Characters: Ancient!John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Elizabeth Weir, Colonel Everett, Aiden Ford, Carson Beckett
Summary: Rodney's day keeps getting worse.
Series: part #9 in the Ancient!John 'verse. Part of Locality.
An Ancient!John Story
This is not how it is supposed to happen.
He had plans, real plans. Like Earth. He wants to take John to Earth, in part because he thinks it might get him to stop calling the planet Terra and in part because he thinks the Ancient might really enjoy the place. He knows some people from college that still owe him favours who have gone on to work for NASA and Bugatti. Though John would probably mock their unbearably primitive technology, as he still does from time to time with the Expedition's equipment, he'd probably still get a real kick out of whatever planes and cars they could convince them to let him borrow.
And Jeannie. He's come over the last few months to think of the people on Atlantis as a surrogate family, and, in the process, realized just how important family actually is. If by chance he makes it out of this he wants to apologize to her for how he behaved about her pregnancy and subsequent marriage. Sure, he's still a little annoyed that she'd given up such a promising career to be a stay-at-home mom, but she's his sister. It's not like she's done anything truly unforgivable, like move to the States. More than that though, he wants John to meet her because he knows how complicated John's relationship with his own family was and wants to give him something normal, even if it's only the epic McKay sibling rivalry and the niece he's never met and the brother-in-law that he can't stand.
And Atlantis. He has plans for her. Plans he needs John for because John knows the city like no other. But, also, plans for John because he knows what a physical pain it is for him to see the city so far below her prime...
He knows it's probably a sign something's wrong with him that all his plans involve John, some kind of freak co-dependency caused by being cut off from Earth on a very small research base and extreme situations and whatnot but he really, really can't bring himself to care.
But, God, it isn't supposed to happen like this.
The screen shows an explosion, more massive than he's ever seen and the blue dot that represents John and his puddle jumper is gone. He can't even watch to see how many ships he's destroyed with this latest bit of idiocy because it doesn't matter how many fewer enemies they have now, how much better of a chance they have of surviving because of him because death isn't like Ascension and there isn't any hope he'll come back. Not now. Not ever. And even if they manage to survive now it doesn't matter because John's not here and, and...
...and it's all Rodney can do to sink down into the nearest chair, head in his hands, and try to understand.
It could be days or seconds later when Chuck's voice breaks through the silence that has fallen over everyone the Control Room, "Doctor Weir, I'm picking up another ship."
It's terrible news and Rodney can't bring himself to care.
"Another hive ship?"
"Negative, I'm reading an IFF."
The lack of sleep must finally be getting to him because he hears John's voice then over the comm, saying, "Atlantis, this is Sheppard."
But Elizabeth must be hearing things too, because she's saying his name like she can't believe it either.
"How many other pastores do you know?"
Rodney half-snorts before he realizes what he's doing and catches himself quickly. "No, no, that can't be. We saw the hive ship go up." There's no way John survived that explosion. Not even if he managed to Ascend again at the last second because the others would have knocked him right back down again. And, even if by some miracle they didn't, he wouldn't be giving off an IFF. Q.E.D.
"I assure you, Doctor McKay," says a new, unknown voice, "that Major Sheppard is alive and well."
He's hallucinating proof for his hallucinations now. That cannot be good.
But Elizabeth seems to hear this one as well so, maybe, possibly...
John is alive.
"Oh, thank you," he sighs, sinking further into his chair and letting himself finally rest.
Elizabeth thinks she's being subtle about it, 'ordering' John to see to it that he gets some sleep before the next crisis but Rodney knows better. Oh, he knows full well he needs sleep like anything – he's been up for well over five Lantean days, which are about four hours longer than normal Earth days, and has more stimulants than blood running through his veins at the moment – but he also knows she's doing it because of that scene ages earlier, when John kissed him before Ascending and all that implies. Still, if any of the newcomers get the implications in her words, they don't give it away. Not even John, who just raises an eyebrow at her before tugging on Rodney's arm to get him started in the right direction.
Neither of them says anything until they're in the transporter and then they're both speaking, words rendered unintelligible in their rush to say them.
John stops first, after barely a sentence and gestures at Rodney to go on. But everything he'd planned to say is gone, lost in the earlier garble, he doesn't even remember it and the only thing he can say is, "I thought you were dead," more softly than he's ever said anything before in his life.
John looks down at the floor, genuinely abashed and mumbling, "Sorry."
"Sorry? You nearly went and got yourself blown up and sorry is all you can say?"
But he's found his voice again and, now that they're trundling down the empty corridor towards his quarters, he's continuing, "And before that, with the Ascension thing – where'd that come from? Do you hate it so much being here," the with me remains thankfully unsaid, "that you're trying to escape by any means possible? 'Cause normally you won't go near the subject with a ten-foot pole, to the point where I was beginning to wonder if you were actually part of a rouge band of anti-Ascension Ancients or something else crazy like that."
"Rodney," he says, drawing out his name in the way John knows annoys him. "I-"
"Don't Rodney me, John. I may not know exactly what runs through that floppy-haired head of yours but I do know that you're the kind of idiot who'd sooner off yourself than break up with someone if you thought it would hurt the other person less."
They're almost at his door now and John's been careful not to touch him since that nudge in the Control Room but now he's grabbing his arm and forcibly turning him so that they're facing each other. It's hard to read John at the best of times but right now even his eyes are flinty, giving Rodney not the slightest clue of what he might be thinking. "I," he begins passionately, his grip tightening just a little, "am not trying to break up with you and I'm certainly not trying to kill myself, or escape Atlantis, or whatever other crazy ideas you've got running around that massive brain of yours. All I'm trying to do is keep you safe. Is that really so hard to believe?"
If John were really trying he'd have never broken his hold, but he's not and Rodney's able to yank himself away at this, fuming. "I'm not some kind of damsel in distress for you to save, John, or some alien priestess for you to sweep off my feet with your, your Kirkian ways. This isn't 1967 and, while I may not be a highly-evolved Ancient, I do have a PhD in astrophysics and another in mechanical engineering – which, for the benefit of those of us not born on Earth, makes me kinda a genius, even by non-human standards. I don't need you to fight my battles for me. And I certainly don't need you to fly yourself into hive ships for me. 'Cause I don't know if you've realized this but you're kinda the best thing to ever happen to me and getting yourself killed before we even have a real chance to see where this goes is not going to endear yourself to me in anyway."
He's still mad. He's fuming even and John's eyes have gone positively dark and in a lightening movement that he couldn't describe even if he wasn't sleep deprived Rodney finds himself physically hauled through the door of his quarters and pressed up against the nearest wall before the door's even completely closed.
For a sick moment he even thinks John's going to hit him, or yell at him at the very least, but then John's kissing him like he's never been kissed in his life and it's hot and it's dirty and it's dirty and, God, he only pushes away because the wall is killing his back, just killing it, and he might pass out if he doesn't breathe some time soon.
John must understand because next thing he knows is they're on the bed and John's, yes, he's actually straddling his legs and their clothes are God knows where and there's a part of Rodney that wishes he was less sleep deprived so he can enjoy this more because in two months they haven't exactly gotten to this point yet (close, yes, but not actually to it) but the rest of him just doesn't care because it's John and he's alive and, yes, this might be the best thing ever, up to including Atlantis and the Stargates and ZedPMs and, God, he's so glad John's not dead so they can do this again, as often as they want and-
Sleep is good.
Sleep is really good.
It might be the only thing in the universe right now better than John.
It's rather inevitable, really, that his radio goes off far too soon. He groans at it, hoping it will convince the noise to stop or that maybe John will shoot it but, after a minute or two, neither of those things happen so he feels entirely justified in snapping, "What?" at whatever malevolent soul is on the other end when he finally does answer.
It's Zelenka, of course, the be-spectacled Czech devil. "Rodney?"
"Yes, of course. Were you expecting someone else when you paged me?" He glances around to see if he might've picked up John's radio by mistake, just in case, but John's gone. So are his clothes for that matter. If it weren't for the fact that his own clothes are scattered in some pretty unusual places throughout the room he might've thought it was just another sleep-deprivation-induced hallucination but they are, so, well, it can't be.
"No, just you sound much better now that you've gotten some rest. It," he adds wearily, "makes me very jealous."
"Speaking of sleep, care to tell me why you've woken me up after...?"
"Three hours, give or take, and because the deep space sensors are back online."
"That's brilliant, Radek. Truly, I'm proud that you've managed to maintain a level of competence that any idiot with a master's degree can aspire towards but why is this wake the boss up after three hours," (probably closer to two), "worthy news?"
"Because I think I'm picking up something very, very worrying on them and I'm rather hoping you'll come up here and tell me I am imagining it all."
Zelenka's not imagining it, and Rodney's day suddenly becomes much, much worse.