Title: Summary Executions 3 (link to An Archive of Our Own)
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairings: McKay/Sheppard, OT4, and gen
Notes: Twelve ficlets written to prompt for the AU meme.
Summary: Pirates; kidfic; nursery rhyme crime; dragons; dentists; Dr Who; the Arthurian cycle; POWs; pioneers; university professors; Iron Chefs; and politicians. It's a veritable bounty!
1. Sword of Havana
fe2h2o asked for, "Pirate? SGA piracy sounds like fun."
Even before Ronon nudges John's foot, John notices the man enter the bar. With his pale skin and well-fed body he stands out from the rest of the clientele, who are mostly sailors, like John and Ronon. The newcomer reminds John of the scholars who used to toady up to his father, hoping for grants; the expression on this man's face is impatient and quick in just the same way, but without the hard, calculating edge of his father's men.
The scholar scans the room anxiously, flushed from the mid-afternoon heat, his collar limp with sweat. He wipes a hand over his face, and palms it off on his wrinkled linen pants -- still obviously well tailored and expensive.
"Smells like trouble," Ronon mutters, and takes a mouthful of rum.
"Mmmm," John replies. Certain types of trouble can be a good thing, in John's experience, and he's getting that rollercoaster niggle in the pit of his stomach that means life is about to get interesting.
The scholar's gaze finally cuts through the dimness and the smoke and fixes first on Ronon's hair, and then slides over to John. His expression goes open and relieved and he quickly makes his way over to their table, pulls out a chair without so much as questioning eyebrow-raise, and collapses into it. "Oh, thank God I found you," he says, clicking his fingers ineffectually at the barkeep. "You are Sheppard, I presume?"
Ronon growls in the back of his throat, but the scholar just rolls his eyes.
"Please, as though your hair doesn’t give it away.” The scholar turns to John again. “I hope you have your man-mountain on a leash, because I can't pay you if I'm dead."
Ronon goes quiet and eyes the man with new interest.
"And why would you be paying us?" John asks, leaning back a little further in his chair. His ship, the Hail Mary, could use some work in a real shipyard, and some legitimate funds would solve a lot of problems.
The scholar's mouth twists down, and he goes momentarily still, watching them intently. "I need a ship and a crew who are willing to go places most people aren't."
"Is that so?"
The scholar nods. "There was a raid by Barbary pirates two days ago--"
Ronon tenses beside John. "We're not pirates!"
"Well then, if you can’t follow pirate routes you're no use to me, because those bastards took my sister, and I'm going to get her back! If you can’t take me, I'll find someone else."
Ronon twitches but says nothing, just pulls a knife out of his hair and starts to clean his fingernails with it.
John fights back a smile; it isn't everyday someone wins Ronon over that quickly.
The scholar’s eyes are very wide as he watches the flash of Ronon's knife. "So. Am I wasting my time, or is there a chance we can--"
“If you can pay,” John says, and names his terms. He doesn't bother to hide his smirk when the scholar sputters in outrage.
Eventually he settles down, and they haggle for a bit, but the utter relief on the man's face is easy to read and John takes shameless advantage.
Once they're done, Ronan tucks his knife safely away, and asks, "You have a name?"
"Rodney McKay," the scholar says immediately, but then hesitates, not-quite-touching John's hand, not-quite sealing the deal. "Radek Zelenka said you could be trusted. Is he right? Can I trust you?"
John remembers Zelenka -- a ratty-haired European in a spot of bother on the African coast. "We'll get your sister back, McKay."
McKay smiles as his hand slides into John’s, and no, there's none of the edge his father's toadies had, and John finds himself telling the absolute truth when he says, “Whatever it takes.”
All John's thinking about in that moment is the guileless blue of McKay's eyes; but later, he remembers (with some relief) that he has a bone to pick with Kolya anyway, and this has his stench all over it.
After much high seas adventure, Jeannie saves herself, of course, but in all the shenanigans Rodney gets taken by Kolya, who wants to make use of his cunning inventions to commit new, bold acts of piracy.
John squints up into the sun, spotting Kolya's black shape standing in the crow's nest, Rodney next to him, looking cowed and bruised.
"You'll never get me, Sheppard," Kolya shouts. "Try to climb up here, and I'll slit his precious throat before your hand touches the rigging.
John says nothing, tracing the ropes and sails carefully, looking for a way up that will block him from Kolya's view.
There's a loud cracking sound from high above, and a piece of canvas appears over the side of the crow's nest. A moment later, it twitches as though the wind has caught it.
"Oh that bastard," John says, realising it's McKay's hot-air balloon.
"John!" Rodney yells, pulling away from Kolya long enough to knock something astray. The canvas of the balloon billows up, momentarily blocking Kolya's view of the deck.
Springing forward, John grabs a line, slashes it free with his knife, and goes whizzing through the air as the sail unfurls beneath him. He lands with a thump mere feet below the crow's nest, in which Rodney and Kolya are still struggling.
Just as John's gets his hand over the rim of the crow's nest there's a flash of a blade, and Rodney screams and clutches at his arm. John launches himself at Kolya's back, just as the man is lifting a leg to kick McKay. He lands true, and Kolya pitches forward, the unexpected lack of resistance toppling them both ungracefully over the side of the nest.
The sky swirls around them, and then John jerks to a halt, dangling by one foot from the balloon's guy line. Below, Kolya catches hold of some rigging, and starts to pull himself back up.
John tries to get lose, but can’t find a way without cutting the guyline; and then Kolya is there, legs wrapped around the mast, and lunging at John with his knife.
John deflects the blow and attempts a counter attack, but the balloon twists beneath him, spoiling his aim and leaving his belly exposed to Kolya's blade.
"I told you that I would win, Sheppard," Kolya gloats, his knife glinting in the sunlight as everything slows to half-speed around John, the shouts from the fight below echoing up to them, the bowl of the sky wheeling overhead.
A shadow appears from above, sliding slowly across Kolya, dulling his blade, and then time snaps back to normal speed and a bag of ballast smashes Kolya in the face, knocking him from his perch.
He bounces off a spar as he falls, and it deflects him out over the water. He falls headfirst, arms extended as though to ward off a blow, and the ocean swallows him up with barely a splash.
"Oh, thank god," Rodney says, peering over the edge of the crow's nest, one arm still held protectively against his chest. "You're alive."
"Yeah," John says, sounding a little shaky. He slides his knife safely into it's sheathe and then reaches out. "Give me a hand, McKay."
Somehow, with a lot of scuffling and panting, they manage to get John untangled and pulled safely into the crow's nest. Rodney immediately collapses to his knees, trembling with effort and looking pale. "I hate heights," he says, weakly.
“I know.” John sits down next to him, putting an arm around Rodney's shoulders and pulling him close. "Don’t worry. I'll get you down safely, Rodney. It’s the least I can do for the man who just saved my life." Reaching into his pocket, John pulls out a piece of candied fruit and offers it up.
“True. It’s about time someone recognised my worth.” It’s a rote complaint with no snap to it, and Rodney accepts the fruit gratefully. He pops it into his mouth with a hum, and a moment later he leans into John's heat.
Below them, John can hear Ronon giving orders for the prisoners to be locked in the hold, and the clunk and clatter of work as the rest of the crew start getting everything shipshape and ready to sail.
2. A Prior Call to Duty
wildestranger asked for, "Regency Romance."
--the office, jurisdiction, or control of a regent or body of regents exercising the ruling power during the minority, absence, or disability of a sovereign.
When the wormhole engages unexpectedly, John has no idea what's coming. He dashes into the gateroom in his sweats, breathing hard from his morning run with Ronon, and finds out from Chuck that O'Neill is on the line.
A moment later, Woolsey gives him a look he can't decipher, and hustles him into his office.
O'Neill is brusque but sympathetic as he explains -- an accident; drunk driver; three confirmed dead, no suffering -- he pauses, for just a moment, just long enough for John to think he's done, to think reconciliation wasn't meant to mean this, surprised at how much it hurts. Then comes the coda.
"Sheppard, they got the youngest daughter out alive," O'Neill says, expression grim, and John can almost feel the man's hand on his shoulder. "They don't expect her to last the night."
When O'Neill hangs up, Woolsey is in John's peripheral vision, hovering anxiously.
"I'm very sorry for your loss, Colonel. I've taken the liberty of informing Major Lorne that he's in command, while you're on personal leave. Effective immediately."
It's really sinking in now, what this means. John nods, and thanks him, already thinking about what can't be left undone before he goes.
He's about halfway through the list when Rodney finds him, looking irritable with concern. "I just heard... god, is it true?" He takes a good look at John's face, and says, "Oh." He sits abruptly in the hard-backed office chair in front of John's desk. "Is there anything I can do?"
John has to swallow hard and rub the back of his neck before he can force out the lie. "I have to go back to earth for a bit. Sort things out." He glances at the unhappy curve of Rodney's mouth, and quickly looks away. "Keep an eye on the team for me?"
Rodney agrees, of course, and John almost changes his mind then. But he's always hated goodbyes, and he just can't face saying it to Rodney. Not yet. Not when there's still a chance he might be back.
He walks through the wormhole an hour later, carrying a lightly packed duffel.
Hope comes out of her coma in the small hours of the third night, her hand suddenly flexing in his. "Where's mama?" she says, "I want my mama," but slides back into sleep before John can figure out what to say.
A week later, Hope has cried herself sick a dozen times over, and John puts in his resignation.
The ink is barely dry on the paper, when McCaffrey, Dave's personal assistant, turns up and insists on giving John a guided tour of the Sheppard building. After a long walk through corridors that all look the same, John finds himself in a huge office with so many windows it almost feels like he can touch the sky. On the desk is a picture of Dave and his wife and kids, and right next to it, one of he and John at six and eight, Dave clinging to John as they clop around the practice field on a huge chestnut mare.
John stares at his brother's hands, fisted tightly in John's t-shirt.
John's things don't arrive back on earth for another six months, and when they do it's with a flash of light and Rodney's voice yelling, "I can't believe you did that! What? Did you think I wouldn't notice that you quit your job and left? Are you brain damaged?"
John's chest goes tight at the sound, and he covers by picking Hope up. She props on his left hip with practised ease and hides her face in his shoulder, peering at Rodney with sidelong glances.
"Nice to see you, too, McKay," John says, but it doesn't really come out casually at all.
3. Old McDonald Had a Farm, And On That Farm There Was a Cop
prehistoric_sea asked for, "The AU where they all work at McDonald's." Which I wildy subverted into the nursery rhyme Old McDonald Had a Farm...
"Oh, that is just..." Rodney muttered, as he tried to scrape the cow shit from his shoes. The ambulance had finally made its cautious way to the end of the lane, it's siren cutting off abruptly once it no longer needed to move curious cows from its path.
"Thank god for that," said Carson, as he collected another forensic sample and sealed it into a plastic tube. "The sound of that siren always gives me the shivers."
"A doctor afraid of an ambulance?" Rodney gave up on his shoe as a lost cause. "That explains a lot about you, Carson."
"It does, doesn't it," Carson agreed. He looked up just in time to see Rodney's shit-covered foot about to descend on a patch of grass he hadn't checked yet. "Ah! What have I told you about me crime scenes!"
Rodney rolled his eyes, but carefully backed off a step. "Fine. I'll be off talking to the yokels then."
The yokel was tall and lean, with a shock of dark hair and rash of stubble that looked way more rakish than it should.
"So tell me how you discovered," Rodney consulted his notes briefly, "farmer McDonald's body, Mr..."
"Sheppard," the yokel said, and let out a soft haw haw haw at Rodney's muttered, "Of course it is."
Sheppard held out a capable-looking hand and said, "But you can call me John, if you'd prefer."
"I never prefer during a murder inquiry, Mr Sheppard," but the man's hand fitted into his own like a key into a lock.
And of course, it turns out that one of the animals did it, and Rodney has to go around trying to find evidence from each of the ones that could have been in the field.
4. Low Flight Risk
tieleen asked for, "Dragon AU! Extra points if Ronon's dragon is unimaginably lame and makes him sad on a daily basis."
Rodney had always wanted a smart human as his rider. Someone who would appreciate spending long hours pouring over dusty scrolls, trying to glean the secrets of the Ancients.
Instead, he ended up paired with a man-mountain named Ronon, who even by dragon standards seemed large, and who clearly had nothing but bulk going for him, as he could barely string two sentences together. Furthermore, Rodney has his suspicions about whether or not he could read at all!
"...completely inappropriate, so I'm sure you can see that you have to reconsider!" Rodney said to the queen dragon, Elizabeth, waving his datapad with the carefully drawn diagram at her, which would clearly clinch the argument.
Ronon glowered in the corner, fondling a small, sharp looking bladed weapon.
Rodney just rolled his eyes: it wasn't like a knife that small had a hope of penetrating Rodney's hide, so the whole display was yet more pointless machismo which just drove home Rodney's point.
"I'm sorry, Rodney," Elizabeth said firmly, and with only the briefest glance, placed to one side Rodney's diagram (showing the value of Rodney's time quantified as research productivity, compared to how much time would be wasted having to train in the arena everyday). "But we're at war, and the Wraith are not an enemy to take lightly. All dragons must undertake minimal combat training until our enemy is defeated, and Ronon is the best match we have for a dragon of your size."
"My size!" Rodney squawked, but managed to bite back the defensive, I'm not fat. Instead he protested, "But Elizabeth!"
"No, I'm sorry, Rodney, and that's my final word."
She left the room with a swish of the tail, and Rodney was left to morosely retrieve his diagram.
The knife magically vanished from the man-mountain's hands and he strolled over to Rodney's side. "You should have given her a list of the weapons you've made," he said. "That probably would have convinced her."
Rodney glared for a long moment, feeling his stomach rumble with repressed flames and outrage. In the end, he snapped, "You couldn't have suggested that earlier?"
Ronon shrugged. "Figure you're my best chance to kill all the Wraith, even if you are the worst fighter I've ever seen."
"Hmmm," Rodney rumbled, looking the man over a little more closely. Perhaps he didn't look entirely mentally deficient after all.
Note: You can find tieleen's fantastic sequel ficlet about John and Teyla here.
5. Snake Oil and Charm
crysothemis asked for, "SGA Dentist AU. What, it could work!"
My brain sometimes sees connections before I realise it, and in this case, my brain is made of win, because I've managed to give backstory to Cry's wonderful Jabberwocky picture! <3
One of the oddest things John finds himself doing on missions is trading the equivalent of field medicine for goods and services. The locals shy away from the idea of Beckett and his collection of syringes, swabs and Ancient gadgets. But they've come to know and trust team, and so more often than not, John finds himself in the back of the jumper, like a snake oil salesman in his wagon, irrigating wounds that won't heal, extracting splinters and other un-nameable or unmentionable things from tender, inflamed flesh. Or, most commonly of all, acting as a dentist, thanks to a handy little device Carson had reluctantly handed over -- repairing cracks, removing decay, extracting teeth that are so broken the locals can't get them out, and regenerating receded gums.
Rodney is a surprisingly good assistant, because while he's not so hot around body fluids or pain, he's so brusque, rude, or downright dismissive that their patients actually find him reassuring. John can practically see them thinking: If The McKay isn't scared of it, then it must be okay.
This is all very well and good, and works all around, until the day they try to negotiate a deal with the good people of Wisent, and discover that the only thing they will put on the table in exchange for their dairy products (justly renowned, but almost impossible to trade for), is dental treatment for their "Protector".
The Wisent are strangely reticent about giving details, so in the end, visions of pizza with real melted cheese as a spur, they take the jumper out to look at the Protector.
It is, of course, an extremely large, and definitely not tame dragon.
6. Unexpected Family
fred_mouse asked for, "dr who crossover, with mckay as the doctor?"
When the Doctor wakes up from his sixteenth regeneration, he finally has to admit to himself that something has gone very wrong. Quite apart from the fact that only two Time Lords in the entirety of history have made it past thirteen regenerations, this time he has come back as a prepubescent boy.
After a couple of days of throwing things around the TARDIS and pouting a lot, he has a brainstorm. Why not just take a life off? It's not like he hasn't earned a holiday!
So he takes himself back to his very favourite era, and turns up on the doorstep of the most progressive social services office of the day, complete with a case of fake amnesia. They search high and low for a family of course, with the expected results. The double hearts cause momentary consternation during the medical check, but eventually the experts opine that it's an original and unique mutation that may well impact his length of life (ha!). Not that he was meant to hear that, but he has several hundred years of cunning on his side; more than enough to eavesdrop without getting caught.
Three months later he has shiny official papers that say he's Meredith McKay.
Dreadful name, but actually his "parents" are otherwise exactly what he wanted, which is why he allowed himself to be placed with them in the first place -- he'd done his research after all. And sure enough, he barely has time to feel smothered by their attention when "Mum" gets pregnant. He's swiftly made redundant and left to his own devices.
His own devices include taking advanced courses in engineering (because he's still never managed to fix that string computation vector in the TARDIS, and maybe he needs to brush up on his hands-on skills) and physics (so that he can get into the Stargate program and go to Atlantis. Atlantis! He's as excited about that as the neighbourhood kids get at the promise of a trip to Disneyland).
He honestly tries not to blow his cover, but most people are so slow that he can't help but get impatient when he has to deal with them day after day. And despite his best efforts, he can never quite get his fear reaction right. He's pretty sure he overplays it, even with the acting classes he ends up taking.
But it's all worth it -- all the petty irritations, all the nagging from his parents, being left to raise Jeannie after their deaths and then her utter betrayal (companions are so much less trouble) -- all of it, worth it, when he steps through the wormhole into Atlantis and sees it light up and roll over beneath Sheppard's touch.
History isn't a precious thing to him; he's too familiar with the every day mechanics to get excited about it. But this moment is everything he's always dreamed of, starting back when his Na had told him the stories.
It doesn't quite lift the heart sickness of never being able to go home again. Dunwich on Gallifrey had been his favourite city, and it is forever gone. But fair Atlantis was its sister, one of the last, and certainly most famous, of the Time Cities; and here it is beneath his fingers, waking up from its long slumber to welcome them back.
No, it isn't home. But maybe it can be, for a while.
7. Punishment Details
lavvyan asked for, "John/Rodney Arthurian Legend."
Everyone knows about the wizard McKay. Being sent to guard him is punishment detail, pure and simple.
John finds that he's surprisingly sanguine when he gets his orders to report to Camelot's mage tower. Despite his anger and despair over his failure on the last quest, he's not quite ready to desert or stretch his neck. He figures at least the posting will be peaceful.
That misapprehension lasts for all of about four hours into his first shift, and then McKay comes tearing down the stairs, shrieking, and there's this weird blob of blurring light chasing after him. John's heard enough warnings from his mother's people to recognise dark magic when he sees it.
"Oh, my God," McKay yells at the startled guards, half of whom were in the middle of mid-shift changeover. "Don't just stand there! Move, move, move!"
John doesn't even think, just darts into the little vestibule they use to check their uniforms, grabs the spotted old mirror from the wall, and dives back into the other room. He's just in time to stick it in front of McKay, who has taken cover beneath the battered table. Three of the guards are stuck in the doorway, blocking everyone's escape, and another is cowering behind a water barrel.
The blob gloooops against the mirror, and the back of the glass begins to bulge, little flakes of paint falling off like black snow, and the frame almost shaking out of John's grip. John has a panicked moment in which he thinks he's made a huge tactical error, although Aunt Nell had always sworn by mirrors as the best bet against dark spells, and then the bulging stops and the mirror goes still.
He very gently slides the mirror face-down onto the table, and wipes his palms off on his pants. Then he reaches down, offering McKay his hand.
The wizard takes it and pulls himself up, staring at John wide-eyed. John finds himself staring back, caught -- McKay's eyes have puzzles in them, like a hedgewitch's, but with a hundred more edges and teeth; he smells of sulphur and lightning, and his hand's grip is strong, but his skin is soft, uncallused.
The moment ends abruptly with McKay turning away, pulling his hand free. "You're all fired!" he yells at the other soldiers, who have sheepishly untangled themselves and come out of hiding and are standing in a clump by the door. He jabs his finger at them and they all flinch. "So, so fired!" he roars, even more incensed by their reaction to his rage. He spins back to John and pokes him in the chest. "Except for you. Congratulations. You're now in charge. Your first job is getting some competent people to protect me, because in case you hadn't noticed, it's not cloak and dagger attacks that are the issue." The mirror rattles a little on the table, as though in emphasis. McKay's chin lifts, but John is close enough to see beads of sweat on his upper lip and around his hairline. "The fate of the Kingdom depends on my being alive, which I didn't think was a difficult concept to grasp, even for trained monkeys like you lot, but clearly," he casts another baleful glare at the cowering soldiers, "I was mistaken."
And then, with a swish of robes, he stalks off to the stairs.
Half way there he halts, turns back, goes over to the mirror and mutters over it for a moment. Then very gently, he picks it up in both hands and heads back to the stairs.
Once he's gone, John puffs out a breath and rubs a hand over his neck. So much for peaceful.
"He can't fire us," one of the guards says plaintively. "We work for the King."
John looks at them long and hard, and the grim line of his jaw must make his meaning clear enough, because they all snap to attention, expressions surly and sick. "Not here, you don't," he says, and with shrug of the shoulders to settle this new weight of responsibility, starts to sort out the mess.
They go on a quest, much to Rodney's chagrin. It's cold and wet and dirty, and people keep trying to kill him. And John is just there, like a grim, lethal rock -- a warm, grim, lethal rock. So one night Rodney crawls into his bedroll.
8. Items Not For Sale
mezzo_cammin asked for, "Pioneer AU, all about the railroad being laid to parts west, and Rodney, of course, is the landowner who won't sell, and John is the son of the railroad owner sent to persuade him."
The prairie looks just the way John remembers it -- long stretches of ripe gold swishing in the wind. Despite his purpose for being here, the ride is a pleasure like he hasn't enjoyed since the careless days of his boyhood.
He arrives around mid-afternoon, when the gentle morning tick of insects has gone quiet, and the sun bites through the back of his shirt. The McKay place is solid and plain, with odd pieces of machinery piled neatly around the large barn, and a black, barking dog on a long chain near the barn doors. When John turns into the yard, skirting wide around the dog, he finds himself being scrutinised by a large, ragged-eared orange cat glaring up from the house's stoop. He slides off his horse and hitches it near the water trough.
There's no sign of any human activity, and no one comes out to check on the dog.
John pauses at the stoop and squats down in front of the cat, holding out his hand. "Hello," he says. "Don't suppose you'd put in a good word for me with your human?" The cat stretches, showing off its claws and several old battle scars, and then bumps its head against John's palm so hard it almost makes John lose his balance.
The cat's fur is soft between John's fingers, its purr like the rattling lid of a boiling pot. The dog's barking cuts off abruptly, and when John looks over he sees that it's eyeing him and the cat, ears drooping unhappily. The cat hisses at it, and the dog flops down onto the ground, nudging its nose between its paws.
"Guess you're the boss around here," John tells the cat, and gives its belly a final rub before standing up.
He squares his shoulders and steps onto the porch, walking confidently over to the door and rapping brusquely.
The silence stretches all around him: the faint pock pock of chickens somewhere behind the house, the sough of the wind, the creak of a weather vane, his horse taking a drink.
John tips his hat back and considers his options, weighing his father's displeasure against the empty yard. He sighs, and turns back to the cat. "You know McKay better than I do. What do you think?"
The cat looks up at him, its expression pure irritation.
Rodney has had a very bad day. An extremely bad, oh my God, make it stop kind of day. So when he finally coaxes his horseless travellator (mark 4, and so revolutionary it will make him a fortune one day -- stupid patent office wouldn't know an original idea if it bit them in the ass!) into the yard, steaming and jerking, it takes a moment to realise that there's a stranger's horse chewing on his herb bed.
He immediately forgets all about the problematic test drive and stomps over to the horse, which gazes unconcernedly at him as it chews a big mouthful of parsley. "You!" he says, lifting a finger, but before he can give it a piece of his mind his attention is arrested by something else.
He climbs up the stairs to the porch and stares down at Killer, the vicious tom cat that lurks beneath the house, living on rats, and hating every human being in the world, except, on very rare days when it wants a pat, Rodney.
Right now Killer is peering up at him from a rage-filled eye, curled up in an exceedingly familiar fashion on the lap of a long, rangy, good-looking man with a head of hair that's one giant cowlick. A man who is fast asleep and snoring on Rodney's swing seat.
"Traitor!" Rodney hisses. He storms around to the back of the swing and unceremoniously dumps its contents onto the porch's floorboards.
Killer yowls and darts off under the house. The stranger lets out a startled ouch!, either at the impact with the floor, or the cat using him as a springboard -- maybe both. Rodney feels a deep sense of satisfaction. "I left you on guard duty," he yells after the cat, "and what do you do? Let the riffraff in to steal my secrets, that's what. Well I won't stand for it! You... you... hussy!"
"Doctor McKay, I presume?" Riffraff says, slowly rolling to his feet. He smiles self-deprecatingly as he rubs at his hip. "That wasn't quite the first impression I was hoping to make." And he looks at Rodney with such laughing eyes, inviting Rodney to laugh right back at him, to share the ludicrousness of the situation, that Rodney is charmed despite himself.
Of course, Rodney knows better than to fall for something as simple as that. Once bitten, twice ready to run people off his property by any means necessary. He crosses his arms and says, "Who are you?"
Riffraff's expression smooths out, the humour fading away. He straightens up and holds out his hand. "John Sheppard."
"Of course you are," Rodney says, suddenly sick of everything, especially Patrick Sheppard, who has clearly plumbed Rodney's character deeply enough to do this: send his son out to Rodney's home like the most perfectly aimed bribe in the world.
argosy asked for, "WWII POW Camp AU. Think The Great Escape."
John's really, sincerely over being a POW, but the one benefit of his vast experience is that he knows more about how to escape than the team's current captors, the B'Weegian's, can possible imagine.
They're in an open yard, with doorless and primitive facilities, and a well-guarded perimeter fence.
"Wait until nightfall and attack at the weak point in their grid," says Ronon, and John's not at all surprised Ronon's spotted that hole in security.
"It's a death trap," John replies. "A test to see if we're the kind of prisoners who'll attempt to escape. They'll kill us nice and clean, then return our bodies to Atlantis and apologise to Carter for the terrible misunderstanding." He turns and points to the top of a tall tree on the far side of the compound. "Look at the line of sight."
Ronon glares at the tree, and then grunts.
"Perhaps some of our fellow inmates are willing to join with us," Teyla suggests.
"Too many plants," John says. "You can tell by the teeth."
Teyla lifts an eyebrow at him, but after a moment flipping through her mental rolodex of the other prisoners, she nods. "Yes, I see what you mean. Their hygiene is remarkable, given the conditions."
"Well, I'm not going to build a tunnel for six months, or stunt ride a motorcycle over the border only to be shot in the back," Rodney declares.
John nods. "You're more Richard Attenborough than Steve McQueen anyway."
"Oh, that's nice! And I suppose you're McQueen personified?"
John ignores the jibe. "Not to mention there's a big granite sheet under the camp, we don't have a motorbike, and the B'Weegian's don't have a border."
"Now you're just being annoying," Rodney says. "Why are you being annoying?"
It's not like it's news to John, but having it pointed out doesn't make him any less pissy. "Passes the time until the Daedalus comes and beams us out."
A look passes between Teyla and Ronon, which John only catches the tail end of, as he's too busy winning a staring match with Rodney.
"I can think of a more productive way to spend our time," Teyla says.
"I am not meditating!" Rodney says. "As if being stuck in here isn't bad enough!"
"That is not what I was suggesting, Rodney." Teyla puts her hand on John's arm in such a way that his breath catches in his chest.
"Here?" Rodney squeaks, which saves John from doing it.
"Got anything better to do," says Ronon, already pulling off his shirt.
"But..." Rodney looks around wildly. "People can see us!"
"Oh, hey," says John, because he actually knows how to solve that one. He'd seen it that time on P4D-397. "Keep your pants on Rodney."
"What? Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Or are you suggesting I come in my pants, because, in a word, no!"
John smirks at him. "Just open 'em enough to, you know, and we'll take turns. Piggy in the middle."
"Oh," says Rodney, getting it, going a pleasing shade of pink and looking a lot more eager. "I've never done it in public before."
John obviously isn't the only one that thinks Rodney's blush is appealing, because Ronon growls, and Teyla's nipples are hard against her top. John can feel his heart speed up.
They all take a step towards each other.
10. Teaspoon Conspiracies and Other Weighty Events
anehan asked for, "The AU where Sheppard and McKay are university professors. (Pretend, if necessary, that Sheppard is a mathematics genius.)"
Rodney learned the truth about university politics many moons ago: the staff room was a microcosm of the campus.
And the most important corollary: no matter how many spoons are purchased for use in the staff room, there is never one left in the drawer when Rodney needs one.
"You're all bastards!" he mutters, flinging old toothpicks and sachets of salt and pepper aside. He finds a bent fork, encrusted with something brown and crunchy looking, and when further searching only reveals a cracked cockroach bait, he reluctantly takes the fork over to the sink.
He's still attempting to disinfect it with the weak, watered down "washing liquid" when Sheppard walks in, looking bright and perky and freshly showered.
"Have you been exercising again?" Rodney says, and glowers at the bare nape of John's neck and the curve of his ass as he bends over to pull yoghurt and some milk out of the staff fridge.
"How else will I keep my girlish figure," John replies, and proceeds to pull out a tuppaware of cereal and a banana (and where he was hiding that Rodney has no idea), and starts making himself a ridiculously healthy looking breakfast.
The microwave pings, and Rodney peers suspiciously at the bent fork, decides that it will have to do, and goes to get his... dinner. Lunch. Some meal. The days have blurred together since he and Radek had The Idea. Rodney pulls his day-old curry out of the microwave, and starts eating as best he can with the fork of doom.
John sits down across the table, his foot accidentally brushing against Rodney's. Rodney nearly inhales a peanut.
Woolsey waltzes in while John is hovering over Rodney, one hand on his back, offering to do the Heimlich. Rodney is tempted to say yes, even though he's managed to swallow the stupid nut, but Woolsey is there, tut-tutting over the vanishing spoons, and really, Rodney's not that pathetic. That doesn't stop him from watching Sheppard's ass as he walks back to his seat, however.
"If you've finished cuddling your boyfriend, Rodney," Cadman says, plonking a cup of toxic-looking wheat grass on the table, "can I have him? I need his input on the performance modelling job."
"No! Get your own mathematician. John's mine," Rodney says, out of pure habit. He always says no to Cadman. Then his brain catches up with his mouth.
His head snaps up and he looks at John, who has that constipated expression he gets when he's trying not to laugh.
Cadman guffaws, pointing, "The look on your face! I can't believe I finally got you to out yourself that easily, McKay."
"Yeah, McKay," says John, lips twitching. "So much for our secret love."
Rodney looks at the flirty, smirky thing John's mouth is doing and swallows hard. He bravely inches his foot forward until it brushes John's again. "Why would I want to keep you secret anyway?" Rodney says. "Even Woolsey thinks you're hot. Don't you, Woolsey?"
Woolsey pauses in marking the milk level in the carton he's putting in the fridge. "I suppose you will have your little jokes at my expense, Dr McKay, but I don't see why you need to drag poor Dr Sheppard into it."
Much to Rodney's relief, John hasn't pulled away from his touch. In fact, John rubs his foot back against Rodney's and says, "That's okay. I can think of worse fates."
11. A Dish Best Served Hot
kisahawklin asked for, "Iron Chef America AU where John is an Iron Chef and Rodney is Alton Brown."
Atlantis: cultural hub of the Pegasus Galaxy. The arts flourish there, and young hopefuls from planets all over the sector come through the ring, looking for their big break. They usually end up working a season or two as waiters and ushers and as sewerage maintenance drudges, before returning to their homeworlds with glorious stories of their brushes with the stars.
This can actually end up being a form of success, as more than one young hopeful has gone on to a planetside career merely on the strength of being chewed out on intergalactic tv by one Rodney McKay, host of the number three show in the galaxy, Iron Chef: Atlantis (right behind As the Universe Rotates and More Celebrity Meltdowns Revealed! -- which technically is also a show starring McKay).
"And today's mystery ingredient..." McKay glares down at the camera droid, which has him in extreme close-up, and waits, tapping his foot until it backs off a bit.
Up in the editing suit, Weir does a quick cross-shot to John, who's standing in his chef's black, quirking a smile at McKay's bad mood.
The insta-ratings zoom up by 15 points.
"As I was saying," Rodney continues, once his magified nose hairs are no long the main feature of the shot, "today's mystery ingredient is..." He whips off the shroud from the giant pot, revealing a writhing mass of slug-like things --
-- there's an audible gasp from the audience, but Weir's ready and gets the reaction shot on a three second time delay to wring the most out of the situation, and then cuts to --
-- Koyla's pitted face, which reveals nothing. He sneers at the slugs as he's sneered at everything else today --
-- and the camera snaps back to Rodney, who makes a flourish at the writhing mass. "Acid slugs! A rare delicacy gathered from beneath the frozen wastes of glacier planet, X!lebarrat Four!"
John has a steely glint in his eyes by this point, and he drawls, "Oh, you're just fucking with me now, aren't you, McKay."
Rodney crosses his arms and lifts his chin. Two assistants wearing asbestos gloves lift the vat of slugs and start distributing them. "Not everything is about you, Sheppard."
"Right," John drawls and goes over to his cooking station, the camera lingering on his ass as he goes.
The insta-rating meter goes up another 13 points.
The next thirty minutes rush by in a blur of flashing blades, sizzling pans, fluffy confections being whipped up into peaks, and occasional yips of pain when someone is a little too incautious in handling the acid slugs.
Finally, it's tasting time. Sheppard has four dishes, Kolya three.
"Mmmm," says Cindyy-Lou of planet Plodnod, actress, singer and model for the Small Fish and Eel Are Healthy campaign. "Sheppard's entree is smooth and salty, and wonderfully al dente. The acid is almost entirely neutralised, except for a slightly lemony aftertaste."
"Well, it's got a pleasant nutty texture," says Wong Al Fong, Chief Chef of Universal Restaurant on the Midway Station. "But overall, Kolya's entree is cloying on the palate and tastes rather like burnt wine." He takes a hasty sip of water and swishes.
And so it goes: Sheppard bombing out on his main course, Kolya neck and neck with Sheppard on the desert. But then comes the final dish, Sheppard's coup de grace: red jellied slug with fruit compote. It's a hit!
And the Iron Chef is once more victorious.
"This isn't the end, Sheppard," Kolya snarls as he storms out, throwing his poofy hat onto the floor.
The camera catches just a flash of Rodney looking smug and a little proud, and then the expression is wiped away by a frown as he turns to John. "Don't let it go to your head, Sheppard," he says. "It's not like Kolya was a challenge. Just wait until next time! You won't believe what I've thought up."
John just grins at him, all bright cheeked and happy. "Aww, Rodney, you didn't have to go to all that trouble just for me."
Unexpectedly, Rodney flushes. "Yes, well," he says, and then snaps at the camera, "Oh my God, we're done. Get that thing out of my face," and stalks off the set.
"Hey, wait up, Rodney," John says, trotting along after him. The camera lingers on his ass as he goes.
Insta-ratings go up another 27 points.
12. Diplomatic Relations
facetofcathy asked for, "John's the President of the United States (Democrat) and Rodney's the Prime Minister of Canada (Conservative)."
Being the first openly gay Prime Minister in the world has its good points and its not-so-good points. On the one hand, gay rights have never been more firmly on the world's mind, Rodney is a pin-up of hot men (and also some hot lesbians, which gives him a secret thrill) everywhere, and his approval ratings are through the roof.
On the other hand...
Rodney stares at the gathered newspapers in horror, but the headlines don't magically change, or get any smaller.
McGay Strikes Out! one blares, with a picture underneath of Rodney seemingly trying to pick up a twink wearing tiny metallic shorts.
PM Has Gay Time Out another yells, showing a picture of the same twink as he's being hustled away by security.
Getting Back on the Horse? another, more moderate paper asks, illustrating the story with a picture of Rodney and Carson, taken just a few short months before Carson’s death, both of their wedding rings easily visible. Right next to it, is a suggestively fuzzed out picture of the twink. Or as Rodney is rapidly coming to think of him: The Twink. He deserved the capitals; he’s clearly Rodney's nemesis.
"Please tell me the President of the United States hasn't see the papers yet this morning," Rodney says to his Personal Assistant.
Teyla's serene expression doesn't falter. "Your meeting with the President is still scheduled for noon."
Rodney pushes the newspapers aside so he can no longer see the headlines. "I see what you did just then, you know! When I say don't tell me something, I don't mean don't tell it to me! I mean only tell it to me if it's true!"
"Very well," says Teyla, "The President has already read the morning papers."
"Oh my God," Rodney says, covering his face with both hands. "Did he look appalled? What am I saying, of course he looked appalled. He thinks I'm a twink fancier. Oh, God. This is going to set gay rights back twenty years! The US will never sign the goddamned protocol now." He looks up at Teyla with a suddenly gimlet stare. "I want whoever planned this caught, and I want the book thrown at them. I want you to make sure their lives are a living hell, Teyla."
Teyla smiles, and Rodney is reminded all over again that she’s one hot lesbian who is always on his side. "I will get right to work on it, Prime Minister."
Rodney flops back against his over-stuffed couch with a crinkle of abused newspaper. "Tell me what to wear. Something conservative. But, uh..."
"What? No! Why would I want to look hot for the President of the United States?" Rodney can feel his ears going red. "That's ridiculous. Banish it from your mind."
"No!" Rodney yells. Teyla always does this. She’s very annoying and Rodney doesn't know why he puts up with her. "Maybe a little bit hot. But nothing slutty."
"Yes, Prime Minister. I'll see what I can do."
And as a bonus, here's v_greyson's adorable McShep ficlet, western slope.