kageygirl

Atlantis slash

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Atlantis kageygirl

Existentialism

Title: Existentialism

Author: kageygirl

E-mail: kageygirl@gmail.com

URL: http://www.kageygirl.com

Feedback: LiveJournal

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Pairing: Sheppard/McKay preslash

Rating: G

Date: 10/19/04

Spoilers: 1.06 "Childhood's End"

"Why are we here, again?"

Major John Sheppard rolled onto his side in his sleeping bag. He felt the furs lining the floor shift into odd lumps beneath him. Bracing himself on an elbow, he looked across at Rodney McKay, who was reclining on his own pile of polyester and animal hide, staring up at the ceiling. "Because we promised Keras and his people that we'd check up on them."

"Well, technically, you promised, but that's not what I'm asking." Rodney shrugged off his covers and sat up, looking back at John. His face was shadowed, intermittently lit by the flickering torchlight outside. Rodney waved a hand at their surroundings, the movement just a blur against the darkness. "Why are we here, in this airborne hut?"

"Because Keras offered it to us, and we didn't want to be rude." John pulled his legs out of the sleeping bag and pushed himself into a sitting position. He raised his eyebrows, though he wasn't sure Rodney could see him. "I'm sorry—did you want to walk back to the Jumper in the dark? Through the forest?"

"Well—not especially, no."

"OK, then."

John rested his palms on the floor and leaned back, listening to the night sounds. He could still hear Ford and Teyla talking to the older kids, down by the fire pit on the ground below. Rodney started messing with his pile of bedding, and John turned his head toward the rustling. "Since you brought it up…why are you here, McKay? As you pointed out, I'm the one who promised to come back."

Rodney's voice came back to him muffled. "I'm a member of this team. If anything goes wrong, you'll need me." If the Wraith show up, John heard, though none of them had said as much. The hope that they'd incapacitated the probe before it sent any information back had been the elephant in the Jumper the whole way here.

Rodney gave a heavy sigh, and the rustling stopped. His voice was clearer now. "Besides, I wanted to make sure the shield was still working properly."

"I thought you fixed it the first time."

"I did."

"So why do you need to check up on it?"

John could tell that Rodney was staring at him, but he couldn't make out the expression on his face. Rodney huffed out an exasperated breath and turned away from him.

John tilted his head at Rodney as a thought occurred to him. "Well, as long as you're not here to check up on the kids…"

Rodney answered him far too quickly. "They made it this long without adult supervision—I hardly think there's anything they need from us now."

John nodded to himself, not bothering to hide his smile in the low light. "Of course not."

Laughter cascaded in from outside, led by Ford's clear voice. John fiddled with his watch, turning the lighted face on and off a few times. He said quietly, "We activated that Wraith beacon. We owed it to them to make sure that they were all right."

"I activated it, you mean." Rodney sounded casual, offhanded, and that got John's attention. He sat up straighter and peered into the darkness where Rodney sat. "When I took the ZPM and turned off the shield."

John reached out and found Rodney's forearm. The other man didn't move, but his arm was rigid with tension. John wrapped his fingers around Rodney's wrist and felt the tendons stretched taut under the skin. "You were following our mandate. And my orders." He gave Rodney's wrist a brief shake. "You don't get to own this one, McKay."

"If I hadn't been able to put it back—"

"But you did." John cut him off, tightening his grip. "We fixed it, and we moved on." He relaxed his hand, and let Rodney go with a quick pat. "Don't start that game, Rodney, because I'll win. I'm the one who activated that Wraith tracking device of Teyla's and started this whole thing."

"But you had no way of knowing—"

"Exactly." He bumped Rodney's knee with his own. "I knew you'd get it eventually."

Rodney was silent for a long moment. John listened to him breathe quietly for a few minutes, then Rodney inhaled decisively. "Well. I suppose this one turned out for the best, anyway—they'll get to start living to a ripe old age. Maybe even discover the wonders of indoor plumbing."

If his optimism was a little forced, well, Rome wasn't built in a day. It was a start. "I'm glad. Keras is a good kid. He deserves to see thirty."

Rodney chuckled. John liked how it sounded in the dark, warm and close. Then Rodney said, "Keras has a crush on you."

John shook his head in confusion. "What? No, he doesn't."

Rodney scoffed at him. "Oh, please, Major. You can't tell me you haven't noticed."

"He's a kid!"

"He's twenty-five." Rodney's voice turned genuinely curious. "Are you honestly saying you haven't noticed the way he watches you?"

John stretched out on his sleeping bag, interlacing his fingers and resting his head on his hands. He stared up at the stars winking through the tiny windows, but he could still feel Rodney looking at him. "You're nuts."

Rodney sounded incredulous. "Major, he wanted you to be there when he killed himself. Which, granted, is fairly creepy, but still—he'd just met you."

John shrugged helplessly, lifting his elbows off the floor. "I'm a…likable guy."

Rodney snorted, then lay back down beside John. "Not really, no. Keras just doesn't know you like I do."

John grinned up at the shadowy ceiling. "You don't like me, Rodney? Not even a little bit?"

"No, sorry."

Turning his head, John could just see Rodney's profile. A flare of firelight illuminated his face, and John could see that Rodney's eyes were closed, but his lips were twisted into a smile.

Every now and then, on a good day, a moment arrived when John knew exactly why he was there.