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 1500
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 next day, Rodney found Sheppard standing on the balcony watching the Daedalus as it lifted off from the East Pier.
“Hey,” he called out, not wanting to startle the other man. It was good to see Sheppard up again. He still looked grim, but he was up and that was something. “So, you’re staying?”
Sheppard turned and smirked back at him, “You really are a genius.”
“Oh, now that’s gratitude for you,” he shot back, “I express concern for you and you abuse me?”
An eyebrow lifted, “Concern? Save me from your concern, McKay.”
Things felt right between them again. The things Thalen had said had damaged their relationship for a day or two. Rodney knew they weren’t so, and had told Sheppard that, but it had stung even as he’d tried to deny it. Now they fell back into the easy rhythm of their friendship.
The colonel turned back to the railing, looking out over the water. Rodney joined him and they stood, shoulder to shoulder, watching as the Daedalus became a far-away speck and then was gone.
“Ronon’s going to be released in a few days,” Sheppard remarked, not looking at Rodney.
“I went to see him, he’s charming the nurses, they might have to pry him out of the infirmary.”
Sheppard sighed and leaned on the railing. “It’s all so messed up, Rodney.”
“Colonel?” Rodney really wasn’t a good people person, but he was willing to give it a try, for John Sheppard.
“How can I stay, knowing what happened?”
Rodney huffed, “You are so messed up. How can you think of going? Nobody makes this place work like you do. Atlantis needs you. I need you.” The words were out before Rodney could stop them. “I mean… to touch things and make them light up…” Rodney tried to salvage the moment, take it back, but John stopped him.
“I know what you meant, Rodney,” he said softly. He slid his hand over on the rail until it was next to Rodney’s. He hooked his pinkie over Rodney’s. “And I need you, too… You know, to touch things and make them light up.”
Rodney was speechless. His mouth opened but no words came out.
Sheppard just smirked at him. “I’ve learned… you can’t take anything for granted. I never told Elizabeth how much I cared for her and how much it meant to me that she took a chance on me when everyone else had pretty much written me off and I regret that. I don’t want to have any regrets, Rodney.”
“No regrets?” Rodney just parroted. He thought he knew what Sheppard was saying, but he just wasn’t sure.
“Yeah, I can’t change what happened, but I can stay and try to keep Elizabeth’s city safe. I would regret it if something happened to you and I wasn’t here to prevent it.” John bumped Rodney’s shoulder with his.
“You’d regret it?” Rodney huffed. John’s hand moved a little more to rest on top of Rodney’s. His brain short-circuited long enough for him to forget what he’d been upset about. “I’m glad to know you have your priorities in the right place.”
“Yeah,” John said softly. They stood in silence for a while just watching the sun dance on the water, John’s hand on Rodney’s.
“So, not leaving?” Rodney said.
“Not leaving,” John affirmed. “You wanna come over to my place tonight? We can watch dvds. I can touch stuff, see what I can light up?”
“I… uhm… sure.” Rodney refused to make any assumptions about what might happen, but he could hope. Rodney turned his hand so that they were palm to palm. John’s fingers curled around his and squeezed. “Alright… I’ve gotta go… do stuff, if I’m going to be done anytime soon.” Sheppard let go, it felt like reluctantly. “I’ll see you tonight then.”
“You can count on it,” Sheppard said softly. He turned back to watch the waves as Rodney hurried back to his lab.
John Sheppard had known enough love in his life that he knew what it was supposed to feel like.
His first memories were of his mother tucking him in, whispering “I love you, John,” as she pulled the covers over him. If he closed his eyes, he could still feel her lips as she brushed his forehead in a goodnight kiss. He had felt so warm and loved then. But, all too soon, his mother had died and he was left with a father who didn’t know what to do with a grieving 10-year-old son who reminded him too much of his beloved wife.
They moved a lot after that, as if his father was trying to leave his wife’s memory behind. John didn’t have much chance to make friends or form any lasting relationships. Soon enough he learned how to exude his oh-so-cool ‘I don’t need anyone’ demeanor.
Even so, John fell head-over-heels in love with Emily Peterson in the 6th grade. One sunny afternoon while out on the playground she had decked him with a mean right hook, John was never sure why. They were inseparable after that, at least until her family moved at the end of the year. They vowed to write and he did get two letters from her and he sent her postcards once a week until one came back ‘Return to sender.’ That was when he learned just how long forever lasted.
He discovered his love of Ferris Wheels when his father, in an unaccustomed moment of understanding that his son needed some fun in his life took John to a little carnival that came through the latest town they were living in. John climbed onto the Ferris Wheel for the first time with a little shiver of fear. It went up high, so high the small boy thought he might be able to touch the sky. But when he got there, John found that it wasn’t scary at all to be so far off the ground. He was thrilled to find that he could see for a long way in every direction. He felt closer to his mother somehow so high up. He spent all of his ride tickets on the Ferris Wheel that day. They guy who ran the ride even gave him an extra ride for free before he closed it down for the day.
It was when he was in high school that John discovered his love for flying. A pilot buddy of his father took the young Sheppard for a ride. John had never known anything could feel like that. He felt free, so high up that none of the pain or disappointment of his life could touch him there. John could feel the power of the small plane, feel the way it slid through the air, nothing could stop it, nothing could hold it back. He resolved at that moment that he would spend his life flying.
It was the middle of the night and the city was sleeping. The moon was up and it shone through the window in John’s room bathing it in a silvery glow. John lay, watching Rodney sleep. The man slept with total abandon, his body covered John’s like a blanket, arms wrapped around John anchoring him solidly in place.
John hadn’t ever thought he was going to be lucky enough to find someone to love him the way that Rodney did. He’d started to wonder if he himself was capable of loving someone else. Then Rodney came along in his orange fleece and his blue eyes and John was gone. Loving Rodney was just like flying. It felt dangerous and thrilling and there was no going back for either of them.
The memorial service for Elizabeth had been that day and John was exhausted. Yet his mind wouldn’t turn off, it just kept replaying the events of Elizabeth’s death over and over again in a horrifying loop. He had finally come to accept that he hadn’t killed Elizabeth, but he still felt like it was his fault. If he hadn’t agreed to host Thalen it would have been him in charge of the search for the two alien soldiers, surely he could have stopped them before anyone died.
Rodney stirred and looked up at him with sleepy eyes, “Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping?”
John wrapped his arms around Rodney and pulled him closer, “I was just thinking that there was better things to do than sleeping.”
The sleep was replaced with interest, and Rodney said, “Oh, yeah,” like it was the best idea ever.
Rodney’s mouth was right there, and John leaned in enough so that their lips were touching. With a small groan, Rodney’s mouth opened and God… Each kiss was like the first – warm and inviting and so hot.
The thing that John had learned in the Pegasus Galaxy was that sometimes the horrifically bad came with something good. And loving Rodney was the best thing John Sheppard could ever do. He thought it might take a life time to get it right.