Fic: Holding the Line (John/Rodney) Pt 2/4
Author: Lady Anne
Genre: H/C, Angst, Adventure
Pairing (if any): John/Rodney
Rating: PG-13, language and violence, a little sexuality
Warnings: language and violence, a little sexuality
Words: This part is 3800, but the whole story is just a little over 10,000
Summary: This is an AU tag for the Long Goodbye. Thalen just doesn't want to let go.
A/N: This is one of my 50 fic, the prompt was 'hate.'
There is dialogue from the episode included in here, I think you'll figure it out. Much thanks to chocolatephysicist, my stellar beta. My story is better because of her eye. Any mistakes remaining are my own.
The silence in the control room pressed in upon Rodney until he was afraid he was going to choke, the silence stealing all the air from the room. He knew it was illogical, it couldn’t really happen. But he’d learned since coming to Pegasus that some things didn’t adhere to the strict rules of logic that he’d once lived his life by. Things refused to slot in the neat little boxes that he had for them.
Rodney McKay had never meant to let the people of Atlantis become his friends, become people who he’d actually care what happened to them. But they had, without Rodney making a conscious decision to let them in. He just woke up one day to realize that: Carson Beckett was his friend. Radek Zelenka really did have some small level of intelligence (although Rodney didn’t tell him that, there was no use in Radek getting an over-inflated ego). Elizabeth Weir was someone he cared about. While Teyla did scare him sometimes with her sticks, he did have a regard for her that went beyond professional courtesy. Ronon may be big and he wasn’t overly intelligent in some things, yet he had a genius that Rodney could never touch. And, the really big one, that John Sheppard was someone he couldn’t live without.
He worked as fast as he could, endeavoring to override the systems that Phebus had shanghaied using
Rodney’s stomach rolled when Caldwell told Teyla that she had to make the decision of what to do when Phebus demanded they kill John or she would vent Halon gas into the expedition’s living quarters. She shouldn’t have to make that decision, no one should. Kill Sheppard or kill three quarters of the expedition? Privately Rodney thought that Caldwell was a little cowardly leaving it to Teyla to decide. But he also knew that he wouldn’t have been able to order her to kill Sheppard, even when he knew it was the right thing to do. He supposed he could cut Caldwell a little slack in this one instance.
In the control room they waited to find out what she would do. There was silence as they all listened for the report of the weapon that would tell them what decision she had made.
No one was as surprised as Rodney when he actually managed to disable the systems in time. Sheppard was still alive, Elizabeth was still alive.
Caldwell turned to him. “Get down to the lab and check out those pods,” he barked. “See if you can find anything about this imprinting that’ll help us get rid of our guests as soon as possible.”
“I’m going. I’m going. You’d think there was no else with a brain here who could do this,” Rodney muttered as hurried away. Of course he didn’t say that there was no one else he would trust to do the work. The city depended on him to keep it and its inhabitants safe, and he wouldn’t trust anyone else to keep John Sheppard safe.
Thalen really didn’t need to speak to John. John could read his every thought. The thing was, Thalen liked talking to John, telling him his plans, what he was going to do now that Phebus was dead and Thalen had a new body.
“You see, John,” Thalen said as they ran through the corridors. “I can call you John, can’t I?”
John didn’t bother answering, it would do no good.
“I don’t intend to give your body back. There are some drugs in my pod that will get rid of you forever and then this will be my body.”
John knew that already. He’d seen it much earlier.
“Don’t get too used to it, Thalen,” John snarled at him. “My friends will stop you.”
Thalen smirked. It was John’s smirk, but John could tell that Thalen liked it, was going to make it his own. “They’ll have to kill me to stop me. Oh, but wait, that means they’ll have to kill you, too. I think the only one left alive with balls enough to do that is lying back there on the floor.”
Teyla. They’d left her unconscious. John wasn’t really sure if she was alive or dead. He hoped she was alive. He refused to think about Elizabeth. If he did, he was afraid that he’d lose it completely and he needed to be as in control as he could be in case there came time to wrest his body back from Thalen and stop him. He had to be ready.
“You didn’t kill, Teyla,” John warned Thalen grimly, “she’ll come after you and she *will* kick your ass.”
“Oh, I’d like to see her try.” John felt the thrum of desire that shot through Thalen. It sickened John.
“You stay away from her,” he snarled.
The alien in his head only laughed. “After I’ve gotten rid of you maybe I’ll take Teyla with me when I leave.”
John saw that, too. Thalen knew that there was no way he could stay on Atlantis. He was planning on stealing a jumper and escaping into the Pegasus Galaxy. With John’s knowledge of the Galaxy and his gene to work Ancient tech, Thalen thought he could make a good life for himself.
“You won’t get off the base,” John told Thalen, even as he knew it wasn’t true. The alien soldier knew all the security codes, he knew all their systems and protocols.
“Oh, I think I will,” Thalen said with a self-satisfied smirk.
While Thalen was cautious, the halls they passed through were empty. Only essential personnel were out, everyone was in their quarters waiting for an all clear before they emerged. Did they know how close they had come to death? John wondered.
He wished there were a few more people out. He needed someone to bring Thalen down. He kept expecting Lorne to appear around every corner. The man was good and John thought he could depend on Lorne to do what was necessary to defend Atlantis. He never thought that he would be Atlantis’s worst enemy. But they passed through the halls unchallenged. The lab that was Thalen’s destination was just ahead.
“Don’t underestimate Caldwell,” John told Thalen, trying to think of any way to slow the man down, to stop him. “And Rodney will change the codes. He knows I’m compromised. You’re not going to get out of here, Thalen. Just give up.” John felt a sudden surge of hope. Of course Rodney would save the day, he always did. He already had once that day, he’d do it again.
Thalen chuckled that low evil laugh again that didn’t sound like John Sheppard at all. “Or maybe I’ll take the good Dr. McKay with me when I go.”
John realized he’d just given away a huge piece of tactical information to the alien. His feelings for Rodney were his alone and there was no way that Thalen was going to use them.
“Oh, but I tend to disagree,” Thalen said as the door to the lab opened to reveal Rodney already there, standing at one of the pods intent on whatever it was he was doing. He looked up as John/Thalen entered.
“Sheppard?” Rodney asked, licking his lips nervously.
“Guess again,” Thalen murmured as he let the door shut behind him, mentally locking it to the outside world.
Lorne’s team finally made it to the location where Teyla was holding Sheppard. What they found made two of the marines throw up in the corner.
Lorne tapped his comm., his eyes fixed on the blood that covered the floor around Elizabeth Weir’s body.
“This is Lorne,” he said, working hard to control the heaving contents of his own stomach.
“This is Caldwell, Major, report,” he heard Caldwell’s voice, coolly distant. Lorne envied him the fact that the colonel didn’t see what he was seeing.
“I’ve made it to Teyla’s position, Sir,” Lorne said, trying to maintain a crisp tone and finding it difficult. It wasn’t that he’d never seen a gruesome scene before. He had. But this one… Elizabeth had been shot between the eyes and left in her own blood. She was the expedition’s leader. It had been her passion that had gotten them all to Atlantis. Now she was dead, victim of an alien war that should have ended no one knew how many hundreds or even thousands of years before. It was stupid and senseless. It shouldn’t have happened.
Lorne made himself look away, to Teyla where she lay beside Elizabeth. Teyla was still alive, Lorne could see her breathing. But she was soaked with Elizabeth’s blood.
“What’s the situation?” Caldwell’s voice jerked Lorne out of his fugue. He struggled to bring himself back to the proper military state of mind. Compartmentalize it all. They still had work to do. He could go to his quarters later and freak out all he needed to. Once they’d recovered the colonel and made sure he was back in his right mind.
“Dr. Weir…” Lorne swallowed, there was just no easy way to say it, “she’s dead, sir.”
There was silence on the comm. Lorne didn’t say anything, he just waited for
“There’s no sign of him, sir.” Lorne sucked in a breath as he realized what was missing, “I think he has Teyla’s P-90, sir.”
“Oh, hell,” Caldwell said, succinctly.
“Yeah, that about sums it up, Colonel.”
“Alright. Major, you find Sheppard. I’ve got the techs up here trying to track him, but he must have entered a more populated area of the city because there’s no one showing up by themselves anymore.”
“Or, this alien guy could have figured out how to use the colonel’s gene, sir.” Lorne didn’t want to give away Sheppard’s secrets to Caldwell, but it didn’t seem the time to withhold tactical information.
Lorne cleared his throat, “The colonel has sometimes been able to get the city to keep him off the life signs detectors.”
“And you didn’t tell me this before because..?”
Lorne was really glad Caldwell was far away in the control room.
“I didn’t think of it, sir. The colonel was showing up and we were able to track him. But if this alien soldier has completed his mission and wants to disappear from the radar…” Lorne trailed off awkwardly knowing he was in trouble – with
“Is there anything else that you want to tell me, Major?” Caldwell’s voice was like ice, promising painful retribution if Lorne ever withheld information again. It didn’t matter that he was under someone else’s command.
“No, sir,” Lorne responded, suppressing the urge to salute.
“Alright, Major, you find Sheppard and you take him to the infirmary before anyone else dies today. You got that?”
“Yes, sir,” Lorne said.
Lorne left one of his men to wait with Teyla for the medical team.
There wasn’t anything they could do for Elizabeth Weir.
Lorne took the rest of his team to hunt his commanding officer. It occurred to him that Sheppard had become the military commander of Atlantis by shooting his predecessor. Lorne shoved the thought aside. He didn’t want to wish bad luck on the colonel. And he definitely didn’t want Sheppard’s job. He genuinely liked his commander, and he did not want the job. He saw what it did to Sheppard, and Lorne didn’t know if he was strong enough to do what Sheppard did.
The way the man smiled at him, Rodney knew that it wasn’t Sheppard in charge. It was a cold smile, utterly devoid of feeling. Sheppard kept his feeling under wraps but they were there if you knew were to look – in the way he clutched his weapon too tightly when he was angry, in the tilt of his head when pissed, the way he bounced on his heels when he was amused, in the light in his eye when was happy. The way the man who entered the lab moved, it was so not-John.
If it had disturbed Rodney to see Weir kiss Sheppard, it disturbed him even more to have this Not-John stalk him across the lab.
“Hey, McKay,” the man said as he took a step into Rodney’s personal space where he worked next to the pod.
Rodney felt terror try to take control, but he couldn’t give into it. John was depending on him to figure out a way to get rid of Thalen. He took a shuddery breath. “You’re not Sheppard,” he declared flatly.
“No, no I’m not,” the alien agreed. “But I think you and I can get along just as well.” He leaned in to whisper in Rodney’s ear, his warm breath tickling Rodney’s hair, “Maybe better.”
Rodney moved away as fast as his feet would carry him, trying to put the pod ship thing between them. “Oh, that wouldn’t be hard. If you know what John knows, then you know that we fight. A lot.” Rodney edged toward the door on the far side of the room never taking his eyes from the alien in Sheppard’s body.
“Come now, Dr. McKay, even I can see that it’s not so much fighting as flirting.”
“I…” it was on the tip of his tongue to deny whatever the alien said, except that wasn’t what Rodney had expected. He had wondered from time to time if whatever it was that he and the colonel were doing was flirting, if there could ever possibly be something between them besides friendship. To have it used against him by the alien was disconcerting.
The other man was watching intently, probably trying to judge the effectiveness of his volley.
Rodney felt his lips thin and he straightened defiantly. He was being played. The alien soldier had some ultimate purpose with him and Thalen thought he could manipulate Rodney into doing what he wanted.
Well Thalen was going to find out that Rodney had been played by masters of the art over the years and no way was he going to fall for whatever this alien was serving. Still, Rodney knew he had to be careful. It was Sheppard’s body and Sheppard was still inside it, somewhere. He hoped. Rodney was going to keep operating under the assumption that Sheppard was still in his body somewhere and he needed to be saved. Sheppard had just better appreciate whatever he had to do to save him and his ridiculous hair.
“Whatever Sheppard and I are doing, it’s none of your business.” Rodney kept edging toward the door one careful step at a time.
Thalen smiled at him. Rodney imagined it was how a cat would smile at the mouse just before it pounced. Thalen closed the distance between them, crowding Rodney up against the door. Rodney thought open at it, but the damn thing stayed stubbornly shut. Rodney had heard the earlier exchange between Lorne and Caldwell. It answered the question of whether Thalen knew about Sheppard’s gene or how to use it. That would be yes and yes.
Rodney was very aware of the heat of Sheppard’s body as it pressed him against the door. He could feel the long, lean lines, the P-90 was caught between them and Rodney was barely aware of it gouging into stomach. Not when there were hands stroking down his arms and Thalen was rocking his hips against Rodney. For just a second Rodney’s brain went offline as he tried to process what was happening. He’d had dreams very like the moment he was currently experiencing. Then his brain came back online and insisted that it was wrong, wrong, wrong. In his dreams it was Sheppard in his right mind, not hijacked by some crazed alien psycho.
“Oh, I think it’s very much my business, Dr. McKay,” Thalen was so close, all Rodney had to do was lean forward a fraction and their mouths would be pressed together. “You see, I intend to keep this body.”
“Over my dead body,” the words were out before Rodney could stop them.
“Oh, that may well be, Doctor, but I’d prefer to have your help. You always help the colonel so much.” Thalen put his hands on Rodney’s shoulders. His fingers held tight, digging into the muscles there.
“That’s because *he’s* my friend,” Rodney ground out the words trying to ignore the body pressed against him. The body that he’d wanted for so long now.
“Oh, I could be your friend, too.” Thalen slid a hand up to hold Rodney’s neck and pressed his mouth to Rodney’s.
It was so damned unfair. It was everything Rodney ever wanted. Sheppard and his body, free to take and do and experience. Sheppard’s body was pressed against his, hard in all the right places. Sheppard’s mouth was pressed against his, Rodney could feel the tongue that licked against his lips, demanding entrance. Rodney wanted. He wanted to kiss back, he wanted to lick his way down John’s body and feel what it was like to have John inside him. But he couldn’t, because it wasn’t just Sheppard’s body that Rodney wanted. It was Sheppard that he wanted. And this was wrong.
Rodney stood stoically under Thalen’s assault, refusing to respond. He turned his head as much as he could from Thalen’s persistent mouth.
“It’s not Sheppard, it’s not Sheppard, it’s not Sheppard,” he kept chanting to himself.
And it wasn’t Sheppard, no matter how much his body thought it was. And if Sheppard *was* in there somewhere, he wouldn’t appreciate what Thalen was doing to him, how Thalen was using his body.
Thalen pulled away at last when Rodney refused to give in. “Come now, Dr. McKay,” he said softly, his hand roving and pinching, “Rodney, don’t be like this.”
Rodney caught the offending hand, holding it with all his strength, “Don’t call me Rodney, only my friends call me Rodney and You. Aren’t. My. Friend.”
There was a moment that felt like forever as Rodney thought Thalen was going to force the issue. Rodney prepared to defend his honor and Sheppard’s, but finally the other man stepped back with a malicious smile.
Thalen let his hand fall away and took a step back slowly, almost regretfully, “Well, it was worth a try at least. Sheppard didn’t think you’d go for it.”
“You can talk to him?” Rodney didn’t know whether to believe the alien or not. Phebus had lied to them about Thalen being her husband. Rodney was beginning to believe that they’d been lied to about a lot of other things.
Thalen leaned almost casually against the little craft that he’d been sleeping in so many countless years. “Oh, the colonel and I talk about a lot of things, Dr. McKay. What he likes, what he dislikes. You’d find it very interesting actually.”
There was something beneath the casual veneer Thalen was trying to project. Rodney just let him talk, hoping it would yield a clue of how to get rid of him.
“Oh, yeah?” Rodney challenged. He took a step away and didn’t miss the movement of the P-90 as it tracked him.
“The colonel was somewhat disgusted by my recent actions, actually.” Thalen licked his lips lewdly.
Rodney knew he couldn’t believe anything the other man said. Yet it still hurt because it was very much the way he was afraid the colonel would feel if Rodney ever confessed his feelings. It was why he’d kept silent. He just wasn’t sure enough to speak.
Thalen motioned with the weapon for Rodney to move away from the door. Thalen turned with him as Rodney moved where he indicated. “Sure, he knows you’re smart, but he thought you might work better if you actually thought the two of you were friends. He actually thinks you’re a pain in the ass.”
Rodney fought against the sick twisting of his gut. Not John. Not John. He tried to deny what he was hearing, but it had the ring of truth. Why would anyone keep him around for long? He was petty and arrogant and bad with people. He knew this about himself. Why would someone like John Sheppard be friends with him?
Thalen was punching something into the pod’s control panel as he spoke, “They all think you’re a pain in the ass. They talk about you when you’re not there.”
Rodney remembered all the times he’d walked into the mess hall to hear his team laughing and they would abruptly stop as he approached. He thought he was going to throw up.
A piece of the ship’s shielding slid aside to reveal two syringes.
“But I recognize your genius, Dr. McKay and I’m asking you to come with me. We could have fun.” Thalen’s eyes promised all sorts of fun with Sheppard’s body.
“Like I’d help you. You killed Elizabeth,” Rodney spat out uncertainly. “Besides you still have Sheppard inside of you. He’ll fight you every step of the way.”
“Ah, but there are ways around that.” Thalen picked up one of the syringes. It was filled with a thick red substance. “This one gets rid of me forever. And this one,” he put down the syringe with the red stuff in it and picked up the other one. The liquid inside it was almost clear with a cloudy substance floating through it. “This one dissipates the host consciousness forever and allows me to have total ownership of this body.”
Rodney hit the comm button on the wall beside him, “Lorne, now,” he shouted.
The door on the opposite of the room opened and Lorne was standing there, wraith stunner aimed in Sheppard’s and McKay’s general direction. With a snarl of rage, Thalen started to plunge the syringe into his arm, but Rodney was faster. He threw himself against Thalen, knocking away the hand that held the plunger. It flew away, making a lazy arc in the air before it hit the ground. The syringe broke, the liquid puddling in little drops and pools on the floor.
Rodney felt Thalen’s hands around his neck, Sheppard’s handsome face twisted in a mask of rage as he heard the discharge of Lorne’s weapon. He felt it hit him and all Rodney could think was, “Oh, thank god,” as the darkness took him.