Feb. 23rd, 2008 10:34 am
Series: Parallels 'Verse
Characters: John/Rodney (John/Meredith)
Warnings: Language, slash, het, discussion of rape and abuse
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: John and Meredith spark a lot of conversation between John and Rodney.
Author's Note: sherriaisling , this is for you. Married!John has come to make sure that his double is treating Rodney right. Meredith tags along to show off her brain. Rodney goes all PTSD on everyone. Originalrecipe!John isn't happy about any of it. Set after Taking the Long Way Home, without which this really isn't going to make any sense at all.
Rodney doesn't really think anything about it when someone chimes on his door. He shouts permission for whoever it is to come in, busy trying to gather up his dirty clothes for a desperate run to the laundry room. He doesn't look up when he hears the door open, just snaps, "What is it?"
It's John's voice. Rodney would know it anywhere, and it should hardly be something that catches his attention. Except that it is. Because it's John's voice, but it's not Rodney's John's voice. Rodney numbly drops the t-shirts he'd been gathering up, whipping around to face the man standing in his doorway.
This John looks almost identical to Rodney's, but he's standing different. Shoulders level, back straight, smiling gentle. Rodney doesn't have to look at the other man's left hand to see the ring on his finger. He recognizes the aching softness in this John's eyes.
And even if he hadn't, the woman standing beside John makes it pretty obvious. Rodney stares across at her, and she stares back, head cocked to the side, eyes that Rodney last saw in a mirror all wide and curious. She says, "Huh," at the exact same time Rodney does, and Rodney watches the crooked smile turning up the corners of her lips as he feels himself mirror the gesture.
It isn't as bad as Rodney had thought it would be. She's built a lot like Jeannie, maybe a little bit taller, and the short hair helps keep Rodney's head from exploding. The BDUs help, too, and the way she whips out a scanner—which is bizarrely bright green.
Rodney blinks, crosses his arms and snaps, "I didn't expect to see you again."
John opens his mouth but it's Meredith that replies, turning sideways and staring at her scanner, "It was his idea." It's weird hearing his own voice at that slightly higher register. Of course, that's no where near as weird as noticing when Meredith turns sideways that something is going on under her BDUs.
Rodney boggles at John, "You knocked me up?"
John smiles, that bright shiny smile that Rodney's John doesn't actually appear capable of duplicating, "Me and Meredith are having a baby. Second one." He sounds so insanely proud of himself that Rodney can only stare.
Meredith is moving around Rodney's room, calls over her shoulder, "I'm naming this one. Guess what he named the first one?" Her voice is all familiar scorn and indulgence, and Rodney decides that really, this is the most bizarre thing he's ever had to deal with. He sits down. On the floor.
John is moving towards him immediately, expression dropping to worry. Rodney is slightly surprised to find Meredith heading towards him as well, scanner forgotten as she snaps her fingers at John and demands, "Give me one of the powerbars."
John follows her instructions without so much as a second of hesitation. Rodney watches John toss Meredith the bar, and then the man is kneeling in front of him, fingers careful against Rodney's jaw. Meredith breaks the bar in half and shoves one of the pieces at Rodney's face, ordering, "Eat it," while shoving the other half into her own mouth.
Rodney eats. It had been awhile since his last meal, and he chews fast, swallows hard. John and Meredith are both watching him, and he squirms under the scrutiny, before deciding to steer the conversation towards waters where his brain is in less chance of melting, "How'd you get back here? Is my John—"
The question gets answered before Rodney can even finish vocalizing it. The doors to his quarters swing open again and the second John Sheppard of the day steps through. Everyone spends a long useless moment staring at each other and then Rodney huffs, "It wasn't Bob, was it?"
And Meredith proves that she has his brain without a shadow of a doubt, "Worse, Junior."
Rodney's John takes another step into the room, eyes still glued to his double, "I think someone needs to tell me what's going on."
Meredith handles the explanation. Rodney holds his applause until she's done, but only barely. He's impressed, and a little jealous at how quickly she apparently figured it out, even though logically he would have been able to figure it out just as quickly if he'd been trying to. Rodney had not been suffering from the desire to go dimension-hopping.
Building the inter-dimensional portal had been the easy part, and once Meredith whips out the Portable Space Time Warping Device—apparently she's allowed to name things in her universe—and Rodney spends a few minutes poking around in it he thinks he knows how she did it. The hard part had been figuring out which alternate universe they wanted to reach.
Rodney thinks they lose the Johns somewhere around Meredith explaining how she was able to trace the slight differences in her John's electromagnetic field and match it up with the unique signature of their universe. When Rodney looks up, wondering how mangled his John's electromagnetic field must be, John is staring dazedly at his double. Rodney thinks that all that's missing from the picture is a line of drool down his chin, and elbows John in the side.
John startles, looks down at Rodney sheepishly. Rodney is really rather pleased that he's handling this better than his John is, smiles smugly at him and listens to Meredith reassure her John that of course she can put the Portable Space Time Warping Device back together. And that she has a spare, anyway.
Rodney's John finally interrupts, his eyes still looking kind of glazed over, "What I actually meant was, why are you here?"
Meredith pauses, head cocking to the side, mouth turning down in a frown. Rodney glares with her, because John should know better than to interrupt in the middle of an explanation by now. It's Meredith's John that answers, his voice strangely flat and cool, "We were just checking to make sure things had gotten better."
Rodney can hear the change in his John's voice when he replies, responding to his double's tone, "Better?"
Meredith makes an impatient sound, rolls her eyes and snaps out, "Are you the one that hurt him?"
Rodney leans back from the mostly reassembled PSTWD, blinking up at the two Johns. Meredith's John is glaring, his entire body tensing up, Rodney's John mirroring the increasingly aggressive pose. Rodney tries not to laugh at the thought of a John crossing dimensional lines to defend his honor, or whatever, and nearly fails. Luckily, the ridiculousness of the situation makes it easier to deal with the humor, he sighs, "It wasn't him."
Meredith's John looks down, his jaw set, "You can tell me if he is. I've been itching to kick his ass for months."
Rodney's John is protesting, "Hey!" and stepping into his double's space and continuing, "I don't know who you think you are or why you think you should be kicking my ass but it's not going to happen." Rodney watches the pair attempt to stare each other down before rolling his eyes and sharing an impatient look with Meredith.
Meredith says, all long-suffering exasperation, "You know, I used to try to stop him, but it's easier to just let him get it out of his system."
Rodney nods, wondering if the Johns are going to start growling at each other. He wonders if they realize how pointless it is to be doing the whole 'mine is bigger than yours' thing when they have the exact same body. What he says is, "It really wasn't my John."
Meredith's John looks down at him, anger draining out of his expression, "I worried about you."
Meredith snorts, "No, he obsessed about you. 'Do you think he's okay?' 'What if that abusive bastard came back?' 'Please, Meredith, do the impossible for me so that I can stop nursing my creepy fixation on your male clone.'" It's a passable imitation of John's voice and Rodney chokes back an involuntary laugh.
His John seems less amused, is suddenly kneeling beside him, voice low and tight, "Abusive bastard? One of the other mes hurt you?"
There's a beat of silence, and then Meredith's John, "You didn't tell him?" Rodney can feel them all staring at him and shrugs, finishes assembling the PSTWD to give his hands something to do. At the time he'd just wanted to forget, and he still thinks that's the best plan.
Rodney shrugs, "It wasn't important." He really just wants them to drop the subject and move on. Just thinking about it is souring his stomach, sending chills up and down his spine. Rodney balls his hands into fists and then realizes what he's doing and forces them to relax.
Meredith's John makes a sound that's either pain or anger, grinds out, "See, I told you. He's all—" The man makes a gesture Rodney only catches out of the corner of his eye. Rodney keeps his head down and continues trying to convince them all that they're not having this conversation with his brain.
Rodney is surprised by Meredith's voice, firm and sharp, "John, why don't you and...other you, go shoot something." One of the Johns starts to make a sound of protest and she cuts him off, "That was not, in fact, a suggestion. Go away."
And the Johns actually do. Rodney boggles across at his double, "You've got him so whipped." She grins, and for a half second Rodney thinks that might be the end of it. He'd been seriously underestimating his own stubbornness.
Meredith crosses her arms, smile falling away to a scowl, and says, "So what happened?" And Rodney tells her, because she's him, and so it's not like he's actually telling anyone.
Afterwards Meredith finally stops staring at the wall, turns to look at him and says, "It was important." She sounds so sure of it, and Rodney grits his teeth against the urge to get up and wash his hands. There's a reason he doesn't think about it, there's a reason that he's done his level best to forget he ever met Joan since the instant she disappeared.
Rodney shrugs, "Not really. I mean. It really wasn't." Meredith makes a scoffing sound, but Rodney doesn't look up at her face to see her expression. He's staring at her hands, so very much like his it's eerie. Rodney rubs his arm, wondering if she's got a matching scar there, if it itches her, too.
Meredith sounds impatient, "Bullshit. Did Dietrich replace Heightmeyer here, too? We're getting you an appointment set up. And you're telling your John." Rodney opens his mouth to protest and it's weird to be talked over by himself, "It'll help, believe me."
Rodney jerks his eyes up to look at her face, the tight, unhappy lines around his mouth. He doesn't want to ask, but his expression must do it for him, she bites out, "Come on, McKay, parallel universes, remember? Mirror experiences. That's how it works."
Rodney winces, "I'm sorry." And then when her expression goes blank and tight, "Oh, God, are you okay? Do you want me to get your John back in here?" He's reaching for his radio when she catches his wrist, fingers strong as his--even though they're smaller--squeezing hard.
Rodney's not sure how that all ends up with his hand pressed over her belly, but it does. Rodney says, soft, "Oh," feeling the baby shift and move. It's an utterly bizarre feeling, and he can't help but laugh and put his other hand over her belly as well.
Meredith says, breathy, "Pretty cool, huh?"
All Rodney can do is nod, and he finally manages to say, "Shouldn't we get you to the infirmary or something?"
They end up in the labs instead, which is actually infinitely preferable. Meredith says they hadn't planned to stay very long, a day at most, because they can't leave their own universe without them, and they agree mutually that having two Meredith Rodney McKays working together is too valuable an opportunity to pass up. Rodney is slightly confused as to why their parents included a 'Rodney' in her name as well, but then, he stopped trying to figure his parents out decades ago.
Zelenka takes one look at the two of them when they walk in, curses loudly and explicitly in his native tongue, and then hauls ass out of the labs. The only one brave enough to stay turns out to be Kusanagi, who smiles happily at the pair of them before dropping off a pot of coffee and moving back to her workstation.
Meredith squints over at the woman before saying, "He's smaller than I expected as a woman. Then again, Zelenka is smaller than I expected as a man." Rodney decides not to comment.
There are more important things to worry again, like the Replicator code that he still can't quite figure out, and that he needs to, because sooner or later someone else is going to be mortally injured and Rodney's already proved that he can't just stand by and let people he loves die. Rodney doesn't kid himself that he wouldn't use the Replicators again in an instant if it meant saving John or Teyla or Ronon, but he'd prefer it not to go all to hell afterwards.
They fall into the work easily enough, bouncing ideas off each other, finishing thoughts, and taking over pieces of the coding without having to discuss it. It's more like having an extra set of hands than working with another person, and Rodney finds himself smiling, racing to try to outthink himself as she tries to do the same thing.
Rodney's not sure how much time passes before someone clears their throat behind him. He recognizes John's warmth, the smell of his aftershave, and tilts away from the computer screen just long enough to absently press a kiss to John's lips. Miko already knows, and thinks their relationship is something out of dime-store romance, and Rodney really needs the comfort after the day he's had.
Rodney's turning back to the computer almost instantly, barely hearing the soft sound of surprise John makes. He's surprised when John grabs at his shoulders and arms, tugging him around and pulling him into a proper kiss.
It's about a thousand times more hesitant than what Rodney is used to, a gentle press quickly growing firmer. Rodney has time to realize that it's not his John and by that point his John is saying, voice tight, "What the hell are you doing?"
Meredith deadpans, "It's called kissing."
Rodney can feel the blush creeping up his neck when he pulls away. John's—both Johns—eyes follow his mouth, and he looks across at Meredith, expecting either impatience or anger. She looks mostly fascinated, and then she's stepping around the computer, pushing her John to the side impatiently.
There's something really, really, really, weird about kissing himself. Rodney's first instinct is to pull away, but Meredith is as stubborn as he is, and after a second Rodney gives up. He thinks it should be like kissing his sister, or something, but it's not, not really.
Meredith tastes like chocolate and his toothpaste and the third tooth back on the right side of her jaw is chipped just like his. There's nothing really sexual about the way her tongue slides against his, but it feels good. Comforting. Familiar.
The baby kicks against her stomach, pressed against his, and Rodney has to pull back so he can laugh.
One of the Johns--Rodney can't tell which, is too busy blinking across at Meredith--says, voice hoarse and rough, "Well, that was unexpectedly hot."
Later, when Rodney and Meredith have given up trying to convince the two Johns to swap some spit, and have went to get some dinner, Meredith's John says, "We were going to take you with us." Rodney looks up from his plate, watching his John tense up, hearing the clatter of his John dropping his fork onto his plate.
Rodney says, "Actually, I kind of like it here."
Meredith's John is already nodding, reaching out to absently take Rodney's hand. Rodney isn't sure he'd ever be able to get used to being around a John as openly affectionate as this one is. It's not bad. It's just completely weird. The metal of John's wedding band is cool against the back of Rodney's hand when the man says, "I know. We know. Now. We just had to make sure that you were okay."
Meredith coughs, "We?" before shoveling another forkful of meatloaf into her mouth and trying to look innocent. Rodney rolls his eyes and sprinkles some salt on her food right as she makes a face. The food here is never seasoned right.
Rodney's John growls, "I make sure he's okay."
There's a beat of silence, and the two Johns glaring at each other again. Rodney is really starting to wish they'd stop doing that every other second. Rodney sighs, "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Also? I'm sitting right here."
Meredith's John shrugs, smiles a little, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should always have to." Rodney looks back down at his plate, because he has always had to. After a moment John tightens his hold on Rodney's hand, and continues, "The offer still stands. Things are different in our universe. Me and Mer can bring you along, no problem."
Before Rodney can respond in the negative--this is where he belongs and ninety percent of the time he's happy here--his John is jerking out of his seat and tackling his double. They go to the floor in a tangle of limbs and plastic chairs, and Rodney curses, pushing to his feet.
The Johns are a snarling, kicking, punching mess. Rodney thinks it's his John on top but he's not positive, and they're both already bloody. One of them throws a punch and there's blood running down from a split lip and Rodney grabs handfuls of black t-shirt and yanks hard.
Rodney ends up with an armful of John, and Meredith is there then, grabbing the other one and pinning him to the floor. This body he's holding is familiar, and those are his John's wild eyes. Rodney snaps into his ear, "What the hell is wrong with you?"
John growls back, reaching up to wipe the back of his hand across his bloody chin, "They can't take you."
Rodney rolls his eyes, "I'm not going anywhere, you idiot."
John settles, looks across at him and blinks before saying, "Really?" Rodney doesn't dignify that with a response, just turns to look at Meredith and raises his eyebrows. She rolls her eyes back, reaches into her pocket and fishes out the PSTWD.
Rodney waves and she waves back, and the pair disappear with absolutely no fanfare. Rodney's still not used to that. He always expects there to be flashing lights or a snap of thunder, but they're just there one second and then gone the next.
John's pinching at his bleeding nose now and Rodney sighs, "Lets get you to the infirmary."
Rodney doesn't expect John to show up at his room that night, and maybe that's a sign that he doesn't know John as well as he thinks he does. He'd assumed that the emotional stress of the day would be enough to keep John away for at least a week. His door chimes just as he'd been about to climb into bed.
John hesitates in Rodney's doorway, fingers dancing over the two stitches Keller had been forced to put in his lower lip earlier. Rodney grouses impatiently, "Come on, John, I'm tired," and finishes crawling beneath his blankets. He settles along one side of the bed, pats at the mattress impatiently for John to join him.
John approaches slowly, finally sits one side of his ass on the very edge of the bed. Rodney gives up trying to deal with his odd skittishness, huffs and grabs John's arm, pulling on him until he sprawls down on the mattress. John glares across at him without heat, and then his expression goes sad and tight, "You could have told me. Whatever it is that happened."
Rodney wants to roll away, onto his other side, so that John will only be able to see his back, but his bed is far too narrow for that. He settles for rolling his eyes and clinging to impatience and frustration by his fingernails, "It really wasn't—"
"He—the other me—told me what happened to Meredith. It really was."
Rodney grits his teeth, "It's not the same thing." It's not. At all. He doesn't understand why everyone wants to talk about this. He just wants to forget, to pretend like he never met Joan and that she never touched him and he doesn't realize he's babbling it all out loud until John curses and yanks him close. Rodney can feel his mouth still moving against John's throat, "—her no, and she didn't listen, she didn't--"
Rodney hates this, this pressure in his chest. He hates that John has to hold him so tight, that John is cupping the back of his head and running a soothing back up and down his back. He hates that Meredith and her John reminded him of all the things he thought he had forgotten. That he needs to forget.
John says, "Shhh," and rocks Rodney back and forth and Rodney wants to tell him he's not a child, but the words get tangled in his throat. John says, "I've got you now," and Rodney wants to tell him he doesn't need to be coddled, but maybe he wants to be. John says, "I'd have married you if I could."
Rodney says, "I know."
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