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Title: Radio Silent
Author: talula728
Words: 2,252
Rating: PG
Pairing: John Sheppard/ Rodney McKay
Warnings/ Summary: Some allusions to John's tendency towards self-destruction, lack of speaking and like of a man of science.
Additional Author Warnings: I've never posted anything before (let me know if I posted wrong), never written a mcshep fic before outside of my own internal musings. I have problems with commas and tenses. Ok, thanks, bye.

John stood outside Rodney’s door, fidgeting. It was five minutes until four in the morning. He had tried to sleep, but his room was too quiet. The bed was too small. The view outside his window was too still. The air was too thick. He couldn’t breathe.

In the past, on nights like that, he would simply jog past Ronon’s door. He’d look back after a few minutes and Ronon would be following him, falling in step to his pace without comment. He wondered if Ronon had some kind of super-sonic sensor where he had to automatically wake up if someone else was exerting themselves so he could join in. John also wondered if Atlantis could feel his anxiety, and nudged Ronon awake on purpose. They never talked, only ran in silence, but somehow it was better. The beat of their feet echoed in the empty, dim, quiet corridors and steadied John’s heartbeat. He could sometimes sleep after that, sometimes not. But at least he could breathe.

Now, though, he found himself outside of Rodney’s door. He ran a hand through his hair, debated continuing the motion of his hand to the doorbell, decided against it at the last moment, clenched his fingers, and forced his arm to his side instead. Ending up in front of Rodney’s door started about a month ago. It was after they had gotten back to the Pegasus galaxy. After Jennifer had decided to stay on Earth and not come back with them.

It wasn’t every night, but it was most of them that he showed up, choked with anxiety, gasping for a steady breath outside Rodney’s door. Sometimes he stood there for twenty minutes before he calmed down enough to turn around and go back to his room. Sometimes he ran his hand over the doorbell before he let himself think too much and the door slid open for him without protest. Sometimes the door would open for him silently without any move from John to open it. John wondered it was him or Atlantis. More and more, he realized he no longer knew exactly where that line was drawn.

John never woke Rodney. Hell, most times he never even went in the door. He stood in the doorway, making sure he saw the rise and fall of his chest. He waited until his breath matched Rodney’s; slow and calm in sleep, and then he turned around and left. He never woke him up. He never talked to him.

John wasn’t good at talking. Dave used to joke that he joined the military to avoid talking to Dad about how he didn’t want to take over the business. Or about Mom, Dave would add. And John would find a reason to get off the phone. After all, he was in Afghanistan, he didn’t have time to talk.

He didn’t want to talk after he tried to save his friends and failed. He did even think of fighting the disciplinary commission; hadn’t even let them finish the sentence asking if he had anything to say for himself. The answer was No. He would go where they said. He didn’t need to be given a chance to talk.

There, for a while, in the cold quiet air, he was content. He was able to blend into the background and not talk to anyone about anything important. Pick up people, drop them off, maybe make some small talk about the snow and how he liked being in Antartica. Maybe stand around a research base and sit in a chair and get blinded by an orange fleece that pulled him forward without warning to a place he didn’t ask for.

John didn’t intend to find people on a team that felt like family. He didn’t even know that it might be a possibility he could find a city that felt like it listened to him and hummed when he grazed his fingers along the wall. On his good days, he felt like he fit. Rodney talked enough for the both of them, Teyla understood what he was trying to say even when he couldn’t get the words out, and Ronon was fine with even less words than John. He could get by in most missions with a wink and relying on the skills of his team. He could pilot a jumper with his mind. He could thank Atlantis with a press of his palm against the wall for saving their asses at the last minute.

On his bad days, when he couldn’t breathe, he thought about how he messed up, painted himself into a corner, found people he cared so much about he couldn’t hide from them. When it got really bad, he had tried to get out. Of course he should fly a nuclear bomb above the city- it would save everyone. The tactic was a heroic out, something everyone in the war knew about but didn’t talk about.

The problem being, of course, that he didn’t die. And each time one doesn’t die heroically, one becomes more of a hero, and that doesn’t help. He doesn’t like the attention. He doesn’t want to be praised for not dying. He failed again. He doesn’t do victory speeches.

When he tried again and allowed, hell, practically begged Elizabeth to let the wraith keep feeding off him instead of giving Laden to Kolya, Rodney gets pissed.
Rodney cornered him in the locker room after, actually yelled at him to never do something like that again. John had continued putting his gear away, saying things about not negotiating with terrorists and the safety of the city, when Rodney had turned him suddenly, pushed him backwards against the locker, said “God, you’re so stupid,” and kissed him. He kissed him hard, didn’t give him a chance to freak out or misunderstand or push him away or even kiss back because it was over quickly, and then Rodney just walked away.

It doesn’t happen again after that. Rodney doesn’t even mention it again. John follows suit.

Things go back to normal. And after a while, people stop trying to stop him. When he came up with the plan to run a jumper into the tower, instead of yelling at him to stop, Rodney shook his hand. Something breaks inside John. Maybe he didn’t fit anymore. He doesn’t say anything.

When he volunteered to detonate a nuclear weapon from inside a hive ship, no one objected. He went radio silent as fast as possible. He doesn’t die again, but they get stuck on Earth. They stand on a balcony where he heard Rodney say Jennifer’s all he needs, or he has everything that makes him happy, or that he never needed or wanted John. Something like that. Things are over. He didn’t have a city, he didn’t have his team. He probably never had a possibility with Rodney. His chest tightened and it doesn’t relax for months.

Not until John gently sat Atlantis down in an ocean within the right galaxy can he relax a little. He walked outside on the balcony and took his first deep breath in months. Rodney joined him, asked if he wanted to play battleship later. John asked about Jennifer and Rodney said, “She didn’t come back.” John didn’t say anything as Rodney walked away. In fact, he stuck to saying only “miss” or “hit” the whole night.

The relief doesn’t last long. John almost lost his place in the universe. He can’t catch his breath, because damn it, he let something become so important to him he can’t lose it. He wants to fit here forever, but doesn’t know how to ask. He wants to be all Rodney needs on a balcony, but doesn’t know if that’s his place. He wants Atlantis to be his home, but he doesn’t know if he has the right.

Ever since he’d lost his mom, he’d been okay with keeping himself quiet, being invisible, skirting being important. Ever since he’d held a friend’s hand as they died, he’d been okay with dying too. He was no better than them, wished for years he could have taken their place. Ever since he reattached power supplies during a lightning storm with the city under siege, he wanted to die to save these people.

But ever since Rodney kissed him, he’d wanted more. He’d wanted to live and have a home. He wanted to stay on Atlantis and plant crops and sit on committees and watch Rodney write papers, and stop risking their lives. He’d thought he lost Rodney and Atlantis. The thought took his breath away.

At night, it’s worse. He can’t sit still. The room is too hot. The walls are too bare. The lights are too dim. The distance to pace across the room gets less each time he does it. His thoughts come too fast. He wants Atlantis to be his, but surely someone is going to try to come and takeover Atlantis again. He knows he and Rodney fit together, but there will be another new science team coming next week. Probably a blonde scientist for Rodney to fall in love with. Rodney could get distracted on his next mission and die while a stray bullet hits him while he’s reconnecting the power source. What if Rodney died? God, what if Rodney was dead right now? He put extra salt on his food, even though his blood pressure was already high. He was probably dead right now in his room.

He tried to push the thought out of his mind. He tried to remind himself that Rodney was always fine. He tried to look out the window and focus on the clouds passing by in the dark black sky. But really, Rodney could be having a stroke and here he was focusing on the stupid clouds instead of saving him.

He would just check. He’d be able to sleep if he just checked.

It was three minutes before four when the door slid open on its own. John was leaning against the doorway, breaths shallow and quick. He raised his head sharply when the door opened and took in the silent, sleeping form of Rodney, turned away from him, under the covers. John watched as the form rose slightly with an inhale of breath and settled down again with an exhale. John breathed out a too deep sigh of relief. Rodney stirred. “You might as well come in this time.”

John froze.

Rodney sighed, rolled over. His hair was sticking up and his t-shirt was twisted. “Just get in here and talk to me about whatever you need to talk about so I might get some sleep sometime this month.”

John took a few steps in and stopped. Rodney sat up all the way, back against his headboard and pointed to the other side of the bed. John sat down, faced mostly away from him.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you knew.”

“Yeah, well, you forget how incredibly smart I am.” Rodney grunted, adjusted a pillow behind his back. “Now, what’s bothering you?”

John fidgeted, cleared his throat, fidgeted again, ran his hands through his hair. “This is stupid, nevermind.”

He walked to the door, but when he got there, it didn’t open. “John, please. Just tell me. I know you’re horrible at talking and usually I can figure these things out on my own without your input, but I’m stumped on this one.”

John turned. “You can usually…?”

“Yes, yes. I usually have a thread on your guilt, or your anxiety, or an impending plan for self-sacrifice. You’re pretty cyclical and predicable.” Rodney’s voice softened, and he pointed to the bed again. John obeyed, sat again. “But this time, I can’t figure you. Is it that we almost lost Atlantis again? I saw you do your hand mind-meld thing on the wall and you smiled, so I figured she forgave you, and…”

“I want to kiss you again.” John closed his eyes with regret almost immediately.

“You what?”

John moved to get up, but Rodney grabbed his arm. “Say that again.”


“Yeah. Say it again.”

“I want to kiss you again.” John thought they were going to kiss again, right then, and then Rodney let him go, with a small push and leaned back.

“You stupid son of a bitch. Why didn’t you say that three years ago?”

“What? You’re the one that never mentioned it again!”

Rodney huffed out an incredulous laugh. “Never mentioned it again! That’s what you’re going with to make it my fault? I’m the one that actually did it in the first place! You’re the one that ignored me for two weeks and didn’t say a word to me!”

John didn’t know what to say. “Did I not say a word more than usual?”

Rodney laughed, short, huffy again, but more amused than mad. “I guess not. I guess I was just more aware that week.” Rodney closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. “I was waiting for you to say something. I wanted you to say something.”

“Rodney… Can I…”

“No,” Rodney shuffled down in the bed, turned towards John and lifted the covers. “No talking. Tomorrow, I’m going to kiss you senseless. Right now, we’re going to sleep. Come on.”

John hesitated long enough to memorize the sight of Rodney, annoyed, opening the covers for him, and then he slid in. He didn’t talk. He didn’t need to. He was in the right place, and he could breathe.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 14th, 2014 03:47 am (UTC)
awww, poor John. I'm so glad he ended up in the right place. <3 <3 <3

I really enjoyed this. You seem to have a good handle on Rodney's voice. :)) If you need a beta to catch your tenses let me know.
Mar. 14th, 2014 04:07 am (UTC)
What a perfect story for the prompt. :)
Mar. 14th, 2014 04:08 am (UTC)
That was all antsy and nice. I really enjoyed it.
Mar. 14th, 2014 06:13 am (UTC)
Nicely done! Very good first effort. Yes, your tenses need work. :) I'd be glad to help you; PM me if you're interested.
Mar. 14th, 2014 06:56 am (UTC)
Very well done indeed
Mar. 14th, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC)
This was adorable, love the way Rodney was just waiting to catch John and make him explain, knowing that he would have to push John to admit whatever was wrong.
Mar. 15th, 2014 06:28 am (UTC)
Yup. John wouldn't say anything until he's painted himself into a corner... good thing Rodney speaks 'John'

Ya done good! ;-)
Mar. 16th, 2014 01:40 am (UTC)
Welcome to the SGA fan-fiction-writers family! Good first effort. I could feel John's angst and Rodney's frustration with his silence. Nicely done.
Mar. 23rd, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
Aww, welcome!! This was a great first story. I love Rodney finally getting tired of having his slept interrupted and just making John spit it out.
Mar. 30th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
Awww. I love it.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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