SG:A, Sheppard/McKay, NC-17, not really any spoilers past 2x03
Notes: I'm putting this here at the request of 2am, who asked me where this idea came from. Basically I was watching a BBC2 Horizon programme the other day about a Large Hadron Collider they're building on the Swiss/French border. It got me thinking about physics and, as I'm an art geek, I was also thinking about art. I was thinking how the artistic endeavours of the 20th century mirror the scientific discoveries, in that they progressively break the world down into its component parts - science discovering the Standard Model, art moving from observational painting and drawing, through impressionism and cubism, to the extremist end - someone like Yves Klein with his paintings. I was thinking that these blue canvases have broken it all down to such an extent that what he's painting is pure energy, or pure mass. Er, so, then I got to thinking about John and Rodney. As you do.
Not really betaed except on the fly by 2am_optimism - who, as usual, earns my eternal gratitude. Written in one sitting this morning, so any other mistakes are all mine. Hope you enjoy!
Rodney glared at Sheppard as Doctor Monroe slathered cream over his wounds. “I’ve been working here for a few years now, Colonel. You’d think I would have learned that, with you around, it’s best to be prepared for grievous bodily harm.”
“I honestly am sorry, Rodney. I didn’t know that would happen.”
“Well it got you my attention, anyway. What did you want?”
John crossed his arms, leaning back slightly. “I’m taking some leave. Earthside.”
“You’re taking leave. You. Leave.” Rodney’s eyebrows were near his hairline. “You. A holiday.”
“That’s right,” John continued. “Me. Leave.”
“Well, I suppose there’s a first time for everything.” Rodney didn’t seem very impressed. Doctor Monroe – or M as Rodney secretly liked to call her – began winding a long bandage around his injured forearm. “And you haven’t nearly had your quota of casual sex and surfing this year.”
The doctor coughed out a laugh. “Exactly.” John replied. “A guy has a reputation to maintain, after all.”
“So why are you telling me? Just keeping me informed? Oh, God, which monosyllabic grunt are we going to have to put up with in your place? Could you at least leave this one your dictionary so that he/she is able to keep up?”
Rodney watched John’s chest expand with a deep breath. “Actually, I wondered if you’d like to join me.”
There was a short pause as Rodney frowned. “I can’t surf.”
“I won’t actually get much surfing in. I’ll be in Austin – Texas. Beaches around there aren’t great.”
“Texas? Well, as tempting as cowboy central is, I think I’ll—why Texas?”
John shrugged. “I have some business there I have to attend to.”
“Military stuff?” Rodney scoffed. “What is it? Some conference on the latest long-range civilian-killing must-see missile, only $10.99?”
“Not exactly.” John scuffed his toe on the floor and for a moment Rodney could clearly picture him at twelve years old. “My dad died.”
At the funeral, Rodney watched John in his dress blues. His lines seemed cleaner, his shoulders straighter, his hair less… John. Rodney wondered if it was the uniform, the occasion, or the company.
“Hey,” John whispered around a crab cake.
Rodney nodded. He desperately wanted to loosen the tie around his neck.
John spoke again, leaning back against the wall by the window, pressing the curtain flat. “Why do people always speak in muted voices at funerals?” he whispered again.
“Respect, I suppose.” Rodney dug around on his loaded plate, looking for another of those great shrimp things. Maybe he should go back for more.
John didn’t reply, simply stared out into the crowd of military uniforms and sedately dressed ladies.
“You don’t seem—” Rodney stopped. He’d just started talking, as usual, and only once he’d realised what he was about to say did he question whether it was wise.
But John swivelled his head to look at him, all military and rigid outer shell.
“I just mean—I’m surprised more people aren’t, you know. Talking. To you. Being his son, and all.”
John smiled slightly and leaned in. “But I was his disgraced son. They’re mostly talking about me, not to me.”
“Disgraced how?” Rodney asked. “The military thing? Not following orders or whatever?"
“Sure, that and other stuff.” John shrugged.
Rodney sighed, hoping he conveyed disdain. “I’m going to get more of those shrimp things. You want anything?"
John shook his head no.
After Rodney’s third assault on the buffet, he wandered out the terrace window. John was talking to some General guy who looked pretty scary, so Rodney ducked out and only felt a little guilty about it.
Outside it was a beautiful day, if a bit warm. Rodney gave in to the moment; unbuttoning his top button and loosening his tie. He’d fix it when he went back in.
“—hear he’s been in Antarctica or somewhere for the past five years.”
Rodney’s ears pricked. Someone inside was talking about John.
“Apparently it was only his fathers influence that saved him from dishonourable discharge.”
“Yes, well, what can you expect. I hear he was actually caught, red-handed, with one of the technicians on the base.”
“Oh, really? I heard it was a fellow pilot.”
Rodney felt his stomach drop.
Abandoning his plate on top of a statue of cupid, he walked around the side of the house and inside another bay window. After the bright light outside, it took a moment for him to focus, and when he did he realised he was in what appeared to be a study. Was this General Sheppard’s sanctuary? There were no pictures of him – or any of his family – anywhere. And was that why John’s father had never spoken to his son. Rodney had thought—
The door opened and the housekeeper came in. She looked stern. “Sorry, sir. Guests have been requested to stay in the allotted rooms.”
“Right. Yes. Of course. Sorry.” Rodney wildly said the first thing that came to mind. “I was looking for the bathroom.”
The housekeeper narrowed her rather cold eyes at him. “Up the stairs. Second room on your right.”
Rodney was forced, under her eagle eye, to go upstairs. Once he got to the top, he carried on going. Might as well sit out the party there as anywhere.
But as he approached the door, it swung open, and his outstretched arm hovered for a moment. John was there, in the act of wiping his hands on his pants, and froze.
“Oh, hey, I didn’t—”
John leaned out, looked up and down the corridor, and grabbed Rodney by his outstretched arm.
“What—” he tugged Rodney inside and pushed the door closed, Rodney’s body tight against it. Rodney swallowed as John leaned into him and locked the door.
“Hey,” John said after a moment, stepping back, looking hunted.
“Yes, er, hello.” Rodney wasn’t sure what was going on. He looked around the room. “This is a lovely bathroom.”
John laughed, slightly high-pitched, and Rodney wondered for a moment if John was going to completely break down about the death of his father. With wild terror he wondered how he – or anyone – would be able to cope with a raging, emotional John Sheppard. At least there were no nukes around for him to run off with, Rodney thought, and stifled a hysterical giggle.
John sat down on the rim of the tub.
“Are you, er. Are you alright?” Rodney walked over and cautiously patted John on the shoulder. John looked up at him with inscrutable eyes. He was never the most, er, scrutable person anyway, Rodney knew. But this was a moment in which John could have done anything, and Rodney wouldn’t have expected it.
Therefore, he wasn’t too surprised when John reached out and tugged Rodney forward by his belt loops, leaned in and rested his forehead against Rodney’s stomach.
Rodney was uncomfortably aware of John’s face near his crotch, and inwardly berated himself for his wayward thoughts. Here was a man who needed his help – he reached down and stroked an awkward hand over John’s hair – and he was thinking about sex—
John rolled his forehead once against Rodney’s stomach, and then slid his face down, nosing gently, until Rodney felt his cheeks heating.
He felt John’s mouth curve into a smile against his growing erection. He looked down and John looked up, all teasing eyes and teeth. “Call me John,” he said, and reached out a finger, hooking it into the top of Rodney’s fly and pulling it all the way down.
“My Dad was an ass,” John said casually, staring out of the window. Rodney struggled not to react, in case John wanted to share more. He focussed carefully on the road.
After a long, silent moment, Rodney volunteered, “Mine was a hippie.” John turned to him in surprise. “Yeah. Raving hippie. Artist. Well, not really. But that’s pretty much all he ever did. My Mom was a theoretical physicist. Always wanting Jeannie and I to succeed, to solve problems, to be brilliant. But all my dad ever wanted was for us to play together without fighting.”
“Huh. I can’t imagine you with a hippie dad,” John said.
“Well, we didn’t see him very much. We lived with Mom most of the time after they divorced.”
“My Mom died when I was eight.”
Rodney pulled into the shady car park of their hotel. “I’m sorry.”
John shrugged. “There’s a space,” he pointed. Rodney glided the car into it and turned off the engine. There was a moment of cool calm silence, then John turned to him. “Want me to blow you again?” he reached for Rodney’s fly.
Rodney could feel his face heating up, and he intercepted John’s hand. “No—Ah, I mean. Yes, but—not here. Let’s go up to the room.”
John’s eyes were shadowed. “Okay, sure.”
In the room, John paced around while Rodney locked the door, drew the curtains against the bright sunlight, got them both a drink.
“Minibar prices worth it, McKay?” John asked, eyeing the little bottles of whiskey.
“We’re not on earth often, might as well enjoy it while we can.” Rodney said from his crouch on the floor. “Five dollar chocolate bar?”
“I’m good.” John toed off his shoes and socks, unbuttoned his jacket.
Rodney watched as the blue formalwear became loose around John’s shoulders, John’s bare feet against the soft beige carpet.
John went to shrug out of the jacket. “Wait,” said Rodney suddenly, and stood up. John raised an eyebrow.
Rodney walked over to him, handed him one bottle and downed the other, setting the empty bottle on the floor. “Can I…”
John leant his head to the side acquiescently, baring his throat. Rodney carefully unbuttoned John’s shirt, left it hanging loosely inside the jacket, then undid John’s belt and pants, hanging open around his hips.
Rodney stepped back, admiring, John laid bare around his starched uniform. Their eyes met, and John’s were dark and hazy. “Want me to put the cap back on, McKay?” If he’d been smiling it might have been a tease.
“I’m good,” Rodney said. “Lie down. On your back.”
John hesitated for a moment, before he also downed the bottle in his hand, tossed it to one side, and lay back on the bed.
Rodney sat at the base and watched John get himself comfortable. Arrange the pillows so that his head was propped up, arms loose at his side.
First, Rodney slid a hand over John’s instep and John twitched slightly. Rodney’s hand followed the line of his arch, into his ankle, and slid briefly under his pant leg, caressing.
After a moment, he crawled onto the bed and stroked a hand over John’s side, bared where his shirt was caught under him, where his jacket had fallen to one side. Rodney was aware of John’s breathing deepening, of the muffled sounds of traffic behind the curtains, a group of people walking down the corridor outside.
He ran his hand up over John’s chest, through the hair, teasing a nipple.
“My dad would kill me if he saw this.” John said, almost absently, eyes compulsively watching Rodney’s hand.
“Lucky he’s not here then,” said Rodney, leaning down, brushing his lips against John’s. He watched John’s eyes flutter closed, his lips part. The dark, hot taste of whiskey in their mouths.
Rodney controlled the kiss for a few moments. Keeping it careful, if deep. Then John began to fight back. Began to push up, against Rodney’s mouth, push his way in. Rodney was forced to step it up a notch to keep control. To force a hand against John’s shoulder and keep him pinned to the bed. A few seconds or minutes later he pulled back. They were both breathing hard, pressed together.
“I want to blow you again,” John said, breath hot against Rodney’s mouth.
“Later.” Rodney said, pulling off his shirt and losing a few buttons on the way. “I want to fuck you first.”
John groaned and his head flopped back against the pillow, neck arching.
“We’ve got a few days,” John said into Rodney’s shoulder. “What shall we do?”
“Can’t we just do this?” Rodney ran a hand over the back of John’s neck.
“We can do this anywhere. We should do Earth things while we’re on Earth.”
They ended up in an art gallery.
“I gotta say, I’m surprised.”
Rodney crossed his arms reflexively. “What?”
Sheppard’s eyes were warm, teasing, and it made Rodney’s spine stiffen further. “I guess I’m just not used to seeing you enthusiastic about anything other than physics, Rodney. Well, and complex carbohydrates.”
“Put quite simply, it’s just another example of how my intellect outstrips yours. You see something simple. I see a literal – and beautiful – manifestation of science. E=mc2 at it’s most pure.”
“Wow, potatoes are all that?” Rodney sniffed disdainfully. John laughed and turned away, gesturing. “Look at it. Your six year old niece could do that.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “You sound like my mother. She hated art. Loved music, but hated art. It was all just pretty flowers to her.”
John smiled a little, turned his body in to Rodney’s. “You didn’t agree?”
“I liked music too. Loved it, almost. But I could never understand why she couldn’t appreciate art. Especially modern art. You’re a philistine.”
“I’m just teasing you, Rodney.”
Rodney smiled. “I know.”
Back on Atlantis, everything seemed a little more alien after parochial days of meals out in restaurants, catching taxi cabs, reading newspapers – but that was always the way.
“Cerulean, do you think? Or Steel blue? The city,” Rodney gestured out at the view.
John turned to him, eyes coming back into focus. “What?”
“Nothing.” Rodney pointed inside, away from their sunlit spot on the balcony. “You ready?”
There was a blank moment in John’s gaze before it sharpened. “Oh, sparring. Sure.”
They didn’t move for a moment. “Are you glad to be back?”
“Yeah,” John smiled easily.
“Are you glad you went in the first place?”
John paused. “Ask me later,” he eventually said with a smile.
They walked back inside and along to the practice room together, where Teyla was waiting.
“Rodney, John,” she welcomed them with a smile. “How lovely to see you. I hope your time on Earth was restful.”
“Sure,” said John.
“Sure,” said Rodney, thinking of staying up all night fucking, sweaty and urgent. “Restful.”
From the corner of his eye he saw John smile slightly, privately. He was getting to know those smiles.
Teyla and John spent a few hours teaching Rodney to how defend himself against groups of attackers, and Ronon wandered in halfway and watched. He was a rather harsh critic.
“You’re dropping your shoulder, McKay.” He called out once. “Your six year old niece could take you.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. He’d clearly have to stop using that one.
At that moment, John tackled him from the side, taking him down easily.
“Unfair!” bleated Rodney breathlessly from under John’s weight. “I was distracted.”
“That’s how it happens in the field, McKay,” John stood up and held a hand out, which Rodney took, glowering.
“Indeed, Rodney. Your attackers may use any means necessary to ensure your defeat.”
“I don’t think they know about my six year old niece,” he grumbled under his breath.
“You never know,” John smiled.
“Hey,” Rodney whispered, sliding under the sheets.
John snored, so Rodney poked him. “I know you’re faking, so there’s no point pretending.”
“You’re the most demanding guy in two galaxies, Rodney.” John whispered, eyes glinting in the darkness.
“You’re only just figuring this out now?”
“I’m trying to get some sleep. Not now.”
Rodney rolled them over so that he ended up on top, their legs tangled together. He could feel John’s erection against his hip, belying his words.
“You know,” Rodney muttered against John’s mouth between kisses. “If we keep this up we’re going to need another holiday.”
“We’ll go surfing next time.”
Afterwards, in the warm darkness, Rodney said quietly. “Shall I ask you now?”
“If I’m glad I went?”
John thought about it for a while. “I said goodbye to my dad a long time ago,” he muttered eventually, looking out of the window at the moons. “He didn’t really count anymore.”
“I understand that,” Rodney said. “Sometimes our family aren’t the people we like the most. Even if we love them. I mean, look at my Mom and Dad. Hated everything about each other; still in love when they died.”
“But they were separated, yeah?”
“They couldn’t live together,” Rodney said. “They never really understood that their passions complemented each other, rather than being diametrically opposed.”
“Like art and physics.”
“Exactly. One explains the other.”
John leaned in and kissed him gently. “Exactly.”
“Are you glad you went?”
“Yeah, Rodney. Yeah, I’m glad.”