Title: Riot Bar
Author: Keira Marcos
Big Short Prompt: John Sheppard
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Genre: Slash, Romance, Trio Tag
Word Count: 1552 (Complete)
Warnings: No beta
Summary: McKay’s ill-tempered and John’s a little insecure.
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“How are your palms?” John questioned as he helped Rodney pull off his T-shirt. “You probably should’ve taken the day off.”
“I’m fine,” Rodney said but frowned down at his hands. “Keller asked me to have dinner with her, again.”
“Well, you saved her life.”
“I’m awesome,” Rodney agreed. “But I save lives all the time, and I don’t see any of them following me around like a lovesick kitten.”
“Hero worship gone terribly awry,” John murmured as he unbuckled Rodney’s belt buckled but then he paused. “I mean…unless you want to go out with her?”
McKay frowned at him. “Why would I?”
“You wouldn’t have to keep her a secret,” John said quietly and flushed when Rodney’s frown shifted into a full-blown glare. “Come on, Rodney, I’m the only man you’ve ever been with.”
“You’re no gold star yourself,” Rodney said a little peevishly.
“No, that’s true, but I’ve been in the closet since I was sixteen which meant I had to make…choices that included women when I would’ve preferred to never lay a hand on one.” He took a deep breath and looked away when Rodney’s glare fell away to what looked like horror. McKay hated to be reminded of that fact that John had never really wanted to sleep with a woman but had forced himself to do it repeatedly in the past. “This is the longest relationship I’ve had with anyone—including the woman I foolishly married.” He pulled McKay’s belt free from his uniform pants and rolled it up out of habit.
“I’d blame your father entirely for your fucked-up worldview and the riot bar you have on your closet door if you hadn’t joined the military on top of everything else,” Rodney announced.
John laughed weakly. “I love you, you know.”
“I do know that so I’m a little confused as to why you’re trying to tell me you’d be okay with me dating Dr. Barbie.”
“I wouldn’t be okay with it,’ John protested. “But I wouldn’t…I mean…if the secrecy is too much, then I wouldn’t hold it against you if you moved on. DADT probably isn’t ever going anywhere…”
“If it did?” Rodney interrupted. “If DADT was gone tomorrow, would you stay in the closet?”
“I…” John took a deep breath. “McKay, this isn’t the conversation I wanted to have.”
“No, I think we’re in the middle of your standard break-up conversation, and that’s bullshit, John. I’m in love with you, and I don’t think I’ve ever had that before with anyone and I’m not giving you up unless you give me no choice. So are you even giving me a choice here? Are you going to actually use that silly little girl as a way out of us?”
“No,” John whispered hoarsely. “No, of course not.” He curled one hand around the back of Rodney’s head. “Mer.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“You said I could call you that when you’re naked,” John pointed out.
“I’m still wearing pants and my hands hurt and my boyfriend is being a confusing jerk.”
“Let’s get you in the shower then,” John said quietly and knelt to unlace McKay’s boots.
“I’m tired and now I’m mad, and I don’t want to have sex, and that’s your fault, Sheppard. I’d kick you, but that’s really fucking immature.”
John laughed and worked the boots off. He stayed where he was, kneeling on one knee as he stripped off socks and the rest of McKay’s clothes. “I’m sorry I’ve upset you, and I’m really not in the middle of my standard break-up conversation. I don’t even have a standard break-up conversation. I normally just fuck things up on purpose until I get dumped.”
“You are such an asshole.” Rodney huffed as Sheppard prodded him into the shower. “Don’t get my dressings wet. The last thing I want is to deal with Dr. Barbie again today. She casually mentioned three different times that she ordered some coffee for her personal allotment on the Daedalus while she changed my dressings.”
“Trying to woo you with your favorite things,” John said, reluctantly amused. “I have to give her credit—she’s got some game.”
“No, she hasn’t,” Rodney protested as John casually slipped out of his clothes and stepped into the stall. “I don’t even like kopi luwak. Sure it’s expensive, but it’s not all that. I much prefer that one coffee you found me from Panama and if I can’t have that one—I prefer ones from Hawaii. And she’s young and silly, John. She’s never watched a single episode of Star Trek. How could I date someone like that?”
“It does seem like it would be a burden,” John murmured as he poured some shampoo out into his hand. “Stop talking so I can wash your hair.”
It took nearly twenty minutes to get through the shower since Rodney fussed and complained the whole time but they managed to keep his bandages dry. Afterward, he put McKay on the sofa with the remote and tried to gather his own thoughts as he made some sandwiches in the small kitchen of their apartment. They’d moved into the four-room apartment during the second year of the expedition. A lot of team members had partnered up to share quarters to justify getting an apartment with a kitchen so it hadn’t looked weird when he and McKay had started rooming together.
Teyla and Ronon shared the apartment next door to them—platonically. It hadn’t taken long for John to realize that Teyla was much more interested in mothering Ronon than she was engaging him a romantic relationship. Which worked out fine, because after years on the run Ronon was in no shape to really connect romantically with someone at the start. By the time it might have been an option, the two of them had settled into a very sibling-like relationship and Teyla was involved with another Athosian.
The door chime sounded, and John went to answer it, stopping by the sofa to set a plate of plain ham and cheese sandwiches on the table as he went. Rodney didn’t like complicated food and he certainly didn’t like complicated when he was feeling like shit. Sheppard wasn’t all that surprised to open the door and find Jennifer Keller on the opposite side. She was dressed in civilian clothes—jeans and a baby blue sweater that made her look like candy.
Her eyes widened fractionally. “Colonel. I…I thought these were McKay’s quarters?”
“We share—it’s a team thing,” John said coolly. “Is there a problem in the infirmary? There’s a procedure in place to report equipment problems and errors. We put it in place so Rodney could get some actual rest during his off hours. He’s currently unavailable unless there’s an emergency.”
“No, nothing work related.” She flushed prettily, and John barely refrained from sighing. “It’s personal. Can you tell him I’m here?” She tried to peek around John, but there was a small foyer and a bit of wall that separated the door from the rest of the apartment.
“He’s already asleep actually. You shouldn’t have signed him off to work. He spent fifteen hours in the lab as a result and in a great deal of pain. If you’re going to be in charge of my people’s health, Dr. Keller, you need to start paying attention to personalities as well as physical issues. Most of the scientists can’t be trusted with light duty when they’re injured. They always overwork themselves and make injuries worse. That’s why Rodney had to have his wounds cleaned earlier this evening.”
“I’m not their babysitter, Colonel Sheppard.” She straightened her shoulders. “I’ll just see him at breakfast then.”
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her to back off, to leave McKay alone, but he couldn’t say a single word without revealing more to her than he’d revealed to people who’d known him most of his life. “We’re going on a mission tomorrow—he’ll have breakfast with the team.”
“He’s not cleared for off-world duty,” Keller pointed out.
“I’m aware, but he’s team and the team eats together before every mission.” He closed the door and engaged the security with a thought. John stayed in the foyer for a few seconds then joined McKay in front of the TV.
“She’s persistent,” Rodney said wryly. “I’m pretty sure it’s the money. Carter made a few jokes about all the cash I have sitting in banks on Earth when we were being treated in the infirmary. I was trying to wrangle a private room because Simpson was in the infirmary whining and I hate when she whines. After thirty minutes, Sam apologized and asked if we could have a private room if we shared. Keller said no.”
“Sorry about earlier.”
“Shut up, you insecure dick face,” Rodney muttered and pushed play.
John groaned when the music started, and he realized what McKay had put in the DVD player while he’d been fending off Dr. Barbie. “Oh, come on!”
“Just take your punishment like a man, Sheppard,” McKay told him primly and tucked the remote control under his leg opposite John.
John glared at the TV in silence until Tom Cruise appeared on the screen and double-birded the asshole. He really fucking hated Top Gun.
The Big Short is a short-form writing challenge hosted on Rough Trade’s forum, The Workshop. The prompts come in two forms — a word challenge (the theme) and a single character challenge. I post my responses to the prompts on the forum first and eventually they’ll make it to my website. Each is a stand alone piece with no potential for expansion.
These short works are NOT prompts! These are my responses to the forum prompts. No, you cannot use them as prompts. No you cannot continue my short work with a longer work or write a sequel. For fuck’s sake.