* * * *
He found all four Sheppards in the kitchen after his shower. They were sitting in silence and John met his gaze when he slid into a chair at the table. “So, let’s talk – you and me.”
Rodney grimaced. “About what?”
“Your father. Where is he?”
“In the house I bought him in France. He’s required to stay there until he dies.”
“You send him money.”
“Yes and I’m not going to defend that choice. It’s something I did a long time ago and it’s an arrangement that has worked well for me for more than fifteen years. This is what we can both live with.”
“Why did he try to kill you?”
“Don’t be naïve, John, some kids get disowned and some get the beating of their lives.” He glanced towards Patrick. “Sorry.”
Patrick shook his head. “No, I need no apologies. It’s exactly what I did. I can’t even say I didn’t come close to hitting him that night but I sure as hell wouldn’t have beaten him.”
“Well, John was a pretty good fighter even then. He’d have probably wiped the floor with you.” Dave stood up from the table and checked out the contents of the refrigerator. “So, hmm, can we order pizza or something?”
“Only if someone goes to get it,” John murmured. “The houses?”
“I have three, including this one. One in Seattle and one on a private island in the Virgin Islands. I have staff in both locations.”
“You own an island.”
“Yes.” Rodney shrugged. “I need privacy sometimes.” He grinned then. “I have a helicopter, too.”
“I suppose a boat or two?”
“Twenty footer. It’s in Florida.”
“You know you’re killing me, right?” John asked half-joking. “I mean, seriously. None of this is in your file.”
“It’s not really mission essential information, John.” Rodney patted his hand. “Besides, no one at the SGC knows where my island is. I haven’t even been there in more than two years. I guess the first time I go there with this new transmitter they’ll know but until then it’s my little secret.” Rodney glanced at the French doors and frowned at the man on his deck. “How many men do you have here right now?”
“Did they scare off the press?”
“In the only way ten men with P-90’s can.”
* * * *
“It’s not like I’m trying to keep secrets from you. There is just a lot of stuff in my life.” He waved his hands around as John turned to look at him through the glass door of the shower. “You only ever ask about work stuff.”
“Very short sighted of me,” John admitted. “Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we haven’t been together forever.”
“Why don’t you come here.” John ran his hands through his hair to wash out the shampoo.
Rodney raised one eyebrow. “I told you, no sex while your father is in the house.”
“Yeah, that’s so not working for me. Come here.”
“You’re a sexy bastard when you’re giving orders,” Rodney admitted as he pulled his t-shirt over his head. “I swear to god if one of them smirks at me later because they heard us you’ll never get another blow job from me.”
“You’re an atheist,” John reminded as Rodney dropped off his boxers and stepped into the stall. He pulled the door shut and brought his astrophysicist close. “I’ve missed touching you like this.”
“Yeah, we totally missed out on the ‘thank God we’re alive sex’. I was looking forward to it.” Rodney shuddered as John pressed him against the cool tile of the shower wall. “This is such a bad idea. The walls in this house are stupidly thin.”
“I don’t care.” John nuzzled against his neck. “I want in you, Mer. I need…” He sucked in a deep breath and then clenched his teeth on the muscle that flowed from the bottom of McKay’s neck to his shoulder. “I need you.”
“Fuck, John.” Rodney clutched at his shoulders as John lifted him off the floor. He wrapped his legs around a slim, muscled waist and arched against the tile. “Yes, in me. In me.”
“Lube.” John groaned. “Damn it.” Reluctantly he let McKay’s legs drop and set him on his feet. “I don’t want to hurt you.” He kissed his mouth softly and groaned when Rodney opened immediately for his tongue. Blindly he reached out for the lube they kept in the shower, knocking off a bottle of shampoo in his search. He found it as he lifted his head. “Turn around.”
Rodney’s fingers curled against the tile as he braced himself and hissed with utter bliss as John breached him with two slick fingers. “Yes.”
“You’re perfect.” John brushed his lips over the top of one shoulder. “Fucking perfect.”
“More.” Rodney pressed back against John’s hand. “Stop being a goddamned tease.” He groaned when John added a third finger and started to rub against his prostate with purpose. “Yes. John. Fuck.” He slapped against the tile. “In me, fuck me right now.”
John slicked up his cock and tossed the bottle of lube aside. “How do you want it, Mer? Tell me.”
Rodney let his head rest on the tile as John urged him to spread his legs and pushed the head of his cock inside. “Fuck.”
John leaned forward and nipped at Rodney’s shoulder blade as he pushed fully in. “Tell me, baby. Tell me.”
“Hard. Fast. Make it hurt.” Rodney demanded, his voice breaking with the last word. “Yes, John. Fuck, harder.”
John worked his cock in and out of Rodney at the fast, hard pace the man had demanded. Skin slapped against skin, as McKay met each thrust by pushing backward. The pleasure of it was brutal, mind-numbing and he knew he wasn’t going to last long. Already half-gone, he reached around and captured Rodney’s cock with one strong hand. He shuddered and clutched at the wall as John started to stroke his dick in the same rhythm of his penetrating cock.
“John. John!” Rodney shuddered as he came all over the tile and gasped at the flash of heat that filled his body as John came, too. “You’re so amazing.”
* * * *
They all three smirked. Rodney glared at John and went to the refrigerator for water. “I—I.”
“I know you love me. I’m amazing.”
“Hate you a little more everyday,” Rodney snapped back. He picked up his PDA from the kitchen island and scrolled through a few screens. “I’ve got an interview tomorrow with the Science channel team. It’ll be here. They asked to do it my lab but O’Neill put his foot down.”
John picked up his own PDA and frowned. “I’m scheduled for a meeting off-world in the morning. The Alterans want to renegotiate the naquadah deal. O’Neill is going to be in DC most of the day.”
“I’ll be fine here by myself. Besides I have the three nosy stooges.” He motioned towards Matt, David, and Patrick.
“I was thinking about taking Matt with me. We’re taking a Jumper.” John glanced towards David and relaxed a little when his brother only nodded. “No outside meetings, no visitors outside of immediate family—not even your financial guy.”
“I can handle that. What team are you taking?”
“Wouldn’t SG1 be a better choice?”
“SG1 is off world for the rest of the week,” John said without looking up from his PDA. “You know they aren’t numbered in order of how ‘good’ they are. SG6 has a trained diplomat on the team and I’ll need that tomorrow. I’m taking Major Lorne as well.”
“Well, alright then, I mean he’s liable to bring you back in one piece.” Rodney punched at another screen on his PDA and sighed. “I’ve got a proof of concept meeting in DC in two days for X-309. I can’t not go.”
“The Apollo will be back in orbit by then. You and I will beam for the meeting and then beam back in the afternoon. I’ll give the three stooges a tour of the ship.” John shot his father and brothers a grin and they all three grinned in return. “After that, did you want to check on the Phoenix?”
Rodney shook his head. “I promised Colonel Gordon that I would leave him alone for another week besides if I go there I’ll feel compelled to get into everything and see what they are doing wrong and I’m too tired for that right now.”
* * * *
“So the sex is good.”
John choked on his beer and slapped his brother David in the arm. “Christ.”
“What?” David laughed. “You know the room I’m staying is right next to the bathroom?”
John flushed a little. “Most people would be discreet enough not to comment.”
“Yeah, well, no one has ever accused me of being discreet.”
“No shit,” Matthew laughed. “So it’s good?”
John closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. “Yeah, fantastic actually. Like flying. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I forget to breathe. It’s the first time I’ve ever actually had sex with someone I was in love with. It makes a difference.”
“You look happy with him,” Matt finally said. “It’s easy to see now how miserable you were when you were married to Nancy.” He propped his feet up on the table in front of him. “I slept with a guy once.”
John laughed. “Oh yeah? How was it?”
“Different. Interesting. Fun. Best blow job I’ve ever gotten in my whole damn life.” Matt frowned down into his beer. “Dad doesn’t know.”
“Probably shouldn’t tell him,” John admitted. “He’ll think it’s genetic and get all freaked out again.”
Matt snorted. “He was hot, the guy I mean. Of course, I totally freaked out the next day and never spoke to him again. I guess that makes me an asshole.”
“It’s an honest reaction,” John shrugged. “I freaked out a lot when I was younger. I mean I married a woman—which is probably a prime example of a freak out. I really thought I could force myself not to be interested in men. But, Matt, really—sleeping with one guy doesn’t make you gay. It makes you sort of easy though.”
David started laughing. “Navy pilots. Can’t really trust them to keep their dick in their pants.”
“How did you keep it a secret for so long?”
“It wasn’t easy. There were several times when I just knew my career was over. It pays to be discreet and it’s pretty easy to find company on a military base when it comes to such things. I learned along the way to watch other men to see who would be interested and who wouldn’t.”
“Then it’s a relief to have a public relationship?”
“If the rules hadn’t been changed I would have had to leave the Air Force. I’d have never asked Rodney to hide our relationship. You hide a fuck. It’s impossible to hide when you love someone. It just shows up in everything you say and do. Still it is a relief not to hide anymore. I would have hated to give up the Stargate and Atlantis.”
“Do you really think you’ll be able to get her back?”
“Yes. Rodney says he can do it and I believe in him. That’s enough.”
* * * *
“Admiral Sheppard and Captain Sheppard are not to be filmed. That’s not negotiable.” Rodney slid into his chair and watched the woman and her film crew set up. “Let’s keep questions about my personal life as limited as possible.”
She smiled. “I’ll do my best. I have a list of approved questions from the Pentagon.”
“I’m sure you do.” He shot Patrick and David a look and they both offered him smiles in return.
Fifty-seven questions into the interview, yes he counted, she asked one about John. “Tell me how you met Colonel Sheppard.”
“He used to come into my bar a lot. It’s a popular hang-out for military personnel. It took me about six months to figure out he was probably hitting on me. I always seem to miss out on those things—you know.”
“Your relationship with him is in the national spotlight due to his quick action in preventing you from being killed. How do you feel about that?”
“Like anyone would. I try to keep my personal relationships private. Due to our circumstances, that isn’t happening and it’s just something we’re both dealing with. As for what he did that day, I’d like to never have that experience again. It’s devastating to think about how close I came to losing him. An inch or two upward and it would have been over.”
“What would you say to people who think your relationship is wrong or amoral?”
“Nothing. I try not to spend time or speak with stupid people. It’s a waste of time.”
“What about the story that’s currently making the rounds about a group who would like to see the President’s changes in the military code of conduct reversed? Some of them made mention of the fact that a man of John Sheppard’s rank being openly gay is an insult to the military institution.”
“John Sheppard has four Purple Hearts, a Medal of Honor, the Air Force Cross, two Air Medals, and three Distinguished Service Medals. He has served his country for twenty-two years with courage and dedication—anyone that could say that a man of his service record is an insult to the military institution is a waste of flesh and bone.”
“Is there a wedding in your future?”
“Huh, you know, we get asked that a lot.”
“It’s obvious from what limited contact I’ve had with the two of you that you’re very much in love. Marriage is the next step. You’re Canadian and it is legal there.”
“I think when you get to the point where you’ll step in front of a gun for the person you love… something so small and mundane as a marriage ceremony would fail to really express the level of commitment you have for that person. That we both came out of it alive is all the declaration I need.”
“So you’re saying you’d do it for him.”
Rodney smiled then. “There is absolutely nothing in this universe I wouldn’t do for John Sheppard. There is no sacrifice that I can think of that would be too much.”
* * * *
“Chancellor Ma’tac, I’m sure you understand that the Tau’ri’s policy on weapons trade is not negotiable.” John looked around the ridiculously ornate chamber and his gaze connected once with his little brother. Matt was leaning against the wall, a P-90 clipped to his tac vest. “In the past, our trade agreements have always been beneficial for both people. After all, you said yourself that your people have never been healthier.”
“It’s true. But we’ve learned in the last year that naquadah is very valuable and we could gain so much more for from others.”
“And the Tau’ri has no problem with you trading with others? If you wish to cease our trade agreement entirely, we’ll seek out another source of naquadah with no hard feelings.” John smiled then, his fake-you’re-an-asshole-and-I-really-wish-I-could-shoot-you smile. “I’m sure your people will have no problems securing medical supplies and vaccines from other trading partners.”
“Colonel Sheppard, you well know that the Tau’ri offer something that very few cultures can match in that respect. Perhaps a few naquadah generators. When I last visited your planet I sat in a meeting with Dr. McKay. At the time, we had no need for such things but our circumstances have changed and I believe that we could make use of the technology. Dr. McKay could come back with you and install them for us?”
“Dr. McKay does not go off world,” John responded coolly. “We may be able to arrange a few generators; I’ll have to discuss it with my superiors.”
“Of course, I look forward to it.”
A few minutes later he slid into the pilot seat of the Jumper and looked back at Captain Cole. “How often does that happen?”
“Rarely a week goes by when one of our allies doesn’t ask for McKay to make a house call. He used to have a very high profile with visiting dignitaries. He avoids them like the plague now.” Cole grinned then. “He’s been avoiding them since that Tok’ra woman tried to get him to mate with her. Apparently her snake liked him a lot.”
John laughed in spite of himself. “Okay. That would do it for me, too.”
“He seemed… fake,” Matt muttered from the co-pilot’s seat.
“Yeah,” John nodded. “We’ll file him in the ‘up to something’ pile and send back three teams for the next meeting. They aren’t stupid enough for armed conflict but he obviously feels like we should be supplying them with more than a few crates of C4.”
* * * *
Rodney was sitting in his office cleaning off the answering machine when John found him. “You know a lot of women.”
Rodney laughed. “They were always easier to talk to in grad school. I never had to worry about them beating me up either. When I was younger—girls often took me under wing and treated me like their kid brother. So, yes, I have a lot of female friends.” He leaned back in his chair. “Mission go badly?”
“More annoying than bad.” John came into the office and shut the door. “So how did things go today?”
Rodney looked at him amused. “What, did you think maybe your dad would try to get me to dump you while you were out?”
John laughed. “No. I mean the reporter.”
“Interesting, nosy, and they really liked the piano thing.”
“I brought Ian and Jimmy back with me, dismissed platoon three since the reporters didn’t come back.” John turned him in his chair and pulled him out of it. “I really miss being alone with you.”
“I know but at least they are mostly entertaining.”
* * * *
His kitchen was full of soldiers. It was sort of amusing. Rodney watched them for a moment, Jimmy and Ian blended in with the Sheppards pretty easily. They were all very attractive, masculine men who moved with the same economy of motion that wasted nothing and demonstrated personal power without grandstanding.
“I take it the six of you have dinner in hand?”
John looked up from the steaks he was seasoning. “Yeah, we’re going to grill.”
“I have a few phone calls to return; so I’ll be in my secure office downstairs.”
“CIA asking you play mind-war games for them?” John asked with a little smile like he was joking and then frowned with Rodney stilled. “Mer?”
“Nothing quite like that. Close; but not exactly that. I can’t really talk about it.” He shoved his hands into his pockets. “It’s a little above what you have clearance for.”
“Is this something I should be worried about?”
“No.” Rodney shook his head. “It’s all computer work. I’ll just be downstairs on the encrypted system.”
John watched him leave with a frown and shared a look with his father.
“I really didn’t think security clearances got higher than yours,” Patrick said wearily. “I mean after aliens and the Stargate…”
“It’s not for the US,” John finally said. “Rodney has ties to his own government as well. He walks a fine line when it comes to intelligence work. You heard what he said about all of those other agencies.”
“So maybe Interpol?” David asked.
“Maybe.” John sighed. “Makes me want to call a few people and put out the word to leave him alone, but it would just piss him off if he found out. Jimmy, give the house a walk through. Ian, perimeter.” He waited until both men left before he continued. “I really hate it.”
“It’s obvious,” Matt said. “He could certainly tell. I didn’t think the man could get any more tense but his insides looked like concrete when you asked for more information.”
John grimaced and sucked in a breath. “They have no fucking business getting him involved in bullshit like that. He’s not a goddamned spy. He can’t even hold a fucking gun. Trust me, I’ve tried twice to get him to qualify with a weapon. I handed him an unloaded gun and he shook until I took it back!”
“He’s been working for them a long time. It seems that they probably know his limitations.”
“Yet, two days after someone tries to kill him they are asking for work,” John snapped and glared at his father. “He’s just another fucking asset to them. A resource. Someone they can tap for information or work – they really don’t care if he hasn’t slept since it happened, that he lays in bed and stares at me like he’s hallucinating because I’m really dead and he must be out of his damn mind.”
“That is… fucked up,” Dave finally said in the silence that followed John’s outburst.
John started to reply but was stopped by P-90 fire. Seconds later the French doors blew, and the rest of hell broke loose. He jerked out a kitchen drawer, pulled out a weapons box and flipped it open. Hands reached in from all sides, grabbing weapons and ammo clips as three men came through the doors. The house alarms were going off one by one: glass break, front door breach, back door breach. It was a full on assault and John cursed himself for not seeing it coming.
Bodies hit the floor quickly as it was obvious they hadn’t expected resistance, fully armed and pissed off resistance. By the time he made it the basement door, Jimmy and Ian had rallied on the front of the house, they had ten dead intruders, both Matt and John were sporting flesh wounds, and everyone was decidedly bloody. When he opened the door, his stomach was in his feet. He had no way of knowing if anyone had gotten this far.
The gym was empty; several pieces of equipment had been knocked over. John walked through quickly to the office area. He pushed open the door and found it in complete disarray. The two computers in the room were hissing, both monitors dark, the smell of ozone and burnt plastic filled the room. Furniture was knocked over. He went to the large steel reinforced door at the back and paused. Rodney has protested the need for a safe room, had claimed over and over again that he was too claustrophobic to actually get in it.
John closed his eyes briefly and shook his head to clear it. “If he’s not in here; you’re probably going to have to give me some room to lose my goddamned mind.” He palmed the panel on the side, leaned in and let the scanner take a scan of his left eye, and pulled his hand back. The palm print scanner slid away revealing a number pad. He entered the code with a steady hand, but his grip on his sanity was paper thin.
The door hissed as the hydraulics engaged and it popped open.
Rodney was sitting in a desk chair, his arms full of his gianormous cat. “I’m going to need a new house. I can’t ever sleep in this one again.”
John swallowed back what he was pretty sure was a sob of relief and nodded. “Okay, yeah, we’ll get you a new house.”
“With a proper gate and fence, a security system like a maximum security federal prison, and big ex-military type guys with guns that I pay a lot of money, to shoot people who try to get in.”
“Whatever you want, Mer.” He handed his gun off to Ian who was closest and moved into the safe room. “I’ll pick out the security personally. I’ll find the biggest meanest former Marines I can and you can give them obscene amounts of money.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Lots of Marines with over active trigger fingers and very little respect for stupid things like the law when my safety is at risk.” Rodney let go of the cat. “You’re bleeding.”
“It went through. I’m fine.”
“Oh, you are not. You’re fucking bleeding. Is anyone else bleeding?”
“Matt took one in the arm, too.”
“What? They don’t teach pilots to get out of the way of bullets?” Rodney pulled out his cell phone. “Well, we’ll call an ambulance.”
John reached out and took his phone. “Jimmy is on the radio with the SGC. We’ll get all the help we need from them.”
“Okay.” Rodney’s eyes got a little glassier and he shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. “We should stay in the mountain until I get a new house.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”
“Are you patronizing me because you think I’m going to freak out?”
“Okay, just so we’re on the same page.” Rodney looked past John at the others. “Everyone is okay?”
“Yes.” Patrick Sheppard looked over Rodney’s face. “Who was in this room with you?”
“When the alarms went off – I set the computers to burn just in case. What was on them couldn’t… couldn’t get out and then I got in here. This thing is sound proof. I didn’t hear anyone come in.” Rodney stood then. “Can we leave now, John?”
“We’ll leave as soon as we can.”
* * * *
Rodney’s house looked like a war zone and every time they encountered a body, John felt him jerk with shock. SGC personnel were pouring in, Jack O’Neill in the lead looking in-charge which was exactly what John needed. He desperately needed to hand this mess over to someone else before he lost his cool. Then the FBI showed up.
John was silent through most of the yelling, letting O’Neill and the lead agent go head to head about McKay until one of the agent’s made a grab for McKay and John leveled his gun at the man without even blinking.
“In the past six months I have killed fifteen men for getting between me and what is mine—if you don’t release him right now, you’ll be body number sixteen. Am I fucking clear?” The entire room came to a stand still and the agent let go of Rodney with exaggerated care. “Good. I was beginning to think that badge made you stupid.” His gaze flicked around the room. “Wilkes, Martinson, Lorne – Dr. McKay is leaving. Clear me a vehicle.”
“Colonel Sheppard, you have no right to interfere in our investigation… you have no authority here.” The agent that had interviewed Rodney before stepped in front of John. “You’re not taking him anywhere.”
“This is what I know,” John responded icily. “Four days ago no one knew where this house was. Three days ago a New York Times reporter is sitting on our front porch. Two days ago, you and half the known world are on our front porch. Tonight, after I send my men back to the base our home was invaded by paramilitary operatives who knew the layout of this house as well as I do. They went right for him—through this house, down the basement, pass the gym, to an office that is not even on the official plans of this house. They went straight for his safe-room!”
“You and your men were in this house. You and your men helped us search it for intruders the day you came here to interview him. You and your men arrived without being called within minutes of this attack tonight.” He shoved the nose of his 9mm into the agent’s chest. “And if you don’t back off, you and your men are going to be dead right along with the other ten bodies in this house because I am way past don’t give a fuck and well on my way to positively medieval.”
“Sir, we have a Humve ready.” Ian paused in the doorway. “Dr. McKay, we’ve put your cat in its carrier and we’re ready for you as well.”
Rodney wrapped his fingers around John’s wrist, effectively pulling the weapon away from the agent. “Come, John, we’re leaving. Now, please.”
The agent started to follow but Patrick Sheppard stepped in front of him. “No.”
“Look, I don’t know who you are…”
“First generation don’t give a fuck, and you’re going to leave my family alone.”
* * * *
“So, you’re dad is frosty.”
John raised one eyebrow and looked at O’Neill. “Excuse me?”
“Well, apparently four stars on your collar gets you the phone number of the Director of the FBI. His cell phone.” Jack frowned. “I’m sort of jealous, actually, but I think I’ll get over it. The FBI is offering a formal apology to you by the way.”
John snorted. “Bastards.”
“Where is McKay?”
“Sedated in the infirmary.” John closed his eyes. “He had a panic attack—for a minute I thought it was his heart. I know that’s stupid; because the Asgard fixed it—but I still thought. Fuck.”
“I think we’re all entitled to a little freak out. Do you really think one of those agents set this up tonight?”
“I don’t know. I know I don’t trust them.” John rubbed his face. “Where is my father and brothers?”
“The Admiral is an office down the hall making phone calls. Matthew is getting his arm seen to. David is still at the house bossing the men around. They are all taking it with an astounding amount of goodwill. But I guess considering your mood, they don’t want to risk adding to your body count.”
John nodded. “I should go back down. I want to be there when he wakes up.”
His walk down to the infirmary gave him little time to clear his head so when he walked around the corner and found his father sitting beside Rodney’s bed it was just one more layer of on top of a pile of fear, anger, and pain. It had been a long time since he thought he could depend on the man, could trust the man to do right by him. Patrick Sheppard had always been a hard man. One that forgave rarely, never apologized, and who tolerated excuses as well as a nun tolerated blasphemy. Yet, there he sat beside his gay son’s lover looking worried like any parent should.
“We sedated him.”
Patrick looked up. “Yes, I spoke with his doctor. She said he was agitated.”
“He’s had a rough week.” John walked to the bed and touched McKay’s face briefly and then rearranged the blankets. “He was in a little bit of shock, too. Didn’t notice it until we were almost here. I should have noticed immediately.”
“Finding him alive was enough at the time,” Patrick responded. “David is still at the house. He said he would come as soon as he finished making himself clear to the locals.”
John laughed softly. “I’d almost like to go back and watch that. Where is Matt?”
“I believe the pretty little blond nurse took him off to the cafeteria for food.” He looked around the infirmary. “You have a lot of civilians on this base. It must make for a logistics nightmare.”
“Most of them have worked so long for the military that they act accordingly. We have moments but nothing too bad. Scientists don’t like taking orders but you learn how to deal with them on a different level and things fall into place.” He picked up Rodney’s hand. “I’m going to ask something of you, Dad.”
“This latest attempt on him has put things into place for me and I have a pretty good idea of what is going on. I’m going to leave after he wakes up and I’d like you to stay with him until he sleeps again and then I might need your help with the FBI.”
Patrick was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. “He’s not going to like that.”
“No, he’s not.”
“I stunned that you trust me with him.”
“It’s not an easy choice,” John admitted.
“I’ll stay with him and be here when you need me.”
John smiled then. “Good.”
They sat together in silence for several moments and then Rodney woke with a start, his fingers clenching in John’s. “Evers.”
“Hey.” John stood. “I killed that guy extra hard remember?”
Rodney relaxed in the bed. “Evers and Mills. They were business partners. Dr. Frank Mills. He was at the conference.”
“I remember.” John touched his jaw briefly to keep his attention. “You told him no. He wanted you to build weapons.”
“Yes.” Rodney nodded. “I told him no. I always tell them no.” Rodney rubbed his face with his free hand. “Fuck, I can’t think. I can’t believe you let these witchdoctors sedate me. You’re not getting head for like six months.” He winced when he heard laughter and glanced around John to see Patrick Sheppard. “You didn’t hear me say that.”
“I sure didn’t,” Patrick promised.
“Tell me about Mills.”
“Engineer. He worked for Evers and then branched out his own. They worked contracts together for years – then things got cool between them. No one knew why and then suddenly they were best buddies again. Mills wanted to work with the program. He bid on the laser cannons for the Phoenix project. I threw it out without even really looking at it because his work has always been substandard.”
“Did you throw out a bid by Evers, too?”
“Not for the Phoenix. They were in the bidding war for the space guns though but by then the company was showing financial problems and the Pentagon dropped them from consideration.”
“Does Mills have any idea what we really do here?”
“No. He knows we spend a great deal of money and he wanted some of it. That’s what he knows.”
“And you stood in his way,” John leaned forward and kissed Rodney softly. “Okay, I need to go do some work. I want you to stay in this bed, Mer and rest. You’ve not slept well in days.”
“I won’t freak out again. I’d like to…”
“Mer.” John closed his eyes briefly and then focused on Rodney. “Do this for me. Stay in this bed and relax. My father is going to stay with you until you go to sleep again. If you ask nice he might tell you embarrassing stories from my childhood. There are literally hundreds.”
“Okay, but you’ll be careful?”
“And you’ll take a good team?”
“You’ll be very careful?”
“Good.” Rodney settled down in the bed. “Where is my cat?”
“Asleep in his crate at the end of the bed.”
“Do you think they’d get mad if he was out with me?”
John retrieved the crate and released the door. Quark ambled out onto the bed and yowed all the way to Rodney’s side, scrambled under the covers, and tucked his big head against the crook of McKay’s arm. “I’ll be back soon.”
* * * *
“I’m worried about him.”
Patrick nodded. “I know. However, he said he would call when he needed something.”
“Yeah, well, John doesn’t allow himself to need much.” Rodney looked away. “Doesn’t allow himself to want much either. I don’t know if the military taught him that or if you did.”
“Probably a mixture,” Patrick admitted. “I’m working hard, Rodney, to get back what I lost with him. I hope you know that.”
“He’s forgiven you. Even if he never says it—he has. John is a man who collects people and makes them family. You’ll see that once you’ve been around for a while.”
“It’s not my place to forgive you for breaking your son’s heart.” Rodney rubbed Quark’s head with his thumb. “If you do it again, you’ll pay for it. I’m not a soldier and I don’t pretend to be. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider me a threat.”
Patrick raised one eyebrow. “I’ve read your full, uncensored file, Doctor. I know exactly what you are capable of when you are pushed or threatened. It doesn’t help that you don’t have the discipline of a soldier, honestly. You’ve let your temper get in the way in the past.”
“It wasn’t temper. My father beat all the discipline I needed into me a long time ago. He was the only one allowed to get lose it in his house. The rest of us just had to sit there and boil with it. Granted, I mouth off a lot, but it takes a lot to make me angry. I’ve done some pretty horrible things in the past—destroyed a solar system, killed planets with chemical weapons, and I will probably do far more in the future. I will surely do my level best to wipe out the Ori completely.”
“I saw nothing in your file that didn’t need to be done. You’ve always acted in the best interest of our people and our planet.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Rodney shrugged and then glanced towards the Admiral when his cellphone started ringing. “John?”
Patrick nodded as he answered. “John. Did you find?” He raised one eyebrow. “Okay, yeah I can do that. I’ll get Matt or David to sit with Rodney, and you can tell the Apollo to beam me to your location in ten minutes.”
* * * *
“It’s not often that we get a General, Colonel and an Admiral hanging around in our observation rooms.”
John shot the Director of the FBI a look and then shared a smirk with his father. “We thank you for your indulgence in this matter.”
“We should thank you, actually. You’re information on Jefferson Mills and his company has created a shit-storm of questions and helped us uncover several industrial espionage situations, plus we were finally able to track the money involved in the attempts on Dr. McKay’s life.”
John didn’t answer immediately but instead focused on the man being questioned on the other side of the one-way glass. Dr. Jefferson Mills. They’d traced most of the money paid to the hit man to a personal account of his in the Caymans. That had taken some less than legal computer work by a very determined Dr. Miko Kusanagi—the woman was a steely-eyed warrior with a laptop. He’d watched her slice and dice through firewalls, and bank security procedures like it was a game. John figured for a woman of her gifts it probably was something of a game.
“We’ve some very talented people on the payroll, Director Coleman.”
“Yes, we were hoping to speak with the person who did the computer forensics on your end…”
“No.” Jack O’Neill smiled as he said it. “Afraid not. That information is classified.”
“General, surely you realize at asset like that… the person responsible broke down one of the most secure banks in the modern banking system. A bank we know is used to launder and distribute money for terrorism.”
Jack pulled a disc from his pocket. “Yes, she told me you might want a little help on that front. She created you a GUI for the program she built to do the work.” He offered it and then pulled back slightly when the man reached for it. “Don’t look for her, Director. We’re being kind to offer you this and I won’t have my people harassed by the FBI; they are very busy doing things like saving the planet from annihilation.”
The director took the CD with a huff. “Understood, if slightly exaggerated.”
John chuckled. “Not even a little, Director Coleman. Perhaps one day soon you’ll know exactly how much.” He hit the button so he could hear what was being said on the other side of the glass.
“I really don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never met this Kilroy person and I have nothing to gain from the death of Dr. Rodney McKay. I’ve been trying to get the man to work for me for years.” Mills clenched his hands on the table as he spoke and rocked a little in his chair.
“We have your financial records, Dr. Mills. We know you paid Kilroy to kill Dr. McKay. Tracing the money was child’s play.”
“The records weren’t gained legally—they’ll never stand up in court.” Mills paled a little. “You don’t have shit on me and besides anyone that was in the same room with McKay for more than five minutes would have a reason and an overwhelming desire to kill him. The list of potential suspects must be overwhelming.”
The agent stood from the table. “What makes you think you’ll ever go to court, Dr. Mills? You tried to assassinate one of the most important and prominent government assets in this country. The Heads of State for three different countries outside of our own want you executed or dropped in a small dark room for the rest of your natural life. We’re also very close to tying you to the kidnapping of Dr. McKay several weeks back. Once we do that; it’ll be all over you.”
“I’m a citizen of this country and I have rights.”
“You’ve committed an act of treason—probably more than one and we’re going to find it all. We have an entire team of agents in the headquarters of your company right now—dismantling everything. We’ll find all of your secrets, Mills. We live in difficult and unfortunate times – and war makes civil liberties something of a luxury. They happen to be a luxury you no longer enjoy.”
John smirked at the cold fury that emerged on the man’s face. “I still want to talk to him.”
“I have to ask you to leave your service weapon behind.”
His father snorted. “If John wanted to kill the man, Coleman, he’d be dead already. Besides, gun or no gun, any one of the three of us could kill him in under a minute with our bare hands.”
John reached unbuttoned his uniform jacket, pulled his 9mm, and handed it grip first to O’Neill. “Still, I’m all about cooperating with the FBI.”
The Director raised one eyebrow. “You’ve threatened to kill nine of my agents in the past six months.”
“They don’t know how to mind their own business,” John responded coolly, his expression carefully blank.
“He’s just like you, Patrick.”
John offered a smile. “I’m not as civilized as he is.” And he was about to demonstrate that.
He offered the agent in charge a small nod in the hallway outside the interrogation room; he still wasn’t convinced the man had inadvertently led to the invasion of McKay’s. He hated sloppy people. Mills stiffened and tried to get up when John entered the room but the agent standing along the back wall calmly pushed him back into his chair.
“Colonel John Sheppard.” John looked over Mills face and offered a truly feral smile. “But, then I’m sure you know exactly who I am.”
“You’ve been on the news a few times,” Mills shrugged. “Saw you at the conference with McKay. Didn’t know you were fucking him at time.”
“Yes, well, that’s one of the perks of my job. Brilliant astrophysists line up to sleep with me. I can barely beat them off with a stick.” John leaned back in his chair and tossed a folder on the table between them. “Twenty-two million dollars to Jamison Kilroy. I killed him. Eight and a half million dollars to a paramilitary strike force, names undetermined. All ten dead—I killed four if you care. Two hundred million dollars was taken out of your account in the Cayman’s ten hours before you were picked up by the FBI by your personal assistant, Marcus Stein.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t have an account in the Caymans.”
John’s eyes darkened. “I’m a national fucking hero, Mills, and you’re a man suspected of multiple counts of treason. Do you think there is a man in this building who will care if I beat you to death in this room? I could spend the next fifteen hours of our lives breaking you down bone by bone—and the only thing anyone would do is offer me water and a few sandwiches.”
Mills swallowed nervously. “Surely, you wouldn’t… after all you’re a national hero. You’ve got standards… a moral code.”
“My moral code begins and ends with the protection of my family. Over the past few months you’ve fucked with my family in a major way. I know you were in on the kidnapping with Philippe Evers. I know you hired Kilroy. I know you hired the ten men that invaded my home. I know you’ve hired someone else to finish the job. Considering the amount of money—it’s someone very special. I want a name and if I don’t get a name in the next sixty seconds I’m going to make you beg for death.”
“No… I can’t say anything else. I can’t. I’ll never make it out of this alive. You won’t kill me in cold blood. I know you won’t.”
John stared. “The first time I killed… I was nineteen years old and so green that I threw up afterwards and cried myself to sleep. I saw the faces of each kill; mourned the loss of life through mission after mission until one day they all started to blend together and then I stopped remembering them all together. My official military record indicates that I’ve killed 934 people during my career. That number is grossly under reported. I’ve dropped bombs… on thousands of people.” He leaned forward. “I could kill you right now, Mills, and my pulse wouldn’t even elevate. I would get up, leave this room, and maybe grab a beer and some pizza with my Dad at the place down the street. It’s my favorite pizza place after all. Sometimes I come to Washington just to eat there.”
“I’ll never survive if I give you a name.”
“You’ll never have a chance to find out if you don’t.”
Mills shuddered. “This can’t be… this isn’t… I don’t deserve this. I don’t.”
“There is a man in Colorado who has slept with the lights on for the past three months who didn’t deserve any of this. He didn’t deserve to be taken by force from his own drive way and tossed into a eight foot deep hole, he didn’t deserve to nearly be gunned down in public and be forced to watch the footage over and over again on every news channel in creation, he didn’t deserve to have his home invaded. Yet, all of this happened because you had more ambition that humanity.”
“McKay is an arrogant, self-important bastard!” Mills snapped and then paled when John stood up from his chair, strolled around the table, and jerked him from the chair.
John shoved him up against the wall and the sickening snap of a bone breaking filled the silent interrogation room. “What part of I can kill you and no one will give a shit is unclear to you, Dr. Mills?”
Mills gagged and a sob broke through as John twisted his arm back further. “Please.”
“You mean nothing to me, Mills. Nothing. You can plead all you want and it won’t fucking matter. If you want this to stop—and trust me this is just the beginning—you’ll give me the goddamned name.”
“What will you do with it?” Mills demanded in a near whisper.
“I’m going to go find the son of a bitch you hired to kill what’s mine and I’m going to show him what it’s like to be on the other end of the equation.”
“You’ll kill him. You promise?”
“Yes, Dr. Mills, I promise.”
“Simon Greene. He’s…”
“I know who he is.” John’s stomach twisted a little. “If you’re lying to me—we’ll know. You must know that.”
“No. I’m not lying. Simon Greene. He came highly recommended. He wasn’t even going to take the job until the he knew the target.” Mills swallowed hard and clutched his broken arm to his chest as John released him. “Greene found it very amusing. Said he couldn’t wait to meet up with you again.”
“I just bet.”
“If you don’t kill him… he will kill me.”
John walked to the door and opened it. He paused just before closing it and looked over the sweating scientist with disdain. “I can’t blame him there. I fully intend to kill you the next time I set eyes on you. For your sake, I hope you take whatever deal the government offers you and you disappear forever. Because right now cooperation is the only thing standing between you and the business end of my 9mm.”
Outside in the hall, he met his father, Jack O’Neill, and Director Coleman. He shared a glance full of shock and ire with his CO before turning to Coleman. “Thank you.”
“We’ll start looking for Greene immediately.”
“Don’t bother,” O’Neill returned evenly and checked his watch. “He’s one of ours and not your problem.”
“General O’Neill, he’s a hired killer and he falls outside your jurisdiction…”
“Director Coleman, by the time you find this man he’ll be a corpse.” O’Neill smiled then, mean and very sincere. “That’s if John leaves enough biological material for you to recognize as a human body. The last time I saw him this pissed off – the guy he was hunting practically disintegrated.”
Yeah, that would have been because John used a ZAT gun but John kept that thought to himself. He took his gun when O’Neill offered and casually returned it to its holster. “So, huh, I’m done playing with the FBI and I don’t think I’m going to stay for the sleep over because really… they are kind of boring and I have better toys at home.”
Jack smirked. “Being anti-social isn’t how you make friends, John.”
“I know. It’s a real burden for me.”
* * * *
Simon Greene. John hadn’t heard that name in a long time; not since the man had been dishonorably discharged from the Marines upon their return to Earth. A major in the Marine Corp, Greene had been Marshall Sumner’s right hand man. His second in command on the Atlantis mission up until the point he refused to follow Elizabeth Weir’s orders as the leader of the first expedition. He’d tried to take over the mission shortly after Colonel Sumner was sucked dry by a Wraith in front of him. John had come onto the scene too late to save Sumner and a part of him had always wondered if Greene had just let their CO die on purpose rather than try to save him or even put him out of his misery. To die at the hand of a Wraith was probably the worst way John could imagine dying.
John alone had carried Colonel Marshall Sumner’s remains back to Atlantis. The failure of it still ate at him. None of them had time to mourn the loss of a good marine, a strong leader, a man who had sacrificed himself rather than give away the location of Earth. Greene had sung Sumner’s praises poetically for about an hour before he declared martial law over the expedition and told Elizabeth Weir she was no longer in charge.
Elizabeth had turned to John – an Air Force officer, and a Lt. Colonel at the time for help. John had always been outside the command structure, answerable only to Sumner and Weir because he’d actually been taken on the expedition to act as a liaison for the science personnel. He hadn’t wanted to lead the expedition, hadn’t expected to have to face off with a mutinous marine six days into their mission but that was exactly what had happened.
Thankfully, Greene’s megalomania hadn’t extended to any of the other officers and John had assumed command with no incidents. Greene had spent the remainder of the expedition locked in a holding cell. He’d come home to Earth in handcuffs and faced an immediate court marshal. Due the nature of their situation, he’d been shuffled off for a host of psychological evaluations and eventually cut loose by the State Department.
Greene had been monitored since his departure from service but obviously not closely enough as far as John was concerned. That he had become a hired gun within weeks of returning to Earth was a little stunning. He figured that the boys at NID would have some serious explaining to do when General Maybourne got around to yelling at them instead of him and O’Neill.
“And you just should have just fucking killed him!” Maybourne pointed his finger right at John. “And left his body to rot in Pegasus. Instead, we’ve got an ex-Marine running around the goddamned planet killing people! Apparently he’s been doing it for going on two motherfucking years!”
John was of the opinion that the higher someone’s rank got—the more the curse words they got to use when they screamed at subordinates. It was a theory he’d seen in practice many times and he longed for the day when he was at least a general and he could really put his back into a reaming.
“Harry, stop yelling at my Colonel.” Jack twisted around in his chair and shot Maybourne a look that literally said ‘shut the fuck up before I call a doctor to discuss your blood pressure’. “The boys at NID dropped the ball on this and at this point we can only be very glad that I followed John’s advice and had a subcutaneous transmitter put in Greene before we released him from our base.”
“Huh. So you can track him?”
“We know exactly where he is,” Jack glanced towards John who only nodded. “And as soon as you’re finished being mean to us—I’m going to get let John go kill him really hard just for you.”
“Well, then.” Maybourne sat down, pulled out a cigar and lit it. “Go do that John; we’ll be here when you get back.”
* * * *
“You know,” John started, his tone almost amused. “For a man trained in the most advanced combat techniques on the planet—you’re a surprisingly sound sleeper.” He ran his knife down the side of Greene’s neck and a tiny trickle of blood follow the tip.
“How the fuck did you get in here?” Greene demanded.
“I’m sure you’ve got decent security.” John smirked. “I had the Apollo beam me in.”
Greene snorted. “So, I’m an official, sanctioned kill? Didn’t think flyboys like you did wet work like this.”
“You really don’t know much about me at all, Greene. You never really bothered to learn either—which is pretty fucking sad because if you’d done what you were trained to do, if you had evaluated your circumstances, prepared yourself for the job you’d been paid to do you would have realized how fucking stupid you were to even think about trying to take something from me… no matter how much money was involved.”
Greene smirked and the hissed as John found another place to open the flesh under his knife. “You would have slipped up, Sheppard. I would have gotten him and then you’d had to find yourself another little rich fag to fuck.”
“I believe you,” John responded softly. He leaned down, pressing more of his weight against the man he was on top of. “I know you would have tracked him, followed him, and in one moment when I wasn’t looking—when I didn’t pay attention you would have taken from me. That’s why I’m here, Simon. That’s why I didn’t send one of my men. It’s why you don’t have the FBI surrounding your house. It’s why you’ll never see the inside of a cell. Because once he became your target—the only way to ever end it is with you dead.”
“What the fuck did you do to me?” Greene demanded.
“I stunned you with a ZAT. If you were going to be alive you’d start to regain control of your body in about ten minutes.”
“Not a fair fight, Sheppard, I thought better of you.”
John drug the knife down the side of Greene’s face, blood poured from the wound and started to pool on the pillow beneath his head. “If you were worthy of a fair fight; I would give you one. But this moment isn’t about you – it’s about the twenty-seven people we know you’ve killed since you came back to Earth. This is about giving you what you gave your victims. It didn’t take us long, really, to figure out your method. I’ve got very smart people working for me at the SGC.”
“You aren’t a very sporting hunter—drugging your kills and killing them in their sleep.” John sighed. “At least I did you the favor of waiting until you woke up. I waited because I wanted you to understand what a fucking coward you are. You didn’t pull the trigger on Sumner; though you certainly wanted him dead so you could take his place. You let that man suffer a horrific death because you couldn’t man up and end it for him or try to save him. You drug your hits because you don’t want to look them in the eye when you put your knife in them.”
“You don’t know what you’re fucking talking about. I couldn’t save Sumner.”
“You didn’t help him die with dignity either. You didn’t help him die like a man.” John pushed the blade into Greene’s shoulder and twisted it. “You let him die as food for a fucking Wraith. Christ, I wanted to kill you that day. I could have put a bullet in your goddamned head. I should have put a bullet in your head. He asked you to didn’t he? He told you to kill him and you hid up there in your little hole and just fucking watched.”
Greene’s head dropped back on the pillow. “Like you would have done anything different.”
John pulled the knife out of Greene’s shoulder and ignored the hiss of pain that it garnered. “I have no problems looking a man right in the eye and killing him.”
Greene’s eyes widened momentarily and he groaned in horror as the large hunting knife slid between his ribs and right into his heart.
John watched the life drain out of the man beneath him and then slowly lifted his hand away. He rolled away from the body and clicked his radio. “Apollo, the package is ready for disposal. Take the object beneath it as well.”
“Understood, Colonel Sheppard. Are you ready to return to the SGC?”
* * * *
He accepted the whiskey that O’Neill offered without a word and sat down in a chair away from them all. The office wasn’t exactly large because his CO absolutely hated to entertain. In fact, John’s office was slightly bigger and far more public. His father, brothers, and Maybourne were all studying him.
“The body?” Jack finally asked.
“Fed him and the bed he died in to the Sun,” John murmured. “Colonel Ellis was very helpful.”
“I’ll be sure to thank him,” Jack said dryly. “Did anyone know what he transported off the surface?”
“No, the package was beamed directly to the coordinates I gave him from Earth. All he knows was that there was a transmitter attached to it. He rightly assumed that my target was human but he didn’t ask questions and followed orders without a single question.” John downed the whiskey and closed his eyes tightly. “Does McKay know?”
“No. He thinks you stayed behind in Washington to handle some final details with the FBI. As far as he’s concerned, I sent a unit of Marines over to pick up Greene for questioning.”
“He’s the smartest man on the planet,” Patrick Sheppard said dryly. “He’s going to figure it out, John.”
John nodded his agreement and looked at his father then; his eyes dark and unreadable. “I lied.”
“What?” Patrick frowned.
“I lied to Mills. I see the face of every single person I’ve ever killed and my mind gives me faces for the ones I just dropped bombs on. Sometimes I close my eyes and they run so fast in my head that I get sick with it. Like those old-fashioned movies with the jerky pictures. Thousands of faces filled with pain and shock as the last moments of their lives bleed out before them. I remember every single one, even the Wraith… Christ… literally thousands of those life sucking mother fuckers. I blew two Hive ships while I was out there. Then, as if that isn’t enough – I also get a fantastic slide show of all the people I let die because I wasn’t good enough to keep them alive.” He looked down at his empty glass.
Jack refilled his glass. “McKay is resting in your quarters. I put Stackhouse and Markum on guard duty and sent Martinson and Wilkes off-duty. Martinson fought me on it, by the way, I’d write his ass up but my heart is not in it.”
“I’ll make him pay for it later.” John let his head fall back on the chair, balancing the nearly full glass of whiskey on his knee. “Christ, I’m in no place to be anywhere near him right now. He’ll know. He’ll know the minute he sees me how I spent my evening.”
“You think he’ll look at you different if he knows?” David asked. “Christ, John, you’ve killed in front of him. You’ve killed in front of the entire planet and he doesn’t look at you differently. There is nothing—absolutely nothing—different about what you did tonight.”
John raised one eyebrow. “When I shot that guy in Chicago… it was easy as breathing and forgotten almost as soon as I pulled the trigger. Tonight, I stunned a man with a ZAT weapon, climbed on top of him while he was helpless, waited until he woke up and then carved on him while I told him exactly why I was there and then I shoved my knife into his heart and watched him die.”
“And did you forget it as soon as it was over?” Matt asked, obviously stunned.
“No.” John met his brother’s gaze. “I’m still at the part where I’m really satisfied with myself.”
The silence was oppressive. John downed the glass of whiskey and set it aside. He had no idea where to go and he had no idea what to do with all of the anger and aggression that lingered in him.
“You do realize that I’m going to make you visit the base psychologist for like the next six weeks; once a week,” Jack said dryly. “Not because I think you’re wacko or anything but because suddenly you’ve got a horrible case of verbal diarrhea. This really isn’t the kind of shit you’re supposed to let come out of your mouth, John.”
John then laughed softly and the pressure eased in his chest. “Yeah, maybe not.”
The door to the office opened and Quark strolled in. He immediately went to John and sat down in front of him. “You’ve got to be kidding me, cat.”
Quark smacked him in the knee.
“Why don’t you just fess up? You’re some shape-shifting alien, right? You’re really from the planet Endor where you once masqueraded as a Ewok? Look, we aren’t going to experiment on you… much.”
Maybourne laughed. “Christ, is that the cat everyone keeps talking about?”
“Yeah. This Quark Ignatius McKay.”
Jack O’Neill snickered. “He named his cat after a saint?”
“The irony of an atheist naming a cat after a saint is not lost on me.” John stood and stretched. The cat rose up on two feet and batted at his thigh. He looked down and raised an eyebrow at the blood that dotted his pants. “Have I ever come home with blood on me?”
The cat hissed.
“Okay, no. I was already home when I got bloody that last time.” He snatched the spitting cat off the floor with a sigh. “Good night, Sirs.”
“I don’t know what disturbs me most…” Patrick Sheppard said dryly after John closed the door. “That John talks to that animal or that I’m actually starting to understand the cat, too.”
“Oh please.” Matt frowned. “Be more disturbed by the fact that he navigated the ten floors between this office and John’s quarters to find him and tell him to come home. That’s not normal.”
* * * *
John dropped Quark onto the floor as he walked into the ready room. “Don’t mess with anyones stuff, cat.”
“That’s McKay’s cat, huh?”
He glanced around and found Cameron Mitchell laying on a bench in the dark. “Yeah. What’s up, Colonel? Shouldn’t good little Colonels be in bed right now?”
“Should be… but other good little Colonels were off doing dark things and I was hanging around to make sure he didn’t need help with clean up.”
“Nah, the Apollo helped me out.”
Cameron sat up with a sigh and rubbed his face. “You know, something, I need permission to speak freely. Real freely.”
John jerked his t-shirt over his head. “Just as long as you understand that with such permission comes with the inevitability that I might punch you really hard in the face if I don’t like what you have to say.”
“It’s a given,” Cameron assured. “When I realized that you were interested in McKay and I made myself scarce so that there wouldn’t be anything awkward if it got out that he and I used to hook up… I did it because I figured you were the kind of man that would stick around and commit yourself to him.”
“And now you regret that choice?” John asked neutrally.
“No, not at all. He’s obviously very happy with you and after what you did… I don’t doubt your feelings for him at all. No one could. There are men on this base that have a real problem with you because of your relationship with McKay. I’m not one of them. They don’t say shit to me because they know I swing both ways and I’m quick to hit first and ask for clarification later.”
John chuckled. “Yeah, I’ve always liked that about you actually.”
“I just want you to know you can trust me, John. You can trust me with him. You’ve isolated him since this started – picked men that came home with you from Atlantis over anyone else on this base with the exception of Wilkes and Martinson. I would never try to make a move on him or come between the two of you – so it would be really fucking nice that in the future when fucked up shit happens that I get into the loop and you know – I get to stick my feet in the dark stuff, too.”
John sat down on the bench and took a deep breath. “I… shit.”
“Look the men that came with you from Atlantis—I know you trust them on a level the rest of us will probably never earn. Stackhouse, Markum, and all of those big ass Marines you had stationed around your house when this first started—I understand that all of you went through hell together and came out the other side hurting but whole because you were together. I get that, John. We all get that.” Cameron stood up and started to pace—John realized he was still in his field gear. “But, goddamn it, I would follow you too. I would go right into hell with you and one day very soon I will.”
“Cameron, I trust you. You and the rest of SG1 have been off world since this happened and maybe I should have called you home. I have in the past. When he was kidnapped, I immediately recalled you and the rest of your team.”
“But this—this was personal on a level that I’ve rarely experienced in my life and my focus narrowed. I’ve got a lover who shakes at night and doesn’t sleep, a disturbingly psychotic cat who is probably an alien, people with PhDs hiring assassins, a little Japanese scientist hacking international banks with the kind of skill that scared the shit out of me and the FBI, a twenty-one year old Airman with a rampant crush on the aforementioned lover. Rodney, Radek, and Sam perpetrated Internet terrorism on the Chairwoman of the IOA because she hurt Rodney’s feelings, my estranged father and two brothers invaded my life after fifteen years of no contact, I took two bullets on national fucking television, the Pentagon has decided to make McKay and I the poster couple for the acceptance of homosexual soldiers serving in the military, my home got invaded by ten assholes with more ammunition than sense, I got shot in the arm, and oh—the Prime Minister of Canada is probably planning my wedding in stupid fucking Ottawa as we speak.”
Cameron stared for a minute in utter silence and then he started to laugh. He sat back down, fell over on the bench, and curled into a fetal position as he howled.
“Fuck you, Cameron.” John started to untie his boots. “Permission to speak freely revoked for-goddamned-ever!”
* * * *
Quark entered the room ahead of him, went to his bed in the corner and curled into it without a sound. Rodney was in the bed, only a small lamp in one corner of the room was on. It was an improvement from the last few months. John stripped down to his boxers, slid into the bed, and pulled McKay into his arms.
“Hey you.” Rodney turned and nuzzled his face against John’s neck. “Did you get him?”
John stiffened briefly. “Yeah, Mer, I did. He won’t ever bother you.”
“Good.” He sighed. “Can’t have assholes like that running around our planet. We’ve got enough jerk-offs in the galaxy that want to feed off of us… we don’t need human leeches, too.”
“Agreed.” John pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Sleep. I’m sure you’ve got a huge day planned tomorrow. Scientists to berate, constructions workers to yell at about the house… we need you to be in top manfully complaining form for all of that.”
“I live to entertain,” Rodney assured. His fingers clenched against John’s arm briefly. “Love you.”
“Love you back.”
* * * *
“Dr. McKay is known to be a difficult man.”
John smiled, amusement lighting up beautiful hazel eyes. “Yes. I’m sure you’ve heard that from his staff and former staff as well.”
“You obviously don’t agree.”
He looked around the park he’d chosen for his interview. The house had been out of the question. Too much construction and Rodney was still picking out a new one. John figured they would end up building because nothing they’d looked at so far suited them both.
“No. He’s brilliant, complex, demanding, and very generous with both his time and his money. He pays attention to the things that really matter and believes deeply in the potential of humanity. Anyone that has ever heard him lecture or speak knows this about him. I’ve never known anyone with such faith in who we are as a species. He’s a very global thinker.”
“You’re career military; it must have been difficult going from keeping your sexuality a secret to being in a high profile relationship with one of the richest men in the country.”
“Difficult? No. Interesting? Yes. A day with McKay is never dull and that’s a change for the better in my life. I never expected to be able to openly serve. I’ve always known that if I found the right person and was ready for a relationship that I’d have to leave my career behind. Fortunately, the President made a few decisions that made it possible to keep both.”
“But you would have given it up? You’re career in the Air Force, your place in the Stargate program, and you would have left all behind for Dr. McKay?”
“Yes. It’s not even a question. I would have never asked him to hide our relationship because we have nothing to be ashamed of and no career is worth the kind of misery hiding a relationship can cause. I love my job. I believe I’m very good at my job. I love him more.”
“What do you have to say about the attempt on Dr. McKay’s life?”
“Thanks to the help of the FBI we were able to eliminate the threat and I’m not allowed to say more than that.”
“Well, your actions from that day speak for you.” The woman smiled then, her voice and her eyes soft with admiration.
John looked away a minute, stunned by the emotion on her face—unwittingly giving the camera a perfect profile of his face and then he turned back with a small genuine smile. “He’s the love of my life.”
Read the Next story in the series:
When You Kiss Me/
When You Say You Love Me by Josh Groban
Like the sound of silence calling,
I hear your voice and suddenly
I’m falling, lost in a dream.
Like the echoes of our souls are meeting,
You say those words and my heart stops beating.
I wonder what it means.
What could it be that comes over me?
At times I can’t move.
At times I can hardly breathe.
When you say you love me
The world goes still, so still inside and
When you say you love me
For a moment, there’s no one else alive
You’re the one I’ve always thought of.
I don’t know how, but I feel sheltered in your love.
You’re where I belong.
And when you’re with me if I close my eyes,
There are times I swear I feel like I can fly
For a moment in time.
Somewhere between the Heavens and Earth,
And frozen in time, oh when you say those words.
When you say you love me
The world goes still, so still inside and
When you say you love me
For a moment, there’s no one else alive
And this journey that we’re on.
How far we’ve come and I celebrate every moment.
And when you say you love me,
That’s all you have to say.
I’ll always feel this way.
When you say you love me
The world goes still, so still inside and
When you say you love me
In that moment,I know why I’m alive
When you say you love me.
When you say you love me.
Do you know how I love you?