Category: SGA McKay/Sheppard
Word Count: 3,606
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue, no offense, no money.
“I was worried.”
Rodney turns at the sound of a voice behind him and it’s John standing there, watching him with his head canted, wind tousling his hair. He’s chewing idly on a blade of grass and watching Rodney with careful eyes. Rodney turns back to his hand, held up against the Ring of the Ancestors and feels… guilty.
“I just feel… don’t you ever think there’s somewhere we should be?” he asks and John takes the blade of grass from his mouth with tan fingers and quirks an eyebrow.
“We were supposed to be at Alanna’s an hour ago, if that’s what you mean?”
Rodney is going to say no, it’s really not but John is stepping up into his space, arm curling around his hip and Rodney lets go of the cool metal under his palm to place it against John’s chest.
Rodney isn’t quite sure how he became the wife, but when they gather for evening meals with the dozen or so other families of their clan, John gravitates towards the loose cluster of men and Rodney invariably ends up with the women, more often than not becoming a human climbing pole for the myriad children.
The women talk of ways to improve the village, new ideas and sometimes the higher learnings. The men talk strategy and fortifications and while Rodney tried to become involved in those discussions, he always found himself with little to contribute.
“Bethany still laments your John’s interest only running to the male kind,” Leesa says, elbowing Rodney in the side. He likes Leesa a great deal. She has a quick wit and a sharp tongue and appreciates his special brand of sarcasm. She’s looking in the direction of the aforementioned Bethany, who is sauntering past the loose grouping of men, trying to catch John’s eye.
Rodney’s used to it.
“His interest runs to me,” Rodney corrects sniffily and Leesa chuckles, intercepting a child who was running straight at one of the larger fires.
“I would still sleep with one eye open if I were you,” Leesa warns with a cheeky grin and Rodney relieves her of the squirming child who immediately goes slack and curls against him when he scoops her up. Leesa puts one hand on her hip and quirks an eyebrow at him. “Now just how you do that I’ll never know.”
“It helps that I always smell like Nada’s cookies,” Rodney grins. “Now, you were saying that you wanted to improve the water filtration?”
Leesa’s eyes light with interest as she nods.
“Apparently I have to guard against Bethany bumping me off so she can take my place in your bed,” Rodney comments wryly later that night, watching John pull his shirt over his head. Rodney undresses quickly, scooting into bed as soon as possible. He enjoys immensely John’s more languid approach, wandering about the room, dropping clothes as he goes while revealing more and more skin.
“You’re kidding right?” John asks with a small huff of a laugh. He might hang out with the men during the evening but he often needles Rodney later for the gossip and information he gets from the women. He’s interested and often has good ideas and Rodney thinks it a waste that he mostly uses his brain to think up new ways to kill things.
It’s an old argument that he’s not willing to launch into right at that moment.
“Leesa was going on about how good I am with kids again,” Rodney says, changing tack.
“She won’t be happy till we’re both fat and have dozens of kids running around, will she?” John sighs, but the sound is fond.
“I’m not sure how we’re supposed to manage the dozens of kids part but I’m certainly well on my way to the other if I keep letting Leesa bribe me with her sweet tarts.” Rodney pokes at his belly dejectedly and John laughs. He knees up onto their bed and leans over to press his face to Rodney’s middle.
“No poking the bits I like,” John says and Rodney wraps his arms around John’s lean frame so they’re pressed together, shoulder to toe.
“That doesn’t leave me anything to poke,” he muses and John leans out of his grasp, looking Rodney over carefully as if he is trying to find something. He finally arrests one of Rodney’s hands and brings it up between them.
“You can poke this little finger,” he offers, holding the offending digit away from the others. “I was never partial to it.”
They wake to shouting and the smell of smoke.
“Raiders!” Leesa gasps as she bursts into their room. “Taking menfolk. Into the hills with you both.” John is already stepping into his pants and feeling under their bed for the short, snub-nosed gun that he keeps when he stills.
“We’re going to fight this time,” he snaps shortly as Rodney struggles upright while trying to tug on a shirt and his boots simultaneously.
“You’ll die or worse, be taken,” Leesa says, her eyes wide with desperation.
“I’m done hiding,” John insists, shrugging his jacket over his bare chest and zipping it up. “There’s been three raids in only a cycle. It’s got to stop.”
“Maybe we should-” Rodney begins but John spins on him, picking up Rodney’s shirt that was draped over the end of the bed and throwing it as his head.
“You go with Leesa,” he says and Rodney’s mouth drops open.
“Oh, no way,” he snarls. “I’m sticking with you. If that means running towards the enemy instead of away from them like we should, then so be it.”
John huffs a frustrated sigh but Leesa is there beside him, gripping his arm. “Neither of you are to fight. They’ll take you back!” she insists, trying to herd them towards the small house’s back entrance.
“Wait, what?” John startles and just at that moment something loud and bright flashes right at their front door. John stumbles sideways, reaching out blindly and managing to get a hold of what he thinks is Rodney right before shapes start moving all around him. John flings his arm out and the gun is knocked from his hand easily as his eyes stream and his ears ring. “Rodney!” he screams into the melee as powerful arms come around him, pinning his own to his sides.
“I got Sheppard!” he thinks he hears through the noise but he can’t be sure. Everything’s growing fuzzy around the edges but he can hear Rodney swearing off to the left somewhere and Leesa screeching like a wounded Ektar. He struggles but the grip he’s in is like rock and his limbs aren’t coordinating like they should be.
“Rodney,” he tries to call again but the sound is just a pained wheeze, lost in the chaos and darkness sweeps him under.
“Open up your eyes Colonel, there’s a good lad.”
John blinks blearily, bright light making it hard to focus. A face swims into view to his right and it’s a man, smiling at him. “There you go. Thought we’d lost you for good.”
“Rodney!” John cries and lunges, managing to tip off the bed he’d been on and hitting the ground hard, his legs still not getting the message from his brain. The man makes a surprised noise and then is crouched down beside him, trying to get a grip on John who attempts to bat his hands away. “No! Don’t touch me. Where’s Rodney?”
The man looks taken aback for a moment. “Colonel, if you’ll just-” he starts to say and John reacts on instinct, bringing a hand up and across sharply, catching the man in the temple and making him drop like a sack of Seedah flour. The man sprawls inelegantly sideways and John uses the rails on the side of the bed he’d just fallen off to drag himself to his feet. He was still wobbly like a newborn but he could already feel strength returning.
His weapon is gone and he is dressed in a simple shirt and pants he’s never seen before. John plucks at it and huffs in frustration, before spying a table on wheels to the side of the room with a number of instruments on it, a blade the most important thing. John grabs it and hefts it experimentally. It’s light but sharp and will do in a pinch, until he can find something more solid. He makes his way through the brightly lit room, all white and metal and smelling strangely of Betha’s hut when she’d been tending to the ill. He finds a hallway and slips out and freezes.
There’s a tall man with dreadlocks looking at him, a hand up to his ear. “Hey, I was just coming to see-” and then startles backwards when John lunges at him with the blade. “What the hell?” he barks, hands up and curling neatly away when John takes another swipe at him.
John switches the blade around, pressing it to his own throat and the man pales, hands coming up. “I know what your kind do,” John growls. “I’ll spill my life blood before I let you-”
Someone hits him from behind and John loses the grip on the blade as he’s driven to the ground. The large man darts forward and John hears him grunt, “Just what the hell is going on?” as he’s manhandled over and his hands secured behind his back. He flails and merely gets the large man kneeling across the top of his thighs for his trouble, pinning him.
“We were just coming to tell you,” a woman says somewhere above him. “Rodney woke up and started screaming. He didn’t know where he was or who we are. I think we have a serious problem.”
“You think the Deyonan’s drugged them?” a different female voice asks but John is concentrating on the mention of Rodney, both heartened and terrified. Rodney is obviously still alive but he’s also there, captured as well as John.
“They know each other though,” the first female says. “Perhaps it will calm them to see each other?” John wants to plead, beg to see Rodney but he doesn’t want to give the Raider’s the satisfaction or the very dangerous knowledge of just how important Rodney is to him. Just in case they decide to use that advantage. John is tipped upwards and set on his feet, the large man gripping his wrist just above the bindings.
“Sheppard was just going to slit his own throat,” the large man says and he sounds… shaken. Can that be right? Upright now, John can see there are indeed two women. One is tall with dark hair and the other shorter but more athletic looking, skin the colour of Shakra.
“Someone better check on Carson,” the dark haired woman says and the smaller nods and skirts around them.
John had heard horror stories about the Raiders. He and Rodney, rescued from one of their slaver ships and nursed back to health by Leesa and her family, abused to the point where they couldn’t remember anything of their lives before it, had counted themselves lucky. These people and their actions so far were confusing. They seemed gentle and well spoken, nothing like the barbarians the Raiders had been made out to be.
John clamped down on those thoughts viciously. Those cultured were most likely just better educated in the ways to be cruel, uncaring about those they considered chattel, beneath them. John would see their hand soon enough. They probably wished to lull him into lowering his defenses to make him more tractable.
Rodney though, his presence changed things. John had been determined to either escape or end himself as he was always instructed to do. “Find your way back to us or end it,” Leesa had pressed into him over Shakra late at night. “They will use your body and destroy your mind and soul so that you will never feel the embrace of the Gods in the ever after.” She was so fervent that John had believed, utterly. With Rodney though, John knew escape was the only option. He would not die only to leave Rodney to face the horrors alone.
“C’mon,” the large man says, nudging John forward and he goes, willingly enough. He’s being taken to Rodney and that alone makes him not try to wrench away from his captor. Once he knows where Rodney is in this seemingly vast place, he’ll be able to either get them both out… or…
Rodney is sitting upright in a bed similar to the one John woke in, arms and legs tied to the metal frame with large, material straps. He makes an almost heartbreaking noise of relief when his eyes find John and John stumbles forward, only brought up short by the grip still on his arm. He schools his features and nods slightly and Rodney seems to get it, because he slumps back into the pillows propped behind his back. “It’s good to see you well,” Rodney says, his voice sounding strained and too full of emotion to John, but those that don’t know him would not understand how much he wasn’t saying, at least John hoped not.
“John, it’s Elizabeth. Do you remember me?” the dark haired woman, Elizabeth, had followed them down to see Rodney. John turns his head slowly and narrows his eyes.
“Should I?” he asks coldly.
“You are John Sheppard,” Elizabeth says and John snorts.
“I know my name,” he says, and resists the urge to look at Rodney when he feels his eyes on him.
“Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, military leader of the Atlantis expedition.”
“I what?” John hedges, because he wasn’t expecting that. Something about what Elizabeth is saying is starting to ring familiar and his head is really starting to hurt and he-
John drops to the floor, his belly clamping painfully. He hears Rodney make a noise of distress and rattle the bindings on his bed. John feels the sweat start to pour off him and he’s feeling sick to his stomach. “What… did you do?” he grates out. He puts palms flat to the floor and tries to push himself up but he’s shaky and weak.
“Let me… just please,” Rodney is repeating over and over again, rattling more violently and for some reason the people do as he’s pleading. There’s the heavy ripping sound of his bindings being undone and then Rodney is there, strong solid arms scooping John off the floor and pressing him into his chest. “Whatever, whatever it is you want, I’ll do it, okay? Just stop this. Stop doing this.”
John puts a hand up and touches Rodney’s face, trying to stop his words, stop him trading himself but he can’t even do that much.
“Rodney, we’re not doing anything,” Elizabeth insists as people start to bustle about, crouching down next to them and laying a cool hand on John’s forehead. “You were taken from us, when you were offworld. I don’t really have time to explain but you have to let us help him now. Please.”
Rodney hunches more protectively over John and John can feel his hands sweep over his body, like he’s trying to make a decision with touch. “You’re not doing this?” he asks, sounding incredulous and yet hopeful. “But you can stop it?”
“Maybe,” Elizabeth says and then moves aside and John sees the man he knocked out come into view. The man has a hell of a bruise on his temple but he’s all business, prying John from Rodney’s arms with a gentle, “Let us help him now son, eh?”
Right before they lose contact, John bears down, managing to snag a bit of Rodney’s shirt in his fist and not letting go. The large man leans over and pries his hand loose. “Just let us help you, please Sheppard,” he says and there’s something in his face, something that rings so familiar that John lets go.
“How are you… um, do you feel… are you?” Rodney is standing in the doorway of his office, hopping from foot to foot. John had sequestered himself away once he’d had enough blood drawn out of him to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool by a very excited Carson. There was enough of the drug the Deyonan’s had dosed he and Rodney with every day for three months in his system for Carson to be able to analyse.
He was just hoping he’d managed to metabolise the rest already because he was heartily sick of getting jabbed. He was feeling out of sorts and wondering just how many times he was expected to just lose months of his life, thanks very much.
It didn’t help the moment they’d realised who they were Rodney had disappeared, almost leaving a cartoon-styled cloud of Rodney-shaped smoke behind after retreating so fast. John had decided that licking his wounds alone seemed to be the thing to do and so had done that. He wouldn’t be able to hide forever but Elizabeth had been gracious enough to give him a leave of two weeks to really come to grips. He’d stared at the four walls of his room for as long as he could stand to and then headed to his office. Lorne, surrounded by paperwork and a cologne of desperation, was pathetically grateful to clear out for him, falling all over himself to hand back mission briefings and schedules.
Which brought him here, with a tablet in front of him, piles of paperwork to catch up on and Rodney staring at him and looking pained. Feeling pretty resentful about Rodney bailing, John just stares at him, waiting for him to actually cobble together a real sentence.
“The thing is,” Rodney starts again, stepping into the office and flailing his hands. It’s so normal and John feels an awkward twist of affection that he tries to stamp down because he’s supposed to be angry. Really, as long as he can remember exactly what he’s angry about with Rodney flushing and stammering and… yeah, any minute now it will come to him. “I wasn’t sure if you wanted us to just go back to being… buddies.”
“Buddies?” John asks, raising an eyebrow.
“You know, forget the whole… being a couple thing that we’d been brainwashed into. I mean, I’m okay with that if that’s what you want.”
John was pretty sure that Rodney wasn’t okay with that because he looks just plain miserable when he says it, shuffling his feet and looking at his shoes. He is trying to give John a gracious out, and perhaps had been avoiding him because he… didn’t want it to end maybe. If they didn’t confront it then it would remain, this thing between them.
Undefined and possible.
“Rodney,” John says, tone of utmost patience. “I know what noises you make first thing in the morning. I know there’s a place behind your knee that makes you completely helpless if I stroke it just right. I know… just, us being buddies? No, Rodney. I can’t say we are.”
“Oh, right,” Rodney says, looking even more miserable if it is at all possible. John knows Rodney is misunderstanding what he is saying and he huffs and stands, rounding his desk and coming to rest on the other side.
“No one brainwashed me into being with you,” John says, now impatient. “Is that what you thought?”
“What? I mean, yes. It’s what… they did this to us,” Rodney insists, flushing a dull red.
“Is that the only reason you were with me?” John asks and Rodney’s mouth drops open.
“No! I mean… just, as if I wouldn’t…” Rodney flails again and flushes even deeper.
“Do you ever bother to read what any other science department writes?” Rodney snorts indelicately and flaps a hand, basically dismissing the idea as ludicrous. “What they drugged us with was meant to wipe us clean, no memory of events in our lives and then we would be more susceptible to suggestion but we were meant to be… well, breeding males.”
“What? How did they think we were going to do that?” Rodney squeaks and John rolls his eyes. For a genius Rodney can be monumentally dense sometimes.
“Not with each other,” John sighs. “We messed up their plans by showing a proclivity for… well, each other.”
“What are you saying?” Rodney asks. He was gripping the bottom of his shirt, twisting it frantically in his hands. John put his own hands out and digs up under Rodney’s shirt, snagging his belt loops and tugging him forward.
“I’m saying,” John says, “With no rules, no past and no baggage, we both chose each other.”
“Oh,” Rodney kind of breathes, staring down at where John is holding him. John releases his hold and instead spider-walks his hands around Rodney’s hips, tugging him forward more insistently. “So, not buddies,” Rodney adds.
“No Rodney, not buddies,” John agrees with a grin.