cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

Revisiting Love: Why John and Rodney Rocked My World

Title: Revisiting Love: Why John and Rodney Rocked My World
Author: cupidsbow
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Rating: PG-13
For: velocitygrass's It's Only Just Begun fest.

I can't remember now which was the first Stargate: Atlantis story I ever read. I can remember that it was before I'd seen any of the show, and I suspect it was recced by norah in this post. It might very well have been The Secret Life of Scientists by Julad, which would be ironic, as it doesn't star the OTP of my heart.

What I do remember is that the fiction was so brain-meltingly good that it locked onto my lizard brain, and insisted that here was a playground I needed to take part in. The SGA universe I found in these stories was the perfect mix of magic, technology, team, and omg hot sex. I definitely remember explaining to vegetariansushi that John and Rodney were a perfect match: the pretty man with secret depths, and the genius with an inferiority complex as large as his ego. There were so many edges and interesting things to say about how they might fit together! It was Beauty and the Beast in Space, but with the wonderful twist that John and Rodney could fit both roles, depending on how you wanted to define "beauty," and, for that matter, "beast."

Joining the Fannish Hivemind: Loving, Reading, Writing
My first writing fling came after I had seen Season One. Like so many others, I became fascinated by what we saw of John's inner beast. The results of this first foray were: Balance and Brace (NC-17). In this fic, you can barely see the themes I would return to over and over -- friendship, yearning, denial -- but I was in good company in being fascinated by John's demons. I was working with a variation on the "John-as-psycho" meme, which has been used to such good effect in stories like: Nemesis by the_moonmoth, the The Shiver Trilogy by Ellex, Crimes Against Humanity (WIP) by seperis, and perhaps most famously in Written by the Victors by cesperanza.

My poor offerings don't really compare, but it's such a rush to be part of that kind of list. There really has been so much awesome McShep fic, hasn't there?

Anyway, it was about this time that an extraordinary thing happened, and my fannish horizons exploded: I discovered IM. As a direct result, I began a tradition I call storytime.

Back then, my brain was crackling with so many SGA story ideas, I couldn't write them all down fast enough. However, I rapidly discovered that in the heady shorthand of IM, I could tell a novel a day, and often did. Poor vegetariansushi was my usual target, and she sat through Military Intelligence (PG-13), The Scientific Method (R), The Fiendish Plan of Dr. Macabre (PG-13) and Forbidden Fruit (PG-13) amongst many others.

Storytime became one of my favourite things in the world, and taught me so much as a writer and as a friend. Since then, I've had storytime with several other people, like chopchica and watersword and most recently angstslashhope. It remains one of the most joyful experiences of my life, and it all began with those heady early days of falling in love with John and Rodney.

To give you some idea of what the sessions looked like, here's the novella "Three Strikes" which I never got around to writing up.

* * *

Title: Three Strikes
Author: cupidsbow
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: PG-13
Summary: There's nothing John won't do to win, and Rodney is the biggest prize of all.

cupidsbow: BTW, that reminds me that I haven't yet told you the story of "Three Strikes".
vegetariansushi: woe.
cupidsbow: Three Strikes is my wooing story.
vegetariansushi: tell
cupidsbow: So... John has always followed the rule that you can ask someone out three times, and then you give in gracefully and stop, before it turns into stalking.
vegetariansushi: hee!
vegetariansushi: okay
cupidsbow: Of course, he's never really had to test this rule, as he's always pretty much scored on the first ask, or been posted out of town before he's had a chance to try again.
cupidsbow: Then: Atlantis. A closed society of the same people over and over.
cupidsbow: And there's Rodney.
vegetariansushi: hee
cupidsbow: So John makes a nice, subtle move on Rodney--touches his arm and asks him back for a DVD or something (don't have the details yet), and Rodney just kind of humphs distractedly about some lab results he has to run before tomorrow's meeting.
cupidsbow: Then he rushes off, and John is left standing there, wondering if his mojo is broken.
vegetariansushi: hee!
vegetariansushi: i love rodney when he's too busy to pay attention to things. which is always
cupidsbow: John goes back to his quarters, gets out his gun oil and cloth, breaks down his hand gun and cleans it meticulously. Then he snaps it back together, and tells himself that it's no big deal. He still has two tries left. It'll all work out.
cupidsbow: I love that about Rodney too.
cupidsbow: The second time, John stacks the deck in his favour. The Daedelus has just come in. There's chocolate. There's coffee. Popcorn. All the bait required for a really good Rodney trap.
vegetariansushi: hee!
cupidsbow: So he waits until he's got Rodney alone, one beautiful afternoon while out on a mission, leans in close, looks Rodney right in the eye, and asks him if he wants to see the Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back their next couple of days off.
cupidsbow: And Rodney turns him down! Because, Rodney tells him in agonising blow-by-blow detail, the Daedelus bought an update for the electronic library, including a whole heap of science journals, and *they are all wrong wrong wrong* and Rodney *must* get the rebuttal written before the Daedelus goes back! Because that kind of addle-headed thinking cannot be encouraged!
cupidsbow: John smiles. Says, "Sure, Rodney," and when they get back to Atlantis, he goes to his room and cleans his gun compulsively three times in a row. Because he was turned down for a *science paper*!
cupidsbow: He's starting to seriously wonder about the wisdom of the whole three-strikes concept, because obviously now that he's actually experiencing the down-side, it's not looking like such a good system. But on the other hand... closed society. Stalking would look bad on the record.
cupidsbow: But he puts off the third attempt anyway, not wanting to give up on the dream too soon.
cupidsbow: A week or so later, at games night, which John has dragged Rodney to, and that doesn't count, dammit, because it's in *public*, and not a *date*, Lorne lets drop that on the recent mission John got hit on by the bimbo of the week.
cupidsbow: Rodney goes, "What! When did that happen!"
cupidsbow: Lorne gives the whole lurid story, complete with heaving bosoms and come hither eyes, and mimics the way the bimbo had rubbed herself all over John.
vegetariansushi: heh.
cupidsbow: Rodney sniffs and says, "It's just as well you're so good at catching, Colonel. If you had to actually use any skill in picking people up, you'd never get laid."
vegetariansushi: OW
cupidsbow: Yeah.
cupidsbow: But John just blinks once, not letting it show. And in his most dangerous voice says, "Is that a *challenge*, McKay?"
cupidsbow: And Rodney goes a bit red and says, "What? No! Don't be redi--"
cupidsbow: But Lorne laughs and says, "It sure sounded like a challenge to *me*," and all the other marines and scientists agree.
cupidsbow: "$50 on the Colonel," says Lorne.
cupidsbow: Bates says, "Who does he have to 'woo'."
cupidsbow: Everyone starts catcalling out names: "Teyla! Elizabeth!"
cupidsbow: "No!" says John, in his most commanding voice. "In my experience, women never take being part of a bet well, especially when it comes to sex." And then, mustering every little bit of acting talent he has, John says in his most laid-back, manly voice, "Besides, what's good for the goose is meant to be pretty good for the gander. Or so I've heard," and he looks pointedly at Rodney.
cupidsbow: All the marines go quiet for a moment, and then Lorne totally loses it, which sets all the rest of them off. "Oh, God," Lorne wheezes, watching Rodney's face go from startled, to comprehending to aghast. "This is going to be priceless! $200 on the Colonel."
cupidsbow: "Done!" says Bates.
vegetariansushi: heh.
cupidsbow: "Wait!" says Rodney. "That's! You can't! But!"
vegetariansushi: hee
cupidsbow: And it's all John can do not to punch the air with total glee! Because not only has he scored another three tries! But, by the very nature of the engagement, they have to be as big, public and showy as possible!
vegetariansushi: hee!
cupidsbow: "Just so you know the ground rules," he says, to a still sputtering Rodney, "I work by the three strike principle. Withstand that, and it's all over."
cupidsbow: Rodney: "You can not be seriously--"
cupidsbow: John: "It's a matter of honour now, McKay. I'm totally serious."
vegetariansushi: this is an excellent plan, btw.
cupidsbow: And the marines and scientists are making bigger and bigger bets, and after another moment of gaping, Rodney gets it together, and crosses his arms, even though his cheeks are still bright red: "I thought the military had a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy!"
cupidsbow: John just smirks. "Any of you fellas see anything unusual here?"
cupidsbow: "Sir, no sir!" they all chorus, and go back to making bets.
vegetariansushi: HEE!
cupidsbow: "Three strikes," says John, and gets up and leaves the marines to it.
vegetariansushi: i'm charmed by this
cupidsbow: I can't tell you how much I adore this idea! But it's another novel. I can't help myself. But I think I'm going to write this one. In fact, it's the one I've got a feeling I'll start after Being John is done.
cupidsbow: Anyway, to return to the ever-more convoluted plot.
cupidsbow: So John starts planning his moves. I don't have all the details of this part yet.
cupidsbow: Anyway, John starts off with a bang, doing something like making the whole city open up like a giant flower, with a huge shield, just for Rodney.
vegetariansushi: hee!
cupidsbow: That doesn't work, although Rodney looks a bit shaken.
cupidsbow: John goes back to his room and cleans his hand gun, starting to seriously question his sanity.
cupidsbow: Then he tries something a bit more traditional, maybe with coffee or chocolate, but I haven't worked that out yet.
cupidsbow: Rodney actually refuses the gift, although it clearly causes him several major heart palpitations, and John ends up sending it to the mess, and by now the whole of Atlantis is hanging on every word that passes between Rodney and John, and there's about a million dollars, a tonne of chocolate and several trucks-worth of electronic equipment on the bartering table.
cupidsbow: After the coffee failure, John not only cleans his hand gun, but spends a couple of hours counting ammunition. He finds it soothing.
cupidsbow: And then, time for the big finale.
cupidsbow: The Daedelus comes in, and one of the cargo techs comes into the mess, wheeling a box. It's dinner time, and the whole of Atlantis is there.
cupidsbow: "Rodney McKay?" the tech says, and follows all the pointing fingers to Rodney.
cupidsbow: He thrusts a clipbaord in front of Rodney and gets him to sign, which Rodney reluctantly does.
cupidsbow: And then the tech rolls over the box and hands it over.
cupidsbow: A muffled mewling sound comes from inside.
vegetariansushi: aww
cupidsbow: Rodney just stares at John for a moment, and then he's tearing frantically at the box, pulling at it desperately, cutting open one hand and not even realising it, and yes, there inside is one truly pissed off cat! Fur in spikes, hissing, eyes wide.
cupidsbow: "Oh, my god," says Rodney, reaching in and pulling out the cat. After a second it goes limp in his arms and starts to pur like a steam train.
cupidsbow: And when he looks back at John, he's actually crying, and he says, voice broken, "Okay, you win. You can have whatever you want. You win." And then he's out of there, leaving nothing but wake.
vegetariansushi: aww, rodney. hart so much a lot
cupidsbow: Through the strange feeling of vertigo John is trying not to show on his face, he can hear Lorne say, "Jesus, how much does it cost to transport a cat on the Daedelus?"
cupidsbow: The tech, still standing around watching the whole thing play with interest, says, "$215,000 give or take."
cupidsbow: "Jesus," says Lorne again, and John can feel all the eyes on him, like spikes on his skin. And he knows how he has to play this. He's been practicing it in his head for weeks. Knows exactly how it has to go, if he's going to pull this off with his cred intact.
cupidsbow: He turns slowly to look at Lorne and says, voice totally blank, "I flew a nuclear payload into a Wraith hive ship. Did you really think there was anything I wouldn't do to win?" And then, with another slow look at all the faces staring at him, John turns and saunters out of the mess.
cupidsbow: Behind him, as he goes, he hears Bates say, "God. The Wraith are toast," and his voice has total belief in it. The kind of belief John has been trying everything in his power to inculcate in his people, and the kind of faith he never thought he'd really manage to create. And he should feel more triumphant, because he not only achieved his primary objective, he achieved his secondary objective too, and it was worth it at twice the price. But all he feels is hollow and worried, remembering that broken note to Rodney's voice.
cupidsbow: And that's pretty much where I'm up to. But needless to say, John needs to use his final, private strike before he finally wins Rodney.
cupidsbow: What do you think?
vegetariansushi: i think that it's charming
vegetariansushi: very long
vegetariansushi: but utterly charming
cupidsbow: Oh thank god. Beause I like it too. Really a lot.

*happy sigh*

* * *

Finding Songvids
That novella still makes me crazy with glee! Oh, how far I have come since those heady days, when everything was fresh and new!

My fandom adventure didn't stop there, though, and after I found IM, I also became songvid compatible, and could finally download and play songvids. And, oh! What a treasure trove I found! Here are some of my all-time favourites, and I still watch them regularly:

No Pairing, "Stress" by wickedwords & sherrold

McKay/Sheppard, "The Writer" by suzvoy

McKay/Sheppard, Sheppard/Chaya, "Jolene" by z_rayne

McKay/Sheppard, "Bohemian Like You" by astolat

McKay/Sheppard, "Dreams" by newkidfan

McKay/Sheppard, "Absolutely Cuckoo" by zoetrope

McKay/Sheppard, "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" by obfreak

McKay/Sheppard, 'Petty Theft' by sandrainthesun and ras_elased

McKay/Sheppard, 'Men Of Devotion' by chayiana

McKay/Sheppard, 'Scrapbook of My Life' by mamoru

Cliches, Games, Meta
It feels like such a long time ago that all this happened. My love affair with John and Rodney began in 2005, which means I've been in love with them for more than four years. Four years! In that time, my love grew and changed, alongside both the canon and fanon. I tried out lots of different things, including a lot of the fanon cliches, like amnesia (Mnemonic, or Four Ways John Sheppard Didn't Lose His Mind), jungle adventure (Jungle Fever), time travel (soon again gone), genderfuck (Sheppard's Choice) and fairy tales (Happily Ever After (the Pegasus remix)).

Each one of those stories is a happy memory for me.

But my love hasn't just been for reading, writing and songvids. There's been another huge, I could even say looming, aspect of my SGA love. Yes, I'm talking about the meta. I really cut my fannish teeth on SGA meta -- whoa, what a baptism of fire. :)

Look at all the stuff I've had a chance to do: I've recced, and asked questions, and talked about writing, and taken part in discussion.

I've learned so much. So damn much.

And so many people have come along for the ride with me. Without egging on, I never would have: played games, haikued, remixed, bad ficced, and even songvidded. (It's all your fault, you see. I take pleasure in passing the buck. :)

When I think about what I love most, that's what I always come back to. The way we all share John and Rodney; the way we all remake their love into something new and fresh every time we create.

Right now, after this four-year journey I've been on -- all the time, the thought, the stories, the passion -- I feel a little heart-broken. Here we are at the end of canon (for now); and with Jennifer and Rodney declaring their love on screen, it's taken a while to find my way back to my McSheppy happy place. Some days it's still hard to remember why I fell, how hard I fell, how inevitable it all seemed. John and Rodney have lived and loved inside my head for so long, and it's been lonely without them, the days they stay away.

But velocitygrass is right: It's Only Just Begun. Because I remember now; as I put together this post, re-watched the vids, re-read my favourite stories, and revisited all the storytime transcripts I've shared, I remembered just what it was I loved.

It's you, you know. All of you, and all the ways in which you and I have shared this crazy, high-octane creativity and passion. What a thrill ride! I remember why John and Rodney rocked my world now: it's you. And as long as you're all still ready to play, I'll be here, ready for my world to be rocked, and ready to fall in love with John and Rodney a couple of thousand more times.

I won't forget again.
Tags: essay, fandom, fiction, links, recs, sga, slash, songvids

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