Nov. 29th, 2007 08:10 am
Fandom: SG: Atlantis
Warnings: Slash, language, crack
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Beta: ferret_kitty, putting up with my crap liek woah!
Summary: Commander John Sheppard met Secretary of Science Rodney McKay hours before the Wraith destroyed his civilization and almost wiped out his entire race.
Author's Note: So, I've been plotting this story where McKay unwillingly has to lead Atlantis, and realizes that he hates it, but is nonetheless good at it and kind of gets stuck with the job whether he wants it or not. This is not that story. This, is because in a brainstorming session I scribbled President Rodney onto the corner of a piece of paper, and a Battlestar Galatica commercial came on and a plot bunny sprung up and latched onto my brain. And so President McKay and Commander Sheppard were born. Note that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense without basic knowledge of both shows...
The first time he met then Secretary of Science Rodney McKay it was only minutes before the decommissioning ceremony for his ship. The man had been smoothing imaginary wrinkles out of his suit, fidgeting absently with the cards in his hands, and generally looking a mixture of exhausted, irritated and nervous. John had wondered why, because it wasn't like it was McKay's whole life that was about to be stripped away.
Nevertheless, he had made himself smile, and offer his hand and been surprised by the cool strength in the other man's grip. Even more by the sharp intelligence in McKay's eyes, when they'd locked with his, when the man had said, "You must be Commander Sheppard. They told me about your hair."
He thinks: they didn't tell me about your mouth. Says, instead, "I trust you had a nice trip."
And McKay snorts, gives his hand a final squeeze before resuming fiddling with the cue cards. When he speaks again he's completely changed the subject, though John admits that he hadn't really asked a question before. Still, "So, this is the Atlantis, is it? It's not as old and decrepit as I'd been expecting," was not the response he'd been prepared for.
While his brain had still been trying to think what to say his mouth was already moving, "She's a good ship." And McKay hums, tilts his head up and to the side and that's when he gets ushered out of the room, hurried along by his aids towards the ceremony proper.
Somehow, Rodney McKay is nothing like what he'd been expecting, which had been in his head a stuffy, faceless, uptight politician. He's not sure what exactly the other man is, but he knows it's not that. After a long moment he straightens his dress uniform, and makes his way into the ceremony effectively ending the best period of his life.
He's sad to see Teyla go, when she leaves to escort Secretary McKay's ship back to the Colonies. But then again, there's a part of him that knows that it's for the best. There's too much history between the two of them, too many old wounds and bad blood, and whatever hope he'd had for fixing things had went down the drain when she'd effectively threatened him with emasculation if he came near her again.
Sometimes he wonders how things got so bad between him, when once he'd thought of her as the little sister he'd never had. He's still got that affection for her in him, that want to protect her and keep her from making all the same mistakes he did. And so he thinks it isn't really odd that he spares a thought for her when news of the attacks reaches them, all alone out there with the civilians.
The hot flash of concern and worry, a split second vision of big blue eyes rimmed with thick dark lashes and a wide mouth, is a surprise. Not one that he has time to contemplate, in any case. He pushes all thoughts of Rodney McKay and Teyla Emmagan out of his mind, concentrates on what's going on around him, on his ship, coming alive for battle.
Over the radio he can hear Dex's low, deep voice, booming through the bridge, "They die! They die!" Watches the Vipers dance through the Darts around them, led by Dex, a better pilot than John's ever seen, even if he is crazy as hell. Beside him Ford is leaning towards the Dradis, eyes riveted on the screen, and he knows everyone else is following his XO's example. Hell, he's doing it himself.
He doesn't breathe until the last Dart is dead, until his people are all safe in the landing bays.
There are almost four seconds that drag out in excruciating adrenaline drenched mayhem when Teyla is sure that she's going to die. The razor sharp ship comes out of no where, with an almost audible whine in its engines as it buzzes around her. There are bursts of blue fire over her cockpit, and she thinks about the civilians, helpless in the transport ship she's supposed to be guarding.
She's still thinking about that when she blows the Dart out of the sky, because it must be the Wraith, it can't be anything else. She's still thinking about it when she docks with the transport, when she peels off her helmet and is greeted by a reporter she vaguely remembers seeing on the Atlantis. He says, "Thank the gods you're here. You've got to put a stop to it."
She arches an eyebrow at him, shoves her sweaty hair out of her face, loosens her collar and wonders how many more Wraith are out there. Apparently the man realizes that she's not going to respond, because he rushes to fill the silence, "Someone has to tell him he's not in charge."
Sighing, she thinks how much she really doesn't care who wants to be in charge of this tiny ship, but allows him to lead her up to the bridge anyway. Lets him herd her into the room where the man she recognizes as the Secretary of Science is pacing back and forth, saying, "This is what we're going to do, we're going to go out there and find as many ships as we can, we're going to bring them back here, get them organized and take them, hm, to the Midway Station I think. We can re-supply there."
The man pauses, rubs a hand up over his face and he looks oddly put together in the face of this catastrophe, even with his tie loose and his shirt sleeves rolled up. He snaps his fingers, points at a man with olive skin and dark hair, "You, Simon--it's Simon, right? You're in charge of keeping track of people as we bring them back and--"
He notices her then, pauses with his hands on his hips and stares at her, "You must be Captain Emmagan. Good job saving our lives, Captain. Something you needed, because if not we're kind of busy here and I'm sure that," he snaps his fingers again, scowling, narrowing his eyes, "Michael here can get you a seat somewhere if you need to sleep. Out of the way. Somewhere."
And Teyla smiles, turns towards the reporter and stares at him until he flushes and storms off. McKay sighs, but spares her a tight little smile, says, "Your ship, is it damaged? We can use it to find more survivors if it's not and if it is I'll need to see it, I can fix it and then we can use it."
"My ship is fine. We can--" and she never gets to finish the thought, because it's then that the captain of the transport steps out of the cabin, his face tight and grim. It's strange how the entire room gets quiet around him, how even McKay goes still, how he squares up his shoulders, crosses his arms over his chest.
And that's why Teyla Emmagan is there to be among the first to hear that Rodney McKay is the new President of the Colonies.
Being commander of the fleet doesn't feel all that different than being just plain commander of the Atlantis, and John figures this is because the Atlantis is all that's left of the fleet. They're at war, for the first time since he was young, seeing combat against enemies that they thought they'd seen the last of when he was nineteen.
The entire ship is a mess of panic and preparations. Of Chief Zelenka having a fit down in the docking bays because he's having to work with Mach Twos and none of his people are trained to fix them and his CAG is dead, and the world is ending around them. Is already ended.
And then some of it comes back, a glimmer of dangerously tempting hope, Teyla's voice over the radio, asking to speak with him. And he grabs the phone, bulky and old and the only thing that spared them the death that took so many others, his voice sounds rough and foreign to his own ears, "Get back here, right now."
There's a pause before she speaks, he can almost hear her trying to make herself be civil with him, "I am busy at the moment, sir. We are--"
"That was an order, Captain." Because he knows she doesn't like him. Fine. That's no reason for her to die out there, alone among the stars. Besides, of everyone potentially alive, she's ranking officer with flight status. As good as Dex is, John's not sure he's ready to be CAG just yet.
Another measured silence, then, her voice tighter, "I am already acting under orders. The President has requested that I help with rescue operations and--"
"The President? Weir's alive?" He's not sure why there's a sudden burst of relief in his chest, except that maybe it's something of the sane life he woke up to this morning, still there. He hadn't even voted for Weir, but he thinks he might apologize for that, if she's still somehow miraculously alive.
"No. I believe you met Rodney McKay earlier--"
Sheppard is having a righteous snit over the rescue operation, and Teyla's not sure she can completely blame him. It's dangerous, and risky, and any sane person would be running for the Midway Station. But there's a part of her that respects McKay, that understands wanting to stay and save all these innocents. That part wins.
Sheppard's snapping into her ear, "--man is a scientist, for gods sake, Captain. Now get back here and--"
She stops listening around there, because one of the pilots is waving frantically at their scanners and the ship drawing rapidly towards them. Over the radio Sheppard is becoming increasingly agitated and Teyla turns to advise McKay that she will do her best to attempt flight with her Viper to find the President gone.
She sprints out of the room, listening to the increasingly panicked voices over the radio, the Wraith closing on them, Sheppard almost pleading with them to please get out of there, please. And then a burst of energy shakes the ship, almost knocks her to her knees and she wonders if they've been hit, waits for them to start venting atmosphere, but it doesn't happen.
She finds McKay in the cargo hold, standing over a huge generator they had taken from the Atlantis. The man is pale, shaking, eyes wild when she touches his shoulder. He says, "The Wraith should jump away now, they should think we nuked ourselves. I think. I mean, that's what the calculations say should happen."
And she smiles, squeezes his shoulder and then releases him, "That is a very good thing, Mister President."
His laugh is a surprise, loud and tight in the silence of the cargo hold. "Gods. It's really happening isn't it? We've got to help these people." And she says nothing, because they do. She's sure that someday, somehow, Sheppard will understand. Or at least she hopes that he will.
It's a relief to see Elia and her Raptor, even if the civilians she's lugging along show every indication of being more trouble than they're worth. Especially Doctor Kavanaugh, if the immediate sparks of dislike between he and the President are anything to go by.
Of course, Elia's barely on the ship ten minutes before McKay is sending her off with orders to find other ships and bring them back here. Teyla watches the President throw himself into his own work, trying to deal with the fact that of the fleet of ships they've gathered, only a little better than half are capable of FTL travel.
He's got pages of papers strewn around him, and computers that might have been on the ship already destroyed against a potential Wraith attack. She watches him, the flush in his pale skin, the way his hands shake when he thinks he is alone, the way he coughs, sometimes, so violently that it must be painful.
She's still watching him, hours later, when a Wraith Dart jumps into scanner range. This time there's no way they can hide the fleet that they've gathered, and it degenerates into a mad house in the middle of the cockpit, because if the Wraith vessel gets much closer it'll be able to kill them all, and surely it will have called for reinforcements and--
She's surprised at the President's voice, cutting over everyone else, "Jump. Jump now to the Midway Station. Do it." She watches him pivot, and march out of the room, and after they jump, when she feels like she's in one piece again, she finds him.
He's slumped in his seat, head in his hands, and she kneels carefully beside him, says, "Sir?"
He doesn't look up, says, "I should have been able to convert their engines to FTL drives. I should--" His voice breaks, and he coughs, slapping his hands over his mouth. When the fit passes, a moment later, he stares dumbly down at the blood splattered across his palms before raising his eyes to her face. He says, "Cancer. Who knew?"
She feels something in her stomach twist, though she could not say way, some odd chill at the thought of this man's death. She can think of nothing comforting to say, and so she rises to her feet, offers him a hand up after he has wiped the blood away on a handkerchief, and says, "Sir, we need to get the ships into the radiation field to have any chance of the Wraith not finding us."
He blinks, and then straightens, "Yes, yes, of course."
Zelenka's got the munitions reclamation well under control, but they'd called John down to deal with the weapons dealer they'd found hiding among the nukes. Of course they had. And of course one of the drones had shifted in it's packaging, and of course he'd ended up trapped in an access tunnel with the sweaty, babbling man.
John sighs, as in front of him Steve starts in again about humanities relative right to survive. He's had a terribly long last few days, and he's about to fight a war against a far superior force, and at the moment he just really wants the bastard to shut up. He grinds out, "Shut up, gods," and the man has the gall to look over his shoulder and grin.
Unfortunately, Steve seems to take that as permission to drone on about another subject that John has absolutely no interest in hearing about, "You say gods, but are they not really all facets of one God, a true God too large for humans to comprehend in its entirety, which you have broken into smaller units for no other reason but to better attempt to understand it?"
John feels something icy climb up his spine, narrows his eyes and says, "I suppose you know better?"
The man in front of him stiffens, and then stops, and John curses under his breath. Especially when Steve turns slowly to face him, says, "Well, children are expected to surpass the achievements of their parents." And then he's lunging for John, unnaturally strong hands lifting him off the ground and fists slamming into his face. The first blow knocks the flashlight from his hands.
John can feel blood slipping down the side of his face, hot even in the inferno of these tunnels, grunts and struggles against the stronger thing above him. The flashlight is at his fingers, and he grabs for it desperately, pulls it into his palm and swings it up.
It takes a dozen hits, first into the side of the thing's head, and then into its face, before it stops twitching. John stares down at it, pushing himself clumsily to his feet, trying to get his breathing back under control. This, he thinks, staring down at the Wraith with a human face, is absolutely the last thing he needs right now.
Teyla's never been fond of Sheppard's XO. He's a drunk, a boy out of his depth, and she's never understood why Sheppard choose not to replace Ford at the earliest opportunity. Therefore, when he storms into the room that's been designated as the President's temporary office, she feels a bubble of anger in her chest.
He doesn't make it any better by sneering at McKay, snapping, "I don't know what you think you're doing here, and I don't have the time to walk you through it. This is a military operation and you need to get these people out of here this instant."
McKay had been pacing when the other man entered, goes still now, looking at him hard before speaking, "I have almost forty thousand people out there, a lot of them wounded, many with serious problems in their ships, and they have no where else to go. We need help, and you are going--"
She watches Ford's face twist up in a sneer, automatically tenses when he cuts McKay off, "I am the XO of this ship and I don't take orders from you."
For a long beat, silence, and then McKay is striding forward, expression tight and angry. For a half second she thinks he's going to hit Ford, but instead he draws to an abrupt stop in Ford's space, glaring down at him, snapping, "I am the fraking President and you will do exactly as I damn well say. Are we clear?"
Ford blinks, cuts his eyes towards her, and she bites her lip hard to keep from grinning at the shell shocked expression on his face. She thinks that, really, it's never a good idea to try to pull rank on a man wound as tight as McKay obviously is. Ford blinks again, before stepping away from McKay, snarling, "Fine. We'll get you some emergency supplies, but you'll have to distribute them yourselves."
John's poking at the new stitches above his eyebrow, wincing at the uncomfortable tug and burn in his skin, when the doors to his quarters slide open. He barely manages to drop his hand and wipe the grimace off his face before Rodney McKay is storming into his room like he has every right to be there. John startles, says, "What--'
McKay stomps right up to him, eyes wild, snapping, "What the hell do you think you're doing? You are aware that there's an entire Wraith fleet out there, right? You will die, if you fight them, and all your men will die with you and all the people that I risked my godsdamn life saving will die and there will be no one around to remember your idiot plan to go out there and make a martyr of yourself, you idiot!"
McKay's got a finger braced against his chest, is poking him with it for emphasis. John reaches up without thinking, grabbing the other man's wrist and squeezing hard enough to get McKay's attention. He snarls back, down into the other man's face, "I am at war and--"
McKay apparently realizes that he has another hand, because now he's poking John with that one, talking over top of him, "No you're not! Gods, are you that fraking stupid? The war is over. We lost. If you don't do what I'm telling you the entire human race is going to die. What part of that isn't getting through your thick skull?"
John feels what little was left of his patience snap. He grabs the man's other wrist, striding angrily forward, propelling the man backwards towards the door of his quarters. He misjudges the distances slightly, ends up slamming McKay into the wall, expects the man to panic or try to squirm away or just give up. Instead McKay says, voice softer but every bit as determined, "We have to get out of here and start making babies, Commander, or the Wraith really will win."
For a long moment he just stares down at the other man, caught in bright blue eyes, flaming with emotion. Then he shakes himself, releases the man's wrists and growls, "Get out."
He thinks at first that McKay will argue again, but instead the man just shakes his head, turns towards the door. He pauses for a second at the threshold, mouth open like he intends to say something, and then walks away with the silence still heavy between them.
Teyla's uncomfortable being involved with making the plan to fight the Wraith. It feels wrong to her, a mistake, but she doesn't know how to make Sheppard understand. Not that he's paying very much attention, in any case. He's been staring absently at first the ceiling, then Petty Officer Cadman and the unfamiliar man she's been talking to since he stormed into the CIC a half an hour ago.
Dex and Ford are currently having a disagreement, and she thinks both of their ideas are horrible, though maybe Dex's has a remote chance of succeeding. It's Ford that manages to shake Sheppard out of his thoughts, shouting into the Commander's face in an attempt to get his attention.
Sheppard blinks, his eyes focusing slowly like he's waking from a dream. His voice sounds far away when he speaks, still staring at Cadman and her friend, "They need to start making babies."
Ford sputters, and Dex actually laughs, his big booming voice filling the CIC and Teyla just smiles. Then Sheppard's sweeping their plans to the floor, snapping orders and demanding a line to the President because they have to get this fleet organized and moving ASAP and--
He finds McKay in his quarters, after they've successfully run the Wraith blockade, after they've jumped past the edges of known space. After he's given his speech and promised the Fleet that he would take them to Earth. The man is leaning over his desk, flipping through a book that's upside down, expression far away.
Sheppard leans into his doorframe, drawls, "You can borrow it, if you want."
McKay startles, jerks back like he's been burned, looks guilty when he pivots to face Sheppard. He gapes, and after a moment Sheppard takes pity on him, because it's been a terrible long several days for everyone, and notably worse for McKay. He steps fully into the room, feels the doors close behind him, says, "It's pretty good, you know, if you can get into the Prophets."
"I've never put much stock in the gods, myself." McKay sounds exhausted, and John can see the dark circles under his eyes. And then the man rubs a hand up over his face, fixes his eyes on John and sounds steadier when he continues, "Or a mythical thirteenth colony. That was some Grade-A bullshitting out there, Commander."
He flushes, because he hadn't expected to be called on his lie so obviously. He should have known better, because in their brief experience with each other McKay has been nothing if not blunt. Says, "The people need hope." And it tastes like nothing so much as a bad excuse, even in his own mouth.
McKay stares at him for a long moment, arms crossed over his chest, and then snorts and almost smiles. "I guess they do." And then, after another moment of staring, "You did the right thing today. We'd all, we'd all have died. Otherwise."
John sighs, says, "I know," and is surprised when Rodney McKay smiles at him.
So far, everything about having cancer has been one big huge smear of disbelief. First, of course, was the obvious shock of realizing that, hey, he only had months to live. Then had come the information that he'd spend most of those months in degrading health, eventually no better than a corpse while he still lived.
And now, now when he'd thought it couldn't get any worse, he'd discovered that apparently the only medical doctor still alive was one Carson Beckett, proud resident of the Battlestar Atlantis. It's not that he has anything against the warship, in fact, he's fairly fond of it, but it's inconvenient as hell to have to shuttle back and forth between the Jumper One and the Atlantis, just for check ups to tell him that, yes, he's still dying.
He's on maybe his third visit, and they're already all blending together in his head, when Beckett pauses awkwardly as Rodney buttons his shirt back up. The man is obviously considering telling him something, and as Rodney can no longer imagine worse news than what he's already suffered over the last month, he sighs, says, "Spit it out, Beckett."
The man still hesitates a moment longer, before shoving his hands nervously into his white coat, saying, "I know that you're interested in fighting this thing with everything we have...and I was just-have you thought about Chamalla, McKay?"
Rodney blinks, because he'd thought he couldn't be surprised, and he'd been wrong. He scoffs, "That's a-- a--a drug." He waves a hand, trying to bat the idea away, "An illegal drug."
Carson shifts, still looking about as uncomfortable as it's possible for one person to look, "I realize that, but there are reports that it might help you. I just thought I'd offer, you're under no requirement to take it, of course."
For a long moment Rodney just stares at the other man, still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that his doctor is advising him to take illegal narcotics. While he's the President. After his entire civilization has been destroyed. Because it might somehow help his ridiculously inconvenient cancer. He sighs, because what the hell, it's one more bizarre thing in his increasingly bizarre life, "Fine. If it'll help." And Beckett smiles gently, and hands him a little brown leather bag.
The visions start two days later.
It doesn't really take much time spent around Doctor Kavanaugh to realize he's, well, more than a little odd. Chuck tries not to let it bother him, because the man is a genius, too, and that's got to make up for a few personality flaws.
So Chuck ignores the man's caustic personality, his flighty mannerisms. He doesn't comment on the man's pushiness, or the fact that he doesn't really follow safety protocols half as much as he should. He can deal with all that, really. Even the talking to himself thing isn't that bad.
But, well, this is the third time Chuck's walked in on him, well, doing very odd things to the air. He's not sure what to make of Kavanaugh, sprawled out in his chair, head tilted up to the ceiling, moaning. He's talking to someone, holding the air above his head like there's something there.
The man's gasping, "Oh, I missed you so much, I-"
Chuck backs out of the room. Sometimes, that's the only thing that you can do.
Admiral Carter isn't impressed with this man claiming to be her President. For one thing, she knows damn well that there's no room for a civilian government right now, for another... Well, Rodney McKay is obviously completely unsuited for his office. He was a fracking scientist, for gods' sake. Still, Sheppard seems to trust the man, and she's never had anything but good experiences working with the Commander.
She's still trying to figure out what to make of them, sitting in Sheppard's quarter's with the pair of them. McKay pushes her a glass of liquor, leaning his hip against the back of Sheppard's chair. There's a casual closeness between the pair of them, one that she can't quite figure out.
She narrows her eyes, and pushes the thoughts aside, says, "You've done very well, Commander, and I'm happy to welcome you back to the Colonial Fleet." She shifts her gaze to McKay, tries to keep her expression from being too sharp, "And of course I have every intention of continuing your habit of cooperation with the civilian government." Sheppard stiffens, his eyes darkening for just a half second, enough for her to know that he understands what she's saying.
She's surprised when McKay apparently realizes it, too, says, "Excuse me?"
"I am the ranking commander of the military. Sir." McKay is scowling at her, she wonders if he realizes that his hand is wrapped around Sheppard's shoulder, squeezing. There's something cold and hard in his eyes, and for the first time she realizes she might have underestimated him. There's a slow shiver of fear up her spine, and she covers it with bluster, with a smile, "You look like someone shot your dog."
McKay takes a step towards her, and then Sheppard's hand is there, fingers wrapping around McKay's arm and squeezing. She stares at the pair of them, wondering how much trouble they could possibly give her, and if it's worth trying to deal with them at all.
She thinks it'll be easier to just take the pair of them out.
Okay, so, Rodney's sure he should have done this ages ago. Somehow promoting Sheppard had gotten pushed to the side between sending Dex on a mission to retrieve a fracking magic arrow and constant fighting with the Wraith, and his cancer growing worse and worse. Carter had made it obvious that it couldn't be put off any longer.
Now she's dead, and he wonders if it's in bad taste to have this ceremony so soon after Dex finished her eulogy. He does know he doesn't really care. He's never been much for social niceties, and he's the fracking President, and he just sanctioned what was for all intents and purposes an assassination.
Besides, it's just him and Sheppard in his quarters. Sheppard looks tense, keeps shifting in his seat and Rodney finally takes pity on him, says, "Here. This is--these are yours. Now, I mean." He shoves the black velvet box into Sheppard's hands, watching as the man opens it and stares blankly down at the contents for a long moment.
When Sheppard finally looks up he's smiling like he can't help it, eyes bright as he reaches out and grabs Rodney's hand. At first Rodney thinks he's giving the admiral's pips back, when Sheppard presses the box into his hand and curls his fingers around it, but then John says, "You're supposed to pin them on."
The thickness of the other man's voice sends a chill down his spine, sharp and unexpected. Suddenly his skin seems unnaturally warm where Sheppard's fingers are pressed against his. He sucks in a sharp breath, reaches carefully into the box and palms the two golden triangles inside.
Sheppard leans his head to the side as Rodney reaches up, carefully pins the insignias to the other man's collar. His skin is burning hot against Rodney's fingers when they slide across his neck, and Rodney means to jerk his hands back, he really does, but instead they settle on John's shoulders. He tries to say something, anything, and feels the words die in his throat when Sheppard leans closer to him.
John's hand is warm, curled around his hip, his mouth soft when he closes what's left of the distance between them. He hears himself make a desperate sound in the back of his throat, embarrassed by the way his hands curl up into the fabric of John's shirt. John's other hand curls around his neck, holding him like he's something delicate, breakable, precious.
When he pulls away after a long moment, John's thumb brushing gentle across his cheek. John breathes, right into his mouth, voice husky and low, "Sorry. Tradition." And then, when Rodney makes a softly protesting sound, he leans in again.
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