Title: An Intimate Portrait with Dr. Rodney McKay and Colonel John Sheppard by Iris March
Author: Keira Marcos
Series: What Might Have Been
Series Order: 4.5
Summary: Iris March sits down to interview Rodney McKay and John Sheppard and learns something she never expected.
Rating: R (for adult themes)
Warnings: Language, discussion of child abuse, and OC point of view
Categories: Slash, Established Relationship, Alternate Universe, Contemporary
– – – –
“It was recently my privilege to sit down with Dr. Rodney McKay and Colonel John Sheppard for my Intimate Portrait series.” Iris March leaned against a railing, a stunning view of snow-capped mountains spread out behind her. She brushed pale blonde hair over her shoulder and regarded the camera seriously. “The following interview is not appropriate for young viewers and I encourage parental guidance due to the discussion of violent child abuse and adult language.”
The scene fades and Iris is standing in front of a silent grand piano. “Colonel John Sheppard tells me that Dr. McKay plays this instrument often in the afternoons but we were unable to talk him into playing for us today. Many of you might recognize the instrument from his performance during his interview with the Science Channel.” She waved a hand and the camera spanned around the large, open room. “It’s the center of this large room that both Dr. McKay and Colonel Sheppard admit to favoring in their home.”
She moved away from the piano with a practiced sway that was elegant but not overtly sexual. “What I notice most about their house is that it really is a home. They live, work, and play here—and getting an invitation into what is fast becoming their sanctuary from the world is quite an honor for me.” Iris paused and inclined her head. “We’ll be joining Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay upstairs.”
The camera followed her casual stroll up a large staircase all the way to the third floor. She turned as she reached for the doorknob. “I’m told that I’m the first girl to enter this room since they moved into this house.” She winked at the camera.
The camera hit Dr. Rodney McKay first—dressed casually in dark blue slacks and a white button down shirt. He was ensconced in one of three chairs by a large, bustling fireplace with his laptop.
The camera spanned around the room, taking in the decadent California King sized bed and matching dark wood furniture before centering on John Sheppard. The Air Force Colonel was standing near a pair of floor to ceiling windows, a cup of coffee in hand. He was wearing black slacks, a dark green button down shirt, and no shoes. He left the window and the camera followed his movement across the room so that he could take a seat beside McKay.
He took the chair closest to the door, angling him toward his scientist in a blatant protective gesture as McKay closed his laptop and set it on a table near his chair.
Iris March slid into the chair in front of the pair with a confident smile. “Your home is beautiful. I could spend the whole day wandering around playing with things.”
Sheppard smiled, soft and as sexy as hell and Iris felt her heart trip a little. The man was lethal in more than one way, she knew that intellectually but to be sitting in a chair in his bedroom was quite another matter altogether. She blushed when McKay smirked at her.
“We have difficult jobs on the best of days so it’s nice to have a place to call home.” John set aside his coffee and settled back in his chair. “This is the first home I’ve had in a very long time.”
“You’ve had a lot to adjust to have the past few months, Colonel.”
“Past few years actually,” John admitted. “I never expected to see Earth again to be honest. I figured, like most of the members of the Atlantis expedition, that I would die in Pegasus.”
Iris forced herself to relax and nod. “It’s been difficult for the press to get interviews with members of the original expedition and you rarely speak of the mission itself.”
“Atlantis is an amazing place to live—beautiful and deadly. We lost so many people out there before the mission was recalled and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about those people we left behind in graves on another world, in another galaxy. If I could’ve brought them home with me I would have.” He smiled when McKay settled his hand over his on the arm of his chair and casually turned it so he could thread their fingers together.
The ease and affection of the gesture was a surprise and internally Iris chastised herself for being startled. It was obvious to anyone how much they loved and respected each other. “Dr. McKay, do you regret not going on the Atlantis mission?”
He paused before his answering, his eyes clouded with emotion she figured he’d never fully express. “I wish things could’ve been different but I couldn’t leave my sister to fight cancer alone on Earth for a one-way mission to another galaxy. I threw her away once and I couldn’t do it again.”
“You threw her away.”
“Yes, my mother as well. At the time, it was the only thing I could think to do—to protect them.” He turned and picked up a coffee cup she hadn’t noticed he had and frowned into its contents. “My father never hit my sister Jeannie but I knew if I wasn’t around for him to hurt that he would’ve started in on her. He certainly never hesitated to beat my mother on a near daily basis.”
“You were just thirteen years old.”
“I understood that if she didn’t get out that he was going to kill her. I doubt she would’ve lasted another year in his home.” He frowned down into what was obviously an empty coffee cup and then set it aside with a pronounced sigh.
Admiral Patrick Sheppard who had stayed behind the cameras all morning with the security team caught her eye when he directed one of the security team to pass John a carafe of coffee. Iris watched the pass with a soft smile.
McKay’s eyes lit up as if it was Christmas and Iris relaxed in her chair. It was amazing to see such a complicated man satisfied with something so simple. He filled the cup himself and sat back with a pleased smile.
“And your mother? How did she feel about you staying with your father?”
“She begged me to reconsider,” Rodney admitted. “She would call when he wasn’t home to make sure I was okay—even reported him to the police on numerous occasions but for all of his faults my father isn’t an idiot and he knew know more about his legal rights than the cops that showed up did. He is a lawyer.”
“You stayed in his home for six months before leaving yourself?”
“Yes, at the time I considered it my biggest personal failure,” he admitted a frown. “I had this plan—I only had another year at home before I could worm my way into the physics program at Northwestern. My mother had already settled everything with them and I had a scholarship. They just didn’t want me on campus without a parent until I was fourteen. I was small for my age anyway and they considered me a liability.”
“So you planned to stay a year.”
“Well, I knew that I would be at school most of the time after a year. I figured it would be enough that he would be controlling me and my life—it would keep his attention off my mother and Jeannie.”
“It gave my mother time to heal so that when he finally did come after her—she had the self-esteem to fight back. But at that point, he was entirely focused on me and how I’d embarrassed him in court.”
“Because you sued your parents for emancipation and won?” Iris questioned.
“Yes, I proved he wasn’t fit in court and told everyone that I didn’t trust my mother because she abandoned me all in order to gain custody of myself. I lied. I don’t regret it.”
“Did you really lie?” Iris asked carefully. “She hadn’t protected you and instead of keeping you safe she left you in the home of the man that abused you both.”
“That was my choice.”
“You were a child, Dr. McKay. You shouldn’t have been allowed to make a choice like that,” Iris pressed and lifted an eyebrow at the genuine surprise on his face.
“A very smart child,” Rodney finally said. “Maybe too smart for my own good, I guess. I regret that I hurt her—because I was vicious in court. She cried almost continuously and Jeannie really didn’t understand what was going on.”
“But you escaped him.”
“Yes. I had a trust fund from my mother’s father and several scholarships. Over the years, I had to fight more than once to keep my independence but that is another matter altogether.”
“Then he came into your life again.”
Rodney paused and deliberately sat his coffee aside. “Yes.”
“Can we talk about that?”
“Over the years, he’d tried to call me or write me letters. I changed my phone number a lot and moved around to avoid him. I figured I was safe based mostly on geography, which wasn’t one of my most brilliant moves. He found me with a male lover.”
“Is that when he realized you were gay?”
“No, he’d known I was gay since I was a kid. In fact, the beating that forced me to reevaluate my plan to manage him came the day he caught me kissing my best friend at the time. I thought he was going to kill me—I think maybe he thought that he had. He left me bleeding on my bedroom floor. He left the house and then came back several hours later—he called the police and said someone had broken into our home. I heard him on the phone talking to them—saying he thought his son was dead.”
Iris blinked rapidly and swallowed back a sound of dismay. “And they believed him?”
“He was a popular figure in the community. His wife had left, taking his young daughter with her and most people felt sorry for him. He had most people convinced that all of the abuse I’d suffered had been at her hands and that she’d escaped to America with Jeannie to avoid being punished.”
“How many times were you hospitalized as a child?”
“I’d have to look at the records to know for certain but I know both of my arms were broken before I was ten years old and I’d been hospitalized for my allergies at least fifteen times.”
“Yes, to a variety of foods.” Rodney edged. “My father saw them as a weakness and often exposed me to products I was allergic to in an effort to toughen me up despite the fact that each time it nearly killed me.”
Iris took a calming breath. “On purpose?”
“Oh, yes, on purpose and I never saw it coming. I stopped eating unless I was forced when I was seven years old. I barely ate as a child—I loved going to school because I knew the food there would be safe for me. The women in the school lunch room made sure I was safe.” He refilled his coffee cup. “Eventually, the medical personnel at the emergency room that I most often ended up in—informed the police and my parents were threatened with charges of neglect if they didn’t get a handle on my diet. They blamed my mother despite the fact that she was never home when I had an attack.”
“Did that stop him?” Iris asked softly.
“Well, he stopped exposing me foods that would kill me but he would still hit me whenever the mood struck which was often.”
“And why didn’t you tell anyone at your school?”
Rodney paused and stared at his coffee for a long silent minute. “I fell in love for the first time when I was six years old. I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone the way I loved my sister the day she came home. Life had been good up to that point and Jeannie was this beautiful, perfect little person that my parents brought home to me and let me hold whenever I wanted.”
“Your father wasn’t hitting you or your mother at that point?”
Rodney paused and considered that. “He wasn’t hitting me. There were times at night when I heard my mother crying, sometimes screaming. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized my father was probably raping her at night.” He glanced towards John Sheppard and Iris blinked at the fury on the Colonel’s face. The Air Force man made a clearly conscience effort to relax in his chair—his fingers loosening in McKay’s hand where they’d clenched suddenly.
Iris cleared her throat. “Did you ever speak to your mother about those nights?”
“I asked her once—just before she died and she cried herself to sleep without answering my question. I never asked again.” Rodney set aside his coffee. “A year after Jeannie was born my father lost his law firm. He took a big risk with a case and lost—we had to move to a smaller house and he had to take a job as a junior attorney at a law firm he felt was beneath his abilities.”
“And he started hitting you.”
“He hit my mother one night at the dinner table and I…” McKay paused and cleared his throat. “I yelled at him to stop. He jerked me from the table and took me into my room. He beat me until I passed out. I woke up with my mother—she was begging me to wake up, to not be dead.”
Iris took a deep breath. “And after that?”
“He started to hit her in front of me and he slapped me often. He made sure to rarely hit my face because it might have lead to questions he didn’t want to answer. Scott McKay is an arrogant and cruel man. It didn’t matter that I was a child or that he out weighed my mother by at least a hundred pounds. The second time he beat me up I threatened to tell my teacher at school.”
“And he…” Iris trailed off obviously at a loss as to what to ask.
“He told me if I ever told anyone what happened in our home he’d kill Jeannie. He dragged me into her room—she was just really learning to walk and her first word—her first word was my name. She was sitting on a bright yellow rug—I remember is so clearly. Her hair was in these ridiculous little ribbons and she was laughing. She looked up at me with my eyes—my mother’s eyes and laughed like babies do. She held out her arms for me and screamed ‘Mer!’ like she was so excited to see me.”
“What did he do?”
Rodney cleared his throat and lowered his gaze. “He let me pick her up and then he pushed us into the rocker my grandmother bought when I was born.” He took a deep breath. “He put his hand around her throat and she thought he was playing. She giggled and squirmed and waved her arms. He told me if I ever told anyone our private family business, that he would kill her. He said that snapping a baby’s neck would be almost too easy to do.”
Iris blinked rapidly and turned her face from the camera briefly. “And you promised to be quiet.”
“I would’ve promised him anything,” Rodney admitted. “I still would—for my sister.”
“Is that why you pay him to stay away?”
“Yes,” McKay answered immediately—his gaze serious and unhesitating. “We have a contract. He doesn’t come near us and I pay him. Some people might have a problem with that but frankly; I got tired of waiting for someone to save us from him so I did what I could. I was just twenty-three when I made that deal with him. I met with him while he was in prison because I’d been informed he was going to be released.”
“And he was in jail for assaulting you when you were nineteen.”
“Yes.” Rodney sighed. “It’s not something I focus on daily these days. I have a full plate so speak. My childhood was a nightmare but it could’ve been worse.”
Iris’ mouth dropped open. “How?”
“He could’ve been fucking me,” Rodney snapped and then huffed. “Was that too blunt for prime time?”
Iris shook her head. “No…. I mean we’ll probably have to edit out the ‘f’ word.” She looked down at her lap.
McKay sighed. “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to upset you. As far as I remember, my father only sexually abused my mother. I believe, without hesitation, that he would have transferred that twisted brand of affection to my sister if she hadn’t been removed from his household. He doesn’t see women as valuable. My mother was a beautiful and brilliant woman. My father nearly destroyed her because he couldn’t stand the idea of having a woman in his life that was more successful than he was.”
“I’m upset for you. I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t be.” Iris cleared her throat and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Have you had any contact with him since you saw him prison?”
“He refused the money at first—and after he was released in prison he tried to insert himself into our lives. My mother was in hospice, my sister was just starting college, and he was the last thing I needed to deal with so I hired someone to change his mind about taking the money. I bought him a house in France and put him on a plane with a check.”
“He hasn’t called or written since then?”
“No, he’ll lose the money if he does.”
The scene faded and Iris was standing on the large deck again. “Dr. Rodney McKay is the preeminent practical physicist on wormhole physics on this planet. He understands more about Ancient technology and the Stargate than most of us could even imagine. His peers both at Stargate command and around the world often hate him as much as they respect him. They say he’s arrogant, rude, and vicious in his assessment in the work of others.
“His relationship with Colonel John Sheppard has been making headlines since before the Stargate Program was declassified. We first became aware of John Sheppard when we watched him take two bullets in the chest for Dr. McKay at a conference in Chicago. In that moment, we saw a trained soldier doing his job and a man in love. John admitted without a single hesitation that Rodney McKay was the love of his life.” She moved down the railing. “He’s admitted more than once if the regulations concerning homosexuals serving in the military hadn’t changed that he would have resigned his commission to have a relationship with Dr. McKay. Due to his role in the Stargate program, we know a lot about John Sheppard’s career with the Air Force. But, we don’t know a lot about him personally.”
The scene faded and then the picture shifted back to the scene in the bedroom in front of the fire.
“Colonel Sheppard, you recently reconnected with your father and brothers after years of estrangement.” Iris glanced off camera slightly and her gaze connected with the patriarch of the Sheppard family. The Navy man was in casual clothes but he still looked every inch the four-star Admiral was. “That must be a comfort to you.”
“Comfort,” John inclined his head. “Yes, I suppose that is one way of saying it. We let an argument separate us for a lot of years but we’re trying to rebuild what we’ve lost. Frankly having my father back in my life is… it’s like he took the weight of the world off me.”
“Literally,” Iris murmured. “You mean that literally.”
“Yes, in a lot of ways. Nothing can really replace the support you get from family. There may come a day when I give my life for Earth. If that happens—at least I’ll know that I didn’t leave life with that anger still between us.”
“You fought over your homosexuality. Your father has been pretty blunt about it when questioned recently that he made a mistake with you when you came out to him.” She inclined her head when John laughed abruptly. “That’s funny?”
John shook his head. “It’s just you make it sound like it was this sit down family meeting like you see on after-school specials.” He waved a hand in defeat. “Maybe that would’ve been better. Maybe if I hadn’t already been so angry and hurt—I could’ve handled his initial reaction better. Who knows? I handled my sexuality badly. I was angry at first because this urge I couldn’t control had the potential to take away everything I wanted at the time. I’d forced myself to marry a woman and ignored my dissatisfaction with my marriage. I’m ashamed of myself for how much I hurt her because I couldn’t be a man about my own sexual preference.”
“But things are better for you now?”
John laughed and sent her a sly look. “Well, I’m pretty comfortable with who I am these days if that’s what you’re asking. I’ve had a lot of years to get used to the idea that as much as I enjoy and respect women, I’m not attracted to them sexually.”
Iris blushed. “Yes, well, it’s certainly our loss Colonel.”
“Oh, please, don’t talk to him that way. I’m already building a monument to his ego,” McKay complained.
John laughed. “We’re going to put in the backyard opposite to the shrine celebrating his ego.” He relaxed in his chair and snagged McKay’s hand, looping several of their fingers together in the process. “Healthy self-esteem is a survival skill around here.”
Iris laughed softly. “I just bet.” She rested her chin on one hand. “So, we all know the basic plans for the SGC when it comes to your futures but what are your personal plans?” Rodney snorted and John started to laugh. “Oh come on! We’re in your bedroom… it’s practically a threesome.”
John laughed and relaxed in his chair. “I’d never have a threesome in front of my Dad and little brothers.” The camera spanned briefly around the room—taking in Patrick who was lounging in a chair near a window and then hitting Matt and David who were on either side of a chess set near the door before resettling on the three of them by the fire.
“They don’t look like babies to me,” Iris pointed out.
“They do to me,” John admitted. “I’ll probably always see them that way but they put up with it.”
Iris focused on Rodney and raised an eyebrow. “Well?”
“You’re hot as hell but I don’t share my coffee or my Colonel,” Rodney finally said a little smirk that made every Sheppard in the room laugh.
Iris blushed and shook her head. “Dr. McKay!”
Rodney nodded. “Alright, you can continue to look but I should caution you that I do know how to make nuclear weapons so no touching. Ever.”
“You know all of this double talk just makes me have fantasies about big fat gay weddings and adopted babies.” She winked when Rodney set his coffee cup aside loudly. “Seriously.”
Rodney shook his head ruefully. “Don’t make me kick you out of my house, Iris. I try to be nice to intelligent women.”
– – – –
“Okay, and we’ll fade the scene there and the music will swell.” Iris sat back in her chair and glanced briefly at her producer. “So, good so far?”
“I can’t believe you got all of that out of him about his father,” Stephanie Gray murmured. “It’s… heartbreaking and quite lovely all at the same time. The way Sheppard reaches out for him and touches him to settle him down when he’s talking.”
“There is more—they let me stay through a family meal. It was a man candy festival at their dinner table.” Iris dropped back in the chair and looked over the editing equipment in the small room she’d spent most of the day in. “I’m totally not cutting the F word question. It’s powerful. We’ll just have to work around it.”
“No leave it in; the response is visceral—honest. Just the kind of thing people expect from him.” Stephanie picked up her coffee and drank deeply. “You know… you have to know this is an Emmy for you.”
Iris nodded and cleared her throat. “Yeah, I think so, too.” She set up the next piece of footage. “We have fifteen minutes of footage left. I want to cut as little as possible.” She paused and turned to Stephanie. “I just want people to be as overwhelmed by them as I was. Does that make any sense?”
Stephanie frowned. “What do you mean?”
“They both have this air of sacrifice around them. As if they both expect to die for us… and as much as they love each other, I don’t think they’d do it separately. It’s more than duty and goes into the kind of hero territory that frankly I thought was a myth.” Iris sat back in her chair and waved her hand around. “I don’t even know how to get my head around the idea that they’ve both tried and nearly have given their lives for us all more than once.”
Yes, she thought, sacrifice.