When You Kiss Me – Part Two

– – – –

John inclined his head in invitation. “Lt. Nelson, that just leaves you.”

Nelson picked up the rods that his teammate had discarded as he had all but crawled from the sparring ring and rolled his head. The popping of bones was sharp and hard in the now very quiet room. “I’m not going to be easy like the rest of them.”

“You know what?” John responded coolly. “I sincerely hope not. Because I owe you a conversation and I do my best communicating in this room.”

He didn’t take his time like he had with the others; didn’t hold back. Every blow was powerful, precise, and merciless. And the second time he struck, he drew blood. It sprayed out across the sparring ring like rain. Nelson drug one hand across his mouth and glared. “It isn’t like he didn’t want it.”

John circled him. “Is that your way of asking for a mercy killing?” He struck the man across the back with four quick blows that sounded like a whip hitting naked flesh and Nelson stumbled briefly, when he turned, John kicked him the face and sent him sprawling.

“You’re not going to kill me. Flyboys like you don’t have it in you to kill in cold blood.” Nelson struggled to his feet.

“You wouldn’t even be the first person I’ve killed this week,” John responded softly. The mood in the room altered slightly and the entire squadron shifted on their feet. “So, do you think that I took on all of the others to show you how badass I am? Or maybe I kicked all of their asses first so none of them could even try to help you.”

“Both,” Nelson snapped. “It’s your fucking fault you know. You put them above everyone else on the base. You think I’m the only man in this room that wants a piece of him? Or her? Really? I didn’t think they let dumb fucks fly in the Air Force.”

“I think that by the time I let the base doctors drag your ass out of this room that there isn’t a man in this room that will look twice at someone that doesn’t belong to them on this base—no matter who they are.” He struck again, blood burst, ran down the man’s back, and over his chest as John split the skin with each blow.

Nelson was on his knees minutes later, covered in his own blood, his body shaking uncontrollably, his eyes wide with agony.

John squatted down in front of him. “You probably think you’re going to die. But, you won’t. You don’t even have any broken bones. You’re going to shake for about a week because of the nerve damage I’ve inflicted. By the end of next week, you’ll be able to walk again and by the end of the month, this moment in your life will start to fade. I know physical pain is easy to forget – our brain doesn’t like us to hold onto pain like this.” John grabbed the man’s chin and forced him to meet his gaze. “If you ever come near him again, I’ll gut you. I’m going to watch you for the rest of your fucking life, Nelson, and if you ever do to someone else what you attempted to do him – I’m going to find you and make you pay for it in ways that will make this moment seem like a surreal fantasy. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

– – – –

John was sitting on a bench in the locker room when his father found him. Still damp from the shower and only half-dressed, Patrick thought he looked vulnerable and impossibly young. It did not mesh with the man he knew his oldest son to be. He sat down on the bench opposite of him.

“I’ve read your file six times.”

John’s head snapped up. “What?”

“I’ve read your file six times,” Patrick repeated. “I keep trying to find the moment in your life when you stopped being the boy that built ramps for his skateboard in the drive way. When you stopped being the baby that clung to my shirt and laughed at me when I made silly faces at you. I don’t know when that happened, John. I don’t know when you stopped being my baby boy and turned into the man you are.”

“You mean the killer I am.”

Patrick shook his head. “No, I know exactly when that happened. Every soldier crosses that line John, when they stop being someone trained to kill and start being someone who has killed. It’s the nature of things. You’re a good man, strong and in control of yourself in a way that I didn’t ever think was possible. When you were young—everything was an adventure and nothing was off limits to you. You had no limits and hated it when anyone tried to put them on you. I honestly never thought you’d last in the military because of it.”

John laughed sadly. “Well, you’re actually to blame for that, you know.”

Patrick frowned. “What?”

“I don’t know that I would have lasted in the Air Force if you hadn’t disowned me. Those first few months, I had nothing and I didn’t know how to function without the emotional support that I’d always gotten from you and mom. Then, things changed for me and I made myself a family out of the men and women I served with. Once I made that connection—there was nothing I wouldn’t do to keep that family. I had to have something… something to hold on to.”

“I understand.” Patrick sighed. “David is taking care of transferring Nelson and the rest of his unit out. I don’t know how much the rest of his men knew about him but I don’t feel comfortable leaving any of them here. He’ll be formally charged with conduct unbecoming and I’ve submitted charges. Rodney won’t have to testify. JAG will probably plead out because of the video evidence. McKay might be interviewed, but the Pentagon is going to want to bury this as deep as possible to prevent public fall out. So they’ll use a fake name for him.”

John nodded. “Have you seen him?”

“He was in the observation deck the entire time and after it was over – I escorted him to your quarters. He said he had some things to take care of with the house?”

“He finally found a house he likes,” John admitted. “He closed on it last week and it’s crawling with a construction crew at this point.” He pulled on his boots and stared to tie them with hands that were almost steady. “Rodney doesn’t trust me.”

“What?” Patrick frowned. “John, of course he does.”

“No.” John shook his head. “He doesn’t. He didn’t want me to know about what happened with Nelson because he was afraid of how I would react. He thought I couldn’t control myself and that I would kill him. He said I was a killer.” He closed his eyes briefly. “Rodney has never looked at me that way before – not even after the house was invaded and he knew what I’d done. He’s never looked at me like that before and I’ve killed in front of him. I’ve blown people away in front of him and he never…” John closed his eyes. “Fuck.”

“John, he had a pretty rough experience this morning. Don’t you think that some of his response might have been some anger at himself? What man wants to think they are vulnerable? What man wants to think they can’t protect themselves from rape?”

John took a deep breath at the word. No one had said it aloud. No one had dared. “I wanted to kill that son of a bitch. I came close to doing it. It wouldn’t have taken much.”

“We all realize that.”

John parted company with his father in the hallway and made his way to the quarters he shared with McKay. Security had reported in that Rodney had not left the room since he’d been taken there by Admiral Sheppard. John figured that the security teams on base would spend a little more time monitoring McKay than was strictly necessary but that was fine by him.

A duffle bag was open and half-full on the bed when he entered. He shut the door mostly out of habit as he adjusted to what he was seeing. Rodney was moving back and forth from the dresser they shared, tossing clothes into the bag and talking rapidly on his cell phone. None of what he said was getting into John’s head because he was so focused on the bag.

“You’re leaving me?” He winced at the way his voice broke.

Rodney stopped moving and ended his phone conversation abruptly. “What? No. I’m not leaving you. John, why the hell would you think that?”

“Because you’re fucking packing!”

“Oh.” He had the grace to look sheepish. “Okay, so this doesn’t look good. But, if you noticed – I’m packing for both of us. You’re officially on leave until Monday so I thought we could take a trip and get out of the base for a while. I really believe we both need it.”

John walked to the bed and sat down in front of his lover; suddenly very tired. “Mer, I—fuck. I don’t even know what to say to you right now.”

“You don’t have to say anything,” Rodney slipped onto his lap, moving astride him with practiced ease and only laughed at John’s shock a little. “Listen, I trust you. I trust you with my life and everything in it. There is nothing that you could ever do that would make me doubt or fear you.”

John hesitantly put his hands on Rodney’s hips and then ran them up the length of his back. “You said…”

“I said I was afraid you’d kill him. I know you, John. I know you better than anyone else on Earth ever will. If you think I don’t understand you—you are crazy. I know how much you wanted to kill him. You still want to kill him. It’s written all over you. It never crossed my mind that you might lose control and kill him. You have more self-control than anyone I’ve ever met. If you had killed him it would been because you decided to and yes that part of you is a little scary.”

John leaned into him and let his headrest on McKay’s chest. “Where are we going?”

“My island. The Apollo is ready to beam us whenever we want.”

“You gave them the location?”

“Yeah. I didn’t want to waste time flying there when we could be there immediately.” Rodney rubbed the back of his head. “Besides, they would have the location because of our transmitters. If I can’t trust the people around here to keep a secret—then we have some really big problems.”

“What about Quark?”

“Sam has him. She needed the company.”

“Okay.” John nodded. “Do I need to help pack?”

“Almost done.”

– – – –

It was probably the most beautiful place on Earth, but John was still stuck in a different moment. The one where Rodney was packing and leaving. He didn’t even realize he was stuck in it until after the Apollo had beamed them into a sweeping beach house and Rodney had taken the bag he’d packed upstairs. John had followed and had watched while Rodney unpacked—his gut in a knot of strange anger. Finally, when he couldn’t take it anymore he left.

“There is probably a surf board or two in the house.”

John lifted his head from his knees and glanced towards McKay as he sat down on the sand beside him. “It’s beautiful here.”

“Yes,” Rodney agreed. “I never liked the beach, really. I hated it. I hated the heat—I still hate the heat but it’s not so hot here. Sand gets in the worst places and there are things in the water that would surely eat me.”

He couldn’t help but laugh. “You bought an island, Rodney.”

“Yeah. I did. I bought it after the heart attack. I needed a place that was away from civilization. I mean—really away. So, it was either a mountain in the middle of nowhere or an island. I chose an island because I hate the cold more than I hate the heat.” Rodney curled his bare feet into the sand in front of him and sighed. “I couldn’t have stopped him. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it. It made me feel weak and useless. I took that out on you. I lashed out at you because you are the strongest, most useful person I know. So, that was totally unfair and I don’t know how to take it back.”

“You were right, though. I wanted to kill him. I sat in my office for twenty minutes watching that video over and over and over again—and all I could think of, was the various ways that I could make him suffer while I killed him. If I had walked in on it—I’m sure I would have killed him. I know it.”

“I thought Ian was going to shoot him.”

“If he had I would have made it go away,” John admitted. “He thinks he’s in love with you, Mer.”

“I know.” Rodney sighed. “Can’t very well pretend it’s a crush now, can we?”

John shook his head. “No, we can’t. What do you want to do about it?”

Rodney shook his head. “I don’t know. Honestly, I figured if he fell for one of us that it would be you. Tell me again why I didn’t want him all torn up and twisted over Jimmy?”

“Because Jimmy is a slut.”

“Oh yeah.” Rodney laughed. “Fuck. John.”

“It’s safe for him to have feelings for you because then he doesn’t have to deal with it.”

“Yeah, he’d never actually make a move on me or anything.” He let the silence move between them for a few minutes. “You aren’t going to transfer him out of the mountain are you?”

John glanced at him sharply. “For what? Having the good taste to realize how fucking amazing you are?”

Rodney blushed. “Yeah, let’s feed the ego. My staff already barely tolerates me.”

John grinned then. “They should be lucky you let them work for you. The answer is no—I wouldn’t do that to him. He’s a good man, a good soldier, and what he did for you today has pretty much earned him my indulgence for life. I don’t think there is anything he could do on the base that would get him tossed out.”

“Let’s not tell him that.”

“Yeah, probably not a good idea,” John admitted. “So, dinner?”

“Yeah. I had the place stocked yesterday. I was planning this trip for the weekend—thought we could get away for a while.” Rodney sighed. “I just didn’t realize how badly we would need it.”

– – – –

John stiffened the moment Rodney reached for him. He winced as the hand was carefully withdrawn. “Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Rodney snapped. “Of the two of us, I’m pretty sure that was supposed to be my reaction.” He rolled away from him to his side of the large bed and took a deep breath.

“You said I scared you,” John whispered. “And you meant it, Mer. You meant it and the last thing I ever wanted was for you to be afraid of me or what I might do.”

“I did mean it. I was scared – of what you would do or more to the point, what you wanted to do. I can’t help that. We’re just very different people, John. I accepted that about you a long time ago. I accepted that you were a soldier the day I met you. I accepted that you are more comfortable with a gun in your hand than you are without one.”

“A killer.”

“It’s the truth. It doesn’t change how I feel about you. It doesn’t change that you are the last thing I think about before I go to sleep and the first thing I think about when I wake up. It doesn’t change that I love you. I see you, John. I’ve always seen exactly what you are. Just like you see me. I don’t have to pretend to be more or less than I what I am with you and I don’t want you to do it either. You don’t have to hide from me.”

John turned on his side and met McKay’s gaze in the near dark of the bedroom. “It’s difficult. I don’t know that I want you to know that about me. I don’t know that I want anyone to know me that way.”

“It’s too late.” Rodney reached out and touched his face with gentle fingers. “It’s too late to hide from me, John. It was too late before we even started this.”

They moved closer together without even thinking about it and when John slid one hand down McKay’s back he paused only briefly. “This is okay?”

“Yeah.” Rodney nodded. He brushed his mouth over John’s. “Everything is okay with you. It always will be.”

“I don’t know how I’d live without you.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Rodney promised. “I’ll always be right here where you are.” He pulled him closer. “C’mere.”

John moaned into his mouth but didn’t slide on top of him the way he was obviously asking for. He lifted away and pulled until Rodney was on top of him. “I know you think you’re fine and that you don’t need to be treated with kid gloves. I get that. But, I think it would be best if you were in charge of things tonight.”

“I can get behind that kind of plan.” Rodney relaxed on him and brushed his mouth across John’s in a soft exploration. “You’re so perfect and strong,” he whispered as he lifted his head. “I’m so pleased that you’re mine. Sometimes, I watch you and I’m awed by how comfortable you are in your body. I want to pleasure you, break you down, make you babble, and make you come so hard it hurts. I want to give to you everything you always give to me.”

“You can have anything you want, Mer.”

Rodney slid off him, pulled off his t-shirt, and tossed it aside. “Then we need to get very naked.”

John sat up and got rid of his own t-shirt and then shimmied out of his boxers. “You have the best ideas, you know.”

“Yeah, I’m a genius,” Rodney confided in a whisper. “I’m going to employ all of it on getting you off.”

John chuckled. “Excellent.”

“I thought you would approve,” Rodney murmured as he dropped a tube of lube on the bed next to John and moved to kneel between his legs.

Rodney ran one hand down John’s chest and watched as he sucked in a breath and slowly exhaled as his fingers caught in a smattering of chest hair before trailing down the lean muscles of his stomach. He loved how the muscles contracted against his fingers –proof that John wasn’t as control of his body he liked to pretend. For a man who exuded so much control in every aspect of his life—it was a stunning sight.

He leaned down, placed an open-mouthed kiss on his stomach, and then moved down until his lips grazed the head of John’s cock. A small smile drifted across Rodney’s lips at the soft gasp of pleasure that simple action drew from John’s lips. Carefully he ran his hands up John’s legs and spread him wide. Another benefit of having a soldier in his bed. John was all beautifully shaped muscle, strong bones, and he was very flexible.

Rodney whipped his tongue over his balls carefully, dragging over the delicate skin in swift, intoxicating licks that had John clutching at the sheets beneath them. His breathing grew labored but he remained as still as he could under the circumstances. He slid lower and flicked his tongue over the firm skin of John’s perineum and the soldier shuddered.

“Jesus.” John arched against his will and then dropped back on the bed. “Mer!”

“Shh.” Rodney turned and kissed the inside of one thigh. “I’ve got you.”

He lowered his head and let his tongue dip between John’s partially parted cheeks to graze his entrance.

“Oh, fuck, you can’t…” John melted under him. “Jesus fucking Christ.” He spread his legs wider in utter surrender and a shiver ran down the length of his back.

Rodney chuckled softly and whipped his tongue over John’s rapidly relaxing entrance repeatedly as he sent one hand questing for the lube. He lifted his mouth away when he found it and quickly prepped two fingers. Rubbing them across John’s clenching asshole, he lowered his mouth to the cock that strained and leaked in front of him. He swallowed down completely as he pushed two fingers into John without pause.

“Yes. More. Yes—fuck.” John rocked against him any pretense of being relaxed and in control completely gone. “Fuck me, Mer. Fuck me right now.”

Rodney lifted his mouth off the cock he could spend the rest of the night sucking, and slicked up his own. He grabbed a pillow, shoved it under John, and pressed the head of his cock against the hole his fingers had only recently abandoned.

“Look at me, John.”

John’s eyes snapped open and he swallowed hard as Rodney pressed forward, sliding deep into his body with one steady, unrelenting thrust. “I wish you could see how hot you look when you fuck me…” John lifted his hips. “So goddamned sexy.”

“It’s just you and me,” Rodney whispered as he leaned down and kissed his mouth. “Always just you and me, John.”

– – – –

“And you’re okay?”

“Yes.” Rodney stared at Sam with a frown. “I’m fine. We went to the island did filthy things to each other in every room of the house I have there—then we did some filthy things to each other on the beach and then we surfed and did some more filthy stuff. I may never get an erection again, of course, because I think I might have killed my penis.”

Sam bit down on her bottom lip and then just started to laugh. “My God, Rodney.”

“What?” Rodney grinned. “Look it was a pretty scary thing but you know nothing really happened—I’m not a rape victim, Sam. I sympathize with anyone that is because honestly it must the most horrific thing on Earth. I can just thank God that I’m not and that Ian was there to interfere.”

“Yeah.” Sam smiled then. “He actually got a commendation out of it and an increase in rank. Airman First Class. Of course that means he has to pick a discipline for his career. I’m pushing for an apprenticeship on the Apollo for him.”

Rodney sighed. “Is Jack worried because he has a crush on me?”

“No.” Sam shook his head. “If he were worried about that sort of thing he wouldn’t even let me in the building.” She bumped his shoulder. “I have had a crush on you for years.”

He laughed. “If I was straight he’d have met a married woman all those years ago.” He bumped her back. “So, tell me what’s going on. You seem… different.”

Sam flushed and bit down on her lip. “I’m pregnant.”

“Oh.” Rodney’s eyes widened. “Should you be working?”

She laughed. “Yeah, I’m just a little pregnant. I’ve got months before I have to think about taking leave. Jack is excited and a little freaked out. It’s not exactly something we planned.”

“But it’s not a bad thing, right?”

“Right, no, it’s not a bad thing. Just an unexpected thing.” Sam leaned on the counter. “I’m not worried or anything… but Jack is concerned because I’m nearly forty and it could be dangerous.”

“But the doctor is monitoring stuff?”

“Yeah. She’s monitoring all of my stuff. I barely escaped the infirmary without a health monitor attached to me permanently. Everyone got a little insane down there when we realized what was going on. At first, I thought I was going into menopause, which had me freaking out, and Jack sort of amused. Then—you know I’m just pregnant and he got to freak out and I was amused. Carrie was pretty much amused throughout the whole thing.”

“Kavanagh and Zelenka are working on a UAV downstairs. Want to go check it out?”

“Yep. I need to tell Radek the good news anyway.”

– – – –

“Medical team to Lab 12A!”

Jack’s head jerked up and the sound of his wife’s panicked voice on the base’s open channel. “Sam? What the hell is going on?”

“Rodney… goddamn it, breath!” Sam gave a choked sound. “Bring a fucking crash cart!”

– – – –

Jack and John made it to Lab 12A within seconds of each other just in time to see Radek drag Sam away from Rodney so that Keller and Lam could take over CPR. Sam fought Radek briefly and then sagged against him. The room was a disaster area; scorch marks marred the ceiling and one wall.

“Clear!” Jennifer shouted and Rodney’s body jerked against the floor. She scrambled for an injector, slammed it against the wall of his chest, and injected epinephrine in his heart.

“Hit him again,” Carrie demanded.

“Charging,” Jennifer snapped. “Clear!”

Carrie put the oxygen pump back on him and started squeezing rapidly. “Come on, McKay, you don’t get to do this. We don’t know what to do if you aren’t here to bitch and moan about paper cuts and splinters.”

John stood still; his world had shifted completely out of focus and the helplessness of the moment didn’t fade when he was grabbed and jerked out of the doorway by his CO so that more medical personnel could get into the room. He should be doing something; he thought. He should be directing traffic… getting the personnel needed to help Rodney but he was frozen. Frozen by the lack of a heartbeat–frozen by the very still form of the man he loved more than himself.

Sam was sobbing like a child and clutching at her husband. Radek was still as John, his feet glued to the floor, his gaze centered on his best friend.

“Okay, okay, here it is,” Jennifer took a deep breath. “That’s it Rodney, take a deep breath for us. I know it hurts. Just breathe.” She touched his forehead. “You gave us a little scare there.” She turned and looked at Radek. “What happened?”

“He got hit by an energy discharge from the UAV.” Radek pointed at the device. “He took a full blast in the chest. We’re building a UAV with weapons capability based on Wraith technology.”

Jennifer’s line drew into a thin line. “So he got hit by a supercharged version of a Wraith weapon set to kill?”

“Yes.”

The one word was like a punch in the face. John knew about this project; had approved it himself. It wasn’t even Rodney’s project. Radek and Kavanagh had been working on it as a side project. He looked at Radek and then around the room. Kavanagh was off to the side; looking shocked and angry.

“Radek, this weapon wasn’t approved for testing and it wasn’t supposed to even have a power source in it yet. It was to be moved off-site before it was given power.”

Radek nodded, pale. “That is exactly what I was trying to explain to Calvin when Sam and Rodney arrived.”

John’s teeth clenched together as Rodney was moved to a gurney. “Both of you in the goddamned conference room, right now. I’m going with McKay to the infirmary and I expect you all to be there and ready to answer questions when I return.”

“Yes, of course.” Radek gripped Kavanaugh’s arm and drug him from the room.

“It’s my fault,” Sam whispered against Jack’s shirt. Her shoulder’s shook. “It was going to hit me, Jack. But he got in the way. He got between me and the discharge and pushed me out of the way. Why would he do that?”

Jack rubbed her back slowly. “Did you tell him your news, Sam?”

“Yes…” She shuddered. “Oh, God.”

“News?” John asked softly.

Sam lifted her head, tears streaming down her face. “I’m pregnant.”

John swallowed hard. “If it had hit you?”

“I would be in the same condition that he’s in.”

“And your baby?”

She shook her head. “I doubt… resuscitation alone could have terminated the pregnancy… if being hit by the weapon didn’t first.”

“Don’t feel guilty,” John turned to leave. “It’s not your fault. I’d have done the same thing.”

– – – –

“Tell me.”

“He’s stable and breathing on his own. We’re going to scan his heart to make sure it wasn’t damaged. He was able to answer a few questions before he went to sleep. It is a natural sleep and he wakes up if we prod him.” Jennifer glanced towards McKay in the bed. “Remember when you got hit in the gateroom by that weapon?”

John nodded. “It followed me through the wormhole.”

“Yes. It was set to kill, as we know. Your heart stopped and you were basically miserable for about two days after we got you jump started again.”

“I was exhausted.”

“That’s him right now. Alive, very tired and hurting from the CPR he received before Carrie and I arrived. Radek and Sam worked him over pretty hard keeping oxygen in him until we got there. He has a few cracked ribs as a result. They probably saved him from being brain damaged.”

John closed his eyes. “Please, Jennifer, don’t ever say that in relation to him again. It… it would be a death sentence for him.”

Jennifer nodded. “Relax, I haven’t said it front of him and he seems to be very much intact mentally.”

“I need to go get some answers.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “If he wakes him while I’m gone and asks for me…”

“I’ll call you immediately, I promise.”

– – – –

Radek was drinking from a cup with shaking hands when John entered the room. He stood his eyes tired and full of pain. “Is he?”

“He’s stable and breathing on his own,” John answered as he sat down in a chair near Jack O’Neill. “Radek, tell me what happened this morning.”

“I go to lab to check on status of UAV.” Radek waved his hand at Kavanagh. “He’s put a power supply in it. I told him to take it out, that we had not been authorized to test the machine in the mountain, and he said he was tired of not being able to test his own projects because he isn’t allowed to go to the testing ground off world.” Radek rubbed his face with a heavy sigh. “I am arguing with him and Sam comes in… Rodney follows. Rodney demands to know what is going on and I tell him. He starts to yell and then the device goes crazy and…” Radek trailed off and paled further.

“The first discharge hit the wall,” Sam murmured. “The second hit the ceiling as it started to spin. It swung around and fell over on its side, Rodney grabbed me, he shoved me away, and it discharged. He was trying to reach it to turn it off. It hit him and Radek crawled over the counter and jumped on the device to hold it still. Calvin hit the off button and jerked out the power source. I started CPR and Radek… he helped. I called for help.”

“I have every right to conduct experiments in my own lab,” Calvin snapped. “I was following all of the proper handling procedures.”

Sam sucked in a breath. “You fucking idiot! You put a Go’uld based power source into a weapon based on Wraith technology! You violated lab protocols. Disobeyed direct orders. Failed to comply with base policy on the use of weapons. You had no clue what you were doing and you nearly got us all killed—then you sit here and try to defend your own stupidity while Rodney is down in the infirmary recovering from YOUR MISTAKE. He died you stupid son of a bitch! He died.” Her breath caught. “He stopped breathing! His heart… his heart…” She took a deep breath. “The Asgard aren’t here to fix it this time, Calvin. They aren’t here and you nearly fucking killed him! You are so fired. Get the hell out of my mountain right now!” She stood from her chair and walked away. “You’ll never get another job in this field—I’ll make sure of it.” She jerked open the door. “Major Lorne!”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Dr. Kavanagh is fired. Take him to the Warrant Officer and process him out of this mountain right now. Make sure the search of his person is very thorough. I wouldn’t want him to accidently leave the facility with something that doesn’t belong to him.”

“You can’t fire me!” Kavanagh snapped. “McKay is the Chief Scientist and I have a contract.”

Sam turned and smiled at Calvin. “Major Lorne, what is the first rule of engagement on this base?”

Lorne colored. “Don’t fuck with the Major General’s wife.”

“Dr. Kavanagh tried to kill me and the Major General’s baby today. I think that means he was fucking with me.”

Lorne’s gaze hardened. “I agree.”

“What is the second rule of engagement on this base?”

“Don’t fuck with McKay.”

“Dr. McKay is downstairs recovering from being hit in the chest with a Wraith weapon set on kill because Dr. Kavanagh can’t follow instructions. I think that means he was fucking with McKay.”

“I agree.” Lorne’s jaw tightened and his gaze flicked to John briefly.

“So, he’s fired.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He pointed a finger at Kavanagh. “You can come willingly or you can come broken into several pieces. Your choice, doctor.”

“You’ll regret this,” Calvin snapped as he walked past her.

“You don’t know who you’re fucking with,” Sam responded. “Go away, Calvin, and don’t make threats you can’t back up or I’ll let Colonel Sheppard spend the better part of a week spreading your parts across this solar system. I understand he likes to start with Jupiter but I like Mercury.”

Radek cleared his throat as Lorne pulled the door shut. “Obviously, I must go check the device.” He rubbed his face with a sigh. “I do not know how this happened… it seems impossible that McKay could be in Dr. Carter’s body… but the evidence is overwhelming.”

Sam sputtered. “You asshole.”

John laughed in spite of himself. “You did sound like him. I mean, it was a little unnerving. You certainly took all of the wind out of my ire. That doesn’t mean I won’t kill him and spread his carcass far and wide if you have your heart set on it.”

– – – –

“Hey you.” John stood from the chair he’d been in for the past two hours and touched Rodney’s forehead. “You are in so much trouble. Dad says you’re grounded.”

Rodney chuckled and then winced. “What the fuck?”

“Radek cracked several of your ribs giving you CPR.” John raised one eyebrow. “I understand that Sam handled the mouth to mouth part. Did you do this so you could get the Major General’s wife to kiss you?”

“She is hot,” Rodney confided in a whisper. “I’d totally go for her if I was straight. I mean genius IQ and great breasts? What’s not to like?”

John laughed and pressed his forehead against Rodney’s with a soft moan. “Christ, you scared the fuck out of me, Mer.” He lifted his head and kissed his mouth gently. “I couldn’t even move.”

“Sorry.” Rodney winced. “I couldn’t… I couldn’t let it hit her.”

“I know. I understand.” He trailed fingers along his cheek and then across his jaw. “I really do. I’d have done the same.”

“She’s okay? The baby isn’t hurt because I pushed her?”

“They are both fine. She just left to get some rest. She and the General sat with us for a while.” John sat down on the edge of the bed. “Most of the base has come by to see you actually. I had to run off half of your department and most of the Marines. Ian and Jimmy were here. I sent them after Quark. I figured you might want him when you wake up.”

“Yeah.” Rodney smiled. “I missed him. I haven’t gotten to see him since we got back this morning…” He closed his eyes briefly. “I’m really sorry I scared you.”

“You did the right thing, Mer and I can’t hold that against you.” He rubbed his hand carefully. “You’re still grounded though. Dad was very adamant about it.”

“He’s here?”

“They are all three here.” John winced. “He heard about the accident from the Pentagon. So, I’m sort of grounded for not keeping him in the loop.”

“Well, at least we’ll be together.” Rodney tightened his fingers in John’s. “So, huh, I died again?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s fucked up. Kavanagh is so fired.”

John snorted. “Christ, Sam had a little conniption. She had him escorted off the base and then proceeded to blackball him with every single government agency and organization on Earth. He’ll be lucky if he can get a job teaching physics at a community college by the time she’s done. Radek accused her of basically channeling your attitude.”

Rodney frowned. “The Russians or the Chinese will welcome him with open arms.”

“It would be an act of treason.”

“He won’t care. He’s too arrogant to care about shit like that.”

“How high is his access?”

“Mid-level.” Rodney moved around in the bed. “I never let him have the kind of access he wanted. He’ll probably blow up Russia. We should warn them so we can’t be accused of setting them up.”

“Ah, he’s awake.”

John shifted slightly at the sound of his father’s voice. It was still new, he thought. Still hard to believe that his family was back in his life. “Yes, awake and plotting.”

Patrick walked to the other side of Rodney’s bed and stared. “Some people around here are genuinely surprised by your actions today.”

“Oh yeah?” Rodney asked softly.

“I’m not.” Patrick sat down in a chair and looked him over. “Men who make nuclear weapons have balls of solid brass.”

He laughed and then winced. “Fuck.”

“Yeah, no laughing with cracked ribs,” John murmured.

“Still, you’re grounded.”

“I was informed.” Rodney snuggled down in his bed. “Good thing I’m on bed rest for the foreseeable future.” A flash of orange crossed the room and then Quark hopped up onto his bed. “There’s my big baby.” He held out both hands and the cat purred all the way to him. The cat slid under one arm and burrowed with a contented sound. Rodney smiled at Ian and Jimmy. “Thanks. Has he been fed?”

“Yes, Dr. Carter fed him this morning when she put him in your quarters.” Jimmy inclined his head. “You okay, Doc?”

“Yeah. I’m good.”

“Want me to go find that guy and kick his ass?” Ian offered.

Rodney shook his head. “Dr. Carter is taking great pains to ruin him professionally. It’s geek revenge but the effects will last much longer than a broken arm.”

“Whatever makes you happy.” Ian smiled. “Rumor has it nearly pissed his pants before he got out of the mountain. It spread fast that he could have killed you and Dr. Carter.”

“And her baby.” Rodney frowned. “John, are you sure I didn’t hurt her when I pushed her?”

“She’s fine, Mer. She’ll be around to see you later.” He touched his face with careful fingers. “Right, now, I think you should sleep some more. I know you feel like shit.”

“Yeah,” Rodney frowned. “You got hit with one of these things once, right?”

“Yeah, in the back as I was coming through the gate. Thankfully, Jennifer is very adept at dealing with the effects of Wraith weapons. She had me on my feet and bitching inside of a week.”

“You died.”

“Yes,” John admitted. “Several times actually while I was on Atlantis. So much, in fact, that they changed my call sign.”

“Phoenix,” Rodney murmured. “I know.” He moved Quark closer. “Named the ship after you – but no one noticed how sappy I am.”

John laughed, leaned forward and kissed his forehead. “Ah, Mer, we all noticed.”

“Well, naming it John Sheppard would have been pretentious. I’m not the Asgard or anything.

“That’s right—they named a ship after you.”

“Yeah, but they also named one after O’Neill and Daniel Jackson.” Rodney smirked. “Sort of wore the new off having one named after me. Especially when it was blown all to hell and back during the replicator war.”

“Do you want a sedative?”

“No.” Rodney frowned. “I think I can go to sleep without one. Go back to the room and get some sleep, John, you look tired.”

He figured he looked like someone had taken ten years off his life because it was certainly how he felt. John slipped off the bed. “Tell Jennifer if you need anything and have her send for me if you want.”

“I’m a grown up. I’ll be fine.” He patted the hand that still hovered on his arm. “Go, John.”

– – – –

John leaned against the wall outside of the infirmary and took a deep breath. His father was silent in front of him. Ian and Jimmy were hovering. This was not the place for him to lose it.

“Gentlemen, I believe the Colonel could use some privacy.”

He didn’t respond as both men ‘yes, sir’d’ his father and beat a hasty retreat down the hall. “I don’t think you’ve called me by my rank since…”

“Yeah, shitty day. Let’s not go there.”

John laughed weakly. “I—fuck—he was dead. He was on the floor dead right in front of me and I couldn’t move. I felt like I was dying with him.”

“Well, in situations like this—men like us have a few options. Fucking is out. You’ve never been much of a drinker. This means we should round you up a few victims and hit the gym.” Patrick wrapped an around his shoulders and prodded him from the wall. “Come along, I heard the General mention last week he was bringing in some new Army Rangers.”

“Weak fuckers,” John muttered.

“You ever going to tell me about you can work your way through twenty SEALS and not break a sweat?”

“You read my file.”

“Yeah.”

“Remember that bug thing?”

“First or second bug thing?”

“Second one—you know where I turned into a bug briefly?”

“Yeah, I watched some video of that. I could kick O’Neill’s ass for that part alone. Just so you know.”

“Well, they got rid of most of the bug traits—the skin and the mindset. But I kept a few things.”

“Like?”

“Strength, agility, speed, and stamina. Just ramped it all up a little bit. Beyond human levels and more on par with say a Jaffa. Okay, maybe above that. It’s why I spent so much time training with them… learning to control myself.”

“Your file is fuzzy on those details.”

“Yeah, because Keller was afraid I’d end up being experimented on at Area 51 or they would try to make her reproduce the results in other soldiers.”

“Does Rodney know?”

“We haven’t discussed it but he consulted on my case through the gate when it was happening. It was one of the many times he tried to get O’Neill to let him to come to Atlantis. He designed the room they kept me in until they could fix the problem. Created shields that would keep me in but not hurt me. They had no choice after I tore through the Wraith holding cell they put me in first.”

“So, why haven’t the two of you discussed it?”

John frowned as they came to a stop in front of the gym. “Rodney doesn’t ask me about Atlantis. I think the disappointment of not being there himself is a little more than he can deal with.”

– – – –

“I heard you had a little nuclear melt down on Kavanagh?”

Sam jerked and nearly dropped the computer she had balanced on her legs. “Rodney.”

He waved at her. “Water?”

“Yeah.” She put the laptop on the bed and went a table with a pitcher on it. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I died and you let Radek break me.” He took the cup when she offered and drank the water gratefully. “And then you let Carrie and Jennifer electrocute me and stab me in the heart.”

“Yeah, that about sums it up.” Sam sat down on the edge of the bed. Her bottom lip quivered. “You suck, McKay. I can’t believe…”

“Hey.” He reached out and took her hand. “None of that. If you were in this bed instead of me, I’m not sure I could live with myself. It would have cost you so much more than a few cracked ribs. I’ll be fine and all the kissing you gave me surely saved my brain so we’re all even and stuff.”

She laughed. “They told you that, did they?”

“Yeah.” Rodney grinned. “I told John I’d totally want you if I was straight. Big brains and breasts… it’s a heady combination.”

Her mouth dropped open. “You asshole.”

“You remember that when you think about crying over me.” He patted her hand. “So you didn’t give me tongue right? Because I would have hated to miss that part, too.”

“You’re horrible.” She laughed and then sighed. “No tongue. Radek was watching.”

“He’s pervy that way,” Rodney confided. “Very much a voyeur.”

Sam leaned in then, kissed him right on the mouth, no tongue, and then lifted away. “Thank you, Rodney. I don’t… I’m not sure…”

“Do you think we should be jealous?” John asked amused.

Jack chuckled. “Hell, if I wasn’t slightly afraid you’d kick my ass I’d kiss him on the mouth, too.”

Rodney laughed. “I’ve always had a weakness for dress blues, Jack.”

“Everyone knows, Rodney.” He sat down in a chair near the bed and closed his eyes briefly. “Thank you.”

Rodney looked over his face thoughtfully. “There is such a thing as too much loss, Jack. I understand that.” He rubbed his sleeping cat’s head and sighed. “I’m spoiling the kid rotten by the way. Ponies, puppies, telescopes, chemistry sets, nuclear bomb kits, drum sets, every noisy toy possible, a ridiculously expensive car at sixteen. Then I’m going to encourage him to go to school and major in all my favorite subjects.”

Sam moved around the bed and slid into her husband’s lap so John could have her spot on the bed. “Sounds like you’ll be her favorite Godfather.”

“I’m atheist. I can’t be a godfather.”

“We so don’t care, McKay.” Jack kissed his wife’s hand when he found it shaking. “Tell us you’re flattered and smile.”

Rodney did smile. “Well, then I’m flattered. He’s going to be a great kid.”

“She,” Sam corrected. “And she’s going to be the president of the whole planet.”

“He’s going to be the ruler of the Intergalactic Council… so we should work on uniting the planets so it’ll be all set when he graduates from grad school.”

Sam grinned then. “You should get a surrogate mother have a kid for you, McKay. Think of all that brainpower passed on to a new generation. If you have a boy we could do an arranged marriage thing.”

Rodney wrinkled his nose. “I’m not sure if I even like kids enough to live with one full time. Besides, John has the Ancient gene. We should use him for children.”

“Hey, I think that’s a conversation for you and me Mer—not you and Sam.” John propped his feet up on the end of the bed and started going through screens on his tablet PC. “Besides, it’ll have to be you. My DNA is a little too messed up from the bug incident for me to be passing it along to a kid.”

“Huh.” Rodney inclined his head. “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard you mention that.”

“You never asked.”

“Well, that’s a pretty loaded question for me to ask so I’ve been sort of waiting for you to bring it up.”

John lifted his head from his computer and frowned. “Seriously? You waited fifteen months for me to bring something up? I don’t know that anyone would believe that you have that level of patience.”

“Asshole.”

John grinned. “It’s just a few chromosomes but I really don’t know how I feel about passing them along to a kid. It’s just… well you’ve seen the footage of what I turned in to. I mean what if the kid came out blue? It’s all very X-Men, of course, but the press would never leave us alone after that.”

Rodney sputtered and then laughed. “Fucker. Stop.” He groaned. “I’m kicking Radek’s ass for cracking my ribs.”

– – – –

Rodney woke with a start and frowned at the figure slouched in the chair beside his bed. “Hey.”

Ian Wilkes sat up. “Hey, Doc.”

“John put you on guard duty?”

“No.” He flushed. “I was just… I couldn’t sleep and I figured you were alone because the Colonel had to go on a mission.”

“Yeah, he stopped by and told me.” He frowned. “And Jennifer sent Quark back to our quarters.”

“Want me to go get him?”

“No. He doesn’t like it much in here and she says I can go back in the morning if I can stand on my own two feet.” Rodney inclined his head. “So, are we going to talk about this?”

“I really don’t want to,” Ian admitted, clearly miserable.

“I know that John told me to leave your closet door open… but huh, under the circumstances I think I’m going to have to take it down for you.”

“It’s stupid really. The last time I got… I mean it went away pretty quickly. Except this isn’t and I know it’s stupid because it is obvious that nothing is going to happen.”

Rodney sighed. “You know I’m a bastard, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And I snore.”

“Yeah.” Ian laughed. “Like a trucker. I don’t know how the Colonel sleeps with you.”

“Fuck you,” Rodney snapped and then fiddled with his blankets. “Look, I’m going to be blunt. You’ve got your head wrapped around me because you don’t stand a chance in hell of getting anywhere with me. I’m safe and that’s insulting. You should at least be lusting after me because you think I’m sexy or something. But, no, you’re doing it because it’s safe and I know you aren’t a coward—so knock it off.”

“Doc…”

“Rodney. My name is Rodney.” He raised one eyebrow. “So, who are you seriously wound up over? Because you don’t even use my name.”

Ian sighed. “You suck.”

“So I’ve been told several times lately,” Rodney admitted and relaxed on his pillow. “So, do you think you’re bi or gay?”

“I…” Ian rubbed his face. “I only had sex with my girlfriend a handful of times in high school and it was always… frustrating. If I never touched another woman as long as I live I’d be fine with that.”

“Okay, so gay.”

“My parents will never speak to me again.”

“If you’ll notice that’s not always the case. John and his father reunited and could have done so a long time ago if they both weren’t stubborn bastards.” Rodney sighed. “Besides you can always have stupid holiday dinners with me and John and the rest of the Sheppards. I always get it catered but its good stuff.”

“So, I really don’t have a crush on you.”

“Oh, you might, but it’s a defense mechanism. Is there somebody on the base that you’re attracted to? And please don’t say it’s Jimmy.”

Ian shook his head, a look of pain drifting over his face. “No, can’t be Jimmy. He treats sex like a game and I don’t think I’m built for that. I know I’m young but I need… I guess I need something more personal and important. I don’t know why I should have to settle for something cheap just because I’m young.”

“Agreed.”

“There is a civilian; but that’s probably going to go nowhere fast since what happened… I mean all of the civilians are pretty much giving the soldiers on the base a wide berth.”

“Huh. Who?”

“His name is Casey… I mean he’s probably really out of my league.”

Rodney snorted. “Casey Mayer? Dr. Casey Mayer? You’re so much hotter than him, Ian.”

Ian flushed. “Doc!”

“I mean—I like you more, so of course he’s not good enough for you.” Rodney frowned at him. “Seriously? I mean he’s attractive but he has a degree in fucking geology.”

“I really don’t care what his PhD is in, Doc.”

“Yeah.” Rodney sighed. “Okay, so why are you following me around and pretending to moon over me.”

“Well, I’m not exactly pretending.” Ian flushed. “Besides, he isn’t likely to hit on me if he thinks I’m crushing on his boss.”

“Oh, you’re a cock tease.” Rodney pointed a finger at him. “It’s always the pretty, wholesome ones. He’s only a few years older than you so I guess it’s not a bad match. He skipped a few grades here and there. Not as smart as me but he’s better than most around here. Bright, still thinks he can make a difference.”

“Still, I only have a BS.”

“So?”

“Oh come on, McKay, that matters around here.” Ian sighed. “I figured I’d do a few years enlisted and then apply for Officer Candidate School.”

“It’s smart… the best officers start out enlisted. I’ve always thought so. John did four years enlisted while he got his first degree. Even O’Neill did a few years enlisted. You can’t effectively lead men if you’ve never been in the field yourself.” Rodney glared suddenly. “What’s your undergrad degree in?”

“Math.”

“Then you are forgiven for wanting to date a geologist. Mostly.” Rodney sighed. “So, first thing you need to do is get over this attachment to me—I’m old enough to have fathered you and John is a patient man—an endlessly patient man where you are concerned actually, but let’s not push that.”

Ian laughed. “Yeah, okay, I’ll work on that.”

“Second, you need to volunteer in geology—offer to help with their stupid rocks and make yourself useful. They always need muscle down there and trust me—you’re serious eye candy.”

Ian blushed. “McKay!”

“What?” Rodney chuckled. “And do that blushing thing when you catch him looking because that’s charming.”

“I don’t know that I want you to be my being gay mentor,” Ian muttered.

“Of course you do,” Rodney returned. “I’m easily the gayest man on this base. Trust me.”

Ian sighed. “So how do you feel? Can I get you anything?”

“Nah, I’m good. Huh, you know you could go to my lab and get my laptop.”

Eyes narrowed. “Is that doctor approved?”

“Well, me being bored is bad for the safety of the planet so yes—it’s approved. Go get my laptop.”

– – – –

“You cheat,” Rodney announced and sat back on his pillow. ‘I can’t trust a Sheppard that’s obvious.”

Patrick laughed. “Just because I’m beating you…”

“Bah.” Rodney rolled his eyes. “Bragging is really unattractive.” He tossed aside his Xbox controller. “You should let me win you know—I died yesterday.”

He snorted. “What the fuck ever, McKay. There are no whiners in the Sheppard family so pick up your controller—it’s your turn.”

Rodney grabbed his controller and glared at the Admiral for a few seconds before he started preparing to putt. “I should have never let you play Tiger Woods.”

And that’s how John found them—ensconced on the bed with junk food, empty soda cans, a half eaten pizza, and an Excel score sheet displayed on Rodney’s laptop to do statistical analysis on their virtual golf game. He leaned in the door a while, his brother Matt standing beside him dumbfounded.

“Oh that it’s. You aren’t allowed to play Tiger Woods, either.” Patrick glared. “New rule of engagement, McKay. No one gets to play Tiger Woods.”

“Fine. Fine. I had no idea men of your age where so bitchy when the get beaten. It does not make me look forward to John being this age, just so you know.” Rodney grabbed the laptop and started typing. “It’s your backswing you know—you always fuck up…” He paused and looked up. “Hey, you.”

“Hey,” John responded amused. “So, huh, when did you get a golf game for the Xbox?”

“It was a ‘good thing you didn’t die’ gift from your father.” Rodney cast the older Sheppard an amused look. “He thought he could beat me at it.”

“I did beat you at it.”

“Oh, you did not.”

“Check the averages, McKay. I’m ten points ahead of you.”

McKay looked back at the computer screen and then glared in outrage. “Did you do that in your head? You just averaged two sets of scores—twenty each in your head?”

“It’s not rocket science, Rodney.” John strolled in and dropped down into a chair. “How do you feel? Shouldn’t you be in the infirmary?”

“I feel fine and no I shouldn’t be in the infirmary. People wouldn’t leave me alone. Even after O’Neill posted a guard on the door—people still kept sneaking in. So I got your Dad to break me out of the infirmary and bring me here. Trust me, no solder or scientist on this base knocks on our door unless something is about to explode.” Rodney lay back on the pillows and closed his laptop. “They’re all afraid of you.”

John smirked. “As they damn well should be.”

“Except Kavanagh apparently. He lodged a complaint with the Department of Justice. Claimed discrimination because he’s straight and also said that he was fired because he wouldn’t put out for Sam.”

John stared, his mouth open. “You’ve got to be fucking with me.”

“I’d never do that in front of your little brother,” Rodney responded serenely and then handed his Xbox controller to Matthew with a small sigh when he saw the younger Sheppard eyeing it with envy. “Not even kidding actually. Jack had the Apollo beam him right into the meeting where Kavanagh was mouthing off and dared him to repeat that shit to his face. Then he showed the Oversight Committee footage from the lab where the UAV went apeshit. They dismissed his claim and threatened him with four attempted murder charges if he didn’t go away and be very quiet. Even implied that he was obviously so unstable he’d meant to kill all of us and then himself.”

“That’s what I get for going off-world. I miss all the good stuff.” His gaze flicked over the mess on his bed and he grimaced. “I need a shower.”

“I’ll come, too. Jennifer wouldn’t let me get one in the infirmary last night.”

“Yeah, okay.” John stood. “Sleep clothes?”

“Yeah.”

PART THREE

Keira Marcos

In my spare time I write fan fiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It’s not the usual kind of hobby for a “domestic engineer” in her 30’s but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people’s expectations.

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