The Box

Title: The Box
Author: Keira Marcos
Big Short Prompt: Cave
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Characters: Rodney McKay, John Sheppard
Genre: Pre-slash
Word Count: 1,000
Warnings: No beta
Summary: John and Rodney get stuck in a cave and have a little heart to heart.

* * * *

“You okay?”

“Fine,” Rodney said and jerked a little as a boom of thunder resonated through the cave they’d taken refuge in. It was a deep cave, so they were far enough back to avoid the rain.

John scooted closer to him until they were shoulder to shoulder in the dark. “It’ll be okay.”

Rodney huffed. “The last time I was in a cave, Jennifer drilled a hole in my head.”

“Right.” John sighed. He slouched back against the cold wall and stared out into the darkness. “I didn’t understand what it meant to be in the dark until Afghanistan.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Out in the dessert—no light pollution to offer a glimmer of brightness in an empty sky. I hated those nights when the clouds were thick, and the moon was nowhere to be seen.” John cleared his throat. “Before the thing with the parasite, the last time I’d been in a cave was when I retrieved that Iratus bug for Carson.”

Rodney pressed against him briefly. “Right.”

“But I was so focused on you and what was happening to you that when we went to Ronon’s shrine—the location wasn’t a concern.”

“And now?” Rodney retrieved an LSD from his pack and flicked it on. It lit up the area around them. He fiddled for a minute. “We’re the only two life signs of any note. I think there is a family of rodents in a nest just outside the cave.”

John laughed and took a deep breath. “Right.”

Rodney put the LSD away and took a deep breath. “Can we talk?”

“Nature is holding us hostage so I guess we can,” John murmured. “Miss her?”

“Not remotely.”

John blinked in the darkness and looked toward Rodney. “What?”

“The thing is, John, is that I’m an asshole.”

John snorted. “McKay.”

“No, really, I am. She’s been back on Earth for weeks, right? She sends me several emails in each data burst, and I can barely remember to respond to one. She’s talking about jobs on Earth now and living closer to her father because he’s ill and getting older. Try to picture me living in Nebraska. Just try it.”

“Are you blaming your commitment issues on geography?”

“I don’t have commitment issues,” Rodney protested.

“Katie Brown.”

“I’d have ruined her,” Rodney muttered. “She’s such a sweet woman, John. What did she even see in me?”

“Fuck if I know,” John admitted. “I mean, well.”

“Right. So what does it sort of work with Jennifer when it didn’t work at all with Katie and why don’t I miss her?”

“Well, Jennifer is…” John frowned. “Are you going to get mad at me for being honest, here?”

“No, just tell me what you think.”

“Katie Brown saw you—knew you and tried to be with you anyway because despite your temper and your arrogance and utter lack of social graces you’re a brilliant man. She liked that about you because she couldn’t deal with the other parts and she knew it. Keller sees you, too, but she’s divided you into parts. Parts she can handle and parts she can’t. She probably has a list somewhere of all the things she’s going to train you not to do.”

“I’m not a dog!” Rodney protested, clearly outraged.

John laughed. “A naughty dog who regularly pisses on her kitchen floor.”

“You asshole,” Rodney muttered. “She lectures me a lot.”

“I noticed.” John stretched his feet out in front of him. “I like Katie—she’s smart and pretty, and she never tried to change you. She just tried to fit herself into a space beside you and when she couldn’t she admitted defeat. Keller built a box, and she’s doing her damnedest to shove you in it so you’ll be an appropriate husband for her on Earth. The doctor’s husband—who is smart, kind, even-tempered, and friendly. You’ll teach at a university close by; she’ll open up a practice, and there will be a house too big for you both, but it’s okay because she wants a bunch of kids.”

“You’re going to give me nightmares.”

“That’s what that road heads, McKay,” John exclaimed in a huffy tone. “She’s not going to spend the rest of her life on Atlantis or even in the SGC. Jennifer doesn’t have the heart for that kind of sacrifice. You know that, right?”

“I guess that I didn’t let myself think about it. I just thought I needed to be with someone, and Jennifer appeared to be a good choice. She’s smart and pretty.”

“And young,” John pointed out.

“Too young?”

“Maybe,” John admitted roughly. “She’s far too young to be CMO. She doesn’t have the life experience even if she doesn’t have the brains for it. The SGC should’ve never sent her out here, but then there are a lot of people on the city who shouldn’t be. It’s only gotten worse since we returned to Pegasus. You’d not believe how many people Woolsey rejects on a weekly basis under the assumption that they would just get themselves, and probably the rest of us, killed.”

“I broke up with Jennifer in an email in the last data burst,” Rodney blurted out.

“Real classy, McKay.”

Rodney laughed, but it was sharp and bitter. “She told me she was leaving the SGC and attached a resignation letter she’d written for me to sign and send in. She just assumed I’d walk away from all of my work without even a discussion. It was ridiculous. She wrote back and told me she hoped I died old and alone.”

“That was pretty dickish,” John murmured and nudged McKay. “You might get old, McKay, but you won’t be alone. I’ll be there.”


“Yeah,” John promised, and a deep sense of relief settled in his bones.

“There’s no one else I’d rather grow old with.” Rodney scooted closer and leaned against John. “Or blow shit up with.”

John laughed. “Yeah, okay, I’ll grow old with you and blow shit up.”

The End

Author’s Note:

The Big Short is a short-form writing challenge hosted on Rough Trade’s forum, The Workshop. The prompts come in two forms — a word challenge (the theme) and a single character challenge. I post my responses to the prompts on the forum first and eventually they’ll make it to my website. Each is a stand alone piece with no potential for expansion.

These short works are NOT prompts! These are my responses to the forum prompts. No, you cannot use them as prompts. No you cannot continue my short work with a longer work or write a sequel. For fuck’s sake.

Keira Marcos

In my spare time, I write fanfiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on the Internet. It's not the usual kind of hobby for a 40ish "domestic engineer" but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people's expectations.


  1. Aww look at those adorable assholes.
    Of course they will be old and sassy together.

    Thanks to share, it’s an adorable fic.

  2. Loved it. Thanks for sharing M’Lady. Hxx

  3. Thank you Keira, this was great. I love John and Rodney together.

  4. Still love this


  5. Thank you for sharing this. It left me with a smile.

  6. That’s what we should all have, someone to grow old with and blow shit up together. #relationshipgoals

  7. I can’t think of a better way for them to grow old together than blowing shit up.

  8. Loved this. These are the two space dorks I fell in love with all those years ago. Thanks for making me fall in love again. 😀

  9. Perfect.

    Perfect 🙂

  10. Ha. You know its love when you happily blow shit up together. …isn’t that how it goes?

  11. not sure if sweet is the right word… but yeah, really liked it

  12. That was cute. I love when Rodney and John have conversations like this.

  13. That is just the essence of togetherness. Blowing shit up. Love your Rodney and John.

  14. Thank you so very much! That was just what my “Technology Breakdown Monday” needed to make it all better.

  15. Loved it. Thank you

  16. *snicker* I really like the blowing shit up part.

  17. I love John and Rodney and their dynamite chemistry. It just feels so ‘right’ and so ‘real’. Thank you for this little gem.

  18. Thanks Keira. That was adorable.

  19. thanks for posting this. I can just see what it will be like for whomever has to clear their place out 50 or 60 years in the future – “What the hell is this?” “No idea – but it says ‘for Kavanagh’ and there’s a red skull on it” “oh boy – back away everyone. very very carefully” .

  20. I could see it all so cklearly. You left me smiling at the end. Thanks for sharing it.

  21. Nimue of the North

    I think,p this trying to change Rodney thing Keller has going on in many of your stories is why I love to hate her so much. I can’t stand that I real people either. Growing old and blowing shit up together sounds like much more fun!

  22. Most excellent!

  23. The ending was really sweet. Thanks for sharing it.

  24. Love it! Especially the detail about John stretching his legs out before dropping the boom on Rodney’s relationships.

  25. Ha! Lovely. I suddenly have the image of Waldorf and Statler with C4 in my head. Thanks for the laugh! 🙂

  26. Loved this! Thank you for writing it 🙂

    I particularly liked “Keller sees you, too, but she’s divided you into parts.” — this is absolutely what drove me batty about the latter half of S5 – it was so clear she wasn’t accepting of all of Rodney, which never seemed like a good foundation for true love or wherever TPTB thought that was going.

  27. Love means you never have to say “Fire in the hole!”

  28. Thank you so much. Anything new you write always makes my day.

  29. I did like Katie. I will never get over the fact she named a cactus after him. :)))

    And no, bby, you will never be alone. I loved the method Rodney chose to distract himself from being stuck in a cave: talking about his relationships. BWAH. Oh, Rodney. *hugs* Don’t ever change.

    Thank you for this! You have such a great touch.

  30. Wonderful! Who wouldn’t want to grow old and blow shit up with them??? ❤

  31. That’s so sweet. Love those boys. Hate that woman. And I totally agree with your metaphor about Katie vs Keller. Thanks for sharing!

  32. I especially loved the last line. Thanks for the pick me. I needed the smile I got from reading this.

  33. Beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I loved the guys and the analysis:DDD

  34. Another winner. You got Keller right, she wanted to change Rodney not accept him. Katie was far better at accepting his faults. Love the grow old and blow shit up. So John and Rodney. Thank you

  35. Super. I do love your John/Rodney stories.

  36. I hadn’t thought about how nothing good ever does happen to them in caves. Poor guys. I like the way they console each other by talking and scooting closer together. Thanks!

  37. greywolfthewanderer

    go boys go!!! wheeee!

  38. greywolfthewanderer

    oh yeah — and as for Keller? bye Felicia!!!

    *snicker* your stories are way too much fun you know.

  39. wonderful !!!!
    killer last line, made me laugh, thank you.

  40. I didn’t even know I needed this today until I read it and it made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I love those boys! Thank you for sharing!

  41. Your stories always make me want to simultaneously squeal with fangirliness and awe in absolute adoration. Especiallywhen it comes to John and Rodney <3

  42. Thank you for posting. This made me smile – instead of matching rocking chairs they will have rocket launchers.

  43. “I’ll grow old with you and blow shit up.” lol!
    thank you!

  44. these two really are completely adorable. I love how you write them.

  45. heee! Love it.

  46. Thanks for posting the new story.

  47. Lovely!
    I’m catching up with my reading after a very bad time. You put a smile on my face. Thank you!

  48. Now that’s romance, Pegasus style! Growing old and blowing shit up together…ahhh.

  49. I am really enjoying these shorts. Both the SGA and NCIS ones.

    I am sorry though, that you needed to add the ‘they are not propmpts and you can’t write a sequal’bit.

    I don’t know why people just can’t enjoy these stories without demanding more.

    Thanks for sharing.

  50. This was a great story. It was A lovely little window into John and Rodney’s relationship. Thank you for sharing this.

  51. Great story.

  52. Aww, can I get old, and blow shit up with them too?

  53. So them. And very well rounded mini fic.
    Thanks for sharing it.

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