Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Characters: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Word Count: 1874
Summary: For John Sheppard, home is not a place.
John knelt on the blanket, slowly packing the empty dishes into the picnic basket. The soft sound of waves behind him at low tide not working to soothe his mind and heart. He shifted and felt the rounded pebbles beneath him move as well. He double checked the blanket and the white rock upon which the blanket lay for any remaining items before closing the basket and standing to retrieve the blanket. He carefully, oh so carefully, folded the blanket while making sure every line was perfectly in place. As perfectly as the mask he must once again wear.
Everything had to be perfect today. Even the ending where his heart would break. The corners perfectly in line, the blanket folded and creased, he tucked it under the handle of the Athosian basket. Everything in place and ready to be loaded into the cloaked jumper. He looked around once more for anything that might have been missed and realized he was just delaying the inevitable.
John turned to look out over the ocean and sighed, realizing that no ocean on Earth was ever going to look or smell quite right ever again. Too much time spent on untouched worlds with pristine waters had ruined his perception of the planet of his birth. It was just as well that the IOA had finally agreed to send them back to Pegasus. Well, to send most of them back.
He let his gaze drift down the beach toward the lone figure poking around in the sand with a stick. He just watched for several minutes, trying to make a final, perfect memory of this moment. This last moment that they could be together. How long he stared, he wasn’t sure, but he realized that the eyes were now watching him. Time to suck it up. He’s the military commander of an outpost in another galaxy. You don’t get that position by being timid.
He straightened his spine and started walking toward Rodney. It’s time to let go of the fantasy and get on with real life.
“Just about ready to go, John?” Rodney looked nervous. He’s been like this for the last week, and John hated to see him so uptight. But this is one time he just can’t bring himself to help him out. John can let him go if that’s what Rodney needs to be happy, but he can’t be the one to say it. He just can’t be the one that says the words that will end what little they had. What little John had to hang onto all these years.
“Yeah, all packed up. You ready, Rodney?”
“Um. Yes. Uh..no. Maybe…well, you see there is something I need to ask you.” Rodney’s hands started rubbing against his pants, and the flop sweat started flowing. Watching him was a different kind of pain for John, and he was trying to decide if he was strong enough to hear it.
Suddenly it struck him that Rodney was going to ask him to be best man and No, just NO, he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t stand there and watch the love of his life marry that bitch. And how could Rodney even think to ask him to do that after the amazing sex they just had? The man is clueless, but not deliberately obtuse. He couldn’t possibly believe that John would agree.
“Um…you see…. wait……no?”
John looked away.
“What do you mean no? I haven’t even asked you yet.”
“I know, Rodney. Heck, everyone knows. Jennifer has been telling everyone, and I just can’t be your best man on this one.”
“What exactly has Jennifer been telling ‘everyone’?” Rodney’s voice sounded confused.
“She was reviewing your financial statements and saw that you had a $53,000 purchase from Bulgari’s. She’s been telling everyone that she can’t wait for you to pop the question.” John kept his eyes on the waves, unable to look Rodney in the eye to see confirmation.
“That Bitch!” John jerked his head around to see Rodney’s face working around the words. “How dare she access my statements. How did she get my password? OH! OH!” He snapped his fingers. “It must have been when I was under anesthesia to have my transponder changed to the new one. I told her I don’t respond well when I’m coming out of it with that new drug, and she promised me that she wouldn’t allow anyone else near me so I wouldn’t accidentally talk. Well, the joke’s on her.”
“You thought I was going to ask you to be my best man?” Rodney sounded hurt, and it wasn’t a sound he liked hearing.
“You bought her an engagement ring. What was I supposed to think?”
“But she was our beard. You know that. Don’t you trust me?”
“I trust you with everything. But I know you hate being my dirty little secret. I hate it too. If there was another way…you know I would tell everyone.”
“I know John. I could care less about what everyone else thinks about me. You’ve met me, right?”
John laughed tightly.
“It’s us, John. Together. You’re the only one I’ve ever really wanted.”
“Me too, ya know. It was killing me thinking I had misread things so badly that I didn’t even see you and Keller as a real couple.” John smiled slightly, a hint of relief slowly releasing the stranglehold on his spine as he began to slowly slouch back into his normal relaxed posture. “So, what about Keller?”
“She knew I wasn’t serious about her. She agreed to pretend to date me to keep all the military guys from hitting on her. They don’t dare cross me. Hell, I’d never have sex with her, I would feel like a pedophile. I’m not entirely certain she’s legal. Little miss nosey better like her placement on Earth, because there is no way in hell I am trusting her on my city again.” Rodney looked like he was contemplating something awful and brilliant. It was going to be a pleasure watching the fallout of this.
John watched the calculation in Rodney’s eyes for a moment before curiosity won out, “So, what?”
“Hmm?” was the distracted response.
“What were you going to ask me?”
“You mean before you went off the deep end and thought I could possibly be tempted to marry the shrew?”
John scratched the back of his head, “Yeah, sorry about that.”
“Well, she wasn’t exactly wrong about Bulgari’s.”
“Yes. I ordered necklaces for Jeannie and Madison. There’s a watch for Caleb, a bracelet for Teyla, and a buckle for Ronon that has a custom built-in knife.
John perked up, “Really? Can I see that one?”
“Sure, but maybe you would like to see yours first?” Rodney curled the fingers that had been previously counting out presents into a fist.
“You got me something?”
“Actually, I got us something…somethings.”
“What did you get?” John drew out the question with the hint of a smile.
“Well, that has to do with that question I had for you.” Rodney’s hands were rubbing along his pants again. Finally, he reached into his pocket to pull out a small velvet drawstring bag. Two rings poured out into his open hand and John saw the light glint off the dark silver and blue rings. They looked like small stargates with blue inlaid stones reflecting light as if the gate were dialing an address. “John, would you marry me?”
“What?” John jerked his eyes from the bag to Rodney’s face. He couldn’t decide if he was ecstatic or crushed. “Rodney….DADT….I just, you know I want to, but…”
“Yes, yes, I know about your country’s draconian morality. But, unlike you, I was born in a more enlightened land. And, unlike you, I am willing to use the goodwill I’ve built up saving the planet from alien invasion to demand some changes around here. If someone else benefits from it, well, good for them. But I’m a self-centered genius who doesn’t care about what everyone else thinks.”
“Rod-ney, what did you do?”
“I may have had a few conversations with leaders of the US and Canada regarding certain procedures and practices. And, I might have made a few demands.”
“Am I going to be arrested when we get back?”
“As if. In six months the new UCMJ will be released, and that abomination known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be removed. You will probably have an official communication notifying you that starting today, no one is to be reported or prosecuted for such things. There’s a hold on it. As for you,…well, if you want it, there is an agreement in place allowing you to transfer to the Canadian military service with equivalent time in rank. O’Neill confirmed in private that it would not change your status on Atlantis.”
“O’Neill knows?” John tried not to allow panic to rise.
“Don’t worry about him. Everyone knows he and Jackson have been shacking up for years.”
“There’s knowing, and there’s knowing, Rodney.”
“Yeah, well there’s knowing, and then there’s having video.”
John lowered his head into his hands, “You are not blackmailing my superior officer. Tell me you’re not.”
“I don’t need to. Jack wants to share it with the President’s wife to make her stop hitting on Jackson when they are invited to the White House dinners.”
“How do you even know all of this? You never talk to anyone about anything that is not science.”
“I don’t waste my time on that crap. I have Miko and Radek for that. Trust me, Miko knows everyone’s dirty little secrets. And Radek isn’t above using them for his own gain. It was a mistake to let them have sex. When they haven’t been overseeing repairs, or screwing like bunnies, they’ve been datamining everyone. I’m sure by now they know more about those in power than those idiots know about themselves.”
John stared at the rings in Rodney’s hand. “How certain are you about the no prosecution?”
“I would never take a chance with your career, John.” Rodney followed his eyes to the rings, “The offer from Canada is legit. They will fast-track citizenship for you if you want it. But the US President and the Prime Minister are willing to give you dual citizenship and a waiver. You would be on temporary assigned duty with the Canadian forces until the new code goes into effect.”
“Why now? Why not wait until it’s final?”
“You were going to ride another nuke, John. I can’t change who you are. But I won’t be forced to miss one more moment of our lives together. And I refuse to live a lie. You told me once that Atlantis was home to you now because that’s where I am. That’s what these rings mean to me…home. I always want you to have a reason to come home.”
“Are you going to get down on one knee for me?”
“If I’m on my knees, there better be dick involved.”
“I could arrange that.” John said coyly.
“I call bullshit. If you can still get it up today, then I was doing that all wrong.”
“Some of us are in better shape.”
“I changed my mind, I’m taking my ring back.”