Title: True North
Author: Keira Marcos
Big Short Prompt: Thursday Vignettes – November 1, 2018
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Genre: Pre-slash, science fiction
Word Count: 943 (Complete)
Warnings: No beta
Summary: John is worried about finding his bearings in Pegasus.
* * * *
“What are you doing?”
John turned his head slightly and found Dr. Rodney McKay standing a few feet away from his blanket, arms crossed. “Stargazing.”
“The MPs think you’re nuts. They called the Mountain, and somehow I got volunteered to come out here and get you.” McKay frowned at him. “You’re laying on a blanket in the middle of the woods.”
“There wasn’t a good spot at the SGC,” John pointed out reasonably. “Too much light pollution. And this is a field, not the woods.” He waved an arm toward a stand of trees. “The woods are that way. Stop being a spoilsport, McKay. Come look at the stars with me.”
Rodney huffed dramatically but joined him on the blanket when John made room. He settled down on his back. “Is this some kind of meditation thing? I’m terrible at that.”
John snorted. “No. Just stars.” He rubbed his stomach absently. “We’re going to another planet, McKay. I realize this whole thing with the SGC is old hand for you, but I’ve only had a few weeks to get used to it.”
“Freaked out about aliens?”
“No, I mean…well.” John sighed. “I’ve never been self-centered enough to think we were the only intelligent life in the universe. The fact that an alien parasite stole people from our planet to populate worlds as slave labor is appalling. I’d like to go out and kill a whole bunch of Goa’uld, so if the gate doesn’t open to Atlantis, I told O’Neill I want to stay with the SGC if it’s possible.”
“You have the ATA gene, Sheppard, you can write your own ticket at the SGC if you’re play your cards right.”
John didn’t know about that. “Sumner doesn’t like me.”
“Sumner doesn’t like himself,” McKay returned. “He’s not fond of Elizabeth either and thinks scientists are a waste of space. He’d rather the whole expedition be made up entirely of Marines. I guess we all have our work cut out for us when it comes to him. I’m too old to prove my worth, by the way.”
John laughed reluctantly. “I get it.”
“Is this cold feet?” McKay questioned.
“No.” John returned his attention to the sky. “If all goes according to plan, tomorrow night we’ll be living under different stars. The sky will be so alien, McKay. We aren’t taking aircraft with us, but it’s kind of freaking me out that even if we did, I wouldn’t be able to navigate without instrumentation. That is some disconcerting shit.”
“Well.” Rodney took a deep breath. “Yeah, I mean. Shit, now I’m weirded out.”
“Sorry.” John laughed. “Not my intention. My granddad taught me to fly. He insisted I learn all of the old school techniques—including the use of a sextant. I’ve carried his lessons with me throughout my adult life and tomorrow I feel like they might be useless.”
John looked over and found McKay looking confused. “What?”
“I have no idea what to say to that. My grandparents were all dead before I was born and my father is a waste of space so he never taught me anything either. Everything I learned about the stars, I learned from books and personal observation.” McKay focused on the sky. “Perhaps we can learn about our new sky together.”
John’s stomach tightened slightly as he considered that. He’d been ignoring his physical attraction to McKay because of legal issues but also because the man was an asshole, but then the scientist had to go and say something like that. It was annoying as hell.
“How much of your assholery is for show?”
McKay laughed. “It’s easier to work when people are more than willing to leave you alone.”
“If you’re alone too much it turns into lonely,” John observed.
“Did you get that out of a fortune cookie?” Rodney demanded with a glare.
“Nah, got that from experience.” John nudged McKay’s foot with his own. “I’m surprised Weir didn’t come out here herself. She’s pretty invested in keeping me on the mission.”
“Maybe I volunteered before she could,” McKay admitted roughly. “She’s got a boner for you in more than one way. I figured you left the mountain to avoid that anyways.”
John made a face.
“I think her gaydar is broken beyond all repair.”
“Accusing me of such could ruin my life, ya know,” John said dryly.
“Not at the SGC—they have too much going to worry about where you put your dick. Also, O’Neill has been banging Daniel Jackson for years. If they started throwing DADT around, O’Neill would take a hit, too, and Hammond will do a hell of a lot to make sure that doesn’t happen.” McKay’s hand brushed against his. “I really will help you find your way on our new world. You won’t get lost.”
John sighed. “Thinking you were a total asshole was making things really easy for me, McKay. Why’d you go and ruin it?”
John hooked his pinky with McKay’s briefly and squeezed. He got a little squeeze in return, so he released the scientist’s fingers and focused on the sky. “I think I’ve been under surveillance twenty-four/seven since I landed in Colorado. That’s annoying. There is probably a report at the Pentagon detailing my purchase of boxer briefs. Not to mention the fact that I would like to get laid before I fuck off to another planet in another galaxy.”
“There are no cameras or listening devices in my quarters,” Rodney said and offered John a grin when Sheppard looked his way. “I double checked.”
John laughed. Maybe finding his bearings on a new world wouldn’t be so hard after all.