Rodney admires the structure of the universe.
The fucked up, twisted in your face reality check that's been his life on Atlantis for the past three months shows no signs of abating, or improving, but oddly enough just keeps getting worse by leaps and bounds every time he takes a piss. Nothing works right, monsters want to kill him and three and a half weeks ago the Genii, the atomic bomb building contaminated bastards with the major attitude problems and Third Reich hats take over his city and turn him into a forced laborer. Rodney twists his mouth into a frown and forces himself to concentrate on the multi-colored wires on the panel in front of him. All things considered it could be worse. He could be Sheppard. They've made him a human punching bag.
"Hurry up McKay." He grunts at the strange timbre of the arrogant voice, odd because Kavanagh usually sounds like he's whining.
Rodney spares him a glance.
The plea to increase his speed means nothing. He works at his own pace without rushing. If he goes too fast he'll screw things up and wouldn't the sly fucker just love that. Rodney turns to his nemesis quietly and says, "Shut up. Just shut up will you? You're making me crazy and since you're basically illiterate when it comes to fixing this city I don't want to be pushed. Do you understand?" He pretends to consider a moment, hands him a scanner then says, "Maybe you're right. Activate this for me." One beat, then two, and a very wide smirk as the other scientist sputters. "Oh that's right. You can't."
Kavanagh bristles. He doesn't have the gene and is oh so very pissed about it right now because despite his ass kissing sycophantic tendencies, Rodney is still a way more valuable tool to Koyla in making repairs to Atlantis and giving the Genii control. "I'll tell the Commander that you're stalling."
Rodney tries to keep his temper in check by reminding himself that Kavanagh is below contempt but he can't help muttering. "Tell him I dipped your pigtails in ink while you're at it. Maybe Kolya will make me stay after school."
Kavanagh shakes his head in disgust but can't resist one final parting shot designed to hit Rodney where he lives, in his soul and heart and mind. "Maybe he won't punish you but I'm sure Sheppard will pay for it. Kolya loves to kick his sorry Air Force ass around every chance he gets." Kavanagh's smile is brutal. "I heard the Genii soldiers say Kolya had him screaming last night."
Rodney closes his eyes and waits until Kavanagh's footsteps scatter and takes a deep breath.
Sheppard, god, John.
He hasn't seen the Major in just over three days and the lack of knowledge at his friend's well-being is starting to take its toll. Rodney's a wreck inside, twitching and fighting with himself and doubting his sanity. He doesn't honestly think that Kolya will kill Sheppard, when hurting him and making him pay for defending his home is way too much fun but Rodney's learned that one never can tell when dealing with lunatics and Kolya is definitely in that category.
Rodney's not dumb. He knows that Kavanagh wants him to believe that Kolya is raping Sheppard. The thought sickens Rodney, makes him hollow and nervous and frantic in ways impossible to describe. If Kolya touches Sheppard, hurts him in that way, Rodney will kill him, tear him apart and make him pay for every nightmare he inflicts. The Major is pure, light, beauty...and he makes Rodney smile, makes him feel alive and wanted and happy. If Sheppard's been violated...
Rodney fidgets, clenches his fists tight and bites through his bottom lip until blood flows against his tongue. The thought of Sheppard, alone and hurt, used and torn is devastating and only the knowledge that Kavanagh is a big fat liar gives Rodney enough peace of mind to get back to work. If they're going to get their city back then Rodney has to keep his head in the here and now. He'll see Sheppard later, dammit, even if he has to make a couple of demands of his own.
The Genii commander keeps Sheppard in a cell and well guarded while Rodney is allowed to sleep in his own bed. Sheppard is beaten daily, allowed one meal a day and isn't permitted to wear shoes or a jacket as part of Kolya's plan to indoctrinate him, i.e., to make him pay. Rodney sneaks him food when he can but the Genii are vindictive monsters and if they catch him doing it they not only steal the food away, but they hold back John's next meal.
Rodney jerks back with such force he knocks his knee on the inside of the console. It hurts like a bitch but he keeps silent. "Yes."
"Dr. Kavanagh says you're stalling."
Sora looks angry, or maybe she has PMS. One thing is for certain, she's got a chip on her shoulder the size of a puddle jumper and it's making her ornery as hell. Rodney vaguely remembers her father saying she's spoken for and wonders idly if she's sleeping with Ladon. Or maybe her fiancé was one of the men Sheppard killed.
Rodney swallows his pain. "Kavanagh says a lot of things. Most of which make no sense whatsoever."
It isn't hard to notice that Sora is hurting and confused. Rodney's been the victim of her stony glare and bad temper on more than one occasion. A swift slap to the back of his head or a rationing of his food withheld when she didn't think he was doing his 'complete and faithful' duty for the Genii. He's tired of all the rhetoric, all the poorly conceived planning and dictatorial overtaking that has made his city a shell of her former self. He hates the way freaking Genii stupidity has nearly destroyed Atlantis.
He murmurs, "Crap" and runs a hand across his face.
It's depressing the span of his hatred these days. To start Rodney hates Sora and the entire dumbass Genii army with a passion he never knew he possessed and he despises the way they think they're twenty times smarter than reality and history allow. And oh yes Rodney hates Kolya and the daily beating he inflicts upon Sheppard, sometimes with an erotically charged need that worries Rodney to death that the Genii Commander is going to start humping the Major's leg mid torture just to get off on more than the pain he inflicts and prove that bastard Kavanagh correct for once in his hopeless life.
He hates the way Koyla displays Sheppard like a toy, a possession of the Genii whose only focus is to take a punch and make the pretty gadgets in the city light up and play nice. These days are hardest on the Major because the outright desire to stick it to the Genii is almost always outweighed by a sense of duty to Atlantis and the burning need to get her working full speed once again.
When Rodney finally sees Sheppard four days after the occupation starts, he looks so thin and pale that Rodney gasps out loud. "My god, are you all right? Haven't they been feeding you?"
"Hey McKay," is the only answer he receives but weary hazel eyes tell Rodney how glad Sheppard is to see him. He touches the bruised face, feels edgy shudders through his fingertips and swallows hard when John kisses the soft skin of his palm with enough restrained passion to give him goose bumps.
"Hey yourself..." Rodney responds and when the long, lean body collapses against him he takes a closer look. Sheppard's worn out and dirty like an over hugged rag doll with his dark hair plastered sweaty to his scalp. His uniform is tattered, he's unshaven and pale and his left eye is swollen shut, but to Rodney he's never looked more beautiful.
"Dr. McKay?" Sora's voice is cold and more than a little perturbed. It startles him out of his revelry like a punch to the gut. "You really need to concentrate here. I'd hate for you to have to skip the evening meal in order to work on getting these systems operational."
He thinks, "Back at you bitch!" with more than a measure of satisfaction and hurries over to her side.
Sora doesn't trust him so she's not entirely stupid but Rodney knows he and Sheppard won't be completely safe until their captors leave Atlantis. The near impossible trick of course is making them leave.
Kolya wants the city and believes by some divine Pegasus galaxy hierarchical right of passage that the Genii should be able to take up residence and live within her vaulted spires, free from all Wraith culling. Rodney wishes he could make the Commander understand that his dream is not happening now or ever because even if the gene therapy works on the Genii as it does on the Atlanteans, their scientists are nearly a hundred years back in the dark ages of science and lack the technical chutzpah to keep her running in the manner she deserves. Plus none of the Genii possess the natural gene like Sheppard so some systems just aren't going to work at all, period. Rodney considers. He doesn't think he'll mention this final item to Kolya or he'll just simply hang on to Sheppard and dig his roots in deeper, unless of course Kavanagh's already spilled it.
He winces hard and feels his face hurt. It's all so frustrating. Rodney is certain the city must hate the Genii too.
He's sketched the moment a hundred times, counting on Sora's inner turmoil to erupt. He and Sheppard form their haphazard plan during some rare alone time after the Genii take over the city nearly twenty-one days past and it's grown bit by bit in the meager time they've spent together since. Sure, it's a long shot at best, and they'll both probably die trying but it's all they have. He snickers to himself, silently comforted by the fact that some things never, ever seem to change.
"If I have to ask you one more time..." Sora's voice trails away leaving an unspoken threat in its wake.
"Yes, yes, yes...the systems. I'm on it."
It's all really quite simple. To save Atlantis, Sheppard has to leave it and then come back. Their entire hair brained scheme depends upon this happening. Of course Kolya's just not going to hand him the keys to the puddle jumper and make him promise to be home by midnight. They need to get to the mainland and bring back Teyla, Ford and Beckett. Together they just might stand a chance.
Sora is the key to getting out. She blames Teyla for her father's death on the Wraith Hive ship and she's never stopped wanting revenge, breathing it in like oxygen, waiting for the right time to exhale and choke on her life. The pain of not believing the truth has destroyed her, marked her, made her bitter and dangerous and while McKay is wary of her skills, he's not sympathetic and certainly not above using all available ammunition at his disposal if it means saving Sheppard's life and returning his people to the city.
It's a low blow to do what he's planning to do but hey, that's life and Atlantis didn't ask the Genii to pay them a surprise visit.
John thinks Kolya's pretty darn sure of himself to take up residence in what used to be Elizabeth Weir's office.
He's sitting at her desk and staring at her city through a haze of evening light while John kneels at his feet like a common lapdog. His knees hurt but it's not the worst the Commander has done to him so he keeps his face neutral and gazes out at the control room. The lights flicker once, then twice before shining out completely. Koyla slams a fist onto the desk so hard it rattles the window panes.
It's unnerving and stressful because the city's just not working and it pisses Kolya off enough to make John really feel the brunt of his anger. The truth is, despite McKay raising the shields in the knick of time, the tsunami still damaged many of the city's chief internal and external systems and without a ZPM to power them up and make repairs Atlantis is a sitting duck in a Wraith-pond.
"What is happening here?" Kolya's voice is calm. He doesn't look at John.
"Light-bulb burned out?" John understands Kolya's question but he's not really in the mood for a long dark heart to heart with the man who's been torturing him for the past three weeks and is systematically destroying his home. He's tired and cranky and just to prove to the world that he's hungry too, John's stomach growls loudly enough to make even Koyla take notice.
"Miss another meal Sheppard?"
John winces. He hasn't eaten since yesterday afternoon but the Genii leader already knows this. It's just another element of the sick game they've been playing since the occupation began. He smiles lightly, "Right."
"Your people are not cooperating."
"If you mean Rodney, he's doing the best he can." He wonders how Kolya can be such an idiot and narrows his eyes, staring with an expression John hopes looks as deadly as he feels. "The rest of my people are not in this city."
That's because they're either slaves of the Genii or still bunking down with those bastard Manarians. John's not sure which is worse but it doesn't matter anyway because the Commander isn't talking. It's entertaining for him to hold everything over John's head and make him worry as much as possible about who's still alive and who's dead. The only people he's sure of are Rodney, Elizabeth, Ford, Teyla, Beckett and oh yes, Kavanagh. Rodney and Kavanagh are somewhere on Atlantis and Kolya pushed Weir through the gate back to the Genii home world before the tsunami struck. His remaining teammates and Beckett are still on the mainland.
Kolya laughs. "I don't think Dr. McKay and Dr. Kavanagh get along very well.
Again, no surprise there but John keeps mum on their past relationship. It should be enough for Kolya to know that Rodney and John both consider the lanky scientist a traitor for helping the Genii and nearly getting Rodney killed in the process. If Rodney had been electrocuted during the storm because of Kavanagh's idiocy John would have snapped his neck on the spot.
He gives Kolya points for gating the bastard over during the takeover but it sure as hell would have been a smarter move if Kavanagh knew the codes to take down the shield before John destroyed the second half of the Genii invading army. He cringes. The memory is still too rough and it hurts him in ways John refuses to consider. He'll mourn for the lives he's taken later, but right now while he's still fighting, John needs his mind clear. Later, when the siege is over, he'll replay the horror in his dreams.
Once in the city Kavanagh is more than happy to explain the situation on Atlantis and betray the hell out of everybody. He tells about the Ancient gene, the therapy, how some systems only activate for Sheppard, how they need a ZPM and so on and so on. But he explains more than just the systems. He gives the Genii a three hour long paranoid soliloquy on how things work at the station and offers his opinion that Weir is an incompetent glory hound, Teyla's a whore and Rodney's not nearly as smart as he wants everyone to believe. John swallows hard remembering Kolya's smirk when Kavanagh voiced his suspicions about him and Rodney.
"Did you hear me Sheppard?"
"Yeah, well, professional jealousy, Rodney's way smarter." This remark earns John a slap to the face so hard he falls backward and knocks his head on the hard flooring. When she comes back he'll have to talk to Elizabeth about carpeting. He drags himself back to his knees and breathes steadily. If this is how the evening is beginning, John's not sure he wants to be around when it ends.
"Maybe I should kill one of them...maybe then things will run smoother. But which man to kill."
John ignores the taunt, recognizes it as another aspect of Kolya's need to control him. He uses Rodney as a threat because he knows John doesn't give a shit about Kavanagh.
"I know who I'd... choose." John closes his eyes and shakes. Hunger's making him dizzy and he's been kneeling for over two hours. His vision is starting to blur and his head is pounding from both dehydration and the hard impact of Kolya's right hand. He's tired and achy but Kolya won't let him sleep. Not much of a problem since John's been plagued by Wraith nightmares ever since his arrival in Atlantis, but still a little necessary because some rest will come in handy if he's going to survive long enough to clean house and toss the Genii out of his city on their collective overbearing asses. He yawns once and forces himself to stay calm, to look away from Kolya and imagine himself flying across the blue skies in a Jumper. It's so hard, really. John's never been a very patient man.
"I can see by your attitude Major that you don't take the Genii occupation of Atlantis seriously either."
Kolya's a fucking bastard and John wishes he were dead. He wants to point out that without the gate working there's just so much Rodney can do on his own. You can dial to leave, but you can't dial back in so the Manarians can't just loan them Zelenka. Until Rodney finds a way to fix the damn thing Kolya may be the one in charge of things, but theoretically they are all prisoners in the city.
He sighs wearily but he just can't stop himself. "You mean there are two of us?"
John knows he's in trouble when Kolya flashes him a cold smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. He shudders. The day just keeps getting better and better.
Every morning at sunrise they drag him out of his cell and force John to kneel in the Gateroom to face Koyla's leather strap while one of the Genii reads a list of the names of all the soldiers killed in the siege. He waits for the strike. Sometimes the Commander breaks the skin, sometimes not, but the meaning is clear. One strike per day until the number totals sixty-five --the exact number of men John's killed minus the two marines the Genii shot down when they first gated through. When Kolya's punishment reaches its desired number he's informed John he'll start again from the beginning.
If anything Kolya is very thorough and rational in his thinking. The public display of bloodthirsty revenge serves two purposes. First, it's a real morale booster for his men at a time when most of them are terrified of the Wraith and wondering if invading Atlantis was a good idea or just another giant fuck-up on the part of their leaders and second, it's an outlet for Kolya to enact his personal revenge, for sins both real and imagined, on John's slowly weakening shoulders.
It's quite fascinating and more than a little disturbing for John to be the object of so much loathing. The catcalls begin the moment he's shoved to the ground. The Genii soldiers cheer through John's public whipping. Although it really warms his heart to be reviled by fifty or so incompetent soldiers and an odd number of dark-age scientists he can't find fault with their reasoning. Many of the Genii still on Atlantis had brothers, uncles or sons among the men he killed and John's not likely to be forgiven any time soon.
The beating and bloodshed establishes Nationalism and allows the gang mentality to flourish. And what the hell...if watching their Commander whip and beat the crap out of John erases the Genii's troubles for just a little while well then it's nice to know that something good has come of his suffering. Despite the pain it's all so frigging laughable. John bites the inside of his mouth and considers the dull ache building across his shoulder blades. He hasn't bled from the whip in at least two days so tomorrow morning's going to be a real bitch.
The lights come on and Kolya looks at him triumphantly until they flash off again a moment later. When he speaks his voice holds no amusement.
"What is McKay doing?"
The question takes John by surprise. He hasn't been allowed to see Rodney for the past three days as part of Kolya's curiously daft plan to restore Atlantis and claim it for the Genii without the continuing aid of the one person with the strongest gene in the city. He sighs inwardly. There's something very heartwarming about Genii arrogance. At least it gives John a small bit of hope.
His days consist of kneeling and sometimes eating, getting whipped in the morning and beaten in the evening, ogled by some of the Genii guards, spit upon by others and on very rare occasions being allowed to help Rodney initiate Ancient devices in the lab. He forces himself to sit still, to pay attention to details, to watch Rodney and wait for any signal or sign on when they can set their plan in motion. The scientist always looks tired, complete with dark circles under his eyes and a mile long frown across his tilted mouth but still John stares, happy to be in his company if only for a little while.
When Rodney meets his gaze John feels hopeless and tragic and loved. He's still not sure what this "thing" is between them but John knows that having Rodney's cock buried inside him feels better than anything ever has in his whole entire life and he wants a shot at feeling that amazing forever.
He needs Rodney as much as he needs to breathe, needs his humor and brilliance and scandalous disregard for manners and feelings and charm. It shocks John to realize that at this stage of the game he's fallen absolutely, completely in love with a man who hates flying and has no concept of the finer points of football. Still John hopes Rodney might love him in return and that's a great big something. Plus there's still a slight chance he likes Ferris Wheels and John plans on making damn sure he gets a chance to find out.
"I'll repeat myself once Major. What is McKay doing?" Koyla sounds angry and that never bodes well. John is used to his moods by now and wishes the crazy fuck would just knock him the hell out and be done with it. At least that way John will get a little sleep.
"I don't know." He tries to keep the weary edge out of his voice because Kolya enjoys it just one shade too much.
Kolya slams him, harder this time and shoves John's face against the floor clutching at his throat until he sees stars. "I think you do Major."
He presses harder and John gasps thinking for the first time that Kolya just might kill him and he'll never, ever see Rodney again.
"I think you and McKay are planning something drastic to try and save your city."
John smirks once just for the hell of it and says, "You got it." Kolya's paranoia is a thing of beauty on even the worst of days and John takes a moment to savor the taste. Little by little the Commander is cracking, realizing that taking the city isn't as easy as nuking a Wraith ship. Atlantis doesn't give up her secrets very easily. John fights down another smile. "Rodney's rallying the troops."
His euphoria doesn't last long because Kolya's smashing his face twice in succession against the metal floor until John swallows blood and his head throbs. He's nauseous even without food in his stomach and manages to gurgle a small bit of watery vomit onto the tips of the Commander's fingers before having his face twisted roughly into the mess. Kolya curses and John sags back to the floor in a shuddering heap gasping hard and rubbing his cheek against the floor in a dazed effort to regain his breath and dignity. A swift kick to the ribs jars his bones so hard his teeth rattle and he heaves up a bit more but swallows most of it back down when Kolya pulls him roughly to his knees and eyes the vomit with thinly veiled disgust. He shakes John without mercy and tosses him aside.
John curls in on himself and breathes through the chills currently turning his body to ice. His toes are numb and his fingers are on their way to joining them. It's cold in his cell, so damn cold, and if John didn't know that the Genii were borderline imbeciles when it came to understanding Ancient technology he'd swear to god they made it colder for him on purpose, sucking every last drop of heat right out of the room to give him hypothermia.
The truth of course, is much easier to accept. His body is weakening from hunger, blood loss and a daily dose of Genii beatings. It's getting harder for John to stay warm, harder for his body to recover. Besides, Rodney told him that the some lower floors were partially underwater so obviously the cell is nearly arctic and that's part of the reason why he's so chilly. The thought is comforting. He's never had a reason to doubt his lover yet.
One heartbeat, then two, and when he dares a look the Commander is staring at him, through him, whatever the fuck John doesn't know and he hurts too much to care. It's an odd moment for both of them, silent and dangerous, becoming suddenly intimate when Kolya strokes John's hair. The gesture is surprising and powerful, designed to make John very aware that Kolya can still hurt him in many different ways. He swallows hard, nearly gagging on blood and vomit, and somehow manages to stay in place while every nerve in his body is revolted enough to scream for freedom. He closes his eyes sickened that Kolya's action hits the mark on his very first try. The Genii have been in Atlantis for three weeks and in all that time John's never felt quite so vulnerable.
"Tomorrow you'll help McKay get this city fixed. If I don't get some results I'll make him pay for it."
Two Genii soldiers appear out of nowhere and drag John to his feet. "Take him downstairs." Koyla voice carries down the hallway, "Until morning Major Sheppard."
Rodney really wants to hurt Kavanagh in the worst possible way.
It's eight o'clock in the morning and three cups of coffee later the dumbass still hasn't bothered to show up for work. Great, wonderful, Kavanagh may be a moron but he's still better than all seven of the Genii scientists remaining on the station. Like them he's way too arrogant to think that Rodney's been messing around with the systems, doing only the bare minimum necessary to keep Sora off his back while simultaneously trying to figure out a way to screw the occupying army into thinking they have no choice but to get the hell out of the city. Rodney keeps him busy doing grunt work, testing minor systems the Genii want operational and that Atlantis needs running but ones that won't hurt their chances to get the city back. The Stargate he sabotages at every opportunity, hiding his fingerprints in places he hopes Kavanagh won't think to look, since he still hasn't figured out a way to fix it anyway.
The scientist, and Rodney uses that term lightly, views the Genii as a way out of his humdrum existence living in methodical mediocrity under McKay and even Zelenka. On Genii he'll be a hero of the people manufacturing bombs and weapons of mass destruction without a care in the world while the ignorant populace worships at his bespectacled feet. It's absolutely disgusting...it's...
"Huh." For a moment Rodney's flummoxed by the idea of Kavanagh being the smartest guy in the room but shrugs off the mental stigma by taking another drink of coffee.
Ladon Radim is the best of the Genii but he's so technologically uninformed that he makes Kavanagh look brilliant. He's also rather annoying. The way he sniffs around each console in the Gateroom like a puppy looking for a place to pee ranks rather highly on Rodney's scale of professional annoyance.
He stares at his steaming mug with defiance before pushing it away. He doesn't have to fight for every cup because thankfully the Genii have no taste at all for the brew and well, of course Kavanagh would be a tea drinker. Rodney pulls the coffee back and sighs content for the moment and slightly hopeful that Sora's convinced he's at the top of his game only when highly caffeinated.
Time to get on with it...
He brings up the gate schematics and stares. The Ancients really were a bunch of smarty pants bastards but Rodney can follow their lead enough to know that it's gonna be a bitch to make the Stargate work while some of the systems he needs access to are almost completely zapped. There may be a chance, one tiny opportunity and though that knowledge makes his heart sing a bit Rodney's not sharing his information with anybody except maybe Sheppard, when and if he sees John again. Thankfully Kavanagh's not bright enough to figure it out and even if by some miracle he does, only Rodney has the brains to fix stuff and allow people entrance to Atlantis.
He closes his eyes and prepares himself for another day of neglecting the city. Rodney misses the early days of the Genii occupation and the odd way the systems kept fluctuating back and forth with one console saying the sewage system worked while others say the shit will soon start to gather.
He laughs lightly and remembers one memorable occasion when Ladon takes six hours to release four Genii soldiers from the mess hall when the sensors lock it up tight after incorrectly reading the room as flooded. And another time when the showers run ice cold for three days straight while the temperature gauge reads a comfy sixty five degrees Fahrenheit. Ah, good times. It's a hoot to watch the Genii scientists go crazy, never figuring out what is behind the systems failures and double good laughs to see Kavanagh acting all freakish and moronic trying to solve it.
It's at this time, for Rodney, the seed of a plan begins to form.
He puts up with a lot of shit while the wheels of his brain churn away. For example, it's downright painful to watch Kavanagh fuddle through Rodney's clues to the solution, bossing around the Genii scientists, screaming at him, fixing an issue that's basically all sensor imagination. When everything starts running smoothly Kolya himself praises Kavanagh's dedication and allows him to choose his new quarters. Kavanagh of course, chooses Sheppard's old digs. This malicious display of power is not lost on Rodney and he's never let the Major know who's been sleeping in his bed.
When Sora storms into the room in a thinly disguised fit of rage, red curls flying, with Kavanagh at her heels demanding to see his progress it's all Rodney can do not to laugh in her face and spout technical improbabilities.
Until he turns around and sees Sheppard being dragged in behind her.
God...he thinks...oh my god.
"Sheppard..." Rodney can't believe how anguished he sounds, like he's been holding his breath for the past three days and is only now learning to breath again. The urge to touch is nearly unbearable.
"Rodney." Sheppard's smile is forced and his hands are cuffed behind his back. The bruises both new and old across his face and throat paint a very vivid picture. You'd have to be an ass not to know this man's been beaten. "You okay?"
Now that sounds like Sheppard. Always worried about everyone else even when he's the one being smashed to a pulp. The familiar drawl sounds shaky and he looks like death warmed over yet when Rodney peers into his wary hazel eyes there's a depth there he didn't expect to find, a calculating intensity that says maybe John's not as beaten as he'd like the Genii to believe.
"Major." Rodney tries hard not to gape but Sheppard's pale face, accentuated by a fine procession of freckles sprinkled endearingly across the bridge of his nose is just begging to be kissed. He's so thin, much thinner than Rodney remembers him being, and it's extraordinarily difficult to look at him, to reconcile the strong guy that Rodney loves with the beautiful wreck standing before him. And Christ is hurts so much too and Rodney's never been the type to put his pain aside for later but what the hell...it's not gonna help John now.
"So..." Rodney's stomach jumps. Time to get this show on the road... Kavanagh and Sheppard are together in the same room. Who the hell knows when he'll get the chance to put his borderline psycho plan of doom into motion again? "It's good to see you're still alive." Slowly, slowly...not too much drama...
He looks at Sora and frowns, somehow holds back the fury edging through his pores. "Kolya does understand the gene won't work if he's dead, right?"
Rodney is aware of the spectacular morning whipping the Genii Commander inflicts on Sheppard. Since it's now half past nine the Major has already been there done that. At the beginning he watched out of respect for his friend but stopped when the fiasco became too unbearable, the revulsion too real. He knows John detests being put on display, hates the attention and of course, hates the pain. It's common knowledge around the station that the Genii line up early to get the best possible spots for viewing.
"For Christ's sake McKay your boy-toy is fine." Kavanagh voice is laced with disgust. Rodney can't stand the sight of him. "Just get to work." He sulks away into a corner of the office and watches with a practiced eye.
If Kavanagh feels any guilt when he looks at Sheppard he doesn't let it show. He gestures for the Genii guard to sit Sheppard at the table next to McKay's desk but he doesn't mention anything about removing the handcuffs.
"Major Sheppard will be helping you today." Sora's smile is icy. "Commander Kolya expects results." She looks at Sheppard with contempt. "If you try anything you will be shot on sight."
Sheppard nods warily. "I'm probably gonna need my hands for this." He smiles and shrugs his shoulders with a very noticeable wince. His lean frame looks stiff, every movement spare and consequential. His T-shirt is torn in several places and his pale feet are bare. He's a ragamuffin, a dirty, sick, pathetic stunning ragamuffin. Rodney doesn't think he's ever loved anybody quite so much in his entire life.
"Oh come on." Kavanagh complaint packs an arrogant punch. "He only has to touch stuff. Attach them in front if you have too."
Sheppard's eyes narrow. Rodney aches for him. He knows the Major wants to break Kavanagh's neck. "Well?" he says, and his impatience is real.
Sora frowns. "Take them off him."
Kavanagh's on her in a heartbeat. "Do you think that's wise? He's military."
"And what are they, chopped liver?" Rodney gestures to the Genii and grabs Sheppard's hands when the soldier removes the bindings. He stares. The trademark black wristband is nowhere to be seen. Sheppard's bony wrists are chapped and battered and scabbed over with dried blood...my god Rodney thinks...where they always this fragile? "Well, isn't that lovely. I'm so glad to see you're keeping him in line."
Sheppard squeezes his fingers gently and it's all Rodney can do not to gasp. He's so starved for touch, so crazed with need for this remarkable man and yet so unable to have him or talk to him with Sora so close that Rodney wishes he could put a bubble around them so the Genii can't hear just so he can listen to the Major tell him that everything is going to be all right. If he says it, Rodney will believe it without a doubt since for three months he's been saving up all his blind faith for Sheppard's unrelenting optimism.
"I'm fine Rodney." Sheppard's eyes beg him to understand. To let Rodney know that he just wants to get down to the business at hand without being the focus of any more attention.
He drops Sheppard's hands and watches them fall gracefully to his waist. Rodney wants to reach out and stroke the stubble free cheek and trace his fingers across John's ghostly pale skin. It's been three weeks and two days since he last kissed John and nearly a week since they last shared a conversation.
Memories flash...holding Sheppard in his arms after sex, the two of them sweaty and jumbled on a bed that Rodney can barely fit on when he's alone, and sharing silent kisses and caresses. He recalls the way John's eyes looked, both grateful and surprised, as if Rodney fucking his brains out was something close to amazing, and the remembrance burns because he never had a chance to tell John how good it was for him too, and how very much he wants a chance to do it again and again.
Kolya is a real bitch when it comes to fraternization. He makes sure they are rarely alone and when they need to be together, there's always a guard or two around Sheppard to make sure he doesn't wreak some kind of havoc. On a good day the Major can take whatever the Genii throw at him, but what with the sporadic feedings and constant beatings, Sheppard's not exactly up to par.
Today they work for two hours straight initializing some arrangements to full status and trying desperately to bring others up to at least half-mast. It's a tiring job to try and sabotage some of your successes while also attempting to fix those important to undermining the Genii while under Kavanagh's watchful and paranoid eye but Rodney manages just fine, because, well, simply put he's a hell of a lot smarter. But it's also near impossible to work from scratch and that's kind of what they're doing since most of the systems where working when they stepped through the gate into the Pegasus galaxy many scattered months ago. Rodney's seeing some of this stuff for the very first time.
He waits for a few minutes after Sora leaves before stretching and reaching for his empty cup of coffee. Across the table John is staring at him, waiting, wanting, his anxiety a living, breathing thing. Rodney clears his throat, takes a deep breath and says, "Remember the coffee Teyla used to make?"
Sheppard's looks at him as if he's lost his mind. After all, coffee, come on, what the fuck?
But just by mentioning Teyla he's caught Kavanagh's eye. The spectacled menace has a crush on Sora and he's well aware of his intended's hatred towards the Athosian and how she blames him for her father's demise at the hands of the Wraith. If Kavanagh thinks Teyla's on the mainland alive and well...oh what wouldn't sweet Sora do for that information. She'd almost have to take a jumper, in secret probably, since Kolya would never be dumb enough to let Sheppard leave the city and oh yes isn't he the only one able to fly in a straight line? "Those beans on the mainland would rival Starbucks."
Come on John, I sound like a lunatic, please play along....
"I wonder if you can get a franchise license all the way out here." Sheppard catches on. His teasing drawl is familiar. God, how much Rodney missed the sound.
He notices Kavanagh trying hard not to be obvious, the superficial freak. "When this is over maybe Teyla can bring some back from the mainland..." When Kavanagh's ears perk up like a jackrabbit Rodney knows he's been heard.
"McKay!" Sheppard's voice blasts across the lab and Rodney actually jumps even though that's exactly the reaction he wants to elicit. "Do you have any idea what covert means?"
"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. All right, Telya's not on the mainland sipping coconut juice she's languishing with the Manarians just like everybody else. It really doesn't fucking matter where anyone is anyway because we are so never getting this city working again and we'll probably all get killed by the Wraith in the next drive by eating. If we somehow beat the odds and survive we'd be better off pledging allegiance to the Genii flag of superiority like Kavanagh here and become Demigods in the world of science." He pauses. "Or at least I will. Kavanagh's an idiot and you they'll probably just hang."
"Great Rodney...thanks a lot." Sheppard's smile doesn't reach his eyes but that's not surprising. There's a heck of a lot of lives riding on the success of their subterfuge.
It's not common knowledge that Teyla is still on the mainland. Sheppard knows of course, but Rodney only finds out when he first sees the Major a week after the Genii take over the city. It makes him happy to realize that the remaining members of his team are free but it worries him as to why they never flew the jumper back to Atlantis to save his hide when, hello, that would have been a very nice thing for them to do. Of course, maybe, just maybe, Ford, Teyla and Beckett aren't alive at all. There's every possibility that they died when the tsunami surge flashed across the mainland. Sheppard thinks they're breathing. He believes they lifted the jumper up in time and were on their way to the city when the bad weather forced them to return to the mainland. It's all such a jumbled mess, but really, when was anything on Atlantis actually easy?
"Just get back to work." Kavanagh's eyes are hiding something. He thinks he's smart enough to fool them both. "You're both a bunch of touchy-feely lunatics."
Rodney considers letting him think he's getting away with it but Kavanagh lost whatever millimeter of professional respect Rodney held for him when he turned traitor to Atlantis. Plus, did he just say 'touchy-feely?'
"For the love of god, you're gonna run back and tell Sora everything, aren't you? You'll only make her crazy. Kolya will never let Sheppard fly to the mainland and pick up refugees — especially Atlantean refugees."
He looks to Sheppard for help in a fake display of camaraderie trying desperately to appear pathetic so Kavanagh will continue to play into his hands. "You'll get them all killed!"
"No one's going to get anyone killed..." Apparently Sheppard's a better actor than Rodney imagined because good lord are those tears in his eyes? "...Ford, Teyla and Beckett are already dead. If they were alive and breathing they would have found a way to bring the Jumper back to Atlantis."
Rodney nods like a maniac. "What he said."
"I think it's important the Commander knows about the possibility." Kavanagh tries innocently. "They may need supplies on the mainland. We'd be doing them a favor."
Yeah, great one pal, Rodney thinks, we both know you're going to tell Sora first and Kolya will find out when someone sends him a memo. It's no secret she wants revenge upon Teyla too badly to let anything stop her from being the one to stick the knife through her throat, and that includes Kolya.
"Don't do something stupid...again." Sheppard, it seems, is the master of the deadly voice. Rodney hopes he never has to hear it turned upon himself. He moves toward Kavanagh and the scientist backs away. Sheppard's hands are clenched into fists so tight they make his knuckles appear three shades paler than the rest of him.
"Look who you're talking to Major. Kavanagh wouldn't recognize loyalty if it jumped up and nuked his ass. He doesn't care what happens to any of us. He'll do what he has to so he can stay alive long enough to get into Sora's pants." Rodney stares at Kavanagh coldly. "And frankly she'd have to be one hard up bitch to let you anywhere near her."
"Forget what a woman feels like McKay?"
The other scientist's taunts are meaningless. Rodney hasn't wanted a woman in three lifetimes. Why the hell would anyone want female companionship when they're having sex with Sheppard? Sheppard for god's sake! The hottest thing on legs in two galaxies and he decides he wants Rodney McKay. Despite the direness of their situation, the thought is still enough to make his groin start to tingle.
"Just shut the fuck up Kavanagh." Sheppard growls with more than a hint of threat.
"Enjoy sucking Kolya's cock Major?"
Sheppard doesn't reply but looks more menacing than ever and when he moves it's so lightning fast that Rodney doesn't realize he's decked Kavanagh until the guards have Sheppard shoved up against the wall and the spineless whiner is clutching his cheek and cursing while he stumbles to his feet. Rodney takes a breather to cherish the moment before the omnipotent worry starts to set in.
"You fucking bastard!" Kavanagh slaps Sheppard hard enough across the face to split his bottom lip open but the Major merely smiles. He's calm again, controlled, but good lord that punch must have felt wonderful.
"Next time, I'll kill you." Sheppard's smile fades. "You're a traitor Kavanagh and you had it coming."
"I'm a traitor? I suppose that's a better than being a used up whore." Kavanagh smirks and moves away and Rodney can't help but snicker through his rage when the smug bastard utters the famous last words of all madmen, "You'll pay for that I promise." He brushes himself off and tells the guards, "Let him alone but cuff him. Kolya will be upset if they don't get more finished today."
The guards reattach the cuffs to Sheppard's wrists before Kavanagh leaves, presumably to tell Sora the exciting news of Teyla's where-a-bouts, and Rodney decides that touchy-feely isn't really that bad a phrase when it's applied to the scruffy man flopped onto the chair in front of him. When the guards move to cover the door he smoothes Sheppard's tousled hair out of his eyes and dabs the blood on his lip away with a tissue.
"I'm glad you restrained yourself."
Sheppard's laugh is beautiful and genuine and lights up his face in a way that Rodney's wanted to see for the past dreary month. "She won't be able to resist going for Teyla."
Rodney grins. "I hope you remember how to fly a jumper."
"I haven't you know." Sheppard begins warily his eyes searching and just a tad bit lost.
"I haven't sucked Kolya's cock."
Rodney swallows down the fear that's been building for weeks, the terror navigated to fruition by Kavanagh's endless taunting combined with the crazy vivid nightmares of his own imagination. He closes his eyes briefly and responds, "God John."
"He taunts me sometimes, the bastard, but he won't let the guards lay a hand on me that way either."
Sheppard leans closer until their foreheads touch Athosian style. His breath on Rodney's face is humid and comforting, his deep hazel eyes sad. It only takes a moment to kiss him so Rodney complies, a quick brush of mouth on mouth enhanced to a higher degree of brilliance by the delightful tip of Sheppard's tongue sliding inside to trace patterns across Rodney's palate.
They kiss lightly for a while, soft sounds made desperate, but the moment ends too soon. They pull apart and Sheppard lays his head on Rodney's shoulder with a sigh, exhaustion finally taking its toll and making his eyes droop shut. The guards don't care as long as there's no violence and besides, they're wary of this man who's killed so many Genii brothers in the blink of an eye. This man the city dotes on like a lover.
"Rest John..." Rodney murmurs against the soft spiky head. "I've got enough fake fix-ups to fool Kolya for a while."
Sheppard nuzzles his neck in response before complying and Rodney sits still for a very long time and prays silently to a god he's not sure he believes in to keep them safe and alive for just a few days longer. He strokes Sheppard's hair and sighs. They're in for one hell of a ride.
"Do you understand me now Major?"
Acastus Kolya stands facing away from John, bound and bloodied and kneeling before him on a metal floor in a dark Atlantean cell. "You are not in control here. You do not give the orders. You and Atlantis belong to me. You are a slave of the Genii people. You are trash...you...." His voice trails off and he closes his eyes trying to sound strong as his voice wavers.
This weakness is John's first clue.
In an instant he's sure that Atlantis' new commander is going bonkers. Kolya is desperate to diminish the hatred deep inside his soul that's eating him alive from the inside out. It's destroying him and the Commander knows it. His bloodlust, once unquenchable, its need silenced only through John's never-ending agony, no longer satisfies his pain at the loss of his only child. That Kolya hates him is no longer news in the ever-shrinking city. But the way he goes about showing his hatred definitely has people talking.
He watches the Commander twirl his wooden fighting stick and waits.
"You are a murderer." He grabs John's face in his hands and stares. "Surely you realize that you must pay for your war-crimes against the Genii people?"
John blinks once and turns away only to have his face roughly squeezed in Koyla's stronger grip.
He's fully aware that what's coming up next is going to hurt like hell and if events unfold at the same pace they usually do this time of day, he knows Kolya's going to make it as bad as he can possibly make it.
Shudders rip through him when Kolya squeezes tighter, unable to contain his rage, his thumb presses into John's swollen left eye while John struggles against his binds. He's close, oh so very close to begging, 'Please.' His eyes, god dammit, not his eyes...oh shit...oh shit...god no, fuck...not his eyes. John whimpers and moans as the pain increases. It's a burning pain that rips through his nerve endings and spirals his terror into overdrive. And the sound it makes...fuck...the squishy wet slurping sound causes his stomach to roll over and his head to spin. He pulls his face away but can't escape the Commander's determined grip.
"No..." John mutters. "God..."
Just when he's sure that Kolya is going to gouge out his eye and he'll never fly again, the Commander relents and stares at John with an expression that's disturbing.
When their eyes meet for a moment John isn't afraid anymore, in fact, he's mildly sympathetic toward his enemy and wow, isn't that just weird. Kolya is an idiot and a fool but he loves his people as much as John loves his own, though he's trying to save them in a completely desperate and asinine way. He attempts negotiating again because heck, it would be nice to think he's learned a thing or two from Elizabeth.
"Our people aren't at war Koyla. We aren't enemies." John tries... he tries so hard to get the point across but one look tells him Kolya isn't buying. Still, maybe that's a good thing because some words just need to be said. "Or at least we weren't enemies until you brought your half-assed forces through the gate and killed our people!"
He prepares himself for the swing and isn't disappointed when Kolya knocks the stick against his back with enough force to knock him forward. Blood flies, skin splatters, but John doesn't utter a sound.
"How long did you plan on keeping this a secret?" Sora's temper is on the rise and Rodney knows he better watch his words because, well, she's downright scary when she's like this.
"I don't know what you're talking about. Look, ask Kavanagh if you don't believe me. I'm not half as smart as I say..."
The punch to the gut is unexpected and his entire body spasms in pain. "What the hell was that for?" Rodney moves back warily. He knows what she's pissed over but he has to play his cards just right.
"Teyla Emmagan is on the mainland."
"Oh...that." Rodney breathes in hard and exhales quickly. "Kavanagh told you, right?" He continues on despite her protests. "Look, he's wrong. She's dead. If she were alive she would have come back to help us take the city."
"She has no loyalty. She killed my father." Sora tosses her curls and moves closer. "I despise her more with each passing day." She pauses to take a breath and when she speaks again her tone is malicious. "I want her to die."
"What, so you can brag about doing it the way she does at every opportunity?"
For a moment she's confused, and Rodney waits, counting the seconds until reality dawns.
"She brags about murdering my father?"
"I wouldn't say brag exactly, more like boast maybe?" God help him he's not the best liar by far but there's a hell of lot riding on the outcome of this conversation. "In all fairness he did kill a captive of the Wraith. And according to Teyla the man was begging for help and your father just took his life."
"That is a lie!" She's furious now and Rodney really hopes she doesn't decide to hit him again while he's still reeling from the first punch.
"He screamed, 'help me please' and was reaching out for aid and Tyrus just shot him."
"She told our new trading partner, the Pillions all about it and informed them the Genii can't be trusted. That your father was a Wraith sympathizer..."
"She lies! My father was a man of honor. Teyla killed him to save herself."
"Teyla wouldn't do that." Finally, a truth, this he can do.
"You will fly me to the mainland to retrieve Teyla and bring her back to face our justice."
"What? No! Are you crazy? I can't fly a jumper. Sheppard is the only pilot we have." He pauses, brings on the sarcasm. "Oh, yes, before you inquire, lessons were scheduled to start the week after you invaded the city." Rodney scoffs. "Once again the Genii prove correct the famed stories of their near fatal timing."
Sora considers his words carefully. Sheppard is Kolya's prize. Getting him off world is not going to be easy, and besides, if he escaped the Genii would have nothing to do for fun. "Perhaps the Commander..."
"Right, like he cares about your family honor. Kolya knows Teyla isn't with the Manarians but he doesn't care. She means something to you because you consider her a murderer. To him she's just an Athosian who's probably screwing Sheppard."
"Enough!" Sora's smirk is deadly. "I need to think about this carefully but be aware Doctor, by the ancestors I will have my revenge and if going to the mainland is the only way then I will find a way to do it."
Rodney doesn't realize he's holding his breath until Sora leaves and he collapses on the chair by his desk and exhales. He rubs a hand across his face and places his other hand on his stomach. Dammit it still hurts. He thinks of Sheppard suffering at Kolya's hands and then promptly stops thinking.
John wraps his arms across his knees and leans back against the wall of the prison cell furthermost away from the door. When the guards come to get him in the morning he wants to make them walk across the floor to get him. It's a small victory, but hey, at this stage of the game it's the only one he's got.
He knows he should be starving and exhausted and desperate to sleep for a week but his earlier encounter with Kolya instead wires him to a level of high anxiety and it's amazingly difficult to get his pulse back on track. He can't stop his hands from shaking and he's breathing way too hard for someone at normal rest but John has never been one to just sit back and wait for things to happen and it's downright frustrating for him to have to do so now.
He squeezes his eyes shut and thinks of Rodney. If the scientist feels even half the adrenalin rush John's feeling in all probability he's taking his pulse at least twenty times an hour. Maybe he's eating or worrying himself into a frenzy of insurmountable proportions. Or maybe he's sleeping in bed on the very same sheets they shared only hours before the storm hit.
With all the expendable energy rushing around his dormant body imagining Rodney in bed probably isn't a very good idea.
He feels a steady zing in his gut then a quick rush of blood to his cock and sweet mother of god this is certainly not one of his brighter ideas.
John forces himself to get to his feet and takes a small jog around the cell. He's running on pure adrenalin, the same kind of rush he gets at flying zero gees, and he's not even sure if their plan has even been put into effect yet.
He jogs back and forth, up and down, covering every spare inch of the damp confining space when suddenly his feet give out and he staggers and crashes to the ground in a sickly heap and can't remember how the hell it is he even got there. He starts to feel ill and for a moment he's frightened. What if something happens to him before he can fly the jumper? What if something Kolya did to him was more than just a superficial beating to his back and stomach, what if there are internal injuries to consider?
It's a punishing thought to have so much riding upon his shoulders. Christ, he never wanted command anyway and if Colonel Sumner were alive, Major John Sheppard would be staying with the Manarians right now and trying his best to figure out what the heck was going on instead of locked up in some creepy dark cell playing messiah. He shudders briefly. Yeah, and he'd probably also think Atlantis was destroyed by the tsunami killing McKay in the process and John's not sure he could have lived with that type of misunderstanding.
It's so hard sometimes to be the hero that everyone expects him to be especially when what he usually wants is to be left alone. He has vivid memories of his father carrying on about the burden of command and sending people to their deaths, but it never really felt real to him, never felt feasible, until he watched Colonel Sumner die slowly first at the hands of the Wraith Queen, then quickly by the lead of his own bullet.
At that moment he had recognized that he was now in charge of keeping the people of the Atlantis expedition safe from harm. And the fact that this mission includes possible death by soul sucking aliens and whatever else is lurking in the Pegasus galaxy hasn't released John from that burden. He remembers an earlier choice to take things one day at a time and for a while that plan had suited him just fine, but soon after, he'd been confronted with dark energy clouds, misty memories and thousand year storms, and suddenly the rule just didn't seem to apply anymore. People lived and died by the decisions he made, continues to make and that leaves no room for a cavalier attitude.
With a slight wince John tries to stand again and fails, this time falling flat on his face with his legs sprawled out behind him and his cheek to the metal floor and just for the hell of it he decides to just stay there.
"Good one John..."
With his eyes closed the nausea is less threatening and after a few minutes it subsides to a dull gurgle well out of range of puking level. He unexpectedly starts to feel sleepy and closes his eyes to wait for lights out. One beat, two, nothing, not a freaking blink of sleep.
"Dammit..." He murmurs and rubs his forehead. If it wasn't for the nagging headache itching at the back of his temples that really hasn't left him since Kolya started pounding him, John might actually say he feels okay.
He yawns hard, with his jaw fully extended, and oh my god it hurts like hell. He breathes in and out deeply and keeps his eyes shut but still the sleep won't come. It's making him crazy. Even though John's worn out he can't switch off all the fears and confusions wandering around his brain. His mind is a very distressing place and right now it's worrying about Rodney.
The look on his open face when Kavanagh mentions sucking Kolya's cock throws John for a loop. In that moment he understands Rodney's deepest fears for him and for what he believes the Genii might be doing to his lover. While John spends his mornings being whipped and evenings being beaten, Rodney's probably freaking out twenty-four seven and wondering if Kolya or his men have been "enjoying" John in other ways maybe not acceptable for public display.
John hates to see himself in the role of victim, especially for Rodney. It's devastating because he wants to be strong and in control, be someone Rodney can depend upon to keep them both safe --to keep everybody safe.
Rodney, sweet Jesus, oh please...
For gods sake what he and Rodney are planning to do is crazy at best, and probably won't even work worth a damn, and if Ford...no....he refuses to go in that direction. His team is alive and well on the mainland. For John to believe otherwise is unthinkable.
He wonders if Sora has approached Rodney yet and demanded Teyla's blood. Or if Kavanagh's even told her Teyla might be alive. John doesn't want to think what a mess they'll be in if Kavanagh has an attack of conscious and decides to relinquish his position of chief ass kisser by not spilling the beans and thus leaving them without a star to play the role of unwitting fool for which he's so aptly qualified.
John despises people without loyalty and that's a big part of the reason he hates Kavanagh. He also hates the way he torments Rodney with his words and actions and the way he doesn't even give a damn that he's turned his back on everyone he's been working with for months when faced with the first little bit of adversity. He's a coward and a fool and not even fit to walk in Rodney's shadow.
Rodney, who despite all his failings and annoying qualities, of which John allows there are so very many, has somehow become the person he cares for more than anyone else in the entire universe. Being gay is not new to John, it's something he's lived with his entire life so it's not surprising that he finds himself in a relationship with a man, but the fact that the man in question is Rodney McKay, resident genius, is more than a little overwhelming. It's so strange for him to contemplate that they have more than just a working relationship that most days John doesn't try to deal with the possible problems he's creating for himself but merely enjoys the rewards of having Rodney for a lover. John's been on borrowed time from day one of this expedition, all of them have really, but that never stopped him from making the first move after nearly loosing Rodney to an energy sucking monster nearly two months before.
Rodney's who a genius in all things, and beautiful inside and... Inside...John shudders, sits up quickly and closes his eyes tight. Inside...Rodney...what if...inside him...Rodney...stop, stop, stop...
"Please..." He says it aloud because he has to and because his brain and body don't seem to care much that he's hurting. He rubs his eyes and wills his body to calm the fuck down.
"No..." John hurts everywhere and he's so unbelievably hungry. God, what he wouldn't do for an MRE right about now. His stomach growls and he starts to shake.
He sneezes once, then again, and buries his face into the thin fabric of his pants. It's so fucking freezing in the cell and damp too because of the water level situation. John sighs. Really swell conditions for developing a nasty case of pneumonia.
Yet despite everything he can't fight the arousal. He's so lonely, and tired and anxious and he wants Rodney dammit...wants Rodney, right now in this cell on all fours sucking his cock and making him scream and gasp and come. He wants to touch the cum dripping like icicles from his obscenely long lashes after he's swallowed all of John and kiss him just hard enough to taste himself in Rodney's mouth.
His cock jerks and John bites back a moan. He wants to lie back on the bed and spread his legs wide, and enjoy Rodney gaping openmouthed at the sight of John fingering himself, breaching himself, prepping himself for Rodney's swollen cock....
John shudders then whimpers and then...oh yes...yes...yes...
He's not sure when his hand moves below his pants but it's there now and what the fuck does it matter anyway? He grips the length experimentally and closes his eyes. It's been a really long time since he last did this since it's no surprise that the Genii are a very poor aphrodisiac but John knows exactly how he likes his hand jobs and he doesn't have the courage to deny himself this small pleasure, this slight reprieve from the pain and anxiety of the past few weeks. After a lifetime of hiding his preferences he's certainly had his share of practice so he sighs once, rough, and gets down to business.
John squeezes gently at the base, just a bit to prolong the surprise then tugs roughly from bottom to tip, firm caresses that he can feel all the way down to his extended toes. He quivers and his belly does a slight roll of happiness. It's so freaking good, better than good actually, amazing because, god; he needs this release so badly. Maybe this is why he can't sleep. Maybe he needs to burn off another kind of energy, a more intimate kind.
The first few strokes against his flesh are smooth and short, a small bit of torture to add to the day's tally, but they get better, far better, and longer too and then unbelievably hot when he adds some more spit to the mix and yes, because when he concentrates hard enough he can swear he's staring into a pair of warm blue eyes gently mocking him and thrusting into an open mouth that's hot and eager and everything John's ever wanted in his entire life.
If that mouth could take a breather John knows what Rodney would say.
"You are such a freak Sheppard. You better hope the Genii don't figure out how to work the security cameras..."
Rodney's mental image is right on target. Surely John is some kind of absolute sicko to get hard at the thought of being with Rodney now, under threat of eminent death. The blood hammering through his cock thinks differently, it bolsters him on, stroke after stroke and he fights back a whimper when another steady pull nearly brings him to the edge.
He bites the inside of his mouth to keep from screaming and rolls his hips back and forth, thrusting instinctively, pretending Rodney's thumbs are digging hard into his pelvis to keep him firmly in place.
He's been thoroughly fucked by Rodney only once, but he's tasted his cock, and filled Rodney's mouth with his own enough times to know that he's an irredeemably greedy, insatiable bastard when it comes to sex with this man and god, he's never felt like that before in his life.
It's nasty and good, and dirty...and god, so incredible and oh fuck, John must really be hard up to need sex so desperately that he'll handle his cock like a pro while hungry and in pain on the filthy floor of a damp smelly Atlantean dungeon. .
Desire rips through him like a tidal wave and John wishes he could enjoy the pleasure he's allowing himself more fully without feeling grubby for doing this to himself without Rodney but he'll take what he can get and right now he's so far gone it doesn't matter.
It's so beautiful it hurts, this passion, this crazy out of his mind feeling for another human being that makes even the most bizarre situation seem normal and necessary.
His mind whirls and darkens; his body vibrates with panicked need. John tries to think of ugly things, bad things, like Wraith darts and hive ships to slow him down. But all he seems to dwell on are Rodney's blue eyes, crooked mouth, appealing belly and perky hard nipples on even the warmest of days. He strokes again, and trembles, this time so violently he knocks his head back against the wall and, ouch, his cock is so stiff, so determined, and there's no turning back for John now.
He thrusts forward, imagines Rodney inside him, filling him, stuffing him so full that he swears he can see the outline of the wide cock buried deep within him through the pale soft skin of his belly. He rubs his knuckles roughly across his stomach, marking his hips, hurting himself biting back a shriek. The sensation is overpowering and oh sweet Jesus he's so close, so close to coming...
John starts to pull harder, longer, willing himself to orgasm. Rodney's still in his thoughts, still taking everything he has to give, fucking him brutally, desperately, owning John's heart and body and mind. His hand is slick as he quickens the pace willing Rodney from his brain because he doesn't belong in this horrid place, but the images refuse to fade. His hand moves of its own volition, up and down, faster and faster, tugging at his sore yielding skin. His balls jump and he thrusts again fucking his fist until finally, god finally...
"Rodney, Rodney, please, please..."
His body convulses at last and his vision darkens. Pleasure soars through him in jerky spurts forcing John to fall to his side nearly fetal, with his hand still glued to his slowly fading cock. He pulls helplessly, mindlessly, over and over, sobbing for mercy and forgiveness until he has nothing left to give.
It's a messy situation for him to be in, with cum coating his chest and shirt, and his hair damp with sweat. He lies there for a while and lingers, exhausted, waiting for his heart beat to slow down and for his body to regroup and stop shaking.
Later, when he licks the salty tang from his lips he feels a pang of instant regret.
Rodney's nowhere at all to be seen and John feels like he's just fucked his best friend and lover goodbye.
"Why are you so happy?" Kavanagh is eyeing him guardedly. "What are you doing in here anyway?"
Rodney twists his face around and frowns.
Great, perfect, exactly what the fuck I didn't need right now, an asshole in my face.
"I'm doing what I've been doing all week you moron. Something, I might add, Kolya seems to think me the only one capable of doing. And that, of course, is fixing the Stargate so it works in both directions instead of one." Rodney turns away fuming and muttering curses under his breath.
He's so close to figuring it all out but without covert assistance from any other advanced scientific minds to speak of, it's turning into a real hell of a behemoth. At first Rodney thinks the fried systems are underwater, and of course he's partially right, but when the level recedes to reachable proportions he nearly pisses himself with excitement. The structures he needs to access are now above the water line. If he can somehow fix the gate so the Atlanteans can return home while at the same time leaving the shield broken so the Genii can't zap them when they try...Rodney sighs, rubs his temple, bites his bottom lip.
Sheppard's told him a hundred times not to worry about fixing things that aren't part of their plan to get the Genii out of the city. But the Stargate! My god if he fixes the gate...
"McKay..." Kavanagh sounds irritated.
"Why are you still here?" Rodney fidgets, waiting.
"Yes it is." When Kavanagh doesn't move he continues, "What, you came to give me the time?"
"The rules are you have to be out of the lab by a midnight if you're working without Genii assistance..."
"Do you count?" Kavanagh bristles. Lovely, Rodney thinks, I may have just struck a nerve. "Oh please, seriously. You mean to tell me that Kolya will be upset if he finds out I'm working too hard?"
"There are no guards here McKay. Don't make me report you again." Kavanagh moves closer, standing in Rodney's space. "Sheppard will only have to pay the price on all fours later tonight."
"Get your taunting cap off Kavanagh. I'm not buying it." Rodney turns away and bites the inside of his cheek wishing he felt more confident. Sora rushing to him demanding answers is both good news and bad news depending on how he decides to take it. Good, because well, hells bells, now she'll probably demand that Sheppard fly her to the mainland. And bad because when Kolya gets Sheppard back his anger's gonna be way off the charts and that means as far as sexual favors go who the fuck knows what he'll start doing and letting the guards do to Sheppard. Rodney swallows. Kavanagh may not be far off the mark.
"The Majors a whore and everyone knows it." One beat, then two, "No matter what kind of lies he's telling you to make you feel better."
"Shut up." Holding on to the belief that Kavanagh is lying doesn't help much right now. Rodney wants to tear him limb from limb.
"I've talked to one of the guards. He says Sheppard's really hot when he begs for it."
Rodney turns around to meet Kavanagh's smirk face to face.
"Last night he had two cocks inside him and that still wasn't enough."
"You're a filthy son of a bitch." Rodney advances but is stopped from throwing a punch that would probably crack his fist by a familiar acerbic voice.
"This has to end now. We should all be working together to get the city working again not fighting with each other like little boys." Kolya turns to Kavanagh. "Your words are as vile and disgusting as you are. Don't make me regret my decision to bring you safely back to Atlantis Doctor."
Kavanagh sputters and lowers his eyes, careful to put just the right amount of shame, guilt and suck-ass into his obsequious performance. Just as the silence is starting to become deafening he utters, "McKay isn't supposed to be here."
"No, he isn't." The Commander agrees, eyeing him suspiciously.
In the blink of an eye he reaches out and seizes Rodney's arm and oh my sweet Jesus fuck it still hurts, even after three weeks, and Rodney abhors that he gasps so loudly when the Commander squeezes tight and starts to roll the skin on the ragged and still blood red wound.
"You I don't trust."
"Me? What? Why?" Rodney stammers.
"But you are amusing. I have to admit Doctor McKay I have never met anyone quite like you." Kolya compresses his arm again but this time Rodney has the forethought to bit his lip in pain. "You're an arrogant man. But I still need you for now."
"Great, terrific, you've touched me deep down inside."
"But Kavanagh is right about one thing. It is late and you know the rules. I'm going to ask you once. What are you doing here?"
"I should think that's obvious." He pulls his arm away and waits out the agony. His eyes meet the Commander's. It's now or never time. If Kolya suspects something he's gonna let Rodney know in the next few minutes. "I'm working on getting the gate fixed. Or did you forget your own mandates?"
Kolya's smile is chilling. "I didn't forget my orders Dr. McKay. I just need to make sure that you haven't forgotten who holds the cards here."
"For gods sake what's wrong with you people? You ask for the impossible and then complain when I try to deliver it to you in record time. You want me out of here? Fine, I'm tired." He snaps his fingers and is pleased when Kavanagh jumps. Some habits are very hard to break. "No, scratch that. I'm exhausted. I'd love to get some sleep." He pauses for just a second, picks up some papers from the desk. "Do you want the guards to walk me to my door?"
The Commander shakes his head. "I think you should stay here. Work all night if you have to. I want some sort of results by tomorrow morning. Be good and I just may give you breakfast." He continues after a moment and Rodney feels his blood freeze. "But remember Doctor..." He eyes the bandage around Rodney's arm. "You're not the only one I can hurt."
"Yes. I'm well aware of that." Rodney knows he should just shut up but he can't. It's so hard to keep silent when Kolya is holding Sheppard over him, letting Rodney know that yeah, sure, maybe Kavanagh's words are disgusting. But he never said they weren't true. "But you should be aware of something."
"You do need me. You need me very badly if you want to fix Atlantis. Maybe I am conceited but you know I'm right. And Kavanagh knows it too. And if you kill Sheppard, if you do any of the shit that this idiot was suggesting I will be less than cooperative and I will make sure this city sinks into the god-damned ocean before another Genii steps through that gate."
Kolya's face is deceptive. He slams Rodney hard against the desk until he's doubled over with his face plastered against the keyboard of his laptop and his torn arm is wretched behind his back in a strong knowing grip. He hears the snap of his bone breaking before the pain hits and he shudders when his skin turns cold.
"I trust you can fix the city without your little finger, even if you have to work twice as hard to get it done."
Rodney closes his eyes and breathes in and out. Oh god, it hurts and oh fuck this is only a tiny measure of what the Commander puts Sheppard through. He cringes and doesn't even try to pull away. Kolya will release him when he's damn good and ready.
"Understand this Doctor. I don't appreciate threats. You and Sheppard are slaves of the Genii people. You live only through my command. And I can inflict whatever pain I want to on both you and..." The pause is perfectly timed. "...the Major."
Kolya releases him and Rodney stays still for a moment waiting for the inevitable punch line. "And though it hasn't gotten as depraved as he describes..." Rodney doesn't look but knows he's gesturing toward Kavanagh. "I'm not making any promises. Is that understood?"
"Yes. Fine, I'll behave and fix the city. You'll keep your lurid fantasies away from Sheppard. Is that good enough for you?"
"That's very good Doctor. I'm on my way to see Sheppard now." Kolya's smile is all teeth. He tosses back, "I'll give him your regards." as he leaves.
Rodney closes his eyes, waits, listens. When he's sure that Kolya has gone he steadies himself and stares at his finger. He watches Kavanagh approach out of the corner of his eye but decides to ignore him. When it looks like his nemesis is about to speak Rodney cuts him off with a "Stop."
"No. Shut up. Not one word from you. Not one stupid fucking word." Rodney faces Kavanagh seething, so livid he's sure his face must be on fire. "You made your bed and now you have to lay in it."
"Your arm is bleeding." The scientist offers but Rodney's not buying.
"Yeah and my finger's broken, so what?" He's always been the type of person to hold a grudge and he's not making this time the exception to the rule. "Kolya does worse to Sheppard before breakfast every single day just for the entertainment value and I know you enjoy it."
"I don't!" Kavanagh is scurrying for an answer. "I don't hate Major Sheppard. It's just...there's nothing I can do now."
Rodney considers. This is new and so very un-Kavanagh-like. "What do you mean?"
"I want to help you get the city back. I know you and Sheppard are planning something."
"You're crazy. There is no way to get the city back. And even if there was a chance in hell to do it you destroyed our last possible opportunity when you told Sora about Teyla and Ford still being alive on the mainland."
"That's not what I intended at all."
"Please, what do you take me for?" Rodney's not an idiot. He knows a liar when he sees one. But on the off chance that Kavanagh's had a change of heart Rodney thinks, maybe, though it isn't part of the plan he still might turn out to be useful. It's not really up to them anyway. Let Kavanagh plead his case with Elizabeth when she returns to the city. "Kolya won't kill me or Sheppard either. We're both too important. Hmmm...it seems to me that you're finally beginning to see just how insignificant to the Genii you really are."
"God, you're an arrogant bastard."
"Sticks and stones Kavanagh." Rodney gestures around the lab. "Now, please...there's work I need to finish up on here if I don't want to risk going into hypoglycemic shock before noon tomorrow."
The door to the lab slides shut and Rodney collapses onto the nearest workbench. In a moment he'll go to the infirmary and wrap up his finger. He sighs. In the meantime he still has a load of work to do.
"I need you to take me to the mainland." Sora pauses. "Tomorrow night after the Commander is finished with you."
She says the last phrase with contempt and Sheppard knows Sora's just another one of the Genii who thinks he's putting out for their leader. "Excuse me?"
Sora walks around the cell before turning to face him. "Don't pretend ignorance Major Sheppard. Teyla Emmagan is alive and well. Your efforts to hide her along with a few other Atlanteans on the mainland have been discovered. I know all about it."
"Oh you do." John crosses his arms and tries to regulate his breathing. Sora coming here to chat means that the plan he and Rodney concocted maybe isn't so impossible to deliver upon after all. They may have only one chance in a million, but it's their chance. Sometimes you just have to go against the odds.
"And I want her here on Atlantis." Sora sounds irritated yet nervous like maybe she wants John to dispute Kavanagh's claims. Or maybe she is having second thoughts about planning this revenge, remembering that once upon a time in Pegasus she and Teyla used to be very good friends.
He smiles thinly. He certainly can't let that happen. Teyla would not approve, John knows this like a punch to the gut, but still, their only option to retake the city lies with Sora wanting Teyla badly enough that she'll risk the wrath of Kolya to get her. "Let me guess, an eye for an eye?"
"That sounds accurate."
"I won't do it." He's tired, his body feels like lead, and she's looking at him with disdain, probably thinks he's unable to put up much of a fight. John bites his bottom lip. She'd be very, very, wrong.
"I think you will."
John nods. Here's where the bargaining comes in. "Why?"
"Because Dr. McKay is staying on Atlantis and I don't think you'll risk his life."
"You think I care more about him than Teyla?" It's a question John has stopped asking himself because the answer terrifies him to the core of his being. He cares more for Rodney McKay than the city herself.
Sora's smile is cold. "Yes, of course you do Major Sheppard. You must think me a fool."
"Well, you have been spending too much time listening to Kolya's bedtime stories." He leans back against the wall, twists his mouth around a few times, waits.
Sora shakes her curls. "If you don't take me I'll have someone kill McKay and make it look like an accident."
Yeah, right, because the Genii rarely make empty threats. "Then you can kiss Atlantis goodbye." John tries for confidence. "Kavanagh can barely make the toilets around here flush."
"I don't think you're willing to forfeit his life. Still, it doesn't matter. Right now I don't care about this city. I don't care if it sinks into the ocean. I hate it here and I hate your people." He notes the change in her voice, softer maybe, more introspective but then suddenly rising in pitch. "I hate you for killing so many of us like cattle and I hate myself even more because I know that if I were in your shoes I would have done the same exact thing."
"The time for listening is over. You will take me to the mainland by jumper tomorrow night and bring Teyla back here. It will be just the two of us plus another Genii soldier who has sworn me loyalty. If you try anything you will die."
I sure wasn't planning on dying...
"It looks like you're not giving me much of a choice." John hopes his happiness doesn't spill through. My god, he's actually starting to get excited by the prospect of getting the hell out of Atlantis. It's been ages since he's seen the ocean or been inside of a puddle jumper.
"Not if you want Dr. McKay to live." Sora is gloating. John detests the look of superiority painted on her pretty face.
"Well, then I suppose we're going to the mainland...but do me one favor? If Kolya finds out please tell him it was your idea. He's still kind of pissed at me for the whole trying to save my home from invasion thing and I don't think he's gonna look upon this too kindly."
John nearly laughs aloud at her answering expression. They both know Kolya will kill them in the blink of an eye if he knew what they were planning to do let all reason be damned. The Genii are suckers when it comes to loyalty.
"Commander Kolya is..." Sora begins.
"...a great man. Yes I know the rhetoric." John swallows hard when his stomach grumbles. "Think you can get me something to eat tomorrow...a turkey sandwich maybe? I wouldn't want to pass out from hunger while I'm flying."
"Behave yourself and we shall see." Sora nods once and leaves John alone with his thoughts.
He closes his eyes to the silence and finally sleeps, imagining sea spray on his face.
"And so it goes..." Rodney begins because, well, someone has to, and anyway. Sheppard's never been much of a talker under even happy circumstances.
He wants to touch Sheppard desperately. He feels drugged, out of his mind with both need and worry, and his fingers tingle with the memory of carding through his lover's soft dark hair. It's silly really. They've slept together once, only once, one rousing night of flat out penetrative sex, on a bed with each other, with moaning and moisture and all the good stuff being intimate with another body brings, and yet to Rodney's mindset they've already spent a lifetime together. When he combines all the flirting and fighting and running for their lives, Christ, it's like they're celebrating their fifth anniversary.
"He did this to you..." Sheppard says looking pointedly at Rodney's poorly wrapped finger.
"This? No, I did this arm wrestling with Ladon for the last chocolate pudding." Sheppard frowns so he relents a little bit. "Kolya certainly isn't ashamed of showing a bit of temper when threatened."
"Threatened? Sheppard's voice goes up an octave. "For gods sake Rodney why the hell were you threatening him?"
"He made some innuendos about you...."
"Christ Rodney that was stupid." By the slight twitch of his eye Rodney can tell that he's really pissed. "Kolya could have killed you." He sighs and rubs his eyes. The twitch doesn't stop. He looks more exhausted than ever and they haven't even hit the hard part yet.
"He won't kill me..." When Sheppard's frown deepens Rodney shakes his head. "Now it's my turn to say it, 'I'm fine.'"
"Rodney..." Sheppard eyes are sad, and so far away. "I really need you to stay that way." He twists around, moves closer, waits.
Rodney doesn't reply but gives in to the impulse to stroke Sheppard's hair. His chest tightens as the strands fall through his fingers. "Always robbing Peter to pay Paul...how come we never seem to end up as Paul?"
"If we were Paul, Peter would try to kill us and take whatever it is we were paying him." Sheppard offers and Rodney has to smile.
"Well of course." He stares at Sheppard's weary expression, the sleep rumpled hair, and stubble that Kolya will probably have him shave away before morning, and the way his arms wrap protectively around his lean body. He wants to shout, 'You're beautiful! You're so fucking beautiful and this place they're keeping you in is a death trap and you deserve better than me because I can't figure out a better way to save you and get this city back and we're both probably gonna die anyway.'
What he says is: "Is it wrong that I can imagine you naked right now?"
"Yeah, sort of," Sheppard smiles "But I'll let you get away with it." He looks around the cell and considers. "How the hell did you get in to see me anyway?"
"Sora let me in." His voice wavers.
It's not a complete lie Rodney reasons. Sora misses her home world and her people and she longs for the superior history the Genii should have had without Wraith interference. She's angry and exhausted and fed up with Kolya's poorly structured leadership. Plus she's a lot softer than she pretends when it comes to Teyla. She's a lose cog in the Genii machine and Kolya doesn't even have a clue.
But one thing she's not is stupid.
Rodney squeezes his eyes shut and rubs his temples. There's a hell of a mighty headache waiting just beyond the horizon and he's not sure he can keep it at bay long enough to get through whatever the hell lies ahead.
Earlier in the day he begs Sora to let him see Sheppard and promises her that he'll convince the Major to be a good boy in the jumper and not kill anymore Genii. He plays the coward card and pleads for his life and luckily for him Kavanagh is there and since he allows that Rodney is a spineless "fag" moron his last minute appeal to Sora is a success because even though he's pretty sure she doesn't know what all the words mean, Kavanagh's dismissive posturing is more than enough.
Of course he knows the Major won't behave. He plans to overpower Sora and the other Genii soldier, find Teyla, Ford and Beckett and slip them the information from Rodney on how to prepare for the assault and return back to Atlantis while leaving his original two passengers behind — hopefully tied to some rash infesting tree.
It's so gosh darn simple Rodney wonders why he was ever worried.
He knows his life's been threatened by Sora and that Sheppard's worrying himself up about it but if all goes according to plan he'll survive just fine. If not...nope, no way, uh-uh...he is so not going there this late in the game plan.
"I said you'd behave in the jumper."
"And she believed you?"
"Who knows? She probably just thinks I want to make out with you." Rodney perks up. "Hey, you know, she'd be right!"
"Listen Rodney," Sheppard's voice sounds rough. "Are you gonna tell me the rest of the plan?"
Long delicate fingers stroke across the line of his jaw and Rodney swallows so hard it hurts just a bit.
"Do you want to know it?"
It's a tougher question than it would seem. On the surface Rodney believes that Sheppard should know everything, every last bit of the plan, but then again, there's Kolya, and if the Major's going to be the sacrificial lamb when the jumper returns, it might be better if he knows as little as possible.
Sheppard frowns but continues touching although his fingers are a bit more hesitant, more insecure. Rodney knows the same thoughts are going through his head. How much is too much. "A part of me does."
Rodney considers. He hates the idea of Sheppard helpless at Kolya's furious hands when he doesn't bring back Sora but there's always the slight possibility that the Commander is pissed off enough at his second in command for leaving Atlantis in the first place that he's not in much of a hurry to get her back. Of course he'll still want to know what they're up to and when Rodney sets his plan in motion...the Genii are going to totally freak out.
He says, "Do you trust me?" and is vaguely surprised more than a little bit awed when Sheppard replies without hesitation, "Yes, of course I do McKay."
And there's the nature of their relationship in a nutshell. Love and trust without any messy commitments. Is he in love with Sheppard? Oh yes, definitely. Does Sheppard feel the same way? Rodney really, really hopes so.
It's confusing as hell not to feel overly confident about this one aspect of his existence especially when he's enjoying it so much. Rodney's always been the first person to sing his own praises to whomever the hell will listen, and as a personal policy he likes to bombard the eardrums of those who won't, but for every great success he's had in life there's also been a fair share of failures.
But Sheppard...god...Sheppard is unique, a conundrum, and from the start Rodney knows he won't be able to resist. At first he's jealous of the Major with the magic gene, the pretty boy with the inspiring connection to the city. Sheppard's perfect. He can access the chair. Use the drones. Make the city light up beneath his fingertips. Once again, Rodney McKay is screwed over by genetics. Sure he's got the brains, but what about the hair, huh? And what about the god damn ancient gene?
Sheppard is much too laid back for a soldier and he's even more annoyingly sarcastic than Rodney. Of course on the plus side he's got one hell of a smile and the prettiest face on a man that Rodney's ever seen. His Gaydar immediately does a high five and Rodney slaps it down along with his raging libido. It can't be right. Sheppard is military all the way, so don't ask, don't tell, and don't touch the new commanding officer. Since he seems to have everything anyway Rodney decides not to like him.
But then suddenly all hell breaks loose when Sumner dies, the Wraith wake up, and the Athosians come to visit. Just when Rodney's pretty much thinking his life has slipped into the nether regions of hell, on the day after having his body zapped by a dark energy creature Sheppard leans forward without preamble and kisses him lightly on the lips on an Atlantean balcony.
"Rodney?" Sheppard is eyeing him warily.
Regardless of what type of relationship they have, they haven't had nearly enough time to explore it fully by any means and Rodney wants much more from Sheppard. He wants to be able to kiss him every day for the rest of his life and sleep entwined around his long body inhaling the warm vapors of his breath and waking up to his sleepy ruffled gaze. He needs to touch him and see him smile his goofy grin, and hear him talk football with the marines. And most of all, Rodney wants to watch his lover flirt shamelessly with everyone he meets, male, female alien, whatever, all the while knowing exactly to whom he belongs. It's a proprietary feeling but Rodney's more than okay with that. Actually, he quite likes it.
"I'm not going to tell you everything." He decides at that exact moment.
Sheppard nods resignedly, still not sure. "Okay..."
"Kolya will try to force you to tell him what we're doing because by god he's gonna know we're doing something."
"I know that Rodney." Sheppard acknowledges. "I said I'd give you all the time I can."
"You'll give me even more time if you're clueless."
Ouch. Oh yeah, he knows exactly what that means.
Sheppard is staring at him now and Rodney forces himself not to turn away. The hazel gaze is intense, unwavering and somewhat uncertain. And fuck if Sheppard doesn't have a right to be tentative. Rodney wonders how he'd react if Sheppard devised a plan to save the city where a major part of his role included letting the evil Genii villain torture the life out him for as long as humanly possible.
"God, I'm sorry. It's a stupid plan anyway. Give me some time...I'll think of another...I'll..." Rodney recognizes his blabbering as desperation but there is no other way out of this Ancient storm induced mess.
Kolya will apprehend Sheppard while Ford, Teyla and Beckett join up with him and take their cargo off the jumper. The Commander will believe Sheppard came back to get him, to rescue his boyfriend if Kavanagh has any say, until someone, Ladon maybe, alerts him to examine the sensors and Kolya realizes he's basically screwed. He'll play hardball for a while but the Major can't tell what he doesn't know and so Kolya will either get the hell out of Dodge or fight to the death. As much as Rodney would like to shoot the bastard himself he hopes the Genii flee without any more bloodshed. Oh, yeah, and if it wouldn't be too much trouble, he'd really, really like Kolya to keep Sheppard alive because if Sheppard dies...
"Oh for god's sake what's wrong with me anyway?" He rages. "I thought I had brains. I thought thinking was my strong suit. What, suddenly I'm an idiot? Well, maybe idiot is too strong a word but surely you can see where I'm going with this." He wants to implore Sheppard to order him to think of something else, to at least give it a try, anything else dammit, but Sheppard is silent. Maybe if he begs, or at least says 'please' but the point is mute. Plans are hard to come by lately and they both know he's given it his best shot. "I'm sure I can think of something else...some way to get the city back that doesn't involve you being burned over hot coals." Rodney stammers.
Sheppard's expression softens. "I don't think we have coal furnaces on Atlantis."
"Oh that's very funny, ha, ha, ha!"
"Come on McKay."
"Our plan is doomed to failure."
"Well, I only know the half of it." Sheppard smiles a bit.
"So what, you die and then it's my fault for not telling you the rest of the story? Or maybe I tell you the entire plan and Kolya kills you and that's my fault too?"
"I'm not going to die Rodney." Sheppard moves closer until he's right in Rodney's face. "I'll be fine."
"Christ John, you don't know that for certain."
"Whatever it is...I'm sure it's a good plan." His smile is faint. "We always come up with good plans."
"Are you kidding? We've only been here a couple of months and we nearly died a zillion times."
"Ah, but we didn't die."
"Yes, well, your half of the plan is good. You should have planned the entire thing." Rodney sighs. "Look...I want you to be okay." He pauses. "I desperately need you to be okay. Is that better? I will blame myself forever and feel guilt and sadness until the day I die if you don't make it out of this so I can fuck you again."
"Ah, that's a really sweet thing to say." Sheppard manages a full grin this time but it fades too fast for his liking. "I'm not afraid Rodney."
And he doesn't look afraid in the least. Sheppard is pale and anxious and bursting with intensity but there's a calmness within him that's foreign to Rodney because he's never acknowledged it in himself. It's a soldier's expression, the composed face of a man who's seen battle, a man who's fought to the death and won hard victories and paid a devastating price. He hopes that when this is all over and he looks in the mirror that face is not his own.
"Good, then I'll just be terrified enough for the both of us."
Rodney grabs Sheppard's hand and is relieved to find it isn't shaking. He holds tight for a moment, folding their fingers together, closing his eyes momentarily when his lover squeezes back. For a while neither speaks, and it's so good this way, so secure and easy in the silence and yet maybe he thinks suddenly, not so good, more final, like death, or maybe one last goodbye. He pulls away then but Sheppard tugs him back, squashes him to his chest and just holds him.
Rodney feels the soft flutter of wispy eyelashes caress his cheek and he notices the dark spec of a beauty mark under Sheppard's eye as they're pulling apart. It's vague and illusive like its owner and when Rodney blinks it's gone, until he grabs Sheppard's chin and kisses him, moving close enough to see the lines of fatigue and worry across his freckled brow. He sees the beauty mark again and for whatever the hell reason, it encourages him.
"Yeah," He concedes and takes advantage of the moment to kiss Sheppard once more, a long deep lingering kiss, "Me too."
John stares at the Puddle jumper in silence. It's been nearly a month since he last sat behind the controls and his fingers are just itching to get moving. He remembers his first time at the reins, alone in the darkened jumper bay their first day in Atlantis and he remembers his last, skimming across the ocean staring at the approaching storm with Teyla by his side.
He sniffs the air and waits.
At first he thinks the entire jumper bay smells like mold, but no, it's actually more like dead shellfish. When he was very young his grandfather surprised him with a trip to see the Atlantic Ocean. They spent a wonderful week together near the Delaware Bay soaking up the sun and letting the sand run through their toes. He remembers lazy mornings sipping orange juice and eating pancakes while his grandfather read the paper. And of course long walks in late afternoon, holding his grandfather's fingers with one hand and tweaking his nostrils closed with the other. No matter what method he employs, it's impossible for John not to inhale the putrid stench of King crabs baking themselves into oblivion on the fiery sand, or forget the shaky image of their helpless pinchers vibrating jerkily in death throws in the mid-afternoon sun. When he returns home his father tells him his mother died on Saturday.
Ah, the memories of youth.
"Are you ready?" Sora's whispery voice at his ear makes him jump.
John holds up his handcuffs and bristles. "As soon as you remove these we can take off."
For a moment it seems as if she's weakening, perhaps doubting her plan, marking it as vindictive and inane or maybe just plain stupid, but she finally acquiesces and gestures to the guard with a frown that distorts her normally sullen features even more, taps her weapon and says, "Don't try anything foolish."
The guard frees his right hand and cuffs his other wrist to the side of the front seat. He has just enough room to touch the screens he needs to successfully pilot the jumper. And hopefully enough to do a little bit more.
"I don't think we can get more foolish than what we're planning, do you?" John offers just to see her cringe and although he's careful not to force her hand, it's so much darn fun to see Sora uncertain that he has to remind himself he actually needs to get off Atlantis for their plan to succeed. "How do we keep Kolya from finding out too soon?"
"Doctor McKay is handling that end of things."
Good old Rodney...
"Okay..." John doesn't doubt her but he's curious why Rodney didn't mention it to him.
"You didn't know?" She's gloating again. Right at this moment John can't stand her and he hates that in that brief exchange of dialogue he gave something important away.
She continues. "If all goes well Commander Kolya will find out we were missing after we return. And he'll be as happy as I am to have Teyla as a prisoner of the Genii people."
Maybe Sora thinks saying it enough times will make it true. Or maybe she's just so obsessed with Teyla she's willing to overlook the possibility of her own death. Either way, John knows that Kolya will beat the shit out of both of them when they return and he'll be more interested in keeping John alive than Sora.
"Oki-dokey, whatever you say."
John practically springs up in his seat and runs through start-up. Technically he really doesn't have to do much but access the controls and think her 'up' and 'out' but since the Genii don't know shit about Ancient tech it gives him some time to mentally check through his part of the plan.
Using his free hand, he casually feels inside the waist of his pants for the concealed weapon Rodney was able to slip to him when Sora let him visit. It's tiny, just an inch or so long and big enough to hide a squirt or two of something very much like mace but with longer lasting side effects. He winces at the memory of poor Miko finding out the hard way two weeks into her stay in the city when she thinks she's walking into a spritz of Eau de Ancient perfume and nearly scalds her eyes out instead.
"Well?" Sora's tone is anxious. John knows exactly how she feels.
In a perfect world he takes out both Sora and the guard before touching down on the mainland, then finds Ford and his team and flies them back to Atlantis.
Of course nothing's perfect when you're a prisoner and two hours earlier a drunken Kolya beats him furiously until his stomach cramps and Sora actually has to spill water on his face to wake him up. He wonders if she isn't disappointed to find him without his pants pulled down around his ankles.
Still, the consequence is the same. John is jumpy and worn out and in more than just a little pain. His lower back throbs, a nagging, slouching, in your face type of pain that lingers in the background until he moves once inch in the wrong direction and then, sweet mother of god, such agony. Kolya usually knows just where to strike him for maximum hurt and minimum damage but this time it's different. The Commander is plastered, which by itself isn't unusual, but the difference is he's already drunk by the time he visits John in his cell when the usual plan of action calls for drinking himself silly while John's kneeling and bleeding at his feet. As a result the Commander isn't as careful with the sticks and fists as he usually is and John is pretty sure he's injured worse than the norm. He closes his eyes to dull the constant pounding in his head. Kolya sure did a number on him this time. He touches the dried blood and shudders. In a couple of hours he'll really start to experience it.
Another country heard from. The Genii soldier looks to be around Ford's age but his expression is grim and determined where Ford's is usually casual and relaxed. "What the heck are all these boxes for back here?"
Ah, those. John doesn't have a clue actually, but he's pretty sure they're all part of Rodney's crazy scheme. He smiles his best smile and says, "We use them for collecting samples of rocks and plant life on the planets we visit. We're kind of naturalists that way."
"But why do you need so many?" The guard persists and John decides it's in his best interest to keep him occupied and if possible put him off guard.
"You think this is a lot. You should see the size of the boxes that the other jumpers carry." He pauses for effect. "And the things they bring back."
The guard's eyes widen as he looks around. "This is an amazing machine. If the Genii had a bunch of these we'd beat the Wraith for sure."
"Well, I don't know about that. The Ancestors didn't so well with the ones we have."
"How is it that you can operate this machinery? Are you one of the Ancestors?"
John sighs and revises his immediate impression. This kid is a lot more like Ford than he originally thought and it's going to be a shame to knock the shit out of him or sting him with the mace. He's not sure how much the Genii know about the 'gene' but it's a good bet not very much so he smiles again and says, "I just have the knack."
"Collins, don't speak with the prisoner." Sora takes the seat to right and holds her weapon at the ready. "Don't trust anything he says."
"Hey!" John protests. "We were just talking."
"Don't talk. Fly the ship."
"Despite what McKay may have told you, I can do both." He smiles happily while calculating his time to the mainland and starts to put his plan into action. When he rotates quickly to the left his head spins like a tilt-a-whirl and his knuckles turn white gripping the front console for support. John swallows past the nausea. A concussion certainly isn't part of the plan.
"What is wrong with you?"
John's hand is trembling; fuck it's easy to see how messed up he's feeling. He clenches his teeth and breathes deeply. "I can't reach the land indicator button."
Good one John, let's see if they buy it.
"I won't know we're approaching the mainland unless the land indicator button is on." He searches Sora's face, sees the mistrust, and decides to wait it out. The flight should only take thirty minutes; John's going to drag it out a bit more. "If it's not engaged we might just fly right around it. It's dark out." He sighs dramatically and pays for it when his vision grays momentarily. Oh that is so not good. "I'm also gonna need help with the LSD." Both Genii faces are blank. "Life signs detector? So we can find Teyla and go back to Atlantis in time to see Kolya royally pissed off?"
"I will help you." Sora moves closer, keeps her gun ready, and John does nothing to impede her.
"Just press there and the LSD will pop up." John thinks really hard while she presses and the jumper responds to his nudge by giving up the detector just as Sora is pushing some random place on the jumper hull. "There we go. Nearly set."
"Ah..." he says carefully. "I'll need to show you how to use this later." Sora thrusts the LSD back at him and John takes it with a sigh.
According to Rodney he shouldn't let this piece of Ancient equipment out of his sight for any great length of time. In fact he downright insists on it. John recalls the scientist's strong blunt fingers maneuvering down his cheekbone and in between his lips and a cautious voice telling him in no uncertain terms that when he returns to Atlantis this item better be in his back pocket. He thinks of the crates in the rear of the jumper and the message concealed in the waistband of his pants to give Ford and Teyla and exhales until he thinks his lungs might burst.
"And the land indicator..."
"Not yet. We've still got plenty of time. Push the light too soon and indicator will send us to one of the islands out here instead of the mainland. And they're pretty big for islands so if we landed on one, we wouldn't know the difference."
"This is a vast planet."
"Oh yeah, we haven't had the time or resources to explore everything yet."
They settle into companionable silence and that suits John fine. He hates lying even when it's necessary. He closes his eyes for a moment just to rest them and wakes up with a jolt when the jumper starts to dip towards the ocean.
"What are you doing?" Sora is beside him, shaking him until he regroups and settles his hands on the controls. The Jumper skims across the water and gracefully glides back over the vast blue expanse. No harm done. Everything is a-okay.
"What? Nothing, I'm sorry. It's just the wind currents." He lies smoothly but inside, John's really freaking out, really Christ almighty freaking out. He passed out at the controls. He didn't put the jumper on autopilot and he nearly crashed the damn thing by technically falling asleep at the wheel.
Way to go John...great way to start saving the city..
"You're injured." Sora's voice is flat.
What, no, you think?
"I'm just tired." John swallows, meets her expression head on. "That won't happen again." He uses his best military voice, the one that leaves no room for discussion and she nods and reaches inside her pack and pulls out a sandwich. John stares for a second, really stares and reaches out to take the piece offering with a guilty thud in his stomach.
"I didn't know what turkey was..." Sora offers and turns her face briefly to the window.
"It's fine." John is shocked and touched and just a little off kilter. He takes a bite of the sandwich and nearly moans his pleasure, stopping himself just in time but not before catching Collins amused glance. "Thanks."
He takes another bite and its good, better than anything he's eaten in weeks, and he finishes so fast it's actually kind of embarrassing. Now if only he can keep it down.
"Are we almost there yet?" Collins asks eagerly from his position in the back seat, and John is suddenly reminded of all the family road trips across country he's never taken.
"Yeah, we are," he concedes with a knowing frown. "Almost..."
Rodney knows that Sheppard is gone when a very irate Genii Commander summons him from his lab to Weir's office at half past three in the morning.
Kolya is shouting and flailing his arms when Rodney is shoved into the room and one whiff is all he needs to know that someone's been sneaking around Radek's hidden stash of premium Czech vodka.
"Yes? What?" Rodney sucks at lying and thank god he had the foresight to think of the possible unforeseen part of the plotline where the angry madman beats the brilliant scientist to death.
"Where did they go?" Kolya's tone is deadly. There are three other Genii in the room including Ladon and not a one of them are smiling.
"Who are you talking about?" Rodney winces when the Commander's fist strikes the desk with a thud that zooms straight to his pulse point.
"Sheppard is not in his cell. I think you know where he's gone."
"How the hell should I know?" Rodney tries his best sneer. "Weren't your guards watching him?"
The slap across his face stings like the devil but it doesn't knock him over. He stares hard at Kolya and waits for more information.
This is your show fuck brains.
"Sora is also missing..."
Another slap, harder this time, with more palm than fingers and this one forces him down to his knees. Rodney tastes blood in his mouth, licks it away with a violent swipe of his tongue but still says nothing.
"I think you know more than you're saying."
"Since I really haven't said anything that's probably a sure bet."
"You will tell me what I want to know."
"All right, fine, just give me a moment, will you?" He stands up in a huff and brushes dust off his pants. Elizabeth really should sweep these floors more often.
Kolya says, "You're actually going to tell me," in a tone packed full of disbelief.
"Well, I don't know for sure but I have a pretty good idea."
"Really doctor," the grin doesn't quite reach the Commander's eyes.
"Sora ordered Sheppard to fly the puddle jumper to the mainland."
Curious now, angry maybe, "She would never do that. Sora is loyal to the Genii people." Even as he utters the words Rodney can tell that Kolya is starting to doubt them. He pushes again, for the hell of it, because it's actually kind of fun to have the upper hand for once.
"She would if someone told her that the person who killed her father was alive on the mainland and not breaking bread with the Manarians."
"What did you say?"
"Teyla Emmagan, ring any bells?"
Rodney feels himself lifted off his feet and thrown clear across the room. He smashes through the interior glass wall closest to the Gateroom and lands in a pained heap on the other side and all he can think is, thank god he covered his eyes because the shards of glass sticking into his left cheek honestly hurt very badly. "Shit..." he pulls at one of the pieces then another and feels the trickle of warm blood run down his face. "Nice, very nice, what's next? You gate me out into space? What the hell did I do anyway?"
"You didn't tell me that she was planning this."
"Like I said before I didn't know she was planning anything. I told Kavanagh not to tell her about Teyla, that nothing on the mainland could have survived the storm, but he obviously didn't listen to me."
"Can you track them?"
Rodney sighs and does his best to appear frustrated. "Track them? Are you with me here? We can't even track the amount of beans left in our storage containers. This place isn't working. No tracking, no communication, no nothing."
"But you assume Sheppard flew the machine."
"I didn't assume anything. Sheppard is the only one on Atlantis who can fly it."
Kolya nods, exhausted but determined and says, "Fix the tracking system and the sensors before you work on the Stargate. Make it your top priority. I want to know where they are and when Sheppard returns to this city."
"Fine...but it's not the Major's fault. As you're so fond of saying, 'the Genii are in control here.'"
"Get it done...and Doctor..." Kolya's soft voice echoes down the hallway after Rodney. "I'll kill you if you don't."
Rodney doesn't reply. He's got a few hours at best to finish up his part of the plan and then take cover and hide somewhere the Genii can't find him. He fervently hopes that Sheppard remembers to bring the LSD back with him and snaps his fingers in anticipation. If Sheppard forgets, which is highly unlikely, then Ford will make sure of it after he reads the instructions. Rodney smiles to himself imagining what Ford, Teyla and Beckett will think when they read what he wants them to do but he knows they'll do as he asks.
Or at least that's what he hopes.
Ford and Teyla and Beckett are his friends and they make a good team and he sort of kind of maybe misses them. How the hell's that for strange?
When he thinks of gating off world he gets a flutter in his stomach that none of the other lab rats will ever fully understand. Rodney loves science and discovery, it's always been his passion, and here, on Pegasus the two go hand in hand. So what if he has to dodge a few bullets and Wraith stun guns when he gets to live part of the action. He's experiencing amazing things, meeting new people, scoffing at shitty technology and salivating over new stuff. Gate travel is a huge part of what makes working for the SCG the coolest job around even if most losers in the scientific community don't even know it exists and Rodney's not going to give it up, he's not going to leave it unless they drag him away kicking and screaming.
He runs his fingers through his hair and yells, "Fuck!" when another shard of glass slices into his hand. Kolya is a bastard and obviously a bit of a lush, but he's crafty enough to figure out that something's up. The hard part is going to be keeping him guessing for just a little while longer. But first he has to figure out a way to make Kavanagh believe he fixes the sensors. If Rodney does it Ladon will be suspect but the other scientist is a sycophantic wet dream and Ladon has no real reason to doubt his loyalties.
He feels a brief twinge of guilt for mentioning Kavanagh's name during the interrogation but erases it the moment he thinks of Sheppard and all of Kavanagh's despicable taunts. And in his defense, Rodney needs to be upright and breathing in order to save Atlantis. Kavanagh gave up his rights when he sold out to the Genii and if Kolya takes his personal strife out on the weasel then it's exactly what the bastard deserves.
He turns the corner back to his lab with a spring in his step and two Genii soldiers follow close on his heels. He'll worry about losing them later. Right now he has plenty of work yet to do.
John stretches as far as his bindings allow and yawns until his jaw throbs.
He's edgy now and afraid for Rodney. If Kolya figures out he and Sora are missing all hell is going to break loose. He notices Sora still staring out the window and Collins practically bouncing out of his seat with anticipation waiting for the jumper to land.
John's been flying in circles for a while now, the Genii really don't have a clue, trying to give Rodney some room to maneuver in the city, but time is up and the mainland is just over the horizon so he steadies himself, gets his bearings and plans his attack.
He gulps quietly and says, "Okay, time to start the land indicator. I'll need some help here unless you want to unhook me?" He dangles his attached hand in her face.
Sora shakes her head and leans forward to press a button just out of John's reach that really doesn't do much of anything. He takes a deep breath and makes his move.
Sora is fast and strong but John's got surprise and desperation on his side. He grabs Sora, bashes her face into the dialing device, once, twice, and knocks her weapon aside with a practiced grace. When Collins moves in, gun drawn, John removes the mace-like spray from the waistband of his BDU's and sprays the young Genii soldier straight in the eyes.
"Uhhhh...." His scream is bloodcurdling.
John feels Sora freeze in his grip.
Collins races to the back of the jumper bumping into the crates and the walls and, oh fuck, just about everything. It's absolutely horrifying to watch and John wishes he didn't have to use it. "Collins..." he tries. "Just relax."
"Oh my god...oh my god...please someone make it stop!!" Collins screams over and over pulling at his eyes and Sheppard feels a twinge of compassion for how much pain he's obviously in but the sympathy turns to dread when in the blink of an eye the Genii draws his weapon and starts to fire randomly, terror and inexperience blending into a catastrophic mélange.
Collins doesn't know where he's firing, or whom he's firing at and he doesn't care. He just shoots and shoots; his finger melded to the weapon, terror evident in every erratic movement. His actions are purely defensive, a reflex that he can't control. John understands it completely, he's seen it before on the battlefield, but if he doesn't end the showdown soon and stop the hail of bullets they're all going to end up dead.
"Stop firing Collins. Lower your weapon. Let me help...!" John can't take the pleading out of his voice but he hopes that Collins still responds to his orders. Next to him Sora quakes and whimpers. John ducks as a bullet sails past his ear and slams into the jumper front porthole. He picks up Sora's weapon, aims and fires.
Collins stares straight ahead, his eyelids scalded red, his eyes watering as a tiny black hole appears in his chest. He drops his weapon and sinks to his knees falling face first to the ground on the cold dirty floor.
Oh no, please, no...
John swallows, closes his eyes and mentally kicks himself in the head. He should have seen this coming. Collins is dead. Collins, who reminded him of Ford and was only following orders is dead by his hand and it makes John sick to realize he's single handedly taking out the entire Genii strike force one soldier at a time.
"You killed him." Sora's voice is flat.
John removes the keys from her belt and unlocks his wrist cuff. He forces Sora to her feet, walks past Collin's body, and binds her to the railing in the back of the jumper. "Yes I did."
She has tears in her eyes. It's like a knife in his gut. "He was just a boy!"
"He would have killed both of us." John busies himself covering the body with a tarp staring briefly into Collins eyes before covering his face. Why the hell are they always so freaking young? He takes a moment to regroup. This was so not supposed to happen.
"If you didn't spray him with that weapon he wouldn't have fired at us like that!" Sora screams but John's had just about enough. He turns around and grabs her by the shoulders.
"And if the Genii stayed out of our god-damned city he'd still be alive somewhere on your planet growing up, getting laid and waiting to get eaten by a Wraith!" John knows he's shouting but he's so weary of all the death and he hasn't honestly felt very good in ages and he feels like shit right about damn now. Killing Collins might just be his breaking point.
Sora sits still and stares at him with a mixture of surprise, contempt and resignation.
"We were only trying..." She closes her eyes and looks at the covered body and whispers. "...To take what was rightfully ours."
John flops into his seat and mentally brings up the mainland on the view screen. He and Rodney's entire plan is based on the assumption that Ford, Teyla and Beckett are still alive and well and waiting to be rescued.
John's last contact with Ford is conflicting and he's gone over it again and again in his head. His lieutenant reports that the wind on the mainland is very high and dangerous and lets him know that Beckett is attempting to put the puddle jumper on track to Atlantis anyway. John's about to object when suddenly he hears a smashing sound and Beckett shouting that they've been hit full blast by a piece of debris, probably a tree and the doctor announces he has no choice but to try and bring the damaged vehicle down. The news is disappointing but John has no choice but to order Ford and company to wait it out. If the jumper is as damaged as they believe it will never render them safely back to the city. Ford doesn't respond and John's left worried and wondering.
He prays they made it back to the mainland but John's not a fool. There's always the chance that the lieutenant decided not to wait, that with John and the entire city in danger Ford decided to take the risky chance and just go for it and continue on through the storm. Surely Teyla or Beckett would try to talk him out of doing something dangerous but Ford is young and eager and he might have thought he was making the right assessment. If they tried and somehow couldn't make it and where hit by the fierce tidal blast then...absolutely not, no. John's team is alive and waiting for him and he's not about to let them down.
There's no logic to it but he outright refuses to believe anything else, or develop any other contingency plans and though it makes Rodney crazy he ultimately agrees. It startles John to realize that even though he's only known each of them for a short while he'd miss the hell out of any one of his teammates if they were suddenly taken away from him.
He doesn't do friendships very well anymore and he's not too sure he ever did. John's been a loner since the day he realized that going to war meant having friends die and having friends die hurt way too damn much.
He remembers mourning Mitch and Dex with a cheap bottle of whiskey at 2 am in some bar outside Kabul and somehow at that time making a conscious decision to keep his friends at arms length. One shot, then another, raising a glass, toasting fond memories, cheers but no tears. He grimaces. Oh what a lovely way to live.
John always shies away from hugging someone when a safe smile and shoulder pat will do but there's something about the folks he meets on Atlantis that makes him want to try again. Make him realize that having close friends is a good thing, not bad and love and life should be cherished instead of feared.
And Rodney...god, Rodney, John shudders through the sting. He can't think about Rodney right now. The thought of life on Atlantis without McKay's steady yet annoying presence is unthinkable. They're so much a part of each other's lives. First as friends, then suddenly as lovers, he longs so much for the sound of Rodney's sarcastic voice and the sure touch of his hand that John nearly sobs out loud from the need. But hey, that's not going to help anybody now and the best thing he can do for Rodney is finish his part of the plan and get the hell back to the city.
Another wave of pain and Sheppard trembles hard and leans heavily against the console. He feels Sora's eyes on him from the rear hatch. Easy now, easy, dawn's breaking and he just has to land the jumper in one piece.
"What is going on?" Sora's voice sounds worried and well, bully for her, John's worried too.
He closes his eyes against a wave of nausea and clutches his belly until his nerves clench. The migraine John's been nursing in the back of his thoughts jumps up a notch and suddenly he's picking himself up off his knees from the floor of the jumper and saying a silent prayer of thanks to whatever gods are listening that he had enough common sense to put the craft on autopilot right after he passed out earlier. He checks the controls ruefully. Just a little course adjustment and presto, he's back on the right track. He isn't going to crash this time out either.
"Just relax...think positively."
He bites his bottom lip when his stomach whirls. The nausea sure is troubling. The whack to his forehead from Kolya's wooden stick did more damage than John previously thought if he's feeling this crappy. He groans and clutches his belly. Somehow he's not surprised since life in the Pegasus galaxy is developing a deadly consistency all its own.
"Are you all right?"
Sure, except that the world is suddenly spinning and John is having trouble keeping up.
Okay...this is so not good.
He can't afford to lose consciousness when the future of Atlantis is riding on him making it to the planet's surface in one piece. Christ, he's got a galaxy to save...he doesn't need this shit now. John swallows hard and presses tenderly at his gut. It hurts, fuck it hurts so badly, but he has to ignore the pain for now and concentrate on getting his ass to the mainland.
"There is no way to fix the gate without another ZEDPM." Rodney glares at Kavanagh with contempt and can tell by the slight curl of the other man's lip that he's moved beyond anger to the realm of unbelievably pissed off. "And even if there were, you're not smart enough to figure it out."
"I'm not smart enough." Kavanagh repeats warily. He's sporting a black eye courtesy of his good buddy Commander Kolya and though Rodney feels a tad bit responsible for the injury he decides not to dwell on it for long and let it distract him from the business at hand.
"Hmmm, that's probably the only accurate thing you said on this expedition so far." Rodney gloats, waits, Kavanagh wants to let him have it and he's been waiting for this all day.
"You let Kolya know what I told Sora." Kavanagh's bristling now, ready to strike.
"Yes I did." Perfect delivery, using just the right amount of smug arrogance perfected through years of scathing comments leveled at lesser colleagues.
"And he punched my lights out!"
"You should know better than to pick the school bully as your best friend. Once they copy your homework they always revoke your membership to the cool club."
"Christ McKay. You don't have to be mad at me because your boyfriend jumped ship and left you all alone to face the music."
Rodney scoffs. "Kavanagh, a small mind always tries to make things personal." He turns back to the colorful array of torn wires and tries his best to remember how not to fix things correctly. Rodney needs the sensors up and operational, that's a big part of the plan, but not yet, not until John gets back with the puddle jumper, and then, like magic they'll come on line. And of course the idiot standing next to him will steal all the credit only this time he'll be doing exactly what Rodney wants. He looks at Kavanagh out of the corner of his eye. Thank heavens some people are still predictable.
"You think he's not coming back for you."
"Well, I certainly wouldn't if I were him."
"What the fuck are you planning McKay?"
Rodney turns, affronted. "Me? I'm just the scorned and abandoned boyfriend of the hottest near ancient to ever step foot in Atlantis from the Milky Way Galaxy. The only thing I'm planning is live out the remainder of my life in celibacy."
Kavanagh shakes his head and goes back to work. "Kolya should have had me fix the sensors. This is grunt work." He gestures to the systems that the Commander has assigned him.
"I don't know about that. The septic facilities are certainly high on my list of priorities."
"Look..." Kavanagh glances around. "I want in on whatever the hell it is you both are doing. Sheppard's coming back and we both know it."
And oh isn't this just the icing on the cake. "Why in the world would you say that?"
"The Major loves playing the hero."
"I'm hardly a damsel in distress."
"If Sheppard thinks he can save the city he'll do it. Even if he dies trying."
Now it's Rodney's turn to be irked. "Oh you think you know him that well?" He moves closer to Kavanagh and prepares to lie a bit more. "Want to know what I think?"
Despite winning a Sears drama award he's always sucked at lying, always seemed too eager or just plain scattered or unable to meet his interrogator's eyes. To this day Rodney's still amazed when he can actually pull off a legitimate fib although a lot depends on the stakes at hand.
"I think Sheppard's glad to be rid of me." Rodney touches an open wire and it causes the hairs on his arm to stand on end. "He's probably cozying up to Teyla or maybe even Sora right about now and laughing his ass off at all the schmucks he's left behind in the city."
"Sora?" Kavanagh laughs bitterly. "Not a chance in hell McKay." He turns his face back toward his laptop and for a few minutes they work in silence and then, "No. Sheppard will come back for Atlantis." He pauses and gives a shrug of his narrow shoulders. "And for god knows what reason. He'll come back for you."
Rodney turns and stares at the back of Kavanagh's head. Christ, have they really been that obvious? He feels a brief pang of fear for Sheppard if anyone should find out about their relationship before realizing that if Kavanagh believes it than many people already do so as well. "In what perfect world are you living?"
Kavanagh merely scoffs and goes back to work. Rodney watches the spectacled eyes dart back and forth over the screens and without meaning to he asks the question that's been bugging him for weeks, the question that nearly gags him every time he sets eyes upon the ungrateful toad.
"Why?" Kavanagh doesn't even turn around.
"Why did you agree to help the Genii?" Kavanagh can say anything here...maybe that Kolya threatened his life or forced him or promised him that Weir and the rest of his associates would be safe if he cooperated. He could say he was afraid. There are a multitude of responses that Rodney wants to hear and as usual Kavanagh disappoints him.
"Well, why not?" The scientist turns to McKay with a flourish. "Everyone treats me like shit here including you. No one appreciates my intelligence or what I bring to the team. You think you're smarter than I am."
"Please..." Rodney interrupts. "I'm smarter than everybody."
"And after that thing with Sheppard and the bug on his neck, the entire place thinks I'm a coward."
"Yeah, that." Rodney winces. He remembers hearing about the incident between Weir and the scientist when he returns to Atlantis. It's regrettable to be sure. No one deserves such a public dressing down. But to be fair the situation was very stressful for all concerned. Rodney still has nightmares about his panic attack while on the stuck jumper and not being able to function. And in these nightmares Sheppard always dies.
"The Genii give me respect. Something Weir knows nothing about." Kavanagh sounds like such an idiot.
"And they apparently give you black eyes as well."
"That wouldn't have happened if you hadn't told him about Teyla."
"Maybe you shouldn't have squealed to Sora in the first place." Rodney sighs. "You don't understand anything about loyalty. You stabbed us all in the back and then you even screw over your new Genii buddies by not telling them about Ford and Teyla."
"I told Sora!"
"Yes you did. Good job on that one. But the one person you didn't tell was Kolya and he won't forget this Kavanagh. He's not the forgiving type."
"He knows I can help him fix the city. And he wants the city nearly as much as he wants Sheppard."
"Oh for the love of god, I thought we moved beyond mere taunting."
"I'm not talking about screwing him McKay. The Major killed a lot of Genii and one of them was Kolya's child, his son." Kavanagh smirks. "And as you said yourself, he's not the forgiving type."
Touché...score one for Kavanagh.
It's no big secret that the Commander's son died when he splattered onto the gate shield and that the Major is the one who initiated the shut down.
Rodney considers. "So if you hate us so much and love the Genii, why do you want back in?"
Kavanagh shrugs. "They'll never be able to fully operate this city. They're too ignorant."
"So you want to see the full glory of Atlantis restored." It's impossible to keep the disbelief out of his voice.
"No. I just don't want to be eaten by the Wraith and between you and me if these guys stick around that's exactly what's going to happen when they land in the city."
Oh and did you also think that maybe if the Wraith land here, in addition to eating you, they can maybe figure out a way to gate through to Earth?
"I wouldn't worry about that Kavanagh. You'll probably give them indigestion."
"I'm serious!" Kavanagh's voice rises and he looks around to see the guards at the door but they don't seem to take any notice. "I don't want to die here!"
"We all have to die sometime."
"Jesus, can't you give me a chance!" Kavanagh's voice settles. "Please McKay."
Rodney considers his nemesis carefully before lying one more time. He draws out his response for maximum effect. "All right, fine. You want in? You're in. Now that you've come to your senses I can actually use your help."
"Anything...just tell me."
The sound of Kavanagh pleading should be thrilling but it's not. Instead Rodney is torn by the possibility that Kavanagh is telling the truth and the fact that he's about to be used like a glory whore. "Don't fix the sensors."
"Why? Is that part of the plan?"
"No, I just want to give you some busy work. Of course it's part of the plan."
"I thought something was up!" Kavanagh frowns. "But Kolya..."
"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I know what Kolya wants. But life is about to disappoint him yet again."
"I don't trust you enough to say anymore so don't ask me. I'm not going to fix them no matter what happens. I honestly don't think they can be fixed."
He can practically see Kavanagh salivating at the mouth.
"Why did you decide to trust me now?"
Rodney's laughter isn't faked and for the first time since this conversation started he actually tells one truth. "I don't trust you Kavanagh." And then another few lies... "The sensors aren't really mandatory to the plan but they'd sure make things a heck of a lot easier for Sheppard." Rodney shrugs. "Besides, like I said before. I don't think they can be fixed anyway so no harm, no foul."
"So you do have a plan."
"No but you were right about one thing. Sheppard's coming back to get me and if you stop acting like a horses ass I'll let you come with us." He pauses for effect. "Let the Genii hang themselves. Without either of us they'll never be able to facilitate repairs to Atlantis. And when they finally show common sense and leave, we'll shuttle back over and make things right."
"Okay, agreed, I'll do it." Kavanagh turns away and Rodney wonders if he's taken the bait. "I mean, I won't do it...fix the sensors I mean." He appears to think for a second. "Hey, why would I be working on the sensors anyway? Kolya told you to do that."
Because I'm going to disappear...
"Too many questions...."
Rodney rigs the sensors the day he thinks up his crazy plan and there's nothing Kavanagh can really do to stop it. The sensors are on a timer that Rodney devices and only he knows the lockout code. With one flick of a switch Rodney initiates a program that guarantees the sensors will snap back on at a time of his choosing and not before with or without interference from the Genii. And last night, in the lab, he gives himself a backdoor just in case he has to do some fancy footwork to impress Kolya or save Sheppard's life. The backdoor will initiate a half-hour before start-up so if Kavanagh really is a fucking liar, and he's working against Rodney, he'll take credit for fixing them as soon as the backdoor clicks in and run and report his success to Kolya. He'll think he's doing his best for the Genii but in reality he'll be giving them a big fat kick in the ass and betraying himself in the process.
"If you let me down...so help me..." Rodney starts with dramatic flair.
"I won't. You'll see." Kavanagh is silent and Rodney's not reassured.
Hopefully the next time he sees the rat bastard the Genii will be out of the city.
He starts working on getting the pumping stations up and running so the remaining floodwater can be flushed out of the city and back to the ocean. Kolya dubbed this job a low priority but Rodney disagrees. A whirling noise tells him he's found the right pathway and Rodney breathes out in relief. It's good to be doing something productive to Atlantis for a change.
John lands the jumper just outside the Athosian settlement. Everything looks like such a mess. Trees blown over, bungalows destroyed. The grain they were gathering for the first harvest scattered across the still damp earth. He thinks that maybe Ford and crew took shelter here, or maybe they're still taking cover in the broken jumper.
He opens the rear hatch and glances back toward Sora. Their eyes meet and she frowns.
"How do you know she's still alive?"
He gestures to the LSD in his hand. "I don't know for certain. But the life signs detector is showing five people still breathing here, and hey, I'm an optimist." John's not sure who the fourth and fifth breathers are but he's not complaining. The more the merrier.
She scoffs and boy isn't that rude. "Five people, you intend to take the city back with five people?" Her laugh is cold. "We have over forty Genii in place."
John is nonplussed. "Well," he brings out his best drawl just for the occasion. "I'm not dead yet so I make six. Oh, and McKay, although he's kind of like half a person in the Rambo department. He's got all the brains so he kind of makes up for it that way."
"You're sick." Her eyes dare him to deny it.
John agrees quietly. "I probably have a concussion." In fact, sick is probably a pretty tame word for how crappy he's feeling right now, but John's also feeling determined and eager to take back the city and he sees that as a good sign. Beckett can patch him up later after all the fun and games are over.
"Are all your people so indomitable?" Sora doesn't seem impressed, just maybe a bit resigned to the fact that the Genii might not get to win this time.
"We're the best and the brightest." John makes sure her bindings are secure and leaves enough food and water for the rest of the day. "I shouldn't be long. With any luck my people heard the jumper come in and won't be far behind."
"You mean you're just leaving me here?" She eyes the outside terrain nervously and John grins.
"Sure. The jumper is closed and I have the only key to open the hatch. There aren't any dangerous animals on the mainland." He pauses, frowns. "Or at least we haven't encountered any yet."
"And when you find Teyla?" She's searching his face, just one shade of desperate, and John's very sorry not to be able to lay her fears to rest.
He nods toward the settlement voice suddenly cold. "When we leave...you're staying here."
"That's crazy! When you return Kolya will think you killed me like you did Collins."
John stews for a second and steps out the door. He's feeling less and less charitable toward Sora by the minute. "I'll make sure to tell him you're alive."
"He won't believe you. You've killed so many of us already." Sora gets in one hell of a dig. "Kolya's son was one of those who died trying to come through the gate."
"Right..." John allows. "I did what I had to do and I'm sorry so many people died. But we didn't ask you to invade Atlantis. You made that decision all by yourselves." He takes a couple of bottles of water and a bunch of MRES and slams the rest back in the storage box. "Just sit tight until I get back."
She doesn't say anything when he leaves but John knows that she's thinking. He's spent a hell of a lot of time with his own thoughts lately and it's not the best feeling in the world to doubt your actions, to replay events, or to second guess yourself each step of the way. John rarely has time for doubts. He does the best he can the first time around and the world be damned if they disagree with him as long as his conscious is clear when he goes to sleep at night.
John doesn't regret the black mark on his record. He saved lives that day. Lives the military wrote off as finished, dead, or MIA. John doesn't leave people behind. It's the one true mantra he lives by.
He opens his bottle of water and takes a long swallow. Even though he's a soldier, John abhors taking a life, any life, good or bad, and no matter how Rodney jokes about the military, he's no GI Joe either. He'll kill in self-defense of his life, his country, and his people. And he'll die for all three as well. Anything else is excessive.
And that's why the Genii who stepped through the Stargate that day were different and John fucking hates that they all died. When they stepped into the event horizon they weren't a direct threat although they sure as hell would have become one if they were allowed to walk through. John accepts the fact that raising the shield was the only way to stop more soldiers from entering the city. Forty troops were already setting up shop in the Gateroom and he had to make a decision on the fly. So he cut off Ladon's oxygen, raised the gate shield and entered his command code without hesitation.
The resulting splatter of sixty men dying will remain with him for the rest of his life and John wants the memory, craves it like a drug. He needs to trust himself to be his own man, to be the leader he's chosen to be and not the commander the military would rather have in charge of the city. And if remembering that death doesn't come without the price of blood and sorrow is the way to do that then so be it. John makes the Genii dead number one on his regret list. He wishes they never tried to set foot on Atlantis.
As Rodney's so fond of saying, John's no Colonel Sumner.
He treads carefully over the beaten terrain, following his locating device, concentrating on finding his missing teammates. Each step brings a bit more of a problem, a bit more of an ache, and he has to stop and take a breather a lot earlier than he would usually like under similar circumstances.
John wipes his forehead and drinks a few quick gulps. Oh, fuck, he's so worn-out, so ready for a nap, he'd do just about anything to lie down and close his eyes right now and sleep...without dreaming...for at least ten hours straight, preferably with Rodney by his side. He shoves the thought away because it's both distracting and downright hopeless right now and besides, the mucky earth wouldn't be too comfortable as a bed. Still...he gazes longingly at the under bush for a second and wraps his arms across his chest. He's got to keep going, for Atlantis and for Rodney.
He hears a noise in the bushes and spins around so quickly that it takes his aching head a split second longer to catch-up.
He walks forward, then tilts back, then a quick zigzag move to the right that sets him totally off balance and John has to seize the trunk of a nearby tree to keep from falling over.
He doesn't want to pass out and end up being the one rescued so he takes a breather to compose himself until the dizziness passes and he's back on stable ground.
"Okay John, let's just get through this." He psyches himself up and sets off again.
One step, then two, and on the third step the ground rushes up to meet him and in the space of a few seconds John's hanging upside down dangling by his feet from the branches of a tall mainland tree that looks kind of like an oak but of course, not quite.
The dizziness rushes back in a flourish nearly blacking him out along with a side dish of intense nausea and oh god, John so didn't need this right now. He shudders and fights, but twisting his body back and forth only serves to tighten the noose around his ankles and cut off his circulation.
For a moment he's confused, then his mind supplies...Ford.
"Lieutenant Ford!" John's shouting but heck if he cares. If he doesn't get cut out of this contraption in the next few minutes he's going to puke up his turkey sandwich.
"Shit..." He moves sharply to the left and the tree branch shudders from his weight. If the goddamn branch breaks it's a long way down. John's been in perilous situations before and this doesn't even rival them for danger, but he's sure if his head snaps off from the upside down agony he'll feel a tad bit differently.
Somehow in all the commotion he manages to hold onto his LSD and thank god for small favors because Rodney would kill him if he lost it. John fumbles and reaches and takes a quick peek in time to see two life signs approaching from his rear at a steady gate. He tries to see behind him but no way is that possible in his present position and he shouts again because he's feeling kind of vulnerable and it's the only defense he's got.
"Damn it Ford!" John closes his eyes to stop the ground from spinning. His head feels just about ready to explode so it comes as a bit of relief when his vision blackens and he passes out.
The next thing he remembers is waking up with his head in Teyla's lap and her small capable hands pouring cool water on his face. It's nice, very nice, and he's so relieved to see her after all this time he thinks for a terrible moment that he just might start to cry.
Instead John smiles weakly, squeezes her leg and mumbles, "Hey...I found you guys!" before passing out again.
When John wakes up for the second time he's still lying on the ground although Teyla's no longer offering him comfort and though he's hurting quite a bit, boy oh boy was his earlier assessment completely wrong. The leaves and grass under his head are a heaven of padded glory compared to the metal cell floor he's been sleeping on for over three weeks.
"You're up sir, that's great!" Ford's cheery smile is contagious and John grins goofily in response but when he moves to stand up he somehow ends flopped on his ass once more. "Umm...Doctor Beckett thinks you should take it easy for a while. You have a concussion."
"And you're dehydrated and your left wrist is infected. Oh Lord and that back of yours. Good Lord Major, what the hell's been going on in the city?"
Ah, so Beckett stole a peek when he was unconscious.
It's one hell of a story and John doesn't have much time to spare for details but he offers the best rendition he can and gives his teammates a replay of events from the moment he looses contact with Ford until the second he lands the jumper.
John explains how he fought the Genii and killed quite a few of them but he can't bring himself to admit just yet to firing up the gate shield. His voice roughens when he explains about Kavanagh and Beckett scowls enough for everyone so John knows he's not the only one who's ten shades of angry.
It's tough to talk about Elizabeth being pushed through the gate to the Genii homeworld and his voice breaks a bit when he admits that Kolya told him that she's probably dead by now, killed for all his past sins, though John's pretty sure she's much more valuable to them as a hostage.
"So the Stargate isn't working?" Ford frowns.
"Oh it works Lieutenant, but only in one direction." Three faces stare at him blankly and John continues with a sigh. "You can gate out but you can't gate back."
"So that means our people with the Manarians..." Teyla starts.
"Are probably going to outstay their welcome on the planet until Rodney figures out a way to get them home to Atlantis." John continues.
"It's a good thing they brought their blankets." Ford's expression is grim but John nods at the reference.
"But for now the gate not working is a good thing because once we kick the Genii out of our city...they can't gate back in." He closes his eyes until a stomach cramp passes and pushes away Beckett's gesture of support. "Rodney will fix the shield first and then he'll repair the gate, we'll demand the Genii return Elizabeth or we blast the hell out of them, we get our people back from those bastards Manarians and..." He smiles grimly. "Take the next two days off."
"Yes sir!" Ford grins,
"So you suspect the Manarians betrayed us?" Teyla asks in disbelief.
"I know they did."
"But they have been good trading partners to both our people and..."
John nips her protest in the bud, "Not anymore." And Teyla nods in resignation.
"So what happened next? Obviously you were apprehended..." Beckett's voice trails off for a second and his eyes look away.
He's being gentle but that's okay. John knows how bad he must look to them. He's beaten, pale and dirty and there's dried blood on his hair and forehead. Plus Kolya's whip leaves marks even when it doesn't break the skin and his wrists are bruised raw from being tied up and forced to kneel every day. It's a sure bet when all the hoopla is over, Beckett will have more questions of a personal nature concerning his Genii experience that John won't be able to dodge and he's not looking forward to that conversation in the least.
"Yeah, oh yeah..." John makes the story of his captivity and the whippings as brief as possible, because, hey, there really is no hiding how badly he's been treated. And he informs them that Rodney's been fixing the city, but not really, messing stuff up, doing his own thing.
"You must have really pissed them off Sir." Ford smiles this time and John smiles back.
"Well, I certainly gave them reason to be upset." He sighs and cards his fingers through his hair and takes a deep breath. He says, "There's something else you should know..." And then explains quietly about the Genii coming through the gate and dying before they reach Atlantis. He doesn't mention choices or regret but his vulnerability is there for his teammates to see, to read his face like an open book and know that it's an action he laments taking.
When he finishes Teyla touches his arm and John flinches because he doesn't want her sympathy. What's done is done and he's the one who has to live with the aftermath. To somehow find a way to pay in small doses for each life he's taken.
"We had a bit of trouble ourselves sir." Ford finally speaks, changing the subject and John is grateful to him on oh so many levels.
"Report away Lieutenant, what the hell happened?"
Ford's explanation is concise. The first delay occurs because they're waiting on the mainland for two young Athosians away on a hunting expedition — that explains the two additional life signs --and by the time they arrive back at camp the storm is in full swing. They wait it out for a while and decide to make a run for the city during a lull in the weather. Their attempt to fly back to the city is short lived when the jumper is struck in flight by a piece of debris and forced to land. Beckett's not an expert but he does the best he can and manages to destroy the craft while keeping everyone inside alive and in one piece. In John's book that's quite the successful landing.
"Good job Doc." John smiles at Beckett's relief.
"And where is Sora?" Teyla looks around for a moment before resting her eyes on John.
He knows she's a bit upset because Sora blames her for the death of Tyrus. Although it's a mixed blessing in a way because without her rage John would have never gotten to the mainland, Teyla still wishes to consider Sora her friend and she's not ready to give up on that relationship just yet.
"Still in the Jumper...she's not returning with us."
Teyla nods. "So what do we do now?"
"Well..." John drawls, "Did I mention to you guys that Rodney has a plan?" He takes a long swallow of water and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. It doesn't take long to explain exactly what he does know about the plan to take back the city, the parts he envisioned along with the parts they decided upon together, but the rest is of course a bit of a mystery.
"Why don't you know McKay's plan sir?" Ford waits confused and more than a bit wary. He's a good kid and John suspects he gets the gist of things.
"It's better that I don't know too much about it. Kolya will want answers when I get back and I don't want to give out any unnecessary Intel."
"But you won't be able to tell him anything when he asks you." Beckett offers and winces as realization dawns.
"That's the general idea, yeah."
"What does Dr. McKay require that we do?"
John reaches into the waistband of his pants and pulls out the wrinkled piece of paper. He smiles when he sees the words 'For Lieutenant Ford's eyes only' scrawled in Rodney's writing across the tightly folded sheet. He hands the note to Ford and stretches to loosen up his stiff muscles. "All right, let's get to it."
Rodney crouches low to the ground waiting for the Genii soldiers to pass by on the scaffolding overhead. He leans forward just an inch, only enough to keep them in his sight. The footsteps tap, tap, tap, across the metal grates in even footing and he keeps time with them, walking when they walk, stopping, only making noise to match their elusive racket and isn't it just wonderful how he's suddenly mimicking the pivotal scene from the Shawshank Redemption.
He's been absent for nearly four hours and to say Kolya is upset is something of a misnomer. The Commander is livid, ranting, drooling at the mouth. First Sheppard, now McKay, both of his captive Atlantean slaves running freely about the city and the mainland and oh he must feel like his world is fragmenting apart.
John hasn't returned yet or Rodney would have heard something, rumblings, excitement, or shouting. Thankfully he thinks ahead to disable the speaker system, so Kolya can't vocally threaten him with the Major's life that way because he'll break in a heartbeat and give up his plan if he has to hear the outcome of Sheppard being physically tortured via the public address system.
He leans back against a metal pipe and jumps forward and oh fuck that's cold. Rodney's hiding in the nether regions of Atlantis, in the areas the sensors didn't pick up on even when they were up and working. The Tsunami strike flooded these areas with a vengeance of water, gunk and fish and muck...and even with most of the water now receded, it's still damp and uncomfortable with a lot of garbage left behind just waiting for the Great Atlantis Clean-Up Day. The conditions down here and in most of the lower levels suck. He scowls and curses the Genii for making Sheppard live like an animal.
The guards move on and Rodney changes direction. He walks for a few levels then darts into an abandoned lab and takes a brief look around. It seems safe with just a few tables, chairs and other recognizable items he's seen before in the city but for all their superior god-like quirks the ancients were quite a deceptive and dangerous lot and if the energy creature that Halling's son Jinto released to wreak havoc is indicative of other possessions they left behind Rodney's not taking any chances.
Since he doesn't see any monsters or canisters or broken lab vials or signs that read 'do not touch' Rodney takes a break and pulls out a power bar. He has enough food and water to last for days hidden throughout the city and he memorizes the locations to be sure he doesn't starve or take a hypoglycemic seizure. The power bar goes down hard. Rodney isn't really hungry anyway. He's just nervous and worried sick about Sheppard.
Before they become intimate Sheppard knocks him repeatedly about improving his health and fitness routines and learning how to shoot. One day, out of the blue he offers to teach Rodney how to fly.
It's amazing and terrifying and for a moment he thinks he's going to vomit but then his stomach subsides and the lesson continues for two glorious hours. In that time he observes Sheppard and not just the physical pull of the man. Sure the side profile is rakish, what with the slightly upturned nose and full pouting bottom lip. In fact it's downright distracting and Rodney has to pull himself away from staring on several occasions or risk profuse embarrassment.
But it's Sheppard's absolute joy at being in the air that grabs Rodney by the throat and won't let him go. The sheer beauty that masks his face is addictive. The suns rays highlight his sharp features making him appear both enticingly off limits and endearingly vulnerable. He's an ancient deity carved in glass, an attractive poster boy for repressed desires and the minute, the god damned minute he turns and gazes into Rodney's eyes it's over. Rodney's been holding back since the expedition started, doing his best to suppress his libido for the good of mankind but somehow, now, seated next to Sheppard in the jumper it all seems a tad bit ridiculous. His cock stirs and immediately hardens and he groans inwardly at just how very much his timing sucks.
And then when Sheppard grins goofily and says in all innocence, "Wanna take the stick?" Rodney is overcome by feelings so overtly sexual and more than a shade hot and dirty he sniffs the air using his usual patent arrogant self-defense mechanism and announces he's not quite ready to take that next step just yet.
Sheppard's smile increases at his unintentional double entendre and he turns straight ahead and announces with a pilot's flare, "That's okay Rodney...I'll take it slow."
It's a glorious snapshot and one that Rodney swears he'll remember forever. Suddenly Sheppard isn't inaccessible, he's fucking available, and unless Rodney has suddenly become a borderline imbecile with zero sense of self-worth, the hottest man in Pegasus is nursing a massive crush—on him.
Rodney smiles at the memory, finishes off his power bar and slugs down half a bottle of water. If there's any justice left in this entire terrifying galaxy, then Sheppard will land safely on the mainland, meet up with Ford and company, issue Rodney's directive, hold on to his life signs detector and hop the jumper back to Atlantis.
Once he gets back all hell is going to break lose and Rodney wants to be as prepared as possible. He's not willing to let Sheppard suffer one moment longer than necessary in the time it takes to set things right. The thought of his lover being handled by Kolya, being tortured for information he can't possibly supply makes him sick to his stomach. And fuck...just what kind of a human being is Rodney anyway to conceive of such a brutal plan, a plan that messes up his pretty boyfriend and leaves him helpless to the whims of a madman.
The answer he knows is a desperate one.
Lives are hanging in the balance, people Rodney's acquainted with, those he hasn't met and even some idiots he wishes never went to grad school and he certainly doesn't see himself as a savior for anybody. But it sure would have been nice to come up with a fucking plan that didn't involve sacrificing Sheppard to Kolya. What the hell good is being a genius when you can't even save the man you love?
He pauses for a second before peeling the wrapper on another power bar. Rodney isn't sure which outcome is worse...Sheppard not forgiving him or Sheppard not blaming him at all.
"Sir, are you sure about this?" Ford's expression shows more doubt then a new recruit on a firing range and John's head starts to spin just from looking at him.
"How the hell should I know? McKay's the guy you should be asking and you'll see him soon...I'm guessing. Did he mention how you're supposed to find him?" He sighs and scratches his belly. "Forget it...I don't know anything about anything, remember?"
John's not fibbing. He doesn't have a clue as to what's in the folded message that's making the Lieutenants eyes bug out like saucers but it's probably a doozy and oh so very McKay. But the idea that he didn't even consider asking Rodney beforehand how Ford is supposed to meet up with him once they land in the jumper bay is a bit off putting. He frowns. That's probably a part of the plan he should have demanded to know. Or hell, maybe McKay thought of it already and he's worrying his ass off for nothing.
John hates being out of the loop. Hates putting people in danger, himself included, and deciding to stay ignorant of a potentially violent situation is taking its toll on his psyche. He's anxious and frustrated and disgustingly relieved that he masturbated in the filthy holding cell, even if it was borderline pathetic, because if not he'd surely be pulling out his hair by now.
"Yes sir. It's ah...gonna take a bit of time to gather all the stuff he wants us to get." Ford looks at Teyla and she nods in agreement. "Even with the five of us doing the collecting, we'll still need maybe an hour, an hour and a half?"
"My young Athosian friends have already started. They are sticking to the village and reported having great luck." Teyla smiles at him warmly. "Do not worry Major. It is a very interesting plan and I am sure it will work against the Genii." She touches his arm in parting.
John nods warily, thinking. Teyla's words are kind but using 'interesting' to describe the plan Rodney's thought up isn't exactly encouraging. "Hey, Ford?"
"Yes sir." The Lieutenant snaps to attention. "It's a good plan sir."
John smiles in faked exasperation. Ford's a great second in command. "I didn't even ask what you thought of it yet."
But I was going to...
Ford smiles. "Yes sir."
"We both know Rodney is a genius but he has been known to get a little overzealous in his thinking and if you want to tell me about some part of the plan you might be questioning then maybe now would be a good time to get it off your chest."
Ford's toothy smile disappears. He bites his bottom lip. "Are you making that an order?"
John considers the situation. He told Rodney yesterday that he trusts him and it's true, he does, he trusts Rodney more than anyone he's ever met in two galaxies. He trusts him with his life and maybe even with his heart. But if he breaks down now and orders Ford to tell him the specifics of the plan after agreeing with Rodney that the best way for them to succeed against the Genii is for him to stay in the dark then it's almost like he never uttered those words at all. It's a big leap of faith, and John's never been fine with reliance, but this time he thinks it may be worth it to take Rodney at his word and save Atlantis while at the same time giving what they have together a fighting chance.
"No Lieutenant, I'm not." John exhales and throws his hands up in acceptance. "Somehow I get the idea that this is only the first of many future crazy schemes we're going to try and pull off in the Pegasus Galaxy and I guess it's only fair to give McKay the benefit of the doubt this time around."
The smile returns, brighter this time. "Good, because McKay also wrote that he thinks there's a possibility you're probably smart enough to figure out what we're doing anyway once the shit starts to hit the fan." He paused for only a second before adding, "Sir."
"Oh, he did."
Ford walks toward the Athosian camp and then glances back, "And he said not to let you board the jumper without giving me the life signs monitor or we won't stand a chance in hell of getting the city back."
And isn't that just like Rodney to put the pressure on to the max under even the worst of circumstances.
"Here..." John takes the device out of his pocket and tosses it to Ford who catches it like a pro and jogs out of sight.
He leans back for a second against the wall of the shattered jumper, closes his eyes into the sunlight and out of nowhere the dream slams into him with brute force. He shudders across a frosty chill that grips him hard, refusing to let go, twisting his bones to near shatter points. All he knows is desperation and fear and he's nearly suffocated by an overwhelming urge to find Rodney. Where the hell is Rodney? His lover is in danger. The Genii have him. They're hurting him and there's nothing John can do because he can't see through the darkness, can't break away from the cold thrall of imminent death...
John sits up with a start and takes note of his surroundings. He's still on the mainland resting while his team prepares for the attack, and still in one piece despite vivid images of impending doom. He's thankful then, so crazily thankful that when a sudden, quick feeling of absolute amazing joy at being alive surrounds John he nearly shouts his emotions out loud.
He allows the sensation to pass over him, extending to the tips of his fingers, and then breathes in and out deeply to relax but fuck John's shivering so hard his teeth start to chatter even though it's probably eighty degrees in the freaking shade.
Beckett notices his reaction and starts forward but John waves him away. He wraps his arms across his chest and tries to stop shaking. He doesn't remember the entire nightmare or all of the nasty harsh images, but among the horrors one picture stands clear: Rodney tied up, bloody and ragged to an old wooden chair and Kolya poised, glaring, at his side rubbing the fragile skin at Rodney's throat with the same jagged knife he used weeks ago to slice gory decorations into his arm.
"You okay son?"
John winces. Beckett always has a way of making him feel like a wayward child. "Um...yeah, I'm fine."
Beckett's patronizing expression calls him a liar and he's not far off the mark. John still feels ill, he's still fatigued and sore and if that dream is any indication he's not going to get much sleep before the entire fiasco rears up back in the city.
"You're no such thing Major and we both know it."
"Maybe not but right now, at this moment, how I feel is insignificant."
"You're not doing yourself or anybody any favors if you run yourself ragged and hurt yourself more before you can even get back to the city."
"I said I'm fine." John wishes his words held more authority with the physician but Beckett's already starting to teeter away.
"You're not a doctor."
John tries his most charming smile. "I never said I was."
"No, but I am. And I'm telling you to get some rest. And I'd feel better if..."
He shakes his head for the zillionth time. Beckett wants to X-ray him, medicate him, IV him, pamper him and put John to bed in a hospital gown. "We leave in an hour."
"That's bloody crazy lad!" Beckett fumes. "You have a concussion."
"You said it wasn't a serious one." John allows.
"I said I didn't think it was serious but I won't know for sure until I get you back to Atlantis where I can check you out properly."
"And that's not going to happen for a while Doc. Besides, when Kolya gets his hands on me he's going to do worse." John cringes at the thought. How much fucking worse can he possibly feel? He sighs. In all probability that's a question he really shouldn't have asked.
"I hate the way you're resigned to that happening."
"It's part of the plan."
"Well it's daft plan."
John doesn't completely disagree. He needs to give Rodney time to put his arrangements into action and if letting Kolya knock him around a little bit is the only way to do it, then John's will have to find a way to survive. He swallows hard and faces Beckett eye to eye. "I don't want to be hurt. I' m no masochist but I am a realist. And if Rodney says he needs time then I have to be the one to give it to him."
"Why does it have to be you?"
"Who would you have me substitute...Ford or Teyla?"
Beckett stares aghast. "No of course not..."
"We have to trust that Rodney knows what he's doing."
"I do trust him but I'm wondering if he's thought this through all the way." Beckett seems to consider. "Or if you have."
John laughs, he can't help it. He's done nothing but think, plan and take beatings ever since the Genii stormed the city. He laughs again, louder this time, until tears are pouring from his eyes. It feels strange to laugh when he's not happy and he knows it's not fair to the doctor to act so whacked out but John's drained and jittery and sick to his stomach with dread and having Beckett confide that maybe they should make another plan, now, when the very idea is ludicrous, makes him frantic. It's a crazy situation they currently find themselves in, certainly nothing unusual there, but he really hates the 'not knowing' factor of this mission and Beckett's pessimism is definitely not helping.
John plays the scenarios over and over in his head, Kolya capturing him, Kolya not capturing him, knowing the plan and not knowing the plan and comes up empty every time. How the hell can he be expected to predict the results of something he's clueless about?
"It's not funny Major."
"No, you're right, it's not funny at all and I'm sorry." John agrees. "But, please Carson, let it go for now."
Beckett nods and doesn't say another word but John can tell he's upset by the way he hangs his head and makes a disapproving face.
"Well, I have to help Ford anyway. An hour isn't very much time now is it?"
John concedes that it isn't and sits back against the jumper with a yawn. He wonders about what Ford said, about Rodney writing in his note that John might figure the entire shebang out anyway and scowls. If that's the case then why not tell him everything from the start? There's still time to make it an order to Ford but John reconsiders before he takes another breath. He imagines Kolya's frustration building up punch by punch and can't hold back a smirk. He has to believe they're doing the right thing and even if he figures out the plan he still won't tell the Genii a single thing. John's been tortured before, in Afghanistan and he never talked there either.
He starts to shake and that's unusual because, well, it's still not cold, and he hasn't considered his past captivity in months, not since arriving in Atlantis, not even during his time playing prisoner for the Genii. But now it's at the forefront of his thoughts and he holds tight to his body to calm down and crush the nausea settling like lead in the pit of his stomach and stop his frenetic body from trembling apart.
Don't think about it John...just don't think about it...please...
John squeezes his eyes shut then opens them wide with a gasp, the vivid memories of his past overwhelming him almost to the point of no return. And it's bad, very bad, fucking out of this world bad and he aches for a second to be innocent again and free of the blood and guilt and slaughter.
God...he recalls being thirsty in the dirty Afghan prison cell most of all, parched and hopeless and willing to do just about anything for a glass of water, even warm or dirty water, a sip, a gulp a swallow, enough to wet the inside of his mouth so he can last another day and give his weary men hope of being rescued.
He can still smell the air, like sweat, piss or shit depending upon the wind and John remembers breathing in and out through his mouth, without thinking about it too much because he needs to keep what little disgusting food he's been fed in his belly and not add the stink of vomit to the already pungent mix of eclectic odors.
And John does some things there, as a prisoner he's not proud of... accepts offers from his captors to do things in order to save his life and the lives of other soldiers held prisoner with him and John makes offers of his own, to the guards in exchange for food, beverage or for the seldom offered but desperately required, medicine. Some of the bastards in charge take him up on his proposals while others beat him senseless just for the invite. Sometimes his men die and sometimes they live. And the more bloodied and beaten he becomes the quicker the guards stop offering. Sometimes they leave him alone, and other times, terrible, unbearable times, they simply just take.
Stuff happens to him there, some very appalling stuff, sick stuff, haunting stuff. Stuff he never talks about to anyone, including Rodney, stuff he refuses to allow himself to think about even now.
He questions whether Kolya will cross the line this time around and give him more bad memories when he returns with the jumper and more still, if Rodney has factored the very dark possibility of rape into his many potential outcomes of plans and equations.
Great, terrific, stop it right the fuck now John...
The shaking subsides and he leaps to his feet. John stares straight ahead until his heartbeat evens out and his thoughts blur away, buried once again somewhere deep inside. He blinks and sees nothing, then suddenly Ford is there offering him a bright smile that John returns with a tentative wave.
"All set sir."
John nods wearily. It's time to get the show on the road. He stretches until his back cracks and with a wince he realizes that Beckett was right. An hour is an awfully short amount of time in the scheme of things.
Rodney reads the tables with a practiced eye. When he meets up with Ford he'll know exactly into what sections of the city to drop their little Genii surprises. All in all, taking distances and transporters and sneaking around into account, it should take a little over two hours to complete the task. Since Rodney's always been a very big fan of Murphy's Law, he decides to play it by ear. When the Genii discover Atlantis is being invaded hopefully they'll run back home with their tails between their legs.
For some reason this final analogy reminds him of Sheppard and the worry he's been nursing then ignoring off and on for the past two hours rears its ugly head and takes up permanent residence like an unwanted houseguest. He wishes he had some sort of timeline to go by to let him track how far the plan on the mainland has progressed to at this point in time but who the hell actually knows with these things? He twists his mouth into a frown and considers. Zoology's not really an actual science, is it?
He thinks about Sheppard for a moment, flying the jumper, outmaneuvering Sora and taking control. The Major is amazing quite honestly, and smart too, which in Rodney's book is always a great big plus. Plus, hello, he's hot. Sheppard has exquisite bone structure and some oddly pointed ears. He shivers once, just a slight chill of unbridled attention and oh shit, what the hell is up with that?
"Don't you even dare think about getting interested!" he admonishes his cock. Rodney closes his eyes, thinks about Kavanagh and his enthusiasm wanes.
He takes note of the hysteria in his voice and allows a deep breath. God dammit where the hell is his mind? If only he had some way of knowing if Sheppard found Ford, Beckett and Teyla. The Major is an optimist. He's got one hell of a strong will to survive and expects the same from his teammates, but if by some unmentionable horror they are all dead, crushed under the jumper in some mutilated manner Rodney doesn't have a clue to what Sheppard will do. He tries to trace his steps, to imagine him landing and searching for his team. If they didn't survive...no, no, no, no, no...he really must be spending too much time around Sheppard because suddenly Rodney knows they're okay. They have to be, because the thought of Sheppard's face if he finds them all dead is nearly unbearable.
Yeah, not to mention you'd miss the hell out of them you moron.
He hears a sound and pauses until he's sure there's no one around. Rodney jumps at the sound of his own stomach growling, upset at his missing another important meal and curses out his frustration and paranoia between wicked bites of a stale power bar. He tosses the wrapper into his knapsack so he doesn't leave any trace for the Genii to find and when he tugs his hand away Rodney slams it hard into the metal railing.
Underneath the makeshift bandage his finger now throbs like a son of a bitch. The pain radiates across his hand shooting embers through his skin and nerves. He knows that people can die of shock and even saw a movie once where some sociopath wacko breaks the finger of a Jehovah's Witness at the airport, sending him into shock and killing him, and thereby silencing his beliefs for good. Rodney's pretty sure that the time for dying from his agony has passed, but on the other hand, Kolya certainly resembles a sociopath wacko.
Another noise, closer this time around and Rodney shudders in the darkness. He's hidden away in an airshaft, far from Genii prying eyes, but with a perfect view of the jumper bay so he's aware when Sheppard returns.
He scopes out the location when his plan starts to take shape and it really is a perfect spot. He's not visible from inside the bay and he's got a perfect outlet to stun the two Genii guards Kolya has stationed near the bay doors when and if things start to get nasty. With the sensors down, the Genii won't know when the jumper returns but just in case the guards give him trouble Rodney has configured the doors to the jumper bay to seal shut at his command so no more guards can join them and it will take Kavanagh or one of the Genii scientists, Ladon probably, at least a half hour to figure out how to get them open again.
It's fairly easy for him to secure a laptop and sneak into the system. No one on Atlantis is smart enough or informed enough on protocols to figure out a way to discover his subterfuge. This Rodney knows as gospel. Let Kavanagh bray all he wants but he'll never even come close to having a tenth of the genius Rodney possesses in only half of his brain cells.
When he sees Sheppard it's going to be hard to let him go. Rodney grinds his teeth and imagines he comes up with a different plan, one that doesn't involve the man he loves playing games with a nut-bag. In this new plan Rodney doesn't need Sheppard to run interference but instead requires him to help the team regroup and start making the Genii crazy.
Now all he needs is an idea...
Fuck. It's no use. Sheppard has to be apprehended and Kolya has to be unsure. That's the plan they agreed upon and Rodney is wary of changing things up now. They need the element of surprise on their side. Besides, if all goes according to plan, and he keeps his fingers crossed that it does, Sheppard will not spend a long time in Kolya's company before the Commander acknowledges that his poorly conceived takeover has crumbled and fallen apart.
He sighs wearily and leans his forehead against the wall. It's been way too long since he sucked down some caffeine.
"What are you planning?"
Sora's has asked him this same question, in various guises, three times already today and each time John answers her truthfully that they plan on taking the city back from the Genii and he's not really sure how the hell they're going to do it. This response makes her crazy and he knows she doesn't believe him worth a damn, because honestly, who the hell would believe that Atlantis' military commander doesn't have a clue?
John rubs his temples and smiles politely. He's hurting in so many ways it doesn't pay to count them. And Sora knows he's in pain. He can see it in her eyes when she looks at him, up and down, from top to bottom in the blink of an eye. He's bruised and wrinkled and pale and whatever.
"We're leaving in five minutes." He unhooks her wrists and leads her out of the jumper. Ford and company are going to pack it up when John returns, but not before, because, hey, they certainly can't have him taking a peek at anything on his way back in and blindfolding him is out of the question.
"You didn't answer me."
"Oh, I think I did." John sighs when she starts to struggle. "Please don't do that." He cuffs her wrists together and leads her outside. "I'm going to take you somewhere nice and shady."
Sora glares at him through the harsh sunlight. "You expect me to just sit here on this island while you go back to Atlantis and destroy my people?"
John wants to say 'yes' very badly but instead he bites his tongue. It's difficult, but he's a grown up Major and there's been way too much killing lately. "No one is going to destroy anyone else, okay?"
"Right, you expect me to believe that?" Her expression is wary but John catches a glimpse or more than anger in her gaze. She wants peace he realizes. She wants to go home.
"I'd give you my word but I'm not sure it would mean anything to you right now."
Sora says, "I agree," and John winces. She sure is one tough bitch.
John turns briskly at the sound of Teyla's voice. "Hey Teyla, all set?" His tone sounds soft in his ears, and subdued. Not weak though, never weak, he can't afford to feel fragile right now. She's looking at him with compassion and John can't deal with her pain too.
"Very nearly...I'll take Sora if you wish." Teyla smiles gently and turns away. John knows this means a lot to her. She doesn't give up on friends easily.
But Sora lashes out, breaking away from John's tenuous hold and throwing herself at Teyla. She elbows the Athosian woman in the gut and Teyla strikes back, slapping Sora soundly across the face before grabbing her and pushing her hard against a nearby tree.
"I'm not going anywhere with you!" Sora shouts at the top of her lungs and turns to John. "She murdered my father! And she brags about it."
Teyla protests, Sora shouts some more, and John's head basically implodes.
"Will the both of you please just shut the hell up, okay?" He slides back against the jumper then down to his knees with his head falling forward onto the hot grass below.
"Major?" Teyla kneels next to him but John shrugs her away.
"I'm fine." The truth is he feels like crap and Beckett is probably right to want to strap him to a gurney. He keeps his head down and breathes. "Just give me a minute okay?"
Or ten, or an hour, or god, please, a nap?
"He is unwell." Sora offers. "I gave him a sandwich but he hasn't been fed much in days."
He doesn't see Teyla's responding look to this comment but it must have been a doozy because Sora stutters and defends herself by saying, "He's was a prisoner..."
"The Genii truly are not the people I imagined." There is anger in her voice and John loves her for that, but he likes his Teyla bright not bitter, and he touches her arm gently to let his friend know that he's okay.
"We did not mean..."
"Ladies, please, stop fighting over me." John struggles to his feet and puts on his best face. One look at Teyla and he knows he's not fooling anybody. "Just go with her Sora. You don't have to like it." He swallows hard but meets her eyes head on. "You're the prisoner now."
Her expression is sullen and she's less than happy with his declaration but thankfully Sora stops wailing and goes with Teyla quietly.
When they leave John collapses to the ground and sits there with his head cradled gently in his hands. Before they head back he'll ask Beckett for a couple more Tylenol and maybe two more for the road. A cool wind makes him shiver and he wonders how Rodney's making out in the city, and for some reason, if he's had enough to eat. His head starts to pound in two/four time and he clenches his fists to keep from screaming.
Seconds turn to minutes and then someone hands him a bottled-water which John accepts with a grateful nod.
"We're ready to pack up the jumper sir." Ford stares at him quietly.
"Great. The sooner we get this mission started the quicker we'll be able to sleep in our own beds tonight." John tries to grin but he fails miserably. "I'll board first and then you guys can pack up all your stuff in the back. I promise not to look at anything."
"You won't be able to see anything anyway sir. We've got four crates all filled up and covered with tarp. Dr. McKay's note says we should be okay with what we've got which is kind of the minimum he wanted though."
Ford doesn't seem very happy and John decides not to press.
"Minimum, huh, if Dr. McKay says it's enough..." John struggles to his feet and accepts Ford's outstretched hand with a grimace. "...then I guess we're just going to have to trust him on this one and make do with what we've got."
"It wouldn't be the first time. Sir?"
John swallows down half the bottle of water. "Yes Lieutenant?"
"You think McKay's all right in the city? He is kind of alone over there."
John swallows, wondering. "Rodney's fine. He knows how to take care of himself."
He finishes off the water and waits a moment longer for the ground to stop spinning, and really this spur of the moment dizziness is getting more than just a little annoying. When this mess is over, John's taking a vacation, preferably somewhere with sand and surfing.
He hauls his ass over to the jumper and gets on board with little effort, flopping in the pilot's seat and silently thanking the Ancients for their brilliant use of genes and thought control to make life a little bit easier. He makes some corrections to the flight plan and listens offhandedly to the sounds of crates being loaded on the jumper, Ford issuing orders, and...squeaking?
"Do I need to know what that sound is?" John phrases his question carefully. He nods to Teyla and Beckett when they take their seats.
"No sir you don't."
"We're all aboard sir." Ford sits next to John and smiles when he closes the cargo bay doors.
John's head is aching and he's exhausted but despite all the physical shortcomings, his mind suddenly clicks into overdrive. The squeaking, the crates, the secrecy and Rodney telling him not to forget the LSD can only mean one thing.
"The bastard..." John murmurs under his breath, but of course, everyone hears him.
"Major?" Teyla prompts. "Are you all right?"
Well, no, not really, but John doesn't say that much out loud. Instead he turns to her and smiles stiffly. "McKay's a bastard."
"What's he done this time?" Beckett's voice holds concern. "And is he in any danger on Atlantis because of it?"
John shakes his head and winces, because it hurts quite a bit, and exhales. "This plan of his..."
"Sir," Ford's interruption is annoying but John's been in his place before and he knows that sometimes commanding officers need a little reminding and sometimes they need a great big shove. "If you've figured things out sir maybe you shouldn't tell us. That way we can't confirm or deny it and you still won't know anything."
It's obvious to John that the Lieutenant has thought the entire situation through logically and, really, that's a very good idea. It's a good thing that at least one of them is thinking clearly about this bizarre hoopla they affectionately refer to as "the plan' because the way John feels right now he'll be lucky not to immediately pass out at Kolya's feet and miss his upcoming beating entirely.
"I happen to agree with you..." John watches him breathe out in relief. "...up to a point."
"What do you mean Major?" Teyla's voice is soft, curious.
"Well, if I can figure the plan out this quickly, and I'm not saying that I've figured anything out in fact because you're not going to tell me even if I guess it right so I can't really verify what I'm thinking anyway, then how do we know the Genii won't get the joke we're playing and just laugh their asses off at us and stay in the city?"
Ford's eye twitches.
John's not really sure what he just said either so he frowns in apology and whispers. "I'm sorry...I need to sleep very badly."
"Yes of course." Teyla's smile is kind.
"So, we'll just make for Atlantis then..." John adds.
It's impossible not to look jumpy but somehow Ford manages it with aplomb. He nods in John's direction and stares resolutely ahead. "Good idea sir."
"Okay people. Let's go take our city back."
If Rodney really plans to use mice or other little Athosian animals to confuse the hell out of the Genii sensors then John hopes to god it works because it's a sure bet they're not going to get another shot at kicking Kolya's ass out of the city.
The puddle jumper de-cloaking and landing gracefully in the bay is a beautiful sight and one that Rodney swears he will never again take for granted.
He counts to five, takes a deep breath and creeps out of his hiding place in the air ducts twelve feet above the floor. It takes him three minutes to find his way down to the gene selective door leading to the downward landing and in his haste he tears his sleeve on the inner vent latch and curses when it cuts into his arm.
Rodney opens the door with a slight touch in just the right spot and walks inside clutching his bleeding forearm.
He watches Ford step out of the rear jumper hatch and observe his surroundings with a knowing glare. He sees Rodney and gives him a tentative smile and wouldn't you know it, Rodney can't help but smile back. He waves and waits as one by one Teyla and Beckett emerge from the vessel followed lastly by Sheppard looking worn but thankfully still standing upright.
"Hiya Rodney." Sheppard's wave is barely there. He leans casually against the jumper wall and smiles but Rodney knows him better than that. The Major is hurting.
He wants to keep staring at Sheppard forever but time constraints prevail and well, there is that little issue about taking back their city.
"Why did you come out?"
"Did you want me to camp out in there?"
Rodney sighs, exasperated. "No, but the plan calls for..."
"Don't worry about it Rodney. I didn't peek at your mice."
Christ, only Sheppard. "Fine, did you remember to bring back the life signs detector?"
Ford tosses it to him and Rodney catches left-handed. "Sure did Doc. But what's so special about this one?"
"You mean the Major didn't explain that part of the plan to you?" He asks the question lightly and Sheppard smirks in response, rolls his hips to the left and crosses his arms in front of his chest in what must be a patented move.
Fuck, Rodney loves him so much.
"Well," Sheppard drawls. "If you need me to speak for you Rodney, sure..."
"Dr. McKay, it is wonderful to see you well..." As usual it's Teyla who reins them in. "But are we not in a hurry?"
"Yes, yes, yes." Rodney agrees and busies himself greeting Beckett. The doctor looks a bit confused but willing. "Okay. Here's the deal..."
He quickly explains to them that two Genii guards are posted outside near the jumper bay entrance and will come in and shoot them if they don't all shut up.
"Not if we shoot them first." Is Ford's reply and Sheppard of course, seconds the notion and nods.
Rodney gives the stunner to Ford and he and Teyla go to take care of the guards.
One zap, then two, in the blink of an eye, the shooting is over.
The door to the bay opens and with Becket's help, Ford and Teyla drag the unconscious men inside, tie them swiftly together then gag and toss them into a supply closet in the rear of the jumper bay.
"Okay now the hard part starts..."
He doesn't have time to say anything meaningful to Sheppard and it irks Rodney to no end that if their insane plan goes to hell they may never see each other again.
"Listen..." Rodney starts, moving closer but not too close.
"Yeah..." Sheppard replies and gives his shoulder a manly squeeze. As far as romance goes, it sucks, but still, it's physical contact and Rodney doesn't realize until now how very much he missed it.
"Be careful..." Rodney stares at him hard. "Just stay alive, okay?"
Sheppard smiles wearily. "You...guys do the same."
"We'll try." He doesn't miss the fact that Sheppard addresses his last words to the lot of them while his hazel eyes never once break contact with Rodney. He hates being so fucking careful around his teammates. Shoulder squeezes aside they haven't been obvious in weeks.
Rodney watches Sheppard leave and wonders where he'll go, and how he'll let Kolya find him. Thankfully Ford interrupts his thoughts.
"Do you want to split up?"
"Good idea." He removes a slip of paper from his pocket and hands it to Teyla. "You take Beckett and cover these areas. Ford and I will take the rest. When you're finished meet up at the lab where Jinto was lost. We'll have to be careful and quick."
"Aye, we'll do that." Becket offers and Rodney wants to hug him.
Beckett isn't a military man, far from it, he's a doctor and although Rodney will never admit it out loud, he's an excellent one at that. He possesses the ancient gene, like Sheppard, but in a less concentrated amount or so he's been told. Who the hell knows how to measure these things anyway?
"Good. We have four boxes here so we each get to take one." He sniffs the air and shudders. "They don't smell very good do they?"
"No they don't." Ford agrees and takes the handle of one box.
"So you want us to sneak the wee buggers into all the nooks and crannies?"
Becket is also Scottish. And that's something Rodney will never understand.
He fixes the doctor with one of his best glares. "Yes exactly. Sneak them all into all the nooks and crannies." He looks at his teammates and notices for the first time that unlike Sheppard they look ready and raring to go. He hands one of the two altered life signs detectors to Beckett and pockets the other for himself. "In just under two hours, when the city sensors shoot back on line, Atlantis and the Genii are going to go crazy." He'd sell his soul for an ice-cold Molson right about now. Or even a LaBatts. "They'll start reading mice as life signs and of course, humans as life signs and we, of course..." he shakes the LSD in their faces. "...will not. I mean, we'll still see humans as humans but we won't read the mice. In short, Kolya and crew will be seeing things a little differently than we will."
"What does that mean?" Beckett again, this time more than a little bit worried.
"Once the sensors start working these two devices will interface and be the only ones that still function properly." Three blank faces meet him head on. "The sensors in the city and all the handheld devices will pinpoint all the Athosian mice to the Genii as life signs."
"And this is the plan?" Teyla seems unconvinced.
"Yes..." As usual Rodney finds himself waiting for the lesser minds to catch up. "Come on now...an invading army filtering in to retake the city?" He waits. "Think about it...an army of soldiers who are not Genii?"
"So you fiddled with the city's sensors." Ford knits his brow in a show of thinking.
"Yes, fiddled, that's the technical term." Rodney pauses. "And don't say it like it's a bad thing. We'll be the only ones reading the sensors correctly thus giving us the advantage. The Genii will see an invading army of at least eighty."
"Doctor..." Ford interrupts.
"More like fifty-seven men...plus the four of us so I guess sixty-one..."
"Well, you said at least fifty..."
"I'm so thrilled to see you went the extra mile." Rodney's not really pissed, not by a long shot. At least he didn't have to trap and cage the things.
"That's a brilliant plan Rodney." Beckett's more relaxed and oh, isn't that lovely.
"It is most ingenious." Teyla adds with a smile and suddenly Rodney's feeling a hell of a lot better.
"Well...yeah, but you guys did all the dirty work." How strange it sounds for him to stutter ...Rodney usually accepts praise with a grain of salt. "Anyway, good work."
"Yeah, but..." As usual Ford isn't satisfied. "How do you know the sensors will start working in two hours and not before two hours or even after that time?"
"I know because I am a genius." Rodney can't keep the exasperation out of his voice. He needs this nightmare to be over. He needs to hold Sheppard right now. He needs to stop being questioned by idiots.
"Yeah, but how do you know?" The Lieutenant sure is persistent.
"I'm very good at fiddling with things, okay? Now can we stop wasting time?"
John hears the Genii up ahead in the corridor and makes a point of walking right into them. It's amazing really, he's been stalking the halls of Atlantis for nearly twenty minutes, making sure he's in all the frequent walking zones, certainly not hiding, and doing his very best to be noisy and still this is the first opportunity he's had to be captured since the jumper returned.
The shocked looks on the soldier's faces are kind of hysterical and John has to bite back saying, 'Take me to your leader' because he thinks the blonde kid standing point with the great big gun might faint from the pressure.
He tries, "Hey guys, remember me?" and is immediately rewarded with a rifle butt slammed hard into his shoulder.
The air leaves his lungs in a vacuum rush and John collapses to his knees as his body explodes into a haze of mind-boggling agony. He can't breathe, or speak, and the pain tears leaking from behind his tightly closed eyelids are quite the embarrassment after all the worse shit he's endured from Kolya and the Genii.
"Did you see anyone else?" He can tell the blonde kid is nervous. His eyes dart down the hallway and back to John four times in succession and he looks over his shoulder a few times for good measure. US Marines these guys are not.
"I'm alone..." John manages to spit out through clenched teeth and the bigger soldier slugs him again, this time with a fast punch to the side of the head.
"Hey, Kolya wants him alive!"
Both Genii finally show some common sense by picking John up off the floor and hauling his sorry ass down the corridor. His head is spinning and he doesn't remember passing out but when they finally toss him into the damp cell he last slept in only yesterday evening John wakes up with a gasp, terrified that he doesn't remember getting there.
"Oh fuck..." He crawls on all fours and huddles in the corner. The pain in his head is at an all time high, and it hurts so fucking much John nearly starts to sob. He can't see straight, his thoughts are foggy and when he flops, boneless to the floor and curls his arms tight across his chest the bigger guard starts to kick him in brutally in the back.
"Not so tough now are you?"
John wants only to pass out and sleep and fade away for a week but the soldiers have other ideas and when they drag him back roughly to his feet the blonde kid holds him steady while the bigger guy has a bit of fun slapping him back and forth across the face until his head spins out of control and he seriously thinks he's going to vomit.
One slap, then another, and John tastes blood in his mouth when a final slap splits his bottom lip wide open. He shudders and tries to pull away, but there's no place in the small cell he can hide where they won't find him.
"Just be careful Jarling..." The blonde guard sputters but he doesn't release his hold.
"You bastard...you murdering piece of shit bastard!" Jarling stops hitting John when he gets a better idea and it's amazingly hard not to cringe at the leering smile forced onto his stone cold features. "On your knees dog..."
"What are you going to do to him?" If the blonde soldier was nervous before he's practically shitting his pants with worry now but John still doubts the younger man will stop Jarling from raping him.
"What the hell does it look like?" Jarling starts to unzip his pants. "I hear he's a great cocksucker."
John smirks. Some things never, ever change. "If you put that filthy thing anywhere near my mouth I'll bite it in half." His steady eyes dare the Genii soldier to give him a try while his mind begs silently for the asshole to just go away and jerk off somewhere private and leave him the hell alone. He smirks again adding, "I'm not kidding. Ask Kolya if you don't believe me."
"Don't mention the Commander's name. You killed his son. You killed my cousin."
"And you want what, revenge or, a quickie in the prison cell? I'm having trouble figuring that part out."
Jarling snarls and thumps John with a punch to the gut hard enough to make him gag, fall forward and swallow down bile. The taste in his mouth is pretty disgusting and god, he's just so far beyond exhausted but all things considered John's proud of the way he's keeping it together thus far. He hasn't begged or puked once since returning to the city though of course, almost doesn't count and heck, Kolya's not even here yet. In that respect the day is still young.
"You'll suck me whore." Jarling takes John's face in his hands and squeezes until his eyes water. "And you'll like it." He gestures to his buddy and smiles. "And when I'm done with you, Klemperer will take a shot. Before we hand you over to the Commander, we'll pass you around the barracks. How would you like that?"
John thinks about making a comment about how hard up all the Genii must be to use him for a fuck toy but Jarling would probably just miss the reference and screw him anyway. Instead he stands his ground and returns the smile with a false confidence he hopes doesn't sink him and says, "Kolya wants me brought to him immediately and instead you decide to throw yourselves a party? The Genii aren't very good at following orders, huh? I guess that's why you're systematically being decimated by the Wraith."
"Bastard!" Jarling sounds hysterical now, a loose canon in any sense of phrasing, and that's certainly not very comforting of John right about now. "You brought this scourge upon us!"
Yeah, well, there is that. "The Wraith would have woken up eventually." He keeps his voice steady, tries to ignore the putrid stench of his attackers breath.
"But by that time maybe we would have found a way to fight them." Jarling is winding himself up on John's words and it's probably not an understatement to say he's going to be flat on his back within the hour.
"Sure, probably one the Ancestors didn't think about."
"You mock us." Jarling clutches John's arm tight enough to bruise and shakes him mercilessly. "You killed my cousin and many others and still you mock us."
"I didn't invite your cousin or any other Genii to invade Atlantis."
"He's right." Klemperer finally chimes in and John swallows. "We shouldn't have come here and we should get out now while we still can...before the Wraith come. They'll be drawn to this city!"
"Listen to your buddy. Without a shield we're all just one big dinner buffet to the Wraith." John fights to pull away and flee through the open cell door but Jarling only tightens his hold hard enough to break bones. Dammit...he only needs to escape from these asses, find Kolya and then of course get apprehended and beaten again, to put things finally back on track.
"You'd say anything to stop me from enjoying you." Jarling brags and rubs himself lewdly. "So I don't choke you with my cock."
Yeah, you got that right buddy, John thinks, but it's such a no-brainer he can't think of a response to say out loud. Instead he glares, and then groans when the soldier forces him down further until his forehead touches the cold, dirty floor Athosian style.
Jarling grabs a handful of John's hair, pulls him up and tugs his face forward against his tented crotch. John twists his head from side to side frantic to break the bastard's hold on him but it's no use. With his hands cuffed behind his back he's vulnerable.
"Hold him..." Jarling addresses Klemperer now, and John notices the smaller man wince at the order.
"Don't..." John tries one last time to reason, maybe even to beg the fuckers to leave his virtue intact but the compulsion to obey orders is too strong and Klemperer grabs his arms from behind and holds him steady while Jarling finishes unzipping. He closes his eyes, sighs, and waits.
"I think you'll enjoy me even more than sucking off the Commander..."
A short gasp from behind tells John all he needs to know. Klemperer pushes him forward and then scampers away and when John opens his eyes mid-fall he sees Kolya standing there in full Genii regalia. And boy oh boy does he ever look pissed.
"Commander Kolya..." Jarling is sputtering like a dickhead and fuck if that's not a very good look on the bastard. "I wasn't going to...I mean he's fine..."
"I gave orders to bring Sheppard or McKay directly to me if you found them in the city." His eyes narrow and only an idiot wouldn't be terrified right about now. He turns to John and smiles. "We found the puddle jumper Major."
"I guess I forgot to cloak it."
"Indeed. Dr. Kavanagh told us you'd come back for McKay and I didn't believe him. Only a fool would make such a sacrifice."
"I've been called worse." John struggles to kneel. "Anyway, it sure took you long enough to find me."
"The city is a big place."
"Yeah...she sure is." John drawls and takes a few steady breaths. Kolya moves closer, then far away, then close again, leaving him at once confused then oddly comforted. It doesn't steady him at all to realize that the Genii Commander is a master at the game of torture, if anything it scares him to death. It's not enough for John to show a brave face to this monster, not when Kolya can crawl inside and tear him apart.
"Where is McKay?"
"Damned if I know."
Kolya backhands him and John goes down again tasting blood in his mouth. Kolya addresses his men. "If I didn't need the two of you I'd have you both shot for disobeying orders." He drags John back to his knees and compresses his throat gently. "And if you don't decide to come clean with some answers I may decide to use you as entertainment for my men after all." He releases his hold and caresses the blood from John's lip with his thumbnail.
John shudders through the intimacy. Christ, it's just too much to suffer at his enemy's hands. He thinks of Rodney and pushes the image away.
Not now...not now...not now...
"And Jarling will be the first to get a crack at you." Kolya returns to squeezing his throat, harder this time, and with a definite purpose in mind. "And when we find McKay, and make no mistake Major, we will find him, and he'll receive the very same punishment."
John wheezes when the Commander tightens his grip. He manages to utter, "Fuck you..." just before passing out in Kolya's arms.
Rodney moves through Atlantis with an accomplished ease careful to keep out of the Genii spotlight. He slips through one door, then another with Ford by his side weapon at the ready, emptying his charges into every spare corner of the city he can sneak into safely. Somewhere, in other areas of Atlantis that are still above water, Carson and Teyla are doing the same. The only one missing is John.
Rodney swallows hard and forces himself to concentrate. He opens the last of the small cages and watches a dozen mice scamper away. Worry makes his head spin and reminding himself that John chose to be the scapegoat in this big mess doesn't make him feel any better.
"All done Dr. McKay," Ford frowns at the cages. "Are you sure this plan will work?"
Ford is still young enough to get pimples so Rodney takes a deep breath before biting his head off. Their plan is half-assed at best, and his mood is no where even close to as brilliant as he'd like it to be so having his doubts magnified back at him ten-fold just pisses the hell out of Rodney. He needs to blow off some steam, so dammit here goes.
"I recognize you think I should know everything Lieutenant and while that is oh so true in most cases and I might add... in every galaxy...somehow I let the Genii invasion just slip right by me. If only I'd realized sooner that these witless idiots were military and scientific geniuses bent on world domination we wouldn't be in this mess." Rodney hates the bitter sound of his laughter, the cold unfamiliar tone of his voice. With some effort he stops his hands from flying around. "I guess their shit laced attempt to build leaky atomic bombs and nearly kill off a third of their population fucking fooled me from the get go!"
Ford is staring at him and why the hell not? He's tired and frightened and worried sick that the man he loves is lying dead somewhere with Kolya's knife in his back. He rubs his eyes wearily and checks the life signs detector. It's perfect. When his thoughts drift back to Sheppard he bites his lip hard enough to draw blood.
"I'm worried about the Major too." Ford pauses, darts a look around before continuing. "And I'm worried about you and Teyla and Beckett and everyone else who lives here." He grabs Rodney's arm and twists the fabric of his uniform. "But we have to stay calm, okay? We'll get him back. Major Sheppard trusts you...and so do I McKay"
So, not quite a baby then...
Rodney reevaluates his opinion of Ford. Pegasus forces them all to grow up in ways impossible to foresee or imagine and to experience amazing and terrifying events every day. Life sucking aliens, energy creatures, Genii and Athosians...screw the mundane! Rodney loves Atlantis nearly as much as he loves John and he wants the Genii out of his city right the damn fuck now.
"So, what do you think?"
"Yes." Rodney allows before walking back towards the transporter. He checks the LSD once more and when he turns to Ford this time his smile is genuine. "The plan is going to work just fine."
"Don't force me to hurt you any more than is necessary Major."
John wakes up choking on his own blood. He stares into Kolya's sleep deprived angry eyes and thinks... So this is what it all comes down to...
A Genii guard pokes his left side with the butt of his rifle for the third time in ten minutes and though it really pisses him off, John can't quite muster up the strength to glare. He's so damn exhausted, so bone tired and sick to his stomach, that he has to settle for looking bored instead but probably comes off as pathetic because the guard snickers and whacks him again, and presto, his entire head explodes.
Moving hurts just a shade more than breathing but at least it's not a necessity. John's pretty certain he's been sitting tied to the same chair for nearly two hours since he came back to Atlantis in the jumper. His back aches from the uncomfortable position and his feet are slightly numb.
John doesn't want to say anything damaging to the plan, and Christ, he really needs to see Rodney again, and he wants his city back the way she was before the Genii took over. He decides to do his best to fake Kolya out and make him think that John knows more than he actually does so he can remain alive and fighting as long as possible.
It's kind of difficult though...the beating is rougher than usual, with two cracked ribs in the first hour proof that Kolya is finished playing games. A wave of intense nausea clouds his vision and John's nerves start to crumble. If he pukes on Kolya's boots he'll probably have to clean them with his tongue. He winces at the thought and tries to clear his mind. God, it's not working. His body hurts too damn much.
The Genii soldier grabs his shoulders and John is tilted back with his feet dangling off the floor and he glares up into the light on the ceiling until his corneas burn. In the span of a heartbeat he's been in this room before, in Afghanistan, a lifetime ago. He swallows down the bile of memory and shouts "Fuck!" loudly at the top of his lungs to dispel the last of the images flashing through his mind. With all the hell he's going through with the Genii the last thing John needs right now is to confuse his torture sessions. He spits out, "fuck" again, quieter this time and paces his breathing. When his eyes meet Kolya's again he realizes that finally he's done something right. The Genii leader's face says he's looking at a madman, but then again...
"You're not fooling me Major..."
It's obvious from the start that his captors have no sense of humor. They don't like John's lame jokes or attempts at sarcasm any more than Rodney does but with at least with Rodney John doesn't have to worry about being tossed to the floor and kicked in the head.
John breathes, "Sure," as Koyla moves closer.
He leans into John's space and god its shameful how quickly his body tenses up, frozen, waiting for the next slap, rifle butt, kick or innuendo.
Despite all his preparation, the punch to his stomach is still unexpected and he rides out the pain until it's bearable, ignoring the terrifying prophetic feeling that his insides are being ripped apart. John is pretty damn sure that something inside his belly is twisted beyond all repair and, darn it, Carson's probably going to kill him if Kolya's thugs don't get the job done first.
"Sheppard..." Kolya's dark smirk promises a shit load of fun. "You really don't want to upset me."
If this monster is Kolya on a good day then John doesn't want to see him when he's irked. He bites his lip and checks out the room. Other than the guard who keeps hitting him there's one more with a gun at the door and of course the Genii Commander himself.
He manages to say, "Wouldn't want to do that..." before Kolya strikes his face so hard that John hears his cheekbone crack.
"Uhhhh..." He gasps and shudders pulling himself back from unconsciousness just in the knick of time. It hurts...it hurts so freaking much that John isn't sure he can stay awake for a great deal longer. More than anything he wants to close his eyes and succumb to the inviting blackness beckoning just behind his eyelids and sleep for just a little while.
Right, that's a good one John.
Getting knocked out cold isn't going to do anyone any good and Kolya would probably dump cold water on his head anyway. He swallows hard and continues to breathe slowly. It's rough but John knows he has to keep Kolya occupied, keep him thinking that John has the information the Commander needs to retake the broken city from Rodney. He wonders if Kolya even knows he's lost it yet.
"What is McKay doing?"
"I don't know..." John answers this question for the third time and once again, Kolya is irked by his response. "I can't tell you what I don't know."
And that's the truth, kinda.
"I remember the first time I met the good doctor." Kolya reaches behind his back and returns with a jagged knife. John knows exactly on whose arm he's seen those knife tracks before.
"Yeah, that was memorable for Rodney too."
Kolya gestures to one of his men. "You're a soldier Sheppard...maybe you've been tortured before...driven to your breaking point...or perhaps beyond it?" He squeezes John's face until his eyes start to water, rattling the broken bones of his cheek while John tries desperately not to scream. The cold smile is redirected at John. "Today we see what you're made of."
Since Kolya's being deliberately cruel McKay must really be pissing him off big time. John eyes knife with worry and takes moment to calm down, to stop his body from vibrating in fear.
But when Kolya slices into the thin fabric of his shirt all bets are off and with a bitching certainty John knows his day is about to get much worse.
Rodney can tell when the sensors go back online by a) looking at his watch and b) by hearing the muffled voices raised in confused alarm all across the city. It's a beautiful moment and he smiles for the first time in days when two Genii soldiers scuttle past his hiding place shouting out terrified cries of invasion.
He looks at his LSD and sees exactly what he should. Approximately sixty-five scattered Genii life signs plus five for the stowaway Atlanteans in the city and of course, Sheppard. Right now the Genii are looking at similar detectors and control room panels and seeing that amount nearly doubled and wondering how many people actually fit in one of those goddamned clown mobiles anyway.
Sheppard would smack him for insulting his beloved jumper but it's a perfectly viable analogy and he's not here so...fuck...his stomach twists in dismay at the thought of his friend. Rodney has a vague idea where Kolya's keeping him. The Genii are creatures of habit so the Major's probably back in the stinky old cell deep below the city.
Or just maybe...he snaps his fingers then winces at the echo. The Gateroom shows nine life signs and fuck, that's seven life signs too many. Rodney monitors the various areas of the city every day with his working LSD and he hasn't seen more than two blips representing the two soldiers Kolya posts twenty-four hours a day at the Stargate since the week after the takeover started.
Of course there's a distinct possibility that with the sensors showing a great big military surprise the Genii Commander increased the number to nine but then again he'd probably need to start sending those soldiers elsewhere in the city. He sighs and decides to give it a look see although he's not exactly sure what he hopes to find. If John is in there and being tortured by that bastard Kolya, Rodney knows he'll go ballistic and quite possibly do something very stupid but heartbreakingly brave all in the name of love.
He checks his watch again and frowns, considers, does some calculations in his head.
Oh you did not you fucking bastard...you did not...
Between one breath and the next he realizes that it's definitely too soon for the sensors to click on and therefore Kavanagh, the little crapper, fell into the backdoor trap and has most likely taken credit for the sensors working as soon as possible instead of just sitting back and stalling the Genii and doing absolutely nothing at all.
While Rodney never actually trusts Kavanagh to turn to the good side, it still pisses him off to be betrayed by the weasel yet again. And this time Kavanagh promised to be good! Well, maybe the piece of shit excuse for a scientist and colleague didn't actually promise but the intent was still there behind his owl rimmed frames and beady eyes.
Plus Rodney remembers telling Kavanagh that keeping the sensors offline as long as possible will help Sheppard sneak back into the city.
Damn, damn, damn, and double damn.
What angers him most is not Kavanagh's once again blatant disregard for all things good and righteous but the fact that the scientist doesn't give a hoot that his duplicity might very well hurt Sheppard. And in Rodney's book that's an unforgivable crime.
With one last check of the LSD he checks his weapon and plots his course to the Gateroom.
John's not angry with Ladon Radim for interrupting his beating although the intrusion makes Kolya about as livid as a rattler with a stepped on tail. The Commander scowls at the scientist and practically hisses out his response of, "What now?"
The look of startled horror in Ladon's expression is definitely worth the price of admission and informs John in no uncertain terms that Rodney's plan has finally kicked into overdrive.
The guards clasp their rifles in both hands and stare back and forth in every direction. Kolya moved John from the cell to the Gateroom nearly thirty minutes ago to allow all the Genii to participate in his punishment and maybe, just maybe, use the spectacle to draw out McKay.
"We're being invaded."
Kolya turns toward John but his words are addressed to Ladon. "That's impossible."
John schools his face to calm watches Kolya start to unravel, and waits.
"Nevertheless it's true." Ladon is perspiring and oh isn't that just beautiful.
"And you're telling me this now?" Kolya grinds his teeth and clenches his fists until his knuckles turn white.
The Genii Commander is imposing like this and John shudders despite himself. It's only a matter of time before all that restrained fury is turned in his direction and John's not sure if he can survive the onslaught this time.
"The control room sensors just came up! We're reading life signs all over the city."
"Perhaps it's a mistake..."
Ladon swallows hard but doesn't blink. "It's no mistake sir. Dr. Kavanagh brought the sensors up himself minutes ago."
Kolya spins on John and shoves him to the floor with one angry push. He's breathing hard and salivating just a little, and behind his eyes next to the burning hatred, John notices distress where there was no worry before. "You did this!"
"He didn't do anything!" Ladon is shouting now, bordering on hysterical and for a moment John's confused. Of course he did something...he and Rodney did one hell of a lot.
"Sheppard brought people back with him." Kolya's words are quiet, dangerous.
"No, well, maybe, but he returned with only one ship. He could never fit as many people as the sensors are indicating and we're pretty sure that doesn't even cover the lower regions. We're showing over sixty..." Ladon pauses for a second and when he starts speaking again, his voice is shaky. If John didn't know better he'd swear Ladon was flat out terrified. "Our people have seen things...shadows in the hallways, they've heard strange sounds...I don't think these are Atlanteans. Commander I think they're Wraith."
What the fuck? Wraith...sweet mother of god John sure as hell hopes not or they're all in a mess of trouble. He frowns for a moment, fights through the haze of pain and then presto; the final piece of Rodney's plan comes together.
"Shit..." John murmurs softly and he honestly means it. Because shit, Rodney is a genius and said genius belongs to John and his heart zings just a little at the thought. He wonders if Rodney is watching him somewhere in the shadows, waiting to see if Kolya takes the bait.
"Tell me what you know about this!"
Kolya's roar disrupts his thoughts. He crashes onto John and shoves his knee painfully into his stomach. "I swear to you Sheppard I will not release this city!"
Ladon interrupts again, "We don't have a choice ...they are everywhere and moving quickly. Sensors can't keep up."
John gives the scientist points for expended effort but all his heartfelt words are falling on the deaf ears of Kolya's unrestrained zeal. Despite the danger, the motherfucker doesn't want to leave.
"And we're only realizing this now?"
John groans when Kolya's knee pushes harder, tunneling into him, battering him with such force that the agony is momentarily blinding. "God..." He whimpers, nearly begs, and fuck the pain of having his body squashed beneath Kolya's heavier bulk is more excruciating than John could have ever imagined.
Since he doesn't expect Kolya to listen anyway John isn't disappointed when the Commander's heavy leg twists into his belly button then presses hard against his pelvis. John's helpless and alarmed and completely unable to do more than tremble and gag under the overpowering force.
Please, please, stop, god, please stop hurting me now...
The Commander snarls and pulls him forward until he can smell the scent of decay on his enemy's breath. For a second he thinks Kolya's going to kiss him and his stomach flip-flops a disgusted response but then he feels himself being lifted and flung clear across the room until he crumbles atop the steps leading away from the gate with a distinct thud.
His chin hits the corner of the middle platform and slams his teeth hard. John opens his eyes and tries to crawl downward so his body is even instead of lying scattered along the stairway levels.
"They could have been here for weeks. We've no way of knowing." Ladon shudders so hard his knees start to wobble. John wouldn't be surprised if he pissed himself.
"We have to get out of here now!"
Kolya practically runs to where John is lying on the dais and hauls him up by the rim of his t-shirt. "You think you've won here Major."
John clutches his arms tight to his chest and manages to spit out between gasps and gurgles. "If we have Wraith in the city then none of us have won."
Rodney treks to the Gateroom without any interference, which makes him mildly suspicious because his luck hasn't exactly been something to write home about lately. Still, he is the foremost expert on the city and he knows her schematics like the back of his hand. He thinks his decision to take a backwards loop toward his destination is probably a good one so maybe, just maybe the easy pathway without Genii intervention is a sign of good things to come.
"Okay, almost there..." he mutters under his breath to have someone to talk to and because he's nervous as hell that he might have expended a lot of time trying to find Sheppard only to get to the Gateroom and realize he's somewhere else entirely out of reach.
He takes another peak at the life signs detector and frowns. There's someone nearby and they're closing in fast...
Rodney spins around in a complete circle trying to find the source of the exclamation and in the process drops the LSD with an amazingly loud clatter. "Shit! Kavanagh...what the hell are you doing here?"
"I'm hiding from the Wraith just like you." The scientist is huddled in a corner near an empty science lab. "They're everywhere!"
Rodney's confused. On the one hand Kavanagh is a coward and he's definitely hiding from something. On the other hand...Wraith? "What are you talking about?"
"You have a life signs detector...look for yourself!" Kavanagh's eyes are bugging out of his head and his wild hair is in disarray, both sure signs that he's terrified.
Rodney gasps when Kavanagh reaches for the dropped monitor. "Wait!" Of course it's too late and the bastard picks up the monitor with a flourish. Fuck you Kavanagh he thinks, fuck, fuck, fuck, you. "Give me that."
Kavanagh stares at the LSD in shock, then confusion, and then finally when his brain starts working again, anger. "You're a bastard."
"Don't jump to conclusions." Rodney warns but the time for discussion is obviously long past.
Kavanagh's face is contorted, his brow knit, and he's sweating and huffing in and out in short uneven breaths. For the first time since he's met the man, Rodney thinks he just might be dangerous.
"You played me."
"Of course I did and you proved yourself to be an even worse human being than the first time around."
"You made an idiot of me."
"Now that part was actually quite easy." Rodney doesn't do cautious very well and although it's probably a huge mistake to push all of Kavanagh's aggression buttons he can't help himself. Not when the moron so completely deserves it.
"I'm going to tell Kolya what you did and when I do he'll kill you and Sheppard. And I wish he kills the Major first so you can watch your lover scream and die!"
He's shouting now and it's a little disconcerting when a trail of drool starts to slowly wind its way down Kavanagh's chin. Christ, Rodney thinks, he's rabid.
"And he'll die slow McKay..."
Rodney shudders hard and it's painfully obvious that Kavanagh intends to make good on his threat. The wacky thing is he knows that Kolya won't kill him, not while Atlantis is near to collapse. But the Commander will kill Sheppard or torture and rape and maim him enough that the Major will wish himself dead. And that definitely isn't part of the plan.
Kavanagh advances quickly, and Rodney doesn't think, just draws his gun and waits. "I can't let you do that."
"For Christ's sake..." Kavanagh waves the LSD in Rodney's face just out of reach. "What the hell are you going to do about it McKay?"
"I'll use this. To save Sheppard and this city I'll shoot you."
"I hope to god Sheppard's already dead!" Kavanagh screams but doesn't show any signs of handing over the small device tightly held in the palm of his hand. When Rodney finally retrieves the damn thing it'll probably be all damp and sweaty.
"Kavanagh, please...I'll do it."
And in the blink of an eye Rodney knows he's not lying. He's never killed another human being before and he certainly doesn't want to start now, but if Kavanagh gets to Kolya, gets to any of the Genii with the truth about the sensors then Sheppard is dead and the whole plan is bust and oh my god Wraith in the city, it's worked out even better than Rodney even dreamed.
"You wouldn't..." Kavanagh starts but something in Rodney's expression must warn the other scientist off because he stops grinning like a madman and instead stutters nervously.
"Look, just let me knock you out and tie you up until this nonsense is over. I can't let you tell anyone the truth."
"How did you do it?" Kavanagh asks finally.
"What? I'm a genius...it was easy...one of many possible plans I could have used." Rodney's hands are shaking and he prays the other scientist doesn't notice. Its one thing drawing a weapon on a Wraith but although it's arguable at times, Kavanagh is not an alien.
"Fuck you McKay..."
"Think about it...Kolya won't believe you anyway...you turned the sensors on Kavanagh...you told the Genii there were invaders here. Kolya will shoot you just for interrupting his day. Please listen to what I'm saying." Rodney frowns. "He'll kill you I swear it. Me? As unbelievable as it sounds, I don't want to shoot you at all."
"I'll take my chances with the Commander."
Rodney sprints fast, but of course Kavanagh is faster. In a move straight out of Clown College the lanky scientist attempts to grab the gun and hold on to the LSD at the same time. It's a stupid act doomed to failure from the start. Rodney may not be a crack shot like Sheppard, but he's learned a lot from the Major on the firing range and in self defense classes and fuck, everyone is depending on him to see this thing through to the end. He can't mess up everything now.
"Don't..." Rodney grabs Kavanagh's wrist and twists it until the LSD clatters to the floor. He sticks the barrel of the gun in Kavanagh's face and says, "Walk away from the LSD slowly..."
Just when Rodney thinks he has things under control, two things happen in quick succession that surprise him and shatter his confidence. Kavanagh howls at him like a wolf and then suddenly plows into him headfirst knocking Rodney down onto his ass in the corridor.
Kavanagh scoops up the monitor and takes off running. In desperation Rodney does the only thing he can think of...he grabs Kavanagh's ankle and hangs on tight while the scientist kicks him in the face with the other foot and tries to shake him off.
"Let go of me McKay."
"Not on your life..." Rodney's panting now, and he tastes blood in his mouth courtesy of three powerful kicks from Kavanagh's mandatory lab work boots.
He spins Rodney in a complete circle knocking him back and forth and it's irritating to imagine how stupid they must look, two grown men flopping around like a couple of seals. When Kavanagh kicks him in the face with the heel of his shoe Rodney screams and digs in tighter. Somehow he doesn't drop his gun.
"You are persistent. Give it up...your plan failed but you're too much of an arrogant bastard to realize it." Kavanagh sneers and breaks free with one final kick to his throat. "Congratulations McKay...you've just forfeited Sheppard's life. I'll try and make a case to keep you breathing, say you were blinded by love, but I'm not sure Kolya will be in a forgiving mood."
And isn't it just like the fucker to gloat when Rodney's the one holding the weapon? He reaches toward his belt and raises the weapon slowly. Kavanagh's shocked expression is its own form of justice. Rodney cringes at the scientist's advance. "Please don't make me..."
But of course Kavanagh is a dumbass.
He reaches for the gun and Rodney closes his eyes and fires twice in succession, somehow missing his target both times but managing instead to hit a dangling piece of scaffolding hanging low in the corridor. The bullet ricochets off the metal and zings around the room before finding purchase in Rodney's shoulder.
Oh god, it hurts really fucking badly, fire, then ice, then flame. He watches the red splotch start to form on his chest and only has a second to wonder if he's dying before like magic, the dangling piece of metal dislodges from above and slams straight onto Kavanagh's retreating head.
"I do not wish to leave Atlantis Sheppard."
"Well, I'm sure the Wraith would like you to stay..." John's exhausted and shaky and he hates the weakness evident in every syllable of his voice when he speaks. "...for dinner."
The Gateroom is full of Genii soldiers and scientists alike some with weapons drawn and all waiting impatiently for their Commander to give the word and finally send them safely out of the city. Of course, Kolya is stubborn, and determined, and oh yeah, maybe more than a little off kilter so even with the city being overrun by Wraith, he's still playing soldier and grasping at straws.
"If I do decide to depart..." Kolya's eyes find his and the darkness is unsettling. "Then I will take you with me as a slave to the Genii."
At that moment John decides that he'll go with Kolya if forced to leave if it means that Rodney, his team and Atlantis will be safe. "Why in the world would I want to stay here?"
"You amuse me Major." Kolya looks around the room and absorbs the horror on the faces of his men. "But do not test me or I may choose to leave you for the Wraith after all."
John nods and waits for the decision. Right now it's kind of out of his hands. He looks around slowly, trying to find Rodney's face in the shadows. The soldiers stare at him grimly, wishing him dead, and John swallows hard in the glare of their hatred, palpable still despite their fear.
"What do you think I should do Sheppard?" Kolya is toying with him now and John hates that his intimidation is working.
"How about letting me gate to another world?" His voice is rough and edgy, but really, John's lucky he's able to talk at all. A particularly nasty blow to the chest had him seeing red only minutes ago and it's quite a nice surprise to find that he's still at least partially conscious.
"Very funny Major, but I think not."
"Sir...they are moving this way, scattering everywhere! We have to dial out now!" Ladon's voice is desperate and why the hell not? If John didn't know the truth he'd be sweating it out too.
Kolya is adamant. "No. We will stay and fight."
"But that is...suicide!" Ladon must realize by now that he cannot reason with Kolya. John suspects he's known that bit of truth for quite a while. But sedition in the military is not a pretty word and the shit has to be pretty dire before a second in command decides to tread that pathway. Most times there is no turning back.
"We cannot expect to win. We have scientists here along with our soldiers. We must retreat now while we can still access the gate."
Ladon is one hell of a patient guy but he'll go grey before he wins the argument here. Kolya's not going to budge. He's bartered too many lives for Atlantis to give her up now.
"Again...I will not leave. My son died because of this city, because of this man!" When he points to John his hand is shaking. "I will not let the Wraith take what is mine by right!"
There are murmurs from the crowd and some shuffling back and forth and in the current scenario that's not a good sign. The Genii are petrified of the Wraith and it's no secret they're not fans of being forced to stay in the Ancestor's broken down city. They want to go home. They want to see their families. And most of all, they want to survive.
John swallows hard at Kolya's next words. "Ladon...do not dial the gate! I command you."
After that everything happens so quickly that for a second John forgets to breathe.
Ladon nods his head and the Genii soldiers point their weapons at Kolya and remove the gun from his belt. Somewhere in the distance two shots are fired and a wave of fear floats through the crowd. Seconds later the Stargate fires up a familiar blue event horizon and the scientists start to scatter through.
"What is this?" Kolya shouts, baffled, and damn if John doesn't feel a bit of sympathy for his adversary once again. He looks up at Ladon in the control room.
"I believe it's called 'mutiny'." John whispers calmly.
"I gave you an order dammit!"
"Yes, you did, but one that I have no intention of following." Ladon walks down the stairs as evenly as the situation allows. "We need to hurry so the Wraith do not follow us through." He gestures again and the remaining scientists exit followed by most of the remaining soldiers until only two, along with Ladon and Kolya remain.
John's a bit surprised by his next words. "This wormhole does not lead to Genii. We will redial once we arrive through the gate. I've recalibrated the Atlantis gate to immediately redial another planet so we leave no trail behind. It is my hope the world I lead the Wraith toward is still uninhabited although I cannot say for certain. You can take your chances Sheppard or you can remain behind here. But you are not welcome to continue to Genii."
"Okay..." So, not really a spur of the moment decision then. "What about Doctor Weir?"
"I'll do my best to return her to the Manarians. You'll have to take it from there if you survive."
"No! He must return with us to answer for his crimes!"
As usual the Genii are less than thorough and it's no surprise to John when Kolya produces a hidden knife and holds it tight against his throat. John's seen the knife before. And he's got the wounds to prove it. "I'll kill him. Right here, right now." He digs the knife in for emphasis.
John doesn't doubt he'll follow through. He snarls and struggles against the hold. "You're a bastard Kolya."
And god he honestly means it. Kolya is a bastard and John wants an opportunity to hurt him very badly for all the misery he's caused since arriving in the city. He wants to hit and harm and make the Commander pay for each and every life John was forced to take defending Atlantis.
"He is a murderer..." Kolya's grip tightens on his throat and when the knife digs into his flesh John stops moving.
"I have given the Major my word. The decision is his alone. You cannot remain behind. Cowen will not allow it."
Ladon gestures again and this time the guards grab Kolya before he can bleed the life out of John past a small deep nick just a hairsbreadth away from his jugular.
But the Genii commander has a few tricks left. Kolya feints resignation, seizes a gun from one of his subordinates and turns it pointblank towards John's chest.
"Oh for god's sake..." John starts wearily, but before he can even think about fighting for his life a shot rings out loud and clear in the nearly empty room and Kolya staggers forward then backward until he eventually stumbles into the event horizon.
John turns in the direction of the bullet and sees Rodney, gun drawn, blood covering his arm, staggering forward like a drunken man.
"I'm okay..." Rodney manages before falling down.
"Major!" Ford rushes in followed by Teyla and finally Beckett zooming straight past everyone to Rodney's side.
"Rodney!" John's hands start to shake and his throat freezes.
Rodney, please...I need you alive.
"He's okay...looks like a through and through." Beckett allows. "But I have to stitch him up some."
John says, "Okay..." when he means 'thank god'.
When Ladon arrives at the gate he glances out at the group of ragged Atlantis refugees and his mouth twists. In that instant John knows that the scientist is aware that the Genii have been duped. Atlantis is safe. The enemy was never in the city.
"In the future perhaps our people can be allies..."
John nods curtly. "Don't count on it."
Thankfully Ladon is a lot smarter than Kolya. He says simply, "Good luck against the Wraith," and takes one last look around before stepping through the Stargate.
John rushes to Rodney's side just as Beckett finishes bandaging his shoulder and shooting a needle into his arm.
"Hey yourself Sheppard, I got shot!"
"I can see that. By one of the Genii?" John is more relieved than curious. Rodney is pale and drawn and his eyes are dark rimmed and bloodshot but he's breathing and confrontational and absolutely perfect. "Or by the Wraith?"
"No, I mean, neither." Rodney sighs and exhales. "It's a long story."
"And an amazing one I bet." John can't help smiling. His team is alive and the Genii are gone and life in the Pegasus galaxy is pretty darn good. Next up he'll work on getting the gate fixed and the rest of his people back from the Manarians but first maybe something to eat followed by a quick power nap. "I can't wait to hear all about it." He squeezes Rodney's hand and his lover squeezes back and if that's being obvious, then who the hell cares. "So, your plan worked..."
"Yes and you're still alive." Rodney's voice is weakening and John knows it's a matter of time before Beckett's happy juice kicks in and takes him away. "And you're so... wow...but Sheppard, I'm brave...I shot Kolya before he could shoot you...!" And with those words he passes out.
John looks around quickly. But if anyone just heard the city's top science officer refer to the acting military commander as 'wow' they're being discreet enough to keep it to themselves. Then again, Atlantis is basically vacant, so no harm done.
He sags against the wall and waits with Rodney until Carson and Ford arrive with the gurney and heft him atop it. John wants to get up and follow them to the infirmary but his butt won't move from the floor. Every bone in his body is jarred and aching and John doesn't think he can walk a straight line if he tried.
After nearly four weeks of Genii occupation Atlantis is finally free and he has so much to do and so little time to do it and yet nothing seems more important in the entire galaxy right now than just sitting on the floor leaning against the wall and doing nothing.
"Oh fuck..." John closes his eyes tight and fights back tears of relief, and god, this so isn't like him. It's possible he needs a bit more than just a power nap.
"Major?" Beckett's brogue is soft and if the city weren't so drafty John might even have missed it. "I need you to come with me now."
The doctor helps him to his feet and John doesn't offer a word of protest. He leans against Beckett and groans. He feels like an old man. John tries to concentrate, to put one foot in front of the other, but despite his hard work, his legs give out without warning when they're halfway to the transporter and he nearly sobs in gratitude when the shorter man continues to shoulder the burden and keep him from falling flat on his face.
"Easy does it laddie. You're gonna be all right."
He murmurs, "Thank you..." and leans his weight against the doctor.
John wants to believe Beckett, honest to god he does, but his body has other ideas and after all the good luck of the past few hours his optimism has finally run its course. He stares at his friend and tries to smile but instead grimaces as a wave of pain tightens within his chest. And it's odd, he thinks, to feel so poorly now, when only moments ago he was willing to fight tooth and nail and sacrifice his life if necessary for the lives of everyone he cares about.
The past weeks are unexpectedly hazy. He knows the Genii occupied Atlantis because he has the leftover guilt and bruises to prove it, but still, right now, walking through the darkened corridors of the nearly empty city, barely able to stand upright and feeling like a load of crap in Beckett's arms, everything at the moment is surreal to John and he wonders if he'll ever shake the feelings.
They walk a bit longer and John has no idea where the hell he's going but it doesn't matter because he trusts the doctor to get him there in one piece. Beckett's hand is steady around his waist and his Scottish burr soft and encouraging in John's ear.
His head hurts and he whimpers low in his throat, loud enough that Beckett gives him an odd glance. Everything's strange...nothing seems right, he's edgy and damaged, and Rodney ...he really, really, needs to see Rodney.
"Please..." John hates feeling so unsteady and exposed, but at least he's among friends. He just needs a moment to get his bearings, breathe deeply and let the bad stuff go away for a while and then maybe, hopefully, go numb. His body hurts and he's so damn tired. There's no way in hell John can walk another step. He breaks free from Beckett's hold and turns his face against the cool metal of the passageway wall. The tile is icy cold against his skin but it's exactly what he needs.
"All right Major, just stay here a spell...I'll be right back."
The pungent smell of antiseptic tells John he's near the infirmary and he stands in the hallway for a moment leaning against the wall with his eyes closed, breathing steady, unsure of what the hell he's supposed to do next.
For more than three long weeks he thinks only of Rodney, his team and staying alive long enough to retake the city and now that it's over he doesn't quite know how to respond. John's happy of course, and relieved god knows, but there's also some terrible stuff for him to decipher too and it's going to take a hell of a long time to forget all the torture, death and suffering. He's going to have some tough shit to deal with but he'll save it up for later at some point in time when he's sure his head won't explode.
For now John finds a colder space on the tile, rubs his face back and forth, moans, and waits for Beckett to return.
When the doctor touches his arm he shudders and turns into the touch, and it's really kind of embarrassing for the military commander of Atlantis to be so damn clingy.
"Up you go."
John collapses onto the offered gurney, turns his face to the side and sobs quietly when Beckett squeezes his shoulder.
"There, there son, now you can pass out as much as you like."
Rodney recalls firing the shot that slams Kolya through the gate on a one-way ticket back to Genii, Sheppard calling his name, and then fading to black.
When he wakes up in the infirmary Carson is telling him to stay still, that he's been injured but he's going to be okay and Teyla is standing protectively in the background waiting for the doctor to finish. In the corner of the room he sees Sheppard on another gurney, dead to the world, bandaged and hooked up to numerous IVs.
He looks at Teyla and she takes his hand and smiles and everything is super until Rodney tries to sit up and a wave of pain washes over him so fierce he screams for Carson who then takes a mammoth needle and medicates him into La-La Land
Later he finds out that the bullet hit his shoulder and went clean through and that Kavanagh is alive and not even concussed and being kept in the same damp holding cell that the Genii kept the Major.
The doctor confides that it's crazy finding stuff. It took him three hours to locate clean bandages and he has Ford out looking for flashlights now. The Genii, it seems, are crazy about storing and labeling things and Rodney has a feeling they're going to be searching for everything from canned fruit to paper clips for a very long time. And as for toilet paper...god, he doesn't even dare think about it. Still, life goes on, and Carson isn't a complainer, he's just exhausted and only now starting to really feel the burn.
When he asks about Sheppard the doctor frowns then quickly replaces the look with a familiar smile. He tells Rodney Sheppard is sick, feverish and fighting an infection from the whip cuts on his back that should have been treated over a week ago. He's got one broken rib that's healing nicely and one cracked one that's making Carson crazy, a fractured cheekbone and a number of bruises and abrasions from his treatment at the hands of the Genii.
Carson informs him that after sleeping for twenty hours Sheppard refuses to remain in the infirmary. Since Atlantis is in tatters Beckett doesn't try to stop him. Rodney will be free to leave in the morning too. Until then he's advised to get some sleep, shut off the laptop, and not get into any more trouble.
Oh, yeah, right.
Systems are failing, the lower regions of the city are flooding and oh, yes, they seem to have a bit of a rodent problem. In short, Rodney has a shit load of work to do and if he didn't feel miserable and thanks to Carson, a bit dopey, he'd be up and running and fixing stuff right now.
Of course, when Rodney fires up his laptop he promptly falls asleep. When he wakes up Sheppard is sitting in the chair by his bed all long legs and rumpled clothing. Rodney can't help it. His heart skips a beat.
"I'm here to spring you." Sheppard's smile is bright but doesn't quite reach his eyes.
"Is it morning all ready?" Rodney wants to touch but keeps his hands to himself. Being this close to Sheppard makes him horny no matter the physical state of his battered body. He rubs his shoulder and grinds his teeth. "Ouch."
"Yeah, morning..." Sheppard's voice trails away. "It's finally over."
"You think?" Rodney hates to sound flippant, because really it's just beginning. "I have to get the gate fixed, monitor some of the vital systems, remove the sensor glitch, fix the drainage problem, rotate the sewer controls and then, if there's time, figure out a way to chain Kavanagh's ass to the floor so he can help me without causing any more damage.
Sheppard's smile is genuine now. He pats Rodney's knee gently and helps him up to the edge of the bed.
"Sounds great...is that before or after breakfast."
Rodney considers a moment. They're both disheveled and drained and ailing on so many levels it's almost ridiculous to imagine them doing more than sleeping for the next few weeks, preferably together, and yet the city can't wait, their people need rescuing and the Wraith aren't going to cut them a break for past pain and suffering. He stares into Sheppard's understanding hazel eyes, reaches for his hand and squeezes gently. What a pair of heroes they make.
In the end his stomach decides for him. "After."
John works like an animal for the next week despite Beckett's protests. He helps Rodney when he's able, clears debris from tsunami clogged passageways, flies the jumper to the mainland to pick up Sora and the two young Athosians, sets Ford up to guard Kavanagh who swears on his grandmother's grave that he's finished being a traitor and lovingly initiates more Ancient technology than he's touched since his arrival in the city.
"Major Sheppard..." Teyla's voice sounds uncertain and John knows she's having a rough time of things. He's not sure if she and Sora have made up at all but he's seen them eating together in the lunchroom and doing some of the menial labor around the city. Besides, if punches were thrown, Ford would have told him.
"You okay Teyla?"
"It is I that should be asking you that question." She frowns. "Dr. Beckett feels that you are not keeping hydrated."
"He's right." John takes the offered bottle of water and downs it in three gulps. "Thanks."
"Both you and Dr. McKay are working too hard."
"Everyone's working hard Teyla, yourself included." John considers asking her about Sora but the fabrication he and Rodney wove to the Genii about Teyla is still a bit of a sore spot between them and he'd rather not open old wounds when he still has a zillion other items on his plate. As it stands, Teyla doesn't give him much of a chance.
"Sora too is helping."
"Ah, about that Teyla, you do realize that what Rodney and I did, the things we said to Sora, the lies, were all part of the plan. We needed to get to the mainland and she wouldn't go and get you if she thought you were innocent or contrite."
"You used her love for her father against her."
"Well, when you put it like that..." John rubs his temple and waits.
"In your position I would probably have done the same thing."
John bites his bottom lip. Somehow he doesn't think so. "I'm so sorry."
Teyla hands him another bottled water and smiles. "Drink this."
And just like that things are good between them. Teyla watches him gulp down the bottle and leaves with a nod of her head.
John wonders where Rodney's working today. They've hardly had a private moment together that wasn't all rushed and jittery or include scientific mumbo jumbo or plans on rebuilding.
Rodney's pissed at the slow progress they're making but without the body of scientists to help and the marines to do the grunt work, they're doing the best they can under nearly impossible circumstances.
The Stargate isn't repaired yet but surprise, surprise, when they dial out and contact the Manarian gate, Stackhouse answers the call and his brief but informative message is followed quickly by a pep talk from Elizabeth Weir.
It seems that a contingent of grounded Marines is even worse at waiting around than John and they figure out pretty quickly that the Manarians screwed them over to help the Genii storm the city. It takes a little over an hour to show the fuckers who are really in charge, and when they attempt to dial the gate back to Atlantis without results they fear the worst but choose to remain optimistic. Of course three and a half weeks later when Dr. Weir pops through the Manarian gate accompanied by an apologetic Ladon Radim they realize that things are going to turn out just fine. Everyone has loads of questions but John's exhausted and defers all answers to a later briefing when he can get his thoughts in perspective.
After that everyone feels a lot better and later that evening in the lab Rodney pulls him close and kisses him softly. Three kisses later John knows they're going to be okay too.
"Have you seen the Major?"
Rodney shakes his head and winces and thinks about telling Ford the truth. That Sheppard is right now waiting in Rodney's quarters with half a bottle of Scotch and is probably, hopefully, god willingly naked. He imagines the Lieutenant's expression and keeps his mouth firm. "Nope...haven't seen him."
"You're turning in for the night Doc?"
"Yes, I've fixed half the city today and I think I'll save the other half for tomorrow."
Ford's answering smirk makes him feel good and he wonders just how much the young marine understands about the true nature of Rodney's relationship with his commanding officer.
"Yes, well, goodnight." Rodney tries not to rush down the hallway but it's hard to stay calm when he knows Sheppard's waiting.
He opens the door to his room and enters quietly. The lights are off and for a moment he's disappointed. But then Rodney sees a familiar slender outline under his sheets and a shock of dark hair on his pillows. Sheppard is sleeping, curled up on the bed like a small but long legged child.
"John..." he whispers and then simply looks.
At the mention of his name Sheppard twists slightly, curving his spine in a way unnatural to normal humans, but doesn't wake up. He grips the edge of the sheet and arches upward, in a move both innocent and erotic, depending upon Rodney's mood, and murmurs softly under his breath.
Rodney moves closer to try and understand and suddenly the moisture on Sheppard's lips, perfect and full, and waiting to be kissed transfixes him. But still he waits. His lover's been through a heck of a lot in the past month and as silly as it may sound Rodney doesn't want to scare him.
He flinches when the sheets drop below Sheppard's chest and the myriad of bruises become visible, exposed and vibrant against the moonlit night.
"Damn..." Rodney wishes he could erase every pain Kolya inflicted upon Sheppard and make him whole and better and pure but sadly that just isn't going to happen. Still, what's done is done, and they're both alive. Maybe if he keeps telling himself that he'll feel better in the morning.
"Is that you?"
Sheppard's sleepy voice makes Rodney smile and his grin widens when John stretches his long body from headboard to bottom and the sheets flop open and lay bare one very enticing curve of pelvic bone.
Rodney touches it greedily, possessively, and Sheppard responds with a sharp inhalation and a breathy moan.
"Rodney..." Sheppard's sleep filled eyes dance. "Come to bed."
John wakes up a little after midnight and finds Rodney wrapped in a blanket staring out the window. He gets up quietly and stands behind his lover laying his chin on Rodney's shoulder with a sigh.
"You know your chin is pointy right? I have enough injuries to deal with Sheppard."
John doesn't answer, waits, and soon after Rodney turns around and kisses the side of his throat. "I couldn't sleep."
John manages, "I was kind of hoping you'd say that," and wraps his arms tight around Rodney's waist.
Rodney touches his face and John melts. Sturdy fingers trace fine lines across his cheekbone, nose and lips, casually spinning down his throat, skimming the edges of his ear and finally finding purchase on his collarbone. He sighs into the caress feeling warm and safe and then shivers, suddenly icy, when Rodney pulls away.
"You are so beautiful..." Rodney leads him to the bed and lays John out like a banquet.
"Rodney..." John wants to protest because 'beautiful' is not really a man word but really what's the point? It's been nine days since the Genii left the city, nine days of frantic repairs and hurried kisses, and now finally, when there's nothing more they can do for Atlantis except work, wait and see, John is determined to feel the full stretch of his lover seated deep inside his body. It's been too long dammit...he wants Rodney now.
"Please..." John tries to be calm, really he does, and he hates sounding so needy, but Rodney makes him feel all sorts of strange things, and right now, naked and yearning with his cock angling up like a signpost, he feels more vulnerable than he's ever felt before in his whole entire life.
"I never thought I'd see you again...I mean, I knew my plan would work, at least I hoped, but I didn't know if Kolya would let you go..." Rodney closes his eyes and when he opens them John stirs at the intensity of his expression. "Because I know I would have wanted to keep you..."
Rodney talks a lot during sex and for some wacky reason John finds it comforting. It's just as sexy to listen to Rodney's plans for his body, as it is to hear him babble randomly about system failures and waterlogged components while he turns John's limbs to mush.
"I'm here Rodney...and so are you." John leans up and captures the worried lips in a kiss, teasing his lover's crooked mouth open and tasting faints hints of coffee on his tongue. It's oddly reassuring. All the while Rodney hasn't stopped touching him, moving his body, squeezing the cheeks of his ass, stroking along his inner thigh.
He sighs and drops his legs open, inviting Rodney to take whatever he wants, to use him and enjoy him and fuck him straight into paradise.
"I want you...god John...I really, really want you." Rodney sounds uncertain and the fact that John finds that detail quite endearing probably means he's fucked. "You're so...god..."
Rodney's fingers are trembling now, excited and gaining strength fast. John sighs and grabs his hand, kissing the palm softly until Rodney whimpers. And oh god, it's such a relief to see such raw passion, and realize he's not the only one in this relationship with doubts. John's not sure how far they can take this but he's willing to give it a try. Rodney makes him happy and he figures after the past near month of Genii hell they both deserve a little bit of pleasure in their lives.
He moans and stretches, relieved for a second when fewer things hurt today than they did the night before.
"Get over here..." he murmurs and reaches for his lover's hand.
"Yes..." Rodney's gaze is full of desire and John kisses him once more before pulling him down to the mattress with a thud.
The beds on Atlantis are small, but what the heck, since they're all alone with just Ford, Teyla and Beckett for company, it isn't much of a hassle to tie a couple of beds together and make a Pegasus full-size mattress from two twin components.
They sleep together every night, and it doesn't matter that John hasn't really been up to much more than snuggling, since for his part Rodney's pretty beat too and is content to just lie there and stare at him.
For a week they kiss and cuddle and nibble and touch. It's a sweet arrangement, and makes John feel like he's in high school, but tonight he's geared up for more and he hopes Rodney's just as eager as he is to get their relationship moving full throttle.
"You have me Rodney. Now just get your damn clothes off." John chides him gently and Rodney takes no offence. He smiles wearily and sits up but when he doesn't unzip John immediately starts to worry. "Rodney?"
"You don't blame me and I hate myself and you don't blame me at all for what I've done, for what could have happened." He's fidgeting, never a very good sign, and John waits patiently. "I could have gotten you killed and you know that and how can you want to be with me?"
"Christ..." John swallows down a groan. This talk's been coming for a long time and there's really no way to avoid it in the scheme of things, not if they want their relationship to stand a chance. It's no secret Rodney's been trying to process a big helping of guilt, mostly where John's concerned, and it might be better now to get it out in the open. "It's okay Rodney..."
But things certainly aren't okay, not really, and with every fiber of his being he hopes that Rodney can filter stuff soon so they can both get on with their lives. Of course, since John's just added Collins and sixty other Genii to his long list of demons that already includes Afghanistan he's got issues of his own to work through.
He takes a deep breath and begins. "Okay, look, so it's not okay. I know that. You're hurting and I'm hurting and I suck at this type of stuff tremendously. But for you I'll talk about it if you need me too."
Rodney sighs and rubs a hand over his tired eyes. "Right now you're what I need."
And sure it sounds like an absurd line from a romance novel, but what the fuck, they've both earned it.
"Okay..." John offers, and waits.
Rodney starts talking, frantic and resigned, with his hands waving in all directions. It's wild and nearly unintelligible and John has to touch his arm to slow him down, to calm him and give his words time to process. He talks about Kolya and the plan and his fears for John's safety. He describes his anger over Kavanagh and his guilt at making Teyla into a villain in Sora's eyes.
And John understands his pain and his confusion and he tells Rodney as much but he's not sure if the scientist is listening to him. Rodney's depleted and wary, unsure of how John feels and after everything they've gone through and said to each other it's really just too fucking much. John holds Rodney's hands carefully and says, "I care for you a lot and I...I love you maybe...even."
There, it's out. John says it and he's still breathing. He didn't pass out or drop dead and the world sure as hell didn't end with his confession. He notices Rodney staring again and feels his cheeks burn.
"You love me?" Rodney's deep blue eyes are full of self-doubt at John's responding nod. "When did that happen?"
John beams. "Somewhere between running for our lives, getting shot at, nearly eaten and invaded."
Life sure is strange sometimes...thank god for that.
"Yeah...I mean, of course you love me. I'm a hero. I saved the city."
"Yes, you did."
"And I saved your ass too."
"I'm at your mercy."
"And I'm going to fix the gate...soon."
"I have complete trust in all your abilities."
Rodney shakes his head at John's innuendo and suddenly it feels good again, like before the Genii gated into their city. "Well, I am a genius after all."
"Yes, you sure are."
John's cock twitches in anticipation and his belly does a summersault. When Rodney starts to plant wet sloppy kisses all across his stomach John can't hold back an embarrassing, pleading, desperate moan.
"And..." Rodney repeats looking up and gazing hard into his eyes. "I happen to love you too."
Under any other circumstances John might be embarrassed. He's never been an 'I love you' type of guy. Bur Rodney makes him crazy and hot and out of control and John needs to feel that way, god he needs it very, very badly. His voice sounds rough when he responds "good" and Rodney's bright responding smile is incentive enough to grab him by the hair and kiss him breathless.
And sure maybe his lover is a shade too arrogant but Rodney's also brilliant beyond all comprehension, even though on bad days he's somewhat of a challenge to be around. He's insulting and genuine and he doesn't suffer fools gladly. His colleagues cringe in fear when they make mistakes but John believes they must secretly adore him because he can't fully comprehend otherwise. And the thing is, despite all his rather eclectic personality traits, even though everyone on base might probably say John could do better if of course they knew he was gay and doing McKay, he doesn't want anyone else. He wants to keep Rodney because he loves him.
"You have so many bruises..." One taste of his shoulder blade, another gentle peck on his cheekbone, the smooth glide of tongue ignites his flesh and John gasps when Rodney circles his nipple and maybe he pleads for more but Rodney won't be bossed around. He's determined now and suddenly sure in this as he is in all things.
"Whoa, that one's ugly..."
Of course Rodney's idea of pillow talk can probably use some work, but he's not fibbing. John's body is a Picasso of marks and discolorations and his ribs are still taped up tight enough to restrict his oxygen. His hair is long and floppy, definitely not regulation, and his lips are torn and sore from Kolya's beatings but still Rodney calls him beautiful and dammit this time John's going to take him at his word.
He touches Rodney's cock, outlines the deep veins and ridges, and it feels amazing to stroke along the heated length and listen to Rodney groan. John's done this to Rodney, made him this hard, wanting, fanatical with need and desire, for him, for John dammit and that's so spectacular, so fucking out of this world amazing that for a moment he's stunned and scared and it's ridiculous, but god, he's holding Rodney's cock.
"Are you still with me?" Rodney touches his face gently. "Look at me John."
And John looks because it's Rodney and he's impossible to ignore under any circumstances. And what he sees in Rodney's clear blue eyes rivets him and shatters him all at the same time. Rodney loves him, is in love with him, and fuck he's so transparent John wonders how the hell everyone in the city doesn't notice it every god damn day.
Rodney tilts his mouth up, nuzzles under his neck, along his jaw, and the curve of his collarbone, touching as much of John's body as he can in the process. It's wild and sweet and perfect in ways John could never imagine and he captures Rodney's face in response, smoothes his fingers in the baby fine curls at the back of his neck and simply kisses him.
The kiss is rough, with both of them giving and taking. And since it's impossible to control the spin John just goes with the flow allowing Rodney to handle him, position him, and enjoy him as much as humanly possible.
He squeezes Rodney's cock, lines it up with his own and wraps his fingers around the slick, firm shafts, joining them together. They grind and grope and kiss and stroke, until John is gasping for breath and both of them are sweaty and happy and good. John wonders idly if Beckett would approve. After all, this is almost as far away from 'no strenuous activity' as he can get.
Somehow, during all the kissing, Rodney manages to part John's legs and press two fingers deep inside him. John whines incoherently and thanks god, because, oh yeah, fingers, in his ass and that's just...whoa. He pushes against the fingers and then starts to moan like a baby when Rodney pats his belly, churns his knuckles, and then proves what a complete and utter genius he is by adding one more.
The strokes are glorious, soft and tender with Rodney painting murals within him. John closes his eyes and just allows himself to feel the balanced glide, moving his body in time to the strokes, wanton and careless against the sweat soaked sheets. Just when he thinks he's timed things right, when he knows where Rodney's going, his lover ups the pace and the steady contact changes, becomes forceful then coarse until John starts to shudder so hard he thinks he just might explode.
Rodney sighs into his mouth and pulls their bodies close together and John knows they're both completely lost when Rodney hugs him tenderly and takes a deep breath before laying his hard cock between John's legs and looking into his eyes for permission.
He manages to exhale, "Please" before Rodney's kissing him once more and grinding down hard enough to make his nerves flutter.
"I want you so bad John...want you..."
John thrusts up and Rodney returns the push, and he can't stop shaking and shivering, hoping Rodney gets with the program soon and fills him because surely all this waiting and playing and build-up is going to end John's life without even so much as an orgasm to send him on his way. He wraps his legs around Rodney's waist, holds on tight and explores the moist warmth building up between their thighs all the while biting his lip and doing his best to remain patient while Rodney takes the time to prepare him.
It's an absurd position to find himself in and even odder considering the person he's with but if the next few minutes of his life are any indication, John's got a feeling that even though their relationship will probably make his life crazy in the end it's definitely going to be worth it.
Because when Rodney finally stops wasting time and just takes him, spreading John open like a buffet and tasting him inside and out, something in his mind clicks and his heart follows willingly.
John is lucky, damn in your face lucky to have found Rodney at a time in his life when so many memories are dragging him down and he's also lucky to be alive right now to enjoy him.
He knows this revelation is significant but he pushes it aside for later because right now the Genii are out of their city, his teammates are safe, Rodney loves him and John is finally, finally after weeks of frustrating hell, having sex in a double bed, safe and secure for the moment on a star filled night in Atlantis.
Everything else in the universe can wait until morning.