Title: The Aftermath
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: John/Rodney (Pre-slash)
Spoilers: Season One,The Storm & The Eye
Authors Notes: Originally posted to celebrate meeting Joe Flanigan and Kavan Smith. A big thank you to the wonderful chase_acow who beta'd this fic for me and did a fantastic job, correcting all my mistakes and making sure I wasn't being overly dramatic.
Summary: Rodney was afraid of him.
Atlantis was subdued as those who had been evacuated returned, as if even the city understood how close they had come to losing. John ran his hand across a panel, feeling the familiar connection, as he followed Elizabeth and Rodney away from the balcony and deeper into the control room.
“Rodney, could you make sure everyone knows what they’re doing before you get some rest,” Elizabeth said as they walked deeper into the Control Room.
“Can I borrow McKay for a moment, Elizabeth?” Johninterrupted feeling the tension rising inside of him, too much adrenaline still coursing through his body. He’d crash soon, and hard, the guilt would catch up with him, and he’d have to spend time rationalising what he’d done, but now he needed to –
“I’m right here!” Rodney complained, “Some appreciation would be nice. I did just save Atlantis. Again. Risking my very valuable life to…”
John tuned out the bitching; it was even easier than usual, with the constant buzz of energy in his body. Behind Rodney, Elizabeth nodded once, “Just try to bring him back in one piece.”
John just forced a grin, winking at Elizabeth in a way he hoped was reassuring, but he wasn’t promising anything. He grabbed Rodney by the arm, the one that bastard Kolya had cut open, the one Rodney proudly bandaged.
“Ow,” Rodney whined, going unusually still against him, clearly trying not to jar the wound further.
John looked down at his hands, knuckles white he was gripping so hard. He was still in that weird place, where everything was so clear and sharp, and totally disconnected from reality. He stared at his fingers and willed them to loosen. It wasn’t working, and his hand was starting to cramp, so he yanked McKay into motion, dragging the scientist into Elizabeth’s office. McKay began struggling the moment John started to pull him.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” McKay yelled as John manhandled him into the room. He let go suddenly and with force, pushing McKay away as the door hissed shut behind them.
McKay was rubbing his arm, and complaining –people taking advantage of his genius, treating him like a machine, abusing his good nature… John turned away from him, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm his heart, stop the frantic hammering against his ribcage. His body still itched with the need to either run and hide, or fight, strike out, break necks. He could still feel blood on his hands, slick, sick, smooth, and copper red in his mind, the smell-
And Rodney was behind him, bitching as though it was any other day, as if John hadn’t just- And Rodney hadn’t- And- John turned so abruptly he even startled himself.
Rodney jumped, and backed away slowly as John stalked towards him. The windows darkened to opaque black without conscious thought, blocking out all the curious stares. “Wha- What are you-?”
John reached out an arm and grabbed Rodney by the shoulder, holding him in place so John could get close, close enough to feel the heat of his body. His hand was playing a complicated rhythm of squeeze and release with Rodney’s shoulder, and John had no idea what he was doing.
“Major.” Rodney sounded breathless, he was wide-eyed and…afraid. Rodney was afraid of him.
Of course, he knew, Rodney knew what John had done, how many people he’d killed without a second thought, with barely a first one. Of course he was afraid, people were afraid of killers. Good. That was good. He needed to be afraid.
John reached up for Rodney’s other shoulder too, holding him firmly in place, no escape. “If you ever, ever,” and yes that was him speaking, low and threatening, and just a little bit terrified, “do that again-”
He swallowed, feeling sick. His hands were squeezing hard enough to hurt, but Rodney was strangely quiet; the only sound in the office his own strained breathing.
“Never,” he tried again, voice uncomfortably thick and still not sure what he was trying to say.
He tried to focus, tried to think. In combat situations there was no time between thought and action, no time to consider. See enemy, shoot enemy, nothing in between. Rodney wasn’t the enemy, Rodney was-
“If you ever do anything that, that stupid again,” he moved his right hand up to Rodney’s face, “stepping in front of a gun.” He hissed the last word, moving his left hand up to Rodney’s other cheek, leaning in closer, and almost whispering. When Elizabeth had told him-
“If you ever- I…I’ll shoot you myself, McKay.”
Rodney swallowed, and licked his lips. “I can’t-” He started.
John’s lips quirked slightly, an almost smile, “Good.”
John felt his heart rate slowing, staring into Rodney’s eyes, blue, and still a bit afraid, and something else. He felt a shiver run through his body; he was starting to crash. He couldn’t let go of McKay, couldn’t tear his eyes away.
His fingers shook in Rodney’s soft hair, thumbs rubbing back and forth across his cheekbones. John could feel all the muscles in his body starting to tremble, starting as twitches in his thighs, calves, shoulders, still, he couldn’t move away.
He felt Rodney move, readied himself to be pushed away, because Rodney was still afraid, but instead, large hands settled on his hips. Rodney’s thumbs stroked soothing circles over his John’s stomach, burning through his t-shirt and imprinting on his skin.
John released a sigh. He licked his lips, leaning further into the touch, until there was almost no space between them. He was breathing Rodney’s air, basking in Rodney’s heat, eyes half-closed. It was a state of calm that John had never associated with Rodney before, but it felt right. He fed on it, drank it, pulled it into himself, let it flood his system and dampen his near panic.
“Major Sheppard,” Elizabeth called from outside the door, sounding tired. John’s mind flinched and his body froze. “Dr McKay, I need my office back.”
It should have broken whatever was happening between them, Rodney’s hands squeezed one last time then let go, his arms dropping back to his sides, but John was stuck.
“Major Sheppard,” he said, when John made no move to let him go, step away.
He was trying, really, but his mind and body weren’t communicating anymore. He tried to tell Rodney, to explain. He managed to get his mouth open, but the words wouldn’t come. He looked helplessly at Rodney, wondering if this was what a nervous breakdown felt like.
John blinked; he didn’t know Rodney had a talk down the crazy man voice. He opened his mouth again, meant to say something, probably tell Rodney he was having some sort of breakdown, or…or something really stupid, but he heard the door open behind him.
Rodney’s eyes widened and flickered away from his, looking over John’s shoulder. And still he couldn’t move. His mind was screaming at him to move, did he really want to fuck up the rest of his career because his boss caught him in a compromising position, especially since there was nothing going on. Nothing physical.
“Major Sheppard.” Elizabeth said cautiously from behind him, as if he could snap at any moment.
“Yeah,” he managed, forcing the word past he lump in his throat.
Rodney was looking at him again, eyes wide with panic for completely different reasons. He stood perfectly still, arms straight at his sides, as if he was afraid to spook John.
“Just,” John swallowed, eyes locked on Rodney’s. His mouth was painfully dry and his voice was rough, “never. Right?”
“Anything.” Rodney sounded desperate. John wasn’t sure if Rodney understood, or if he was just trying to get some control over the situation, but...
John managed to nod, his hands moving, dropping from Rodney’s face. The feel of Rodney’s skin lingered on his palms, and for a horrifying moment he thought he saw smudges of blood on Rodney’s face. He blinked them away, and looked down at the floor. “I’d better,” he said, watching the tremors sweep through his hands, “get some sleep.”
He turned away from Rodney, looking up at Elizabeth and summoning a flimsy smile. Her face was creased with concern. “I think that’s probably a good idea, Major,” she said, the lie down before you fall down, was silent.
John hated it, he was usually much better at not letting anyone see this part of him. Usually he could keep up the act, file everything away and deal with it when he felt capable. There was something terrifying about the way Rodney got under his skin and stripped him of all his defences. A part of John hated him for it.
“Maybe you should stop by the infirmary first,” Elizabeth said.
“Yeah,” he agreed, “maybe.” He threw in another transparent smile and somehow forced himself to move past Elizabeth and out the door. He could still feel Rodney’s eyes on him, Rodney’s hands on his waist, and the feel of Rodney’s skin burned onto his hands. He took deep breaths and kept walking.
They both knew he was lying about going to the infirmary, the same way he knew Rodney was lying about never doing anything stupid and heroic again. I can’t- Somewhere along the line, Rodney had started to give a damn about other people, and John couldn’t decide if he was happy about that, or not.
As the door closed behind him and the windows cleared, John could hear Rodney explaining to Elizabeth. He had to smile as the stuttering scientist only succeeded in making them sound even guiltier. He rubbed his shaking, sweating hands against his BDUs.
Lie down before you fall down, Shep.