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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-05 11:41 am
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Angles Thus And So, 4/4

There's always a lot of work to be done on Atlantis, even in-between bouts of oh god we're all going to die. It's hard to find time, or at any rate to find more time. They've always eaten together, after all, and the only thing different now is that Rodney's aware when John wishes they were eating alone. Also, sometimes the way John grins at him is so unsubtle it makes him want to shoot himself because how did he not notice this when John Sheppard is absurdly obvious when he wants somethi -- someone?

He worries that nothing is happening, neither of them are doing anything, and then he sits back and readjusts himself mentally. They've always spent most of their waking hours together when one or both of them isn't fixing a crisis, after all. How much more time could they possibly get?

Until John suggests a night-flight in the Jumper, which means movies, except apparently in this case it means putting on a movie and then making out in the pilot's chair for most of it. Not because they've almost died or are celebrating something, but just because they can. It isn't even exactly intense -- kissing, and okay a little bit of thrusting and hands touching the surprisingly intimate skin of shoulders and chests, but John seems to be waiting and Rodney isn't sure he can make the first move because then maybe it would be what he had with Elizabeth.

Or worse, what he had with Katie, because Katie was nice but unimaginative about everything, up to and including sex.

So he hesitates, and John hesitates with him, and when they land John straightens his shirt and says, "Patient," to him, and he smiles and nods and if anyone was in the Jumper bay they would have no illusions about the way the Colonel and the Chief of Science are grinning at each other.

And then they blow up Midway space station.

True, it was to prevent the Wraith making it to Earth, and probably (probably) Earth is okay. But they are not, because they just blew up Midway and now they're stuck in a Jumper until the Daedalus happens to find them.

Actually, Kavanaugh just blew up Midway, but Rodney's trying not to think about that, because John locked himself in the cockpit alone, leaving Rodney to the tender mercies of the Idiots, and if he kills Kavanaugh now the body will start to smell before they're rescued.

"Rodney, don't say anything."

Rodney starts a little at the voice in his ear -- why he's still wearing his radio is anyone's guess, other than the fact that it's force of habit.

"This is a secure channel, so they can't hear me. Don't talk, don't make sly little coughing noises, just listen."

You son of a bitch, you locked me up in here with Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh, Sheppard.

"I may be a little lacking in self-control, but I promise I wouldn't really have shot anyone except maybe myself. Sometimes a man needs his quiet, you know?"

Oh, I know, you bastard, and you know how I know? Because I haven't HAD ANY.

"And I'm very sorry, but it had to be done. Now. I'm sure you're going crazy in there -- "

YOU'RE FUCKING RIGHT I'M GOING CRAZY --

" -- but I'm going a little crazy in here myself," Sheppard continues, and his voice drops a little. Oh. Okay. "So I'm gonna get you out of there, like I always haul your ass out of trouble, but it's gonna take some time."

You always -- excuse me? I have saved your life at least as many times as you've saved mine.

"You're gonna wait until everyone back there is asleep, and then I want you to tap your radio twice. I'll hear the static. Think you can stay awake?"

I'm sorry, were you unaware that sleep deprivation is a hobby of mine?

"I'm not fucking around, Rodney, if you make a sound I will leave you out there until your brain dribbles out through your ears. You know what I have in here? I have spaghetti MREs."

Oh god, I'm sorry I called you a bastard, John, I really am.

"Now," Sheppard continues, and it sounds like he's relaxing. "To help you stay awake, 'cause I'm guessing at least someone's falling asleep back there -- "

Kavanaugh snores like a buzz-saw. And I didn't ever feel the need to learn that.

" -- I am going to read you a story. You ready, Rodney?"

A...what?

"Chapter nineteen." John clears his throat. "When he returned to Moscow Pierre was handed a letter from Marya Dmitrievna asking him to come and see her on a matter of great importance relating to Andrew Bolkonski and his betrothed."

Rodney huffs air into the mic. Where the hell did you get War And Peace?

"I gave up on the paper copy of War and Peace, I put it on a flashdrive. I keep it in my vest. I'm hoping to get one of those Kipling things going, you know, shot in a fatal kind of way but the book stops the bullet from piercing my skin. Only in this case it'll be a titanium flash drive. Sucks the romance out, but there you have it," John says, as if he heard him, and continues. "Pierre had been avoiding Natasha because it seemed to him that his feeling for her was stronger than a married man's should be for his friend's fiancee. Yet some fate constantly threw them together..."

Rodney hears enough in the next few hours to determine that this Pierre guy is a boring moron being led around by his dick before he realises that the others are asleep. He taps his radio twice, and after a second the doors hiss open.

Before he can even stand up he's being grabbed by his shirt and hauled inside, and the doors hiss shut again.

"My patience ran out," John says.

It's not suave or particularly graceful when John pins him against the console dividing pilot and co-pilot seats and shoves his tongue in his mouth, but Rodney can work with this, especially if it means he never has to hear about Pierre again.

***

John hasn't actually been reading War and Peace. He carries it around with him now because pilots are superstitious and it's kind of like a talisman. He wasn't kidding about the Kipling thing. You just never know.

Mostly these days he opens the book (or the file) to a random place and starts reading. He figures if he spends enough time doing that he'll get the overall gist of the book. And it makes for entertaining torment of anyone who's prisoner to his radio.

Rodney's hands slip down his arms for a moment until he finds purchase, knotting fingers in fabric, not actually able to move all that much. That's okay. John doesn't need for him to move, just keep his nice mouth open and let John do all the work. Because, one, he's tired of letting Rodney make the calls; two, they've just almost died and whatever else he might say, to judge by his scorecard this tends to make Rodney easy; three, he's spent the last few hours after he threw everyone out of the cockpit bored out of his mind and aware that on the other side of the door was all the entertainment he'd need until the Daedalus showed up.

I've never even had sex in an airplane, he thinks (and with good reason, airplanes are serious business). Now I'm going to fuck in space.

Cool.

Rodney makes a little hitching noise and sidesteps, still kissing him as he backs toward the copilot's chair. Oh, good idea -- oh, bad idea, backing into furniture. He catches Rodney's arm, hauling him upright, his other hand twirling the chair effortlessly so that this time when Rodney falls down he'll just fall into the seat anyway.

He's not sure if Rodney's always this pushy when he's not startled out of his wits or if it's just the whole almost-dying-again thing, but it takes them a few seconds of close-quarters shoving and overbalancing for him to get Rodney where he wants him, in the chair, so that he can straddle him properly and get enough leverage to really control the kiss.

"You locked me out," Rodney says, although apparently he's not going to hold a grudge.

"Sorry," he says breathlessly, adjusting to the feeling of Rodney's hand in the small of his back, holding him steady. "I let you back in."

"I'd really like some reassurance that this isn't about us almost dying, because once again, been there -- "

"It's not about almost dying, Rodney," John says, pulling back to make eye contact. "I just decided not to be patient anymore."

Rodney gives him a narrow look, like he's perfectly aware John's ulterior motive for this is sex in a Puddlejumper, so John kisses him again and slides a hand down to his belt buckle, flicking it open (yes, he's good at getting bras off too, a multi-talented man). Rodney's head tips back and his eyes go wide and a little glassy.

There isn't much you can do with a chair and limited room to move, not to mention no change of clothes and the knowledge that the Daedalus crews will be cleaning this afterwards. Still, Rodney McKay is a genius and John Sheppard is nothing if not innovative. Especially with his mouth around Rodney's cock and one of Rodney's clever, clever hands in his hair, the other cupping his jaw. If he looks up he can see Rodney looking back at him, adam's apple bobbing as he swallows, breathing hard to keep from moaning and that runs a shudder down his own spine, spiking with pleasure.

He fumbles his trousers open without looking because he wants to keep looking up since this is actually happening and if this is what Elizabeth saw every time they were together, Jesus God, no wonder, it makes utter sense for anyone in their right mind to want to sleep with Rodney.

But he's not thinking about Elizabeth, not really, not while he has his hand down his pants and Rodney's almost choking as he tries not to make a sound loud enough to be heard through the door. Rodney's fingers twist in his hair and he's trying to push him back but, honestly, that's just not going to happen.

"John -- " there would be a question mark if Rodney were that coherent but he's talking too fast, low-voiced, "John -- ohgodJohn -- "

Rodney is not going to forgive him for coming all over the floor of the Jumper, but Rodney looks a little too stupid from sex to care, chest moving slowly, fingers still stroking John's scalp.

"Well," John says, trying to be suave while doing up his pants, never an easy task. "That was -- "

"Was?" Rodney asks faintly, opening his eyes. "I didn't even get to -- "

John leans over the chair, kissed him again swiftly, and then collapses into the pilot's seat.

"Consider it blackmail for next time," he says, closing his eyes. "Hungry?"

He opens one eye to find Rodney looking at him as if he's seeing the face of God. Grinning, he tosses an MRE pack across the console.

They eat quietly, the smell of the chemical heating units and prefab military rations scrubbed away every few minutes by the air filters, working overtime because you're not really supposed to use those in an enclosed space. Rodney swaps him bread-and-cheese for crackers with peanut butter, eats the cocoa-powder drink mix straight from the envelope, and looks longingly at the little packet of instant coffee.

"Okay, I'm all right with you losing your patience," he remarks, and John nods, already half-asleep. He's just barely conscious enough to hear Rodney tap a command into the console, then the door slide open and shut again quickly. Well, that makes sense; two men alone in the front of a Jumper is a little suspicious, way more so than half a dozen in the back.

He rummages in his pockets for his fold-away headphones, fingers dull-nerved from fatigue, and then catches the cord on his radio. After a thoughtful second, he taps the comm.

"It's not about almost dying," he says, one last time, and then takes his radio off and puts his headphones on and sleeps.

***

The first thing they do when they're safely onboard the Daedalus is shower. Five minutes each, water lukewarm; it's at a premium in an enclosed community with limited resources. It's enough to rinse off the sweat and get almost all the shampoo out of John's hair before it shuts off; typical. He wrings water through his hair and wipes the suds on a towel, annoyed.

"Here's the thing," says a voice outside the shower cubicle, and John immediately reaches for the thigh-holstered gun that isn't there.

He peers out and finds McKay on one of the four bunks in the room, staring at the bunk above him.

"Where's the thing?" he asks, confused, wrapping the towel around his waist and grabbing another one for his still-slightly-sudsy hair.

"You know how I told you about building a nonfunctional atomic bomb in the sixth grade?"

John sighs and sits on the bunk, toweling his hair.

"The thing is, it wasn't that I built the A-bomb, even one that intentionally didn't work. It's just not that hard. The reason they actually came after me for it -- " and, in Rodney's aggrieved tone, John can see adolescent Mer McKay vibrating with rage as he tries to shout down a roomful of Americans with guns, " -- was because I built a better A-bomb."

He stops towelling. "What?"

"I built a better bomb," Rodney says, but his grin isn't the wide triumphant one, it's the regretful one. "Lighter, more powerful, more focused. That's what got me in trouble."

"O-kay," John says slowly.

"I left out the part that makes this story relevant, didn't I."

"Kinda, yeah. Unless this is your way of threatening to bomb me if I snore tonight." John pulls a pair of underwear on under the towel, then tosses it aside and reaches for the clean clothing at the foot of the bunk opposite Rodney's.

"I was just thinking it's nice not to be the one who blew something up this time."

They lock eyes; they grin wide. "Kavanaugh."

"He's going to be so busted," Rodney says happily.

John wants to touch him -- has wanted to for a long time -- and now he can, except that they're in a four-bunk room on the Daedalus, which has no locking doors. So he lies back and rests a hand on his stomach instead and settles for next-best: baiting.

"It's not funny, really," he says, over Rodney's chuckles. "Midway's gone, and Kavanaugh's a good tech, you know, and he really believes in..."

He can't finish, especially with Rodney propped on one elbow, looking ready to verbally flay him. He points and covers his face and laughs.

"...best of intentions..." Rodney manages, around his own laughter.

"He'll grow out of it."

"Valuable training, years of experience with SGC -- "

"Didn't mean to blow up a space station!" John finishes, and they laugh until they're sick, until the Daedalus crewmates they're sharing the room with step inside and look at them like they're nuts. Crazy Atlantis guys, they're all alike.

He should feel more sympathy, he supposes; he knows what it's like to fuck up your career because of one wrong impulse. But Rodney's laughing and Earth is safe and they're alive. That's all that matters. Besides, blowing up Midway did stop a potential invasion, so they probably won't actually fire Kavanaugh outright.

As days go by onboad the Daedalus it never really stops, the sense that everyone views them as The Atlantis Guys. For the crew, Atlantis is just a place they have to go before they can go back to Earth. As much as John's throat tightens and his adrenaline pumps at the idea of Earth in danger, Atlantis is their home now, so for them they're going home.

Rodney putters with the Daedalus engineering crew and bickers unsuccessfully with Hermiod a lot of the time; John runs laps of the ship or dawdles around, just talking to people. He hasn't got much -- they made it out with their firearms and the clothes on their backs -- but he barters lessons on the shooting range (a ship with a shooting range and they can't get hot showers?) or the mystical arts of moonshine brewing (fruit juice, yeast, sugar, a two-litre jug, a surgical glove, and patience) for Sudoku books and other diversions. But most of their downtime is spent together, and naturally they turn to the best game, called When We Get Home.

At first they try to best each other with what they're going to do when they get home, but that only works for so long, because their ideas of leisure, shock of the century, are radically different.

"When we get home," Rodney says, around a mouthful of horrible mess-hall glop, "I'm going to take a really hot shower."

"Swimming," John answers, thinking of the saltwater lagoons with Atlantis cocooning him. "Swimming, then a hot shower."

"You can swim if you want, Colonel Bacterial Infection. Hot shower, and then hours and hours asleep with nobody else snoring in the room."

"Swimming, hot shower, hours of sleep, real food," John replies. "Athosian food. Those little gourd things."

"Hot shower, hours of sleep, and a muffin," Rodney's eyes glass over. "And then cleaning the lab."

"Swimming, hot shower, hours of sleep, real food, and that balcony on the east side of the tower. Sunbathing," John replies.

"Cancer!"

"Warm sun," John counters. "No fluorescent lighting."

"You are going to have so many melanomas. Hot shower, hours of sleep, a muffin, cleaning the lab, and then my DVD collection."

"Ooh, DVDs," John agrees.

"With beer."

John concedes defeat.

Two days away from Atlantis, they're sitting in the dark empty mess, late at night, their bodies still set to a twenty-eight hour day, and Rodney starts it up again.

"When I get home," he says, "I'm going to go get Teyla to give me some of those really good blankets she bought on that one planet, the one with the short people, and I'm going to crawl under all of them and listen to the Goldberg Variations until I fall asleep."

"Blankets, Goldberg Variations, and a Twix bar," John volleys back. "I have a stash."

"Blankets, Goldberg Variations, a Twix bar, and totally naked," Rodney says. "Because there will be absolutely no Daedalus crewmen in my room."

"Blankets, Goldberg Variations, a Twix bar, totally naked, with the windows open."

It's a clever move; there aren't many places you can go from being holed up in bed with music and chocolate.

"Blankets, Goldberg Variations, totally naked, windows open, in the middle of the day."

A palpable hit, except he forgot the Twix bar, so technically a default.

"Blankets, Goldberg Variations, totally naked, windows open, in the middle of the day, with my comm turned off."

Rodney narrows his eyes, and John is suddenly very nervous.

"Blankets," he says, touching his left index finger with his thumb. John watches, swallowing, as he slides the pad of his thumb down his finger a little before shifting to the next one. "Totally naked."

Two defaults!

"Windows open," ring finger, "In the middle of the day," little finger, "comm turned off," right thumb held up, "because I'm in your bed."

John chokes. Rodney looks triumphant, and really, he's defaulted like five times now, so he is not about to let Rodney win this.

"In my bed with me," he returns the serve, and Rodney backhands it.

"In your bed, with you, sucking right...there," and his eyes flick down to just below John's shoulder, where the tendon of his throat meets his clavicle.

John tries not to grip the table or lean in because they are, after all, in a reasonably public place.

"In my bed with me sucking right here," he says, pretending to idly scratch the spot, words coming out in a rush, "while I jerk you off."

Rodney exhales with a huff, the end of the breath catching in his chest, and John feels victory on the horizon.

"In your bed with you sucking right there while you jerk me off because you've already come," he answers.

John licks his lips, but that's it; his mind is blank except for that image, and he can't breathe, and Rodney's eyes light with triumph.

Rodney always fucking wins this game, it's really just not even fair.

"Goodnight, Colonel," he says, and saunters away from the table. John has to take a handful of deep breaths and think about how cold and annoying his little bunk in the crew quarters is before he can stand.

***

What actually happens is this:

They disembark and Radek needs Rodney now now now for some emergency in the lab, and Lorne has umpteen thousand reports for John and drags him off to his office. When he finally manages to make a break for it while Lorne is fetching still more reports, John bolts for the pier, transports as far as he can towards the end of it, strips off his clothes and dives into the cool, salty water in one of the artificial lagoons. He spends an hour half-swimming, half-floating, before he dresses damply and slinks back to his quarters. He strips again and falls on his bed, still salty from the water, and spirals down into sleep effortlessly.

He wakes, only briefly, to the sound of his door opening and a solid whump on his bed as Rodney collapses, half-on-top of him, and something soft and woolly covers his shoulders. One of Teyla's good blankets, he thinks. And Rodney really can't mind the ocean water too much, because he nuzzles his head close to John's throat and licks the spot where tendon meets clavicle.

"Mfrr?" John asks intelligently.

"I had a muffin," Rodney replies, apparently interpreting it as have you eaten yet?

John falls asleep again to the feel of warm breath on his skin.

***

Snapshot:

The sun is shining through the open window, salt air warm and heavy in the room. A rumpled blanket on the floor next to the bed, its warmth not necessary any longer, the topsheet kicked aside next to it. Light gilds everything, the way sunset sometimes does, adding orange and gold hints to each surface and plane. Not only the clothing and the blankets on the floor, but the slow-moving bodies on the bed, gold highlighting a dark and messy head of hair fitted comfortably against a shoulder, lips busy with the delicate skin behind the ear.

They move deliberately, entirely unhurried for all their earlier talk of impatience and desperation; kisses along skin, lazy hands guided by half-asleep brains, soft breathing. Later there may be panic and fear but they can face that then; now there is only the brush of skin against skin and the slow roll of hips together, the taste of salt on skin.

"I'm going to catch so many diseases, you should have showered," Rodney says against his throat, and John bursts out laughing and gasps and comes.

It isn't comfort for the sake of comfort. It's much more than that.

***

John finds, to his surprise, that he has thoughts while he's in stasis.

He drifts, ideas crossing his mind with glacial slowness. He spends a handful of years surprised that he is capable of conscious thought, and half a century wondering what Elizabeth thought about while she was in stasis. The other Elizabeth.

But across the years he naturally circles around the stories Rodney -- hologram Rodney -- has told him. The mass of time is spent in horror at what he's heard about the way his friends, his family, have died. None of them without purpose, none of them without taking some of those bastards along for the ride, but dead nonetheless. All but Rodney. Which is more horrifying in a way, that Rodney lived but gave up his life, gave up his passion, gave up Pegasus.

Even so, Rodney had a handful of years with Keller and it sounds like they were good years; he had three good ones with Elizabeth too, whatever they were to each other, John hasn't inquired too closely. And -- well, they've been friends for four years, that has to count for something against the bare handful of months they've had anything more.

-- clever hands on his hips, clever mouth on his skin, the bump of each vertebra under his fingers, relived over decades --

And there will be more of the more, because he's not going to let all this happen. He's going home; he's going to save Teyla; Jennifer Keller's going to have to find someone else to die miserably on -- except he won't let that happen either because even though hot jealousy fired through him at the mention of Rodney and Keller, she's still one of his and he doesn't let his people go down without a fight.

He's going to save the galaxy, because that's his goddamn job.

When he comes bolting out of the Stargate, back into his own gateroom, the first thing he feels is cool relief, oh god, the air is clean and cold and so good. He hadn't realised how hazy his thoughts had been, reactions sluggish, skin prickling and crawling from the heat.

Rodney is there, too, handsome and young, hand refreshingly cold on his arm as he drags him to the infirmary under guard. His hair sticks up straight from his head like a hedgehog and his skin is clear and smooth and John wants to touch him and also to tell him he doesn't care that he's going to get old and jowly and bushy-eyebrowed as long as he doesn't end up some sad community-college professor with a weird obsession in a grubby studio apartment somewhere.

But there's no time, and he's been told he can get kind of intense about these things. So when Rodney pointedly doesn't ask anything except, "Do I still have my hair?" he defaults to next-best again, and teases him.

"No," he says.

***

Next best is for losers and suckers who can't man up enough to take the risk and say the words.

"Whoa! Jackpot!" McKay's voice over the comm was reassuring as they explored the horror museum of a nursery Michael has built. But, well, Rodney gets excited about a lot of things.

"What've you got?" he'd asked.

"I've got everything! I've got Gate addresses, I've got sub-space communication goes, I've even got his research into the hybrids! He's history!"

John had opened his mouth to say something like Find out where Teyla is or Take your sweet time and narrate it, McKay, I've got all fucking day but then he'd heard him again, chanting.

"No, no nononono, what happened?"

"What’s that?" Lorne's voice audible over the open comm.

"Oh no," Rodney had said, and it hadn't been "Oh no, I dropped the scanner" or "Oh no, my math is wrong" but "Oh no, we're all going to die."

"Doc?" Lorne, distant and tinny.

"It's a countdown," Rodney had announced right as the building started to shake, and then Lorne had been loud and clear in his ear.

"Colonel, it's a booby trap! We've gotta get out of here, now!"

And then the world had fallen in.

Next best is for people who forget that the best thing in the world can die.

John thinks this to himself as he builds tunnels through the rubble, all those stress-equation and mechanical engineering problems on his college exams finally proving their worth. Hey kids, mathematics has real-life applications! His ribs hurt and he's pretty sure his leg is bleeding, but he can still get traction to push with his toes.

He also thinks about California as he crawls, about the earthquake. He was there for two of them, actually; he was at Stanford in '89 when Loma Prieta crashed the Bay Bridge Series and his AFROTC class mustered to help prep National Guard and organise the suddenly-homeless. He remembers that one more clearly; in '94 when Northridge hit he was already flying, and he only ever saw the damage from the air and the tarmac as he helped transport support staff and firefighters in from out of state.

The wrecked rubble of the Cypress Viaduct, all they showed on TV for like two weeks in 1989, isn't something he's forgotten.

A collapsed structure forms two levels; on top there's just chunk after chunk of debris, but underneath there are crawlspaces and even whole chambers, made by beams and columns falling just-so. There's enough room to maneuver.

"Lorne?" he tries again, every five minutes. "Ronon? Blankenship? Smith? Chavez? Kells?" and then, last because he really really really wants Rodney to answer this time, "McKay?"

"Chavez here, sir," says a voice, but it's not over his radio; John pulls it out of his ear and finds wires everywhere. Fifth radio in three months, dammit.

"Chavez! You can hear me?"

"Yessir! I've got Major Lorne. He's bleeding kinda bad."

"Can you do anything?"

"Doing it, sir."

"You seen the others?"

"They -- " there's a grunt and a creaking noise.

"Chavez, you wounded?"

"Big pylon on me, sir. I'm okay. Talking's hard. Thought I saw the rest of 'em get out."

"With Dr. McKay?"

There's a long silence.

"Nosir. I can see Dr. McKay from here. I can't get to him. He's not answering me."

John closes his eyes. "Is he closer than my voice or further away?"

"I think..." a pause. "I think he's between us, sir."

"Rodney," John calls. "Wake up, buddy, we got things to do."

He props another chunk of stone up against the roof of his makeshift tunnel and inches forward again, grabbing a thick metal bar and pulling himself along where a larger piece is too big to be propped and too low to actually hands-and-knees crawl under.

"Chavez, you still with me?"

"Yessir!"

"Stay with Lorne, I'll get to McKay."

Inch by torturous inch, propping the whole way so that nothing more caves in, he wriggles through the rubble until he hears a grunt and a crash.

"CHAVEZ?"

"Wasn't me sir!"

"MCKAY?"

There's an answering groan, and then a bark of hysterical laughter, close, close, just on the other side of one last pile of stones.

"Hey John," Rodney's voice, oh god. "Didn't I see this on Torchwood?"

Chavez laughs maniacally as well. "That you, Dr. McKay?"

"Who's that?"

"McKay, can you see Chavez?" John calls. There's silence.

"Yeah, I think so."

"You hurt?"

"No, magically the exploding building failed to impale me -- no! I'm not impaled! Just...very uncomfortable."

John begins shifting rocks, hears them shifting from the other side as well.

"Gonna get to you, Colonel -- "

"No, I'm fine, I'll get there. Get to Chavez, Lorne's hurt."

"Right! Right."

When light finally opens in front of him and he crawls through into a miraculously open space, he can see a smear of blood on the ground, leading away. He follows it, no doubt leaving his own blood behind as well, until he can see huddled figures through the dust. Chavez, sitting up, something horribly large on his legs; Lorne, draped unconscious over something large and lumpy; Rodney, hunched over Lorne, white bandages glinting in his hands.

"Where's he hurt?" he rasps, and McKay's face turns to him, relief etched all over it.

"Head wound," he says tightly. "I think he'll live."

"M'kay." John levers himself up and crouch-walks across to a huge metal structure like an oblong cage, blocking access. Rodney must have wriggled underneath it, but even as he approaches it teeters and crashes and there's a rain of sharp pointy things. John tucks himself into a ball, hands on the back of his neck, and waits for it to end.

When he looks up again, the bars are firmly wedged in place with no more room for going under or over. His people are on the other side.

"Chavez? McKay?"

Rodney's voice is oddly subdued. "Chavez is dead, I think."

"Christ. You okay?"

"I think so." Rodney's face appears through the metal bars. "You?"

"Dandy," John mutters. "Listen, he said the others probably got out, so someone's gonna come for us, okay?"

Rodney doesn't believe a word of it, but then Rodney's good at worst-case scenarios.

"Just...stay put and try not to move anything." He winces, pulling his injured leg up against his body, lying down on the remains of the floor. It's cool under his cheek.

Rodney eases himself down to John's level, and they stare at each other in the spare inches between metal and floor.

"Lorne's as stable as he'll get," Rodney says. John concentrates on breathing. "Seriously, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Rodney," he tries to sound annoyed and almost succeeds. Rodney seems to appreciate the effort; he smiles, crookedly, and John watches as he brings his arm up, walking his fingers along the ground, reaching out. His hand is covered in blood and there are raw, angry scrapes on his knuckles.

John slides his arm along and inches his hand forward and manages to grab onto Rodney's fingers. His own fingers are covered in nicks and bruises.

"It'll be a very dramatic image if we die like this," Rodney says, and John presses his forehead to the ground.

He almost says, Way to think positive, McKay and he almost says So glad you think I'd make a dramatic corpse but, well, next best is for losers who can't man up.

"See the thing is," he says instead, "it really isn't about almost dying, and also I think I'm kind of in love with you."

Rodney's expression doesn't change.

"About time you figured that out, asshole," he replies. "Jesus, did you think we were fucking because you couldn't get a date?"

He's so shocked he doesn't immediately catch on. "Who the hell told you I couldn't get a date?"

"I don't know if you've noticed, but since we moved to this galaxy I've gotten way more tail than you. Stands to reason."

John starts to laugh, dust blowing every which way, and Rodney's fingers tighten around his palm.

"Man up, McKay," he says. "I just poured my heart out here."

Rodney rolls his eyes. "You're not going to die, I'm not going to die, I love you too, and now let's never ever speak of this again."

"Okay."

Rodney's thumb rubs soothing circles on the heel of his hand, and John shuts his eyes. His leg really really hurts.

"Oh and also you owe me until the end of time for disappearing for two weeks and freaking me out. Gifts of food, open adulation, and sexual favours graciously accepted."

John begins to laugh, and that's the moment where more light pours in and Sam Carter's standing over them like she's caught them writing naughty limericks on the bathroom walls, shouting they're over here and are you okay and somebody get Dr. Keller.

Lying on the floor half-buried in rubble, injured and with his second-in-command bleeding on the Chief of Science (his boyfriend, oh god, please let him not fuck this up) and the head of the mission swearing as she unburies him, John slips down into unconsciousness.

When he wakes in the infirmary, he's still holding Rodney's hand, and over the conked-out head of Rodney McKay on the edge of his bed he sees Teyla Emmagen, sitting in another bed, holding a baby.

"We won?" he asks, bewildered. She smiles at him.

"You caused Michael some consternation and delay with your explosion," she says.

"It wasn't our -- "

"And that is when I killed him."

He's never been so grateful for her ability to strip facts to their baldest, most basic components, but he can't quite get over it. "Wait, we won? And I missed it?"

"We won," she answers, and her eyes drift down to Rodney before one elegant eyebrow arches slyly.

"Awesome," John says, and then looks at Rodney and repeats, "Awesome."

Atlantis and all her people belong to John Sheppard and Rodney McKay, and they hold it in trust for everyone from Elizabeth Weir, dead this year and more, to little whatever-his-name-is Emmagen, alive only a handful of hours.

It's good and complete.

"Awesome," he mumbles, and strokes Rodney's stupid hedgehog hair once before he falls asleep.

Old Euclid drew a circle
On a sand-beach long ago.
He bounded and enclosed it
With angles thus and so.
His set of solemn greybeards
Nodded and argued much
Of arc and of circumference,
Diameter and such.
A silent child stood by them
From morning until noon
Because they drew such charming
Round pictures of the moon.

– Vachel Lindsay

Angles Thus And So: Notes.

WOW

(Anonymous) 2010-07-22 03:50 am (UTC)(link)
How have I missed this story for so long - this is awesome.

Great read and wonderful voices. You even made me like McKay/Weir, which I never thought could happen.
violent_rabbit: credit and love gos to draperyfalls of sf_wishing well (Default)

[personal profile] violent_rabbit 2010-07-24 11:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Having only just gotten into SGA I was thrilled to discover you had written in this fandom. I liked this- nicely done. I Like how weir/mckay was given due course and respect and wasnt that dreaded fannish cliche of killing off all the women to make way for the slash. ANd the interactions felt genuine- Elizabeth holding herself back when Jon curled up with them. <3

(Anonymous) 2010-09-01 12:31 am (UTC)(link)
I really enjoyed this and I loved the way it ended.
Alwaysand
cesare: portrait of John Sheppard by Crysothemis (sga - J&r by crysothemis)

[personal profile] cesare 2011-03-06 11:37 am (UTC)(link)
Came on a rec from SGAgenrefinders... this is a fantastic story, I'm shocked I never came across it before. I love it. I'll have to rec it in case I'm not the only one who didn't read it at the time.
kazbaby: (NoblePaiting (Sheppard))

[personal profile] kazbaby 2011-03-08 11:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Beautiful story. I was hesitant at first because of Weir/McKay pairing but the way you did it was so very believable.
saffronhouse: (Default)

[personal profile] saffronhouse 2011-03-14 10:10 pm (UTC)(link)
How fabulous! Such a moving journey -- thank you so much for being *such* a writer and creati g such a fabulous tale for these characters. Magnificent.

(Anonymous) 2011-03-27 08:49 am (UTC)(link)
It's been a long, looong time since I've stumbled across an SGA fic that felt real. This is such a one. The characters felt right, the relationships felt right. I enjoyed reading this very much. Many thanks for sharing.

Brasslizard

so great

(Anonymous) 2011-07-01 06:30 am (UTC)(link)
i loved reading this story. the characterization and interaction were wonderful and well developed. i'm also happy that, while there was grief, there wasn't so much angst, which can get tiring in fics. congrats on the balance.

also, the little poem you base your title on brings back memories of high school geometry because that poem was in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Geometry-Enjoyment-Challenge-Richard-Rhoad/dp/0866099654