Warnings (highlight to view): sexual situations, character suffering post-traumatic stress
Set after SGA 2x20, "Allies."
He doesn’t recognize it at first, maybe because he’s not given to that particular character flaw.
“Wait – ”
“No, I have to – let me – ”
“God, Rodney – ”
Well, all right, there is the way he inhales power bars and coffee and Jell-O and meatloaf like he’s been starving for them, but it’s not precisely like that. Despite his complaints, he learns that he can take or leave pretty much everything, even things he would have sworn he couldn’t live without; the tenuous nature of their existence the first year in Atlantis has taught him that. Eventually, the whining becomes as much a habit as an actual indication of distress, a small, comforting ritual anchoring him in the midst of uncertainty.
“Look, I think – ”
“No. Don’t, don’t do that, it’s too late for – ”
He’s used to chaos – part of his job involves traveling through wormholes, for Christ’s sake – but as an engineer he also enjoys the certainty of limits, of measurements that tell you just how far you can push before something breaks.
He’s wanted to push Sheppard since the moment he met him.
“I’m just trying to tell you – ”
“Please – ”
“Hey. It’s okay, Rodney, it’s okay.”
Rodney has no idea how he got here, really; part of him still feels like it’s back on that ship, trapped with Ronon in matching cocoons, snacks to be unwrapped later. The Wraith level of greed is several quantum leaps beyond his cravings for coffee and chocolate, and he knows they’ll make him watch as they carve into the planet like a bloody steak, and he can’t, he can’t –
And then there’s a distant explosion, and Ronon pulls a knife out of someplace the Wraith didn’t think to look and suddenly Sheppard’s sprinting up to them like he’s just been out for a little jog and hey, didn’t expect to run into you guys, how’re you doing? And while we’re at it, how’d you like to jog with me? Really, really fucking fast?
Then it gets kind of blurry until he’s back on Earth, and as the SGC doctors are looking him over he’s thinking – kind of hysterically – that it’s a damned good thing there are no more missions planned for the Moon in the near future, because they’d have a hell of a time explaining away the charred debris and twisted metal from the two shattered hive ships that rained down on its surface.
He thinks he might have started giggling at that point. He’s not sure, but whatever he does earns him a syringe full of something in the arm, and he promptly conks out for fourteen hours.
“Shhh, listen, I just want to slow it down.”
“Slow – down?”
“Yeah. Like – here, let me show you.”
There’s the usual round of debriefings – Landry is not a happy camper, and there’s going to be a full investigation, blah blah blah – but Rodney’s too relieved that the Earth hasn’t ended up as the blue plate special to care. After four hours of talking in circles he ends up in a rented Buick with Sheppard, who’s volunteered to drive him back to his apartment.
Sheppard stands there with him at the door, making no move to leave, until Rodney, sighing, invites him in.
And that’s when things start to get weird.
“Oh. Oh, God.”
“Yeah, that’s it. You like that?”
“Christ – you know damned well I – ”
“No, I don’t. I didn’t. I wasn’t sure.”
Rodney’s expecting – well, not quite a lecture, exactly, since Sheppard doesn’t do that – but at the very least the crushing pressure of his laconic disapproval, and he can’t take that right now. He feels as though his bones are brittle, that the least weight or stress will break them apart, allowing the shards to puncture the surface and let out the scream that’s been fighting to escape for three straight days.
It’s right about the time when he’s trying to decide if he’s hungry or not, and maybe he should ask Sheppard if he’d like some take-out – he feels the obligation to be a good host even though this place feels nothing like home – when Sheppard finally speaks.
“Look, I did a lot of, uh, thinking while I was riding the slipstream of that hive ship,” he begins without preamble, and Rodney realizes Sheppard’s eyes aren’t on him, they’re on the wall behind him, and he also realizes Sheppard hasn’t looked at him directly since he found them trapped in those cocoons. “Most of it was about how the hell I was going to pull off any kind of rescue, but some of it was about other, uh, stuff.” His gaze flicks to Rodney for a split second, as if judging his reaction. Rodney’s not sure what’s showing on his face, because he has no idea what Sheppard’s talking about.
Whatever Sheppard sees in Rodney’s expression makes him wince before he continues. “Well, look, maybe this isn’t the best time to talk about it,” he says, taking a small step backward, heralding a retreat. “You’re tired, and I’m tired, and this whole thing – ” He waves a hand. “You know.”
“Oh my God,” Rodney breathes, clarity suddenly slamming into him. “You want me off the team.”
Sheppard frowns and finally looks him in the eyes. “What? Why would you – ”
“It’s true, isn’t it?” Rodney’s voice is rising, he knows it, but he can’t help himself; pieces of him are tearing away. “This is the final fuck-up, the one that’s convinced you I can’t be trusted.”
Sheppard’s shaking his head slowly. “Rodney,” he says, enunciating every syllable for a change, “I don’t want you off the team. I never have.” He hesitates for a moment, then steps forward and grips Rodney’s biceps. “I never will.”
“How can you say that?” Rodney’s voice is on the edge of hysteria now. “How can you be that sure of, of – ”
“Rodney,” Sheppard murmurs, and his face is very, very close, and at this distance Rodney can see – for the first time – the six hundred and thirty-two things that Sheppard’s been hiding behind that smirking mask for God knows how long, and a good five hundred of them seem to be about Rodney, and before he has time to process this Sheppard’s mouth presses against his, and he shatters into a million pieces.
It’s not as bad as he thought it would be.
Sheppard eases away gradually, tongue sliding gently against Rodney’s lower lip as he pulls back, and Rodney shivers. “Jesus, Rodney,” he breathes, mouth curving in a smile that contains only joy and relief, “sometimes I think we are two of the dumbest people around.”
“So – um – oh, hold on, wait a minute – is this one of those, ‘If we ever get out of this alive, I’m going to..’-type scenarios?”
“The fact that you’re this coherent is not flattering to my ego.”
“Answer the question.”
“Oh, God, all right, all right. It’s one of those, ‘If this isn’t the right moment, I don’t give a fuck any more’-type scenarios. It’s one of those, ‘I’m tired of being a chickenshit’-type scenarios. It’s one of those – ”
“Okay, that’s good, that’s fine.”
“Can I go back to blowing you now?”
“Oh – oh, yes, that would be very much appre-ohhh.”
“They were going to call it Feast Day.”
John grunts, half-asleep, and rolls onto his back. Rodney can see him staring up at the ceiling in the gray pre-dawn light. “Jesus.”
“Yeah,” Rodney mutters bitterly. “He said – the Wraith scientist – he said they would celebrate that day for millennia, and they’d always remember my name. Raise a metaphorical glass to me and my contribution to the race.”
“He was just trying to mess with your head,” John says firmly. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“It was my fault,” Rodney says stubbornly, more because he can’t let go of the horror than because he believes it’s true.
“Rodney, you were the one who hacked into the self-destruct sequence on the first hive. You took out the first one, and the blast wave got the second. Don’t you remember?”
Rodney sucks in a sharp breath at that. No, he hadn’t remembered. He hadn’t remembered at all. He scrubs his hands over his face, and when John pulls them away, Rodney’s whole body is shaking, and he’s not sure how to make it stop.
“Hey,” John says softly, “hey,” and he squeezes Rodney’s shoulders and presses their foreheads together, anchoring him until he finally lets go of it with a last, deep shudder. Then John brushes his fingers across Rodney’s lips, his chin, his throat, threads them in his hair. The look on John’s face is intent and a little surprised, like he never expected he’d actually get the chance to place his hands there and there and oh, yes, there.
When he kisses Rodney’s mouth, it’s not hungry at all at first, and then suddenly it is, and they’re eating each other, the depth of the craving almost frightening, and Rodney knows now that he could live without blue Jell-O and chocolate and even coffee, but there’s no damned way he’s ever going without this again.
Where John is concerned, he’s going to be a glutton. And from the way John’s trying to devour him in return, Rodney guesses that’s just fine with him.
They feast until the sun is high in the sky, and when they don’t have the strength for another bite they lie tangled together, bathed in light that bleeds through the curtains. Rodney closes his eyes on the sight of Sheppard’s small, private smile and enjoys a singular moment of certainty that leaves him breathless in the knowledge that together, they might just be unbreakable.
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