Title: February Song
Author: Keira Marcos
Banner Art: FanArts Series
Series: What Might Have Been
Series Order: 5
Summary: Dr. Rodney McKay has never considered himself a lucky man but then a hard twist of fate brought Colonel John Sheppard back into his life and gave him a second chance for love and a meaningful life. He’s found the courage he thought long gone in the one man he’d pretty much figured was never going to be his. Then someone took him away and Rodney discovered that there was nothing he would not do to get him back.
Warnings: Emotional angst, threats of blowing up planets and people, very bad language, explicit sex, and one very pissed off astrophysicist.
Categories: Slash, Established Relationship, Alternate Universe, Contemporary
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended, seriously. I don’t own them. I don’t pretend to. This is just for fun. Don’t sue me—it would be a waste of your money. But, hey, these words are mine so don’t steal them and say they are yours.
* * * *
Two Weeks Missing
“We’re going to find him.” Sean sat on the side of the bed and watched his boss turn his head away. “Look, Rodney, everyone is searching okay—his father and brothers are going to tear this planet it apart and they will find him.”
“It’s been two weeks,” Rodney closed his eyes. “He didn’t even let someone keep me away from him for a full day. He found me—followed my digital breadcrumbs and made those bastards pay for throwing me in that hole.”
“Dr. Carter wants to know if you’ll be in this afternoon as planned.”
“No. I can’t go there. I don’t want – I don’t want to see those people. They lost him, Sean. They lost my John and they can’t find him. Besides they’ll just try to sedate me again.”
“I know.” Sean stroked his back carefully. “I know. Listen, I’m going to go make some breakfast and bring it up. You need to eat.”
“No. We’re not doing that, McKay. We agreed that John would not want you laying in this bed all day and not eating.” Sean cleared his throat. “So, you’re going to get up and take a shower – then eat the breakfast I bring you. You don’t have to come downstairs or talk to anyone. I promised you that but in order for me to keep that promise; you have to hold your end of the deal.”
“Is Zuri here?”
“Yeah.” Sean winced. He didn’t want to admit that the four-month-old puppy was currently lying in front of the door waiting for John to come home. “I’ll bring her up so you can feed her pieces of your bacon.”
Rodney laughed sadly. “She’s by the door again, right?”
“I’d lie in the floor in front of the door too if I thought I could get away with it.” Rodney sat up abruptly. “Okay, I’m going to shower and get to my office. Interpol promised me satellite time today so I can run the new search—to see if I can activate his transmitter.”
“Okay. Good, we have a plan.”
He left his boss and quickly went downstairs. General O’Neill was in the kitchen; his wife was in the living area her feet propped up on the coffee table. At this point, she was way too pregnant to exist—she’d confessed this to Sean upon their arrival.
“He said he wants to stay here and work in his office.”
Jack grimaced. “We need to get him out of this house, Sean. You know that.”
“I do know that. I also know that he’s starting to mourn like John is dead.” Sean sighed when O’Neil flinched. “You know if Sheppard were alive he would have found someway—he wouldn’t let McKay suffer like this if he had a single choice. The whole fucking planet is looking for him.” He went to the refrigerator.
“Half the galaxy is looking for him.” O’Neill corrected. “We have recruited more people for the program in the last two weeks than we have in the past three years. Men have come out of retirement, reenlisted if they get to come to the SGC—all of them looking for John. I have soldiers who probably sleep two fucking hours a day and demand to be sent through the gate at every opportunity. Teal’c and Ronon haven’t been home in days because they are convinced someone off world took him. Daniel, Vala, and Cameron go out every single day without fail. We have all fifteen Jumpers in the air scanning this planet on an hourly basis. Don’t even get me started on his father and brothers. We have interrogated and probably damaged half a dozen alliances on and off world looking for him. I currently have three hundred people off world looking for Sheppard and I have to fight bring them back.”
Sean nodded. “The men—the security team—they all want to go to the mountain and volunteer but they are torn between that and staying with McKay. John’s orders were always very clear.” He glanced upstairs. “McKay comes first.”
* * * *
He knew he’d lost more than a few days. Maybe a week? John couldn’t really keep his thoughts together enough to estimate. Vague memories of jogging, Zuri and Brewster dashing along the path ahead of him would flash through his mind at odd moments. His body remembered the jolt of being hit by a stun weapon more than his mind did. The first time he woke, he knew he was in space. Knew it—and was stunned by it. A Jaffa warrior had brought him food and water. He’d tried talking to the man—but his attempts had been met with stony silence.
The next time he’d woken up, he’d been chained to a wall and the only contact he’d had since, had involved taking blood, hair, skin samples – and food delivery. It had taken him several meals to realize they were drugging his food but when he stopped eating they just started coming in and injecting it.
Weeks? Had he lost weeks?
“God, Mer, I’m sorry.” He rolled his head against the wall and sagged to the floor. “Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
* * * *
Three Weeks Missing
Weeks. They’d lost weeks. Rodney felt empty—had felt empty since the moment security had come to him and told him that John hadn’t returned from his run at his normal time. That emptiness had quickly turned dark and painful when they’d found Zuri and Brewster unconscious nearly a mile from the house.
Brewster covered in blood that was not his own. Blood that wasn’t from anyone on Earth. That’s what they knew now—what they’d finally been able to confirm. Blood with traces of Naquadah in it. It had been a blow to the whole program because most had really believed the Go’uld were not much of a threat to Earth anymore. They didn’t even know if he was on Earth or out there somewhere in a galaxy so vast that it boggled the mind.
His house was empty – he’d made sure of it. Rodney wondered when they would notice that they’d both been manipulated out of the house. Sean went to the store to get things he didn’t need and Declan went to the guardhouse to brief the others on what the SGC had told them earlier in the day.
It was easy, really, to find it. Their house was practically one large gun safe. John kept weapons in every room in the house. Strapped to the bottom of tables, secured under couches and chairs with Velcro… since John, finding a gun in his house wasn’t hard at all.
Rodney emptied the glass in his hand in one uncouth swallow, and closed his eyes as the bourbon burned all way down. The weight of the 9mm was oppressive on his leg and his fingers flexed around the grip.
He let his head fall back against the chair, and he took a long deep breath. At least his hands weren’t shaking. It was stupid that after all the years that had passed since that day, that he had problems holding a weapon. It was just really stupid. He pushed back the memories of a gun in his face, of thinking he was going to die at the hands of a stranger, and wondering how he’d be remembered if no one really knew his name. Today was so not the day to think about that shit.
Rodney stood, walked to the wet bar in his office and set up another drink. Liquid courage. The phrase had always really amused him, but he got it now. He really understood. His fingers curled around the gun until they ached with it. It felt better that way—it made everything seem more real when it had been anything but real in the three weeks that had passed since John had been taken. He finished off the glass at the bar and then pushed it aside in favor of the entire bottle, which he carried back to his thinking chair. Sean had nicknamed the recliner that, and at the time it had made Rodney laugh so hard he had cried.
Well, he was thinking now so it was a good place to be. He hadn’t been thinking much in the last few weeks, his mind had shut down on him. The betrayal of that cut deep. Even in the hard nearly agonizing moments of his childhood when he was positive his father wouldn’t stop and would just outright kill him—his mind had never abandoned him. No, his memories of those days were vivid, no matter how much he wished they weren’t. Sometimes he could close his eyes and still feel his father’s fists, smell his own blood, feel the snap of bones. Three ribs when he was seven. His collarbone when he was ten. His left arm the day Scott McKay caught him kissing his best friend at age twelve. Six ribs, his collarbone, his right arm, his jaw, and his skull the day the man almost succeeded in killing him.
He tipped back the bottle and took a long thoroughly gluttonous swallow. Rodney forced the harsh liquid down and closed his eyes. An image of John filled his head. Dressed in a pair of track pants and an Air Force t-shirt that had probably been new ten years before. It was ridiculously thin and maybe a little too tight across his shoulders. It was a good look for the man. He’d strolled through the kitchen, his green eyes bright with amusement because Rodney was on the phone ripping one of his minions to shreds. So, if McKay got a little more vicious in the moments that followed just for John’s amusement—that was no one’s business but their own.
Rodney thought he could get lost there—in that moment where John was safe standing in their kitchen with the sun on his face and his eyes bright and shining with soft affection. McKay opened his eyes and let his head roll to the picture he had framed and sitting on his desk. John hated that picture with a passion unmatched. It was a variation of the one that had ended up on the cover of People Magazine. He was standing on the deck, looking slightly away from the camera, one hand rubbing the back of his neck… a bemused smile on his lips. That was his John. Approachable, warm, and loving his life.
His index finger trailed along the cool metal of the weapon still clenched in his fist and bile rose into his throat. Rodney had thought since the moment he’d let John Sheppard into his life that he would end up alone again. John wasn’t the kind of man that would die old. A part of Rodney had dealt with the blow of that sometime during the first night they’d spent together. He’d just thought he’d have more time—that there would be more mornings with John in his kitchen and more nights with John in his bed.
He finished off the bottle and coughed just a little as the liquid slid down. Rodney dropped the bottle on the floor beside the chair and used his free hand to rub his face. He knew he had everything in order with his estate. With John missing, Jeannie would get it all and that was okay. If John came back, they could figure something out between…
If John came back.
For the first time in the two hours since he’d taken the weapon from its hiding place, he carefully laid it in his lap and lifted his hand away. No, he could never let John come back and find out that he’d… no he couldn’t do that to his John.
Rodney’s gaze jerked to the doorway of his office and met Sean Taylor’s devastated gaze. Yeah, he was a Grade A asshole. In that moment he could clearly see how hurt the younger man would have been if he’d come home and found him dead.
Declan, who had stood silent by Sean, stepped fully into the room. “Put it on the floor, McKay. Right now.”
Rodney picked up the 9mm, thumbed the safety back on, and carefully put it on the floor next to the empty bottle. “I’ve been sitting here for nearly two hours. If I was going to do it—I already would have.”
Declan moved into the room and picked up the weapon. “How fucking dare you.”
“Declan.” Sean pushed at his arm. “We don’t need that bullshit in this room. Just go do something. Do something productive. Find all of John’s guns and put them away.”
He shot McKay a final glare and left the room—pausing to slam the office door behind him.
“Sorry.” Rodney relaxed in the chair. “I’d say I wasn’t thinking—but it would be a fucking lie.”
“No, I get that,” Sean murmured as he picked up the bottle. “How full was this when you started?”
“Okay, so you’re probably not in danger of alcohol poisoning,” Sean snapped. He dropped the bottle in a trashcan near the desk, grabbed a chair, and jerked it to sit in front of Rodney. “Okay, so what made you decide not to do it and be honest with me, McKay. I deserve that.”
“I spent too much time thinking and then suddenly I was thinking about how John would react if he comes home and I’d…”
“Killed yourself,” Sean supplied bluntly.
“You listen to me, McKay. I’ve pushed off your family and friends this past week because you wanted space. I let you throw me out of this house to run ridiculous errands because I thought you wanted time alone. I fucking trusted you not to do something stupid.”
“What the fuck ever,” Sean snapped. “After all the shit that has happened in your life, that you would even think about taking the life that John held more precious than his own is just—just—Christ I could almost hate you for this.”
“He’s…” Rodney took a deep breath. “He’s my everything and I don’t know how to do this without him. I don’t want to do this without him.”
“You don’t get to bail on life, McKay. John would never forgive you for it.” Sean stood and pulled Rodney abruptly from the chair. “Come on, you need another fucking shower and I’m calling the SGC.”
“Oh, we’re all way past you being in charge, McKay. You don’t get to make decisions again until you’re sober and intelligent again. Because right now, you’re drunk and stupid.”
* * * *
Patrick Sheppard was pacing the kitchen like a caged wolf and Sean flinched every time the older man walked past him.
“And Frost found all of the weapons?”
“Yes, Declan did a thorough search and then went back through all the rooms with a metal detector. Knives and guns. Everything is locked up in the armory on the second level of the basement. I put him to bed to sleep off the alcohol but he should be up by now.”
“He’s not alone?”
“No, his sister is with him upstairs.”
Patrick stopped pacing and planted both hands on the counter. “How many people know?”
“Me, you, Declan, his sister, O’Neill, and Keller. They are going to send out a psychologist tomorrow.” Sean swallowed hard. “I made sure they didn’t put anything in his file—the last thing we need is for someone to mention this in public and it ends up in the newspapers.”
“No, agreed.” Patrick leaned forward a little and took a deep breath. “You won’t leave him alone again?”
“Not even to piss,” Sean snapped. “We’ve moved the entire security contingent into the house. Two patrol the grounds, but the rest are here in the house. I let him keep his toothbrush, but I cleaned out most of the bathroom. Did you know that John shaved with a straight razor?”
Patrick nodded. “We all do. Thick beards are a family trait. I want to… I need to see him. Do you think that would be okay?”
“Frankly, I haven’t given him choices on visitors since I found him with the gun. I don’t know when he’ll get that privilege back.”
Patrick nodded and with a sigh left the kitchen area. The three flights of stairs up to the bedroom served to remind him of how isolated McKay had chosen to be. The last three weeks had been a misery for him and he’d allowed himself that—and totally ignored the needs of the rest of his family. When he entered the bedroom, Rodney was sitting in a chair in the corner and Jeannie was kneeling on the floor in front of him. They were both talking softly.
Rodney actually groaned when he looked up. “Sir.”
Patrick smirked. “Jeannie, I need a few moments of Rodney’s undivided attention.”
Jeannie stood. “Okay. Mer, I’ll be downstairs with Sean. Are you sure I can’t get you something to eat?”
“Not right now, but I’ll eat later—I promise.” Rodney stood and left the chair. He walked to the large window that dominated the western wall of the room. “I was going to knock this wall out and have a balcony put in while we were gone on the lecture tour.”
“Yeah, John talks about Atlantis sometimes—not often but when he does he always talks about the balconies and how much he loved them. I thought I could give him something like that here. It wouldn’t have been the same—but maybe it would have been enough for now. Enough until I could give Atlantis back to him.”
“He’s not dead, Rodney.”
“No, I don’t think so either.” Rodney rested his forehead against the glass. “I think I would know if he were dead—deep down inside. I would just know.”
“Tell me about this morning.”
“I was drunk and stupid,” he murmured. “Just very stupid. He told me once that I made life easy—that I made things perfect but I’ve come to realize over the last few weeks that it was him. He made things perfect and I don’t know how to go back to not having him. I can’t see how my life can work without him.”
“Does John speak of his mother?”
“I haven’t let myself get attached to a woman since I lost her. Oh, I fuck a lot. Probably more than a man my age should.”
Rodney snickered a little. “I bet. The Sheppard genes just get better with age. I don’t know how you can be that hot at fifty-six.”
Patrick laughed in spite of himself. “Shut up, I’m trying to tell you something.”
“So, yeah—there are a lot of women but absolute none that I would bring home to my sons. None that I even want to wake up beside the next morning. Amelia was the love of my life and I can’t see anyone taking that place. That place I’ve kept empty beside me. Maybe it will always be empty. I don’t know. What I do know is that Amelia would be pissed as hell if she knew. I’m pretty sure she’d kick my ass.”
“John has a few pictures of her. She was a beautiful woman.” Rodney took a deep breath. “He would be very angry with me.”
“Oh yeah.” Patrick swallowed hard. “I know what it’s like to lose the love of your life, Rodney. I do. But you’ve got a family and you have duty to all of us to pull your shit together.”
“I wasn’t going to do it.”
“You’re a smart man, Rodney. If you wanted to be dead—I know you would have already done it.” Patrick took a breath. “Just please, please don’t do that to me. I have one son missing, Matthew is near a shatter point, David has gone quiet, and you’re drinking yourself into a suicidal stupor. I really can’t take that Rodney. I didn’t ask for you, you know. But, John came back into my life as a package deal and I grabbed onto the two of you with both hands. Before this is all said and done—I might lose John again but I’ll be damned if I’ll let you go with him. So, just don’t fucking do that.”
* * * *
“You’ve dealt with a lot this year.”
“You were nearly assassinated, suffered a sexual assault, you were kidnapped, your home was invaded, and you were forced to discuss a childhood of beatings on national television.”
“I wasn’t sexually assaulted.”
“You weren’t penetrated,” Kate Heightmeyer crossed her legs and sat back in the chair she’d been given in Rodney’s office. “But your sexuality was used against you, you were touched, threatened, made to feel vulnerable, had another man press himself against you in a sexual away. While it was not rape, Rodney, it was definitely sexual assault.”
Rodney took a deep breath. “He… he put his dick on me.”
“I shouldn’t talk like that in front of you—it’s rude.” McKay looked down at the floor between them.
“I’ve never known you to be anything but, Rodney. It’s important that you get all of this out of your head.”
“It shouldn’t be a big deal.”
“If a man I did not want put his erect penis on me—it would be a very big deal,” Kate returned evenly. “A very big deal. He forced you to share an intimacy with him—and for a gay man having someone rub their penis on you is practically a sex act.”
“Yes.” Rodney swallowed hard. “It’s intimate. I’ve had more than my share of partners – hand jobs and oral sex mostly. I know it sounds funny—but stuff like that is about pleasure not about being intimate with someone. But when you let another person get that close to you, to get that much of your skin against theirs, under their hands…” Rodney closed his eyes. “Yeah, it’s intimate. I haven’t thought about it much.”
“You’ve dealt with that event very well. I expected to see you before now, to be honest.”
“I had John.”
“You still have John, Rodney. Everyone is looking.”
Rodney sent her a look. “Please, let’s not lie to each other okay. Yes, everyone is looking but there is going to come a day when they have to stop—when they have no choice but to stop looking. Then eventually I’ll be the only one that watches doors waiting for him to step through them. I’ll be the only one who won’t accept that he’s dead. Everyone will look at me with pity and concern.”
“Your family loves you very much, Rodney. They are concerned—yes but they don’t pity you. They are grieving right a long with you and I don’t imagine that will change. Ever.”
* * * *
Four Weeks Missing
Rodney flinched. “Don’t call me that. Don’t ever fucking call me that again.” He glared at his sister. “I mean it.”
Jeannie nodded. “Okay. Okay. Look, I’ve got an idea and I need your help.”
“I don’t have time…”
“Shut up.” Jeannie reached out and grabbed him. “Look at me—I have a plan to find John.”
Rodney stopped trying to struggle out of her hands. “Okay.”
“Okay—remember how you guys used the stargates to kill all the replicators? Made them all dial at the same time?”
“Yes, we used a device to do that. We can’t make them all dial again—the thing is gone.” He swallowed hard.
“What if we can make them dial in a sequence?”
“To what end?”
“We could use the gates like a super sensor net. We can use your program to look for his transmitter through the stargates. The code can bounce from gate to gate and when it gets a hit—it stops and dials Earth to let us know.”
“Look at me—no one knows more about the Stargate than you. You could build one if you put your mind to it. You can do this.”
“It’ll take days to configure and prepare.”
“Then you should get the fuck out of this house and come with me to the mountain so we can get started.” Jeannie jerked him out of the chair. “Let’s go.”
“Look at me, Rodney.” She held his shoulders in her small hands. “We can’t go out there with guns and scare the shit out of half the galaxy to find him—but we can do this. You, Radek, Sam, and me? We’re the smartest people on this planet—probably this galaxy. This is what we can do and when we find him—we’ll make who ever took him regret it with a big bomb. Because that’s what we can do.”
“Yeah.” Rodney nodded. “Yeah, that’s what we do.”
“What’s the universal truth?”
Rodney smiled weakly. “The geeks will inherit the Earth.”
“And that means?”
“They don’t fuck with the people that save their asses.”
“So it’s time we save his ass.” Jeannie pulled him close and hugged him. “He’s yours, Rodney, and it’s time we start putting all of our brain power back into this game so we can bring him home to you.”
* * * *
“So, I figure it’s time we talk.”
John rolled his head and blinked rapidly. “Jesus Christ.”
The man frowned and then blinked. “You’re from Earth?”
“Jonas Quinn,” John swallowed hard. He’d never thought he’d see the man in person. He’d seen plenty of pictures—in O’Neill’s office and one among McKay’s pictures in his bedroom when they’d first started dating. “Look, what the fuck are you doing? I thought—I thought you could be trusted.”
Jonas dismissed the two guards with a look and pulled the door shut. “Who are you and how do you know me?”
“Colonel John Sheppard, second in command—Stargate Command.” John swallowed hard. “Fuck. You bastard! How could you do this to him? Isn’t it bad enough you fucking abandoned him?” He struggled to his feet. “Do you have any fucking idea how upset he must be by now?”
Jonas paled. “I had no idea.”
“Excuse me? Aren’t you the fucking ruler of this planet? Are we on Langara?”
“No and yes.” Jonas ran his fingers through his hair. “Look, Sheppard, I was just told that they’d found an Ancient gene carrier—one that we could study and see if we could duplicate the gene therapy from Earth. I didn’t know that they’d—.” He stopped. “I didn’t realize they went to Earth and kidnapped you.”
“No, you just thought they kidnapped some guy off a planet that doesn’t matter to experiment on? What the fuck kind of person are you?” John jerked against his chains. “If you needed the gene therapy—why didn’t you just ask? Langara is our fucking ally. We would have given it to you.”
“The Ori haven’t come to our world yet—but we know it’s only a matter of time. We found an Ancient out post—a small one but we were able to bring it back to the planet… use it to create a weapons platform but none of our people can use it. They started looking for someone with an Ancient gene. They’ve been searching for months and for the record, we did ask for the gene therapy. It didn’t work for us and the SGC refused us access to their source DNA.” He paled further. “I suppose you’re the source DNA?”
John clenched his teeth. “Yes.”
“Who were talking about earlier? Who did I abandon?”
“McKay.” John closed his eyes. “You need to contact him and tell him that I’m alive. You owe him that.”
Jonas’ gaze narrowed. “You’re that important to him?”
He sucked in a breath. “The stupid bastards – I’d rather face a fucking Ori army than McKay when he’s pissed off.”
“Just go to your Stargate and send him a message.”
Jonas pressed his lips together. “I can’t do that. They’d never let me. I’m far more a figurehead than a man with actual power. The ruling council makes decisions and the people love me. That’s how this shit works. It’s how we keep peace.”
“Then you’re going to let them kill me?” John asked. “They take blood every day and I’m already weak with it. When they aren’t drugging me to my eyeballs—they are bleeding me dry.” He jerked against his chains. “This is who you are now? You’re going to let your people murder me?”
He flinched. “No, it’s not who I am.”
“Then don’t be a goddamned coward and help me!” John forced his legs to keep him upright. “Don’t do this to him. He doesn’t deserve it.”
* * * *
Five Weeks Missing
“Yes, yes, I understand.” Rodney shot General Maybourne a hard look. “You do that. You tell everyone in the mountain the search is off. Then I’ll tell them I’m not allowed expend resources on this base on a project that might find him. In fact, if you’ll wait a minute—I’ll call his father in and let him know your decision. You’ve met the Admiral right?”
“Don’t threaten me, McKay.”
“That’s not a threat.” Rodney snapped as the door opened behind him. “A threat would be telling you that I’d just as soon blow your fucking head off, as have a conversation with you right now and if you say ‘we should cut our losses’ one more motherfucking time I’m going to show you exactly why I’m the most dangerous man you’ll ever meet.”
“Rodney.” Patrick Sheppard stopped to stand beside him and carefully took his arm. “Come with me, Colonel Ellis is beaming you and me into the Oval Office. The President has agreed to our meeting.”
Rodney shook his head. “Go without me. I have to stay here and work on my program for the gate.”
“You know he wants to meet with you personally.”
“Then he can come to me.” Rodney turned then and looked at him. “I can’t leave here—I can’t leave now that I’m here because I have to be here when they find him. You know he’s not on Earth, you know it as well as I do. No one could have kept him hidden for this long—not with the media attention it’s getting.”
“No, I know he’s not here,” Patrick responded gently. “O’Neill, I need to use your pretty red phone.”
O’Neill stood. “Not a problem, sir.”
“Goddamn it! I told you, McKay, that you aren’t authorized to start reprogramming the entire Stargate system!” Maybourne snapped.
“Don’t talk to my son that way, Harry; I’ll rip you in half.” Patrick Sheppard pinned him with a glare. “I warned you a long time ago to leave my boys alone or you’d pay for it.”
“Oh, yes he is. So shut the fuck up and get out of his face. If Rodney wants to take that fucking gate a part and build a new one—he can.” He walked away. “And by the way, Harry, I outrank you. The next time I come into a motherfucking room I expect you stand up and salute me with all the respect I am due or you’ll find out exactly how much the President likes me more than you.”
Rodney did not smirk but Matthew and David did. Jack laughed all the way into his office.
Maybourne glared at Rodney briefly after the door closed. “This isn’t over, McKay.”
“It’d better be, Maybourne, I’m not above blowing you the fuck up. Don’t stand in my way when it comes to John. You’ll regret it all ten seconds I let you live. He may be the soldier in our relationship and while no one around here likes to think about it—my body count is just as high as his. I just like to do it with naquadah enhanced nuclear weapons.”
“He’s been missing for almost five weeks! Damn it, you know he’s dead.”
“The transmitter will work even if he is.” Rodney gathered up his laptop and tablet PC carefully unaware that Jack and Patrick had returned. All four men watched him silently. “Either way he comes home to me—and if he’s dead—the people that took him will pay for it. I’ll blow up their whole goddamned solar system because it’s not as hard as anyone thinks, and for the first time in a long time I find I’m way past giving damn what anyone else wants or thinks.”
* * * *
John jerked awake and his gaze connected with the man who was chained to the wall across from him. “So, huh, that went well?”
Jonas laughed weakly; blood flowed down the side of his face from his temple. “Yeah, pretty good. I got a few good hits in before – you know. I think they broke like half the bones in my body.”
“Nah, probably not. You’ll feel worse tomorrow.”
“Ah, yes, something to look forward to.” Jonas closed his eyes. “So, you and McKay?”
“Yeah. Probably shouldn’t talk about it—I’m pretty close to losing my fucking mind as it is.”
“Governor Moran spearheaded this. Most of people have no fucking clue what is going on. The rest of the council is just a jumble of people who jockey for better placement and more power. He’s the threat and he doesn’t understand what kind of enemy he’s made by taking you.”
“How long have I been here?”
“Four weeks—plus travel. I figure you were taken at least five weeks ago. They brought you in a Go’uld cargo ship. A Jaffa bounty hunter. It’s a lucky break because it won’t be long before Teal’c gets wind of this—then they’ll know where you are.”
Five weeks. John swallowed hard. “I promised I’d never leave him behind.”
“Like I did.” Jonas sucked in a breath. “I still love him, you know.”
“I don’t know how you couldn’t,” John admitted. “You still suck.” He jerked when the door to the cell opened and groaned at the scientist. “Christ, don’t you have enough blood?”
“Our experiments are not going as well as we hoped.” The doctor quickly found an unused vein and inserted a needle. “I’ve stopped the drugs—it’s interfering with our blood samples. Eat when the food comes—if you don’t you might not survive this.”
“Don’t be stupid—your bosses around here are going to kill me. They can’t afford to leave me alive.”
“Elis, look, you have to help us.”
The scientist glanced at Quinn once and then shook his head. “I told them they couldn’t trust you—yet they let you return after you’d already betrayed us once.”
“I didn’t betray you!”
“You tried to contact the Tau’ri and tell them we have one of their own. That’s a betrayal—the second as far as I’m concerned.”
“They will find out we have him and then our people will suffer. The Tau’ri destroyed the Go’uld, they destroyed the replicators, and they have won more battles than they have lost with the Ori. What chance do we stand against them?”
“He’s just one man—they’ll do nothing.” He jerked the needle free and capped it. “What does one man offer them?”
“The same man we paid a Jaffa to go to Earth and steal? The same man who has the purest representation of the Ancient gene apparently in this fucking galaxy?” Jonas asked snidely. “Just what do you think they’ll do? If he was so valuable to us—that we stole him—what the fuck do you think they’ll do to get him back? I don’t want our people to suffer for Moran’s mistakes.”
“They won’t destroy us over the life of one man—they are better people than that.”
“Yes,” Jonas murmured. “So much better than us—because they would never take someone, torture and murder them for their own gain. They are so much better than men like you and Moran. But they don’t leave their people behind. Not ever and Moran has made an enemy out of a man I would never cross in a million years.”
John was silent until the door was closed. “I was thinking—when we get out of here—we should kill him first.”
Jonas laughed weakly. “Don’t count on me, Sheppard. I’m probably going to die chained to this wall.”
“We don’t leave our people behind, Quinn. As far as I’m concerned—you’re our people. O’Neill would have never let you onto SG1 if you weren’t one of us.” John let his head fall back against the wall. “Rodney wouldn’t have loved you if you weren’t a good man. When I go—you’ll come with me. If you can’t help—you can watch. I’ll put on a good show.”
“I really believe that.”
* * * *
They recalled everyone—had managed to even bring back Ronon and Teal’c once they’d been convinced that Rodney was on the job and might need them. The halls leading out of the gateroom were full of people and discarded equipment. None of them were willing to be far from the gate.
Rodney unhooked his laptop and carefully closed the control panel he’d been working with. “Okay.”
“So what’s the plan?” David Sheppard asked.
“I’ve split the gate system into quadrants. Each quadrant will have a node—we’ll dial each node and send the new firmware for the DHD. That DHD will dial each gate in its quadrant and update those systems. We have three hundred and fifty-two quadrants. Each gate will send out a pulse to search for his transmitter and once it’s located—that gate will shut down and dial us. Then we’ll know where he is.” Rodney rubbed his face. “The President has announced that we’ll start rolling black outs over most of Colorado and four surrounding states so we can funnel the power we need into the mountain for the automatic dialing sequence. We’re going to let the gate dial until it’s done—that’s why I called back the teams. We couldn’t leave anyone stranded off-world.”
“It’ll take us sixteen hours to dial all of the nodes – and it’ll probably take a full day for the entire gate network to be updated. So, if this works we’ll have his location inside forty-eight hours.”
He half listened as his plan was filtered through the gateroom and then down the hallways—repeated almost verbatim. Silently he went up the control room, refusing to make eye contact with anyone. Rodney was pretty sure the moment he did; he was going to lose it again. He couldn’t let himself see anyone else’s worry, fear, or even grief. He would get lost in it.
Jeannie was at the dialing computer waiting on him. He sat down and rubbed his face. “Okay, start it up.”
“This is going to work,” Jeannie promised. “It’s going to work and while it’s dialing we can go downstairs and build that big fucking bomb we got planned.”
He laughed weakly. “Yeah. We sure can.”
The first wormhole engaged without a hitch, was stable for nearly a full minute, and then disengaged. Then the system began to dial again—just as it was supposed to.
* * * *
“About nine months.” John swallowed. “Known him almost two years—took me a while to figure out that I couldn’t live without him. So, we have a house, a security team, and house staff full of bad attitudes – sort of made a family out of that. Five dogs and a cat. It’s kind of ridiculous.”
Jonas laughed. “Life with McKay was never dull.”
“No. Not at all.”
“I asked him to come with me, you know. I asked and he refused. It took everything I had in me to go through that gate without him.” Jonas closed his eyes. “Hurt worse then than I hurt right now. I don’t know that I’ll ever get over that hurt because I knew I was hurting him, too. I’m glad he has you.”
“They probably won’t kill you,” John murmured. “As you said—the regular people around this place pretty much love the hell out of you. Once I’m dead, they’ll let you go because it’ll be too late for you to get help for me.”
“We’re not having this conversation.”
“Oh yes we are. You owe me.” John snapped. “And you owe him.” He took a deep breath. “I don’t care how you do it—just send me home. I don’t want my body left here or destroyed on this planet. If you give him a body, he’ll have the closure he needs to move on. Otherwise, he’ll destroy himself trying to find me. Don’t let that happen, Quinn. If you love him as half as much as you say you do—you won’t let him do that to himself.”
“If I survive this, I’ll do everything I can to let him know.”
“I didn’t suffer.” John closed his eyes. “Don’t let him think I suffered. Your people didn’t mean to kill me, it was an accident, and I didn’t suffer. That’s what you tell him. Because if you don’t—I don’t think anyone in the SGC would stop him from taking out your whole planet.”
“I know what he’s capable of. I was there when he and Sam destroyed a solar system to get Jack out of a situation with a Go’uld. They didn’t even blink or stop to think if the system was populated.” Jonas swallowed. “Fortunately—it was only populated with a Go’uld and his army.”
“You should know that the Ori isn’t the only threat you need to worry about.” John took a deep breath. “There is a race called the Wraith—they use humans for food. We estimate they’ll hit our galaxy sometime in the next three years. We had a plan to fight them off but without me—I’m probably the only person who can do it because of my Ancient gene. They might pull it off without me, there are others, but I don’t know that McKay will continue the work if I’m not there. Anyway, they are like locusts and they’ll feed on this galaxy for hundreds of years without stopping.”
Jonas took a deep breath. “We’re their food?”
“Oddly enough, you’re not my type.”
* * * *
Rodney was asleep on the conference table when it finally happened. Walter’s eager cry of “Off World Activation” broadcasted over the base intercom system and he was moving before he was even fully awake. He pushed through a crowd of people to get into the control room and went to his computer.
“McKay?” O’Neill demanded.
“It’s a gate in quadrant six.” He watched the data come in and he swallowed hard. “Okay, we’ve got two signals coming through on our transmitter system. John and Jonas Quinn. It’s Langara.” Rodney turned and looked at Jack. “Langara took him.”
“Are you sure? What about the blood we found on the dog?”
“I can’t explain that. But I know it’s one of the older transmitters—one of the first we put into commission but yes. It’s Jonas Quinn. And Langara is in quadrant six.” Rodney carefully closed the gate connection and watched it go dormant. “They have an iris system but they have no way of knowing who just dialed them. Their system isn’t set up that way and I doubt seriously they’ve advanced that far.”
“I can be there in the Apollo inside five hours.” Ellis crossed his arms. “Me and two hundred marines with bad attitudes. Five hours.”
“Me, you, three pissed off Sheppards and two hundred marines with bad attitudes.” Rodney shoved his laptop into its case and unhooked his tablet PC. “And the sooner we leave; the sooner we get there.”
“McKay… you don’t…” Jack flinched when Rodney met his gaze. “Okay, you, Ellis, all the Sheppards, and two hundred marines with bad attitudes have a go.”
* * * *
“He’s not dead.”
Rodney nodded and started to pace back in forth in the observation room they were in. Matt and David had all but drug him off the bridge shortly after they’d left orbit. Patrick Sheppard had stayed on the bridge to speak with Ellis about their plan of action. He allowed it because he already knew exactly what he was going to do and he really didn’t care what they wanted or thought on the subject.
“Are you going to pace the whole five hours there?”
“I think better when I move. It’s all good and fine to talk about how they are going to drop all those marines into where ever John is being held and let them go on a rampage—but we still don’t know why they took him and what they’ve done with him.”
“Quinn is an ex-boyfriend, right?”
Rodney glared at David. “Whatever happened here—whatever Langara has done—Jonas has nothing to do with it and he most certainly wouldn’t have authorized John being taken. He wouldn’t do that to me.”
“Rodney.” David frowned. “Think about it.”
“I am thinking about it,” Rodney snapped. “Jonas Quinn is a brilliant man, David. He’s not crazy enough to make an enemy out of me. I don’t have your training, I can’t hold a gun to save my life or yours for that matter, but I wasn’t kidding about being the most dangerous man any of you will ever meet. Jonas stood right beside me in the gateroom when I used a Stargate on the other side of this galaxy to blow up an entire solar system. He’s just not that stupid because he went home with me and I slept like a baby—after I killed three thousand people—while he stayed up all night too stunned to even sit still.”
“Why would the people of Langara take him?”
“John has the strongest Ancient gene on record. They don’t know about you or Matthew. No one does because the SGC hasn’t told any of our allies that we have anyone else. John would be a secret but we’ve had to use him once or twice over the last year to activate Ancient equipment off world. The news has gotten around despite our attempts to keep it a secret. They asked for the gene therapy eight months ago but Jennifer reported back that it didn’t take with any of their population—they are just too human, far too removed from the Ancients for it to work.”
“So they are experimenting on John?” Matt demanded softly.
Rodney stopped pacing and stared out into the blur of subspace. “Yes and I hope they have an attentive god because they are going to regret every bit of it before I’m done. Every single bit of it.”
“And if Quinn is involved?”
“Then he’s a dead man.” He let his headrest on the heavy glass window. “He was my world once – my whole world but John is my universe and if he’s dead I’ll take the whole planet out.”
“He wouldn’t want that.”
“He won’t be around to complain and I won’t sleep like a baby afterward but it won’t be because all of those sons of bitches are dead.”
* * * *
“Hey wake up. I don’t think sleeping is a good idea for either of us at this point.”
“Fuck you.” John blinked hard. “I don’t even know why Rodney ever liked you. You’re a real jerk.”
Jonas laughed weakly. “So is he. I was the first person he’d ever come across who snarked back at him.” He inclined his head. “I see what he sees in you—despite your recent treatment and the beard it’s obvious you’re quite pretty.”
“Fuck you, twice.” John let his head fall forward a little.
“You’re also a stunning conversationalist.”
“Seriously, how did O’Neill keep from killing you?” John frowned at him. “Because I think you need it.”
“I think he thought so too at times. At least until Daniel came back from being ascended and then things evened out.”
“You shouldn’t have left Earth. Your whole planet is full of assholes.” John sighed. “Of course, if you hadn’t left Rodney would have never looked twice at me.”
“Oh, I think we both might have looked three or four times at you.” Jonas smirked. “As I said—you’re really pretty.”
“I’m really going to punch you when we get out of this. Right in the face.”
“How about the arm? I’ve already gotten a few face shots in today.”
John snickered and then outright laughed. “Fuck. I want to hate your guts but you’re making it difficult.”
“Well, McKay has excellent taste.”
“Yeah, he does,” John admitted. “Okay, in the arm.”
* * * *
“We are receiving a transmission from the planet. They claim to have a weapon that can destroy us if we don’t respond.” Ellis raised one eyebrow at Rodney.
Rodney shook his head. “What the fuck ever. I do see a high-level energy source and what appears to be the weapons component of an Ancient outpost—like we have in Antarctica. But there is no one on the planet that could use it but John and he’s not going to sit in a chair and kill us.”
“Will he know it’s us—or could they lie to him and tell them we’re Ori?”
Rodney shook his head. “John and Ancient technology practically mind-fuck. They could lie to him but, it wouldn’t. If they put him in the chair he’ll be able to see the space above the planet in full 3D mental pictures.” He worked on his computer a few seconds and muttered. “Okay, Novak, try scanning the planet again.”
“Found him. Okay, I have both transmitters but they are being shielded. No beam out.”
“The shield is Ancient.” Rodney checked over the readings carefully. “We can punch a hole in it but it would take some time and could blow up the building he’s under. It would be best if we can get them to lower it.”
“And how do we do that?” Ellis asked. “Because I can drop in and surround the entire building with marines.”
“They have projectile and energy weapons on Langara. They have also scavenged a lot of Ancient and Go’uld technology. This isn’t going to be fighting a bunch of natives with spears and arrows.” Rodney continued to scan and type into his laptop. “No sense endangering our people if we can help it especially when we have more productive ways to get their attention.”
Ellis smiled then. “What do I get to blow up?”
“I’m sending you coordinates right now for target one. There are six life signs in the naquadria mine one hundred miles outside the capital city. It’s your choice if you want to remove them before you fire. Twenty seconds, full dispersal pattern, main laser cannon. The thing will blow like a bottle rocket.”
Ellis nodded. “Novak, move the people. Drop them in the lobby of the building where Colonel Sheppard is being held.”
“Jordan, fire at will.” They saw the reaction from space. Mouths dropped open around the bridge. “Shit, McKay.”
“Relax, it was a small pocket of naquadria,—maximum blast range was ten square miles. Pretty bang but not much surface damage compared to what’s coming.” Rodney smirked a little. “Novak, open me a channel to that idiot who is harping in your ear.”
“Unknown vessel, we demand you cease your attack and leave our space before we are forced to return fire.”
“Governor Moran, it’s a pleasure to hear your voice again.”
Silence and then a cleared throat. “Dr. McKay. What is the meaning of this?”
“Yes, say listen, I’d like to speak with Chancellor Quinn.”
“He’s not available at present. You’ll have to speak with me and I must insist that you cease fire on us or we will return fire. If you wish you can come down and we can discuss whatever problem you have with our people in person.”
“Huh.” People around the bridge smirked. It was the sound of horrible, brilliant things to come. “It’s like this Moran—you took my Colonel and I want him back. He is currently being shielded underground and you have one minute to remove him from that location so he can be transported up or I’m going to pick out something else to blow up.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Okay,” Rodney said very slowly. “Colonel Ellis I’m sending coordinates for target two. There are thirty life signs. Cannons one and two, forty seconds, full dispersal.”
Several seconds passed. “Done, sir.”
“Jordan, fire at will.”
“McKay! What have you done?”
“Oh, that. What you feel is the beginnings of what we can all an earthquake. I have no idea what you call it. Basically, I’ve taken out the second in a series of targets that will create a fault line down the middle of the continent you’re on. The third and fourth targets will unfortunately have too many life signs for us to move any of them with our ship. Which mean, in the next minute, you’ll be responsible for the deaths of thousands of your people.”
He leaned back in his chair. “The fault line will be fully developed by the fifth target and then you will experience the first full fledged earthquake. On Earth, we have a scale to measure them—we’d rate what is about to happen to your entire continent as a 10.0. Roads will break up, mountains will split, rivers will divert, the ocean will rise, and buildings will shatter as the pressure increases. Then, shortly after that’s all done—the lava exposed in the fault line will start to build and you’ll have yourself a good old fashioned volcano which will blow in the next six days and that will make your planet unlivable for the next five hundred fucking years at least.”
“You won’t do this.”
“I’ve already started, Moran. And I’m sitting on a ship armed to the teeth.”
“Our allies like being allies with people who have ships that can blow the Ori the fuck up and you can’t compete with that, Moran. Colonel Ellis, harvest Langara’s Stargate they won’t be needing it and there is no need to waste it.”
“Novak, you heard the man.”
“You son of a bitch! We can not function without our Stargate…”
“You did it for years before you even knew what the damn thing was,” Rodney reasoned. “Besides, you won’t be there. You’ll all be dead.”
“Target three established. Two thousand life signs over a three mile stretch. Prep the bomb in weapons bay six.”
“Jordan, let me know when you’re ready.”
“No. No! Look, we’ll get him. Just – give me a few minutes. He’ll be within your ability to transport in five minutes!” Moran shouted.
“Five minutes and alive,” Rodney murmured. “Or I’ll sit up here for the next fucking week and tear your planet a part piece by piece. Novak I’m done speaking with Governor Moran.”
Novak smirked but closed the radio connection. “Is all that stuff true? Can you really make a volcano?”
Rodney looked at her, his eyes cool and calm. “We already did. It’ll blow like Pompeii sometime within the next year and it’ll take a chunk the size of China out of the planet when it goes.”
Her mouth dropped open. “McKay.”
“Relax, Novak, I’m not a complete monster. We’ll give their Stargate back and warn them after the Colonel is on board.”
“As long as he’s alive.”
“If he’s not alive—the only thing we’re leaving of this plant is dust. Right, Ellis?”
“Right, Dr. McKay. Dust and echoes.”
“The Wraith are coming, Julia. Those people took our planet’s best defense and experimented on him. If they’ve killed him—they’ve probably doomed us all to being fed on by the Wraith. Trust me—the people of Langara will be getting off easy compared to the rest of the galaxy. You can consider it a mercy killing if you like.”
She paled and nodded abruptly. “Okay.”
* * * *
John winced as he was abruptly released from the wall. “What’s up?”
“Your people have come for you and they are letting that maniac McKay… he’s blown up two naquadria mines in the last six minutes.” Moran rubbed his face with a shaking hand.
John chuckled. “That’s my Rodney.” He motioned to Quinn. “Him, too.”
“No, he stays here. We need him.”
“Oh yes or trust me when I get up there—I’m going to tell McKay what’s been done to me and let him finish whatever plan he has started.”
Moran motioned for Quinn to be released. He slumped to the ground unconscious. John stumbled briefly as he crossed the cell and got Jonas on his feet.
* * * *
“We got him.” Novak started to move fast across her console. “Two life signs very close together. It’s Quinn and the Colonel.”
“Bring both.” Ellis snapped and pulled his own service revolver. Every soldier on the bridge followed suit.
Rodney swallowed hard as the light flashed and John stumbled onto the deck, Jonas Quinn clutched against his chest. “John.”
“Hey.” John blinked. “You guys are so fucking late. I’m kicking all of your asses.”
“Novak give them back their gate,” Rodney reached John seconds before his father did. “You’re bleeding.” He wiped blood off John’s forehead with shaking fingers. “You’ve lost weight.”
“Blood’s not mine. They are horrible cooks. Maggie owes me five weeks of good food.”
“I’ll tell her,” Rodney promised as John carefully put Jonas down on the deck. “You’re not injured?”
“No,” John shook his head. “Quinn is. Ellis get a doctor up here. He’s in a bad way. They beat the hell out of him.”
“Because he tried to help me.” John winced as his father pulled him to his feet and jerked him close. “I can’t believe you let Rodney off the planet. I’m kicking your ass for that.”
“He was with me.” Patrick curled his fingers into John’s shirt. “You are grounded.”
* * * *
“He’s dehydrated, a little malnourished, his iron is low, and his immune system is wrecked.” Caroline Lam stared pointedly at John as she talked. “I’ve got some more tests running so we’ll see.”
John nodded. “And Quinn?”
“Severe concussion, three broken ribs, and several bones in his left are hand is broken as well. There is some organ damage. I’ve put him in a stasis field for the trip home. He’ll need more surgery than we can provide on board. I’ll get with a specialist once we get back to the SGC. In the mean time, I want to keep you in this bed, get some fluids and antibiotics in you.”
“Also, we have about two hundred marines on board who’d like to get a look at their CO.” Caroline sighed when he frowned at her. “I realize you’d prefer some privacy but…”
“They’ve spent the last five weeks wrecking absolute havoc over the better part of this galaxy.” Rodney rubbed his thumb over the top of his hand. “So, put on your game face.”
“My game face is somewhere between here and Earth.” John closed his eyes briefly but nodded. “Is Teal’c on board? I need to see him.”
“Yes, I’ll get him.”
John watched her go and then turned to Rodney. “You are in so much trouble. Did you really make a volcano or did I imagine that conversation?”
David laughed. “Yeah, he really did make a volcano.”
“Yes, well, naquadria is very reactive and the Langarians have seriously compromised the surface of their planet with heavy mining. They are lucky I didn’t drop the bomb Jeannie and I made on them after we got you up here. Because it’s just sitting in the weapons bay waiting for an activation code.”
“You and Jeannie built a bomb?”
“Brand new design. We’re calling it the Planet Buster. Three nuclear war heads, four naquadah – 200 megatons yield and it’s only the size of an F-302.”
Several mouths in the room dropped open.
“You’re a scary bastard, McKay.” Matt squeezed his shoulder. “Good thing you’re on our side.”
“So, what does it do when it hits?” John asked.
“It burrows, two warheads explode up, and the rest explode into the surface of the planet. The one we have on board wouldn’t have blown up the planet but we have designs for several that will depend on the size of the planet. If Langara were the size of say the Moon—it would practically shatter.”
“Like getting hit by an asteroid the size of South America.”
“Yes, exactly.” Rodney shrugged. “Some people need it.”
“Agreed.” John turned as the door opened and offered a weak smile for Ronon and Teal’c. “Hey, my favorite aliens.”
“Sheppard.” Ronon crossed his arms. “I thought we agreed you weren’t going off to make new enemies without me.”
“So, not my fault.” John assured. “You know I always let you come along when it’s time to kick someone’s ass.”
“We can still go back and do that,” Teal’c assured. “The soldiers are very ready to do so.”
“Yeah.” John nodded. “I bet.” He cleared his throat. “A Jaffa named Kar’ta took me from Earth in a cargo ship. He’s working as a bounty hunter.”
“I see.” Teal’c took a deep breath. “He trained with Master Bra’tac many years ago. It was my understanding that he was doing work as a bounty hunter—but only wanted criminals.”
“He made an exception for me.”
“Then he’s a dead man,” Ronon responded.
“Yes.” Teal’c nodded. “Dead.”
“You have a go as soon as we return to the mountain. After you do that I want you to spread it far and wide that coming to Earth to take one of us is a death sentence.” John looked at Rodney briefly. “If they’d take me—they’d take others. Am I understood?”
“Yes.” Teal’c nodded. “Ronon and I will see the matter taken care of with extreme prejudice.”
John watched them both walk away and then turned to his father. “I’d really like to get this hair off my face.”
“I thought you might. I have a kit in my bag.” Patrick stood.
“I’ll probably need help.”
Patrick nodded and swallowed hard. “It’ll be like old times.”
John watched his father leave the room and then turned to look at Rodney. “You’ve lost weight yourself.”
“I’m fine.” Rodney rubbed his thumb across the hand that held tightly. “I always forget to eat when things… I’m fine.”
“Let’s concentrate on you for right now.” Rodney’s fingers tightened against John’s. “That’s what I need, okay?”
“Yeah.” John looked at Matt who had dark circles under his eyes and what looked like a gut full of misery. “You look like shit, kid.”
Matt laughed, but it was sad. “I’ll be fine later. Right now I’m still working with something a little less than fine.”
“Not your fault,” Matt said softly. “Not your fault at all. You know you look like Grandpa with this beard.”
“Yeah.” Matt chuckled. “If you called me a little bastard and threatened to tan my hide—I might have a flash back.”
John laughed in spite of himself. “He was horrible. I don’t know why Dad made us visit him so much.”
“Because I didn’t want to suffer alone.” Patrick Sheppard returned as he pulled the door shut. “The hot little doctor threatened me with bodily harm if I cut you.”
John raised an eyebrow. “She is hot and I think she could probably kick your ass.”
“I think so, too. I’ve seen her workout in the gym.” Patrick sat down the bag and opened it. “She swings a staff like a little warrior princess.”
“We can’t let the civilians go off world if they can’t defend themselves.” John closed his eyes. “Especially the women.”
“And I’m not going to tell her you called her a warrior princess. Those are fighting words in the SGC.”
* * * *
Carolyn Lam paused as she entered the curtained off area of the infirmary. Every man and woman on the ship had managed a walk by the door to the room to see Sheppard, but now they were less than two hours out from Earth and she’d managed to run everyone but his family off. Sometime during the last hour, Rodney had slipped into the bed with him and was asleep pretty much wrapped around him.
Her gaze flicked briefly over Patrick Sheppard and her stomach clenched a little. It was stupid, really, that she had a crush on a man who could have technically fathered her. Granted, he was ten years younger than her own father but he was a walking wet dream, just like all the men he had fathered.
John was awake, his gaze connected with hers as soon as she looked at him. “Hey.”
“There’s our Colonel. I almost didn’t recognize you under all that hair.” Carrie walked to the bed, reached out, stroked his smooth cheek, and then tilted his head to check for cuts. “Good job, Admiral.”
“Thank you,” Patrick muttered dryly.
She shot him a little grin. “Your kid, my patient.” Carrie leaned down and pressed her lips to John’s forehead. “My friend. John, Christ, we were so worried.”
“I’d apologize but whenever I do people glare at me.”
Carrie smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes. “We owe you an apology. We should have found you sooner.”
“Better late than never.”
“How much blood did they take?” she asked.
“A little or a lot everyday. The past week—I was pretty sure they were going to bleed me out.” He rubbed Rodney’s back gently when the scientist stirred. “You should have sedated him, Carrie; he’s obviously not slept well in weeks.”
“We did sedate him the second week but then he barricaded himself in his house, activated a jammer that prevented us from beaming him out, and hid behind his evil personal business manager and his security team.” Carrie crossed her arms. “They all proved to be intensely loyal and adhered to his wishes. During the past three weeks, they’ve let Jennifer and Kate Heightmeyer in. Then he came back to the mountain last week—we tried to make sure he ate.”
John glanced towards his father briefly who had slept off and on during the last two hours. “So why are you concerned about the blood?”
“Between the drugs that are still in your system and your low blood pressure—I’m just a little concerned. You’re a Type O and I don’t have any on board. I’d really like to start a transfusion.”
“We can help with that.” Patrick stood. “We’re all Type O.”
“All of you?” Her mouth dropped open. The Sheppards offered her nearly identical smirks and she sighed. “Well, come with me then. I’d like to get some from all of you.”
* * * *
“I’m sorry it took so long.”
“None of that.” John pressed his lips against Rodney’s forehead. “I can’t believe I was found at all to be honest—it’s a big galaxy.”
“Not that big.” Rodney fingers curled into the fabric of the blanket they were both under. “I got lost for a little while. I couldn’t think without you. It was Jeannie’s idea to use the stargates.”
“You have a good team.”
“I do. Radek worked pretty much all night with me for two days straight on the code while Jeannie worked on an interface for the gate. It worked like a dream. The program has gone dark now but if needed we could use it again to find our people. It can be programmed to find a single transmitter or multiple ones. We even picked up Jonas on Langara when the gate dialed back to report your location.”
“He had nothing to do with me being taken, Mer.”
“Yeah, very. They practically killed him when he tried to get to the gate to dial Earth and talk to you. He also didn’t know that the two of us were in a relationship.”
“Huh.” Rodney propped his chin on John’s chest and looked over his face. “Okay, I mean. I doubt anyone would bring that up to him in a diplomatic communication and I don’t think Teal’c has visited Langara in over a year. He’s been pretty much glued to Ronon.”
“Yeah.” John chuckled. “Is that what I think that is?”
“Some weird warrior-love thing?” Rodney chuckled. “Yeah, I think so.”
“What happened to the dating lessons he had all the women on the base give him?”
Rodney shrugged. “Who knows? Sometimes you can’t help who you fall in love with. People always talk about sexuality like its set in stone and that attraction can’t be affected by unexpected emotional connections. I think the heart leads such things far more than anything else. Look at Matt and Cam. And Cam told me that it was pretty much like that from the very beginning.”
“Is Zuri okay? She was with me, right?”
“Yeah, we found her and Brewster about two hours after we realized you were missing. They’d both been stunned and Brewster had apparently taken an unhealthy chunk out of whoever took you. The vet spent an hour pulling skin and flesh out of his teeth.”
“Good for him,” John muttered. “You realize that once we get back to Earth that things are going to get hectic. It’ll be hours before I can even think about going home.”
“Yeah.” Rodney sighed. “You should know that your dad is now the Director of Homeworld Security.”
“Excuse me?” John demanded in a fierce whisper.
“Maybourne tried to shut down the search because he was afraid I’d break the gate system completely. I went over his head to the President and in the middle all of that Maybourne might have stepped on your father’s toes by not saluting or looking at me wrong or breathing. I’m not really sure. Anyways, the President beamed into the mountain for a meeting and when he left your Dad was the new Director of Homeworld Security and Maybourne had been given his choice of a base command or retirement.”
* * * *
“So I’ve forwarded data I collected and let them know they have roughly nine months to relocate to a new planet before the volcano goes active.” Rodney shrugged. “It could take upwards of five years—but I know after the one year mark there is really no predicting it.”
Sam grinned. “I asked for any data they collected on it—but they weren’t very nice to me.”
Rodney chuckled. “Fuckers. We can go back and take their Stargate if you want.”
“Nah. It’s good for them to stick around so they can tell others what will happen if they think about trying something stupid like that. They’ve lost most of their alliances in the past twenty-four hours due to this very bad behavior.” O’Neill focused on John who was sitting at the end of the conference table with a full course meal—courtesy of Rodney’s majordomo and the Apollo beam. “Good?”
“Yes.” John nodded. “Maggie is like a goddess in the kitchen.” He speared a potato. “So, Quinn?”
“In stable condition. Lam and Keller are both convinced that he’ll pull through.” Jack clenched his fist briefly on the table. “You’re sure he wasn’t in on it?”
“Yes. He was shocked to discover that I was even from Earth. He did know about the plan to find a gene carrier for their own gene therapy program, but I can tell he hadn’t really been involved with how things were going or planned. He didn’t even come to the room they were keeping me in until three days ago.” John sliced into his steak thoughtfully. “Quinn doesn’t strike me as the kind of man that would go from someone you trusted with your life, to a man who would murder someone in cold blood, sir.”
Jack nodded. “Circumstances, John, can break the strongest of people.”
“And sometimes they just make them stronger.” John shrugged. “Look, I have the most reason to distrust the man of anyone in this room. I’m the one his people tried to kill with their stupid experiments.”
“I’m also the man involved with someone he’s still very much in love with and yet I brought him back when I could have left him behind.” John’s gaze remained on Jack’s face. “So, let’s get the man back on his feet and see what he wants to do with the rest of his life, sir.”
Jack stared for a full thirty seconds and then nodded. “Okay.” He stood. “Finish your meal and then I’m afraid you’re going to have to endure a press conference. Your disappearance has been at the front of the world news since the very day it happened.”
* * * *
“Colonel Sheppard how do you feel?”
John shot the reporter a look that had several people in the room laughing. “Like a man who was held hostage for five weeks on another planet. So mostly, I’m craving French fries and I’m really pissed off.”
“The government released information this afternoon detailing the plan that brought you home—including how Dr. McKay actually reprogrammed the entire gate system across our galaxy to locate you.”
“Yes, it is my understanding that Dr. McKay and several scientists on staff who do not wish to be named reprogrammed the gate system and used it to search for me. How and why they were able to locate me through the gate is classified.”
“Were you surprised to return and find your father in charge of Homeworld Security? Did you ask how that happened?”
“Not surprised and no I did not ask. You don’t question men with four stars on their collar—even if they do occasionally answer to ‘dad’.” John offered a small smile at the laugh. “As with anything, I tend to leave political matters to other people. He’s been the boss of me nearly my entire life in some fashion or another—today is just another day. Besides, I’ve been pretty much grounded since was I retrieved by the Apollo for not letting him know where I was for the last five weeks.”
“Do the people of Earth need to be worried about being abducted like this in the future?”
“I should be clear that I was abducted for a very specific reason and the average every day citizen of this planet need not be worried about being kidnapped by someone from a different planet. Rarely do we have anything they need, to be honest.”
“But if it happens?”
“Then I’ll go get them back and make who ever took them regret it a lot. This is my home and the people within Stargate Command fights for everyone – not just a select few designated by lines on a map. We already fight, bleed, and die for the citizens of Earth… I won’t let anyone come here and make a mess of my home.” He stepped back. “Now, if you’ll excuse me—I’m exhausted and I was promised some chocolate cake at home and if I’m really good maybe Dr. McKay will get me some fries.”
* * * *
Zuri met them at the door and followed John everywhere he went in the house until he sat down on the couch. She promptly crawled up beside him and rested her head in his lap while he ate chocolate cake. He’d had two orders of fries on the way home.
“You know,” he started as he contemplated his next bite of chocolate cake. “It would be really nice if I could sit here and not be stared at by everyone in the house.”
“Asshole.” Matt rubbed his face and turned his gaze towards the TV that was on but muted.
“Would you like some milk?” Sean asked standing up. “Or more cake?”
“Yes to both, thank you.” He glanced at Rodney who was his piano playing Bach. John knew it was Bach because Rodney always played Bach when he was trying to keep it together for appearances. “Declan sit and tell me what I need to know.”
Declan sat. “Maggie’s house is finished, the fence has been expanded to encompass all eighty acres, Jacobs broke his hand last week trying to untangle a reporter from the NY Times who thought he could squeeze through the fence, and the reporter is still in the hospital recovering as he was nearly killed by the fence before we got him free of it. Stevens is in Nebraska with his mother who fell and broke her hip and you are never running alone ever again, sir.” He stood and walked away. “Ever.”
John stared after him and then glanced at Rodney who only raised one eyebrow. “Did we send Stevens’ mother flowers?”
“We sent his mother flowers and a house keeper,” Rodney responded. He glanced towards the French doors, which Declan had disappeared out of. “He’s a little bent out of shape.”
“Yeah.” John looked at David and then Matt—who were both a little bent of shape as well. “Sean hold off on the cake.”
“Sure.” Sean closed the cake box and put the milk away. “Let me know when you’re ready.”
* * * *
Declan took the beer he was offered without a word. The cold bottle felt good in his hand. Matt Sheppard just touched his shoulder and found a lounge chair. John sat down beside him on the stairs.
“You know when you hired me for this job you said I was here for him—that he came first.”
“He does come first.”
“Yeah, the biggest problem with that is I just spent the last five weeks watching him die a little every day. We forced him to get up, eat, shower, and pretend to work but really it was only matter of time before he fired us all, crawled into a hole, and died. If his sister hadn’t come up with that idea and snapped him out of where ever the fuck he went in his head… I don’t know how much longer he would have lasted.”
The silence wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t comforting either. Declan finished off the beer in one swallow and stared at the bottle. “So, just so you know—since he comes first there is no way in hell you get left behind or left on your own in a situation. He wouldn’t survive it and then I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
“No. Christ. I had to go through the fucking house and find all of your weapons because we caught him sitting in a chair with a 9mm in his lap. He was looking at it like it was a solution and that’s a fucking horrible thing to walk in on.”
“When was this?”
“Two weeks ago. He hadn’t slept in four days no matter how hard Sean and I pushed him to do it without medication.” He rubbed his face. “So I gathered all the weapons and locked them away. We brought the security team into house and called the SGC and his sister.”
It was like taking a blow. “My gun.”
“Yeah. The 9mm you kept in the nightstand as far as I can tell.” Declan studied the beer in his hands. “He woke up that morning – managed to get both Sean and I out of the house on errands and then drank a half a bottle of bourbon with a gun in his hand.”
The fury that he felt was misplaced, but it was all that he had left, really. When he came back into the house, Rodney had gone upstairs. Sean winced when John looked his way. “No interruptions.”
Sean’s gaze narrowed but then he nodded. “Go easy on him, please. I don’t think he could handle much.”
John walked away and waved Zuri off to her bed when she attempted to follow. She whined a little but didn’t follow him up the stairs. The walk up to the third floor served to remind him that Rodney had put a lot of space between the two of them while he’d been outside with Sean.
He was sitting in a chair far away from the bed in the corner where John liked to read. It was probably his favorite place in the house and Rodney rarely sat there. He sat down on the ottoman and stared. What the fuck could he say?
“I pretty much convinced myself I was going to die on Langara.” He ignored the sharp in take of breath from Rodney and continued. “I made Jonas promise to come here, to bring me home if he could so that you could have closure. It never once crossed my mind that you’d think about eating my fucking gun.”
Rodney flinched but didn’t say anything.
“Over the past six or seven months there have been a number of times when I thought you were going to be lost to me. I even watched you die on the floor of a lab and for a minute, my entire world went dark. So, if you think I don’t know understand how… how easy it was for me to think that I’d just go with you… you’re wrong. But, I wouldn’t do it, Mer. I wouldn’t do that our family and our friends.”
Rodney cleared his throat. “By the time they found me I’d been sitting there for a couple hours. I wasn’t going to do it, John. I couldn’t risk you getting free of whatever or whoever had taken you and come home to find that I’d killed myself.”
“Mer, I need to know that if something does happen to me that you won’t ever think about doing that again. I love you but I can’t even imagine wanting you to crawl into the grave with me.” He picked up both of his hands. “Look at me.” John waited patiently until Rodney met his gaze in the nearly dark bedroom. “Never. I expect you to live a full life, die when it comes naturally, and never once regret the life you’ve lead. I’ll do my damnedest to be their right beside you the whole time—but if I can’t be—I need you to promise me that you won’t push away our family and you won’t live half a life or end it all together.”
“No, fuck.” He sucked in a breath. “Christ, I need you to promise me, Rodney that you won’t ever think about killing yourself again, not ever.”
Rodney looked down at their hands and sucked in a breath. “Yeah, I promise.”
John stood and pulled him up out of the chair. “Come to bed.”
“You’re in no shape for anything that athletic,” Rodney muttered but gamely followed and allowed himself to be stripped.
“I just want you close,” John said softly and covered them both with a sheet. “As close as possible.”
“You need sleep.” Rodney pressed a soft kiss against John’s throat. “Sleep and no crap. I told O’Neill that you weren’t coming back to the mountain for a week.”
“He told me.” John smiled in the darkness. “He also told me that you tried to cancel your lecture tour – we’ve only been planning that for five months.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t want to fucking do it.” He traced his fingers along John’s rib cage and sighed. “But, the Pentagon thinks it will be good for you to appear in public a lot to reaffirm that you really are okay and here.”
“How did the Iris March interview go over?”
Rodney sighed. “It aired four days after you went missing and had the highest rating of anything ever apparently. Sean fielded a hundred phone calls the day afterward. I received cards by the bag full at the SGC. Some condolences and others where people were praying for you.”
John laughed. “God.”
“Yeah, I just turned them all over to the anthropology department and told them to set any death threats aside for the investigation.” His fingers dipped in the indent of John’s belly button and then crossed over the muscled wall of his stomach to trail back up his other side. “Everyone freaked out a little you know. The SGC has spent so much time focused on how you’re the only hope of bringing Atlantis back to fight the Wraith that when you disappeared—people sort of lost it. The President was on TV every day after the first week went by with updates on the search.”
“The General told me about some of things that were being done. The men and women who came back to the Stargate program, people who came out of retirement—I don’t get it you know.”
“It’s human nature to get fixated on a person in dire times. You’re a hero, John and the world expects you to save them from the Wraith.”
“No pressure,” John whispered.
“Yeah, no pressure.”
“So, I guess we need to do something life affirming.”
Rodney laughed. “You’re in no condition for sex, John. Go to sleep. I’ll fuck you blind tomorrow. Promise.”
“So holding you to that.”
* * * *
John pulled himself out of the pool and grabbed a towel from the lounge chair. Zuri lifted her head and then rolled over on her back to sleep. Two security guards had made their way to the pool some time during his swim and he eyed them with weary amusement. He dropped into the lounger and closed his eyes. Four minutes – he figured he had four minutes before Rodney came out on the deck to explain the evilness of the sun and how John was going to get skin cancer if he didn’t come in and put on some sun block.
So he wasn’t surprised at all when a bottle of sun block was unceremoniously dropped over the deck and right onto his stomach. He sighed and grabbed the bottle. “Lucky I love you—a lot of men would take exception to having things this heavy thrown anywhere near their dick.”
“What the fuck ever.” Rodney answered as he walked away. “On a bad day the only thing I like about you is your dick—I’m not going to do anything to damage it.”
“Hey, you gonna come put this on my back?”
“No!” He paused at the French doors. “But if you come in the house I think we could manage that ‘thank god you’re alive sex’ now.”
John laughed and rolled off the lounge to his feet. “You’re a fucking genius, McKay.”
* * * *
“The smartest man in the whole goddamned universe, I swear.” John let his head drop to the pillow and shuddered through his second orgasm in an hour.
Rodney released his cock, turned his head, pulled his slick fingers from John’s ass, and nipped at the flesh of his thigh. “That is why I deserve you.”
“Oh yeah?” John asked as Rodney crawled up his body and sought his mouth. He sighed into the kiss.
“Because you’re definitely the hottest man in the universe and I deserve the best.” Rodney rubbed his still aching erection against John’s thigh and went for a deeper kiss. “I deserve the very best.”
Rodney groaned. “Are you sure?”
“Oh yeah. You promised to fuck me blind—and I expect it. It’s what I deserve.” He stretched as Rodney lifted away and turned him on his side. John shivered as he felt lips trace over one shoulder blade and then Rodney pushed the head of his cock inside. A hand slid down to one hip and held him still as McKay pressed in with one long stroke.
“I got you, baby,” Rodney promised as he pressed one hand flat against John’s stomach and started to rock deep into him. “Just you and me.”
“Shhh.” He kissed the back of John’s neck and pressed closer before allowing his hand to drift down at wrap around John’s rapidly hardening cock. “Aren’t you a needy soldier, today.”
John laughed weakly. “Is that a problem?”
“Oh, no.” Rodney pressed deeper and smiled against John’s shoulder when John hissed and then moaned. “There’s your spot.”
“Yeah.” John pressed back against him. “More.”
“I’m going to give you everything you need. I promise.” He started to stroke John’s cock—each motion firm and in time with the push of his cock. “You’re going to come for me again. Just like this with my cock in your ass.”
“Fuck.” John groaned and reached out blindly to fist his hand in the sheet in front of him. “It’s too much.”
“No such thing, Colonel.” He clenched his teeth into John’s shoulder. “Come right now.” John obeyed with a startled sound and clenched around Rodney’s cock so hard that he came with him. “Jesus.”
“Atheist,” John reminded gently.
Rodney laughed and carefully pulled free of him. “Wow.”
* * * *
“Thank you for agreeing to sit in on this session, John.”
John took the hint and left the window in favor a chair beside Rodney. “Thanks for coming to the house.”
“The General and I agree that Rodney’s security and privacy is more important than any ground I might gain from forcing him into my domain.” Kate Heightmeyer smiled when John relaxed in the chair. “Rodney has discussed several things in the past few weeks—his being shot at, the sexual assault…”
“He was not sexually assaulted,” John snapped out interruption.
Kate inclined her head. “John.” She paused until he looked at her. “If a man held you to the wall while you were naked, pressed against your body with his, and rubbed his penis against you – what would that be?”
John sat back a little and forced himself to stay seated. “Yeah, okay.” He hated her then in that very moment and that sucked because she was one of his. One of the people he had brought home from Atlantis. One of the people he had saved. “What else?”
“His father, his time with the CIA, the kidnapping, the home invasion, and most recently the day he woke up and decided to kill himself.”
“I always liked how blunt you are; until this very moment.”
She nodded. “You’re both blunt men. There is no point of just sitting here, and silence isn’t going to be productive for either of you.”
John didn’t like to waste his time so he appreciated that thought. “What about his time with the CIA?”
Rodney flinched. “I told you—he would leap right on that with both feet.”
“Of course, it’s the only thing you haven’t discussed with me in some fashion or another,” John snapped. “So, talk to me.”
“Kate, I…” Rodney closed his eyes. “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Rodney we agreed that you owe it to your relationship with John to be very honest with him about your past. You said yourself that he’s never once denied you the answers to questions about his past. He’s asking you about your past work with the CIA.”
“I can’t discuss all of it with him or you—he doesn’t have the clearance.” Rodney rubbed his face with both hands.
“Then tell him what you told me.”
“Not much to tell.”
“Say it Rodney.”
“They recruited me at sixteen. I did computer work, innovative stuff for the time period. I worked on gadgets, too. Spy stuff. Listening devices, hidden cameras—all that cool shit you guys in the military got from the government years after the fact.” Rodney stood up from the chair and started to pace. “I’d refused field work, no matter how much they asked. I didn’t want it. So, I was eventually moved into other things like building bombs. I taught field operatives how to set up car bombs, how to diffuse bombs, etc. I was very good at it. Then my father found me. You know that story. I was fucked up for weeks and shortly before I was to get out of the hospital—my handler at the CIA came by and asked me if I wanted to do field work.”
John sucked in a breath. “Shit.”
“Yeah.” Rodney laughed sadly. “I was so fucking angry. So I was easy to manipulate. They used me for industrial espionage in other countries. I speak ten languages and even then I was arrogant enough to bluster my way through most situations.”
“Goddamn it.” John leaned forward and took a deep breath.
Rodney paused just briefly. “So, from eighteen until twenty-two I worked in the field. I wasn’t good with physical confrontation because I was a skinny assed kid—but no one expected that from me. I also was a pretty kid. It was really easy to blend in with powerful men, play on their lust, and earn their trust. MI5 borrowed me from the CIA and I worked for them for about six months until I got captured.”
“About ten days. Ten days of a gun in my face while he kept threatening to blow my head off if I didn’t build the bombs. After I was rescued, I quit. I didn’t want to be among the nameless dead of the CIA—forgotten by everyone but a sister who hadn’t spoken to me in years.”
“How did you…”
Rodney looked at him. “I was a kid but I wasn’t a stupid kid. I had enough dirt on everyone in Washington to guarantee safe passage out of the CIA. I agreed to do special projects for them as long as they never requested field work from me again.”
“Does Jack know any of this?”
“No. Radek knows a little bit of it but not much. They all know I did work for the CIA. It’s somewhat hard to keep shit like that a secret in a place like the SGC but they don’t know—they don’t understand the depth of it. They can’t know. If they suspected and they started digging…” Rodney shook his head. “You know Jack is a curious bastard. If he pushed for the wrong information, it could be dangerous for him and Sam. It’s best they know nothing.”
John rubbed his face with both hands. “Jesus, Rodney.”
“Yeah,” Rodney whispered. “Sorry. I’m an asshole.”
“We all have secrets, Mer. I just didn’t think… I didn’t.” He sucked in a breath and laughed sadly. “I’ve spent so much time the past few months trying to protect you and shelter you from everything that I never bothered to really understand…”
Rodney turned and looked at John with soft eyes. “I find I like it very much when you shelter me, John.” He swallowed hard. “I don’t want you to look at me differently.”
John met his gaze. “I love you, Rodney. Whatever we have behind us—no matter how fucked it was—it made you who you are today. I love the man you are very much.”
“Sorry about the whole thinking about killing myself thing…” Rodney murmured. “I’d never want to let you down like that. I just got lost for a little while. But I’m here now, and I’ll do my best not to get lost without you again.”
John smiled. “Me, too. No lostness without a bed and a couple of hours of free time to get lost together.”
Kate cleared her throat. “Okay, so I think I’m really unnecessary for the rest of this conversation.” She stood and with a soft amused smile gathered up her things. “I’ll leave you to get lost together and Rodney—I want to do at least three more sessions and then we’ll talk about a schedule for the future.”
“I thought John and I might go to the island.”
“One before you leave and you are required to call me if you need someone to talk to.”
“I have John,” Rodney murmured.
Read the next story in this series:
Keep Me Awake
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