Apr. 21st, 2008 10:36 pm
Series: Long Way Home
Warnings: Slash, language, dub-con
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Beta: mgbutterfly, my muse disappears and this is what she comes back with. I'm sorry, baby.
Summary: John thinks, hung over and displaced, that this is wrong. That McKay probably doesn't know how to say no, that the other man is a real person, hidden somewhere behind the smoke and mirrors of his façade. This is wrong and fucked up.
Author's Note: Some time ago someone asked me to do soldier!Rodney/soldier!John. And it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to do it
because I'm a bum that way. But finally I figured it out.
So. It's an AU of my Doctor Shep/Col McKay AU, where they're both soldiers and Rodney was a founding member of SG-1 and when the time came to go to Atlantis he took the other road. And meets John Sheppard during The Return. Unnecessarily long explanation achieved, I give you fic. It's...not happy. Not even a little bit.
John hates treadmills. Everything about them is disagreeable to him, because they take the basic runningness out of running and make it something contained and controlled. They take freedom, the first freedom John knew—before planes, Stargates, or alien cities—and cage it.
John hates treadmills, and Atlantis has spoiled him, because there he doesn't—didn't—have to use them. No one cared where he ran in the mostly deserted hallways. There were no off limits areas. There was no where he couldn't go, and no reason for him not to go everywhere. He'd reveled in it.
That makes the SGC's neat little work-out room even worse. He's sure it's top of the line, but having the best equipment money can buy doesn't make it any less equipment. John curses, tripping over his own feet on the too-smooth surface of the treadmill, bracing his arms and stepping off the tread before he falls on his face.
There's sweat running down his flanks and he's breathing hard but the burn feels wrong, artificial, a cruel imitation of what it should be. John's hands clench on the safety rails as he evens his breathing out, listening to the hum of the engine below him.
"It's just not the same once you get used to people chasing you."
John startles, curses and looks up. He hadn't heard anyone enter the room but that's not stopping McKay from being there. The other man is stretching out his arms, head tilted to one side, bright eyes watching John. John clears his throat, "Colonel," and steps off the treadmill, stabbing at the off button with a viciousness that the machine probably doesn't deserve.
McKay nods in greeting, twisting his torso from side to side and rolling his shoulders. McKay says, "I heard what happened. Not your fault." There's no pity or carefully measured emotions in the words. They're spoken like plain fact, but John bristles anyway, hands falling away from the towel around his neck and settling on his hips as he watches McKay move through the rest of his stretches.
John finds his voice when the other man straightens, shaking his arms out and turning his gaze to the free weights. John says, "You weren't there," and thinks he manages to keep his tone somewhere below openly belligerent.
McKay shrugs, moving right ahead with his workout, "You aren't the first person to lose a man in the field."
"Don't talk to me about loss." The words are out before John can stop them, too low and thick, sharp and bitter. He's taken a step forward, anger searing at the edges of his nerves. No one here knows what he's lost, an entire life snatched away because some aliens decided to fuck things up for them. "You have no idea what—"
Something in McKay's expression shifts, just for a moment, naked pain and torment. John's words cut themselves off with the realization that it's the first time in the three months he's been on the base that he's seen McKay look anything but friendly and professional. McKay wipes the emotion away almost immediately, but some of it slips through in his voice, right beside the dismissal, "Maybe you should talk to Dietrich. I hear he's good at helping people through this kind of thing."
And John tells himself to let it drop, but this bothers McKay, somewhere inside the other man's almost unflappable mask. This hurts McKay, and John needs to hurt someone. He leans just a little towards McKay, turns one side of his mouth up and says, "Did he help you?"
McKay doesn't flinch, matches John's smile with one that might be just as hollow, "Thank you for your concern." And the tone is so blandly, perfectly, friendly that John steps back. That's the tone McKay uses when he talks to General Landry and John feels sick and angry with himself because he doesn't want to be on that level.
John turns on his heel and leaves.
The forest that had been so peaceful when John and his team stepped through the 'gate two days ago is all explosions of noise and light now. Everything is burning and between the fire and scent of blood John can't smell the tree sap anymore. The smoke is obscuring the sky, and for just a moment John might be back in the Pegasus, under attack by the Wraith or Genii.
McKay shatters the illusion, gripping John's shoulder with one broad hand and yelling into his ear to be heard over the concussive blasts around them, "Take the teams back to the 'gate! Go overland, you don't have a lot of time if I can't get this turned off."
John stares blankly across at the other man for a moment, trying to make sense of the orders and then Jackson is there, shoving her way between John and McKay, shouting back, "We've got Frankfort stable, Teal'c and what's-his-name—Mitchum?—are going to carry him. Let's go."
John watches Jackson and McKay just stare at each other, seconds roaring by like freight trains before Jackson draws back like she's been struck. She's saying, "No. It's not worth it, and you know it. We have to go. McKay, you can't stop it."
There's another jag of pain across McKay's features before his mouth is twisting up, a wild smile that looks like it might be genuine. McKay pats her shoulder, yells, "Take care of the kids for me," and then he's turning, sprinting back through the splintering trees towards the malfunctioning Goa'uld machine that is raining fire and brimstone down on this world.
Jackson stares after him for a moment and John is sure that she's going to go after McKay. Then she rallies, expression settling into something calm and even, turning on her heel and yelling orders that the Marines down below follow without hesitation.
John hesitates for just a moment, watching McKay disappear from view and wondering if he's feeling jealous or relieved that he isn't the one that's expected to throw himself in front of every train in this galaxy. Richardson appears at John's elbow, blood running down his temple, the wound reopened, and yells, "Sir? SG-1 is leaving, sir."
John nods, sharp, turns and follows three members of SG-1 back to the 'gate. He misses not being called 'sir' by anyone on his team, and reminds himself that Richardson isn't a bad kid, that Frankfort is just a little clumsy, that Havez is really remarkably clever—just not as clever as John is used to.
John never thought that he'd miss dealing with Kavanagh's utter bullshit, but legging it back to the 'gate as the world explodes around them, he does.
John isn't there when McKay comes back through the 'gate. He hears second hand from Walter that SG-1 was joking and laughing within seconds, the golden children under the mountain hitting their quota for impossible survival for the day.
John is in the infirmary when McKay limps in hours later. John had been checking on Frankfort, the kid out cold from the pain killers, the burns all bandaged. John misses Ronon and Teyla, who shrugged off injuries like they were nothing. He even misses Kavanagh, who bitched at even the thought of physical discomfort but was blessed with one of the most active self-preservation mechanisms that John had ever seen. In Atlantis, John had been the team member that ended up in the infirmary after missions. He'd liked it that way.
Frankfort is drooling a little and John wipes it away, taking a deep breath and straightening out of his chair. From the other side of the curtain there is McKay's voice, "Got a minute?" For a half-second John thinks the man is talking to him, wondering how McKay could even know he was there.
And then the on duty nurse is sighing, "Up on the table. Let me see what you've done now." There's exasperation in her voice and John peeks his head around the curtain, not really trying to be nosy, just tired and curious. McKay is already up on one of the exam tables, pulling his black shirt over his head, hissing at the movement.
McKay's left side is purpled with bruises, outlined in red over his ribs. The nurse makes a tutting sound, shaking her head and saying, "You're supposed to come here first when you're hurt. You should know that by now."
McKay sighs, letting the nurse push him around, his eyes closed, exhaustion written in the lines of his shoulders. McKay says, tone soft and distracted, "Vala wanted to show me something. And Danielle was mad at me, so I had to go let her ignore me for a few hours."
The nurse hums, pokes at McKay's side and gets a harsh exhale from the man for her trouble. John tells himself to clear his throat or make for the door or something, but doesn't quite manage it. This is the first time he's seen McKay act human. It's too fascinating to pass up.
The nurse says, after a long moment, "You gave us quite a scare."
McKay snorts, but there's no viciousness in the sound, just exhaustion. Even his words sound tired, the vowels thicker than they usually are, the outlines of an accent that John can't quite make out, "I'm getting too old for this."
The nurse answers immediately, her words sharp, almost startled, "No you aren't." There's a pause. John watches McKay open his eyes, stare up at the ceiling, some complicated emotion playing across his face when the nurse isn't looking, when no one is supposed to see. John is getting the feeling that's the only time McKay allows himself emotion at all.
McKay says, "Just kidding, May," and even smiles at the end of the words. The nurse smiles back and John wonders if she can't see the lie or if she's just ignoring it. John steps back, sits beside Frankfort, a line of drool now stretching down to the kid's pillow, and turns the enigma of Rodney McKay over in his head.
John didn't really mean to get drunk, and he's really not. He's just a little tipsy. And that's understandable. Five month anniversary since he lost the one home that ever meant a damn thing to him and he's pretty sure that if that isn't an opportunity to get a little shit-faced then nothing is. He hadn't meant to get drunk enough to end up sick in the parking lot, sure that he was turning into a bug. He hadn't meant to tell the people trying to get in touch with his friends to call Colonel McKay, but Teyla, Ronon, Kavanagh, Elizabeth and Carson were all out of reach.
McKay shows up in worn out blue jeans and a flannel shirt. The man looks tired, as near as John can tell, dark circles under his big eyes when he kneels in front of John in the gravel parking lot. John blinks up at him, and tells him, "I don't belong here."
McKay sighs—John thinks he sighs—and reaches out, grabbing John's arms and pulling him up. The world is tilting alarmingly and John's stomach thinks about emptying itself again for a second before deciding to save the idea for later. McKay is warm and solid against his side, a big hand around John's wrist, a strong arm around his waist.
Turns out McKay drives a beat up pick-up that has to be below his pay grade. There's a step up to the door that John isn't sure he's going to be able to manage and McKay pushes and shoves him into the cab. John slumps against the seat, feeling out of place in his own skin, too hot and too big for this world.
McKay turns the truck on and the radio off and waits until he's pulling out of the parking lot to ask, "Where do you live?"
John laughs, too loud in the small cab. Between one laugh and the next it becomes hiccups and John can almost feel the tears, lured to the surface by the vodka—God, he didn't even drink vodka before Atlantis, before Zelenka had started making it. John squeezes his jaw shut, digging the heels of his hands into his eyes.
McKay sighs again, says, "Okay. Okay. Fine." And John doesn't ask what that means, just lets the truck rock him back and forth, drifting behind his closed eyes. When the truck stops John jerks, expecting to see the mountain in front of them, but they're in front of a rancher instead, the headlights of McKay's truck reflecting off white siding.
John is still blinking dazedly at the house when his door swings open and McKay says, "Come on," and pulls on him. John lets himself be manhandled out of the truck, lets McKay haul him up to the front door and into the cool foyer of the house.
The parts of the house that John sees look nice enough. There's a long hallway with no pictures and closed doors lining it. The bathroom is where they end up, McKay flicking on the lights in the room just as John's stomach lurches. John has time to think about lucky timing and then his stomach is seizing and McKay is saying, "There you go, sh, there you go," and keeping an arm around John's chest as he gets sick in the man's toilet.
Vodka tastes even worse going the other way.
When John is done McKay flushes the toilet, leaves John slumped on the floor and disappears from the room. John leans against the wall, feeling disjointed but still vaguely certain that the ceiling is not actually rotating. McKay reappears with a glass of water, holds it to John's lips and says, "Rinse and spit."
John spits over his shirt and McKay snorts. John stares down at himself, trying to remember why he thought this was a good idea and his stomach jerks in an attempt to force itself right out of his body. McKay just lifts and moves him towards the toilet. John dry heaves until he's shaky and dizzy and McKay says, "Sh, sh, get it all out," right before John passes out.
John wakes up on the bathroom floor, tangled in a blanket and feeling marginally more human. The inside of his mouth tastes like ass, his head feels like it got sat on by an elephant, and for a long moment he has no idea where he is. It all comes back in a rush and John curses, thinks about bashing his head into the floor and vetoes the idea because it would hurt like hell.
There's a nightlight on above the sink and the door is closed, but outside it John can hear activity in the house. He leverages himself up off the floor, blinking down at the ill-used toilet and wondering how there can possibly be anything in his bladder after how sick he was.
His mouth doesn't feel any better and there's a brand new toothbrush—still in a box and everything—on the sink so John tears it open and manages to clumsily smear toothpaste over most of it before getting it into his mouth. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat, and the worst of the feeling that something crawled down his throat and died is gone.
John is sticky with dried sweat, and God knows what else. There's a pair of sweatpants and what might be a t-shirt folded by the hamper on top of a towel. John wonders how much experience McKay has taking care of random drunk people and dares to flip the main light on.
His eyes burn but it isn't crippling. John still gives himself a moment to adjust before struggling out of his shirt and pants, wondering distantly where his boots went. McKay's shower is almost too complicated for his hung-over mind to operate, but he manages it after a moment.
Scalding hot water feels good over his shoulders and down his back and for a long time John just stands under the spray, watching it swirl down the drain. There's a bar of soap and a bottle of generic shampoo and John scrubs until his skin feels raw and then lets the water beat down on him some more.
By the time he pulls himself into the clothes McKay left out for him he feels alive again, enough to dread having to step out of the bathroom. He does it anyway, because John is a lot of things but never a coward, and if there's a mission out there that's likely to end badly then he's the man to do it.
John finds McKay in the living room, sitting on the floor in the middle of a sheet, a rifle in his lap, cleaning it carefully. For a moment John just leans against the wall, watching the other man carefully disassemble the gun, focused on what he's doing to the exclusion of everything else. And then McKay says, "There's coffee in the kitchen. No orange juice. Bread and crackers are in the cupboard above the microwave."
John jerks, feeling his face warm from being caught watching the other man. McKay still hasn't looked up, and doesn't seem inclined to, so John makes his way across the room to where the kitchen might be and pokes around. There's no creamer to be found in the fridge, so he makes due with milk in the coffee, smears cream cheese over two pieces of bread and wobbles back out to the living room with his bounty.
McKay's couch is big and leather and has a bright red throw over the back. John sits on the floor, folds his legs up and takes a long drink of the coffee. He watches McKay work with the gun, the movements smooth from long years of practice. John says, when the silence has stretched too long, "Nice piece."
"It was my grandfather's." McKay flinches at the end of the words, like he hadn't meant to speak them, his hands momentarily going still.
John had expected the other man to be different off base, more relaxed, more human, more something. But he's still wearing a mask that John can't see behind, his expression neutral and friendly and utterly fake. John says, "Was he a hunter?"
McKay looks up, eyes scanning John's face and then he cocks his head to the side, smiling with half an eye-roll when he says, "Sometimes." It's so obviously fabricated that John shivers, because the act is disturbingly flawless. He wonders if McKay even realizes he's doing it.
John changes the subject, uncomfortable with McKay's carefully constructed answer, "Sorry about last night."
That gets a shrug, another smile, "It's no problem. Feeling better?" John wonders if any of the concern is genuine. He wonders if McKay even knows, or if he's been playing the part for so long that it's become second nature.
John says, when McKay just watches him patiently, "No. No, I'm not." McKay's brows furrow, mouth turning down, emphasizing the crooked slant of his lips. McKay sets the barrel of the gun aside like it's something fragile, wiping the gun oil off his hands with a rag and waiting. John narrows his eyes, "Why'd you come and get me?"
McKay stares at him, scanning John's expression, peeling back layers and John sucks in a breath because he's not sure that's what he wanted. And then McKay smirks, shifting back, leaning on his hands and drawing one knee up. McKay says, "You called," knowing and calm. Friendly.
John feels a flare of heat. He's not sure if it's anger or want or some combination of both. He wants to wipe the mask off McKay's face, get him as unbalanced as John feels. "And you came and got me just because I wanted you to?"
McKay shrugs, the sheet is twisted up under his feet, very white against the hardwood floor. John is distracted when the man answers, simply, "Yes."
"Always do what people want you to?" And yes, there, a flash of emotion behind McKay's eyes. It's gone before John can pinpoint exactly what it is, anger or fear, maybe sadness. And then, to John's surprise, the man relaxes even more, sprawl going from open to inviting. For the first time John wonders how much of himself he's showing.
McKay says, "Got me dead to rights," a hint of a tease in the words and John wonders if that's make believe, too. He hates that McKay is playing him, is reading him so easily and playing to John's desires. He hates that he got drunk and called McKay. And he hates that he wants this anyway, even knowing how fucked up it is.
John sets the coffee cup down, shifts up to his knees and moves forward, until he's looming over McKay. John isn't touching him, breathing hard anyway, angry and scared and alone in a world he doesn't belong in anymore. John growls, "I want you to fuck me."
He expects some big response to that, but McKay just says, "I know," and waits. John thinks, hung over and displaced, that this is wrong. That McKay probably doesn't know how to say no, that the other man is a real person, hidden somewhere behind the smoke and mirrors of his façade. This is wrong and fucked up.
John wraps his hands around the back of McKay's head and kisses him, hard and rough, catching the other man's bottom lip between his teeth, feeling the burst of blood in his mouth. McKay is still beneath him, and John pulls back just far enough to whisper, "Please," against his mouth, and there's not even a part of him that thinks McKay is capable of turning someone else's wants aside.
He's not disappointed. McKay's hands are all over him, McKay flipping them smoothly, putting John's back on the hardwood and taking his mouth in a bruising kiss. Somewhere between McKay's mouth on his cock and McKay's fingers up his ass John forgets about missing Atlantis long enough to hate himself for doing this.
Afterwards McKay pulls out of him immediately, tying off a condom that John doesn't even remember him putting on and turning his back to John. He has broad shoulders, the pale skin is blemished by scars and by the bites and scratches John left behind.
McKay says, "Get out," voice blank and distant and John struggles to his feet, sore and aching. He manages to get to the bathroom and to get his clothes back on in a haze. When he walks back into the living room McKay is still sitting in the middle of the floor and John hesitates for just a moment, watching the unnatural stillness of the other man.
It's a three mile walk back to town.
John barely believes it when they hear from Atlantis again, when the calls come in that the Replicators are coming, that they're going to lose the city. And he doesn't even have to ask, looking at Elizabeth, Carson, and even fucking Kavanagh, that they'll do whatever they have to do to get back.
The plan comes together perfectly except that they can't get the 'gate open, no matter how hard Kavanagh tries and John hesitates for just a second, staring down at his boots. He wonders how much of a bastard he really is, and the answer is enough.
John hasn't spoken to McKay for a month, but the other man doesn't look surprised when John finds him in his office. John shuts the door, steps around McKay's desk and hesitates, not sure how to ask for what he wants, how to explain what he has to do.
McKay watches him for a long moment and then sighs, turning to his computer and dancing his fingers over the keyboard. John listens to the music the keys make, watching McKay's fingers so he doesn't have to look at the other man's face.
McKay pushes back from the desk when he's done, says, "Good luck." And John wonders if there's any truth in it at all. He wants to believe that there is, because the sincerity of it is pitch perfect. But he knows how well McKay lies.
John keeps staring at McKay's hands, hands that pressed bruises into his skin, hands that held him down. Hands that rubbed his back when he was ill. Turning for the door is self defense, but John finds himself hesitating in the threshold, turning just enough to see McKay as a blur out of the corner of his eye. He says, "I'm sorry."
McKay says nothing for a long moment, and John winces because he deserves that. He deserves scorn and distaste, and forgiveness doesn't come into play here, no matter how badly he wants it to. McKay clears his throat, says with just the right inflection, "It's okay."
And John would believe it, except that he knows McKay well enough to know that's what he'd say in any case.
Ronon says, "Kavanagh thinks they're going to put him in charge." The big man sounds amused and John snorts into his hand. There are a lot of options on the table for the IOA to choose from for the next expedition leader, but John can't see Kavanagh being particularly high on the list. Then again, John doesn't see himself being very high either. They're not exactly what the big wigs are looking for, and he knows it.
Zelenka falls into step with them as they make their way up the stairs to the command center. The scientist is smoothing his hair down, smiling brightly at John's raised eyebrow and explaining, "Rumor among the anthropologists is that it will be Doctor Jackson." Zelenka mimes swooning and Ronon laughs, the sound mingling with the Czech that Zelenka starts spouting.
And then they're in the control room and John is bracing himself for the transmission. McKay had been nothing but professional over the last few weeks, during the rescue and after. That doesn't do much to ease John's guilt, the anger with himself for being weak enough to do what he did. In a way, it makes it worse, which he supposes he deserves.
Kavanagh bustles in just as the transmission comes up and John manages to avoid most of the introductions by pretending to be irritated with the scientist. But then there's nothing for it but focusing on McKay, his blue eyes and crooked smile—friendly and easy.
John is staring mutely and Kavanagh shoulders him aside, shoving his glasses higher on his nose and biting out, "I hear congratulations are in order. What was the IOA thinking, exactly, sending you here anyway? I've already lodged a formal complaint."
John stares across at Kavanagh, not surprised by the other man's abrupt manner, but completely floored by what he's saying. Before John can make it make sense McKay is saying, "I'm looking forward to working with you, too."
John doesn't budge until the transmission is over and Ronon nudges him in the ribs, not sure how he's supposed to deal with this.
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