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Amnesty Fic for Wk 21: Tattoo

Title: In Any Skin
Author: altyronsmaker
Wordcount: 1400
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): John Sheppard/OMC, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay (implied)
Prompt(s): Week #21: Tattoo
Summary: It’s only his outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin. - Herman Melville. It'd been almost 25 years since he'd seen his initials so intimately close to someone else's.
Notes: Unbeta'd so if you find something wrong, feel free to inform me.


Bold black letters, curving gracelessly in Rodney's hurried scrawl over the post-it on the requisition form. John sucked in a breath, and deliberately, purposefully, lifted the post-it off the page to look over what Rodney was ordering and why he had John's initials so close to his own. It shouldn't be a big deal, not really. They ordered stuff all the time: new video game consoles, RC car parts (only the ones that Rodney can't cobble together from spare parts from the city), movies, recreational equipment, even the occasional piece of combat equipment. Rodney revels in the extra precaution and John just likes knowing that Rodney's looking out for himself and his big ol' brain.

He scanned the paper, but couldn't concentrate, looking over every other line to the post-it he'd set aside.


He picked it up again and held it between his fingers.

It'd been almost 25 years since he'd seen his initials so intimately close to someone else's.


"Hey, Shep!"

John heard his name called and rolled his chair across the floor to poke his head out of the bedroom to answer.

"Hey, Mosely. I'm back here," he called down the hall way, smiling at the metallic thud of Ryan setting his messenger bag down. "Did you do it?"

Ryan laughed, and clapped his hands together. "Hell, yeah, buddy. You've got to see this shit, man. Fuckin' awesome."

John smiled and stood up, pulling the door open the rest of the way, so Ryan could come in. "Let's see it, then," he said, settling down on the bed. "Where'd you get it?"

"You're gonna love this, man. Got the eagle on my calf," Ryan said and lifted his jeans over his knee to show it off. "Guy asked me if I wanted it colored, but I said, 'nah,' the black's fine, I think. I'm diggin' the shading on the wings and beak."

John lifted his hand and ran his fingers over the black wings. "That's really cool, Ryan."

Ryan twisted his leg and grinned down at the ink. "Isn't it, though?" He looked up and John and smiled. The broad curve of his mouth held a secret, and the longer John looked at him, the more that secretive smile evoked an answering grin from John.

Ryan leaned on his elbow resting on his knee. "Come here," he said, and stretched his hand out to wrap around John's neck. "You're gonna love this one, too," he said and pressed a hot quick kiss on John's mouth.

"Really? What else did you get?" John asked, pulling away and staring at Ryan's mouth.

They didn't kiss very often, fucked even less frequently, but there was a part of John that wanted more than the casual intimacy they shared. He knew Ryan wanted more, too, but with graduation looming so close, and boot camp right after that, they agreed to keep things uncomplicated.

Ryan kissed him again, this time a little deeper, a little slower, and John couldn't help the wistful sigh that escaped him when Ryan pulled away. Then, Ryan lifted his shirt up and off, and turned around.

The blood in John's veins turned to ice.

There, on his occasional lover's back, were ink stains in the unmistakable shape of their initials—shaded black lines and graceful curves embedded in the swirls of a tribal knot. Permanent evidence of what they could never be.

John reached up and ran his fingers over the letters, then the knot. He sighed and curled his palm over Ryan's shoulder to turn him around.

Ryan's smile stunned him.

"You like it?"

Swallowing, John nodded. "It's..." he sighed. "It's beautiful, Ryan."

Ryan slapped his arm. "Knew you'd like it," he said, and started to take off his pants. "I wasn't going to get it, but the guy was doin' this two-fer, right? I figured, hell, it'd be cheaper to just go ahead and get it down now, that way I won't have to pay full price for it later, you know?"

"You shouldn't have done it," John said, folding his arms.

Ryan paused in the middle of kicking off his shoes. "Come again?"

Sniffing and scratching at the back of his head, John said, "I just... I don't think it was a smart thing to do."

"Wait a minute. I thought," Ryan paused to swallow, then sat down on the edge of the bed next to John. "I thought we were on the same page here? I mean, I know you want me, want more than what we're doing. Nobody gives head like you do unless they want to be there, right?"

John flinched at having it put so baldly out there.

"And you have to know, Shep... You gotta know how I feel about you. I mean, you do right? I'm not wrong here, am I?"

"No. You're not."

"So?...Well... why are you being like this? Over some stupid fuckin' initials? It's not like I can't say they're somebody else's. I know you're going career. I'm...I wouldn't jeopardize that, man."

John just stared at him.

"What's so wrong with this?" Ryan asked, laying his hand on John's thigh. It's not like people are going to be seeing it. And even if they did, it's just some letters, John."

John put his hand on top of Ryan's and shook his head.

Ryan snatched his hand away and stood up, frustration making his movement abrupt. "Fuck that! Would you say something?"

"I just..." John whispered. His voice broke, so he took a breath and swallowed. "I wish you'd asked me."

"Excuse me? I need your permission to do something to my own body now?"

Anger flared hot and humid in John's chest. "When it involves me, hell, yes! You had no right, Ryan. No right to put me in the line of fire."

Ryan blinked at him. "Oh. Wow." He shook his head and reached for his discarded shirt. "You are one selfish son of a bitch, you know that, John?" He pulled the material over his head and tugged it down as he shoved his feet into his shoes. "I thought I meant something to you, thought you were okay with a little harmless demonstration. But now I get it. The 'bedroom only' rule. The 'only when you say' rule." He laughed mirthlessly. "I can't initiate anything without you pushing me away. 'Not now, Ryan, I'm busy,' or 'Let's wait until we get home.' Never in public, never on my terms." He pulled the bedroom door open and turned to John. "You're a fuckin' coward, John Sheppard. I hope your career is worth throwing us away."

"Ryan," John started.

"Save it," Ryan said, heading out of the room. "If I get asked about it, I'll be sure to lie." And then he was gone.

A week later, Ryan moved out, and a month after that, they graduated. John went on to boot camp and then the academy; Ryan served his four year TDY and John didn't know what happened to him after that.


The door to his office chimed, and Rodney poked his head in without waiting for permission. "Hey, Sheppard. You get my req order? Because I think you're going to like what's on it. Oh, yes. I anticipate hours of fun with this baby."

John shook himself out of his reverie and answered. "Just got it, Rodney. Haven't read it yet, though."

Lifting an eyebrow for permission to enter all the way, Rodney stepped through the door. "Oh. Well. That's okay. Trust me, though, you'll love it."

"I imagine so, buddy," John said, focused once again on the little slip of paper with his and Rodney's initials. "I was thinking," he said, and he looked up at Rodney to finish. "We've got an important date coming up, don't we?"

"Who? The expedition? The team?" Rodney's confusion brought a smile to John's face.

"You and me, Rodney."

The blush the lit up Rodney's face was too adorable, but John would never say so. "Oh, well, yes. I supposed we do." And there was that damned chin tilt, John thought. "Why?"

"Because," John said, holding up the post-it, "I think I have just the way to celebrate it."


Standing, John moved around the desk to stand in front of Rodney. Leaning forward, he kissed Rodney softly on the cheek once, then slid his mouth over to Rodney's ear. "How do you feel about...tattoos?"



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
Tee hee!! Oh, I loved this! I'm so glad you wrote it. This was absolutely perfect! I loved Ryan, I could totally imagine him and John together, but I was sad for them. But glad that he's got Rodney! Oh, I hope Rodney likes tattoos!
Nov. 7th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
I tol' yooooou. I had this idea... I'm glad you liked it, too. :)

They were just so young, ya know? Poor Ryan. I like to think he said a big ole Fuck you! to the air force fter his TDY and found himself someone who'd WANT their name indelible on his flesh. ;) I kinda like him too. *kicks dirt*

Thanks for reading, chickie!
Nov. 7th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
Haha, when I got your reply, I just had to re-read this. You should write a Ryan story... what does he do after Shep?!? I would read it even if no one else did!
Nov. 7th, 2011 02:20 am (UTC)
I'd read that Ryan story, too..

Yes, John can dig himself into a hole like this... never sees it coming..

Nicely done!
Nov. 10th, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
Ryan, ryan, ryan. He's just a hot mess in my head. Really. LOL.

thanks for reading! So glad you liked it. :)
Nov. 7th, 2011 09:39 am (UTC)
This was sad for Ryan, but a sweet ending for Rodney and John, I'm pretty sure McKay would go for a tattoo with John

(also not sure if this is a usage difference between UK and USA but in the 4th line down wouldn't it be "cobble" not "hobble"?) I know you said you'd welcome suggestions so hope this is okay to suggest.
Nov. 7th, 2011 11:33 am (UTC)
*facepalm* It's supposed to be cobbled. der. *fixes*

So glad you liked it, and yeah, I felt badly for Ryan as well. He should get his, though. I have every confidence. ;) Thanks for reading! And for the fix. :)
Nov. 7th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
*grins from ear to ear*
Nov. 10th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Yay! That's what I like to hear. :)
Nov. 8th, 2011 05:56 am (UTC)
Lovely little snapshot into John's past. His present with Rodney feels very warm and happy and I'm glad for them both.

And there was that damned chin tilt, John thought

Loved that! Enjoyed this, thanks for sharing! ;)

I think maybe: 'The blush the lit up Rodney's face', should read: The blush *that* lit up Rodney's face'?
Nov. 10th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
So glad you liked it! And yeah, I need to make that fix. *facepalm* Thanks!

Nov. 8th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
John is breaking my heart here... :(

Thank you!
Nov. 10th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
John frequently breaks my heart, because he's so...RETICENT!

So glad you like it, and thanks for the comment.
Nov. 10th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
Oh, I love that John comes full circle on this. Love too how Ryan came through as a strong personality all his own--would like very much to know the rest of his story now!
Nov. 10th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
I wonder if Ryan ever got that tattoo removed? Because if he didn't, I can't help trying to imagine some future situation (infirmary? beach?) in which Ryan Mosely and Rodney McKay meet and get a look at each other's tattoos - both of which link "JS" with "RM." And then they find out it's the same JS...
Nov. 10th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)

Lovely fic! A bittersweet look into John's past, as he threw away his chance with Ryan. However, he is not going to make the same mistake with Rodney. The idea of matching ink is beyond hot, as well. :)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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