The Spin Cycle

Reading Time: 43 Minutes

Title: The Spin Cycle
Series: Hold My Coffee
Series Order: 3
Author: Keira Marcos
Betas: Jilly James & Ladyholder
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Relationship: Meredith McKay/John Sheppard
Genre: Romance, Rule 63, Alternate Universe
Word Count: 10,651
Warnings: Explicit Language
Author’s Note: DADT never existed in this world, and LGBT people can serve openly in the military with no real issues to be had. I just didn’t feel like dealing with that utter bullshit.
Summary: Meredith reaches out to her sister with mixed results, and John gets unexpected visitors.

* * * *

“All you do is work. You’re just wasting your life away buried in some hole for the US government. It’s ridiculous. When’s the last time you even went on a date? Don’t you want a life outside of work? What about children? You’re not getting any younger.”

Meredith frowned at the phone on her desk and for the third time considered hanging up on her sister since she’d made the mistake of dialing Jeannie’s number. “I’m not particularly interested in defining myself by how many children I can push out of my vagina, and I went on a date two nights ago as a matter of fact.”

“Oh really,” Jeannie said dryly. “Some boring nerd type that can barely say a word to you? Like that ridiculous little twit you were dating in Washington?”

Meredith huffed. “You mean Dr. Simon Anderson? He’s been on the short list for a Nobel for a decade, Jeannie. He’s hardly ridiculous, and, no, John is nothing like him, not that it’s any of your business.”

“John what?”

Meredith exhaled noisily. “Sheppard. He’s in the Marines.”

“You’re dating a soldier?” Jeannie asked. “What could you possibly have in common with him?”

“John’s a Marine, Jeannie, and yes it matters. He has a Ph.D. in math, and I’ve known him for about a year.” Meredith rocked in her chair and let her head fall back so she could stare at the ceiling. “He’s gorgeous. In fact, his looks are actually kind of a detraction.”

Jeannie laughed. “What?”

“He sort of looks like a male model, and he walks around in his stupid uniform being too hot to exist, and it’s annoying. Remember that really pretty guy that lived down the street from us?”

“Peter Vincent,” Jeannie supplied. “And yes, you could barely speak in his presence and got so flustered when he asked you out that you said no out of frustration.”

Meredith laughed. “Yeah, him. John’s pretty like that, and while I’m not a total idiot around him, he does make me feel kind of silly.” She reached out and touched her computer’s keyboard to turn on the screen. “Did you send the email with the pictures?”

“I wouldn’t have to send you pictures of the kids if you’d bother to visit us,” Jeannie muttered. “And, yes, it should be there soon.”

Meredith checked her inbox. “Yeah, I see it. Look, I’ve got a lot of work on my plate, Jeannie, and it’s difficult to fly up to Canada on a whim.”

“When’s the last time you had a vacation?” Jeannie demanded. “They can’t make you work all the damn time, Mer.”

“I…” Meredith sighed. “It’s been a while, but my work is often time sensitive, and I can’t explain more than that.”

“Yeah, it’s top secret,” Jeannie said with a huff.

“Don’t be snide,” Meredith snapped. “My work is important, and it is actually classified. I can’t just…” She trailed off and rubbed her face with one hand. “Look, I can’t talk to you about it. You made your choice, you know, you could be here with me doing amazing things, but you’re in Canada with an English teacher.”

“Professor,” Jeannie ground out. “For fuck’s sake, Meredith, he’s a college professor and…”

“Yeah, your college professor,” Meredith interrupted. “You barely managed to finish your undergrad degree because you couldn’t wait to shack up with a professor.” She smirked as her sister hyperventilated over the phone but then sighed because she was old enough not to be satisfied with enjoying getting one up on her sister.

“He loves me,” Jeannie said evenly. “Kaleb is a good husband and father who is present in our lives every single day. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, Meredith, because you’ve never had a man stick around long enough to have any kind of relationship.”

Meredith shot her phone the bird and sighed. “Right, well, this has been great. I’ll be going to a remote location for about a year, and I won’t have any methods of outside communication. I’ll call in a year or two.” She reached out to end the call, but Jeannie screamed a little in outrage.

“Do not dare hang up on me, Meredith!” Jeannie shouted. “What do you mean a year or two? Are you freaking serious? You’ve not even seen Max, and you’re just going to go off on a stupid project with no end date? That’s just—”

“It’s important,” she interrupted. “Very important and I can’t tell you why but I don’t commit myself lightly to any project I undertake, Jeannie. The work is bigger than me.”

“Bigger than you,” Jeannie repeated softly. “Mer, please tell me you aren’t making weapons.”

“I’m not making weapons, and I never have,” Meredith lied.

“When will you leave?”

“About four weeks.”

“So you have time to visit us,” Jeannie said. “A weekend at least? Mer…you just can’t go off for a year or more without coming to see us. You canceled your last visit at the last minute.”

Yeah, Meredith thought, there was a Goa’uld ship in orbit, and I just didn’t have time to fly to Canada because we all almost died. “I…I’ll try, but it won’t be for very long and…” She took a deep breath. “I’ll call you when I have firm travel plans.”

“Swear it,” Jeannie said stubbornly.

“I swear I will come to Vancouver before I leave on my new project unless someone tries to set the planet on fire,” Meredith said and shot her phone another bird. “What sort of bribes should I bring for your spawn?”

“I’ll send you a list,” Jeannie said primly and hung up.

Meredith listened to the dial tone for a few seconds before terminating the phone call on her end. She wished she hadn’t called at all and that was annoying. She loved Jeannie, but their lives were so different that it was difficult to find common ground. But then they really hadn’t had much in common since her sister had abandoned her education for marriage and motherhood.

She stood up and meandered her way into the large lab that Sam Carter was working in. Meredith sat down across from Sam and frowned at her.

“I know that face,” Sam said in amusement. “You’ve been talking to Jeannie.”

“She’s…” Meredith frowned and ran her hands through her hair. “Do you regret not getting married? Do you wish you already had a kid or two running around?”

Sam made a face. “No, I mean…” She shrugged. “Sometimes I have this urge for a kid, but it usually goes away because I just go to the closest Target and wait for some screaming baby to remind me of why I didn’t marry the last guy that proposed.”

Meredith laughed. “I always figured I should pass my genes on eventually.”

“Me, too,” Sam said. “I mean you know for the good of mankind.” She pursed her lips. “I considered just donating eggs.”

“It would be less of a mess,” Meredith said thoughtfully. “But Jeannie would probably find me out and have a complete meltdown. She’s very provincial.”

“Well, she married an English major,” Sam said wryly. “I can’t figure out what she sees in him.”

“He’s boring,” Meredith said. “Totally boring and a vegan.”

“I’ve often wondered if a vegan diet makes a man’s semen taste funny. You should ask her.”

“I’ll just come back later,” John said dryly from the doorway.

Carter blushed furiously. “It’s a legitimate scientific inquiry.”

“Sure it is,” John muttered and looked upward as if he were seeking guidance.

Meredith grinned. “Did you need something?”

“Yes, actually. I verified that the civilian budget doesn’t have room to add an administrative assistant to your department. Since arguing with Weir would only lead to unnecessary drama, I had Major Teldy check through the military volunteers. One of the lieutenants that I declined due to lack of field experience has a BS in engineering and just finished the class work for his masters.”

“You mean Lt. Grant Simmons,” Carter said. “Great kid. He has a year to write his thesis because he’s active duty, but I can see that his deadline is pushed forward if the expedition doesn’t get back in touch in time.” She turned to Meredith. “He’d be a great choice, and working with you would be a great experience for him. You could mentor him on his thesis as well.”

“I’ll meet him, but what if I don’t like him?” Meredith questioned.

“Then we’ll keep looking,” John said. “We aren’t going to saddle you with someone that will be more hindrance than a help.” He checked his watch. “I’ll send him to your office in about forty-five minutes. Currently, Teldy is questioning him about all of his life choices. The kid looked kind of green when I left. I’d have interfered but I try not to get in the way of things that make Anne happy.”

Sam laughed, and John offered her a grin before leaving the doorway.

Meredith frowned. “It sucks how attractive he is.”

“Did you see his eyelashes?” Sam demanded. “It makes me want to punch him in the face.”

“His lips are really soft, too,” Meredith said then blushed when Carter raised an eyebrow in her direction. “I mean they look soft.”

“Ha, that’s not what you meant,” Carter smiled. “Date went well then?”

“It was great,” she admitted. “But…I mean…”

“It’s obvious he’s really into you,” Sam said. “Don’t second guess it, Meredith. I mean it. I can practically see your mind spinning and creating reasons that it won’t work. That’s not fair to either of you.”

* * * *

John had come close to ignoring the call but he couldn’t bring himself to outright ignore her. He answered it as he left his office. “Hey, Fancy Pants.” He grinned at the huffy little sound she made at the nickname he’d given her in college.

“John, you asshole,” Nancy snapped. “Why haven’t you called me? Also, why are you in Colorado Springs?”

John blinked in surprise. “How do you know where I am?”

“You didn’t change your passwords,” Nancy said. “I checked your bank records.”

John sighed. “Nancy, that’s a violation of my privacy, and you’re not allowed to do that anymore.”

“I don’t care,” Nancy declared. “I’m at the Hyatt House on Delmonico Drive. Come see me, right now.”

“You’re here?” John demanded.

“Of course I’m here, you asshole!” Nancy snapped. “I wasn’t silly enough to fly to Nevada while you were there but…I mean, this is different, right?”

John sighed. It really wasn’t, but he wasn’t going to tell her that over the phone. He checked the time and exhaled sharply. “I can’t leave work right now, but I’ll clear my afternoon schedule.”

“Okay, just…John. I need to see you.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” John promised and ended the phone call after she hesitantly said goodbye.

He returned to his office and reported the situation to the security office in the Mountain and wasn’t at all surprised to get a phone call from the general’s office ten minutes after his report. John made the trip upstairs to O’Neill’s office berating himself for not changing the passwords on all of his accounts and resolved to do it as soon as O’Neill got finished lecturing him for being a complete idiot.

O’Neill just quirked an eyebrow at him when John was allowed in his office. “Ex-wife, huh?”

John sighed. “I didn’t even…I mean…she handled all of my finances when I was deployed.”

“Fortunately for you, she isn’t the type to write herself a check,” Jack said dryly. “I trust you’ll change all of your passwords shortly.”

“Yes, but the damage…”

“Is minimal,” Jack supplied. “Knowing your location doesn’t make her or your family a security risk. Many people working in the Mountain have their families with them here in Colorado, though most of us are officially assigned to Peterson as you are currently, which is what you’re allowed to tell them.”

John nodded and sighed. “She probably traveled on my father’s private plane.”

He rubbed the back of his neck. He really didn’t need the stress or the intrusion that was surely coming his way if they weren’t already tucked in the hotel with Nancy. None of them were above ambushing him, but he sort of figured he might have it coming since he’d bailed pretty much without a word to them.

After O’Neill sent him on his way, he spent a half hour at his laptop changing passwords on various credit card and bank accounts. Then he reported the changes to the security office who would be handling his finances while he was off-world.

After taking a phone call from the Pentagon and where he was informed that his immediate family would be investigated again for security threats, and John was asked to speak with his ex-wife specifically about her activities. The whole thing was irritating, and he felt like an idiot for not considering it when he’d transferred to Nevada.

After all that was settled, he signed out a vehicle and headed for the hotel. Major Davis had helpfully informed him that Nancy and the rest of his family were ensconced in a series of suites in the hotel she’d named. He went to the room that he’d been told was hers and, after a few seconds of indecision, knocked on the door.

The door was thrown open immediately, and Nancy launched herself into his arms. John pulled her close and inhaled deeply against her hair. She smelled faintly of the citrus-scented shampoo she preferred, and Sheppard was kind of relieved that he’d never smell that particular shampoo on Meredith. He let her pull him into the room and the door shut behind them.

“John.” Her fingers curled into his uniform shirt. “You.” Tears welled in her eyes. “You look great.”

“So do you,” John murmured and brushed her hair from her forehead. “Did you tell them about Nevada, too?”

Nancy shook her head. “I didn’t think it would be a good idea.”

“This wasn’t a good idea,” John told her gently. “You’re being investigated by the Pentagon as we speak.”

Her eyes went wide. “What? But…you’re just in Colorado.”

“Nancy,” John began then sighed. “I told Dad that my assignment was classified and I know he told you all that.”

“What’s so important about being assigned to an Air Force base in Colorado?”

“I can’t say and you weren’t supposed to know about my temporary assignment here in Colorado,” John said and took a deep breath. He led her to a chair and sat her down in it then sat on the coffee table in front of her. “So listen, you need to promise me that you won’t attempt to log into any of my accounts again. Don’t use your resources to run a credit check either. You are not to look for me, Nancy, under any circumstances.”

“You’re scaring me,” Nancy whispered.

“Good because you need to take this very seriously. What I’m doing these days is very different than what I did in the past.” He sighed and stood up as a door on the side of the room opened, and his father and brothers entered. He glared at his father. “You know better than to do something like this, Dad.”

Patrick frowned and put his hands in his pockets. “Am I’m going to get an irritated phone call from some snotty bureaucrat from the DOD?”

“No, I got it,” John snapped. “You’re all going to go through a security check by the Pentagon as we stand here. I don’t know how many contracts you have with the DOD these days, but they could all be in jeopardy if they find a single thing that looks off. In different circumstances, you might have even cost me my command. Now, I know not a single one of you has a bit of respect for what I do but I would appreciate it if you would at least take into account the amount of work I’ve put into my career. Nancy’s actions alone could’ve gotten me reassigned and my security clearance changed.”

“But it didn’t?” Nancy asked. “Right? I mean…I don’t know what I could do about it, but I’ll take the blame for it all, John. I’d never want to hurt your career.”

“Fortunately for us both, my CO finds a nosy ex-wife more amusing than annoying,” John muttered and slouched down on a sofa far away from them all. He rubbed the thick carpet with his boot and frowned at the scuff he saw on the toe. He’d have to buff that out before he went back on duty.

His father sat down beside him, and John just glared at him briefly before turning to look out the window.

“You feel crowded,” Nancy said.

“No,” John denied roughly. “I had to report this to base security, and I feel stupid because I should’ve changed my passwords. I didn’t because it never crossed my mind once that I couldn’t trust you.” He took a deep breath when she paled. “For fuck’s sake, Nancy, don’t you dare cry! You know you crossed a line.”

“John.” She averted her gaze and curled up into the chair. “I’m sorry.”

“I want to say that it’s all right, but it isn’t,” John murmured and stood. He walked away from them. “You’ll probably be interviewed by someone from the Pentagon within the week. They’ll ask you a lot of questions that you’d rather not answer about our marriage and certainly the divorce. Don’t bother lying to them or trying to be evasive because there probably isn’t a thing about you they don’t already know.”

“Then why question her?” Matt asked.

“So they can determine if she can be trusted,” John said shortly. His cell phone went off, so he pulled it from his pocket and checked the number. Unfortunately, all calls from the Mountain looked the same, so he answered it with a frown. “This is Sheppard.”

“John, I’m sorry to call while you aren’t working…”

“It’s fine. Is there a problem?” He grinned at the little irritated huff that earned him. John turned and leaned against the window. “Out of coffee?”

“No, I’m fine on that front since I don’t have to share with Radek right now, though I did leave him some when I left the outpost. I met with Lt. Simmons, and I think you’re right about him being a good choice. He’ll require some training but nothing I can’t handle. Major Teldy asked me, and I confirmed that he would be acceptable and she said she would handle it because you were off duty for the rest of the day.” Meredith paused. “And this may sound weird but I was worried since I’ve never known you to work half a day.”

“I have a personal situation brewing,” John admitted. “But everything is fine. I’ll be back on base after dinner unless there is an emergency. Did you need me to bring you anything?”

“No, I don’t think so. I mean, I do need to do some personal shopping but Sam is going to help me handle that before we leave. I had a terrible conversation with Jeannie this morning that resulted in me swearing to visit her even though I don’t really want to. She gave me a lecture about not being married and not having children, which essentially makes me a failure in her mind.” She made a frustrated sound. “And I guess I was kind of hoping you’d come back around this afternoon and flirt with me but you’re not even in the Mountain.”

He laughed. “I certainly had set aside time in my schedule this afternoon to come to your lab and flirt with you. I also wanted to talk to you about the supply list I created for the power project.”

“The solar cells? I’ve sent it to Miko for her opinion, but I think that’s all we’ll need to make our own panels if it’s needed.”

“Did you talk to Walter about your travel plans?”

“Not yet but I will because I doubt she’d forgive me if I don’t visit her since she knows it could be a while before I can even call her again. Is your offer to go with me still good? Because I don’t want to travel with a whole bunch of Marines. It would be difficult and ridiculous.”

“Yeah, of course, just tell the general what you need and that I volunteered to provide security. I doubt he’ll have a problem with it.” John glanced up and found everyone staring at him which was so annoying he almost rolled his eyes but being an adult meant he really shouldn’t indulge in such a response. “And I won’t have to go to Virginia so pick whatever date works best for you.”

“Oh.” She laughed. “They showed up here? Wow. How’d they find out where you were?”

“I didn’t change my banking password.”

Mer snorted. “You deserve every single lecture you get from the Pentagon about that. Is it just your father and brothers?”

“No, not just.”

“Oh.” She hummed under her breath. “Out of curiosity, is she hotter than me?”

John grinned. “You could look online.”

“That’s not an answer,” Meredith said. “But you’re probably standing right in front of her, so I won’t force you to placate my ego.” There was some rapid typing on her end of things, then she hummed under her breath. “Okay, no, I’m hotter.”

John laughed. “Good to know your ego isn’t going to be a problem. I have to go, but I’ll call you when I get back to base.”

“Do that,” Meredith ordered and hung up.

He pocketed his phone and took a deep breath.

“You’ve met someone,” Nancy said, and he was relieved to see a soft smile playing on her mouth. The kind of smile she’d often gifted him with when he’d done something she was very pleased with.

“Maybe, we’re…just at the start of things, I’d guess you’d say.”

“What’s she do?” David questioned.

“She’s an astrophysicist,” John said. “And I’ve known her for about a year.”

* * * *

“So, I’m hotter, right?”

“Yeah, of course, and she only has a single Ph.D.,” Carter said as she peered at a picture of Nancy Sheppard. “I mean, she’s attractive, and she has that classic officer’s wife look, so I can see why he married her, especially if they were already friends, but you’re much better looking and obviously smarter.” She turned to Meredith. “But you’re going to need new underwear because you probably haven’t bought anything but white cotton in five years.”

“Well, not quite five years but you’re right—my underwear drawer is very utilitarian right now.” Meredith pursed her lips. “And I only have the one dress because I donated most of my clothes when I took the Nevada assignment. I have some suits to wear for meetings and stuff but nothing for dating or whatever. I know I can’t pack much for the expedition, but I do need a few more casual off-duty options.”

“But I don’t think you need to worry about this woman at all,” Sam said. “Even if he did still have feelings for her, you’re going to have him all to yourself on the expedition.”

Meredith frowned. “Unless some other woman comes along that he likes better. Elizabeth is attractive, and Miko is beautiful. And maybe he likes men, too. I haven’t asked, and Radek already said he’d take Sheppard for a spin given the opportunity.”

“Miko is beautiful,” Sam agreed. “And Radek has a great ass. Personally, I think Sheppard would leave Elizabeth on Earth given an opportunity. He’s made it pretty clear he doesn’t think she has the skills to lead the mission. I doubt seriously, no matter her looks, that he’d be interested in her. Besides, he’s pretty focused on you.”

“For now,” McKay said and sighed when Sam sent her a look. “We both know that men can and do move on quickly when they’re bored.”

“You couldn’t be boring if you tried, seriously,” Carter said. “And any man that would think that about you totally isn’t worth your time. Before he went to the outpost, he actually sought Daniel out and sat through an hour-long lecture on coffee, Meredith. He made a list of your favorites. He took you to one of the best restaurants in the area for your first date.”

Meredith made a face. “I tried to invite him into my room, and he told me I’d had too much to drink.”

Sam laughed. “That’s so sweet and for the best since you were probably wearing granny panties.”

“Well, not exactly but they weren’t all that sexy,” Meredith admitted. “Maybe we can go to the mall this weekend. It sounds like I won’t have opportunities to be not-boring in front of John since his family is here.”

* * * *

They ordered room service since John wasn’t entirely certain everyone had an even enough temper to eat out anywhere. Mostly he was concerned with himself since he was furious, and the only one who even managed to look remotely guilty about ambushing him was Nancy. After the third time he’d told Matt he couldn’t provide an answer to a question he had about the upcoming mission, they’d all stopped asking about his job altogether. The peace felt artificial, and he figured that was mostly his fault. They were trying to avoid arguing with him because he was about to be deployed.

“Where on Earth would a Force Recon Marine and an astrophysicist go together for a mission?” Matt burst out.

John hesitated in dipping his French fry then dragged it through the puddle of ketchup he’d made on his plate. “Mattie.” He sighed and ate his fry. “She also has a doctorate in engineering and three master’s degrees in various scientific fields. As far as government contractors go, she’s a little above average on the skills front, and let’s leave it at that.”

“I just hate not knowing,” Matt admitted. “This sucks, John. Why can’t you just have some normal posting at a base near home? Haven’t you earned that?”

John picked up his beer and took a long drink. His cell phone dinged in his pocket, an indication that he had a text message, so he pulled it out and flicked it open.

Someone stole ten ounces of my coffee. Sam and I have launched an investigation. Teal’c is helping us interrogate suspects. –MRM

He grinned and closed the phone with a shake of his head then set it down beside his plate. John focused on Matt who was frowning at him. “Working with dying children is going to be emotionally difficult and stressful. Have you considered other options?”

“This isn’t about me,” Matt protested.

“We’ll get back to me in a second,” John said. “Have you considered other options? You mentioned early on that your professors believed you’d make an excellent surgeon. Why haven’t you pursued that?”

“I don’t want to specialize in surgery,” Matt said roughly. “Why is this even a discussion?”

“Never had it before have you—this discussion?” John asked. “Dad certainly didn’t question your decision to work with terminally ill children. David wouldn’t have either despite the fact that they both know that it will be stressful and perhaps hurtful because your childhood best friend died of leukemia.” He held up a hand when Matt started to speak. “Now, imagine having this conversation with me every single time you see me for the next two decades.”

“John.” Matt sat back from the table and took a deep breath. “It’s…”

“Not the same?” John questioned. “Having your choices and decisions constantly questioned to the point of insult isn’t the same? Tell me how it’s different? Tell me how I don’t have the right to feel smothered by your concern. Because honestly, Matt, I came to the conclusion some time ago that what the three of you feel is more important to you all than what I want.”

“Hey, don’t bring me into this,” David protested.

“Fuck that,” John snapped. “You’d be beating the same damn drum he is if you weren’t too busy feeling guilty for banging my wife.”

“John Sheppard!” Nancy huffed and tossed the bottle of ketchup at him.

John caught it with a laugh and pointed the bottle at her. “Don’t throw things.” He put the bottle down on the table. “I’m entitled to live my life, Matt, and I have no intention of resigning my commission. I go where the Corps sends me, but I have to say, I’m really looking forward to the upcoming mission. It’s going to be challenging and worthwhile.”

His phone pinged again, and he opened it.

We looked up your whole family on the Sheppard Industries website. You’re much hotter than your older brother. Nancy has terrible taste. Also, is Matt gay? Ask him if he’s dated a vegan. –MRM

John sighed and focused on Matt. “Have you ever dated a vegan?”

“What? No, I eat too much meat to date someone who’d constantly judge me for it.”

John nodded and sent a response. Yes, he’s gay and no he’s never dated a vegan.

“Why?” Matt asked.

“Scientific inquiry,” John said dryly and closed the phone. “That has been an adjustment actually—the number of scientists I have to deal with has tripled over the last few weeks. They’re all a little crazy.”

“Including the one you’re dating?” Patrick asked as he sat at the head of the table, a glass of red wine in hand.

“She’s like their queen,” John admitted roughly.

* * * *

Meredith pulled her damp hair up into a ponytail as she crawled off the bed and went to answer the door. Finding John standing in the hall was a pleasant surprise. “Hi. You didn’t call.”

He waved a phone. “Dead battery and I just got back.”

“Come in,” she said as she grabbed his free hand and pulled him into her room. “How’d things go with your family?”

“Little less Spanish Inquisition than normal but not by much,” John admitted. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“No, not at all. I spent most of the evening hunting for a coffee thief. I’ve narrowed it down to Daniel Jackson or Bill Lee. I think it must be Daniel because Bill is petrified of me and can barely look me in the eye much less be bold enough to come into my office and steal my stuff.” She frowned at him. “You look stressed out.”

“My family…” John shrugged and huffed. “I should go.”

“No way, come sit with me. I was about to watch a movie. I have some beer.”

“Beer and a movie sound pretty good,” he said but hesitated at the edge of her bed.

Meredith grinned at him. “Relax, your virtue is safe. I recently realized I have no date panties, so I won’t be trying to get into your pants again until I’ve done some shopping.”

John laughed and sat down on the bed. He unlaced his boots and pulled them off. “For the record, Mer, I really don’t care what your panties look like on the floor.”

She laughed and shot him a look then motioned toward a small fridge sitting by the nightstand. “You have two choices—Starman or Terminator?”

Starman? Really?”

Meredith frowned at him. “Don’t judge me. I caught you watching RoboCop 2 on your laptop a few months ago in your office, remember?”

Starman it is,” John said and pulled two beers from the fridge.

She took the beer he offered and picked up the remote as she returned to the bed. “Jeannie and I used to watch sci-fi movies together when we were young and speculate about other planets. It sucks that I can’t tell her that I’ve been to another world.”

“I bet,” John murmured.

Meredith hesitated for a few seconds as he got settled against the pillows but then decided that since he was in her bed that she could cuddle up to him if she wanted. John wrapped an arm around her, and she relaxed against his chest.

“Why’d you pick this one?”

“No way am I going to sit through the sex scene in Terminator without getting laid,” John said and grinned when she laughed.

“You know that was probably the dirtiest sex scene I would see until I was in grad school and my roommate showed me a porn movie.”

“We’re not discussing porn,” John told her firmly.

Meredith grinned as she started the DVD.

* * * *

The next morning, he picked Nancy up in the hotel lobby and drove her to a small café for breakfast. He was tired and had a headache from the little bit of sleep he’d gotten since he’d stayed up with Meredith watching movies, but John couldn’t make himself regret it. They ordered at the counter and settled in at a small table to wait.

“David didn’t appear to be irritated when I suggested this last night,” John started.

“I think he’s relieved you’re willing to talk to me,” Nancy said and focused on her hands. “I mean…after the way you handled the divorce.”

John reached out and put his hand on hers and waited until she met his gaze. “I won’t apologize for needing space, but I’m sorry that I hurt you with the way I handled it. I couldn’t stay, Nance, it wouldn’t have been good. I was angry, and I didn’t even know what I was mad about. I don’t think I even knew until months after I was gone.” He released her hand as their pastries and coffees were delivered.

“Why were you angry?” Nancy asked as she concentrated on her coffee.

“I desperately needed normal when I got home,” John admitted. “I focused on the life I had here the whole time I was being held hostage. It kept me focused and sane. Maybe I even idealized our relationship in a way, and when I came home…” He took a deep breath. “When I came home, the life we had together was gone because you’d already moved on—mentally and emotionally. I knew it pretty much instantly, but I tried to ignore it. Then I realized you’d fallen in love with someone.” He looked away from her. “Then I realized it was my brother.”

“How long did you know before we told you?”

“A few weeks,” John said roughly. “Before I even left Bethesda actually, which is why I insisted on sleeping in the guest room. I already knew our marriage was over and I couldn’t let you pretend otherwise.”

“I’m sorry,” Nancy whispered and quickly brushed tears from her cheeks.

“You don’t need to apologize to me ever again,” John said gently. “It’s nobody’s fault—what happened. If I had died, I would’ve wanted you to move on.” He paused. “Though maybe not with my own brother.”

Nancy laughed. “John.”

“He’s an asshole,” John confided. “But then, so am I, so maybe you just like that sort of thing. I don’t know.” He sat back. “David’s a good man, and I trust him despite the familial assholery.” He tore the pecan braid he’d picked out from the case in half and took a bite.

“Tell me about her.”

“Her?” John questioned. “Oh.” He took a deep breath. “Well, she’s incredibly smart.”

“Smart like you?” Nancy asked.

“Smarter than me,” John said. “Truly. She’s in a class of her own on that front—probably in the top five percent, but she’s grounded fairly well. You and I have both met some ultra-intelligent people who could barely function outside of a science lab. I think her sister probably had a hand smoothing out her social skills even if they do argue pretty much all the time.”

“You like her a lot?”

“I think…” John felt his face flush. “I could love her if she lets me.”

“She’s had some bad luck with men then?”

“What woman hasn’t?” John questioned and grinned when Nancy nodded. “But yeah, I think so because I’m not entirely convinced she’s sure I’m serious about her.”

“Insecure about her looks?” Nancy questioned.

“No, not that I can tell. She’s hot as hell, but I have to think that hasn’t always worked in her favor.”

Nancy grimaced. “No, there’s nothing worse really than being told you’re too pretty to be smart. I had a teacher in high school tell me that I shouldn’t pursue engineering as a career because of my looks.” She motioned toward his pastry. “Not your style.”

“I realized that eating healthy is great but life is honestly too short not to enjoy my food,” John admitted. “A few sweets now and again won’t be the end of me.”

“I think…that I always knew it’d be my job to keep your family from going off the rails if you died in the line of duty,” Nancy murmured. “But in reality, your dad was our rock, John and he didn’t break the whole time until we got the call that you’d been found alive. He cried then—relief, shock, and an ocean of grief. I thought he was going to shatter under the weight of it.” She cleared her throat. “I’m not trying to upset you—I just need you to know and understand that your dad loves you so much, John.”

“I know,” John said. “I’ve never doubted his love for me, Nancy. It’s never been a lack of love in our family. I don’t know how it would’ve been if Mom hadn’t died but, in the end, he just holds on too tight, and I can’t stand it. It drives me nuts.” He waved a hand and picked up his coffee. “And I drive him crazy, I know. But what do I do? Do I give up what I want to make the three of them happy?”

“No, of course not, you’d be utterly miserable in a desk job at SI,” Nancy said with a grimace. “Seriously, you’d probably drop dead from boredom inside a year, and I told David that. He doesn’t understand you, and maybe he never has. David saw your father’s service in the Navy as a burden on the family and most especially on your mother. Your temporary death just confirmed that for him—that military service is a burden on a family.”

“I can’t say that it isn’t a sacrifice,” John murmured. “I’m not reckless, Nancy, and I’d never ever give up on trying to come home. You know that, right?”

“Of course I do,” Nancy said simply. “I never doubted that for a minute, John, and I never will.”

“David told me you turned down his proposal.”

“I…” She huffed and shrugged.

“He’s the love of your life.”

“Yes,” she said immediately and flushed. “John.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” John said and sighed. “I know you were never in love with me.” He smiled briefly when her mouth trembled. “No crying. You know I hate it when you cry. We made a mistake, you and me, and we let our friendship blind us to the fact that we were always much better friends than lovers.”

“The sex was great,” Nancy protested and frowned when he grinned.

“No, you’re right, the sex was great. Maybe that was part of it, too. Lust and the wrong kind of love twisted us both up, and we did something silly with it. I promise you, Nancy, you didn’t break my heart, and I’m completely okay with you marrying David. If I could guarantee my availability—I’d walk you down the aisle myself.”

“That would be a complete scandal,” Nancy exclaimed with a delighted grin then checked her watch. “Have you done your essential shopping, yet? I scouted out a few locations online to shop. You’ll want to replace any casual stuff that won’t be issued to you. T-shirts, socks, boxers, etc.” She waved a hand. “Or are you still well-supplied from your last posting?”

“No, I’d like to get some new stuff,” John admitted. “And I haven’t done any of that shopping. I’d also like to get some running shoes.”

* * * *

It shouldn’t have been a surprise at all that his father and brothers came along for the shopping trip. He was an old hand at packing so he figured he had room for a decent casual wardrobe though he’d focused on the essentials after he found a pair of running shoes that he didn’t hate. Shopping had never been a fun activity for him, but Nancy was a power shopper, so she’d handled everything at the various shops and nixed a lot of the suggestions that Matt came up with. Finally, Matt had concentrated on buying for himself which John appreciated.

He wasn’t entirely certain he needed a fitted fleece jacket from Eddie Bauer, but he’d never really been good at telling Nancy no when it came to the clothes she thought he needed. They left the store, and his dad started talking about lunch which wasn’t a bad idea because a pastry hadn’t been the best choice for breakfast since it hadn’t been particularly filling.

John looked up ahead and did a double take at the sight of two of his Marines stationed outside of a Victoria’s Secret in full tactical gear. He passed the bag he was carrying to his father with a sigh because the situation looked ridiculous and that meant he needed to go ask questions. Fortunately for the two of them, they saw him coming and came to attention as he stopped in front of them.

“At ease, gentlemen,” John said dryly and put his hands in his jeans pockets. “Stackhouse, why are the two of you loitering outside of a women’s lingerie store?”

Marcus Stackhouse blushed and exhaled. “Sir, Major Teldy put us on guard duty today, and Dr. McKay is shopping. I checked the store before allowing her to enter, but she said we should wait out here so we wouldn’t make the other customers uncomfortable.”

“Do you have someone on the back door of this place?” John questioned.

“Yes, sir, Graves and Smythe are stationed in the storage room out of sight with the manager’s permission. She got a little bent until Dr. McKay promised to spend a thousand dollars in the store and that smoothed everything out.”

“I just bet it did,” John said dryly.

“Something wrong, son?” Patrick questioned as he came to stand beside him.

“No, just…” John waved a hand at the two men. “One of our civilian scientists is shopping.”

Meredith came out of the store at that point with the two missing Marines. She had four glossy pink bags in hand. Her eyes went slightly wide at the sight of him, then she blushed furiously. “Colonel.”

“You took my men underwear shopping,” John said dryly.

“Yes, well, we were at the Gap earlier, and that was a terrible experience, to be honest. They have awful taste in clothes.”

“That’s not true, ma’am,” Graves protested. “You looked great in that dress.”

“It was a size too small, Corporal,” Meredith said and poked his muscled arm when the younger man laughed, then she focused on John. “But regardless, I’ve gotten all of my shopping done for the mission.”

His father cleared his throat and John flushed because, apparently, his manners had disappeared. “Dr. Meredith McKay, my father, Patrick Sheppard.”

Meredith passed two of her bags to Graves and offered her hand immediately. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Sheppard.”

“You as well, Dr. McKay. I’m a fan of your work. I’ve noted, however, that you haven’t published much in the last two years.”

“I spend so much time on the practical application these days that I don’t have time to dedicate to theory,” Meredith admitted with a pleased smile as her hand was released.

His father’s introduction resulted in his brothers and Nancy migrating over, so he introduced them as well. It was kind of like having two worlds collide, really, and John wasn’t sure he liked it.

Meredith turned to Stackhouse. “Sergeant, if you’d send my shopping to the SUV? I’m meeting Dr. Kusanagi at the salon around the corner in just a few minutes.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He took the two bags she still held and passed them to Graves.

John cupped her elbow as guided her away from his men a little. “Are you armed?”

“Yes, of course,” Meredith said. “I respect the threat assessment attached to my file, John.” She shifted the red sweater she was wearing a little to reveal the 9mm tucked under her arm in a holster.

“I haven’t checked your range scores.”

“I’m only qualified with the 9mm, but I can hit the target about ninety percent of the time,” Meredith admitted and flushed at the looks she received from his brothers.

John almost sighed and shifted in front of her so she wasn’t on display for them. “I thought you were going to be shopping with Colonel Carter.”

“She had an unexpected mission come up,” Meredith explained.

“You should’ve called me.”

“Ha, no. I wasn’t going to give you an excuse to get out of whatever lecture your family is still in the middle of delivering. They flew all the way here to do it.” She smiled, and John resolved to ignore the laughter that had earned her from his father. “Besides, Marcus is certainly capable of guarding me while I shop.”

John glanced toward Stackhouse who was standing just off to the side, hands casually draped over a P90. “Full tactical gear wasn’t the most subtle choice.”

“No, but the last time I was out in public with a plain-clothed detail I was kidnapped by North Korea,” Meredith said cheerfully and shrugged when John exhaled deeply. “I mean, I doubt the whole country was involved. The general thinks that a display is a better deterrent and that appears to be so since people tend to give them a lot of room.” She checked her watch. “I have to go. Miko hates to be kept waiting.”

“Be careful,” John ordered and shook his head when she offered him a mocking salute.

Stackhouse gave him a nod as he fell into step beside her.

John watched them walk away then focused on his father. Patrick raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”

“Meredith McKay?” Patrick questioned. “You’re dating Meredith McKay? She’s the hottest property in research and development in the U.S. There isn’t an engineering firm on this planet that wouldn’t consider outright murder to get her on the payroll, and I’m no exception. I offered her stock options in SI three years ago to join us, and she sent me a form rejection letter.”

John laughed. “In all honesty, Dad, I doubt she even bothered to read the offer. You couldn’t offer her anything more interesting and cutting-edge than what she’s currently doing. Let’s get some lunch.”

“She’s gorgeous,” Nancy said and nudged him as they walked. “Seriously, you’d better bring your A game.”

“For fuck’s sake, Nancy, I don’t think we’re at the point where you can give me advice about women.”

“Sure we are,” Nancy said and looped her arm in his. “Okay, she’s not the flowers sort, but I think you know that. Have you given her a gift yet?”

“Coffee beans—her favorite kind from a local roastery.”

Nancy hummed. “Let’s talk about chocolate.”

He wanted to say no but he wasn’t really up on the whole chocolate deal, so he resolved himself to gathering intel on the subject.

* * * *

She had to schedule time in the base laundry to wash her new stuff though she’d hand washed all of her fancy underwear and it was hung up all over her small bathroom. The rest of it was folded in a chair for later. Meredith sprawled on her bed and stared at the ceiling. John had looked kind of uncomfortable with his family—on guard, and she understood that. Jeannie always put her on the defensive, and it wasn’t all to do with their different lifestyles. All of her work was classified, and Jeannie found the whole thing very frustrating.

Being in the Mountain but not having an assigned duty station was weird. She didn’t have any real tasks or experiments to run. Sam always welcomed her in the lab, but it wasn’t the same. She’d forwarded her recommendations for staffing to Weir regarding Thomas Grant and the others that Brightman had gathered for the mission. She liked Allison Porter, the orthopedic surgeon, but Meredith did wonder if the woman was prepared to work on the other side of the stargate. Not everyone could leave Earth for even a few days without getting a little anxious.

The idea of Atlantis was utterly intoxicating, and it had been since she’d stepped foot into the Ancient outpost. Meredith had encountered her share of mind-blowing technology since she’d joined the SGC, but there was something about the stargate builders that fascinated and scared her. The Ancients were too powerful, too smart, and too careless with their technology for her not to have a healthy fear of what they’d left behind. Atlantis, if she still existed, would be the most dangerous place McKay had ever been.

The uncertainty attached to the idea of Atlantis was just one of the reasons that Meredith had wanted John Sheppard on the mission. In the year she’d known him, the Marine had proven over and over again that he was strong and very honorable. The idea of going through the gate with a man like Marshall Sumner had been enough for Meredith to reconsider going at all which is exactly what she’d told O’Neill. Sumner just didn’t give a shit about civilians, and it was evident in practically every single word he said.

She checked her watch and realized it was time for her laundry slot, so she gathered up a tablet, her clothes, and dropped them in the bag she kept for dirty clothes then snagged the supply basket as well. She lugged the whole mess down two floors to the laundry room she’d been assigned and was relieved to find that the two washing machines she’d reserved were already available. Since she had four loads easily due to separation, she put two on and got comfortable on top of one of the machines with her tablet.

There were about 30 machines in the room, and the majority of them were going. Most of the men in the room were Marines, though there were a few Airmen in the mix. Since ignoring men worked the best for her, she slipped some earbuds in and turned on some music while working on her reading list. There were several papers that had come out of the botany department that she’d been putting off reading because she found the whole field boring as fuck.

She’d chosen David Parrish to lead the department despite the fact that Weir had wanted Katie Brown to be in charge, but Meredith knew Katie. The woman was timid, and there wasn’t a single chance in hell she’d be able to run the department in charge of helping feed the expedition. Botany was also in charge of growing medicinal plants and Brown didn’t handle stress well at all.

One of her earbuds was suddenly plucked from her ear, and Meredith looked up. She frowned. “Dr. Rush.” She pulled the other earbud free and stared. “What can I do for you?”

“I’d heard you were in the Mountain, but I’ve been off-world.” He smirked at her, and she considered how much trouble she would get in if she kicked him in the face. “I have a few things going on in my lab. You should come by.” He reached out and tucked a lock of her hair back behind her ear. “I’ve missed seeing your pretty face.”

Meredith curled her fingers around her tablet. “Don’t touch me, Rush. There is nothing in your lab that would remotely interest me.”

“You’re such a bitch,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe you need to get laid.”

“Is this the place where I’m supposed to be amused by your raw honesty and spread my legs for you?” Meredith asked quietly.

Rush blinked in surprise then he smirked. “You have no sense of humor.”

“Fuck off,” Meredith said and put her earbuds back in. She returned her attention to her tablet as Rush left. After a minute, she opened up her email and sent a note to Carter about Rush being in the Mountain. As far as she knew, he was supposed to be off-world at the alpha site research station.

There was a tap on the washer she was sitting on, and she looked up to find Anne Teldy standing there. She pulled out her earbuds. “Major, is there a problem?”

“Heard Dr. Rush was in here—violating your personal space.”

Meredith frowned and glanced around to see if one of the Marines looked like a tattletale. None of them had a tell as far as she noticed, so she focused on the major. “Dr. Rush isn’t aware of anyone’s personal space but his own. I’m fine. I told him to fuck off, and he left.”

Anne frowned and leaned against the machine across from Meredith. “Why are you using the public laundry?”

“I have laundry, obviously,” Meredith said and grinned when Teldy sighed.

“Yes, but you could be using the officers’ facilities, Dr. McKay.”

“I’ve always used this laundry room,” Meredith said. “I didn’t know I could use the officers’ anything.”

“Of course you can,” Teldy said with a sigh. “How many loads do you have?”

“Four total but I have two already started.”

“Let me get a basket for your wet clothes, and we’ll move upstairs for drying.”

Meredith looked around and leaned forward. Teldy came closer. “Am I making them uncomfortable or something?”

“Ma’am,” Teldy said in a low tone. “Most of the men in this room are under Sheppard’s command. Of course, you’re making them uncomfortable.”

Meredith blushed. “I’ve…hmmm. I had no idea.”

“Obviously,” Teldy said wryly. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have put your pretty little ass up on this washer.” She tapped it. “By the way, the spin cycle is making your tits bounce.”

Meredith felt her face flush. “Oh.” She huffed and slid off the machine, and Anne laughed.

Twenty minutes later, Teldy had installed her in the officers’ laundry, which only had ten machines, but it was empty except for her. Meredith curled up on a couch after she’d gotten everything settled. She was kind of annoyed that she’d never asked about officer facilities and her ability to use them. By the time everything finished, she’d read most of the email she’d been avoiding and forwarded three ethics complaints involving Beckett to Weir because Meredith knew she had to clean up the mess, but Weir wasn’t going to be allowed to ignore it happened.

She dragged herself and her stuff back to her quarters and barely refrained from face planting on the bed. All of her folding would be for nothing if she left the clothes in the laundry bag so she packed everything that she wouldn’t need until Pegasus in her expedition pack and put the rest in the small dresser that doubled as a television stand. She put in a disc from the first season of Babylon 5 and dug out her notebook. There really wasn’t anything more satisfying than a notebook half-full of equations—work already done and room enough to do so much more.

Meredith figured she’d miss paper the most out of everything else in Pegasus. Her personal item was a case of composition notebooks that she’d tucked a couple hundred ink pens into. No one had questioned her about it, and she was relieved because her affection for that part of her process was difficult to describe and she really didn’t want to. She’d just gotten comfortable when there was a knock on her door. A glance at the clock confirmed it was nearly ten o’clock. With a smile, she scrambled out of bed and went to the door.

“Jo—Dr. Rush.” Meredith frowned.

He held up a half-empty bottle of whiskey. “In the mood for company?”

“Rush, I wouldn’t fuck you if you were literally the last man on Earth. In fact, I would gather up all the women left on the planet and we would migrate to another world—destroying the gate as we left—so you and your immense ego would be stuck here alone.”

“Playing hard to get?” He smirked.

She shut her door with a frustrated scream. “I can’t believe I’ve told people that you’re brilliant! You’re obviously the biggest fucking moron in this galaxy!” Meredith stomped toward her bed and huffed when there was another knock. She glared at the door. “Rush, if you don’t go away I’m going to rip off your dick and make you eat it!”


Her face went hot, and she laughed a little as she went back to the door. She opened it and found John standing there looking confused. “Hi, sorry.” She grabbed his jacket and pulled him in. “Come in before that moron comes back and suggests a threesome.”

“I’m bi, and I’m open to that kind of thing if you are, but Rush is a bastard,” John said seriously. “Also, more like a one-time kind of thing rather than a semi-permanent thing since I really don’t think I could share all the time since I’m kind of selfish.”

Meredith huffed. “John Sheppard.” She glared him. “And no I’m not into sharing at all. If you like to bottom, I’ll buy a strap-on. Though, honestly, we should probably have regular sex before we start whipping out accessories and harnesses.”

John laughed. “You’re perfect, did you know?” He shed his jacket and dropped down on the end of her bed. “What are you doing besides screaming heinous threats through your door at Nicholas Rush?”

“I was going to work on some equations and watch Babylon 5.” She motioned toward the television. “But Rush showed up with a bottle and offered me his dick.”

“Want me to go find him and scare the shit out of him?” John asked.

“No, I can handle myself.” She pointed at him and smiled when he just nodded. Meredith regained her place on the bed, and he lay down on his side. She watched him prop his head up on his hand. “I’m not actually.”

“Not what?” John questioned as he toed off his shoes.

“Perfect.” She flushed and shrugged when he lifted an eyebrow at her.

He reached out and took her hand. “How about we agree that you’re perfect for me.” John pulled gently, and Mer pushed aside her notebook in favor of him.

In the privacy of her own mind, she would admit that being in John Sheppard’s arms was exciting and comforting all at once. He was strong and fit, which she appreciated, but his calloused hands were careful. John’s touch was never biting, his mouth never hard against hers. She loved the way he tasted and the way his tongue stroked into her mouth—all easy exploration and no demand.

John pressed his mouth against her jaw then lower—stubble scraping against her neck. She shivered slightly, and he lifted his head.

“Sorry, I should’ve shaved before coming over,” he murmured and pulled her closer, one large hand curling over her hip.

“I don’t mind,” Meredith said and smiled when he laughed a little. “You didn’t say—should I buy a strap-on?”

John’s eyes darkened. “You’re adorable, and no—I actually prefer to top with men. My prostate is too sensitive for me to enjoy full-on penetration with anything bigger than a few fingers. What about you? Do you like anal?”

“I’ve only done it twice, and it wasn’t bad but…I kind of figured I was missing something since Jeannie told me it was awesome.”

“Please don’t discuss your sister’s sex life—I won’t be able to look her in the eye,” John implored, and Meredith couldn’t help but laugh.

Meredith sucked on her bottom lip and stared at him for a few moments in indecision. “I need to ask you something, and I’m worried that it’ll piss you off.”

John ran his fingers along her jaw. “I’d like you to be able to say anything to me, Mer. I can’t promise to always like what I hear, but I’m not the kind of man who flies off the handle. I can be violent, it’s my job. I can’t say I don’t have a temper, but I’ve never, ever been violent with a romantic partner.”

“Okay,” Meredith said. “I know you don’t appreciate being compared to other men I’ve known but why aren’t we fucking because most men would be fucking me right now?”

John stared for a few seconds then laughed. He leaned forward and kissed her. “Never change.”

“I’m serious,” Meredith insisted.

He shifted slightly and abruptly put her on her back then settled over her, sliding his long, lean body between her thighs like he owned her. “Are you implying that I’m a cock tease, Dr. McKay?”

“No,” she denied with a laugh. “I just want to know what’s going on in your head.”

“I want you like crazy,” he confessed as he rocked just a little between her thighs—his cock was hard as he pressed downward against her. “But I need you to know and believe that this isn’t all I want.”

She couldn’t help but stare at him in shock. “I…”

“You think I don’t know you?” John questioned. “After a year?”

“I can’t figure you out,” Meredith blurted out and looked away from him.

He settled more of his weight on her and let his cheek rest against hers. “I want all of you, Mer. I want to be a part of your life, not just someone who warms your bed. I want you to share your dreams with me.” He turned his head and brushed his lips over hers.

She wiggled under him a little and curled her hands around the back of his head. “I’m not sure I’m ready to share my plans for universe domination with you, but I believe given time you’ll get there.”

John laughed. “I’m serious.”

“I know and thank you. It means a lot, and I won’t make you bare your soul every single time I get a little insecure.”

“Ah.” John nodded. “In that case, I’d like to go on record and say that I’d really like to fuck you until you forget a large portion of undergrad and perhaps your own name at least briefly.”

“Excellent plan. Let me know when you’re ready to implement it.”

He slid off to the side and pulled her to his side. “Deal.”

She glanced at the television. “Wanna watch a few episodes?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Meredith crawled to the top of the bed and picked up the remote to start the next episode and John got comfortable against the headboard. He pulled her close as soon as she settled down next to him and she was left to ponder if she could share her dreams with a man. Maybe that was what Jeannie had been talking about all along, and Meredith just hadn’t gotten it.

“I haven’t seen all of this show due to deployment.”

“I have the whole series on DVD, and I have the movies, too,” Meredith said. “I’ll start the first episode over. It’s important to the story that you watch from the very beginning.”

He kissed her temple. “Thanks.”

Meredith blinked back unexpected tears and cleared her throat. “You’re welcome.”

The End

Episode 4: The Quiet Storm

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. Lovely new part
    It’s great to see all the different iterations of their families. They are different in nevery story, but still themselves. It’s awesome
    Thank you

  2. Love so much.
    Ever grateful B.

  3. That was lovely and well worth losing sleep to read. Thank you!

  4. Thank you for sharing

  5. Thank you Keira for this awsome update! I’m not really into Genderbend but your Meredith is spot on (great casting too).

    Damn, those Sheppards are stuborn, and I’m including Nancy in the lot! Maybe now that John explained to Matt how he feels when he’s constantly questioned about his career choice, they’ll finally back of.

    I absolutely adored the whole scene where the whole Sheppard family see Meredith in Vitoria’s Secret. That was hilarious! First seeing the soldiers, then Meredith meeting the Sheppards and finally Patrick saying “You’re dating Dr Meredith McKay?!” was just perfect!

    Also, the end of this part was really sweet, with Mer and John having a heart to heart.

    Thank you for sharing, especially when you’re super busy right now with the new RT challenge!

  6. Thank you for this. Seriously thank you.
    I identify so strongly with Meredith that it’s crazy. I might not share her outspokenness, neither is my IQ quite on her level, but I still see so much of me in her it kind of stuns me. I don’t think I’ve ever run across another female character I could identify like this. I’m crying here, and I’m not even sure why.
    Just…thank you again for this.

  7. That was really good.

  8. I love this , I checked this morning and there was no update and I checked just before going to bed and there it is, a new chapter of Hold My Coffee.
    I had to read it and I nearly burst laughing about the guards outside Victoria’s Secrets and John’s family meeting Mer. I am completely besotted by this series.
    Keep up the good work and keep enjoying the writing like I am enjoying the reading.

  9. Lovely. You’re showing the tension in both families in a very real way, and I love how John is wooing Meredith.

    Consumption be done about Rush, I wonder?

  10. I am so enjoying McKay as a female – it definitely puts a different spin on how she relates to the other characters in the story. I could go on and on, but I think a big Thank You! says it all.

  11. eroslackermicha

    Keira as always you rock. loved the interactions with the families.
    of course you seem to have the Shepard family down to a T at this point.
    thank you for sharing this.

  12. Absolutely wonderful, thanks!

  13. Simply Lovely, I love all your Mer’s and John’s. Thank you for sharing

  14. I’m in love with this story. Period. I’m not that much into genderbend SGA stories because I adore the whole cast as is but the idea of Stana Katic as Meredith McKay is amazingly perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  15. This was just lovely <3

    I absolutely adore the tone you have have with this series; John and Meredith are just perfect. I'm definitely looking forward to more!

  16. I am loving this series. There are lots of reasons why, but I would like to highlight and thank you for writing about the issues facing women in the workplace. The SGC may be rather esoteric as workplaces go but the same problems face many women and I like your take on it all.

    As ever, thanks for sharing!

  17. I really like this John and Meredith. I especially like how drawn out their relationship is. These two are getting into something deep and they are serious about it. Careful almost. I have yet to see you write a version of John I didn’t like and the best thing is that they are all different. I used to think it was Rodney/Meredith (in this case) that I liked more but with your crackerjack writing of John I always like him the best in your stories.

    Wow you made me dislike your Sheppards! That is a first.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  18. Love the whole series, thank you for sharing.

  19. This is awesome. I’m loving every word of it.

  20. Lovely! I love how well-rounded Mer & John are, and you’ve established that with the minor characters even though we don’t see a ton of them as far as “screen time.” It’s always fun to read your stories!

  21. I love these characters. You’ve had a lot of iterations of them, but these have a depth I love and a maturity that is so engaging. Of course I spent the last week or so looking for H50 stories that were not written by a teenager so of course people acting like grown ups was refreshing. . Hey, I was a teenage fan fiction writer once and I mean no disrespect, but the first few I ever read were on Slash World and were wonderful and my most recently read were all Jilly’s so I have very high standards.

    But what I am trying to say is that these characters and the tone of the writing is more…. damn, I don’t know how to explain. Calm? Assured? I don’t know, but I do know I like it a lot.

  22. Great chapter

  23. Words cannot express how much I am enjoying this take on John/M.R.McKay.

    I am especially enjoying how you are taking the same base character and making her female – what being female would do to that personality. Being a smart, beautiful woman is hard, and the socialization is so different. I LOVE what you’re doing with Meredith.

    And, I always love your Sheppard family.

  24. Thanks for sharing. I absolutely love B5! It had great music too.

    I like seeing the wooing and care going on in their relationship. The Victoria Secret scene also made me chuckle. Both families made me feel very frustrated, though I understand where they are coming from.

  25. It is, indeed, very important to watch from the very beginning. (For B5, too.)

  26. I love this, it’s just so much fun. I’ve already read it twice, and now I’ll got back and read the story from the beginning again. I go off and read other fanfiction but I get all disappointed because it’s not as good, and then I just come back and re-read all of your stories until you post something new then I read that a few times through, and lather, rinse, repeat. It’s not such a bad never-ending cycle, and it keeps me occupied as I wait for new things 🙂 So thank you for the new it helps to make the cycle longer!

  27. You’re spoiling me. You’ve been updating quickly on this and I am loving that. I love how John called his brother and family out on their lack of respect for his choices. Throwing Matt’s choices out there in his face was a great way to do that; and deserved. I almost wanted to smack the kid for his whining. Yeah at one time I was military and my family supported me more than the Sheppards seem to support John. I never GOT the whole anti military bias of theirs. Yeah I understand wanting your sibling/child to be safe, but life ISN’T safe. As for Nancy going through John’s online banking? She’s lucky he still likes her, I’d be more than a bit pissed if my ex had done something like that to me(thing is HE would write himself a check). I am so loving this series. I don’t get real detailed like this unless I get invested and yeah; color me invested. I look forward to more of it when you get it out there, no worry I know RT is getting ready to cycle back up and yeah I’ll be reading there too. Writers like you spoil me for the average in fan fiction on regular sites.

  28. I’m cackling over the team being in tac gear outside a Victoria’s Secret. *snarfles* This is fabulous, thank you!

  29. You’re absolutely right when it comes to watching B5. Watch them in order, and pay attention, or don’t bother to watch them at all. If you don’t, you’re going to miss half the story and wind up confused.

    Great work! Thank you very much for sharing.

  30. this is 100% certifiable AWESOME SAUCE!

  31. I really don’t know how you do it. I have never been interested in genderbender fics and have stayed away from them. Because you wrote them, I had to give Julia and A Caged Tiger a try and absolutely fell in love with your depictions – femMcKay and femSheppard are spot on. This Coffee series is amazing….thanks!

  32. I adore this story! Thank you.
    I feel so much for poor John with all he has gone through before this story. So successful at work and yet no respect from his family. Also enjoying Meredith and her mix of confidence and confusion. And I love your Teldy! She comes across as confident and powerful and yet understanding. I could just picture Meredith on the washing machine!
    Thank you for sharing your ideas and writing! I really appreciate it.

  33. Lovely. They way you weave comedic scenes into the story is just awesome. I especially enjoyed the scenes that gave the chapter its title. I also love the way Sam is a pillar of support for Meridith rather than a rival.

  34. greywolfthewanderer

    another great installment!! heh, Rush is soooo repulsive. I like the actor, but loathe the character. nice one, John’s response to his brother’s questions. very much so!!

  35. I love you, deeply and utterly, you just made my night. I’m not mad anymore I have to open at 5:00 am in the morning now.

  36. Great chapter! I enjoyed everything about this 🙂 Thanks!

  37. I’m stuck in bed on an asthma flare, so I was so happy to see this update–it was a great surprise when my body is rebelling against me.

    I’ve never actually watched any Stargate (movie or TV series), but I’ve become engrossed with that world, solely based on your stories. Granted, I have no idea what the actual canon is at this point, but love your take on it.

    It’s interesting to see the gender-bending with McKay.

  38. I was so excited to see this had updated that I read it at work when I was supposed to be working >__> I really love Meredith standing up to Jeannie – she always kind of annoyed me on the show, with the way she pushed Rodney to snatch Katie up because he can’t do better. So I was definitely cheering Meredith on 🙂 I also really like that John got angry at Nancy and his family for getting into things they shouldn’t. What they did is a big deal, and I liked that John didn’t fold as soon as Nancy looked sad. And then he turned around that frustrating, life choice questions that he *always* has to deal with on Matt, which is such a fantastic way of proving his point. Man, I love John and Meredith. I am so amused at the image of Stackhouse and the other marines standing in full gear outside Victoria’s Secret, oh my god. You are so brilliant. I really like all the cuddling John and Meredith are doing, watching movies and just hanging out. Though man, all that unresolved sexual tension *grins* I do love how much John respects Meredith and is waiting for her to believe that he’s in it for the long haul <3 John, you are such a good man. Also, Meredith offering to buy a strap-on to use on John 8D It's fantastic she wants to make sure he's satisfied too 🙂 Though I do like that John admits he usually tops men, because top!John is totally my jam.

    You are just amazing!

  39. I’m loving how this is going!

  40. I love the mental picture of the solider in full tactical gear with dainty pink VS bags in one hand, steadying a P90 with the other. “Kidnapped by North Korea” …holy bejeebus.

  41. Thank you very much, it’s really really great

  42. John and Rodney (Meredith) cuddling is one of my favourite things 😉

    Lovey episode, great series.

    Thank you

  43. loving the family confrontations and then the conversations that ensu.


  44. I love you. I want to have your babies! *EG* I love this iteration of John and Meredith. I love their pecularities and issues and that eventually they will work together, be together in the best way possible. Thank you for this.

  45. Love it! Fun to see the characters that I love from you as a source of frustration for the John and Mer here. I like what you did with Nancy, and also anything with Anne Teldy makes me really happy. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Great universe and story. Thanks!

  47. Lovely. It both made me smile and feel gooey inside. Thank you.

  48. Love this rendition of the two, you write such lovely stories and it’s so hard to resist pretty much anything that you write. I’m so glad that I found you a few years ago, because there’s nothing better than finding an excellent story to read, especially stories that can be read over and over, and that you have so much available to read as well!!

    Nothing related to this story, but am waiting excitedly for the next installment of whatever you’re writing next!!!

  49. Thank you. No seriously, thank you for this

    I’ve been working around 60 hours a week…for months….and with no end in sight.

    Your stories never fail to make me grin and spin around in an excess of geriatric fangirl glee. And that takes some doing when I’m perpetually sleep deprived and suffering from working too fucking hard.

    *waving a bedraggled pom pom for you*

  50. The emotional impact of those two final lines hits just the right tone for me. THank you for sharing and this is a lovely story.

  51. What I most love about your various AUs is that each one captivates me fully, and I totally believe the characterizations and pairings that are wildly different from the last ‘verse of yours I loved. Each one stands by itself, with no confusion with your other works. That takes talent.

    In Hold My Coffee, I simply adore your Mer. She is so well written, and has such a depth to her. I really appreciate how she is not just replacing pronouns and throwing in some feminine stereotypes. I am impressed, but not at all surprised because I know the quality of your work.

  52. I am completly hooked on this new series ! More…. pretty please

  53. The thing is, though I’m loving your take on Meredith McKay, I think I’m falling in love with your John Sheppard. He’s amazing! Supportive and attentive and so damned sure of what he wants. He’s tender with Meredith, when it’s clear no one has been in far too long. He tackled coffee for her, which is practically a declaration of love. He’s the kind of guy us singles wish we could find in real life. Not that he doesn’t have issues, because look at all the family drama and you’ll realize he’s got a Nation Geographic-sized collection of issues. But it somehow makes him even more appealing.

    Out of all the John Sheppard’s you’ve written, this one may be my favorite. Thanks for sharing!

  54. So real life has been a kick in the teeth lately and I just yesterday finally had the opportunity to read what you have of this ‘verse so far and I just wanted to let you know that I love it so very much! Seeing how growing up female, and being a woman in STEM changes McKay and seeing what remains is so fascinating, and as a female Ph.D. student in STEM a lot of her reality felt very real, and it was great to see that dealt with. As always, thank you SO much for sharing with us! <3

  55. <3 <3 <3

  56. This was such a pleasure to read in so many ways. I love your strong characters, and I am charmed by this arc. Thank you!

  57. I really love this universe. The characters come alive! Thank you for writing.

  58. This was amazing not only for your character and plot development, but also your comments on what women face everyday. I am a physician and I travel a lot and do charity care. This is always something I think about when I am traveling. I KNOW men just don’t get it. So thank you.

  59. Thank you, this is simply wonderful, and I am loving every word of it.

  60. So, when Patrick asked John if he was dating Meredith Mckay for some reason I had John’s reply in my head of…”Yeah that’s my M&M!!”

    Totally love you Mckay and how just making him a woman totally changes everything and brings to mind thoughts and ideas I never associated this character with before. This is a great conversation piece of a story. You consistently rock my world.

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