson offers to give Lucius the ATA gene therapy so he can fly a Jumper himself. It seems like the plan has worked when Carson to comes to free John from his holding cell; he immediately goes to hide in one of the Jumpers, waiting for Lucius and Carson to make their appearance.

Once Lucius is inside, John grabs him roughly and secures his hands with a zip-tie. Lucius protests and looks to Carson for help.

Carson gives a poker face, "Save your breath. Your charm no longer has any effect on me." Then Carson shoves Lucius into the copilot seat.

Completely baffled by the betrayal, Lucius appeals, "No, no, but, Carson... We're supposed to be best of friends"

While goes to Carson administers the antidote to everyone on Atlantis, John keeps a holding pattern over the mainland. Just long enough for the effects to wear off and everyone to return to normal.
You got one -I want one -Even by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 41 takes places in Season 3: episode 3.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. You got one -I want one -Even

After he gets the serum, Rodney feels like an idiot and heads to the lab to clean up. He is almost done getting rid of everything but he decides to set aside a small amount of the herb, for research purposes. There is a small tincture of the stuff, he wonders if he should keep that too?

He unscrews the cap and sniffs the contents. It doesn't smell like anything really. Without thinking Rodney lifts it to his lips and takes a small sip. No taste. He puts it aside for safekeeping, knowing that it probably isn't a good idea.

It's just that a drug like this, with the power to influence cognitive decision making might come in useful one of these day. Like, on a mission.

With everyone on Atlantis immune, the medical teams have gone out to give the villagers from the backwater hamlet the antidote. John returns some hours later to take Lucius to the brig.

That evening over dinner, Rodney sits on a long table with everyone from the team, as usual. John happens to be sitting next to him and Rodney notices that John seems unusually attentive. Even when Rodney isn't talking, John gazes at him.

That's when Rodney realizes that John is the only one who has not been given an antidote. Aha. That explains it. The herb should wear off soon but Rodney decides to make the most it.

He smiles and turns to converse with John at length. It is really pleasant having someone hanging off your every word, especially John, who is prone to eye rolls and sighs when Rodney is talking. It is amazing, no matter what subject Rodney brings up, even the intergalactic gate bridge, John is rapt in attention. Rodney starts to feel a little guilty by the end of the meal and excuses himself early.

Back in his room, Rodney hunts for a missing drive. God this place is a mess, even for him. He pushes some clothes on the bed to the floor and spies it. He sits on his bed and hooks it into his laptop.

Rodney hears noise and looks up to see the door open by itself. It's not supposed to do that. Oh, it's John. Maybe his stronger gene can override the door mechanism somehow?

John looks flushed, smiling, and he quickly makes his way over to the bed, sitting next to him. "You left without saying goodbye."

With John's shoulder bumping against his, Rodney's face is flushed now.

"Oh? Oh, yeah. Uh, sorry... I was tired or stressed, you know? Long day."

"I know what you need." John put his hands on Rodney's shoulders and begins kneading the muscles without asking permission.

Oh. Okay, that's feels good, but it's really bad. Rodney shudders in pleasure.

He moves to stand up but John physically stops him. "Wait, Rodney, you're really tense, don't get up."

John sits up on the bed behind Rodney and he doesn't protest. His mouth has gone dry.

Suddenly John's hands are under his shirt entering from the waist and above the collar to gain access.

The shirt gets pushed up high to Rodney's chest, and then before Rodney realizes what John is doing, it has been pulled halfway off his head.

Flustered, he lets John untangle the garment from his head and arms. Rodney feels ridiculous now, shirtless... with John hands moving over his skin. John's hands are amazing... Oh, God. How did he let this happen?

But John is murmuring to him, caressing his back. "Come on Rodney, lay down and relax."

He stays sitting upright and stiff.

John reaches an arm around Rodney's middle and playfully pulls him to the bed. He pushes Rodney onto his stomach.

"Wait, Whoa –Whoa" Rodney protests.

Casually sitting on the back of Rodney's waist, John acts as if this is the kind thing that they do everyday. He trails his fingertips over the length of Rodney's back "So soft, Rodney. You've always been so soft."

What is going on here? Rodney's heart is pounding; his cock is getting hard under him. John's hands on him are pure bliss.

Oh. The warm, slightly dry quality of those long and strong hands. He has been missing John's hands for so long... all these years. It is even better than he remembered it.

The way he is lightly sweeping his fingers across Rodney's neck, arms, and back... It feels so tender and expressive. Rodney knows it is probably just the drug. John doesn't feel anything for him, but he is making Rodney ache.

He will put a stop to this... Just a little more, maybe?

A little more, but he will stop it before anything get too out of line. John begins working with thumbs, working his way down Rodney's, neck, then fans out, kneading the muscle between the neck and shoulder.

Oh. Yes. Most of the tension is there in his upper back... Well, lower back too... Rodney sighs in contentment, forgetting for the moment, the moral ambiguity of the situation.

"See, Rodney, I knew I could make it feel better if you just let me try... you know your back is beautiful?"

He tenses again. He's lying here with a hard on, under John. Fuck, he-

"There." John moves to other side using different technique, "How does the feel?"

"Good," Rodney squeaks.

"Wait here, a sec." John pats his hand on Rodney's shoulder blade, "I have something I want to try."

Rodney needs to get up and stop this but he frozen in place. He hears John open his night side table and pull something out. He can smell it now, it's his cocoa butter sunscreen moisturizer... and occasional lube. What is John thinking?

John's hands return to his back, softer, more lubricated. He able to artfully slide his hands into and around the skin. The massage is luxurious, John leaves nothing unattended. Even the shoulder massage morphs into an arm massage.

He shouldn't be so relaxed. But he feels helpless under John's touch. John sits further back, resting on Rodney ass while he digs into the lower spine.

God. Rodney can feel John's erection against his ass. He wants John to fuck him so bad. He is grateful that his own cock in being obscured between his bed and stomach. He can't let anything like that happen between them. John wouldn't be hard for Rodney if wasn't for the drug.

Working the tension completely out of Rodney's lower back, John ventures a little lower and massaging the top of Rodney's ass. He burning with desire now, wishing John really wanted him as much he wants John.

John sighs like he is finished and then collapses his chest onto Rodney's back. Rodney feels John's face and lips pressing into his neck, his cock pressing up against his ass.

"Mmm... Rodney". John's hands slide down Rodney's arms, he groans. John's lips start to trail along Rodney's neck.

This is too much, Rodney has to stop this.

He can feel John's hips grinding ever so slightly, moving his hard cock against Rodney's ass.

He stiffens, "John?"


"John... That was wonderful, that was really wonderful. I feel so relaxed, and, uh, I would just like to go to sleep now. Do you think I could do that... alone? Would you mind leaving?"

"Sure Rodney, whatever you want." John sounds disappointed.

"Sleep well." John gushes sweetly on his way out.

Rodney wakes the following day with a massive amount of guilt. Is there any way he can untangle this mess without anyone finding out? Maybe the herb will just fade from his system. After all, Rodney only took the smallest sip.

He gets ready to join the team. Today they are taking Lucius back to his planet. Rodney is anxious when he sees John. But throughout the day John appears to be acting pretty much the same as he always does.

Maybe a bit more attentive to Rodney. Less sarcastic, perhaps even a little bit sweet. Nothing that anyone else seems to notice though. Rodney hopes the effects will fade before too long.

The team heads back to Atlantis and they meet up with Elizabeth and Carson at the top of the stairs.

Elizabeth inquires about Lucius' homecoming.

"Well, they didn't kill him, although I do see a string of divorces in his future." John offers.

"That's if they haven't strung him up first." Ronan adds.

"Well," Rodney disagrees, "the townspeople are over their withdrawal, and on the mend, so I doubt that will happen."

Teyla speaks up, "That is, unless we discover he's revealed the location of Atlantis to anyone."

"I wish case," Ronan is stern, "I said I would track him down, hang him by his feet, and cut off his-"

"Thank you." Elizabeth interrupts, "We get the idea."

"So everyone here, ah..." John smiles in amusement, "back to normal?"

Elizabeth and Carson both look a bit ashamed.

"We're still fine, John." Elizabeth answers evenly.

"No lingering desires?" John teases, "Secret longings for his touch?"

"It's embarrassing enough without you constantly reminding us, thank you." Carson says uncomfortably.

It is funny, though, that John keeps reminding them. Rodney smiles.

"All right, all right" John smirks. He lets it go and turns around, affectionately grasping Rodney's shoulder, "Hey buddy, I'd better get back and clean your quarters before next scout."

He gives Rodney a few pats on the back on runs off.

Rodney blanches; the rest of the team is looking at him like he is the most evil man in the world. Oh fuck, he was just going to let the effects wear off... He tries to quickly excuse himself.

Teyla and Ronan block his exit, and Elizabeth's voice is icy, "Rodney."

With no escape available, Rodney tries for an appeal, "It was one teeny, tiny taste ...for research purposes."

"Burn it." Elizabeth is adamant.

"All of it". Carson is hot on her heels.

"Right now." Elizabeth continues.

"Fine." Rodney looks down, dejected. Now everyone will think even less of him than they already do, "Story of my life."

This time Teyla and Ronan let him pass, barely.

Rodney returns sullenly to the lab disposes of the remaining material.

When he returns to his quarters they are impeccably clean. He could bounce a quarter, if he had one, off of the bed. Rodney sits on the edge and sighs. He had thought maybe Ronan or Teyla would have stopped John from doing this.

Too ashamed to face anyone at dinner, he and stays in his room for the rest of the night, nursing his hunger with Powerbars and MRE's. What is he going to say to John?

When morning comes, Rodney sleeps in, he knows John gets up early and if he waits long enough he will miss him at mess hall. There is no mission today, just lab work to do.

By the time Rodney makes it to the cafeteria it is mostly empty, he eats his fill and stocks on as much as he can carry with him for later, just in case. What if John kicks him off the team? He probably deserves it.

He skips lunch, dipping into his reserve and then leaves early, despite Zelenka's objection. Grabbing a tray for dinner, he takes it to his room before he runs into John.

Rodney finishes his meal alone and is gloomily looking over some specs when the door chimes.

"Yes?" Rodney's voice cracks.

It is John. He is walking in. Okay, there is no avoiding this now.

John looks around the room, "I see it took you no time to make a mess of things again."

"Oh. Right." Rodney looks at his food tray and some disheveled clothing, on the floor "Yes."

There is a strange look on John's face, one Rodney doesn't recognize. Is it anger?

"John, I'm really sorry, I didn't intend for it to go so far. I was just testing and I forgot you hadn't had the antidote..." Had he forgotten?

"Well, I've taken it now." John smirks.

"Right." Rodney looks down, "I don't know what to say... There is no excuse, really. I don't know what to do to make it up to you. I understand if you want me off the team."

He looks up to John's face again, afraid of what he might see.

"I know." John is smiling, dangerously.

"What?" Rodney asks.

"How you can make it up to me."

"Oh. Okay. Whatever you want." Rodney is desperate.

John looks self satisfied, "I want..."

Knowing there has to be some kind of punch line, Rodney waits.

"A massage." John punctuates his words with definition.

Of course. Rodney's face falls, "Look, I am so, so sorry. It wasn't really my idea, but that isn't any excuse-"

Walking up to Rodney, John pushes him in the shoulder insistently, "I. Want. A. Massage... So give me my massage, Rodney and then we'll be even."

"We'll be... even?" Rodney looks up in utter confusion.

"Yeah." John smiles darkly again, "You got one, I want one. Even."

He is starting to wonder if John is serious when he sees him reaching into the bedside table and pull out the cocoa butter.

Reaching up with a lazy hand, John pulls his shirt easily over his head. His hair looking slightly more ruffled than it already does.

Rodney tries to keep his breath steady, staring wide mouthed at John's chest. His body is too beautiful, achingly perfect, with those sinuous tight muscles, sun kissed skin, long and lanky limbs. Rodney is frozen.



John sees Rodney's fearful expression and finds it funny that Rodney thinks he's mad at him. He laughs out loud. Poor Rodney hunches his shoulders and winces.

"Rodney," John takes a serious tone, "if you want to make it up to me, this is what you have to do."

"Now, move over and let me-" He shoos Rodney, making him move to the side of the bed.

"Thank you." John crawls up, lying on his stomach; he sighs in relaxation, pulling a pillow into himself.



Rodney stares at John's back, so long, lithe and defined. His body always seems to lean into everything naturally.

The arches are graceful, he can see the beginnings of John's pert butt curving at the edge of his pants. Rodney's cock hardens despite himself.

"And Rodney?" John is speaking again, "You'd better make it good."

Reaching for the jar, Rodney uses the movement to muffle his adjustments. He positions his cock so the head is folded over the top of his briefs. A trick he used in high school to hide unwanted erections. His cock is long enough to stay put that way.

If he is going to do this, Rodney doesn't want John to know he much he is lusting for him. He is sure John wouldn't want that. He straddles John but keeps himself propped up on his knees.

His hands are shaking as his opens the jar of lotion. How much should he use? Rodney takes some out, maybe too much, and then accidently drops it on John's back.

"Rodney." John complains.

"Sorry", Rodney moves his hands to smooth it out, "Sorry, I'll just... spread it out.
Oh, he isn't doing a good job so far. John had lovingly worshipped his back; it is only fair that he do the same. Rodney rubs it in and then begins to take enjoyment from his punishment.

He moves his hands up the arch of John's back, over his shoulders, and down his arms. It is intoxicating; he has never gotten to touch John like this before. Rodney lingers on his arms.

God, he is so hot. Rodney leans too far forward and his knees wobble a little.

"Relax, Rodney. Sit down." John instructs.

Thank God he tucked his cock up out of the way. Rodney lowers himself onto John's back. He would be mortified right now if John could feel his erection. He takes a breath and tries to relax.

Closing his eyes, he feels where John needs the knots worked out. Rodney works one side of John's shoulders and then the other until they feel completely loose.

Then he moves back down to John's arms. They don't seem to need it but Rodney lavishes attention on them before working on John's neck.

Rodney has always wanted to touch John's hair but he keeps himself in check. Instead he works his way down John's neck and spine. He shouldn't be doing this; it just fuels his feelings for John.

He feels so close and familiar, like he could turn John around and... and John would love him back.

But it's not that. Rodney has to remember not to get carried away.

Sitting back on John's pert ass, he massages John's lower back. Rodney lets his hands express all the love he wants to. He savors the feeling of John's skin. He will probably never get to touch him like this again.

When he finishes the low back, he works his way up again. He wants to make this last as long as he can.



John smiles into the pillow. Rodney is making it good, really good. He has been massaging him for over an hour. Rodney's fingers are warm to the touch and they feel so...

God, John is going to think about this later when he is jerking off. Why can't he stop thinking about Rodney this way? He just can't get him out of his head. There is something about Rodney that...

Well, Rodney was the first guy John slept with more than just the one time. And then there had been that blowjob... That had really pushed it over the edge.

John doesn't know if all blowjobs from guys feel like that, he doesn't think so. It was just Rodney. And Rodney, Rodney feels good. He makes John want to hold him against a wall and have his way with him. Oh, God.

And he's never gotten a massage from a guy either. John pushes his cock into the mattress in pleasure and wonders how he is ever going to stand up from this.

He wants to beg Rodney to bite his shoulder again, the way he did that time he sucked John's cock. He had made John tell him he wanted it.

Fuck. John still wants it. What is wrong with him?

Finally, Rodney stops and moves off of him.

But John wants grab him back down to the bed...

"Let me just wash my hands." Rodney is saying on the way to the bathroom.

John has to get out of here before Rodney sees how hard he is. He pulls his shirt back on and grabs one of Rodney's jackets he sees lying on the floor. Holding it over his tenting pants, he calls to Rodney in the other room, "Okay! We're even."

Then he bolts out of the room and heads for his quarters where he can take care of his aching cock.
Everyone loves Ronan by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 43 takes places in Season 3: episode 4.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. Everyone loves Ronan

Rodney attempts to tune the long-range sensors to pick up any transmissions similar to the Wraith tracking device they originally removed from Ronan's back. John is certain that Ronan is still alive. If he is, Ronan will not go down easily. Their best chance at retrieving him from the Wraith will be if he has been implanted with another tracking device.

Of course John wants to go after that stupid caveman at all costs. What Rodney didn't expect, is that he does too. Ronan would have tried to sacrifice himself for Rodney just as he did for John and Teyla back on the planet. Those villagers had believed that if they offered Ronan to the Wraith, they would be left alone. Ronan had pulled a knife and threatened to kill himself if they didn't let his friends go.

Truly, Ronan is one of the most honorable and loyal people Rodney has ever met; and he feels guilty now for begrudging him any kind of acceptance. They will do whatever they have to, to get him back from the Wraith.

Shifting a bit in his position, Rodney winces from pain. Before he escaped, those stupid primitive people shot an arrow into his ass. As long as he doesn't try to sit down it is okay. Lying on his stomach, Rodney continues to type into his laptop and search for transmissions.

"McKay?" John calls out into the lab.

"I'm here." Rodney answers from the floor.

As John walks over him Rodney muses, "You know, you really don't appreciate the simple things in life, like sitting."

John sits on the floor next Rodney, telling him, "I don't envy you... must be a real pain in the ass."

"Oh, how long did you work on that?" Rodney groans.

"Longer than I care to admit. How's it coming?" John studies the screen.

"Well, I think I'm almost there." Rodney types.

"Is this thing active?" John stares at the original transmitter they took out of Ronan.

"Don't worry." Rodney says dismissively, "I limited the power so it won't transmit our location to the Wraith. I just needed enough juice to determine the subspace frequency it broadcasts on."

"And now," Rodney continues to type, "I need to re-calibrate the city's long range sensors to pick up on it."

"Yeah, but these sensors only cover a small corner of the galaxy." John argues.

Rodney takes a patronizing tone, "Unless they're calibrated to pick up a signal being transmitted using subspace. How about I leave the bad jokes to you and you leave the brilliant science stuff to me?"

He pulls up screen and shows John a map of 7 locations where Wraith transmitters are currently emitting.

Pointing to one of the locations, Rodney tells him, "I'll bet anything that one's Ronan."

"Why?" John peers at it, "How do you know?"

"That's Sateda. It's Ronan's home planet."


They are not able to get Sateda's gate to open, so they propose to Caldwell, in a briefing, the idea that they use the Daedalus to go after him.

Caldwell doesn't want to risk the Daedalus, since he feels there is a good chance a Hive ship will be there. He rejects Rodney's idea that they could jump in and out of hyperspace fast enough to avoid detection.

"Look you know I want to help," Caldwell tells John, "but I will not put my crew and the only ship that we have in this galaxy at risk for one man."

John looks bitter. "One man who isn't a member of the U.S. military."

"I didn't say that!" Caldwell sneers.

"He's a member of my team," John strides over Caldwell angrily, "and he deserves the same respect as anyone on this expedition."

Elizabeth tries to plead the case, but Caldwell is firm.

"Fine," John tells him, "Then, just get us close. We'll take a cloaked Jumper the rest of the way."

Rodney feels compassion for Ronan and he doesn't even resent the care and concern he sees in John's face. He feels the same way.

"I'll go with them," Carson pipes up, "remove the tracking device before we get back on board."

"We'll be out of there before the Wraith even know what happened." John tells Caldwell.

Shaking his head, Caldwell warns, "I won't bail you out if you get into trouble."

John's demeanor is irreverent, "You say that as if we're always getting into trouble." He walks past Caldwell, and out of the room, before anyone can retort.

Rodney follows fast on his heels.



John sees Teyla approaching the small cafeteria on the Daedalus; she sits down with him and thanks him for going after Ronan with all guns blazing.

"Did you think we wouldn't?" John asks.

"He is an outsider."

"Not to me." John clarifies.

"I have often felt like an outsider among your people." Teyla admits.

"Well, maybe at first, but..." John tells her, "You know I've always trusted you."

She nods, "Yes. You and Dr. Weir have very accepting. But this has shown me how far you would go, even for someone who is not from your world."

"Look Teyla," He leans forward over the table "I'm not really good at, uh... Actually, I'm, I'm terrible at expressing... I don't know what you'd call it..."
In front of his coffee mug, John's hands lift in little shrug.

"Feelings?" Teyla suggests.

"Yeah, sure." John frowns, "Okay. The point is, I don't really have good, uh..."

Teyla quickly fills in the blank, "Social skills."

He pauses... "Well, that is why I enjoyed flying choppers in the most remote part of my world before all this craziness happened.

But, uh, you should know", John's voice gets quiet, "I don't have, uh..."

After a moment, Teyla volunteers, "Friends?"

"No." John looks at her in shock, "Then a little defensively, "I have friends."

She smiles and looks away embarrassed.

He swallows thinking of Rodney, "You, Elizabeth..."

And there is Rodney.

Out loud he says, "Ronan..."

John tells himself that he can say Rodney's name without it sounding weird.

"Carson... and even Rodney are the closest thing I have to a...." he flounders again.

" A family? Teyla prods.

Yeah. She hit it right one the nose. John never had one of those. His voice hitches. "I'd do anything..."

He looks Teyla in the eye, afraid of being this vulnerable, but trying to hold her gaze long enough so that she understands he means it. "for any one of you."

She looks gentle and John continues, "If I had to give up my life the way Ronan was going to..."

John stops, pressing his lips together to push back the emotion. He draws a steady breath, "I would."

This is too much, John shifts his gaze away...

This is more than he has ever said to any one of his... his friends. His lips push back together in discomfort and he braces himself leave.

Before he stands, he reaches over the table gruffly and pats her hands in affection.

"Thank you." Teyla's voice follows him as he leaves.

Unsure of what to say, John just stands there with his back to her.

Teyla continues, with kindness in her voice, "For everything you... meant to say."

Across the room, he keeps his back towards her. John can't talk anymore; there is a lump in his stupid throat. Why does he feel empty and sad?

Acknowledging the people who matter to him makes John feel all the more vulnerable, like they could be taken away at any moment. That's what's always happened before when he lets himself care.

His ex-wife once told him that he was a pathetic character, walking through the world with the barest shred of human connection.

And talking to Teyla, who is able to connect with people and be warm naturally, gives him a sense of how dim he must seem to others, how disconnected.



"Oh! Son of a- You're killing me!" Rodney shouts as Carson attempts to check his bandages.

"I'm not even touching you." Carson tells him, "Seriously, Rodney, I've never treated a bigger baby in my life."

Rodney doesn't care what Carson thinks; he just wants this to be over with, "Just... Are we done?"

"Yes." Carson takes off his gloves, "It looks fine, considering."

Groaning, Rodney pulls up his pants.

"Why'd you come?" Carson asks.

"What do you mean?"

"On this mission. You're injured. You can't even sit down. People wouldn't think any less of you."

He wonders if Carson is referring to John? Rodney defends himself, "What, you think that's all I care about? What people think of me?"

"Well, actually..."

Rodney is hurt to think that this is how one of his closest friends actually sees him.

Oh, wait. Does that count as worrying about what other people think of him? He wags a finger, "Hey, I am a very caring person"

Carson looks up at him incredulously.

"Okay," Rodney feels ashamed and adds, "Maybe it's not obvious to everyone but, uh..."

"You care about what happens to Ronan?" Carson asks in disbelief.

"Yes, of course I do. What makes you think I wouldn't?" Rodney feels differently about Ronan now than once did. He isn't even jealous of John's attention and friendship with him any more.

"Oh I don't know, the fact that you refer to him as 'the caveman' behind his back."

"That is a nickname." Rodney explains, "Buddies have nicknames for each other."

"Buddies?" Carson blinks at Rodney, "Oh, you're buddies now, are you?"

"Yeah." Rodney holds his chin up, "More than that, he saved my life. He's like a brother to me."

"Aye, maybe a brother who got every gene you didn't and vise versa." Carson closes a case and walks to a cabinet.

Okay, Carson don't rub it in. Rodney knows he is reaching for the ridiculous but he says it anyway. "You are just jealous of our relationship."

"Am I?" Carson inquires, "In the year or so he's been with us, have you ever had a conversation with the man?

"We have an unspoken bond." Rodney smiles, "I mean there are things that go deeper than words, my friend, deeper than words. But you wouldn't know anything about that because you never look past the surface of anyone, do you?"

Rodney quickly leaves the infirmary so that he can have the last word.


Once they head out to the Satedan home world, he and Carson stay behind in the cloaked Jumper, while John and Teyla go to check out the building where Rodney detected the signal.

Worried, Rodney calls on the com, "What is going on down there? You have at least 25 Wraith closing in on your position from ground level."

"It seems Ronan doesn't want to leave." John answers.

Rodney shouts, "Well too bad, you tell that ungrateful example of unevolved humanity that we came all this way to rescue him, so he'd better get off his..."

He hears John speaking to Ronan, "McKay says he's very hurt you won't come with us."



John listens as Ronan explains that he is staying to protect the planet that turned him over the Wraith. So he breaks the news that the planet was destroyed; the Wraith did not honor their agreement and culled them anyway. There is no one left to protect.

But Ronan still won't leave because he wants to kill the general responsible for culling his own planet and lure him down to fight. John and Teyla have no choice to help him,

He notes Ronan's injuries and he helps him Ronan to his feet.

"Why aren't you moving?" Rodney impatiently calls over the com.

"Ronan wants to take care of a few things first." John replies.

"Oh, really, like what? Rodney sounds condescending.

John gives Ronan his arm, "Come on, let's go kill some Wraith."

"Just stay out of my way." Ronan tells him gruffly.

Good to see you too, buddy. John pulls Ronan's gun from his vest, "Hey, I thought you might want this." He tosses it to Ronan; Ronan just keeps walking.

"Your welcome." John tells him.

"What the hell is going on down there?" Rodney exclaims.

"Ronan thinks he can get the head Wraith responsible for all this to come down and fight him if we kill all of these Wraith first."

"That is the stupidest plan I ever heard." Rodney sneers.

John answers on the run, "I don't know, killing a bunch of Wraith always seems like a good idea to me."

"They outnumber you 25 – 3" Rodney tells him.

Carson corrects, "It's actually 22 - 3... 21..."

"And Ronan appears to be quite angry" Teyla adds.



Oh, well, that evens it out!" Rodney exclaims, "You do realize that there is a Hive ship in orbit capable of blowing us all off the face of this planet?

Rodney protests when Carson heads to the back of the Jumper, saying he is going to go help them. If anyone should go it should be Rodney.

The two of the struggle in futility over a weapon.

"There's more than one gun, we can both go" argues Carson.

"Yeah, well." Rodney is stubborn, "Someone has to stay with the Jumper."

Then they hear John over the radio "That's it. We got them all. McKay?"

Rodney walks back to the view screen and sees all the Wraith life signs are gone. "Yeah, it's just you guys left. That was quick."



"Well," John replies, "I got 6, Teyla got..."

Teyla speaks up, "8"

"I got 9, Teyla got 8. Ronan got the rest."

"You kill him before I do, I kill you." Ronan tells them.

"What if he kills you first?" John asks, wondering how strong this general is likely to be.

"Then you kill him." Ronan stares straight ahead.


When the General beams down to fight Ronan, John and Teyla can only watch what looks like a fight to the death.

John really wants to shoot that Wraith. "You really think Ronan would kill me?"

"I think he wouldn't forgive you." Teyla tells him.

"I think he'd get over it." John speculates.

She looks up to the sky, "The Hive has got to be watching. We shoot that Wraith, they blast us all from space".

Things are not going well for Ronan; he is getting his ass kicked.

It looks like the Wraith is about to feed on him when the Jumper uncloaks in front of them and fires a drone straight into the Wraith's chest.

John and Teyla run down to grab Ronan and pull him to the Jumper before the Hive ship can target them.

Back in space Ronan growls from his seat, "Which one of you killed the Wraith?"

"That would be me." Carson beams.

"My idea." Rodney pipes up

Ronan pulls himself upright and lunges toward Carson.

"Ronan." Teyla issues a warning.

"What?" Carson is confused, "Don't tell me that you're not happy that he's dead?"

"I had him in my sights, but Ronan said he'd kill me if I shot him." John explains.



Eager to distance himself from the incident, Rodney nervously points out, "It was all Beckett's idea."

"Thanks, doc." Ronan grabs Carson and pulls him into a bear hug.

"What? Him you thank?" Rodney feels left out.

John seems to feel the same, "I could have killed him at any time, but Teyla wouldn't let me."

"Thank you." Ronan places a big hand on Rodney's shoulder, "All of you."

"Oh, don't mention it." Rodney feels better.

"It was nothing really." John acts bashful, "I only killed 11, 12 Wraith."

Teyla rolls her eyes.

Carson tells Ronan he should get the tracking device out of him. Referring to the last time he performed this surgery on Ronan, the doctor asks, "I take it this time you won't mind if I give you a sedative?"

"Or not." Carson says quietly, as Ronan passes out cold from his injuries.

"Who's flying the ship?" John asks Rodney.

"Me." Rodney says wide-eyed and points to himself.

John cocks his head and gives Rodney a deeper look, suggesting he reflect on the answer.

"Oh." Realizing that means no one is currently at the cockpit, he reluctantly leaves his friends for the pilot's seat.
We're actually-- We're quite close by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 44 takes places during [SG1 Season 10: episode 3] & Atlantis Season 3: episode 5.

Rodney and John continue to try to find their new footing with each other. But it is confusing, with so much left unsaid, so much unacknowledged between them...
. We're actually-- We're quite close

For a last few weeks now, John has wanted to have a talk with Rodney, ever since they got back from Sateda.

This seems like as good a time as any. He know Rodney is up late is the lab and it is otherwise empty.

"Hey." He saunters in and sees Rodney seated a chair, "How's your butt?"

"Here for some more bad jokes, Colonel?" Rodney keeps typing.

Sometimes he hates it when Rodney calls him Colonel. It signifies merely a professional relationship. John had wanted to talk to Rodney the friend.

He feels stupid. Like Teyla said, he's not good with feelings. He doesn't know what he was thinking. Maybe this was a bad idea...

John's lips purse tightly and he braces to go.

"Wait!" Rodney pulls his arm, "don't go."

Rodney keeps ahold of his arm, looking at his face, as if he can sense the well of emotion. John is sure his face betrays nothing except a scowl, but Rodney squeezes his forearm.

"I'm glad we got Ronan back." He tells John.

"You did good." John nods. He looks up at Rodney. "Ah, I wanted to say something... Well..."

He pulls out Rodney's jacket, clean and folded, "First of all I wanted to return this."

"Hey, this is..." Rodney peers at it, "I've been looking for this forever."

"Really?" John is shocked Rodney even noticed it was gone, "Given the state of your room, I find it a little hard to believe you'd ever notice something was missing."

"It is simply a pattern to complex for you to comprehend." Rodney smirks, "But I assure, there is method to my genius."

Blinking at his jacket, Rodney asks, "So, this was what you wanted say?"

"No." John shakes his head, "I, I wanted to... uh..."

"Oh, no." Rodney looks concerned, "Is it something bad? What's wrong? What did I do?"

"No. Not bad." John sits down next to him, he rubs the back of his head anxiously.

"Look, uh, I was talking to Teyla the other day... and it made me think about how I'm not great at letting people know... I'm, uh, not good at....

You, know, talking, about... emotions and stuff... But, I thought I should tell you, -all of you, really- how much you mean to me."

"Oh. Okay. Thanks."

It doesn't seem like Rodney understands what he is trying to say.

John continues, "Okay. Your friendship... is very important to me Rodney. I've... never had a friend like you, and you... and, ah, I just hope know... how much you mean to me."



Rodney is shocked, he wants to grab John and pull him into a hug, but he restrains himself.

"I didn't realize..." Rodney gapes, "I mean, thank you... because you mean the world to me and... and our...

Well, it's more important to me than I really know how to put into words... I'm, uh, not great with emotions either, but it is nice to know you think of me as more than forced comrade... or a pain in the butt."



"Is that what you really thought I saw you? Just forced comrade?" John is saddened that after everything, that is all Rodney thought John felt for him.

"Well, I don't know..." Rodney blinks nervously.

"Well," John stands up and speaks with his usual playfully tone "then I'm glad we had this little talk."

"John?" Rodney stops him on the away out.

"Yeah?" John turns.

"Do you know..." Rodney looks wide-eyed and vulnerable, "I mean, did you know, that I consider you one of my closest friends?"

John smiles. He assumed Rodney considered him a friend, but not one of his closet friends. "I didn't know exactly... but now I do."

He jokes, "So now that you can sit again... Are we going to get back to playing our game?"

"Oh, I am so ready to bring it." Rodney makes a face.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, all talk." John waves his hand on the way out.



Rodney is excited to be in the briefing with Sam.

His Sam, Samantha Carter is here along with the rest of her team from Stargate Command. Rodney is sure she needs his help to defeat the Ori, those bad guys threatening to overrun the Milky Way.

She gives the Atlantis staff a presentation on the danger of the supergate the Ori have formed in order to send warships to the Milky Way. He can't seem to stop himself from interrupting and making suggestions. After all, the presentation is really meant to get the rest of the team up to speed, Rodney understands exactly what she is trying to do.

"No-no-no." Rodney interjects, "The diameter of a Stargate is not arbitrary. There is a specific correlation between the energy required to create a stable wormhole-"

Sam cuts him off, "And the size of the gate. I know that."

Rodney continues, "And it's exponentially proportional to size, which means the energy required to create a connection with a supergate would far exceed that of an ordinary gate. It'd be like putting together a Saint Bernard and a Chihuahua."

The sexy brunette sitting across the table from him, Vala, smiles playfully, "And the problem with that would be-"

He narrows his eyes at her. "Well, obviously it's a question of, uh..."

"Oh, I see." Rodney looks to Daniel and sees his bemused expressed. "You're, um, mocking me, aren't you?"

Vala looks innocent, "What? No. I'm not from Earth. I honestly didn't get the reference."

"Oh," Rodney begins again, "Oh, well, they're both dogs-"

"McKay." Sam's voice speaks over him in frustration.

"Colonel Carter, please continue." Elizabeth graciously offers.

"If he speaks again, I'll shoot him." John says in a low voice.

Rodney gives John a hurt expression and tries to keep quiet, but he can't help himself from pointing out how difficult it would be to tie up a supergate indefinitely. He argues with Colonel Mitchel, the leader of the SG1 team, "Even if you were able to establish an initial connection-"

"We need a nuke, we know" Mitchell interrupts.

"And dialing crystal capable of-"

"Already have one." Mitchell talks over him.

Rodney keeps going, "And if you want to keep the gate open for more than 38 minutes-"

"Yak-" Mitchell is impatient.

"You'll need to find a black hole"

"Yak, yak, yak." Mitchell gets louder.

Rodney tries to finish his thought, "in the Pegasus galaxy."

"This is not our first barbeque, Dr. McKay." Mitchell tells him with some distain.

"I am just saying, the yield calculations can be extremely tricky, if not borderline impossible..." Rodney adds, "You may need me."

Vala chuckles, "Colonel Carter said as much."

"Ooh... We weren't going to tell him that." Sam winces.

'Sorry'. Vala mouths silently apologetic.

But Rodney brightens at the prospect of Sam admitting she needs him.

"John, do you think you could spare Rodney from your team?" Elizabeth asks.

"Hell, you can keep him." John smiles at Rodney.

"Nice." Mitchell nods in amusement.

Rodney lags behind John and Mitchell as they walk out of the briefing room.

He can overhear Mitchell say, "I got to tell you, Sheppard, it's a nice place you got here."

"Thanks, we just painted..." John hangs his hands over the railing lazily, "Well, good luck. And listen, if McKay gives you a hard time, just-"

"Shoot him." Mitchell gestures.

"Also," John confides, "he's mortally allergic to citrus, so..."

"Really?" Mitchell asks.

Rodney sees John pull a lemon out of one of his pockets, saying, "I keep one with me at all times."

At all times? John has teased him with on a few occasions but... At all tim-

"Just a comfort to know, it's there." John tosses it to Mitchell,

"That's good intel. Thanks." Mitchell examines the lemon.

John nods and walks off before Rodney can catch up with him. Yes ha, ha, very funny, because of his citrus allergy... "That's a good one." Rodney stops in front of Mitchell, pointing towards John and laughing. "We're actually... We're quite close."

Rodney knows that they are, even if John makes jokes about shooting him. He knows John considers him a close friend.

"Have you packed your bags?" Mitchell asks.

"Hmm?" Rodney is confused for a minute, "Oh, right, right." He will be joining the Odyssey on the away mission. Rodney runs off the get ready. He is looking forward to getting to spend some time with Sam.


As the Odyssey gets ready for liftoff, Rodney walks over to her to have a private conversation.

"You can check my preliminary yield calculations. They're on that station over there." Sam points back to the computer station.

"I'm sure their fine." Rodney waves his hand.

"It's the reason you're here McKay." Sam looks confused.

"Hmm, right." Rodney tells her, "But first I just wanted to thank you for being there for me recently, in a time of great personal need...

Well, actually, you weren't there, I was alone in the dark, but, um, you know, it sure seemed like you were."

"Are you telling me one of your fantasies?" Sam grimaces.

"No." Rodney explains, "It was a hallucination. Look, I had a concussion, I was trapped in the back of a sinking Jumper, and my mind conjured you up as a means of survival. It's just what you would do in my situation. Saved my life."

"Okay." Sam looks relieved, "Well, that's sort of nice."

"Hmm." Rodney smiles warmly, "Yes it was."

Sam's face becomes suspicious, "Was I naked?"

"Partially." Rodney admits.

"Check my calculations, McKay." Sam closes her eyes and sighs.


The mission turns out to be a great success thanks to Rodney... sure, maybe a little prodding with a lemon had helped spark some inspiration, but the threat of the Ori supergate has been thwarted.

In the process Rodney is pleased that they managed to destroy a Wraith ship in this galaxy. But after his whirlwind ride aboard the Odyssey, he is glad to be back home on Atlantis,

Feeling inspired by his recent talk with John, Rodney heads to the infirmary with some coffee and treats for Carson.

"Rodney. What's this, now?" Carson greets him as he walks in.

"Just a snack. Fancy a walk on the pier?"

"Don't mind if I do." Carson walks over to inspect the offerings.

On the way there, Carson asks, "What's the occasion?"

"Does there have to be one?"

"Well," Carson gives him a funny look, "there's a first time for everything."

"Just wanted to talk, you know. I missed you... You were going to catch me up on the latest with Cadman, tell me how the long distance thing is going with her aboard the Daedalus..."

On the walk down to the water's edge, Carson dishes on all the latest details of his romance. Rodney congratulates him, happy to hear things are going so well.

Carson smiles and takes a sip from his coffee as he sits down, "There's something so calming about being out here."

"True." Rodney looks out at the waves, "Much more relaxing than what we normally do."

"You're in an awfully good mood." Carson takes out a pastry, "Does it have anything to do with Sam?"

"What? Oh. No, I mean... It was nice seeing her." Rodney laughs, "I shouldn't have told her about my hallucination."

"You didn't?"

"I was just trying to thank her for the, uh, moral support. She was the one who guessed that she was somewhat naked in my fantas- I mean, hallucination."

"Sounds like it went well." Carson winces.

"As well as can be expected with my social skills... Listen, I... I actually wanted to talk to you about that. Sort of... I wanted to say I was sorry for being such a jerk when we were on Sateda. I know sometimes I get... prickly. I wanted to-"

"Oh, it was nothing to fret about." Carson waves his hand, "But apology accepted."

"Hmm." Rodney looks back over the water, "In my hallucination, Sam told me...

-I guess I told myself- that I'm arrogant, petty, and bad with people. I suppose that's just the tip of the iceberg, but I've been thinking... uh, that is, I'm not used to having to be good with people."

Carson lifts his brows.

"Or, at least caring about it. I've never been one to have... friends, you know? So this is kind of new to me."

"What do you mean?" Carson looks thoughtful.

"I've never had friends before. I spent most of my time alone. People didn't seem to like me so I stopped caring about social niceties."

"What do you mean, Rodney? People like you."

"Uh, no. They don't."

"I mean, sure, sometimes you're a wee bit rough around the edges, but everyone here cares about you."

Rodney frowns in disbelief, "Thanks, but-"

"You just don't down let your guard down much, I've always wondering why. I mean, I know about Alex, that kind of thing would make it hard for anyone to trust, but I mean, is there something else?"

This isn't what he'd planned on talking about; Rodney's stomach lurches. Discussing his own shortcoming is something he would prefer not to dwell on. "I guess that's why I'm so arrogant."


"To compensate for my other... missing parts."

Since Carson doesn't seem to be following him, Rodney starts again, "There's nothing exceptional about me or my life."

Carson stares at him in shock.

"Fine." Rodney groans, "Okay, other than the fact that I'm a genius... See, I can't stop, even now."

"Now, that sounds more like to Rodney I know." Carson swallows a bite, "So what's the unexceptional story?"

"I don't know, "Rodney shakes his head, "Brief life history? Parents were older academics when they had my sister and I. They were very distant emotionally and pressured us to excel in school. That was the way to get their approval, and it was easy since I had certain gifts.

I skipped a lot of grades but that kind of ruled out a social life. I became accustomed to being bullied and taunted by others in school. Guess I got used to getting people to back off by being, you know, the way I am.

I've tried letting my guard down and people still don't like me, so that's all there is to it.
I think it's... whatever, I didn't mean to go off on some sort of Rodney sob story. I'm always talking about myself, my problems... That's another problem I have, being selfish."

Carson tries to inject but Rodney stops him, "I wanted to say something else. Back to the friend thing...

You've been very kind to me. I wanted to tell you that I appreciate you, your friendship. Your one of the only friends I've ever had, but, ah, that shouldn't diminish the fact that you're one of the best friends I've ever had.

There, I said it. That's what I wanted to say."

"Rodney." Carson smiles softly, "I'm very touched. I've had my share of friends, but I count you among the very best as well."

"You do?" Rodney is surprised.

"Of course I do!" Carson shakes his head, "For somebody who brags so much, you seem to think very little of yourself."

"Low self esteem." Rodney rolls his eyes, "Add it to the list of problems."

"Well, even if you can't see it yourself, I think you are great."

"Yes, well..." Rodney feels awkward but he knows Carson isn't critiquing him, "I, uh, think you're great too. And thank you... you know, for making it easier to let my guard down."

"Always a pleasure." Carson lifts his cup to touch Rodney's and two of them laugh.

"So you really told her about the naked part?"

"Ugh. Yeah, and I, uh, almost kind of told her she was sexy on the bridge."

Rodney likes this, being able to laugh candidly with Carson about his foibles. Everything comes so easily when he's talking with Carson. They lounge and finish eating the pastries. Then Rodney walks him back to infirmary and heads to the lab to check out some Ancient gadgets that are confounding him.


"Careful that stuff is very... complex"

John lifts up one of the of the devices on the table and inspects it casually "I don't know, Rodney. They don't seem very Ancienty to me."

"Ancienty?" Rodney gives a condescending look.

"Yes, I told you it's a word." John sets it down and folds his arms playfully.

Rodney walks next to John at the table, "Just because the ATA gene doesn't turn it on doesn't mean it's..."

"Un-Ancienty?" John brushes against Rodney.

"Not exactly the word I was looking for." He reaches down for the object and touches it.

John is reaching down too. His hand closes over Rodney's.

Embarrassed by the accident, Rodney pulls back.

But John holds on to Rodney's hand, forgetting the unknown object.

Confused, Rodney looks down.

He is turning Rodney's hand in his, opening it and threading his fingers through Rodney's. Moving closer, John's body presses lightly against him.

"John?" Rodney's breath is shallow and his eyes downcast.

John takes his free hand and wraps around Rodney's waist, pulling him in close.

"Ohhh." Rodney says shakily.

He feels helpless, his body is buzzing with sexual charge. This has to be some kind of joke, but he is completely at John's mercy, he can't resist him. John must know that, he can do anything to Rodney he wants.

But John doesn't want him, does he?

Letting go Rodney's hand, John tilts Rodney's chin up to eye level.

As Rodney looks up, he sees John's face is full of warmth and tenderness.

"Rodney, I've always wanted you." John trails his fingers along Rodney's lips, "I should have let you kiss me, I was just scared.

I didn't want to admit how I felt..." John licks his lips, "How I feel about you."
End Notes:

More to follow: Rodney's tortured past returns with a vengeance, now his sanity feels like it is hanging by a thread.
Demons from Rodney's past return by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 45 takes place during Season 3: episode 5

Rodney's tortured past returns with a vengeance, now his sanity feels like it is hanging by a thread.

WARNING! Chapter contains NON/CON flashback scene (Sort of)
. Demons from Rodney's past return
"How you feel about me?" Rodney whispers softly.

"I'm not afraid anymore..." John whispers back.

Oh God, he is afraid. Rodney's eyes get big. What is about to happen?

John's hand snakes around his neck and clasp him from behind. He is pulling Rodney in, closing in on his lips.

His breath hitches as John's lips graze his.

"I love you, Rodney, you have to know that.... " John murmurs, "Do you know that Rodney? Do you know how I've loved you? How much I've wanted you?"

"No?" Rodney can barely breathe, exhaling a tiny squeak.

"Can I show you Rodney?" John tightens his grip on Rodney's waist and groans, "Will you let me show you?"

As John's lips smile against his, Rodney mutely nods, wanting that more than anything. Now he is being kissed, lightly, chastely, reverently.

And Rodney becomes unfrozen, the passion he keeps hidden and locked away begins to unfurl. He kisses John back and it is divine. Those pouty lips are so kissable and full.

John's tongue escapes from his mouth and he gives Rodney a lick, a tease. Rodney parts his lips granting John entrance. Taking Rodney's face in both hands, John kisses him deeply.

There are fireworks going off for Rodney, he feels lightheaded. His tongue curls around John's and their lips dance. He lets himself go, he can't hold back anymore, the licking, and sucking, it is bliss. He bites John's lower lip and catches a breath.

"I love you Rodney, I love you so much." John whispers.

Rodney's stomach is doing flip-flops... butterflies everywhere as he thinks, 'Oh John I love you too. I always have, even your stupid adorable pixie ears.

Then he hears himself say it out loud, "I love you too... I think I have ever since we met... and, and after, you gave me that hug."

"Mmmm, that hug..." John moans and pulls back slightly to give Rodney a soulful look, totally unguarded and intimate, "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to tell you..."

"I love you..." John reaches in for another kiss, relevantly speaking between kisses, "I love you."... "I love you"... "I love you".

He reaches up to touch John's hair; he has always wanted to rake his fingers through that unruly mane. It feels so good; he curls his hands into it while giving John the most passionate kiss of his life.

His soul brimming with love, spilling out into every touch he can share with John. When they pull apart again Rodney is so giddy and shaky he is having trouble standing.

"Let's get outta here." John looks at him with mischief in his eyes, he pulls Rodney with him out the door and they stumble back to John's quarters.

John is laughing and panting by the time they get there. Rodney starts laughing too, he isn't sure why, but it is so funny.

Then John grabs Rodney in his arms and pulls him to the bed, "Get over here."

Feeling suddenly vulnerable, he stops laughing. But John kisses his fear away, "Rodney, Oh, Rodney. I've missed you for so long."

Why now, after all this time? They have never talked about Antarctica, it was all left so unfinished.

Had John really wanted him this whole time? Rodney is afraid to ask. But if John wants him now, if John really loves him, it doesn't matter.

Maybe one day Rodney will ask, but not now. All Rodney knows is that John has never looked at him this way before. He has never dropped his walls, or let Rodney in like this.

It feels like John is trying to give him everything and Rodney wants all of it. Rodney wants to give himself to John like he never has before.

They take their time stripping off their clothes. Kissing languidly throughout, making up for all the lost kisses and lost time.

Rodney kisses his way down John's chest, marveling at the beauty of this man. Kissing his face, his neck, then Rodney bites John's' shoulder.

"God, Rodney. I want you so bad." John moans.

"You can have me. I've always been yours." Rodney reaches for John's throbbing cock and massages it in his palm.

Rolling Rodney over and trailing kisses down his chest, John grabs onto Rodney's cock and makes him even harder than he already was.

As he pumps Rodney's cock, he leans back up to kiss Rodney's lips, "I want fuck you, Rodney. I've missed fucking you."

God, yes. He has missed it too. Rodney nods enthusiastically and kisses John back.

Breaking away for moment, Johns grabs a small bottle from the bedside table. He keeps kissing Rodney while lubes his cock and gets ready to enter him.

Oh, God, he can't believe this is happening. Rodney is as scared as he is excited.

The kisses become so tender, as if John is reading in his mind, "I love you, Rodney. I just want show you how I feel."

Rodney lets John spread his legs wide and tease his opening with the tip of his cock. John's hands are slippery with lube. He eases a few fingers inside to get Rodney wet, gliding his hand over Rodney's cock with the other.

"Oh, God ...John ...Oh"

Getting him ready. John moves his fingers in and out. Then Rodney feels the slick tip of John's cock pressed up against his hole and he lets himself relax, he lets John start to push that impossibly huge cock inside.

He hasn't been with anyone since the last time John fucked him. It is going to be hard to get it in. He is tries to push down allow entrance but it feels so tight. John is patient, he watches Rodney's face to make sure he isn't hurting him.

"Oh. I forgot how good you feel." John sighs, he eases his cock in, one gentle push at a time.

As he goes deeper, he leans over Rodney completely so he can kiss him while working his cock inside Rodney.

This is so different than anything they did before. Rodney wraps his legs around John's waist and his arms around John's back

He gasps with each thrust but the pain is minimal. He feels so taken by John. His body belongs to John; John can do anything he wants to him.

Finally, John gets all the way inside and moans with pleasure. He kisses Rodney while gently rocking his hips in and out.

"I love you too much. You make me crazy, Rodney."

An electric thrill sparks all the way up inside Rodney and John moves his cock. He surrenders himself utterly.

"I love you John, I'm completely yours. I just... want... you... Ah. Ah. Oh, God. Yes, Oh God, the way you fuck me... I can't... Oh. Can't resist."

"You don't have to resist." John thrusts a little harder.

"I don't want to. Oh." Rodney is trembling, "Oh, I can't. I love you. Oh. God. Yes, keep fucking like that."

"Oh God, Rodney... I can't stop, I won't."

John seems just as lost in the bliss, "I need you. I need to fuck you... so fucking good. How are you so tight? Jesus... God... Oh."

He kisses Rodney passionately and then leans back to stroke Rodney's cock while pumping in and out. "Oh... So good, Rodney... Oh fuck... You're gonna make me cum so hard."

Rodney doesn't even know what he is saying anymore, he is so euphoric. He hears himself making noise but his brain has stopped working. He is getting close, so close. He can't hold back anymore.

He screams out John's name while his whole body shakes and convulses under John's cock.

John is cumming too, yelling out, "Oh-fuck-Rodney-fuck-Rodn... Ahhh!"

Then he slumps back onto Rodney's chest and the two of them lie there completely spent, murmuring to each other and kissing in the afterglow.

It's so wonderful that John doesn't leave like he used to. He keeps holding Rodney in his arms and telling him that he loves him. Rodney is so happy he feels like he could burst. He can't believe John feels this way about him, it seems to good to be true.

As John's cock gets soft, he pulls out. Rodney gasps a little at the sensation of suddenly being so empty. John gets up to get a rag and brings it back to the bed. He starts to wipe the cum off of Rodney's stomach and then stifles a laugh.

"What is it?" Rodney feels suddenly self-conscious.

John lets go of the cloth, leaving it on Rodney stomach. He leans back with his hand over his mouth, shaking his head in mirth.

"What's so funny?" Rodney frowns uncomfortably.

"You are... "John lifts his eyebrows at him, "You fall for it every time."

"Fall for what?" Rodney's eyes widen in apprehension.

"You know what." John grins.

Feeling suddenly too vulnerable and too exposed, Rodney shakes his head.

"You are just too predicable McKay." John laughs, "All it takes is some guy to get rough with you, to treat you like you deserve to be treated and you think you're in love? I knew it. Ever since I fucked you back in Antarctica, you've been pining away for me."

Why would John talk to him like this? Rodney folds into himself to try to stop the horrible feeling that it taking hold of him.

"But you love me?" He asks.

John laughs heartily, then answers, "No, I don't love you. I just wanted to see if you were stupid enough to fall for it.

Blinking back the tears, Rodney tries to understand, "But, but John, I know this isn't you. Even if you don't love me, you wouldn't treat me like this, would you? You wouldn't try to hurt me purposely, just because I care about you?"

"No one could ever care about you Rodney" John's face takes on a cruel expression, "you know that. You are the most unlikeable person I have ever met and yet... you would believe that I love you? So arrogant. You're an arrogant shell wrapped up in a quivering, pathetic mess."

Rodney curls into a ball to hide his tears and protect himself from John's hurtful words.

"But, you love me, Rodney." John teases him, "You like being treated like a little cum-rag. Admit it, I roughed you up and messed with your head. And when I was done with you I threw you away."

"But why would you do this?" Rodney's shoulders shake as he quietly sobs.

"I wanted to see just how pathetic you really are." John snorts, "And you know what, Rodney? It's really fucking pathetic how easy you are."

"I'm sorry John," Rodney sobs, "I don't mean to be pathetic."

He knows he is pathetic, he would do anything to make John like him again, to stop John from saying these terrible things.

"Please, John, I'm sorry." Rodney begs. This all feels so familiar.

"You disgust me." John says plainly.

There is no way he is going to be able to face John after this. He can't dare look at him; He is going to have to resign. Rodney pulls as tightly into himself as possible. He can't stop crying... He thought John cared about him, at least as a friend. That's what he had said anyway.

Strong hands, rough hands that don't feel like John rip Rodney's arms away from his chest and fling him back on the bed.

It isn't John. It's Alex.

Cold terror runs through Rodney's body. How did Alex get to Atlantis? Had that been John? Where did John go?

"You're so pathetic when you cry." Alex wrestles Rodney down onto his back.

A hard slap stings the side of his face.

"Look at me when I talk to you and stop fucking crying, you pathetic baby. You know it ruins my hard on when you cry."

He remembers this part; it is too familiar. A helpless dread seizes him and he is afraid to move. Alex will hurt Rodney unless he submits to whatever indignity Alex feels like inflicting on him.

"Please, no" Rodney sobs.

"You know what you are good for?" Alex sneers, "Nobody fucking wants you. You're nothing but a cum rag. And you're lucky I'm willing to use you at all. Look at your pasty, weak body; you're a sniveling little weakling. Tell me what you are, Rodney."

"I-I'm a cum-rag." Rodney chokes on the words.

"Yes." Alex caresses Rodney's face, "You're my little cum-rag. And I'm going to use you now. Because that's all you're good for."

Straddling Rodney's neck, Alex smacks him in the face with his hard dick, "Now suck me."

He shoves his cock roughly down Rodney's throat causing him to gag.

It will hurt more if he fights back; he knows this.

He tries to suck the way Alex he wants him to. He lets Alex hold his face down and thrust into it savagely. Rodney's throat is raw and burning, struggling to breathe.

How did he get back here... to this place where Alex is humiliating him sexually?

Alex finally releases his hold and pulls out of Rodney's mouth. He grabs Rodney's face and smashes his lips together, "You are just so inadequate in every way. You can't even get me off with your mouth."

"S-sorry." Rodney trembles.

"You're sorry!" Alex digs his fingers into the side of Rodney's face, "You disgust me... I'm going to have to be rough with you now, and it's you're fault."

Rodney winces and chokes back a sob.

"Just look at you, you're so pathetic." Alex hisses, "Everything about you is just begging to get fucked, to be used up." He twists Rodney's nipple painfully.

Trying not to be pathetic, Rodney submits in silence. Alex suddenly pulls Rodney's legs apart and shoves himself inside with a single thrust. Rodney cries out in pain, though John's cum has added some lubrication.

Where did John go? Rodney whimpers and gets slapped again, "I told you to shut up."

It hurts, but Rodney bites his lip and holds back the tears.

Alex leers over him, taunting him as he pumps inside, "That's right... Feel my cock inside you... taking your worthless ass. You're nothing... Good for nothing... but a cum rag. You like that? You do. I can tell. You like to be used."

He seems to try to be hurting Rodney with the way he is pounding into him. He is trying to make Rodney cry but Rodney isn't going to do it anymore. He bites down harder on his lower lip.

It goes on, the thrusting and the verbal humiliation. It seems to go forever and it feels unbearable. It feels like he wants to die. He can't take it anymore, he's going to break down and lose control.

"Such a stupid little cum rag..." Alex grunts, "I'm gonna make you take my cum."

Oh. That's what Alex says when he going to climax. Oh thank God, it's almost over.

"Yeah, yeah," Alex speeds up, pumping frantically in and out of Rodney's ass. "Oh, yeah, AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

As the cock inside him swells, the humiliation is complete. Alex rips his cock out of Rodney's ass quickly and he winces.

Usually Rodney has to keep his legs open, until Alex gives him permission to close them. At least, that's how it was in the end.

So Rodney stays on his back silently, with his legs spread. He feels the cool drip of the cum as it starts to leaks out of his sore and battered ass. And then, Rodney feels the tears starting to drips down his cheeks again, despite his best efforts.

"Don't cry," Alex stands over him, "you're so ugly and pathetic when you cry."

"I-I know..." Rodney's lip quivers, "Sorry."

Something cold pulls out of his head, it hurts and he falls forward to the ground.


Rodney remembers now, he is in a cell. They were all imprisoned by these people. But they're not people, are they? Rodney sees the leader, Oberoth, pull his hand from inside John's brain. As far as Rodney knows, only nanite based intelligence is capable of doing this.

"What they hell just happened?" John shudders and falls back to the floor of the cell, "Who the hell are you people?"

Rodney sees Ronan, Teyla, and Elizabeth on the floor with him.

"They're not people, they're machines." Rodney answers in horror. "Replicators." He says, using the best term he knows for nanite-based life.

Elizabeth sits up on the floor holding her temples in her hands, "My head is killing me."

John is confused that they are still in a holding cell. He says he remembers a lot of time passing, breaking out and returning to Atlantis.

"That is not what I remember." Teyla shakes her head.

Ronan frowns, "The only thing I remember is being in a dark room, fighting hand to hand for hours."

"Well, they obviously created different scenarios for each of us during the mind probe, no doubt looking to gather information from our responses." Rodney surmises.

"I thought our escape seemed too easy." John admits.

"At least you escaped." Rodney says bitterly.

John looks up at him sharply, "What'd they do to you?"

"Um, torture," Rodney shudders, thankful no one can see into his mind right now, "in ways too hideous... and um, intimate to recount."

Ronan looks concerned, "Like what?"

"I said too hideous to recount." Rodney winces.

In the beginning, Alex hadn't been that way. He had wooed Rodney and said he really loved him. But then he had turned little by little, until he expressed nothing but contempt for Rodney.

And Rodney had stayed until the end. His self-esteem was so low, he didn't believe he deserved better. His self-esteem was never good to begin with, but it had taken a fatal hit after Alex. Rodney knows he might not deserve much better, but now he would rather be alone than endure something like that again.

Elizabeth starts, "I just had a horrible thought."

Teyla looks at her, knowing what she is going to say, "What if it is still happening?"

"Yes." Elizabeth stares dully.

"There's got to be a way to know for sure." Rodney muses.

He walks over to where John is sitting. His heart is still beating in anger over what the fake John did to him in to mind probe. He knows it wasn't really him, but it feels good to put his fingers out and push the side of John's head aggressively.

John looks irritated and slaps Rodney's leg in response.

Wanting to hit John again, he forces himself to walk away, "Doesn't really prove anything."

One of the Replicators enters the room and speaks, "It's real Dr. McKay. Your minds are no longer being probed."

"At least we know it was just our minds." John says.

"Oh." Rodney feels ill thinking about what happened to him, "Please don't make me sick."
Shoulda known it was too good to be true by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 46 takes place during Season 3: episodes 5 & 6

Rodney's tortured past returns with a vengeance, now his sanity feels like it is hanging by a thread.

. Shoulda known it was too good to be true

After Oberoth and the other Replicators leave, one of the Replicators speaks with them privately in their their cell. He reveals that his people were created by the Ancients to destroy the Wraith. But later, the Ancients discarded and nearly destroyed them. In most ways, the Replicators have modeled their way of life after the Ancients, yet they hate their creators for abandoning them.

Right now they are all travelling on a ship, a near copy of Atlantis. The Replicators have activated the Stardrive and are en route to Lantea, to destroy the real Atlantis.

There are a few Replicators who disagree with Oberoth's path of destruction and want to achieve Ascension instead. They would like to offer their help stop the others from attacking Atlantis. But they need to have their base code rewritten, to remove the feature of aggression the Ancients implanted in them. Since the Ancients made it impossible for them to alter the code themselves, the Replicator requests Dr. McKay's help.

"Me?" Rodney asks.

"During our probe of your mind, we learned that you are capable of doing this." It explains.

"Oh, that's funny. All I remember is the torture." Rodney really hopes he isn't going to have to help these guys.

But he does agree, when Elizabeth decides it is the best way to save Atlantis. After being given access to their computers, he is not only able to alter the coding for aggression, he is close to being able to manipulate it in other ways.

When he returns to the room where the others are being held, he is cheerful. He explains that the Replicator code connects all the nanite cells over a powerful subspace frequency. If he altered the code enough, it could essentially 'freeze' the Replicators on the ship, at least for a short time, and give them a chance to escape.

John is frustrated when Rodney isn't able to provide a clear time frame for how long this 'freeze' might work. Elizabeth wonders if it will be enough time for them to get away.

"I'll have to be." John says unhappily.

Ronan adds, "Not much point in leaving without blowing this place up."

"How do we do that?" Elizabeth asks.

Rodney realizes all eyes are on him, "Oh. That's me. Right. Surprise, surprise. Look, why don't I just go on these missions by myself, hmm?"

Snapping his fingers, he has an idea, "I'll rig a ZPM overload." He rushes out of the room to finish his work before they reach Atlantis.


Rodney was been working on his 'freeze code' for a while but John keeps interrupting him. And it is just so difficult to be around John right now. He is feeling very jittery with John standing behind him.

John's voice startles him. "Are you sure this'll work?"

With John leaning over his shoulder, Rodney feels like he is going to have a panic attack

"Please" he says, sure he sounds too much like he is begging. Rodney reassures himself that no one knows the fucked up mess in his mind.

Tense and short, he answers, "Of course it will work."

"Why is it taking so long?" John continues to lean over him.

Rodney feels afraid and wants John to leave him alone, "Why do you always have to-"

Before he can say anything too pathetic, he stops himself.

Jumping a bit in his own skin he tries again, "Look, I need to properly calibrate the frequencies. I wanna make sure that when I freeze them, I freeze them all, okay?"

"All would be good." John is still standing too close.

"Okay, will you just let me finish?" He is never going to be able to do it with John standing there like that.

Finally, John stands back up and walks away.

"Thank you." Rodney's chest uncoils.

Finishing up, he turns to tell John. He jumps to see that John has crouching over his other shoulder this whole time.

He knows it shouldn't, it normally wouldn't... but it unnerves him, John is always close and it has never bothered him before, not like this. But right now he is freaking out about how John fucked with him in that fucking mind probe.

The reset to the base code works and the team moves to escape. But the Replicators start to unfreeze a little bit as they make their way through. They barely make it to the Jumper in time before the ship explodes.

As they fly back to Atlantis, their Replicator 'helper' says the others on his homeworld have discovered what he has done and he is being 'reset'. Suddenly he begins to choke Elizabeth. They manage to remove him from her and throw him out of the back of the Jumper into space. But by the time they reach Atlantis, Elizabeth is unconscious.

It takes some doing to deactivate the tiny computer chips as they replicate themselves inside her body, but eventually she makes a full recovery.



John has noticed that Rodney has been acting strangely lately. Not so much at work, but other times he seems jumpy and nervous... It seems like he is avoiding John. He never wants to hang out anymore. And John is pretty sure he didn't do anything to push Rodney away...

He thought they were past this, but the way Rodney looks at him lately makes John doubt himself. Late one night, John spies Rodney walking around a corner and heads after him.

Taking long, fast strides to catch up, he reaches out to touch Rodney's shoulder, "Hey."

"Oh." Rodney flinches, taking a sharp breath. "Don't. Do that."

John pulls his hand back.

Rodney is still standing with his back to him, tense, shoulders hunched.

As he gingerly walks around to face Rodney, he sees his eyes are clenched shut. They open suddenly, and Rodney appears almost afraid of him, gripping the sides of his laptop so fiercely his knuckles are white.

"Sorry." John say in a low voice.

Rodney narrows his eyes.

"I am." John lifts his hands innocently, "I'm really sorry."

The way Rodney is looking at him now, it seems like he is angry about something.

"Uh, so," John furrows his brows, "I've been getting the feeling lately that I..."

Rodney's glare deepens.

"Did I do something, Rodney?"

Looking sad now, Rodney's blue eyes get wide and his face falters. John wants to reach out and touch his arm to reassure him, but Rodney just said not to touch him.

"What did I do?" John asks softly.

"Nothing you did."

Closing his eyes like he is shutting out a painful memory, Rodney shakes his head. He lifts his hand to hold the bridge of his nose.

"No?" John asks again.

"I, I, just need some time..." Rodney keeps his face obscured. His reply sounds strained, "I need to be alone for a while."

John feels defeated, he wishes Rodney would tell him what's going on. Rodney seems to have no problem hanging out with Carson.

So maybe it isn't so much time alone as it is time away from John. Which leads him back to the original question. What did he do? And why isn't Rodney going to tell him?

"Okay." John exhales, "If that's what you want... Um, I'm here though, if you need me."

Keeping his face lowered into his hands, Rodney simply nods.

Okay. He should probably leave Rodney alone now. Feeling confused and sad, John walks back, departing the way he came.



"You did what?"

"It's not as bad as it sounds, Carson, or maybe it is... I know. The point is, I've been less careful than I should have been."

"It's your own bloody fault for taking the serum, what did you think was going to happen?"

"He just came into my room, and he was insistent that I needed a massage-"

"Just how far did this massage go?" Carson looks at Rodney with suspicion.

"Back only." Rodney insists, "Nothing else happened. It could have happened... but I told him to go...

I felt so guilty about it; I seriously thought he was going to kick me off the team or something. But then a couple days later, after he'd been given the antidote, he demands that I give him a massage -so we can be even."

Carson shakes head, "Whatever the two of you are doing can't be healthy."

"Not that it matters, but I gave him a really great massage ... and the weird thing is, everything went back to normal... But now I have a real problem. One that I swear is not my fault, so please don't judge me..."

"I wouldn't judge you, Rodney." Carson looks hurt.

"That's good Carson," Rodney lowers his eyes, "cause I really don't think I could handle that... I mean, I am really fucked up right now."

"Okay." Carson sits down and gives Rodney his undivided attention, "I'm your friend, Rodney, you can talk to me about anything you need to."

Hugging his arms to his chest, Rodney breathes deeply. These demons from his past have come back. The recent violent memories, or whatever they are, have made the wounds fresh.

Rodney lowers his voice to a whisper, even though they are alone, "It was the mind probe, the one the Replicators gave me. Everyone else was fine...

But they tortured me... in the most intimate and cruel way imaginable. I been trying to let go of it but I can't. I'm constantly afraid now, its all just as fresh... like it's happening to me all over again."

Carson looks concerned, "Rodney, maybe you should talk to-"

"No! I'm not talking to that bitch Heightmeyer... I can't tell anyone else about this."

Shaking a bit, Rodney stares at Carson starkly, "No one can ever know about Alex. No one."

"Okay, Rodney." Carson's voice is soothing.

"It was Alex... But it started off as John. He, he, told everything I wanted to hear. Said he loved me... It seemed so wonderful...

Ugh, I should have known it was too good to be true. But it was everything I've ever wanted... until...afterwards...

He started laughing at me, telling me he was just seeing if I was pathetic enough to fall for it. I, ah, couldn't believe that he would purposely try to hurt me, even if he didn't love me. It didn't seem like John.

But it was, in my mind at least. It felt so real when he told me I was disgusting, that no one would ever love someone like me... "

"Things Alex used to say to you." Carson speaks softy.

"Yeah," Rodney frowns, "but it was John saying it... Well, until it wasn't, until, Alex was there. And it kept going... for hours it seemed.

I thought I would be over this by now. It's been over 3 years since it ended... but it feels like yesterday. Carson, I'm losing it. I can't close my eyes without hearing them, seeing them both."

"Well," Carson looks at Rodney with sympathy, "I can give you something to help you sleep... The rest just may take some time."

"As if going through it the first time wasn't enough..." Rodney gives a bitter frown, "I just don't know how to face John now. I feel, I feel... like it really happened."

Carson nods.

"I just want to be able to face him." Rodney looks around the room nervously, "I want things to go back to normal."

"Normal?" Carson lifts his brows.

"Whatever normal means when it comes to us. I mean, I know there is no 'us', I just meant-"

"I know what you meant." Carson interrupts, "Just be patient. Give yourself whatever time you need to recover from this scarring experience. Because Rodney, this sounds like a horrifically scarring experience, anyone would be traumatized by this... I wish you would talk to Heightmeyer-"

"Carson, no." Rodney lifts his hand, "I've tried that before... No."


With some help from Carson's sleep aids and anti-anxiety medication, the ugly images fade a bit. But he still is plagued by deep insecurities, he feels so pathetic and worries that everyone else sees him the same way.

As the weeks go by, Rodney makes an effort to spend time with John again. Playing their game together, it almost seems things are getting back to normal. Whatever normal is with John.
The lessor model of Meredith McKay by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 47 takes place during Season 3: episode 8

Rodney's tortured past returns with a vengeance, now his sanity feels like it is hanging by a thread.

. The lessor model of Meredith McKay

Rodney can't believe Sam convinced him to do this. She'd been so insistent that the physics proof was key; that it would allow them to manage the flow rate when exacting Zero Point energy from parallel sub-space. Mostly he had given in because she had looked so cute with her spiky blonde hair sticking out at all angles.

Still, it had bothered him. He just always assumed that he'd be the one to solve the problem of what went wrong at Doranda. But if Sam is right about this, then they may be able to overcome the issue of exotic particle containment, at least theoretically. All Rodney has to do is swallow his pride and go talk to his sister.

He hasn't spoken to Jeanie in years; this is going to be really awkward. How is he supposed to casually bring up the fact the she has published a math proof that applies to his classified work on matter bridges between parallel realities?

Apparently Jeanie refused to sign the confidentiality agreement, and told the military she wanted nothing to do with them. Somehow, he is supposed to convince her to change her mind.

Rodney looks down to the paltry bouquet of flowers in one hand and nervously knocks on the door with his other.

The door opens and Jeanie blinks at him.

"Hi." He offers hopefully.

She seems guarded, "Hi."

"Long time no see?"

"To say the least!" Jeanie looks shocked.

Rodney stands on the porch awkwardly. "Aren't you gonna invite me in?"

Jeanie shakes her head, "Why are you here?"

"Uh," Rodney sputters as he steps through the door, "I can't just stop by and say hi to my little sister?"

"Well," Jeanie frowns, "we haven't spoken in 4 years and you've never done anything like this, so no, you can't."

Gesturing with the flowers, Rodney offers an excuse, "Well, I've been kind of busy with work, you know, doing a lot of traveling and such, and I was called back on business, so, um, I was in town, and I thought I'd, you know..."

"Wait a second." Jeanie stares at the flowers suspiciously.


She folds her arms, "You're not here because of the physics proof, are you?"

"What? No!" Rodney is emphatic, "No, I mean, I'm sure that's part of the reason why I'm here, but-"

Jeanie seems disgusted, "You work for the U.S. government?"

"No, no," He explains, "I work for a multinational oversight advisory that-"

"You know what?" Jeanie cuts him off, "I don't care. I already told that Colonel person that I don't want anything to do with them."

"Do you have any idea what you've written?" He asks in frustration.

"A math proof." Jeanie retorts, "Some, some theoretical physics. I am willing to wager it has no practical application at all."

"I'll take that action." Rodney waves the flowers at her.

Perplexed, Jeanie asks, "What does that mean?"

"Just sign the damn agreement." Rodney tells her impatiently.

"No!" Jeanie is stubborn, "Getting all proprietary about our research and ideas is everything that's wrong with science today."

"Here we go." Rodney rolls his eyes.

Jeannie continues her rant, "Did you know that 1/5 of our genes, the very building blocks of our being, have been patented by major pharmaceutical corporations? 1/5! If there's any benefit at all to what I've written, it's that it'll spark an idea in someone else."

Rodney lifts a finger to interject, but Jeanie keeps going.

"I am not gonna sign away my rights, least of all to the U.S. military."

He lifts his finger again, "But it has sparked an idea in someone, a big one!"

"Like what?" Jeanie asks.

"Ah," Rodney pulls back, "No, can't tell you. Not until you sign the agreement."

Jeanie is sing-song, "I'm not signing the agreement till you tell me."

"Is everything okay?" Jeanie's husband walks up with a little girl in his arms. Rodney supposes that is his niece. He tries to remember their names.

"Look who showed up." Jeannie points at Rodney sarcastically.

"Hey." Rodney lifts a hand.

The man looks confused and Jeanie explains, "It's my... brother."

"Oh! Right. Hey." He sets the girl down.

The little girl runs up to Rodney and hugs his legs, "Hi."

"Ah..." Rodney has no idea what to say to the child, "Hello little one."

She asks, "Did you bring me a present?"

"Madison!" Jeanie laughs and pulls the girl back.

"What? No. I didn't know that was a rule."

"It is!" Madison insists.

"Well, I guess I broke that rule." Rodney admits.

The husband... Rodney remembers his name now –Kaleb-, gestures to the kitchen, "I just made some dinner. Would you care to join us?"

Jeanie turns around gives Kaleb a dirty look and Rodney answers, "Well, that would be great, actually, I am starving. You have no idea what time zone I just came from."

"Well, I sure hope you like tofu chicken." Kaleb says as he walks to the kitchen with Madison.

Rodney laughs and tells his sister, "I sure hope he's kidding."

As it turns out, Kaleb was being completely serious. The meal, if he could call it that, tastes like cardboard. But Rodney sits through it as politely as he can muster and then helps Jeannie clean up.

"Not a fan of vegetarian cuisine, eh?" Jeanie jokes.

"Hmm, yes, well, I suppose I was just in the mood for, um... well, food." Rodney replies.

He tries to make more polite conversation, inquiring about her family. But it leads them to old arguments, namely his choice to put career first and her choice to withdraw from academia.

Still, he tries to explain that all of this is bigger than she can imagine. That she could easily set aside her family responsibilities for a couple of months.

Jeanie gets angry, "Okay, we've had this conversation before. Ah, you belittle my choices, I get furious at you, and we don't talk for 4 years. I'm not all that anxious to do that again."

Neither he or Jennie were very close with their parents when they were alive, but their father had a love of physics and academic excellence that he and Jeannie had shared with him. Up until Jeanie chose to become a housewife.

"This is not what Dad would have wanted." he argues. "No, he would have wanted us working together, side by side, toppling problems and sharing credit."

"Oh, you, ah, share credit now, do you?" Jeanie smirks.

"This is important, Jeanie. I mean it's much more important than you could ever imagine."

"For you, I am sure it is. But this? Me being here? This is important for me. Why can't you accept that!?"

Rodney lifts a finger, "You know, you leave me no choice."


He reaches for her, "Just give me your hand."

She is suspicious, "Why?"

"Please just give me your hand. Will you just...?"

Finally Jeanie relents and Sam activates Rodney's locater beacon to beam the two of them aboard the Daedalus. They both explain to her that she has just been teleported aboard an interstellar vessel. But Jeanie remains doubtful until he turns her around to see the view of Earth below.

Wide-eyed, Jeanie gapes at the planet, "Is –is that... Why aren't we weightless?"

"Artificial gravity." Sam answers, "And yes, that is North America, and you are in geosynchronous orbit."

"We work for something called the Stargate program." Rodney explains.

"Stargate?" Jeanie looks incredulous.

He continues, "It's a device that creates stable artificial wormholes that allows us to travel between other planets, even other galaxies."

"What have you gotten yourself involved in here, Meredith?" She demands.

Rodney groans when she says his first name out loud.

"Meredith?" Sam asks.

"It's a long story." He says, hoping Jeanie will drop it at that.

"It's his name." Jeanie tells Sam.

"Your name is Meredith McKay?" Sam smiles in amusement.

Lowering his head in shame, he explains, "It's Meredith Rodney McKay, yes, but I prefer to go by Rodney. Look, can we just stick to the point here? Look at the window. Much more interesting than my name."

But Sam won't let it go, "You're name is Meredith?"

Jeanie walks to the interior of the cabin, "So this is, like, like a space ship?"

Then Sam places her hand briefly on Rodney's shoulder and he feels immensely better about the whole name thing. She tells Jeanie, "This is a US Air Force vessel called the Daedalus."

"Your equation has real world applications I'm certain you've never even considered." Rodney chimes in.

Sam elaborates, "See there are some very bad creatures out there that want nothing more than to destroy this planet and everything that you hold dear."

"Did you say 'creatures'?" Jeanie asks in disbelief, "Like... like alien creatures?"

"Yes." Sam confirms.

"Look, the work we could do is important, Jeanie. It's not just to you or me, to every living being down there, that includes Madison and, um..."

"Kaleb." Jeanie finishes his thought.

"Kaleb, yes." Rodney tries to sound as if he was about the say it himself.

"We can't do this without you." Sam tells her.

"Well," Rodney adds, "let's not go overboard. I mean, she'd be an asset-"

"McKay." Sam cuts him off, turning to his sister, "So what do you say Mrs. Miller?"

After Jeanie agrees to join Rodney on the Daedalus return trip, Rodney is saddened to hear that Lieutenant Colonel Siren will not be accompanying them back to Pegasus.

Unfortunately, before saying their goodbyes, Sam manages to pass along the information that Rodney previously destroyed a solar system trying to make these equations work.
Jeanie taunts him, telling him that she solved his work problem in her spare time.

Yeah. Whatever, it was uninhabited. And trying to secure limitless power from a parallel dimension isn't as easy as it sounds. Especially when spending so much time in the field facing death at every turn. She has no idea what his job is like.

He and Jeanie spend their weeks of travel time on the Daedalus working on calculations. Rodney forwards the specs to Zelenka, so any changes that need to be made to the containment chamber will be ready by the time they arrive.



John walks down the staircase with Elizabeth to great Rodney and Jeanie as they beam down.

"Has he talked about his sister with you?" Elizabeth asks.

"Once or twice in passing." John admits, "Usually like, 'Come on, even my sister can do it!' You know, that type of thing."

With a flash of light Rodney and his sister appear in front of them. A more petite female version of Rodney exclaims, "Holy cow! That can't be good for you."

"Nothing to worry about. I've done it dozens of times." He reaches his hand forward, "John Sheppard."

Rodney frowns at him, "Yeah. She's married, and she's my sister."

"I'm just saying hi." John releases the handshake.

"Yeah, no, I know exactly what you're doing. I've seen that look before, Kirk."

He steps back to make sure Rodney won't take anything he does in the wrong way. He is a little hurt by the false accusation, but maybe Rodney is just very protective when it comes to his sister.

Elizabeth introduces herself to Jeanie.

"Thank you, Mere's told so much about you." Jeanie gushes.

John smiles, "All good I- ...Did you just call him Mere?"



Rodney speaks before Jeanie can answer, "It's a pet name -Where are we?"

Ushering them quickly to the lab, Rodney checks all the levels and announces that they are ready to initiate power up. Jeannie runs over to the console and asks if he wants to turn it on together.

"Why would we do that?" Rodney answers as if he isn't really listening.

"Because it's both of our work." Jeannie tells him.

"Yeah," Rodney points to the board, "but there's only room on the button for one finger, so..."

"Well, then can I do it?" Jeanie asks.

Rodney argues, "Yeah, but I'm right here, so..."

"He likes to push the button." Zelenka explains.

"Fine. Go." Jeanie gives in.

"Powering up to 5%" Rodney announces, "Containment field is holding, Power generation is steady."

Elizabeth questions what to do next. When Jeanie answers, Rodney is dismissive, telling her she wasn't the one being asked.

Jeanie takes offense and loses her patience him. "'Shared credit, huh?' 'We'll do this together?' 'Dad would be so proud'."

"This is not the time or the place." Rodney tells her.

"Fine." Jeanie moves to leave, "I'm going to my quarters."

"Yes, well, Good night." He tries to sound cheerful, "Thank you!"

Once he is sure everything is running smoothly with the experiment, Rodney heads to the sanctuary of his own quarters for a while. After unwinding for a bit, he decides to get something to eat in the cafeteria. As he approaches, he hears the sound of John's rollicking laughter and Ronan's deep belly laughs carry through the room.

His stomach drops a little when he sees Jeanie sitting with his team. They all look like such good friends and something tells him the joke is at his expense. Everyone at the table starts laughing even harder as he walks up.

"What is this?" Rodney asks.

John makes a face, "Hey Meredith!"

"Oh. Wonderful." Rodney sighs.

Teyla busts into a peel of laughter and Jeanie tells Rodney, "John here was kind enough to show me around, offer me a warm meal, and, ah, introduce me to some of your friends."

Shifting his weight uncomfortably, he asks his sister, "What have you told them?"

"We weren't talking about you." John shrugs playfully.

For moment Rodney lets himself believe it, "Oh you weren't?"

"Uh, no," Teyla jumps in, "We were discussing many things."

"Now..." John begins and Rodney knows from the tone of voice that he is being mocked, "When the issue of bedwetting happened to come up..."

Everyone at the table is sniggering now. "She may have mentioned something about your childhood." John concludes.

That happened one time. Rodney is shocked. Why would Jeanie?... He protests, "That is not true!"

"Relax," Ronan tells him, "we all have embarrassing childhood stories."

"Of course we do." John looks smug.

Ronan continues, "There was one time the school bullies made me eat my lunch with my underwear on my head."

For a moment Rodney feels less pathetic, he can't believe Ronan suffered from bulling too, "Oh!"

But that moment quickly passes when Ronan points a finger a Rodney, "Oh, wait that was you."

Everybody is laughing at him again, including John, and Rodney feels very hurt and small. This doesn't seem right, this must be some kind of bad dream, but Rodney knows it is real. All the demons from his past are catching up to him.

"Oh, hardy-har-har-." He turns to Jeanie sadly, "And this is revenge for what, exactly?"

"You don't even know, do you?" Jeanie shakes her head.

Rodney feels sick to his stomach. He was already hanging on the edge of sanity, after everything that happened when The Replicators probed him mind. The last thing he needs right now is everyone laughing at him and mocking him, making him feel weak and pathetic.

Fortunately, the humiliation is put on hold when they get a call over the intercom to come to the lab's isolation room. Upon arrival, Rodney is stunned to find a duplicate of himself. Apparently 'he' appeared in the containment chamber in some sort of force field. The man is claiming to be from a parallel universe.

As he and Jeanie head into the room to speak with him, Rodney notes that his double looks like a cooler, more laid back version of himself, leather jacket and all.

The man smiles at them, "Wow, now I figured you'd be here, but Jeanie? I always hoped we'd work together in Atlantis."

"This is a first." Jeanie says in awe.

"For me too." Rodney echoes the sentiment.

Leather Rodney is more assertive, "Have a seat... Now, I assume you go by..."


"Ah, Rod."

"I could never get anyone to call me that." Rodney puzzles out loud.

Positioning himself comfortably on the chair, Rod slings an arm behind himself and a masculine leg over his knee.

Rodney faces him politely with both feet on the ground, and his hands in his lap.

Rod explains to them that he is here because dangerous exotic particles are being created on his side of the parallel bridge; they are creating a tear in the fabric of his universe.

Jeanie leans over Rodney, "Ah, first a solar system, now a universe."

He ignores her, "Yes, how exactly did you get here?

Rod explains that after detecting the anomaly, he and Sheppard came up with a plan. They devised a way to beam someone through, and used an Ancient personal force field device to protect the traveler.

"I depleted ours." Rodney notes glumly.

"Still, it was an incredible risk." Jeanie sounds impressed.

"Well, it was Sheppard's idea." Rod chuckles. "We decided it might allow one of us to cross the bridge you created and bring the problem to your attention. There was very little time and, well, there seemed to be no other way. We drew straws."

Rodney points at Rod, "You lost."

"No, I won! What, the prospect to saving an entire universe? No. It was a no brainer."

"Oh, sure." Rodney says feeling deeply inadequate.



Now that the experiment has been shut down, John decides to entertain their guest. Rod claims to be good at golf, so John takes him out to his homemade driving range. As they take turns swinging, John has to admit the guy's not bad; it's nice to have someone else around who actually enjoys the sport.

While the two of them take shots, Rod shakes his head in appreciation, "This is great. We don't have one of these where I'm from. Besides, you'd need to take a cattle prod to the Sheppard I know to get him up this early."

John laughs "Heh, ha. Late nights partying, huh?" He swings and sends his ball flying.

"If you could call it that. He's very active with the Mensa club we have there. They have a lot of, um, functions."

"Well," John frowns at the idea but excuses himself the vanity, "you can't blame a man for his intelligence."

"No," Rod smirks, "but, uh, I can blame him for reminding me all the time."

"He doesn't!" John winces.

"Trust me." Rod says humorously, "My Sheppard makes your Rodney seem, ah... modest in comparison."

Sometimes it is a little hard to get to know someone who is constantly using their intellect to overcompensate for their insecurities. Still, John wonders if Sheppard and Rod are as close as he and Rodney have become.

"Well, I've got to admit between you and me, you're a lot different than our Rodney, too." John tells him.

"How so?" Rod asks.

"It's the little things." John changes his stance and gestures with his club, "You like golf, you say 'please' and 'thank you', you're, um... What's the opposite of condescending?"



Rodney walks into the cafeteria for breakfast and again it seems like a bad scene from a nightmare. Everyone is gathered around laughing, no doubt about him. Only this time they are all focused on Rod, the better Rodney... The one that they all like.

John's hearty laugh can be heard above the others as Rodney makes his way to the table. His stomach tightens wondering what fresh humiliation today will bring.

"What the hell is this?"

"Hey, sleepyhead!" John smiles.

"Yeah. Hi." Rodney mutters angrily.

Rod explains through his laughter, "I had a breakfast date with Jeanie. I guess it just kind of ballooned into a group affair. Look, sit down. We're tracing back our lives, trying to find the little differences between out pasts."

He narrows his eyes at his double. Rodney would be willing to bet that Rod never dated Alex...

Teyla speaks up, "Rod is an honorary member of the Athosian Council."

"And is godfather to his niece and nephews." Jeanie says proudly.

Seems like 'Rod' has had the perfect fucking life. Rodney is bitter, "Yes, well how wonderful for him."

"Well, it's easier for me." Rod explains, "Our Earth has a ZPM, too, so it makes the back and forth a lot simpler."

Right, all it takes is another ZPM, and suddenly everyone likes him. Rodney tries to conceal how left out and alone he feels right now. Fortunately the conversation is cut short when Zelenka calls both McKays to the containment chamber.

Before they leave, Ronan asks, "Hey, Rod, are we still on the spar later?"

Rod walks up to Ronan and gives him a special fist bump, "Absolutely."

As they head back to the containment room, Rodney feels sickened listening to the sound of Jeanie and Rod laughing behind him.

Apparently, shutting down the bridge has only caused a build-up of power. Zelenka has had to turn it back on to stave off a catastrophic overload like the one they had on Doranda.

They all get back to work trying to find a solution. Only, it seems like Rod is directing everyone in the lab. He hands Rodney a drive, "Do you mind running up these power requirements?"

"Done." Rodney says tartly. Walking over to Jeannie, he asks her in a low voice, "What were you doing having breakfast with him?"

"I don't often meet people from another universe. I found myself curiously interested."

"Yeah, well, I don't want you hanging around with him anymore." Rodney tells her.

"What?" Jeanie scoffs.

Rodney peers at his imposter, "Look, I am your real brother."

"It what sense?" Jeanie asks skeptically.

"Oh, what is that supposed to mean?" Rodney glares.

She eyes him dubiously, "You haven't been a brother to me since I quit school."

He rationalizes, "You were making an incredible mistake. I was just trying to-"

Jeanie talks over him, "You were trying to control my life, Mere. I –I disagreed with you. I still do. And what, because of that you stop being my brother?"

"I never stopped being your brother!" Rodney exclaims.

"We haven't talked in 4 years." Jeanie insists.

"Don't put that all on me." Rodney says defensively.

"It is all on you." Jeanie shrugs, "I had no way of getting in touch with you."

"I was doing top-secret research in another galaxy!"

"You could have sent me a message. You know, call me on my birthday, at Christmas, once a year, that's all I would have needed. Just a, 'Hi. How are you? Are you happy? Are you okay?' That would have been enough, but you couldn't even do that. No, no, I was wrong and you were right, so, what, I was not worth talking to?"

"It wasn't like that at all." Rodney flounders, feeling guilty for how much time he has let go by.

It had nothing to do with Jeanie not being worth talking to, if anything it was his own self worth. Things with Alex had been getting really bad. Rodney had stopped talking to everyone at that point.

But he can't tell Jeanie about Alex. He can't tell anyone. Still, he should have reached out after all of it was over...

"You don't like that I've been talking to Rod because it makes you realize how bad a brother you've really been." Jeanie spits out.

Rod calls out to them, "Hey, you guys got something over there?"

Jeanie looks at Rodney coldly, "No. We don't."

Rodney retreats from the lab feeling morose. Hoping to be cheered up, he heads to John's quarters. Despite the fact that John keeps calling him Meredith, Rodney needs to air his grievances about Rod.

When he gets there John is polishing his stupid golf clubs. As Rodney complains about how Rod is slowing him down, John barely seems to be listening. Rodney muses that it's possible Rod might not even be a genius. He could be lying.

John looks up him, "About what?"

"What if the people on his Atlantis were sick of him messing up all time, huh? So when it came time to send a some stooge on a one-way ticket to another universe, there was only one guy they could do without."

"Say what you want," John says evenly, "I know what this is about."

He stops pacing for a moment, "Oh, really. Mr. Mensa in a parallel universe, what is this all about?"

John looks at him squarely, "You think Jeanie likes him more than you."

"What?! That's crazy. That's... That's..." Rodney pauses, "That's possibly true."

"Mmm." John makes a face.

"Huh..." Rodney has to admit, he is jealous. "Jeanie and I drifted apart. I mean, that happens. I mean, it wasn't done maliciously. Do I have regrets? Yes, of course I do, but who doesn't? I mean, you know, I'm not very good at saying I'm sorry or that I'm wrong, possibly because it happens so rarely."

"Mmm." John doesn't sound convinced.

"So, I didn't call or write, and when I realized that 4 years has gone by, it was just a..." Rodney stops again, "You're right. Of course, you're right. I mean she has every reason to hate me."

"I didn't say she hates you."

"Well she should." Rodney says with sudden insight.

"If you insist."

"Yeah, I do." Rodney is sure.

"All right, then," John says amiably, "fair enough."

"Dr. McKay to the containment chamber!" Zelenka calls on the intercom, "Dr. McKay!"

On the way out Rodney tells John, "Good talk. Thanks."

Back in the lab, Zelenka explains that he set up a way to receive message from the other universe. They cannot send a reply but they have gotten word that the exotic particle problem is spinning out of control much faster than anticipated.

The other universe has developed a means of shifting the particles back to this side of the bridge. Meaning, that it is now Rodney's universe that is about to be swallowed out of existence. And they've got about 6 hours to stop that from happening.

Jeanie is the one who finally comes up with a possible solution, to collapse the bridge with a massive burst of energy. But it would take almost everything they've got. The ZPM would be severely depleted.

Elizabeth sighs when she hears the plan, "So instead of creating a new powerful energy source, we'll be sacrificing the one we already have."

"Yes." Rodney agrees with resignation, "We'd still be able to dial Earth, but much less frequently of course. And let's just say I wouldn't wanna be around here if the Wraith show up."

"I don't see that we have a choice." John tells her.

She nods, "All right. Do it."

Rod takes Rodney aside before they attempt the energy spike, "Look, the Daedalus is still in orbit, I thought-"

"I know what you're gonna say." Rodney interjects.

He continues anyway, "If I can beam into the energy stream protected by my personal force field-"

Rodney finishes the sentence, "You'd be transported back to your own universe. I know. I didn't bring it up before because if it doesn't work..."

"Well, I'm willing to take that risk. I've already requested the Daedalus to execute the transport to the coordinates inside the chamber on your mark. That is, if you're willing to do this."

Frowning at his double in confusion, Rodney tells him, "Everyone loves you here."

No one has ever felt that way about Rodney, he can only imagine what it would be like. He doesn't think he'd be willing to give it up so easily.

"Yeah," Rod laughs, but it's not home. "Look, what, my Sheppard is a know-it-all, my Teyla is hard to talk to, and my Ronan is... Well, actually those two are pretty similar. I guess what I'm trying to say is that for all their faults, they're my team. My place is with them."

He slaps Rodney on the back, "Besides, they're not looking for another McKay around here. They already have one."

"It's just a lessor model, hmm?" Rodney says glumly.

"I envy you." Rod admits, "You say exactly what's on your mind, no matter how it makes you look. I mean, I can only imagine the freedom you must have, not caring if people like you or not."

"Oh." Rodney looks away uncomfortably, "People don't like me?"

Why would Rod think he didn't care about that?

"Trust me." Rod assures him, "You've got it great here. Now I've made some calculations. When the readings reach the levels I've indicated, you'll know whether or not I've made it home."

Rod gives everyone a warm goodbye and hugs his sister. Jeanie complains to Rodney, "You're letting him do this?"

"I tried to talk him out of it, but you know...Rod." After Rodney readies the chamber for power input, he has an idea, "Right, and...uh"

He steps aside and asks Jeanie, "You wanna press the button?"

She looks pleased, "Yeah, yeah. Sure."

Okay. Hopefully this won't deplete their reserves too much. It seems to be working, the bridge is beginning to destabilize. But it's not enough, not yet. The ZPM is at 50% and falling... 30%.

The bridge collapses completely, but it isn't enough to get Rod home. Rodney keeps the ZPM maxed out, it's almost there... Almost there. He waits until he is sure Rod made it back then cuts the power. Only, there is no power left, the ZMP is completely drained.

The lights flicker off and the lab is in darkness until the backup Naquadah generators come online.

"I am so fired." Rodney tells the room.
John does some damage control by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 48 takes place during Season 3: episode 8

Rodney's tortured past returns with a vengeance, now his sanity feels like it is hanging by a thread.

. John does some damage control

It's become clear to John that Rodney has been struggling for a while now, he's not sure when it started exactly... it's been at least a month, maybe two... And this mission hasn't been easy on him, he can see that Rodney is jealous and in pain over more than just his rift with Jeanie.

Rodney seems to think they all like Rod better. And sure, Rod had been easy to get along with at first, but John is sure that no one would truly prefer him. The teasing had gotten a little out of hand and John wants to make up to Rodney.

He has a copy of the hour-long rant Rodney made before the siege. Rodney would kill him if he knew Ford had given John a copy, but there is a small segment he wants to show to Jeanie.

After grabbing his laptop, John finds Jeanie in her quarters. They talk for a little bit and then he tells her there is something she should see. She looks at him in curiosity as he opens the video up to the right time stamp. It begins playing.

"Jeanne, it's your brother, Rodney. Obviously. I want to say, um... I want to say something, uh... Family is important.

I've come to realize that, because the people here have become a sort of a, kind of a, surrogate family to me. -Now, I know what you're thinking. I've never really been the poster child for that kind of sentiment, but when contemplating one's own demise, one tends to see things more clearly."

Continuing magnanimously, Rodney confides, "I really do wish you the best, you know, and I'm sorry we weren't closer. Perhaps, um... If by chance I make it out of this, perhaps one day we can be, and I would like that."

Rodney seems overcome with emotion for a moment and he snaps himself out of it, "Now, if there's time I'd like to-"

The video stops there. Jeanie asks, "When did he record this?"

"Couple years back when we thought the bad guys were gonna get us."

"Now I've seen 3 sides of my brother." Jeanie says dryly.

Just then, Rodney walks into Jeannie's room. He looks at John accusingly, "What are you two up to?"

Jeannie closes the laptop and hands it back to John.

Knowing this might look bad, John tries to make a joke out it, "Nothing. Just, ah, telling stories about you." He smiles coyly at Rodney, "You know, trying to help her fall asleep."

"Ah, ha, ha." Rodney is sarcastic.

Getting up, John excuses himself, "I'll leave you guys alone."



"Hey." Rodney lifts his hand up awkwardly at his sister.

She stands with her hands on her hips, "Hey."

"Hey you should be packing? Daedalus leaves in the morning."

Pulling out her packed bag she tells him, "I'm done. How'd it go with Weir?"

"Oh, well, she wasn't too happy with the whole killing of the ZPM, but, um, you know, in the grand scheme of things, we did prevent the destruction of the universe, so, you know, not fired."

"That's good." Jeannie smiles a little.

"Yeah... Ooh, right, uh..." Rodney fumbles with the small trinket in his hand and steps forward, "I got this for Madison."

"Oh." Jeanie looks puzzled as she takes the odd wooden shaped thing from him.

"Yeah." He admits, "I swiped it from Weir's desk. It's not like there's a Toys "R" Us nearby, so..."

"Well, it's the thought that counts, I guess." Jeanie says politely.

He wants to reach out to Jeanie in some way, but he feels so inadequate; he feels such an immense sadness.

"Well," Jeannie puts the toy in her bag, "I'd say, 'See you around', but, ah..."

"Yes, About that..." Rodney has to tell her how much she means to him, he can't let her go like this.

"Which is to say... ahm... Look..." Rodney inhales sharply, "What I wanted to..."

"Thank you for trying." She nods like it is okay for him to leave.

And Rodney's heart is breaking; he hates himself for being so incapable... he doesn't know what to say. Stepping forward, he simply reaches out his arms and hugs her closely. When he feels her reach back to hold him, tears spring to his eyes.

"How are you?" Rodney speaks through the lump in his throat, still clasping Jeanie tightly, "Are you happy? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, Mere. I am. I really am." Jeanie answers warmly.

After a long hug, Rodney feels a little better. Still holding onto her arm affectionately he tells her, "Intergalactic gate network should be completed soon, so maybe it won't be 4 years next time?"

"Does this mean I'll see you at Christmas?" Jeanie grins.

Rodney stipulates, "If, you can convince Kaleb not to make Tofurky.

Jeanie giggles, "No promises!"



John has one more thing planned the try to get Rodney back on track. He speaks with Ronan and Teyla and they all agree to make a point of letting Rodney knew that they didn't care for Rod. Even if it isn't completely true.

The next morning, John is laughing with the two of them in the cafeteria when he sees Rodney coming in. He gestures to Teyla and Ronan to keep laughing as Rodney walks up.

Looking dejected, Rodney lifts his arms, "Am I just not getting the team emails anymore?"

"Take it easy, we're just talking about Rod." John tells him.

"Oh, yes." Rodney says unhappy, "Well, of course you are."

Teyla asks, "Do you think he made it made it back to his universe?"

Rodney looks thoughtful for a moment, "Well, it's hard to say, really, but I doubt he'll be back, though."

"That's good." John smiles, "We found him a little, ah.. creepy."

"What?" Rodney looks shocked.

Ronan agrees, "Yeah, I can't stand people who are nice all the time. Makes me feel like they're trying to hide something."

"Really?" Rodney blinks.

Teyla joins in, "He kept trying to correct me on my Athosian history. It grew tiresome very quickly.

"Well, he wasn't that bad." Rodney frowns.

"Yeah," John makes a face, "let's be honest. Rod was annoying."

With a hint of smile on his face, Rodney begins, "Well, I'll be honest with you..." As he reaches around for a chair, he breaks into a grin, "That's kind of nice to hear."

The 3 of them exchange conspiratorial smiles as Rodney pulls his seat up.

"Now, what else has been happening?" Rodney asks.

"Well, Teyla's got the hots for one of the new Marines." John tells him.

She kicks John under the table and he flinches "Ow."

"That is not true!" She tells Rodney.

Ronan teases, "You know it is."

As they all laugh together, John watches Rodney. There is still a darkness in his eyes, but he seems a little bit lighter now without the specter of Rod hanging over his head.


Later that week, John is out running laps and he spies Rodney staring over the railing of a balcony. As he gets closer, he sees Rodney step up onto the lower rung and lean over further than John is really comfortable with.

He breaks into a quick sprint and grabs Rodney by the back of the shirt, "Hey."

Panting from exertion, John pulls him away from the railing, "What are you are doing?"

"What?" Rodney looks flustered.

John frowns as he tries to catch his breath. He asks again, "What were you doing?"

"I was, uh..." Rodney opens his eyes wide, "just, uh, taking in the view."

"The view?" John walks to the edge and looks down.

"Oh. That?" Rodney joins him at railing, "No, not... Don't worry. You know, I'm far too much of a coward to ever do anything like that."

"Is that supposed to reassure me?" John narrows his eyes at Rodney.

"Uh, sorry. I wouldn't, you know. Nothing to worry about... I was just curious about..." Rodney leans his head over, "some of those buildings down there."

He isn't sure what to think, it hadn't really looked like Rodney was going to jump... Still, he examines Rodney's face, "Do I need to be worried about you, Rodney?"

"Wha- No!" Rodney's voice is shrill.

John knows there is something Rodney isn't telling him. He has been acting really off for the last 6 weeks or so. He should probably have mentioned it to Elizabeth by now, but he was hoping it would resolve itself.

"Well, something's been wrong with you..." John sighs, "for a while."

Rodney doesn't deny it. That is something at least.

"What is it?" John asks.

"I'll be okay soon. I just need some time to..." Rodney looks anguished, "sort it out. I just need some time, it's getting better, I promise."

John licks his lips, "Well maybe you should talk to Heightm-"

"No! No-no-no-no." Rodney gestures strongly, "I've got it under control. And I promise you don't need to worry about... anything like that."

A cloud of pain passes over Rodney's expression. For some reason it reminds John of that night when he saw Rodney lying on the floor of the shower. The night he had just left him there, sobbing.

Why had John been so afraid? ... He should have gone to Rodney, he should have-

"Yeah. I'm fine, actually." Rodney turns his back to John, looking out over the city again.

Stepping up beside him, John peers at his face; it is closed, his eyes look dull. He knows Rodney is in pain but he is unsure of what to say.

He reaches out his hand hesitantly and pats Rodney on the back, feeling him flinch a little under his touch, "You know... of all the Rodneys out there, you're my favorite."

The corners of Rodney's mouth curl into a smile and John continues, "So... whatever this thing is... I'm here... if you ever want to talk about it."

"Now." John asks, "Do I need to be worried about you?"

Rodney shakes his head.

This time John believes him, "Okay... So, I can leave without worrying that you're going to end it all?"

"Yes." Rodney gives a short burst of laughter, "You can go."

"Well, it's only cause that would look very bad for me, as a commanding officer." John jokes.

"Well, in that case, I just might consider it." Rodney retorts.

As John heads off jogging toward the pier, he turns around and watches Rodney for a moment. His figure is stooped over the railing in way that looks sad. John presses his lips together in discomfort.

Why did he just run away when he saw Rodney sobbing on the shower floor? He should have gone to him, he should have...

He's not running away now is he? Rodney must know how much John cares about him.

He hates the way things have felt lately. But it seems like he can't do anything about it...

What if he had come back for Rodney that night in Antartica? Could it have changed anything between them? Could it have made any of this better?
End Notes:

More to follow: This time John is really losing it, he needs Rodney's help. Only Rodney can brink him back from the darkness.
Captain Lyle Holland by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 50 takes place during Season 3: episodes 9

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. Captain Lyle Holland

The desert sand is whipping around them, blowing into John's face as he tries to keep Captain Lyle Holland upright. Just a little bit further, and John is sure that he can get them out of the line of fire. He didn't come this far to watch Lyle die on him. 'Hang in there Lyle.'

John pulls Lyle behind a rock and leans him against it; he checks to see how many Taliban they are up against. Lyle seems delirious, not seeming to remember John's attempted rescue or the helicopter crash.

"Sheppard? What the hell are you doing here?"

Suddenly John is confused himself, "Holland?"

He feels like he somehow already knows that Lyle Holland is dead, or is going to die. John tells himself it isn't going to happen. No, Lyle will make it if John can get him out in time.

Kneeling down, John gently takes Lyle's pulse, "Yeah, he got you pretty good... Alright, got to stop the bleeding."

As he assesses Lyle's damaged body, John smiles to mask the panic he is feeling. He can't let anything happen to him. 'Please, not after all this.' John applies some bandaging to stem the bleeding and then tells Lyle they have to keep moving.

Lyle understands and lets John lead him. Sure they are being followed from the wreckage, John stops as often as he can to check for Taliban combatants.

He has a thought that someone else is tracking them too. Leonard. One of his own men. Leonard wasn't on the chopper. Wait... Who is Leonard? He must be working with the Taliban.

Running back to Lyle's side, John tells him, "We're clear." Holland offers his shoulder and lets John take the brunt of the weight. He is battered but still alive. John can't believe how much he's missed the guy. It seems like more than 24 hours.

But now that he's got Lyle, John doesn't know how they can make it back out again... Not with all those AK-47's out there. It's up to him to save Holland; John would throw his career away in a heartbeat to save the man. And there is nothing left to do now but save him.

It will all be okay if he can save Lyle. He would trade everyone's life, including his own, to save the man he loves. Wiping the blood from around Lyle's head wound, John pulls him into a safe spot. A strange find for the desert, an enclosure that looks something something like a wigwam. They should be protected from enemy fire here; he checks the perimeter.

"Leonard must have built this place before he lost it." John tells Lyle.

Lyle is quiet and John moves to sit next to him, anxious to feel that the other man is okay.
He reaches to Lyle's leg to examine a bandage, "Dressing's a little sloppy."

Lyle... No, it isn't Lyle. It is Teyla.

She winces in pain as John checks her leg, "Still bleeding pretty badly. I'm going to change it, and then go get Beckett."

That's right. There's a friendly doctor out here, Beckett. He just has to find Beckett.

Teyla asks him, "John, what just happened out there? The look on your face, the confusion?"

And John suddenly remembers that he lost Lyle a long time ago. "Nothing. Somebody just popped into mind and caught me off guard."

"Do you think it has anything to do with the Wraith generator?" she asks.

"Hell, if I know." Everything feels odd. John remembers all the bodies they found, the people who had turned on their own friends after being exposed to the experimental Wraith generator. He assures her that he fine is and feels no violent urges yet.

"What about you?" He asks, "Got any ideas about killing me?"

"No." Teyla shakes her head.

John is glad to hear it. "Anyway if this is some Wraith experiment gone haywire, maybe that part of your DNA will make you immune to it."

Gunfire erupts from somewhere nearby; John looks outside the enclosure and sees Leonard screaming irrationally. He tries to talk the man down but Leonard blows himself up with a grenade.

"Got to get his tags." John tells Teyla with a heavy voice.

Just like Afghanistan. The tags went back to Lyle's family and John had nothing to remember him by.

"Shhh." John's body goes still. He hears a jeep engine out there, the sound of approaching people. It's got to be the Taliban; he's got to set eyes on them before they are surrounded.

But once he is outside John doesn't find a jeep, just Lyle's crashed helicopter in the sand. John hears voices in the distance and he takes cover behind a small dune. Taliban, walking along the ridge.

John runs back to the crashed chopper and hears Lyle's voice, "You're out of your mind, you know that?"

Lyle's eyes flash with emotion as John moves to sit next to him, "You flew back in here alone, didn't you? Against orders, am I right?"

"Yeah." John sighs, after hearing Lyle went missing along with Vasquez and Bucks, he has been going out of his mind, "Command was taking to long coordinating extraction scenarios with the Afghans. I didn't think I could wait much longer. And from the looks of it, I was right."

He doesn't ask about the others; he can tell from Lyle's face, they didn't make it. Fumbling with Lyle's dressings, he asks lightheartedly, "So, what was wrong with your helicopter that you had to go and hide out in an old Russian one?"

His face looks bloody and spent, Lyle wheezes, "Mine was burnt."

"Right." John manages to say.

Lyle's head lolls back as he looks at John, "Can't help but notice that you're missing yours, too."

"Small arms fire hit my tail rotor." John smiles at his awful luck, "One lucky shot."

"Great." Lyle groans, "Now we're both gonna die out here."

John smirks thinking of how much Lyle reminds him of Rodney, "Well, there's the Holland I know, always so positive."

"Place is crawling with Taliban."

"Yeah." John admits, "There are a few here and there."

"A few as in how many?"

John gets up to patrol the perimeter and hide his fear from Lyle, "6 ...or so. We can take them"

"You crazy son of a bitch." Lyle mutters.

"Tell me something that I don't know." John smiles back at him.

"John?" Lyle sounds concerned, "John listen to me-"

Before he can finish, John cuts him off, "I'm gonna get you out of here, Captain. Don't worry. Then you buy the first round back in Kandahar". Thinking of everything else he would like to do to Lyle once they get back to Kandahar, he lifts his eyebrows playfully at him.

The sun is scorching; it seems like hours before John sees a friendly bird in the air. He pulls out his radio, "Arclight, this is Roundhouse Zero-Six. Do you read?"

There is no response, John tries again, "Arclight, this is Roundhouse Zero-Six. Do you read?"

As he looks anxiously back to Lyle, he senses something seems different. Something about the way his head is leaning. John runs back, "Hey, hey, hey. Come on."

No, no, no. Lyle can't leave him, not like this. John grabs his collar possessively and looks him in the eyes. Lyle knows what it means when John looks at him like that. They never talk about it but they both know what it means. 'Stay with me, Lyle. Don't you dare fucking leave me.'

Out loud he says, "I didn't come all this way to leave you here."

Lyle is struggling to stay conscious, he looks like he has already given up and John's stomach is in knots. "Sheppard, when we get out of here, I'll make sure I say something really nice at your court martial."

"Yeah." John laughs, realizing how little he thought this through, "Come visit me in Leavenworth, huh?"

"No... It's way too depressing."

"Yeah." He smiles sadly. All he has been thinking of is to get Lyle back, to finally have the courage to hold him in his arms, military be damned. Prison time is realistically all he has to look forward to. It doesn't really matter, John would do anything to save Lyle and after that, let the chips fall where they may.

He moves back to a scout position and keeps trying the radio, hoping someone will come in, but the channel stays silent.

Weapons fire again, Taliban. They're coming for them from over the ridge.

After firing a few rounds, John returns back to Lyle, "Clipped him in the arm. Not enough to kill him, but enough to scare him off. He's probably calling his buddies. We've got to get out of here."

John scoops Lyle under his arm to run. They are out in the open now. Feeling exposed, he reassures Lyle, "Don't worry, I'm going to take care of his friends."

The two of them continue until they are weary from exhaustion and stumble down a dune to the bottom. Lyle stays on the ground. John tries to sound strong as he wipes the sand from himself, "As much as I'd like to stop and take a break..."

Holding his injured leg, Lyle remarks sarcastically, "Oh, am I slowing you down? I'm sorry!" He looks around and asks, "Are we even going in the right direction?"

"West." John squints into the sky and gestures.

"Looks East to me."

"It's West." John points his arm emphatically.

"Cause there's a whole mess of Taliban just East of here." Lyle groans.

"You know what?" John looks down at him in mock irritation, "When we get back to Kandahar, you're buying the next two rounds. All right. Can you stand?"

As he reaches under Lyle, he tries to lift him up by the arm. Lyle winces, "Stand, sure."

Pulling them both upright, John asks, "Walk?"

"We'll see." Lyle says uncertainly.

They progress at a slow hobble, Lyle has to prop most of his weight on John and use him like a crutch. John reassures him with every step, "All right, all right. See? Not so bad."

Lyle gives John a look to let him know he doesn't need to be coddled. "Just go, okay?"

"See how the sun's moving?" John points out, "That's West."

"Whatever." Lyle is sour.

After an hour or so John hears some noise coming from a nearby ridge and they duck down for cover. The sound gets closer and there are Taliban moving in the valley below.

"West?" Lyle asks.

John barely has time to give an affable shrug before they are taking fire. He manages to take out one of the standing trucks and it goes up in flames, they use the explosion to make a getaway.

From their new cover position, John radios in desperation. "Arclight, this is Roundhouse Zero-Six. Come in."

Lyle is leaning with his bloody head against John. "Sheppard, whatever happens, thanks for coming for me."

This plan has gone to hell; Lyle looks like he doesn't have long to live. John pushes lips together in grief; he doesn't really care if he makes it out of here, but Lyle, Lyle has to. Returning to the radio, John's voice takes an edge, calling over and over.

"Arclight, respond. We need to get the hell out of here."


Everything disappears, Lyle is gone and John is back in the cave with the alien power generator. It seems to be off now and he recognizes Teyla and Ronan.

Moving back to the present, John checks the status of his other teammates. He finds out that while he was under the influence of the generator, he shot Rodney in the chest, thinking he was a Taliban.

Once Beckett tells John that Rodney will be fine, he is awash with relief. He doesn't think he could take much more guilt today. Not that Rodney is going to let him off the hook. John's mouth turns down in the corners, Rodney will probably never let him live this down.

After apologizing to Rodney, he radios Elizabeth. Now that the interference from the generator is gone he can finally apprise her on the situation.

She asks about the rest of the team.

"He shot me!" Rodney screams to be heard over John's radio.

He walks away from Rodney and finishes up with Elizabeth. When John is done talking, Rodney screams again from where he is lying on the ground, "You shot me!"

"Yes, Rodney," John turns around, "I shot you and I said I was SORRY."

Rodney gives him a hurt expression.

"You shot me too." Ronan adds.

"I'm sorry for shooting everyone!" John sounds more frustrated than sorry now, throwing his hands up in the air, "Just..." John hangs his head, "The Daedalus will be here in a little while. Just get some rest."

At least he wasn't the one who shot Teyla in the leg. John sits next to her. She asks him quietly, "So... did you manage to get Captain Holland to safety?"

John looks at her and squints his eyes; he tries to talk but his throat closes up on him. Then he looks away from her to get control of himself. Finally, pulls his face into a soldier's expression, impassive and empty, "No."

"Well... we survived." Teyla sighs. She smiles at John waiting for him to return her gaze.

Forcing his head into a nod, he closes his eyes briefly to let go of his memories and give Teyla an answer, "Yes... We did."

But he is still thinking about that night Lyle died in his arms and how he wished he had not been the one to survive. Surviving. It is what the military trains a soldier to do, and John does it reflexively, whether he wants to or not.

His heart feels too heavy to bear right now and then Rodney's voice comes squawking through the air, making him smile despite himself, "I can't believe you shot me!"

"Get some sleep, Rodney!" John manages a small laugh.
The truth about Afghanistan by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 51 takes place during Season 3: (between episodes 9 & 10)

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. The truth about Afghanistan

Yet sleep is a solace John cannot find himself... Not while hallucinating about Afghanistan, not while waiting for the Daedalus, and certainty not on the return journey to Atlantis. Since the encounter with the alien generator he has is haunted by memories of the past

When they get back, John makes a cursory visit to see everyone in the infirmary. Knowing they are safe, John hopes he can shut his eyes for a while and heads back to his quarters. He hits his bed with exhaustion, but then he sees Lyle's face... dead and cold. Bolting upright, he hugs himself shivering. He thought he had put this ghost to rest.

When it had happened, the first, the real time... he hadn't had to worry about trying to sleep. Pure adrenaline and fear he kept him going... and the pain of course. The pain from torture shut John's whole body down; when it got to be too much, he would black out.

There is nothing to shut him down this time. As the days tick by, John doesn't know how he is going to make it through. Every night is the same, he starts to fall asleep but he wakes up drenched in sweat, sometimes screaming. He is wretched, never drifting off for very long. When the mornings come John feels even more exhausted than he did the evening before.

And the memories don't stop with the daylight. John tries to distract himself, but whatever he does, he still sees the image of Lyle seared into his brain. As night approaches again, John begins to feel more afraid than he has in years.

Maybe, he can just stay awake; maybe Carson will give him some stims... or something to knock him out. But, John can't tell anyone about this, he could never explain to Carson why he is in a waking nightmare.

When John gets to the infirmary, he notices that Rodney is gone. Forgetting about the drugs entirely, he asks Carson where Rodney is.

Carson tells him that Rodney has been released back to his own quarters and John finds himself walking there in a stupor. He rings Rodney's chime without hesitation.

"It's unlocked." Rodney's voice calls out.

Rodney smirks as John walks in, "Colonel? Here to rub salt in my wound?" but his smile falls quickly and his eyes become concerned.

God. John realizes he must look like hell. His body stoops, his arms dangle uselessly at his side. He croaks out, "Rodney."

He wants Rodney to help him, but how? How can anyone help? He is beyond repair, and he just can't take the pain anymore. Not long ago, John had told Rodney that he could come to him if he needed anything. John had sounded strong then, but now he is the one who needs help.

And Rodney is the only one he can turn to. John's voice is hoarse from all the screaming last night, "Rodney." He just doesn't know what else to say.

"God, um, come in please..." Rodney says, getting up from his bed.

Bleary eyed, John just stares straight ahead.

"John." Rodney looks at him carefully. He clasps his arm and guides him into the room, stopping in front of the bed.

As he glances around the bedroom, John mumbles, "So messy."

Releasing his hold on John, Rodney turns around, moving some of his materials, pushing stray items off of the bed. He pulls the coverlet straight and sits cross-legged on the far side of the mattress, patting his hand on the side closer to John, "Here."

John folds himself onto the bed, hugging his knees to his chest.

"What's wrong?" Rodney asks softly.

"I can't sleep." John's face falls forward for a minute, "No matter what I do I keep seeing him."

He is shocked to hear himself talking about this, but somehow he had known, if Rodney saw how much pain he was in, he would be kind.

Rodney is quiet for a moment, "What do you see, John?"

He has already said too much. John shakes head.

"It's okay." Rodney's voice is steady, "You don't have to talk about it..." John nods as Rodney continues, "You can stay here as long as you need to. You don't have to be alone right now."

Is that was why he came here? Was he was afraid to be alone? Hell if he knows. John startles himself by speaking again, "I told you, I'm a train wreck. Nancy was right. I tried though; I really tried to be good enough for her. But, I failed, like I fail everyone... And I loved her more than anyone I ever knew... until Lyle."

John is suddenly afraid; he has never talked about his... tendencies... not even with a man he has already slept with.

It's not like Rodney doesn't know, he's not going to judge him. But God, John feels so terrified talking about this. He can't talk about this.

When he looks up to see Rodney's expression, it is gentle, a little bit confused.

Rodney furrows his brow a bit and asks, "Is this about what happened back on the planet?"

"Did Teyla say something?" John's face flushes. Teyla must have spoken about his flashbacks.


Okay then, maybe Rodney is just perceptive. "I'm sorry I'm so fucked up, I don't mean to be. I shouldn't have come here, I just didn't know what else to do. I can't tell anyone. I've never told anyone about this."

"John," Rodney reaches forward and lightly touches John's arm, "you can tell me anything you want, I won't break your confidence... But there's no pressure... like I said, stay as long as you want... You don't owe me an explanation or anything like that."

Oh God, he is losing control. John's face falls onto his knees, a stifled sob breaks in the back of his throat. Rodney keeps his hand on John's shoulder, moving it lightly.

With his arms folded protectively around himself, John presses his face down further into his knees. "We met after Nancy -that's my ex-wife- after we got divorced. We were never...

It wasn't like that. I mean, in the military, you have to be really careful. The only time I was with guys, it was quick, anonymous... a one time deal. Lyle and I, were something more, we both knew it... We didn't ever talk about it or act on it, but... It was enough, it was... a lot."

"I never knew I could love someone like that. He was..." John chokes a bit on his words.

The hand is still there on his arm moving softly, in a reassuring sway.

John begins again more stiffly, "After a couple years... Well, we were stationed in Afghanistan and one day his chopper goes down behind enemy lines. I had a rescue mission all drawn up, but the big brass didn't want to hear it. I was ordered to stand down...

After a day of waiting, I couldn't take it; I stole a chopper and went after him. And- and- the thing is, I fucking find him... He's in bad shape, but he's alive. I knew he would be alive. Only, my chopper goes down trying to get to him, so it's just him and me and the sand... and a ton of Taliban."

He exhales again, "I could tell he had internal bleeding but I bandaged him up the best I could." John's voice shakes, "The best... I could. And, and we were headed West I know we were headed West. He kept saying I was wrong but I know..."

Thankfully, Rodney can't see the tears that begin to spill down his cheeks. But John's voice betrays him as his throat clenches on the words, "I know we were headed West."

Rodney is still rubbing his arm and John's body is shaking now with grief. "I... don't know... why... the Taliban were there.

His voice comes out small, like a broken little boy pleading, "It was... West... I got us to a safe place for the night. After all that, I couldn't lose him. I couldn't."

It's too much, John is sobbing now in spurts, his body rocking, writhing in on itself. He leans to one side and falls down on the bed, facing away from Rodney, curled into a ball.

"Okay... it's okay" Rodney whispers softly as he touches John's back, it has a soothing effect on him.

Sobbing in earnest, John lets himself go now, "Rodney... I tried... but..."

"Lyle, he, he," John's breath catches, "couldn't move anymore. I could feel him fading."

"I just held him, he-he-held him i-in my arms." John cries.

"Oh God, I... just held him." John's hands cover his face in sorrow while his body is wracked with emotion, "It was all I could do. I begged hi-him not to... leave me."

His body contorts as he sobs, "I-I told him that I loved him."

Feeling calmer for a moment, John speaks clearly, "I loved him. I loved him so much."

"He told me that he already knew, that he loved me the same way." John sniffs through the tears, "I held h-him... I just held him c-close. I held him all night. Held him... I just held him..."

"I-I-I he-held him even after he was g-gone and cold," John's body shakes and he sobs violently, "I kept... holding on and begging him not to leave me..."

"Please Lyle..." John feels like he is back there.

"Oooh." His body shudders and he exhales. The butts of his hands push at his eyes trying to stop the flood.

"I cried like a baby all night, I didn't care if the Taliban heard me. The only person I ever really loved was gone... I think he was only person who ever really loved me."

Rodney's hand is still moving on his back. The sensation is so comforting, so nice. It feels like the horrible storm is passing. John is weak and weary from the force of the tempest.

Small trickles of tears leak from his eyes as Rodney's hand smoothes away the snarled tears in his soul.

John takes a breath and speaks again. This time his voice sounds colder, "The military, the fucking thing about the military is... They train you to survive, even when you don't want to. I didn't want to, but...."

"In the morning..." John gives a big stuttered sigh, "I'm so sorry, Lyle... I'm so fucking so-sorry"

Suddenly he is sobbing again. Rodney waits, patiently, stroking his back. It makes him feel less ashamed about breaking down like this.

After a time, John finds his voice again, "When the sun came up, I held his hands and told him how sorry I was that had to go. I begged him to forgive me... I-I took his dog tags, I didn't want to, but I left... I left him there, alone."

Saying the last word, John's voice breaks and he is overcome, sobbing again. Alone. God, he had just left him alone. He should have stayed with Lyle; he should have died there too.

It is some time before the storm ebbs away again and John regains his composure. When he continues, his voice sounds terse and carefree "I made it about half a day before the Taliban captured me."

Rodney's hand stops in shock and John can hear the unspoken question.

"Yeah, the Taliban captured me. They tortured me pretty bad for a few weeks. Never did make me cry, though. I may have screamed a lot... But I didn't cry again after that. I'm sure they did something to me... made me worse off, somehow. I didn't really care anymore... kinda helped me go numb inside.

The Air Force said I was strong because I hadn't broken... but they were wrong. I just didn't care if I lived or died anymore, I had nothing to lose.

Oh. Yeah, they traded me back. I don't know the details, but I found out that there was never going to be any rescue... Not for Lyle, not for me... It was just a fluke that I survived and got returned in some negotiation... I deserved to die there."

John's voice gets soft again; "The Taliban gave me Lyle's dog tags before I left. I thought about keeping them but I gave them back, so his family could have them. His personal effects were all gone when I..."

Now that the tears have subsided, he just sighs quietly, "I was told that I was lucky I didn't get court martialed. Probably the only reason I didn't is, they were worried about some poor tortured soldier boy making bad publicity.

I would never have talked to anyone, though. I never did. Until now...

Not about any of it, except some basic military facts for a mandatory debriefing. I didn't really care what happened to me... or that I was sent off to Antarctica. It wasn't a bad place to do penance. It's weird, but I actually got to like the silence and the cold."

"You know, Rodney" John is composed now, "I was never supposed to be here in the first place. It was a mistake that I became the military commander. I let my feelings get in the way of doing my job before, and I try to pretend I'm strong...

But every time someone dies it takes a little more of what I have left. It's my fault and I live it out over and over, making life and death decisions that are often wrong and get people killed.

I don't deserve to be here Rodney, I never did. I deserve to be dead. You all deserve better. You don't understand, I've failed everyone that has ever mattered to me."



"Oh, John... Rodney speaks while petting his back, "I'm so sorry... so sorry... I can understand why you would feel this way, but none of this is your fault -none of it. You haven't failed. You've saved so many lives and succeeded so many times."

Rodney reaches into himself. After everything John has told him, he feels like he should share something as well. Something that will get through to John, show him that Rodney is willing to trust him the same way.

"We all have things from the past that haunt us, but it doesn't mean that your worst fears are true. I've had some things of my own that I've been struggling with. Um, I, uh... had some bad stuff happen -nothing like you, but..."

John turns to look at him, his eyes all puffy and red from crying; Rodney's heart melts and he finds the courage to speak.

"I was, uh, raped... and... abused, by someone... in the past. I've uh, never really been the same since... Probably won't ever be. But what happened is, recently, when the Replicators gave us that... 'mind probe'..." Rodney shudders.

They played it out... They replayed the scenes and... And now, it feels like it just happened again. It has, uh, really been fucking with me. I can't sleep. I keep seeing it every time I close my eyes. And the nightmares are... It makes me hate myself. I feel like I deserve... I feel like I wanna die."

John looks alarmed and Rodney quickly explains, "But, but, the point is, I'm trying really hard to put it behind me, not to believe in the fears they used against me. I'm trying to remember good things are happening now. That I'm part of a team, that there are people who care about me and depend on me.

And, and, the same thing is true for you. John, even if you haven't felt like it, you have been strong, strong enough for all of us. You've been an amazing commander. We would be dead without you, many times over.

We don't have to be defined by the past. Don't let the past take that away from you, and don't give into your fears. I know you have a lot of pain -probably more than most of us- but you can't give up on yourself. We all care about you, we believe in you and we need you.

You aren't supposed to be dead... You are supposed to be here with us. We wouldn't trus- I wouldn't trust anyone else the way I trust you."

"Do you? Really, Rodney?" John frowns, "You trust the guy that was exiled to Antarctica to be the military commander of this expedition?"

"Yes." Rodney answers without hesitation. "And God... I'm so sorry about what happened with Lyle. It wasn't your fault you couldn't save him. I only hope I would have had the courage to go after someone I loved that way. I... I can't imagine what that would have been like... to go through that, and to hold it all in. God, I'm so sorry."

They look at each other in quiet regard for a few beats, then Rodney asks, "John?"

Rodney watches his face for any adverse reaction "Would you let me... hold you?"

Without giving away any emotion, John blinks his swollen eyes a few times and then nods. Rodney exhales and lies down on the pillows behind him.



John understands and moves to the other side of the bed in order to keep Rodney's wounded shoulder protected. He lies down with his knees tucked against himself in tight ball. Rodney turns on his side and wraps his arms around John.

He doesn't resist when Rodney squeezes him closer, pulling him into the crook of his arm. "Come here, John"

Too tired to fight anymore, too spent from all the tears, John relents. And the fear, the tight coil of fear that always sits in his chest gives way a little. It is melting in Rodney's warm embrace. John gives in and buries his face against Rodney.

And Rodney just holds him, moving his arms a little, he holds John tightly as if he is afraid he will try to get away.

"It's okay John. You've done good enough... You've been heroic enough... You've saved enough lives... You haven't failed anyone, not even Lyle... It's just your fear telling you otherwise.

All of us here... We need you, and we trust you. You haven't failed us and you don't need to be perfect for us... There is no blame. Whatever you think you did wrong has been forgiven. Everything is forgiven, now."

Does Rodney mean that? Everything? Is everything between them forgiven? John hopes so. No one has ever comforted him like this; he didn't even know it was possible. Maybe if he could remember more of his mother. But this is....

An involuntary sigh escapes his chest and John relaxes more deeply. He has been pardoned for his sins.

How could Rodney do that? John doesn't even know how to forgive himself, but Rodney makes him feel like it is going to be okay.

John feels so... protected; he releases his grip on his knees. His hands move toward Rodney, curling away from himself and reaching for Rodney's chest, they tighten around his shirt.

Rodney shifts again, laying on his back and pulling John up onto his chest. John lets his head rest there. It feels so good to be held like this. He finally uncurls his legs and reaches a stray arm to drape it over Rodney's chest, taking care to avoid the wound.

It feels so safe with Rodney's chest rising and falling under his head. He just wants to burrow into him as close as he can.

And John can't even feel the coil of fear anymore. Rodney has banished the ghosts that haunt him; he is drifting in a tranquil, peaceful sea.

For the first time in days, John's eyes start to get heavy. Rodney's hand is still gently caressing his back. He feels himself being pulled into slumber but he resists it as long as he can. He just wants to be here with Rodney, feeling safe and forgiven.

Sleep overtakes him at last, dreamless for a while. John has a vague sense of moving in the night, readjusting to cuddle with Rodney. Then he lurches awake again from a nightmare.

Rodney pulls him back down and holds him tightly to himself. John shudders involuntarily and then goes limp: The fear is gone again. He doesn't ever want to leave Rodney's arms; this feels too perfect.


When John wakes up, he is still nestled into Rodney, with an arm and leg sprawled casually over his body. John can't ever remember feeling so comfortable. He breathes in, smelling Rodney's ever so slight, sweet musk. Must be all that chocolate.

He curls his leg and stretches him arm sleepily. He doesn't want to wake him; fortunately, Rodney never gets up this early.

His lips are brush against Rodney's slightly scratchy jacket; they are both still wearing all their clothes from last night. Oh. Then he feels a deep aching for something more. Now he is afraid to open his eyes or move, thinking about Rodney's body under him. God, the things he would like to do to that body...

John's erection shocks him upright. Rodney is still sleeping; he has to go now, before he wakes up.

Jumping up, he looks back to make sure Rodney is still unconscious, then heads back to his own room. Everything feels so much lighter, his step, his chest, even the sun streaming through the windows.
There are certain people I miss by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 51 takes place during Season 3: episodes 10

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. There are certain people I miss

It is strange when John sees Rodney later that day. He expected to feel overexposed and vulnerable, ashamed after last night. But what he feels is safe and known.

He wishes he could fix things for Rodney, the way it feels like Rodney fixed him. John had no idea how much pain Rodney was really in, he has dismissed and teased Rodney's constant complaining over trivial matters, but there was so much more going on that he hadn't known about.

Rodney had said he was tortured by the Replicators in ways too hideous to recount... And he had simply discounted it as another one of McKay's dramatics. John of all people who should know what kind of damage torture does to the soul. This has been what has caused Rodney's recent suffering.

There is so much compassion he feels for Rodney over what he has been through. And so much rage at whoever raped Rodney and made him feel small. It explains a lot about why Rodney has so many defenses up.

John can't help but wonder if this was also why Rodney had been crying in the shower that night, the last time John had fucked him. It makes him shudder and feel sick to remember that Rodney had been feeling pain after being with him, pain that John had caused somehow.

He'd meant to be a good lover, but he realizes that he had been distant and selfish. These are things he knows now that Rodney's delicate ego can't handle. If he could go back, take it all back, he would. He hopes Rodney really does forgive him.



When Rodney sees John the next day, it somehow feels shocking. John is talking the same way, making the same facial expressions, but Rodney sees him differently now.

It feels so strange to realize that had John let Rodney see what is in his heart, as if Rodney got a day pass into the armored walls of John's city. He feels special knowing that John trusted him enough as a friend to tell him something no one else knows.

So often, Rodney has wanted to be closer to John without knowing how. He is so unreachable most of the time. Rodney is happy he got through, just a little bit, and he will hold the secret to his grave.

And he will never betray the extra warmth he feels for John now, not unless John approaches him to talk again. Rodney will just continue to banter in his normal manner, acting like nothing has changed. But inside he understands John in a new way; there is a compassion and understanding that runs very deep, a current of protectiveness.

He loves John even more than he already did, and he would do anything for him.
After keeping himself from looking for all these years, Rodney finally lets himself hack into John's service record. Much of it has been redacted, but what is left between the lines is a sad story.

John's life has been war torn and lonely. Before he came to Atlantis, he had seen action in some of the worst places on Earth. No wonder Antarctica seemed like a vacation. And John had managed to survive a lot of dangerous missions that his friends did not. Lyle was not the only one.

Rodney speculates about John's sexual history. How many male lovers John had taken? It didn't sound like many.

"The only time I was with guys, it was quick, anonymous... a one time deal."

Where does Rodney fit into that timeline? Is that why John had been so weird about everything? Was he really that repressed? Maybe you had to be in the military?

Maybe it wasn't Rodney's fault that John had left afterwards. If John was used to quick anonymous encounters, then that could be the reason why he never spoke to Rodney after they fucked him, the reason why he left so abruptly.

Maybe it had nothing to do with Rodney's inadequacies and failings; maybe it wasn't even his fault. Who knows, if John had been comfortable being with a guy, it's possible that he would have liked Rodney more than he did.

He feels a deep empathy for John and the burdens he carries around with him. He doesn't know if he will ever see that side of John again, but he hopes he does. It doesn't matter so much now that John will never love Rodney back; he knows they share something real and special. That whatever John is willing to share with Rodney, he will happily take.

They are real friends now and that is more than Rodney ever thought he was going to get.
After Rodney finishes reading the service record, he goes to find John in the gym. John is sparring with Ronan, and from the looks of it, the two of them have been going at it for a while. It feels a little awkward standing in the door and Rodney considers leaving, but decides to wait until they are finished.

Ronan is the stronger opponent but John is more graceful and agile. Watching John like this is a slow kind of agony, it stokes Rodney's desire for him, makes him crave John's touch. He can't look away though; the man is so beautiful.

Rodney realizes he should have come up with pretext for coming here, something professional and dry. Not just to-

John calls out, "Rodney, we don't often get the pleasure of seeing you down here."

Ronan chuckles, "Come to try a round?"

"Why, yes. Of course." Rodney makes a bitter face, "That's why I'm here."

He wants to turn tail and run but that would make him look even more foolish than he already does. Luckily, Ronan soon heads out and leaves Rodney alone with John. As John puts away his fighting sticks, Rodney shifts his weight anxiously. John walks slowly towards Rodney with a strange look on his face.

But he doesn't ask why Rodney is here, much to his relief. John closes his eyes for a moment, then looks at Rodney in an unguarded manner, "Thanks."

The corners of Rodney's mouth lift up, "Of course... I just wanted to tell you... I mean, I know you can open doors and all with your gene, but I, uh... I wanted to tell that, ah...

Anytime you want to come by... if you're having trouble sleeping, or whatever. There doesn't have to be a reason... You can come by any time, even, -even if I'm not there... You can just,

You want to hang out, just hang out..." Rodney trails off out of breath and feeling foolish again.

"Thanks, Rodney." John's expression is open and affectionate.

"I really mean it, I mean, I really do. I wouldn't just say that."

"No, I guess you wouldn't." John gives a sidelong look.

Their eyes lock in silence for a moment or two.

Rodney feels like John is seeing him completely, he feels known and accepted. He hopes that he can make John feel the same way.

"So..." John asks shyly, "you wanna watch a movie tonight?"

"Definitely." Rodney's whole face smiles.

John grins back, "Okay, I'm gonna take a shower...See you at your place in half hour?"

"Great." Rodney nods eagerly.

He races back to his quarters to pick up. He shouldn't assume that John is spending the night, and he definitely shouldn't assume that there will be any more cuddling.

Carson would be giving him hell if he knew about this. Maybe Rodney won't tell him. There really is no way to explain without context and Rodney certainly isn't going tell Carson anything about what John shared with him. Probably better not to tell Carson about spending the night together either. It was innocent enough.

Fretting over whether or not to pull out extra bedding, Rodney finally decides to put out an extra blanket and pillow on the side table. That way John will know Rodney wants him to stay, it will be easy for him spend the night if he wants to. Rodney won't say anything else about it, John already knows he is welcome.

And Rodney is just being a good host. Being a good host, to the man he is terribly in love with. Right.

That night they watch 'The Princess Bride' together. The two of them sit comfortably on the couch. Lounging around, bumping into each other, and even wrestling playfully at one point. John doesn't pin Rodney to the couch, though Rodney almost wishes he would.

At the end of the night, Rodney is pleased to see John reach for the bedding he set out. He watches John as he unfolds the blanket onto the couch.

Over the years, he has noticed that the two of them seem to always get tired around the same time -late into the night or early morning. John always gets up earlier than Rodney, but otherwise it seems like their sleep rhythms are in tune.

"Thanks." John catches Rodney's eye and looks at him gratefully.

"Of course..." Rodney smiles at him with love, "Like I said, come and go as you please. Anytime you want to hang out, just hang out."

Over the next several weeks John does just that. He spends every night on the couch and nearly all his free time with Rodney. Rodney has even come in during the day a few times to catch John reading on his couch. He couldn't be more elated.

In fact, it seems to be healing something inside Rodney that felt broken after the encounter with the Replicators. It seems like maybe it is healing something for John too.

He doesn't even mind when John 'picks up' around the place and moves all of his things where he can't find them. It is just blissful to be around John so much. He might feel closer to John than he has ever felt to anyone. He definitely loves John more than he has ever loved anyone.

Playing with John is the best, especially when they are on the couch together and there is some kind of physical contact. Rodney knows John doesn't mean anything by it, so he just lets himself enjoy it.

Things feel like they couldn't be more perfect as Rodney prepares to his debut of the intergalactic gate system. And then, in a flash, it all over.

Just after John makes a successful Jumper run through nearly completed gate system, the Daedalus makes contact with a ship traveling at .999 the speed of light. Like an idiot, Rodney wants to make contact with them.

At first it is exciting; a ship-full of Ancients, ghosts from the past that have been subject to the effects of relativistic time dilation. From their perspective, 10,000 years have not passed, Atlantis is still home and they have not lost the war with the Wraith.

The Daedalus eagerly ushers them back to Atlantis, wherein the Captain of the Ancient ship promptly takes control of city and tells them all to go home.

Rodney's life in the Pegasus Galaxy is suddenly over. Teyla and Ronan are invited back to Earth but they opt to stay behind and fight the Wraith.

John and Carson both get stationed at the SGC but Rodney is assigned to area 51. He is given his pick of projects, but Rodney wishes they had given him a reason to be stationed with his friends.

No, he wishes he could have his life on Atlantis back, the one where John spends nights laughing and talking with him. John and Rodney talk about it, of course. They say this isn't goodbye. They will only be a 2 hour flight away from each other and they can visit on weekends. Rodney is in the last group to finally clear everything out, he reluctantly walks through the gate back to Earth.


Over the next 6 weeks, it turns out that Rodney and John do stay close. Not as close as Rodney would like, but they take turns visiting each other on weekends. More often John comes to Rodney since he is so close to Vegas.

Neither of them are big gamblers so they do other things, like, racing cars around a track, or even golfing –which Rodney has to admit, isn't as bad as he first thought. And they talk on the phone a lot. It isn't a substitute for the real thing, but it will have to do.



Well, this sucks. John is ready to give up, go find Rodney at area 51 and... Well, that is as far as the plan ever goes.

As John steps back through the gate at the SGC, he makes a passing crack to General Landry. "I never thought I'd miss Rodney McKay being a member of my team."

"Well, chemistry doesn't happen overnight." Landry tells him.

That was one thing he and Rodney did have, chemistry. John has seen as much of Rodney as he has been able to since getting back to Earth. Rodney calls him on the phone constantly and they spend weekends together. It's only a 2 hour flight to Vegas. Still, he misses Rodney an awful lot.

He misses Atlantis... While John is still in the SGC gate room, Woolsey and General O'Neill dial in for a regular check in from Pegasus. They are the only people the Ancients have allowed to return to Atlantis, for diplomatic purposes.

Landry invites John to view the live video link. O'Neill and Woolsey tell them that the Replicators are making a run at the city. But the Ancients seem unconcerned. They say the base code makes it impossible for them to harm their creators and they are well prepared. The Ancients feel that if the humans had stayed, they would have lost the city to the Replicators anyway.

John offers to Landry, "Sir, I'd be happy to talk to you more about these Replicator guys."

"No, it sounds like they've got everything under control."

"Yes, sir, I guess they do." John frowns.

He heads to his office to unwind from his fruitless mission. While throwing some darts in frustration, he gets a call from Rodney. John normally doesn't like talking on the phone, but he makes an exception for Rodney. Even through Rodney calls a little too often, John has to admit, he likes the attention.

Rodney is complaining again about area 51, "I hate it here."

"How is that possible." John sounds slightly sarcastic.

"It's true," Rodney confesses.

John moves over to his desk to find something else to fiddle with, "Look they gave you everything you wanted, your own lab...."

"Yeah, it's too big." Rodney whines.

"Handpicked assistants..."

"Yeah," Rodney agrees, "Sycophants, every one of them."

"Even your own choice of projects." John picks up a model fighter plane on the desk.

"Well, that's not true." Rodney disagrees.

Twirling the plane in his hand, not sure why he is trying to talk Rodney out of feeling miserable, he adds, "Well, other than going back to Atlantis, I mean."

"You know, the truth is, I..."

"What?" John stops moving the plane.

He can almost hear Rodney gesturing over the phone; he knows just what Rodney looks when he talks this way -all fast and nervous, trying to get something uncomfortable over with.

"Yeah, I don't wanna use the term 'lonely,' but ah, there are certain people who... I miss."

"Me?" John smiles.

Rodney makes a dismissive sound but John knows his face has gone red. Rodney is flustered and trying to cover it up, "You? You, I'm talking to on the phone right now and having dinner with tomorrow, so not so much."

John makes a silent face over the phone. Whatever you say Rodney, I know you miss me.

"But other people, people who I may never see again. Like even Elizabeth, she hasn't returned any of my calls."

"I know what you mean." John feels sadder than he wants Rodney to know.

"Hey, at least you still get to go off-world with a team of your own."

"Oh yeah, the best and the brightest." John is derisive but doesn't elaborate, "All right, see you tomorrow night." He hangs up before Rodney can sense his own feelings of loss. Tomorrow he'll be in better spirits.



Rodney is feeling sentimental and decides to tell John how much he misses him, "Yeah, wouldn't miss it. Hey, you know, I..."

Then realizes he is talking to a dead phone, "Yeah."

Damn it, John is always doing that to him. Rodney has got to stop being so needy, he's flying into Colorado Springs tomorrow and he will get to see both John and Carson.

He holds the phone in palm. He should get back to work now. He should, but Rodney dials Carson instead.
I missed you too Rodney by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 52 takes place during Season 3: episodes 10-12

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. I missed you too Rodney

When Rodney arrives at the airport John is there to pick him up. They head straight for the restaurant where they are meeting Carson, and are pleasantly surprised to see that he has brought Elizabeth. The 4 of them catch up and it almost seems like old times.

Chewing a bite of food, John points his fork at Carson, "You should call her."

"Who, Cadman?" Carson asks.

"You guys did make a cute couple." Elizabeth demurs.

Rodney already knows this, but Carson tells John and Elizabeth, "It didn't work out. May have something to do with our first kiss being through Rodney."

"Oh," He spits his soup back into the bowl, "we made a solemn vow never to speak of that again."

Carson looks playful, "I remember no such thing."

The evening is over before Rodney knows it; he has really missed their camaraderie and companionship. But before they can all say their final goodbyes, everyone's phone is starts ringing. Everyone that is, except Carson.

"I didn't bring my bloody cell phone with me." Carson exclaims, "What's happening?"

There is an emergency with Atlantis. The 4 of them hurry to the SGC, where Landry shows them the SOS he received from O'Neill and Woolsey requesting immediate evacuation. Atlantis under attack by Replicators; somehow they figured out how to override their programming and most of the city has been lost already.

Landry sounds displeased, "I was informed they had a law written into their base code that made it impossible for them to harm the Ancients. How the hell did this happen?"

John and Elizabeth eye Rodney subtly. He speaks up and confesses that it is remotely possible that in trying to rewrite base code, he may have opened the door for them to make other changes

"You did this?" Landry sounds angry.

Elizabeth defends Rodney, "At the time, we thought it was the only possible way to save the city."

"How it happened doesn't matter." John tells Landry, "They may have changed it on their own. The question is, how do we fix it?"

"That's why I called you in. I have my orders. The Daedalus is already on the way. Now what I need from you is..." Landry pulls a schematic of Atlantis, "What's the best way to get a nuke past the shield?"

Carson is the first to answer, "Well, I have no idea."

"I didn't call you in, Doctor." Landry is stern.

"You're going to use nuclear weapons on Atlantis?" Elizabeth sounds alarmed.

Landry frowns, "It's the gateway to Earth."

The team tries to make a case for mounting a rescue mission, but Landry won't hear of it.

"I have standing orders. They happen to be General O'Neill's standing orders. The Daedalus will be there in a little under 4 days. Now, how do I get a nuke past their shield?"

After the meeting with Landry, the team takes some time to speak amongst themselves in a side lab, discussing Colonel Carter's new Anti-Replicator weapons and hatching a plan of their own.

Carson asks, "Now, those Replicator thingamajigs you're talking about..."

"Let's just call them ARGs." John simplifies.

"They're energy weapons." Rodney explains, "They disrupt the link between the nanites' cells. The Replicators literally fall apart when you fire on them."

"You know..." John offers, "Hypothetically, Teyla and Ronan would be more than willing to help... If we asked."

"We would need to gate into Atlantis." Elizabeth speculates, "All they'd need to do to keep us out is activate the gate's shield."

Rodney lifts his hand, "Well, I did write a backdoor to the shield program... a couple years ago, when Kolya stormed the city. So, I mean, it could hypothetically let us into the Gate Room."

John leans forward with interest as Elizabeth asks Rodney conspiratorially, "General Landry was worried about the Replicators rewriting the bridge macro to gate them somewhere else in the Milky Way. Does that mean you could change the macro, take us somewhere else in Pegasus?"

Lifting his arms innocently, John asks, "Somewhere like, uh, just talking hypothetically here, the Athosian settlement where Teyla and Ronan are?"

"We'd need a Jumper." Rodney answers enthusiastically.

"And, uh," John points back at Rodney, snapping his fingers. "some of those ARGs"

"And someone to make sure Landry doesn't close the iris on us." Elizabeth concludes.

"Hmm." Rodney nods trying to think of a way to make use of the ARGs. They would only be effective for a limited time before the Replicators figure out how to override them. Getting access to a Jumper will be easier, Dr. Lee is a sucker for World of Warcraft; if Rodney could coach Elizabeth on what to say, it might distract-

"Hypothetically." Elizabeth adds the caveat.

"Of course." Carson shrugs.



John is a little anxious about putting Rodney back into a situation where he has to face the Replicators again, knowing now what they did to him. But Rodney seems just eager to get back in there as John is.

He stands a little closer to Rodney, making it clear that he will protect him. After everything Rodney told him about how the Replicators tortured him, John doesn't want to risk letting Rodney out of his sight.

After a good deal of bickering and a lot of rewrites to their initial plan, they succeed in retaking the city with a modified ARG pulse Rodney designed. Yep. That's a little bit of that McKay magic that he has missed.

With Woolsey and O'Neill rescued and all the Replicators on Atlantis disintegrated, it begins to look like John isn't going to be fired for his insubordinance after all.



The lackluster projects at Area 51 are behind him now and Rodney is back where he belongs. Most of his things were still in boxes anyway so it was easy to reassemble his room.

Atlantis has been returned to them new and improved, now that the Replicators have repaired most of the city. Even the stardrive is back online. They might have even had the power to fire it up if the IOA had left them with all 3 ZPMs. Yeah, everything seems almost back to normal.

Rodney had considered ordering a bigger bed, maybe bringing it on the Daedalus. Too much fantasizing about spending the night in the same bed with John; he knows better.

It was just a fantasy and he had resisted the urge. John doesn't think of Rodney, other than as a friend. And John has been a good friend to him.

After the struggle with the Replicators, John had taken Rodney aside, just to talk for a while and make sure he was okay. He had been touched by John's concern.

And Rodney had asked John how he had been sleeping, if he was still having the nightmares. John hadn't answered but the look on his face told Rodney all he needed to know. It had given him a perfect opportunity to renew his invitation to John, to remind him that he was welcome to Rodney's quarters anytime he wanted to come by.

"See, Rodney," John had smiled, "I knew you missed me."

Out of habit Rodney had protested, "I didn't. Well, 'miss' is strong word, but I maybe. All right, fine. I missed you."

He had expected some teasing in return, but when he had looked back at John, the expression was sincere, the eyes penetrating.

John's voice had been low as he spoke, "I missed you too, Rodney."

That's when Rodney knew he was losing his control again, falling over the fine line he was trying to walk with John, falling deeper, too deep to keep a safe distance.

For a moment as Rodney stared back into John's eyes, it had felt like John was there with him. But Rodney knew better, he remembered what had happened last time he made that mistake. It nearly cost him the friendship.


As the weeks go by, John spends nearly every night on Rodney's couch. Carson has noticed how much time Rodney is spending with John these days and presses him for details. At first, Rodney tries to deny that anything has changed, but then he gives in and confesses everything –except the stuff John told him in confidence. He confesses that he is still madly in love with John, that he can't stop himself because nothing has ever felt better than when he is with John.

Carson shakes his head, "Rodney, I just don't want to see you get hurt... And I think there is a strong possibility that-"

"I know-I know." Rodney cuts him off, "It's just, I mean, I'm trying to reel myself back in. For a while, I was managing okay. It's not like I'm going to try to kiss again or anything like that. I know he doesn't feel the same way, but I just want to be around him. Is that so wrong, to, just...?"

"No, but Rodney..." Carson sighs, "Just keep in mind... I think when it comes to the Colonel, he is a bit confused about boundaries. Friends hang out, sure. They don't spend every night on the couch. I think, you just have a basic human need for companionship and a real relationship would do you good."

"Right." Rodney winces, "Sure, that's the ticket. I'll just pick one out, because that's so easy."

"What about Katie Brown," Carson suggests, "she seemed-"

"Oh. Don't remind me of that disaster." Rodney groans.

"Fine. I won't. Just, Rodney? Be careful."



John joins Rodney on the deck. For a moment, he just gazes at him. Rodney is looking out over the water with a pair of binoculars; somehow he manages to be sexy, adorable, and handsome all at the same time. Standing there watching him, John feels like there is something he wants to say, but he can't find the words.

"Hmmm." Rodney pulls the glasses away from his eyes. "Hey, how long have you been standing there?"

"Hour or so." John says with straight face.

"What?" Rodney squeaks, "Why didn't you say anything? I feel like a..." Closing his eyes, Rodney leans his head back "Oh. It's the kidding."

Oh... Missed you too, Rodney. "What did you want to show me?" John asks.

"Right there." Rodney points out to a spot on the water.

"Wow." John sounds unimpressed, "All that... water."

"Just wait for it." Rodney is singsong.

A whale breaches the waves and Rodney smiles, "It's my friend. He's back."

John has to admit it is kind of cool. The two of them stand out in the ocean air taking turns with the binoculars and joking around. Lately, John has been feeling... Well, he doesn't know exactly what he has been feeling. He's just been spending a lot of time with Rodney lately and it feels different. After a while, John reluctantly excuses himself to attend to some business.


While walking with Elizabeth, John sees Rodney running up playfully. "There you are."

Elizabeth replies, "Rodney I told you-"

"Oh, no, not you." Rodney tells her, "I mean Sheppard."

"Thank you." Elizabeth says in mock hurt.

"Oh, I mean," Rodney fumbles, "not that I don't wanna talk to you or you can't be a part of this conversation. In fact, I think you'll probably find it every bit as interesting."

'Get to the good part Rodney', "What are you saying?" John asks.

With a playful glint in his eye Rodney holds up a computer screen for John to see, "Check it out. Found it in the Ancient database. They have a whole subsection on indigenous Lantian animal life."

Showing them the screen, Elizabeth points to one asking "And what is that?"

"That's Rodney's whale friend." John says in a teasing tone.

"Ah," Rodney corrects him, "but not actually a whale. Whale-like, but not a mammal. It's a fish. It's a big, big fish."

"Did the Ancients have a name for it?" John asks.

"Yeah." Rodney looks embarrassed, "Flagecallus... I know, they were terrible with naming things. I-Iv'e just, um... I've just called it 'whale' for now".

"And why are you studying this?" Elizabeth seems perplexed.

"Oh. 'Cause he's out there right now, circling the city. Sheppard and I saw him." Rodney's eyes light up, "Probably the very same whale that saved me last year when I was trapped in that submerged Jumper."

John asks crossly, "I thought Zelenka and I saved you?"

"Well" Rodney defers, "you did, technically, but only after Sam led you to me."

Elizabeth and John both cock their heads in amusement.

"Sam?" Elizabeth asks.

"Ah, it's the whale." Rodney admits, "I named him after Sam-mantha Carter. Personal reasons."

"You named him Samantha Carter?" John pushes his brows together.

"Well, Sam's a boy's name too."

John presses his lips together trying to stop himself from laughing.

"And how do you know... he's a he?" Elizabeth asks.

"Oh, because I cross referenced the renderings in the database with the whale outside, and you'll see," Rodney taps his screen to change view. "the males have a rather prominent-"

Elizabeth cuts him off "Oh, it's okay, never mind. I'll take your word for it." She casts her gaze from John to Rodney, "I trust this little diversion isn't actually cutting into your work time?"

"Oh, no, no," Rodney tells her earnestly, "No, of course not. No, I'm just dabbling in my free time."

She nods and turns to go, "All right then boys. Dabble away."

John walks with Rodney to the lab, trying to think of something to get him riled, "So these whales. Did the Ancients say they're good eating?"

And Rodney falls for it, "Oh, you wouldn't."

"I would." John decides to see how long he can keep this going.

"No." Rodney protests, "You can't. I forbid it."

"You can't forbid me, Rodney."

"Yes, well..." Rodney looks sincerely distressed, "Then, please. There is plenty of other food, and, just, just for me, maybe don't eat, Sam?"

He chuckles, "Teasing you is so much fun, you are so easily provoked."

"Oh. It's the kidding." Rodney looks makes a face at him.

John looks at him affectionately, "You know, I only tease people I like, right?"

Rodney's face slowly light up. He looks so beautiful when smiles like that.


Later, when John pops into the lab, Rodney tells him that there are now two whales circling. Rodney thinks the second one must be Sam's mother, due to her larger size.

Making a face, John tells Rodney it's creepy when he calls the whale 'Sam' and to stop doing it. Rodney dismisses the notion and continues using the name. As John leans over his shoulder and watches the whales on the underwater scanner, he feels caught up in the enthusiasm, suggesting they take a Jumper for a closer look.

Once Rodney has gotten some Dramamine from Carson and it settled into the Jumper, John looks over at him in the copilot chair, noticing that he seems a little edgy, "You all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Rodney waves his hand, "I never feel safe in these things underwater."

"In space, you're okay?" John jokes.

"Yeah, of course I am." Rodney sounds confused, "Why wouldn't I be?"

John bites his lip in amusement; Rodney is quirkiest person he knows. He radios Zelenka in the control room to make sure he is tracking them. For some reason there have been navigational glitches with the Jumpers lately. Zelenka tells them which bearing to take to find the whales.

"Oh, there they are." Rodney pulls up the view screen, "Should have a visual on them any moment now."

As they get within visual range, a splitting pain shoots through John's head and he lifts his hand to rub his eyes. Rodney notices immediately, "What? What is it?"

"Nothing." John tries to shake it off, "Just got a headache all of the sudden."

He slows the Jumper and Rodney asks, "Where'd they go?"

"I don't know." John peers out the window. Something moves and John realizes that they are no longer looking at an underwater scape, but the blue hue of the creature's body. He almost jumps when he sees the size of the eye -it take up about 20% of the window. And it seems to be staring right at them.

"Oh." Zelenka speaks over the com, "They're right in front of you."

"Yeah" John answers, "Well, we're aware of that!"

He sees Rodney wince in pain and lift his hand to his head.

"What's wrong?"

"Now my head's hurting too." Rodney answers.

"That's not a coincidence." John frowns.

"I don't think so." Rodney agrees.

John tries to pull back, but the giant marine creatures surround them now. Every way he turns, one of them arcs around the Jumper.

Looking at Rodney, he does a double take. "Rodney?"


"Your nose is bleeding."

Rodney puts his hand to his face and looks disgusted by sight of his own blood, "Oh." He pinches his nose and leans his head back.

Another voice comes over the com, "John, this is Elizabeth. How are you holding up?"

"Other than feeling like my head's about to explode, I'm fine."

A whale arcs in front of the window and Rodney complains, "I thought we were moving away from them?"

"I'm trying to but they're cutting us off." John says in frustration.

Rodney grunts in pain and hold his head in his hand.

"What happened?" Elizabeth asks.

"The whales are getting way too close." John tells her.

Rodney's breath hitches and he collapses onto the console, unconscious. John is alarmed, "Crap."

Elizabeth yells, "John, what's going on there?"

"Rodney's passed out. His ears are bleeding. We gotta get out of the water."

John feels his ears; they are bleeding too. He pulls the Jumper straight up, arching around the whales. If he can't get them out of here, he's going to pass out too.

"We're out of the water. Rodney's in trouble. Have a medical team ready."
He and Rodney have been getting so close by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 53 takes place during Season 3: episode 12

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. He and Rodney have been getting so close

When he sees Rodney wake up on the stretcher next to him, John is relieved. After resting for a while, he is starting to feel better. Leaning over to speak to Rodney, he says, "Pains going away. Think my hearing's gettin' better too. What about you?"

Rodney keeps working on his tablet and doesn't look up.

"Rodney!" John watches him for a reaction, "Canadian Football League's a joke."


What else is Canadian? "Celine Dion is overrated."

Okay, Rodney might not care about that. John thinks of the prefect zinger, "Zelenka is smarter than you are!"

Rodney seems undisturbed, then turns to him speaking in loud voice, "Hey! I found mention of a bio lab in the database! Ancient scientists used it to study animal life! We should check it out!"

"Okay... Meredith." John replies. Still nothing.

There are lots of people coming to the infirmary now, bleeding from the echolocation of the now hundreds of whales swarming around the city. Some people are even having hallucinations; they are calling them ghosts.


The two of them decide to check out this biolab and see if they can turn up some information about what's going on.

John follows Rodney's sensor readings into a formally flooded section of the city. Suddenly, Rodney puts his fist up to indicate a full stop.

It takes some willpower not to burst out laughing. It cracks him up when Rodney tries to do military signals. But Rodney just keeps holding his fist there while looking at his tablet.

John can't help it; he walks up to Rodney's hand, grabs it, and pulls it down.

Undeterred, Rodney yanks his arm away, pointing and yelling, "This is it!"

They walk into the lab and Rodney pulls up a screen. It looks like some kind of sound translation. The Ancients were studying sound waves, possibly even communicating with the whales.

While they inspect the lab further, the rest of the city seems to be falling gravely ill, suffering from hallucinations and other effects of the echolocation. Of course Caldwell's plan is to kill the whales, thousands now, circling the city. Rodney explains to Elizabeth that the whales are not the threat; they are trying to warn them about something.

While adjusting the equipment, Rodney tells her "It's like a receiver calibrated to the specific frequencies on which the whales communicate. The Ancients designed it to study whales. So they could learn about their songs. They were studying the whales language, trying to assign frequencies and identify moods."

"All sorts of tree-huggy stuff." John adds. He points to Rodney, "Tell them about the ghosts."

"Ah! Not ghosts, imagine projections. There appears to be a causal relationship with the whales. They may very well be what's projecting the images to us, and this receiver should, from what I can tell so far, be able to interpret them."

There is not much for John to do but watch as Rodney toils at the machine trying to learn more. Watching Rodney move his hands around while he speaks, John finds him irresistibly sexy when he's all excited about solving a problem.


By the time John and Rodney make their way back to the control room, they have figured out the mystery of what the whales have been trying to warn them about. It's a coronal mass ejection. Apparently, the sun in this solar system has an unusually turbulent sunspot cycle every 15,000 years or so.

The last time it happened, the Ancients had a ship close to the sun at the time of the event. The pilot was able to jump back to Atlantis in time, just ahead of the radiation wave to warn the city to extend the shields far enough to protect a large portion of the planet. It is happening again, and it is happening right now.

Everyone scrambles to find a plan. Since the IOA took 2 of the their ZMP's, they don't have enough power to protect the planet. Even if they can protect the city, the massive extinctions and radiation will make the planet uninhabitable for them. And there is no time to evacuate everyone.

Elizabeth suddenly faints. Her ears are bleeding; John carries her to the crowded infirmary. As he steps in, he sees a blanket being pulled over a body.

Carson tells him, "Sergeant Bell developed an aneurysm from the pressure. First fatality."

John walks over to Teyla's bedside where Ronan is keeping watch, "How is she?"

"Out of time." Ronan's voice is hoarse.

"Guess we all are." John murmurs, he walks out to the hall to collect his thoughts and come up with an idea.

Ronan's voice stops him, "Sheppard." He turns and Ronan asks, "You got a plan?"

"Sure." John lies and presses his lips together. He will have one.

When he gets back to the control room Zelenka is staring at the massive amount of whales on screen, "Look at them, seeking shelter under the umbrella of the city."

And then an idea comes to him in a flash, he radios Caldwell "I think we have a plan."

"We do?" Rodney stands up.

He tells Rodney to take him to the ZPM and explains what he is thinking on the way. Opening the chamber to the generator, Rodney frets about the plan, telling John that they will have to get suicidally close to the sun.

"That's why we're taking the ZPM," John elaborates, "to give the Daedalus' shield an extra boost."

"Okay," Rodney sounds like he is speaking to a grade school class, "you want to deflect the coronal mass ejection away from the planet."

"Like an umbrella." John reminds him.

"Okay. Listen to me" Rodney lifts up a tablet and sketches out when he is saying, "This, this, is the sun, and this, this is us. A bolt of energy unlike anything you could possible comprehend is going to shoot out of the photosphere, at a tremendous velocity, okay? It is going to immediately start fanning out, like so."

"I know."

"Which means that we will have to be really close to the surface of the sun, if we want to intercept that stream and deflect it before it can start spreading out."

"I know, Rodney!"

"No, no, I don't think you do. I don't think you fully grasp the reality of just how damn hot it gets that close to the surface of the sun!"

"That's why we're taking a ZPM to strengthen the shields."

"From the blast wave, yes, but even with the shields at that strength, the, the buildup of residual heat behind it could cause serious problems for the Daedalus and everyone inside it."

"Could." John closes the carry case containing to the ZPM "Could cause." He walks over to Rodney's side and sets the case down. He offers more reassurance, but Rodney is frustrated and starts to turn away.

To stop him, John places his hand on Rodney's chest. He tries to convey the protectiveness he feels for him. He would never let anything happen to Rodney.

It seems to get through and Rodney puts his reservations aside as they beam aboard the Daedalus to carry out John's crazy plan. Well, all of it is really riding on Rodney now, whether or nor he will be able to tie the ZPM into the ship's shields in time.

As the blast hits the ship, John feels elated that this is going to work. But perhaps his relief is a little premature. The blast keeps coming at them, showing no signs of relenting. As the ship begins to lose structural integrity, Rodney informs them that ejection could last hours or days. But then, just as suddenly as the storm started, it is over.


When they get back home, John goes to find Rodney out on the balcony. The screen in the control room has revealed that all the whales began leaving as soon as the threat subsided.

"They're gone, Rodney." John tells him.

"Not all of them. Look" Rodney points to a whale that is breaching the water nearby.

"Let me guess," John leans forward, "Your buddy, Sam."

"I like to think so." Rodney smiles, "I like to think he's saying goodbye."

John shrugs, "Makes sense. He saved your life, now you've saved his. Now, you're even."

Just then, John has the most overwhelming urge to wrap his arms around Rodney and pull him close; but instead he just pats Rodney on the shoulder before he leaves. There is more he has to get done today before he can meet up Rodney later. It has become a given that most nights he will meet up with Rodney later.

Over the last couple months, John has felt himself growing closer and closer to Rodney. He has stopped having flashbacks or nightmares; he just likes to spend the night in Rodney's room.

The two of them lounge on the couch a lot together in the evenings. It feels so comfortable and familiar. John is always looking for a reason to touch Rodney, to tease him and wrestle a little, or prop his feet onto Rodney's lap.

It almost feels like... Well, he doesn't know exactly, but it feels good. Rodney has made it so easy for him to be there. Whether Rodney is there or not, John has gotten used to coming and going whenever he likes.

Sometimes, he straightens up a little, just to help out, but he likes the way the room feels. It's just so Rodney. And Rodney has an effect on John that he has come to crave.

It's not even sexual, of course there is that too, but there is a peace and a deep sense of knowing, of being seen. Rodney isn't at all like anyone he's ever known. When John first met him, he'd been attracted to Rodney's looks, but he had no idea what a strange and wonderful person he really was.

John wishes that he'd handled things in the past differently. He doesn't know if Rodney would ever still want him that way. And John doesn't really know how to do this... but knows he would let Rodney kiss him now. He would kiss Rodney back. He would hold him afterward, curl up in bed with Rodney. He would spend the whole night with him.

Letting himself think like this is dangerous, of course. Right now, he doesn't have to worry too much about what anyone might think of all the time he spends with Rodney. But, that is because it is all completely innocent.

If John were to try to have something more, he could lose everything. He tries not to think about it, all of it is wrong. He shouldn't be thinking about Rodney this way, he shouldn't want to be with a man this way. It's easier just to shut it all off.

The problem is, that something about Rodney makes him feel things, like Rodney knows how to get to his shut-off valve. What's worse, is John doesn't want to stop him. He wants to feel everything with Rodney.

That night they hunker down on the couch and watch a movie. Rodney seems extra tired and starts to drift off halfway through the film. John watches as Rodney's head begins to sag one side and then his body starts to sink into the sofa.

Sliding forward, John pulls Rodney in and lets his head fall back onto his chest. He wraps his arms around him. Rodney is breathing peacefully. Oh. It feels so right to have Rodney in his arms. John let his hand sway and brush over Rodney's chest. He has missed the feel of the smooth skin underneath that shirt.



Rodney's eyes flutter for a moment and then he keeps them closed. John is holding him and Rodney doesn't want to do anything that might cause him to let go. He is heaven with his head leaning back into John. One arm is holding Rodney in place, while another moves lightly across his chest. Rodney breathes softly and tries not to break the spell.

He never knows when John is going to reach out for him in some way, just that it is rare and won't last. He is going to savor every moment he has being close to John. It is wrong, probably. Rodney shouldn't let himself do this, but he is so pathetically in love.

Whenever and whatever John wants from him, Rodney will give it. He will give anything for the exquisite and terribly repressed soldier who will never love him back. It doesn't matter; Rodney has belonged to John, ever since he first fucked him in Antarctica.

He can't resist it; he is like a moth to the flame. It always ends up hurting but what does it really matter? He has no control anyway. Fingers trail down the side of Rodney's face and he gasps in surprise.

John is pushing Rodney upright and backing away, "You awake?"

"Mmm." Rodney blinks sleepily in confusion.

"Sort of." He looks questioningly at John but his face is impassive.

"Probably time to get some sleep." He tells Rodney.

"Yeah." Rodney peers at John looking for something more, but it isn't there.

Then he looks back down feeling a bit sad, "Sleep." He is tired, very tired. Rodney stands up off the couch and gets under the blankets on his bed.
John was going to find the courage by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 50 takes place during Season 3: episode 14

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. John was going to find the courage

John shakes his head in amusement at Rodney's hypochondria, this time Rodney seems to believe that a mysterious energy discharge from an Ancient machine is going to turn him into a mutant.

Carson had declared Rodney unharmed and fit for active duty but Rodney had argued, "Are you insane? Look, I need to be put under guard. Who knows what I could become?"

John had rolled his eyes dramatically wondering why he had even bothered to come to the med lab in the first place but he agreed to be Rodney's escort for the afternoon, on the off chance that he might develop any bizarre mutations.

Back in the lab with the mysterious Ancient machine, Zelenka starts teasing Rodney about how he was showing off for an attractive woman on the team. He says that is why Rodney got into trouble with the machine in the first place.

John doesn't know who they are talking about at first, but he will get to the bottom of it. For instance, how hot is she really? Does McKay have a thing for her? And, can John put an end to it before anything happens? Mentally, he kicks himself for being so jealous; he knows he shouldn't, but he has been feeling more possessive of Rodney lately.

"Which one's Esposito?" John asks Zelenka.

"Oh the long, dark hair." Zelenka replies.

Oh. She is hot. He doesn't look up or act interested outwardly but inside he feels venomous, "Oh right, the one with the perfect little-"

"Would you mind?" Rodney interrupts, "We're trying to work here."

Ah. So Rodney is interested, otherwise this kind of talk wouldn't bother him. John feels tense but acts innocent, "For the record, I was going to say smile."

"Mmm," Rodney groans, "yeah, sure you were."

Rodney and Zelenka argue for a bit. Finally Rodney gets fed up and declares in frustration, "Okay, that's it. I'm going for lunch."

John follows him there, but Rodney seems to be in his own little world as the two of them walk to the cafeteria. He loses track of him somewhere in line.



Despite his growing hunger, Rodney loses interest in his meal as he listens to his teammates talk about him at the next table.

"How is he doing?" Teyla asks, concerned.

"Same old Rodney." John assures her.

"You sure?" Ronan asks, "He looks a couple pounds heavier to me."

Teyla scolds him, "Ronan."

"What?" Ronan says blithely, "He eats all the time. It's not like he exercises."

And then John says something unforgivable, "Feeding his unhappiness."

Rodney chokes on his food -he doesn't care if it was meant as a joke, John has no right to tell anyone about his unhappiness. Most people would probably think he was perfectly happy, wouldn't they?

He turns around in his chair to confront John, "Hello, I'm right here. I can-"

But they are sitting on the far side of the room, way out of earshot. Rodney twiddles his thumbs and turns back to himself speaking softly, "I can hear you... Huh."

Then he walks over, to confront them in earnest. "For your information" Rodney speaks pointing his finger at Ronan, "I'm exactly the same weight I've been since I got here."

He turns his finger to John thinking about how John already knows this, "I need to eat regularly, otherwise I become hypoglycemic. And," Rodney continues with a glare, "I am generally a very happy person."

John has the good sense to look guilty. An intercom saves him, telling the whole team to report to the control room. Rodney is not done with him; John will be getting quite an earful later.


When the team gets back from the mission it is clear that Rodney is displaying some incredible new powers. Singlehandedly, he disarmed all the Wraith just by 'thinking' the weapons out of their hands.

Once they are all in the infirmary, Elizabeth asks in concern, "Have there been any other instances of this power manifesting itself?"

"Powers. Plural." Rodney preens.

"What else can you do besides telekinesis?" Elizabeth asks.

"Well super-hearing for one," Rodney recounts, "and I'm not sure, but I think I may actually be getting smarter. It's hard to say for sure because I was pretty smart to start with, but, um, recently I've been having some ideas that I don't think even I would've thought of before."

"Does super-ego count as a power?" John wonders out loud.

Someone brings a plate of food in from the cafeteria and Rodney digs in with relish.

"He can also be dealing with a super-appetite, although it's hard to tell because he ate so much before." John adds.

"Very funny." Rodney doesn't bother looking up from his plate.

He feels gleeful when Carson verifies that his brain synaptic activity has accelerated beyond normal human levels. Digging in for another bite, he beams at John, "Seriously, me a super-hero, who would have thought it?"

Carson eventually releases him from the infirmary and sends Ronan with him to keep an eye on things. As they walk by Esposito in the hallway, Rodney hears her saying something to him.

"Really?" His head swivels.

"What?" She looks confused.

"You think so?" Rodney asks again. Then he turns to Ronan, "Huh. Hey, she thinks I'm hot."

Esposito shakes her head and she nervously tucks her hair behind her ear, "I didn't say anything."

"Oh, no, no, no." Rodney bubbles, "I'm sure that you... uh..."

"Oh," His tone shifts dramatically, "of course, no. I should have known."

Rodney's arms flap to his side in frustration as he turns back to Ronan. "She meant you."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Esposito gapes in embarrassment as she backs away.

Ronan peers at him, "McKay she didn't say a word."

"Oh my God. I can read minds." Rodney's finger vibrate near his temples, "Oh, this is cool."

"No. It isn't." Ronan insists.


When they reach the chair room, Rodney to make adjustments to the city's power distribution. He has an elegant plan for minimizes the power usage. Shortsighted Zelenka comes in to scold him for all the power disruptions.

As usual, Rodney wins the argument. Zelenka storms out of the room swearing in Czech.

"He tries to hide it but deep down, I'm the wind beneath his wings." Rodney says as he rotates the control chair and smiles to those remaining in the room.

As John and Elizabeth walk in and Rodney tells them, "You can all relax, I'll have us back online in 2 minutes."

"We need to talk to you." Elizabeth begins.

"What do you mean I'm going to die?" Rodney sits up from the chair and disconnects from the power, "I'm not even sick! I feel great, never better!"

John starts, "That ancient device-"

Rodney cuts him off, "Has accelerated my evolution." He looks to Elizabeth reading her mind and continuing, "Eventually I'll reach a point where I'm capable of Ascension, but Ascension takes more than that, there's a mental component.

I need to know how to make it happen... which I don't.... Yet! I'm getting smarter by the minute. It's a pretty good assumption I'll be able to figure it out on the way. Okay, so it's not as easy as that."

He continues having the conversation entirely on his own, "Well, even if I don't, so I stay a highly-evolved human. I mean, I don't have to Ascend. It's a choice, right?

No? What do you mean, no?! Oh, that stupid Ancient device doesn't work properly, does it? It's set in motion a series of genetic mutations that will result in my death if I don't Ascend?"

"There is something easier about this." John tells Elizabeth.

"That's why the Ancients didn't put it into common use." Rodney complains, "It's just one more in a long line of abysmal, over ambitious failures! Oh God. I'm a dead man."

One of the technicians interjects to remind Rodney that he has not finished reconfiguring the power. He tells her it will be okay and he get to it in a moment.

"Okay," Rodney reasons out loud, "there's still time left, right? So, maybe there's a way to reverse the process. Zelenka! Where's Zelenka? What the Hell has he been doing?"

The technician alerts Rodney to massive power surges in the grid and he folds back into the chair, "Damn it."

When he finishes the interface, Rodney finds out that the temporary instabilities he created in the power grid caused Zelenka to be hit with an arc of electricity. He races to the infirmary and sees Carson about to apply the paddles to Zelenka's charred chest.

In horror, Rodney calls out Zelenka's first name, "Radek!" He tells the medical staff to move.

"Rodney, the man is dying!" Carson protests.

"I know, just give me a second. I know." He places his hands on Zelenka's scorched torso and the wound disappears.

Zelenka is breathing again and sits up. Rodney shakes his head in and leaves the room.



Ever since John found out that Rodney can read minds, he has been avoiding him. He makes it through the day without incident and heads to his own quarters that evening as he tries to collect his thoughts.

He is fearful that Rodney might die. But he believes in his heart that they will figure a way out of this. Well, probably Rodney will figure something out. He always does.

What he is really terrified of is that Rodney will discover everything John feels for him. John isn't ready to face it himself; the last thing he wants is for Rodney to start vocalizing all his intimate thoughts to a room full of people. No, he can't face Rodney, not yet.



When Elizabeth checks up on Rodney later that evening, he tells her he has been working on numerous projects to improve Atlantis. He has a way the increase shield strength on the Daedalus, a hyperdrive model for a Puddlejumper, he has even invented a new math.

Rodney asks about Zelenka and Elizabeth seems surprised that he can't just read her thoughts, "You have to ask?"

"I'm blocking out people's thoughts." He explains, "It was becoming too overwhelming."

Elizabeth commends him on his diligence but wants him to consider the possibility of Ascension.

But Rodney isn't very interested, "I mean, sure, there was a part of me that, from the beginning knew that this was too good to be true. Nothing this great could ever happen to me without really, really bad consequences.

Anyways, now I have come to terms with that, and I just wanna get as much done in the time I have left and not waste my time on a bunch of mumbo-jumbo I'm not going to understand anyways." He turns to get back to work.

Still, Elizabeth reminds him that if he did manage to Ascend, he could always theoretically retake human form and Rodney considers that maybe the pursuit might be worth his time after all.



The next day, when Elizabeth asks John to help Rodney meditate, he tries to set aside his inner turmoil to help his friend. He has Teyla bring an assortment of candles from her room and set up a relaxing atmosphere in his quarters. John sets the monitor for the neural interface.

He is nervous when Rodney arrives and the first thing he blurts out is, "So, Elizabeth tells me you can't read minds anymore?"

"I can," Rodney shrugs, "I just choose not to. I can block it out. Why? What are you hiding?"

Fear seizes John before he can hide it from his face. He tries to sound unaffected, "Nothing."

"Calm down, Colonel," Rodney eyes the monitor, "I won't pry."

John is relieved, but still uncomfortable. He walks over to interface and types some commands into the computer.

Rodney sits on the floor and places the band around his head.

As he sits back on cabinet looking at the computer screen, John tells him, "I don't think this is gonna work with you hooked up to the machine."

"How else am I going to know if it's working at all?" Rodney whines, "Look, you're teaching me how to meditate. Not exactly good odds there to start with."

"I realize that." John's voice is heavy with sarcasm. He changes his tone to be more frank, "Truth is, I was never really very good at this myself."

"So why am I here?" Rodney asks.

"Elizabeth made me." John fiddles with the computer.

"Oh." Rodney is understanding, "Yeah. Me, too."

"I was with those Ancients for 6 months. Maybe I picked up something that might be able to help you?" John pauses for a minute, not buying it himself. "Yeah." He stands up, "The first thing I think you need to come to terms with is that this is not a means to an end."

"What?" Rodney blinks up at him, "Well, of course it is."

"No, no, no," John corrects him, "you can't do that. You can't think 'I'm going to Ascend and then retake human form and be done with it all."

"That is exactly what I'm trying to do." Rodney waves his hand to try to make his point, "Look from what I understand, dishonesty isn't gonna help the process."

"Good point." John nods.

Rodney complains that he is uncomfortable sitting cross-legged and John tells him shift into a position that works for him. He lays flat on the floor and John sits on the bed behind him.

"Now," John tries to sound wise, "I want you to become aware of your breaths... going in and out of your body."

"In and out." Rodney repeats slowly.

"Do it without talking." John tells him.

"Oh, right." Rodney opens up his bright blue eyes and looks up at John.

In that moment, Rodney looks so beautiful and John is grateful that he isn't reading his mind or realizing how much John wants him.

"Now" John tries to sound relaxed, "I want you to think about the things that you worry about the most."

"You mean like death?" Rodney says in alarm.

"There's no talking," he instructs. John doesn't want to think about Rodney dying either, "Think of anything that makes you anxious."

"Oh, God, there's so many things." Rodney's worried eyes stay open.

Leaning up onto his shoulder, Rodney looks at John in dread, "Not talking happens to be one of them, by the way."

"Deal with it." he says in a strong voice. Rodney obeys and lies back down. John tries to get him back on track and begins again.

"Now. Imagine yourself on a Ferris wheel."

"What?" Rodney squawks.

"Look I told you," John says defensively, "I didn't pay much attention to what the Ancients were teaching me. I like Ferris wheels, so that's what I thought about... and the fact that the woman teaching me to meditate was... very attractive."



Rodney's is irritated; he hates it when John throws his sexual liaisons in his face... of which there seem to be many.

Meanwhile Rodney hasn't been with anyone since... since John.

"Why am I not surprised you didn't Ascend, huh?" He sits up. He is so done with this whole thing.

"Okay look, I'm a busy man, you're a busy man. We're both busy men." The last thing he wants to think about now is one of John's lovers.



John immediately regrets saying it. God why had he brought that up? Why is he always making a point about being attracted to woman in front of Rodney?

"Just relax, all right?" He tries to soothe Rodney back into lying down, "I'm gonna try to remember what the woman taught me."

"All right." Rodney slouches back in defeat.

When Rodney is lying back down John speaks, "Now, there's a dark storm swirling in your head."

"How is that comforting?" Rodney looks at him suspiciously.

Impatiently, John tells him, "I'm getting there."

Rodney tries to get back up because he has an idea about Chaos Theory that he wants to write down, but John compels him to stay and keeps talking.

'Damn it Rodney you can't die, take this seriously.' "Now the sky is clearing." John continues, "All your troubles are fading away."

"Bright blue sky... I am there." Rodney whispers, smiling with his eyes closed.

John gazes at his face, Rodney looks so kissable right now.

After a moment the machine beeps and Rodney asks John, "How am I doing?"

"Don't think that way." John warns him.

"Oh forget it." Rodney rolls up off the floor in frustration, "Look, this is never going to work."

"What's wrong now?" John asks.

"I just realized why light behaves as both particles and waves."

"Rodney" John pleads, "if you don't try to do this-"

"I know!" Rodney snaps on his way out door, "I don't have much time left."

John's stomach lurches, just over a week, that's what Rodney has left. He clasps his hands together, turning them over each other as Rodney storms out of the room.

Then It hits John hard -the reality that he is going to lose him.

His life without Rodney is something he doesn't want to imagine. Rodney has become everything to him. John looks up at the lonely Johnny Cash poster above his bed and then buries his face in his hands.

No. It wasn't supposed to be like this. The two of them were supposed to keep spending time together, and one of those evenings when John was spending the night in Rodney's room, he was going to get up the courage to tell Rodney that he loved him.

The thought comes unbidden, never conscious before now. A ripple of fear grips his chest at the realization.

He is in love with Rodney. How long has this been true? He loves Rodney more than he has ever loved anyone, more than Nancy.... even more than Lyle.

His head sags between his legs, he feels relieved to admit it, but disgusted with himself as well. Maybe what his father said is true. The word rings in his ears, 'faggot'.

Men aren't supposed to love other men this way.

When the two of them had been together, 3 years ago, Rodney had seemed disgusted with himself afterwards. John had thought it felt good until he realized how upset Rodney was.

All of this is wrong. He has tried to fight it, but he only wants Rodney more after all this time. John has come to know Rodney so well, all of his various moods and irritating habits, and he only loves him more for it.

God. He loves him. What the fuck is wrong with him? Can he only admit to having feelings when someone is about to die? When he doesn't have to risk anything or try to have a relationship?

And what kind of relationship could he have even have offered Rodney? Not much of anything with John being military. He supposes he could have considered resigning but this is the only life he's ever known. Would he leave Pegasus, his home in Atlantis? Would Rodney have left with him? None of it matters now.

That future is over. That future could never have been anyway. And he shouldn't want it. John curls on his bed in pain imagining that Rodney is still in the room, that John is holding him in his arms.

He whispers to the ghost, "Rodney." It is a plea to take all this shame and self-loathing away, to redeem him from the prison of his heart, to forgive him for his failure. But he is alone. He is always alone in the end.


For the rest of the week, John stays as close to Rodney as he can. Rodney is constantly busy; he barely even sleeps. So, John has taken up camp in Rodney's room, bringing him extra food and snacks and tending to him however he can. It is the only time he gets a chance to see him.

Rodney scarcely takes note that John is there on the couch. He buries himself into whatever project he has and then collapses in exhaustion onto the bed. If Rodney were still reading minds, he would hear John screaming in agony inside. But as it is, he barely seems to notice John is there.
I've loved you for some time now by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 55 takes place during Season 3: episode 14

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. I've loved you for some time now

Elizabeth keeps bothering Rodney while he is in the lab. She doesn't seem to understand how short his time is now, that he can't waste any of it on personal interactions.

She is asking him, "Are you sure this is how you want to-"

Rodney finishes her sentence, "Spend my last couple of days alive? Don't have much of a choice do I?"

"Rodney, I think it's very decent and noble of you to want to leave a scientific contribution behind, but I still believe there's a chance you can Ascend if you put your mind to it."

He looks up from his tablet, "We both know that that is a waste of time. Maybe you could do it, but..."

"I don't know if I could, but you are certainly selling yourself short by not even trying." She says passionately.

"To be honest," Rodney confesses, "I don't have the first clue where to start."

"Stop thinking." Elizabeth insists.

"See, I don't understand that." Rodney whines.

She continues looking at Rodney intently, "One of the biggest things that holds people back is that somewhere deep down they believe they're not deserving."

Okay. Well, he certainly does not think he is deserving of much, and he don't see that changing anytime soon.

"You have to release your burden." Elizabeth tells him.

"Oh, please." Rodney doesn't see the point of this and groans.

"I know spirituality to you is a load of mumbo-jumbo, but it does help people find peace with themselves."

Right. Peace with himself. And did he also mention that he's a very happy person? Rodney makes a point, "But you have to believe."

"I'm not talking about religion." Elizabeth clarifies. "I'm talking about shedding yourself of guilt, of anger, of ill-feeling, of anything that makes you feel shame."

'Shame'. Rodney feels cold inside. He thinks of Alex, if only it were that easy. He feels so exposed now under Elizabeth's gaze.

"And then you can focus all of your energy on Ascending."

He feels compelled to dispute when she is saying and takes on a disbelieving air, "So what you're telling me is that I don't feel worthy?"

"Rodney, I don't know what you truly believe about yourself. For all I know, you use your intelligence to compensate, to make yourself feel better for other things you think you may lack."

"Like what?" Rodney demands. He feels like his soul has been bared and he is angry at Elizabeth for seeing right through him. What else does she know?

Elizabeth just smiles, "That I can't tell you... but maybe you could start reading your own mind?"

As she walks away, Rodney feels empty. She is right about it all; it is easier to distract himself by working out problems in his mind, rather than face the pain and loneliness that has only grown more acute with the certainty of his death.

He hates himself; he doesn't feel worthy of anything. And the amount of shame he feels is blinding. It is too late to fix the worst of his problems but maybe he can do something small for the people in his life. He still has a few days and he could spend them differently.


Remembering that Carson has a thing for a vintage game called 'Operation', Rodney constructs a whimsical but detailed model of the anatomical game.

Except for the head, all the bones and organs are represented in his 3-dimential model; they are wedged inside each other like a complex puzzle. If unraveled in the right way, a pair of tiny tweezers can pull them all out. If not done carefully, the conductive metal around the edges makes a loud buzzing sound.

The image around body and the likeness of the face are similar to the original game; only they represent an illustrated version of Carson. Even the haircut is reminiscent of his friend. On the back of the box, Rodney inscribes it.

'Carson Beckett... The best doctor in two galaxies and the best friend I ever had.'

When Carson sees the gift he gets quite emotional; he clutches Rodney to his chest, telling him they will find a way to beat this thing and not to give up yet.

"I'm not going to give up on my best friend and you can't either." Carson sniffs.

Rodney pats him on the back, "Yeah, yeah I know. But do you like it?"

Carson releases him and returns his attention to the gift, "Like it? I bloody love it. It's the best present anyone's-" his voice clenches and Carson sounds like he is trying not to cry.

Collecting himself, Carson tells Rodney resolutely, "The two of us... We're going to be playing a lot of this game, you'll see."

"You'll have a chance to do the real thing once I'm dead." He answers dryly.


"Sorry, dying man humor. Seriously, humor me though, okay. I want you to do an autopsy."

"Rodney! I will do no such thi-"

"Please! As my final request, just, you know, IF, if I happen to die. I'd like my body to my dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge."

Sighing heavily, Carson tells him he will honor the request, should such an eventually occur. Then he requests that Rodney help him enjoy his new present. The seriousness of the situation falls away and they begin to laugh and talk as they usually would.

After playing a couple rounds of the game with Carson, Rodney seeks out Zelenka and makes a heartfelt apology. Then, Rodney brings Teyla a memorial tea service that he has prepared, in honor of the anniversary of her father's death. Teyla is touched that he has taken the time to learn the traditional Athosian ceremony.

It takes a while, but Rodney finally finds Ronan; he has to literally stand in his way to get the big guy to listen to him.

"Look I don't know how much time I have left, so I'm just gonna cut to the chase here, ask you a rather personal question. Hopefully you won't just hit me in the face."

Ronan raises an eyebrow in amusement and Rodney continues, "Asking away. Those... scars on your back from your encounters with the Wraith, you know, with the tracking device?"

He nods and Rodney asks, "Are those, like, a badge of honor for you, or are they just a constant reminder of something you'd rather forget? I mean, I know it's none of my business. I just..."

"I try not to let things I can't change bother me." Ronan answers in solemn voice.

"That's very healthy." Rodney is shocked by the profundity of the words, wishing he could do the same.

Looking around nervously, Rodney then lurches forward, grabbing Ronan in a tight hug. It is awkward and Ronan pats Rodney on the back more than once trying to give him the signal to let go.

Finally, he releases him and steps away, "I hope you don't mind. I just healed them."

Ronan looks astonished but pleased as Rodney leaves to deliver his last gift. It is a 500 page biography he has written about Elizabeth's life and unsung victories. With his enhanced brainpower he was able to compose the book in a single afternoon. If only he could have been this productive before dying.


When he returns to his quarters, John is there reading his War & Peace novel. John has been with him every night this last week and Rodney really appreciates that he has helped him feel less alone.

Used to Rodney coming and going, John doesn't look up. After taking off his shoes and getting more comfortable, Rodney walks over to the couch and sits next him.

John looks up with a questioning and sad expression.

Trying to be playful, Rodney pushes his legs out so that John has to take them on his lap.

That gets a smile.

"So I've stopped working on my scientific contributions. I had a talk with Elizabeth and she convinced me to. Well, I don't know what she convinced me of." Rodney sighs. "She told me that most people are held back from Ascending by believing that they are unworthy."

Laughing at John's raised eyebrows, Rodney continues, "I know. Me? Unworthy? The thing is I didn't imagine she would know me well enough to say some of the things she did."

"Like what?" John asks.

"Well, for one she said I was probably using my intelligence to overcompensate for other things I thought I lacked. Then she hinted that I was hiding from an inner shame, -am I really that transparent?"

"No, I don't think so Rodney..." John answers softly, "You talk a lot but I don't think there is anything obvious about you."

Then John's tone becomes more playful, "You're an enigma."

"But not to you?" Rodney cocks his head.

"Even to me Rodney." John sighs.

Rodney is silent for a moment and then serious, "I feel a lot of shame. I, I do hate myself too much, you know, to be capable of Ascension. Not that I'm eating my unhappiness despite what some people may say."

He takes the time to glare at John. "But I am unhappy with myself - I don't think I deserve to be happy."

"Are you really that unhappy, Rodney?" John's eyes look mournful.

"Yes, John," Rodney is exasperated because John should already know this, "I'm terribly, terribly unhappy. Is that what you want to hear? I am only good as a scientist; I am worthless as a human being.

As I told Zelenka, I supplement my own anxieties or feelings of inadequacy by creating a bubble of hostility around myself and the rest of the world."

"You told that to Zelenka?" John seems stunned.

"Oh. Yes." Rodney is impatient again, "I apologized to him, because unlike me, he really is a decent human being."

John folds his arms protectively over Rodney's feet, "What happened to working through your fears, not believing your worst fears about yourself."

"Well that kind of thing takes time, time I don't have anymore." Rodney explains, "Plus my fears are true, that's why it would take time to change those things about myself.

-Your fears are different though," he reassures, not wanting to invalidate the previous conversation they had about this. "Yours really are totally false."

"I have a bubble too, Rodney." John rolls his eyes.

"You don't have a bubble," Rodney snorts, "you have castle walls, armored, with artillery. I bet there are some fortifications you don't even let yourself into."

"Is this your way of telling me again that I don't have a heart?" John's expression seems hurt.

"No, no, no. I don't mean that!" Rodney starts, "I was just thinking that, or I've thought about this before... and I think that you have a lot of chambers but there is an amazing garden all around the castle. And even in the inner courtyard. It's really quite pleasant."

"Pleasant." John sounds wooden.

"Okay, charming". Rodney continues, "People like you and care about you, even if you do hold them at arm's length. I'm not likeable at all, people can barely tolerate me."

John thinks for a second, "Your bubble isn't that hard to get through, you just have to come prepared for some stray arrows.



"I like you Rodney" John squeezes Rodney's feet and pauses, wanting to say more. 'I love you Rodney.' He opens his mouth to try to say it, but Rodney is talking again.

"But that's the point of the Ascension thing, I have to be okay with myself." Rodney pulls his legs back into himself and leans forward with anticipation looking at John, "Do you think it is even worth trying again?"

"Yes!" John answers trying not to think of what is probably coming, that he will lose Rodney. Anything is worth trying if is even a remote chance he could make it.

"Look" John tells him, "I still have all the equipment in my room, we could just go back there-"

"Right, let's go." Rodney gets up off the couch to find his shoes.

Getting off the couch, John tells himself that this is no time for personal revelations; Rodney's life is on the line and he can't let himself get sucked into negative thinking that this is his last chance. Once they get back to John's room, he lights the candles and dims the shades. Rodney looks over the equipment and puts the monitor strap on his head.

This time when Rodney lays on the ground, John joins him, sitting with his back against the bed. He wants to reach over and touch Rodney for reassurance but he steadies himself and places the computer on his lap. Rodney needs a friend right now, that's all.

Rodney makes it almost 30 minutes before he asks John, "What's it down to?"

"It's not important." John answers.

"What?" Rodney rasps and rolls over toward John. He leans on his arm so he can look over John's lap, "Of course it is. It's got to... What? 17 hertz? It's not even close!"

"It's closer than you've ever been." John tries to calm Rodney back down.

"Forget it." Rodney whips off the head monitor.

He is not going to let Rodney give up, John lifts his hands in frustration, "Look if you have to keep asking, you're obviously not getting it. This is about letting go."

Sitting up with his shoulders hunched in defeat, Rodney tells him sadly, "I don't know how to do that okay? I'm me. I don't know how not to be me."

It isn't fair that Rodney is going through this. John pushes lips together and furrows his brows, wishing they could trade places.

Despite John's efforts, Rodney seems to feel completely alone. He is letting him down. John's own head hangs in defeat as realizes he has failed the person he loves most in this world.



Rodney's voice cracks, "Look, thank you for all of your help." He realizes that in the last week or so how much he has been completely relying on John. John has been there for him in every way and Rodney never even thought to do anything special as a goodbye for him.

Maybe that's because he felt like things have been good between them and he didn't have any past misdeeds to make up for.

He would know if there was something unfinished between he and John wouldn't he? Rodney thinks he would sense it, but he can't be sure.

"I think, in the grand scheme of things, we're... " Rodney looks up at John with emotional and watery eyes, "We're good, aren't we?"



'Good', Rodney? After everything, we're just, 'good'? John's lips and brow are furrowed in a desperate attempt to keep his own emotions from spilling over. His face falters. This is what Rodney wants, not a declaration of his undying love. Just, 'good'.

He reaches into himself to find a casual grin, "Of course." He smiles lazily but his eyes are filled with the warmth in his heart.

"Right." Rodney looks relieved.

But It feels like he can't hold this back anymore, John has to tell Rodney. Now.

Before he can confess, Rodney is talking again, "Look, if it's not too much trouble, I'd like you to read my eulogy."

This is too much. John points his finger at Rodney raising his voice, "I refuse to discuss that." He moves up to the bed and begins unwinding the electrical cords so he doesn't have to look at Rodney.

"Just keep it simple." Rodney says as he stands up, "Make up a few nice things. I'd like my little sister to be there. And, oh, you should know that I told Beckett that he should most definitely do a full autopsy."

When John finally looks up at Rodney, his eyes are dark with emotion.

Oblivious, Rodney continues, "He can use my body for any kind of experimentation that might prove helpful, and..."

John looks away and throws a cord to the side of the bed, inside his mind he is screaming. 'Please stop, Rodney. Don't do this. I love you and I can't let you go.'

Unaware of his pain, Rodney continues, "Oh, and I'd like to be cremated with my ashes to be, ah"

He isn't going to let this continue, John doesn't know what he is going to say, but he knows he is going to take Rodney is his arms and never let go.

Rodney keeps talking but John walks in close, and interrupts, "Rodney..."

Just as John gets close enough to take Rodney in his arms, Rodney suddenly hunches over grasping at his temples. He makes a noise of pain and falls forward.

"Rodney!" John catches him in his arms. He steers them to the bed where Rodney gasps and holds his head doubled over in agony.

What if this is it? John is panicking. Rodney spasms in pain and John holds him to keep him from falling off the bed. Then Rodney lets out a sharp cry and goes limp.

With one hand firmly holding Rodney's shoulder, he reaches down to take his pulse with the other. John exhales in relief; he is still alive. He radios the infirmary and then wonders if he has lost his last chance to be alone with Rodney. In less than a minute there will be a medical team in his quarters with a gurney.

"Oh Rodney." John collapses on the bed and pulls Rodney's unconscious form into him, "I'm here, I'm right here."

He swallows hard; he cannot lose control of his emotions now, not with a medical team on the way. Maybe there is enough time though to tell Rodney. It will probably be his only chance.

"I was going to tell you earlier but I'm not good..." It is going to be hard to do without crying, he'd better get it over with.

"I love you Rodney. I can't say goodbye... but I can tell you that I love you... that I've loved you for some time now." John's voice cracks, "I always will."

"Just know that." John is losing control and his eyes start to tear, he pulls himself up off the bed and wipes his face. For a moment he leans his head into his hands, he just has to seem composed by time they get here. Fighting to regain emotional control, John kneels by the side of the bed, a less questionable position for people to find him in.
Paper ring by
Author's Notes:

Chapter 56 takes place during Season 3: episode 14

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him, there is no one John can turn to but Rodney. Somehow, he had known Rodney would be kind to him if he knew how much pain he was in...

. Paper ring

When the med team arrives and John backs away from Rodney, afraid that they may see something in him, guess at what he is feeling. He trails behind the gurney from a safe distance hoping no one will notice him. When other people begin to arrive in the infirmary, John stays in the background by the foot of the bed

Even when Rodney regains consciousness, John holds back, terrified that something in his voice or expression will give him away. Carson confirms that Rodney is close to death.

"There must be something we can do" John speaks up in a hoarse whisper.

Rodney is conscious again and tells John, "It's okay. You know, I'm actually feeling a sense of peace, interspersed with moments of sheer terror, of course."

"Rodney, as far as this Ascension thing" John's voice cracks a little, "I know you didn't have much success, but at this point, what do you got to lose?"

"May as well go out fighting, huh?" Rodney jokes.

"Absolutely." John smiles to