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Follow a Star (John/Rodney, PG)

Title: Follow a Star
Author: esteefee
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG
Categories: Steampunk AU, First Time
Words: 5,712
Warnings: gore and serious injury to the Genii.
Summary: The Genii clan are up to no good. Only Dr. McKay's inventions stand between
Atlantis and their treachery. But how can the Queen's Commander defend Atlantis on two fronts at once?
A/N: Inspired by Death Gliders by Leyna.


Follow a Star

by esteefee



"I wish the Genii clan would give up this foolishness," McKay said, glowering at John from over his latest invention. "Tyrus was never legitimately in the line of succession. Everyone knows that."

"People get unreasonable when it comes to politics. And power," John said lazily.

"I know that!" Rodney cursed a moment later when his tool slipped, and he thrust his hand up to his mouth. "Ow," he mumbled around a knuckle. The cuff of his sleeve was singed with old burn marks. John grinned, charmed at the sight.

"What are you making for me this time?" He tried not to sound too eager.

"Why do you assume it's for you?" Rodney said loftily. "I could be working on something for myself for a change. My life's work doesn't revolve around the Queen's Commander." He dug around on his desk for a plaster. He kept a lot of them lying around.

John came up with one first and handed it over. "Because it looks like one of mine."

Rodney smirked. "It is at that." He wrapped up his knuckle and then applied a screwdriver to the tiny star-shaped device trapped within the vise. "See, you engage the switch here, then let it fly at the Genii spy you are tracking. Once it catches, it emits a signal you can follow using that controller there."

"Brilliant," John said breathlessly. "Don't let it go to your head, but you're a genius."

"I don't need you to tell me that."

John idled around the table while he waited for Rodney to finish his work. "What's this?" John poked at a diagram of what appeared to be a man wearing a pair of...wings?

Rodney put down his tool and rushed over to roll up the diagram. "It's nothing." He shoved it into his wall of cubbyholes, all filled with similar rolls of vellum.

"Can you really make it?" John's heart nearly stopped at the idea. "Could a man fly?"

Rodney snorted derisively. "I can make anything. Whether it is advised or not is another thing."

"McKay–"

"It was a late-night fancy. Don't get your hopes up."

"Oh, I will." John bounced a little at the thought. "Imagine the tactical advantages."

"There are many difficulties to overcome," Rodney warned. "The wings must be large, in proportion to that of a raptor to its body; at the same time, they must be able to collapse or they would be unwieldy before and after. The captain must have some means of steering in flight; and then, because he cannot flap like a bird, he must propel himself forward by some other means, a power of some kind. All of these things add weight. It's a tricky problem."

"But to fly..."

They shared a look, and then Rodney shook his head, smiling a bit. "You are absurd."

John looked down, feeling warmed. "Why else would you spend time with me?"

"There is that." Rodney finished what he was doing and released the tiny device from the clamp. "Here. The prototype and controller. I'm sure you'll lose it or break it immediately."

"But not before I report back on the results." John grinned.

Rodney gave him a nod in return. "Be careful."

"When am I not?"

"Hah."

:::

John had hopes that, with this new device, he could track Sora, a servant to the Queen and known by them to be a Genii terrorist spy. Because of the device they would have much better luck than usual–they could hang back and let her wander to the limits its range before following her, if possible back to the Genii meeting place. They might finally beard Tyrus, their leader, in his den.

John took with him only his most trusted squad–Specialists Dex, Ramirez, Lorne and Fonteneau.

Perhaps trusting too much in the device, and less on simple logic, John wasn't expecting a trap. But before John's team reached anything that could be deemed a meeting place, they were ambushed.

Ronon somehow sensed it coming, for he yelled out, yanking John behind a staircase. Shots rang out just as the others took cover, and John saw the Genii positioned above and ahead in the shadows. He pulled his own revolver and took aim as the gunfire continued.

Thanks to Ronon's warning the Genii's trap had sprung too early, so both sides ran out of rounds before they made any hits. John pulled his sword and charged forward, his team at his side.

Now, in close quarters, though out-manned, his elite team had the advantage. John had never seen Ronon's equal in bladework, and he was no slouch himself. Lorne, Ramirez and Fonteneau also distinguished themselves, and in what seemed like a very short time, but was measured in high beats of his heart, John surveyed a victorious field of unconscious or slain Genii.

It was just then the controller on his hip let out a beep, and from the shadows Sora stepped out, a dueling pistol shaking in her hand. Before John could react, she'd raised it and fired.

The round struck him in the chest, and he wasn't conscious of his men's reaction, or of falling to the ground, only of the pain spreading from the single point of impact. His hands scrabbled ineffectively over his vest, the vest McKay had given him and his men, embedded with fine, thin sheets of hard metal for just this reason. He couldn't reach the source of his pain, could only lay a hand on his chest and gasp raggedly against the air.

"Sheppard!" It was Ronon, blood dappling his cheek. He lifted John by the shoulders, and the pain swelled fiercely. "Sheppard, are you–"

:::

"–a complete idiot? That's what I want to know."

"Huh?" John opened his eyes. The green-blue of Atlantis' walls greeted him.

"I did not create that vest so you could be shot directly over the heart," Rodney said, sounding frantic.

"I–well. She's a good shot."

"Sora? I suppose she was. I'm afraid Fonteneau was a little hasty in disarming her, and took off her hand." Rodney's voice held vicious satisfaction.

"Oh." John was surprised Ronon hadn't gotten to her first. "I don't get it."

"What's not to get? She shot the Queen's Commander–"

"No, I mean, I don't understand why they ambushed us. Why the trap? They usually pick flashier targets for their attacks. Also, how did they know we were tracking her? There is no possible way for them to have known. We weren't anywhere near her as we followed her trail."

"Hmmm. Yes, a pretty problem." Rodney was diverted from his concern, which had been John's intent. "Perhaps...it's possible they have a device in your offices, listening to your plans. A mechanical spy."

John raised his head, then regretted it. He closed his eyes. "Is that even possible?"

"Of course. It's something I've long considered. The sympathetic vibration of sound...sent via another means to the listener."

John thought about it. It would explain so much about Genii movements, about their ability to evade John's men. "But why the trap, unless they imagined...McKay, maybe they thought I'd need you to work the tracking device. I mentioned you had created it."

"You think the Genii are after me?" Rodney's voice squeaked, and John opened his eyes.

"You are our inventor. The man with the answers." John thought it through. "What if they didn't mean to kill you, but to take you."

"But-but–"

"I won't let that happen." John leaned forward when Rodney didn't respond, and quietly, "Do you hear me, Rodney? I would never let that happen."

"Well, I should think not," Rodney said, only mildly indignant, obviously reassured.

John smiled. "Maybe we can turn the trap back on them. Especially if you figure out this supposed listening device."

"If it exists." Rodney's indignant expression went thoughtful, and then turned crafty. It was enough to make John laugh a little with a pained groan.

"Stop that. You'll have Beckett back in here with more of his smelly poultices."

"I thought it was just me."

Rodney sniffed. "It could be. Hard to tell."

"Oh, shut up."

:::

The bruise on John's chest diminished rapidly thanks to more applications of Beckett's smelly poultices, and though they quickly drove Rodney away, John was glad to recover fast enough to get out of the surgery and make his report to his Queen.

"Your majesty, I believe I know how and why we were lured into the trap," John said later the next day when he was granted an audience before Queen Teyla. "Dr. McKay was able to locate a device that was used to eavesdrop on conversations made in my offices."

The Queen looked concerned, and the captain of her personal guard, Bates, said, "What about here in her chambers?"

"McKay didn't find any sign of the signals used. Maybe they only had the resources for one of the devices. The crystal it uses for its power source is hard to find."

"Go on," Queen Teyla said.

John settled into a chair across from her and reported on the ambush. "My men are uninjured. Three Genii were taken into custody, including Sora, who lost her right hand. Beckett is tending to her, but two of my men are guarding her."

Teyla winced when she heard the news about Sora's hand. Bates just looked satisfied.

"She shot me in the chest," John added. "McKay's vest came in handy pretty handy."

"Are you all right?"

John cracked a grin. "Beckett's released me for duty."

"That does not answer my question," Teyla said archly.

"I'll be fine in a day or two, by the time Dr. McKay is ready with his new receiver, as he calls it. It captures the signals they use to communicate over distances," John added at her questioning look. "We should be able to listen in on what the Genii are telling each other."

"Will they be aware we are listening?"

"McKay doesn't think so. It will be like dipping from a stream, he says."

"And the original device?"

"We've left it intact for now. With it, we could give them false information and lead them into a trap of our own."

"Risky, but worth it to end this game. Too many citizens have been injured by their attacks. The Prime Minister is offering to lend us troops to settle this once and for all."

"I think–Your Majesty, if you don't mind my saying so, bringing in too much force would look wrong. This isn't a coup we're trying to quell, here. Tyrus is a pretender, yes, but the Genii are a small clan of vicious troublemakers. The people are happy as a whole, and see them as aristocratic idiots. And the troops have their responsibility to patrol the borders should the Wraith ever reappear as a threat."

Teyla nodded. "I will thank Elizabeth but tell her we plan to handle this internally."

John stood and gave a sketchy bow. "I'll let you know when Rodney has the device ready." He nodded at Bates and took his leave.

:::

"But seriously–to fly, Mckay–"

"Oh, put that back. Don't we have more important things to worry about?"

"Hey, you have to eat sometime. I brought you tea." John pointed to the tray of sandwiches, scones and coffee he'd put on the side table when he came in. "Eat up." John turned back to the wing diagram and traced his finger over the power pack strapped to the figure's hips. "The pilot of one of these things could do a lot to report on a battle from the air," John said, "if he had one of your transmitter and receiver doodads."

"You don't ask for much, do you?" Rodney said around mess of bread and meat.

"Nope." John grinned and then reluctantly rolled up the diagram and put it away. "How goes the work?"

"It goes, it goes. It would go a lot faster if you didn't appear all the time to distract me–"

"With food?" John smiled, feeling unaccountably fond of the curmudgeon.

"Or-or with whatever, in your shirtsleeves–don't they make you dress properly in the Queen's command?–and then disappearing to wherever you go when you aren't here, to do whatever it is you do. Shoot at each other, perhaps. You always smell of gunpowder and blood." Rodney took a sip of his coffee and eyed him darkly over the rim of his mug.

John laughed. "Don't ever change, McKay," he said, and reached out to ruffle Rodney's hair, to Rodney's indignant, "Stop that at once!"

"Like I said–a distraction," Rodney said, but John noticed he was smiling slightly as John left.

:::

"We'll start where we ended the search last time," John said, trying not to sound false to his own ears. "The operation begins at seventeen hundred tomorrow."

Ronon nodded, and then looked chagrined. "Yes, sir," he said, his voice rusty. "Who's coming?"

"Just the core team. We don't want to draw attention."

"Seventeen hundred."

They grinned at each other foolishly, looking down at the lamp the device was hidden within, and then John cleared his throat and grinned wickedly. "So. I kicked your ass in training yesterday. You'll have to work on that."

Ronon's eyes went narrow. "Yes, sir," he gritted out. "Permission to be dismissed."

John laughed to himself as Ronon turned on his heel and exited.

:::

Sword practice the next morning was not pleasant.

:::

By sixteen hundred John's team with the addition of two more squads was already en route, using McKay's latest contraption to detect the strength of the originating signal in order to determine where the Genii base of operations was.

"I don't like this," Ronon said, dropping the "radio" from his ear at one point. They'd left Atlantis proper and were traveling the warrens that comprised the warehouse district of South Gate.

"What's the problem?"

"They're talking in code. But from what I can figure, they're not laying an ambush; they have a target in mind. They keep saying something about securing a package."

"Ramirez, bring me the tracker."

Ramirez trotted back and handed John the tracking device, which Rodney had calibrated as best he could to home in on the Genii's base transmitter. "McKay said something about letting us see the scatter pattern of the individual units. Do you know how to change it?"

"Yes, sir." Ramirez turned a dial, clicking it to the right, and the glass screen suddenly changed from its steady compass display to a diffuse spray of dots, all centering on the northeast edge of the screen.

John clenched his jaw. "That is not the ambush site. They're heading toward Atlantis."

"The Queen?" Ronon was vibrating beside him. "Impossible; they'd never get through her guard."

"Secure the package," John muttered.

"Possibly Sora," Ramirez offered.

"God, no," John said. "McKay. They want our scientist."

"Do we abort?"

"Any infiltration of Atlantis requires a warning to the Queen. It is our duty," John said. And John had promised Rodney. "On the other hand, this might be our best opportunity to capture Tyrus–when he is least defended."

"We can warn him," Ronon said, holding up the radio. "McKay is listening."

"I'm an idiot," John said. "Of course–tune it to his special band."

Ronon did so while John waited tensely, his only wish to rush back to Atlantis and defend and protect. Here he had Tyrus finally almost within his grasp, and all he could think about was running home to save Rodney. John shook his head ruefully. What an inconvenient time to realize he was well and truly besotted.

"McKay. This is Ronon. Can you hear me?"

There was an agonizing moment of silence, and then Rodney responded, "I thought we agreed not to use this unless there was a dire emergency? You realize they could be listening even on this superior band?"

John leaned over. "This is an emergency, McKay. Listen up: the Genii are on their way to Atlantis. They might already be infiltrating. Alert the Queen's Guard, and have them protect you. We think they are after you as the primary target. Either to capture or to kill."

"Wh-what?"

"You heard me. Atlantis has been infiltrated. You're in danger. Get moving. We'll keep silence until we've completed the mission. You do the same unless you need us."

"All right, John. I'm going."

"Good." John tapped Ronon's shoulder, and he turned down the radio, tucking away his fear. "Let's move out."

:::

Infiltrating the Genii stronghold turned out to be an anti-climax once they found it. Ramirez eventually directed them all below ground into a forgotten stretch of unused sewer. The tunnels were dismal and dank and stacked with His Lordship's belongings, hastily retrieved from his estates when he went, literally, underground.

John's men eyed the paintings, gilded furniture and rotting fineries and gave each other extravagant looks as they crept closer and closer toward the heart of the stronghold.

John halted when Ronon held up his fist and held up two fingers, pointing at the doorway to their left. Sliding to the right of the door, John waited for Ronon's cue.

Together they exploded into motion when the two guards walked in, Ronon grabbing the first and John the second, clapping his left hand over the man's mouth to silence him while his right slid a deft knife just under the man's ribs, slicing neatly to catch the big vein.

He held the man in his embrace until his struggles stopped, then he dragged him off to the side. A moment later Ronon joined him with his own man, laying him on top.

They shared a look and continued forward.

The hallway grew narrower and was lit by orange lanterns that fizzled with an unhealthy light. The men spread out and were silent behind him, but Ramirez pointed them confidently onward through a maze of lefts and rights until finally John heard a murmur of voices.

They pulled to a stop and planned their attack, made simpler by the small, mirrored contraption Rodney had created for them. It telescoped on a single arm and allowed John and Ronon to see into the room without stepping within.

It was obvious from the large transmitting device, the tables and papers, that this was tactical command. But there were only a few Genii soldiers and one balding man snapping out commands into the radio. John was disappointed to see no sign of Tyrus, whose face he was familiar with from portraits.

Still, this was their target. He looked to his men and counted down the command to attack.

Ronon was the first through the door, as always, his goal to take out the men standing near the commander. Ramirez stayed back with the gear, but John and Lorne followed right behind, a cry hoarse on John's lips as he headed straight for the commander, intending to neutralize the man behind the attack on McKay. The commander's eyes went wide and he went for the pistol on his broad belt, but John leaped over the table, the radio crashing beneath his feet as he vaulted over and tackled the man to the ground.

He was aware of the melee around him, but ignored it in favor of pounding the man's head until he was unconscious. Then John stood and pulled his long knife just as another Genii rushed toward him. John turned into the attack, letting the man's own momentum carry him into the stroke. The soldier made a gurgling sound as he fell.

John shifted, eager to find another engagement, but it appeared the battle was almost done. Fonteneau was making quick work of a soldier who seemed determined to destroy the papers and maps on the desk. Lorne was busy rolling the commander onto his stomach and strapping his hands behind his back.

Ronon stood over three bodies and was cleaning his sword in preparation of resheathing it.

"Well," John said to Ramirez, "can I borrow your canteen? I want to see if I can wake this fellow up."

:::

The commander's name was Cowen, and at first he didn't want to talk. That was until John pointed out he was under no obligation to ensure there were any survivors.

Ronon quirked a grin at John over Cowen's head. John was hard-pressed to keep a straight face, but then he remembered Rodney, who still hadn't reported in that he was safe.

"Where is Tyrus?" John asked.

Cowen pursed his mouth shut.

"I won't ask again. Produce his location, or die."

Cowen looked to the side, and then snarled. "Tyrus is dead. He died six months ago of syphilis, blast the man."

John's mouth dropped open. "Then what in hell have you been playing at?"

"The Genii clan has a rightful claim–"

"Oh, for pity's sake. Ronon? Have second squad bring the prisoners back to Atlantis. First squad is going back now."

Ronon prodded Cowen until he stood and then pushed him toward the door and handed him off to Stackhouse.

"I'm sure the Queen is looking forward to hearing all about it."

:::

John's team sped like the wind back to Atlantis. John had the radio on his own belt now, and kept it tuned to Rodney's special frequency, but he'd been unwilling to send a message of his own for fear of putting Rodney in danger. What if he was in hiding and John's voice gave away his position? Better to head back to Atlantis and use his secret weapon to locate him: the tracker he'd planted on Rodney before he'd left.

He knew Rodney must be aware of it. He'd created it, after all, and though John had pressed it into Rodney's shirt collar where he wasn't likely to notice it right away, eventually he'd have to.

John had only hoped Rodney would accept it in the spirit John had meant it: out of fear for Rodney's safety. The possibility the Genii might wish to abduct Rodney had unsettled John more than he'd been willing to admit at the time. It had seemed a reasonable precaution.

He'd little thought he'd need to use it so soon.

:::

"Report," John said to the Atlantis Guard as soon as they entered the first checkpoint at the South Gate.

"Sir, the Queen has been sequestered for her safety. There are rogue agents within the city. Captain Bates has captured six; they are down in the brig. He is hunting down the remainder.

"And Dr. McKay? Is he sequestered with the Queen?" No blip had yet appeared on the tracker's screen. Either McKay was out of range, or he had removed it. John hoped it was the former.

"I don't know, sir. You'll have to ask the Queen's own guard."

"We'll do that." John gathered his team with his eyes. "We'll stop by McKay's laboratory first." They headed for the nearest conveyance.

Rodney's laboratory was a mess.

Well, more of a mess than usual, to put it mildly. Papers were strewn, inventions scattered and smashed. John winced when he saw the delicate tubes of Rodney's oscilloscope, so very near to finished, cracked and scattered across the table.

"He's going to be pissed," Ronon said.

"If he didn't do this himself," John replied, because there was something almost methodical about the destruction, and he'd noticed most, but not all, of Rodney's diagrams were missing from their cubbyholes.

John pulled the tracker controller from his belt and was instantly reassured by the faint pulse of the green dot on the screen.

"There! We have him. North Tower, very faint."

Ronon practically grabbed the tracker out of John's hand. "Come on."

Following Ronon was second nature to John. There was no one who knew the city better with all its hidden corridors and twisted curves.

They were nearing the base of the tower when John's radio gave a brief spurt of harsh noise, and then Rodney spoke. "John. You bastard," he whispered. "You promised. They're closing in on my position."

John practically tore the radio from his belt, but before he could respond, another voice broke in. "Thank you for the information, Dr. McKay. But I'm afraid your Commander Sheppard will be too late to help you. He's busy capturing my scapegoat."

"Who is this?" Rodney said after a pause, his voice trembling.

John directed Ronon to keep moving. They rushed up the tower toward the green dot as silent as they could.

"Acastus Kolya at your service," the mocking voice replied. "Just stay where you are, Doctor. We'll be by to fetch you shortly."

Oh, no you won't, John thought, and moved even faster.

:::

They passed the slain guards at the entryway to the private suites–Bates must have attached the guards to Rodney for security. Ronon gave John a dark look and rushed onward.

There was no planned attacked this time, no careful preparation, just Ronon sending Ramirez and Fonteneau through a hidden passageway to flank the Genii. They attacked on Ronon's full-throated roar.

They took the Genii completely by surprise, catching them in deadly crossfire that downed four of them before they could pull their weapons. Four remained to fire back; John shot one in the shoulder, a bear of a man with pocked features and a black scowl. He hardly flinched from the wound, but pulled his sword.

John drew his own and rushed out to meet him. "Kolya, I presume," John said as they engaged.

"Sheppard," Kolya said over the ringing of their blades. "Come to rescue your pet?"

John bound his blade and kicked him back. "Well, geniuses are so hard to come by." Kolya looked off balance, so John followed with a two-handed cross-slice, but Kolya reached out and grabbed at his hilt, and John withdrew, managing to knick his other arm on the way.

Kolya spat out a curse and lunged forward almost carelessly, battering at John. He was expending strength unwisely, but his blows were strong, and John was hard-pressed, his wrists aching. He had to risk a look backward to make sure the field was clear behind him. Kolya took advantage of his momentary lapse and tried to gut him with a jab, but John turned and let the blade slip under his arm, trapping it. Now he rounded his own stroke toward Kolya's neck, and Kolya had to release his grip in order to try to block the blow.

But it was only a feint. John altered the stroke and took off Kolya's hand at the wrist.

Kolya's eyes widened in shock and he staggered back, dropping his sword. John kicked him away and surveyed the field.

Ronon had dispatched his own man and was assisting Ramirez. Fonteneau was trussing another Genii. Lorne was leaning against the wall, his foot on the back of the fourth, and watching John with one eyebrow lifted as if to say, "Good match."

John turned back to Kolya, who was sprawled on the floor with his wrist clamped tightly in his hand. As it was his left, the man was still a menace, and John was tempted to run him through the finish the job, but instead he reached into his vest and came up with a dressing.

"Lorne, help me get a tourniquet on him. And get his knives," John said darkly, "I don't trust him."

Once they had Kolya secured, his black eyes dulled with shock and pain, John finally reached for his radio.

"Rodney, can you hear me? We've taken care of the Genii." John snapped his fingers at Ronon, who came over and handed him the tracker. "You're safe."

"It's about damned time!" Rodney said, sounding a little hysterical. "Um, give me a chance to undo things before you come to get me. I've set some booby traps."

John laughed with sheer relief.

:::

"You're quite sure you're all right?" John said, knowing he was hovering. Rodney was disheveled, surrounded by rolls of vellum and cobbled-together devices John was quite sure were lethal.

"Yes, yes," Rodney said, twitchy and irritated. "Help me get these things back to my laboratory." He wouldn't meet John's eyes, but he accepted John's hand as he helped him to rise, and though John's arms were full he stayed close on the walk back to Rodney's chambers.

:::

Unfortunately, John couldn't linger. He had to do his duty and go with the Queen to visit Sora in the Surgery. Teyla looked deeply saddened–John knew she and Sora had spent time in their youth playing together as children of the clans.

"That it should come to this," Teyla said under her breath. But she lifted her head at the door to the Surgery and swept in.

"My Queen," Beckett said, and rushed to bring her a seat, placing it by Sora's bed. John took a post where he could keep watch.

Sora turned her head on her pillow and gave Teyla a hateful look. "If it isn't the tyrant."

"Oh, Sora." Teyla looked down at Sora's bandaged wrist. "Why? You hadn't seen your father since you were a child."

"You need ask? He was still my father. And you killed him!"

Teyla raised an eyebrow. "It's my understanding he died of disease."

"Yes, in that filthy place you drove him to hide in!"

"Sora," Teyla said gently, "you don't get syphilis from hiding in tunnel."

Sora's expression went feral, her lips pulling back from her teeth. "Liar! My father didn't die from syphilis!"

"It was Cowen himself who told us this. Is he lying, then?"

Sora stared at her, stunned.

"No matter. You will have plenty of time to speak to Cowen about it. We are sending you all to the prisoner colony on the Isle of Atilas. There you will till the soil and work for your daily bread. It is a beautiful place, Atilas. Perhaps you will find peace there." Teyla looked down. "I am sorry about your injury. Dr. Beckett tells me he has a prosthetic that will be fitted for you once you have healed."

"You haven't heard the last of me," Sora said once she recovered.

Teyla stood, grace in her movements. "No, of course not; I will get monthly reports on your progress, Sora. Take care."

John left with her, nodding at the pair of Guards at the door.

:::

"I suppose I went overboard," Rodney said, poking at the remains of his oscilloscope.

"Here, let me help," John said. He started gathering papers from the floor.

"I have a system!"

"I know. But right now the floor is your filing system." John stacked them together and started sorting them. "I'm sorry I wasn't here," he said quietly.

"What? Don't be an idiot. They outsmarted us–that's all. Think of all the damage they could have done with my brilliant mind behind their inventions."

"Did we ever find out who created their radio?"

"Mmm? Yes. It was a man named Ladon. He was killed, the poor sap, when you came after me."

"So instead of gaining a new inventor, they lost their own." John realized he was clenching his fists, and hastily smoothed out the vellum he'd wrinkled.

"What are you–stop that!" Rodney pushed him aside and started shuffling the papers. "Ah. I see you already have them well sorted."

John turned to lean against the table. "I know your work."

"You do, don't you?" Rodney looked up at him, a half-smile turning up his crooked mouth.

"But I am sorry, Rodney."

"Well, and you should be. Think of the loss to Atlantis."

"And to me."

Rodney looked up, startled, and John cleared his throat, a buzz of embarrassment starting under his skin. But when Rodney didn't look away, John dared to take it a step further, bending his head in invitation.

It took a long moment, but Rodney responded, tilting his head to meet John's lips in a kiss.

"John," Rodney said, eyes so blue and crinkling into a smile.

Oh, John thought, I really am an idiot. Because this was good, very good. No wonder he spent so much time in Rodney's laboratory, distracting the inventor from his work, just hoping for this very moment, when Rodney's mouth might move against his with a gentle sigh.

John clenched his fingers in the collar of Rodney's shirt and tugged him closer, his tongue slipping into Rodney's mouth. The kiss continued for one sweet, hot moment before Rodney said, "Owf," into John's mouth and pulled back.

"Sorry, but something is digging into my neck."

John released him, and Rodney lifted his hand to the back of his collar, his expression growing abstract. His hand returned with the tracker.

He held the little star up before John's face with an ironic expression.

"Oh. Uh."

"However did that get there?" Rodney dangled it before dropping it on his work table.

"Well, you had to be wondering how we found you so easily tonight."

Rodney blushed suddenly, painfully, and bit his lip.

"Rodney?"

"I just thought, well. Unscientific though it may be..."

John started grinning. "Unscientific, you?"

Rodney mumbled. "Yes, well. I just knew you would find me, you see?"

John laughed and kissed him again, on the embarrassed wrinkle on his forehead, on the downturned corner of his mouth, until Rodney smiled and kissed him back wholeheartedly

"I see we're both fools," Rodney said, and John agreed.

:::

It took some time for Rodney to put his laboratory back to rights, but after he did, the first project he worked on, at John's insistence, was the pilot's wings.

"Just think of how fast I could have returned to Atlantis that night," John said, wheedling. "You never would have been in the slightest bit of danger."

"They simply aren't practical," Rodney countered, but there was a gleam in his eye as he considered it, and John knew he was hooked.

Two months later, John stood at the edge of the East Pier with the contraption strapped to his back and Rodney anxiously bouncing beside him.

"Remember, at the slightest difficulty I want you to pull the escape cord and drop yourself into the lake. Never mind the hours and hours of labor," Rodney said. "Your safety is paramount."

"Yes, mother." John gave Rodney an affectionate clap and pushed him back to a safe distance.

And then John took a deep breath, spread his wings, and flew into the sky.


End.


Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
rhia_starsong
Jan. 1st, 2013 01:03 am (UTC)
Eee! Swords! And wings! And treacherous Genii and Teyla as queen. I love how in-character they all are, and the pacing is great.
esteefee
Jan. 1st, 2013 01:06 am (UTC)
Thanks! All must bow to Queen Teyla. :D This was my first sword fight, too. You'd be amazed what you can find on youtube.
tavabean
Jan. 1st, 2013 01:49 am (UTC)
Wonderful!
esteefee
Jan. 1st, 2013 01:57 am (UTC)
thank you! <3
taste_is_sweet
Jan. 1st, 2013 02:12 am (UTC)
That was simply awesome. What a fun story and what a great version of SGA to set it in! I loved how you kept the characters so much themselves while still fitting them so perfectly into this universe. I really enjoyed that. Thank you. :D
esteefee
Jan. 1st, 2013 02:41 am (UTC)
AUs are just so much fun. thanks, lambchop!
melagan
Jan. 1st, 2013 03:15 am (UTC)
WooHoooo!
esteefee
Jan. 2nd, 2013 07:31 am (UTC)
\o/
ladysorka
Jan. 1st, 2013 10:09 am (UTC)
Eee! I love the style you've used here, and the universe you built is fantastic. Plus, wings! And Rodney just trusting John would find him and John sticking him with the tracker because he promised that he would. ♥
esteefee
Jan. 2nd, 2013 07:32 am (UTC)
thanks, babe! John is possessive like that. :DD
popkin16
Jan. 1st, 2013 12:46 pm (UTC)
I'm beginning to think there's nothing you can't write well :) I love steampunk AU's. I love that John hung around Rodney's lab without realizing why, his interest in Rodney creating wings, and the Genii plot was brilliant (and echoes canon, since the Genii believe they're the rightful people of Atlantis). I really loved the sweet moments, where John ruffles Rodney hair and kisses his forehead and the downturn of Rodney's mouth - it made me all flaily :D
esteefee
Jan. 2nd, 2013 07:33 am (UTC)
awwww, thanks, muffin. <3 your icon is perf. and yeah, the Genii of the Storm really believed that, good catch.
popkin16
Jan. 2nd, 2013 07:41 am (UTC)
It's my favorite icon ♥ I love when John kisses Rodney :P
goddess47
Jan. 1st, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
Eeeee..... wings!

And trackers and communicators and defeating the Genii!

So much fun!
esteefee
Jan. 2nd, 2013 07:34 am (UTC)
eee, thanks, my sweet! <3
mific
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:31 am (UTC)
That was great! With the plotting and inventing and swordfights, yay! Loved the worldbuilding, and Rodney 'just knowing' John would find him. And of course he'd build John wings!
esteefee
Jan. 2nd, 2013 07:35 am (UTC)
but of course! I only wish I could have squeezed in a giant octopus. :D damn.
that_which
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:18 pm (UTC)
"It's about damned time!" Rodney said, sounding a little hysterical. "Um, give me a chance to undo things before you come to get me. I've set some booby traps."

Never underestimate the power of a genius.

This is awesome. Also, wings!
ozsaur
Jan. 7th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
That was an awesome steampunk AU! Spying and swords and ambushes! Oh, and WINGS! Enjoyed it!
squidgiepdx
Jan. 13th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
I normally don't like most steampunk stuff (what can I say - I'm weird!), but I really liked yours. This was cute!
tridget
Jan. 13th, 2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
Loved this. It was so them even in the AU. The wings were such a delight.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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