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It’s been a long time since Young has had to give someone advice on how to cope with torture, and he could honestly have gone a whole lot longer. But this is apparently something that’s going to have to be done, and TJ’s not up for this, and Camile has never been tortured, and he’s not going to make Scott do this, so that leaves him.

“Hey, Rush,” he says as gently as he can manage. “How are you?”

Rush jumps at least six inches, even though he had to have known Young was there from the sound of his footsteps. Though, Young supposes, it's not unheard of for the science team, especially Rush, to work through what would normally distract most people, including lack of sleep and hunger.

"Fine," Rush says, belatedly and too soft. "What do you want?"

Young leans against the bulkhead, taking the weight off his bad leg for a moment. "Just wanted to check in with you and make sure you're doing alright," he says. "I know things were, uh, not the best there for a while with Kiva when you were in Telford's body."

"She tortured me," Rush says sharply, almost sounding like his old self. "Is that what you wanted to hear? She tortured me and I broke."

"No," Young says. "I don't want to make you talk about it, I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do. I just want to make sure you know that, um, if you need to talk to someone, I'm here and Camile's offered as well. I'm sure you know that I've, ah, been tortured before as well, so."

"I don't need your pity," Rush snarls. "I'm fine."

Young holds up his hands in a conciliatory gesture. "Okay. Just wanted to make sure."

Rush turns back to his work. "You've done that. Now shoo."

Young pushes himself off the wall and straightens up. He stares for a long second at Rush's back, and finally turns and leaves, making sure his steps are loud enough for Rush to hear.

-

Rush leans forward against the console. Damn Young and his idiotic concern! As if Rush would tell him anything beyond what he was required to, let alone something personal. He wraps fingers around the edge of the console, steadying himself. He doesn't want to admit weakness to anyone, especially not Young. He doesn't like the man, doesn't respect him, certainly doesn't trust him. So he keeps his mouth shut about what Kiva had done, and tries his hardest not to flinch when anyone so much as comes too close.

He doesn't cry, at night when he goes to sleep. He doesn't let himself, because he'd pretty much cried himself out when Gloria died, and then when Kiva and her thugs tortured him he'd cried from the pain, and now he doesn't know how to let himself cry any more.

He dreams of Gloria, of her smile and eyes and lips soft on his.

She turns into Kiva, biting and licking and forcing his mouth open as she encourages her thugs to continue to feel him up. He wakes with a scream on his lips, glad his quarters are away from the others', because this would certainly be an awkward thing to explain.

-

Young doesn't know how much Rush wants him to know. Kiva had told him more than he'd ever wanted, more than he'd expected.

She had told him graphic details of how she'd used torture techniques that were all too familiar to him, and then that he "looked good with a dick inside him". She'd smiled at the horror he couldn't hide fast enough, and that was when he'd tried to punch her.

He sits down in his chair and runs his fingers through his messy curls. His hair is too long, falling into his eyes when he leans forward. But there's really nothing he can do about it, he has enough trouble keeping himself clean-shaven and trying to enforce the other military men to do the same.

He opens his computer and starts checking the personnel files saved there. He knows Rush needs help - it's pretty obvious that he's having some trouble reconciling what happened, he's not been eating properly, and Drs Park and Volker have been telling him that Rush isn't acting like himself.

So Young wracks his brain and tries to remember who he knows that Rush might feel comfortable talking to.

-

The only name he comes up with is someone he's relatively comfortable with himself, but hasn't spoken to in a while. Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard is the military commander of the Atlantis outpost in the Pegasus galaxy, and Young knows him to be a good, if awkward, listener, as well as a trauma survivor himself.

So when he's on Earth reporting in, he asks, as if he's just thought of it, "Would it be possible for me and my people to have a few days on Atlantis?"

He gets a positive response, which is way more than he'd expected, and so he comes back to Destiny smiling. "We're going to have a few days on Atlantis," he says to Scott, and watches the lieutenant's face light up.

Camile looks surprised when he tells her he's arranged this, but she doesn't object. In fact, as the news spreads across the ship, everyone seems to be buzzing with anticipation, even more than when they're scheduled to go home to see family or friends. Young purposely rearranges a few things on Camile's draft schedule so Brody and Volker can go together - he's walked in on them kissing twice now - and he and Rush can go together. Maybe having Young there will help Rush be less distrustful of Sheppard.

Chapter Text

Rush looks at Young in consternation. "Last time I tried to compliment someone, I accidentally triggered a PTSD flashback," he says. "So I don't do that any more."

"You said you were sorry and that was good enough for me," John comments idly, inspecting Rodney's arithmetic.

Young looks from Rush to Sheppard, confused. "Didn't you two just meet, like, yesterday?"

"Yep," Sheppard says.

It’s hard to tell behind Rush’s six-day beard scruff, but Young is pretty sure he’s turning red. “It was an accident,” he says shortly.

“What did you say?” Young asks incredulously.

“Well, if I say it again, it’s going to happen. Again,” Rush says. “And I’m not doing that.”

“Thanks,” Sheppard mumbles, “but I’m gonna go now.”

Chapter Text

“Look,” Sheppard says, and stops. “Rush. I’ve, uh, been the victim of, of sexual violence” - he spits the words out like they hurt to say - “more than once.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Rush says.

Sheppard looks relieved. “Okay. Just thought I’d offer.”

They turn back to their work, Rush to his math, Sheppard to his filing. Suddenly, Rush surprises them both by saying, "The first time wasn't as bad as I was expecting."

"Hmm?" Sheppard doesn't look at him, for which Rush is grateful.

"The first time they-" His voice catches a little, and he starts the sentence over. "The first time they tried to - to hurt me. Sexually."

Sheppard keeps doing his filing. "I was sixteen," he says. "The first time."

Rush winces. He doesn't know how to respond.

"It doesn't even count as sexual violence," Sheppard says bitterly. "I just- I told her to stop but she said she wanted to do it so I just fucking let her. I let her give me a handjob that I didn't want because I didn't know how to stop it without hurting her. I was more worried about hurting her than I was about my own sanity. So now I don't use cherry condoms any more."

"They held me down," Rush says, unbidden. "Pinned my hands above my head and spread my legs and fucked me like a whore," he adds viciously.

"My first boyfriend raped and abused me," Sheppard says. He's sitting back on his heels now, staring unseeing at a file. "In college. Called me a pretty boy every time he'd fuck me."

Rush feels a tightness in his chest. "She made everyone watch what she and the others did to me," he says. "She kissed me. I could have handled it if she hadn't kissed me."

"Yeah," Sheppard murmurs contemplatively. "It's always the little things you remember."

"One of them looked like the colonel," Rush says, and his voice shakes. "I was- I kept thinking- I just- How could they have known that I wanted Colonel Young?" he asks, and he slides down the wall, tears brimming.

Sheppard finally turns to face him. "It wasn't your fault," he says earnestly. "It wasn't, Rush. You didn't want it, you didn't ask for it, you did everything you could. You're not to blame."

"But I was," Rush says, and fuck, he's crying, why is he crying in front of Sheppard, this stranger, "It was my fault, and I must have wanted it or I wouldn't have come."

"I came," Sheppard says. "Every time it happened. When they tortured me in Afghanistan I came more than I ever had before. When Clark would beat me and then fuck me, I came. I came when - when I had to trade sex for supplies. Doesn't matter if you had a physical reaction or not. That happens with, um, stimulation, with or without consent."

"I just laid there and let them! I didn't fight it, I couldn't fight them, I was too scared, I let them rape me, you don't understand, I let them rape me, over and over." It was the first time he'd said the word out loud, even to himself. Admitting that he had been violated, that he'd been raped, had only opened the floodgates. He was sobbing, messy and broken. What must Sheppard think?

Sheppard didn't know how to comfort Rush, so he just sat to the side and gently rubbed circles with his thumb on Rush's shoulder. "You didn't let them do anything," he says. "You didn't."

Slowly, Rush cried himself out, Sheppard still beside him. "Hey," Sheppard said quietly, when Rush's breathing was steadier. "You need water or something?"

Rush shook his head wordlessly, wiping at his eyes.

"I'm scared of Colonel Young," he says, softly. "I know for a fact he wouldn't do that to me, but one of them looked like him and, and it hurt, when he fucked me, more than it should have."

"Rodney did something bad to me," Sheppard says slowly. "I forgave him for it but it hurt so goddamn much. Because it was him, and not some, some nameless faceless person who I could forget about."

Rush doesn't know what to say. Luckily (or maybe unluckily), there's a knock at the door. Sheppard looks inquiringly at Rush for approval before opening the door with his mind.

Colonel Young stands there, twisting his hat in his hands. He does a double take at seeing them both on the floor. "Rush? Are you, uh, alright?"

"Yes, of course," Rush tries to snap, but his voice breaks a little. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"You just. You look a little - upset, is all," Young says, and that's a polite way of letting him know he looks like shit after fifteen minutes of crying. "Shep, can I talk to you?"

"Be right back," Sheppard says to Rush, levering himself up off the floor. "Yeah, sure," he says to Young, following the colonel out the door.

"What can I do to help him?" Young asks seriously, tipping his head to the left to indicate Rush.

Sheppard shrugs. "How much do you know about what happened to him?"

"Not everything. TJ says he was tortured pretty badly, and from what little Rush has said about it I figured out there was some, uh, sexual stuff. That's why I brought him to you." Young runs a hand through his curls.

"Yeah. I'm not going to violate his trust, you know," Sheppard says.

"I wasn't suggesting you should," Young hastens to reassure him. "I just need to know how bad it is."

Sheppard sighs deeply. "The only thing you need to know is that he's recovering. It's slow and painful but he's healing. And - I don't know how much you know about his personal life, or how close you two are, but he's probably not going to take kindly to being touched."

"Yeah, he keeps flinching," Young says. "He's mostly okay with Chloe and Eli, but he shuts down and curls in on himself when I try to touch him."

"One of his rapists looked like you," Sheppard says quietly.

"What do you mean, one?" Young says, brows drawing down. "As in he was the victim of multiple rapes?"

Sheppard folds his arms. "As in it's not really your business unless he chooses to tell you. Sir."

Young sighs. "Drop the sir, Shep. This is off the record. And you didn't answer my question."

"There's not a lot you can do for him," Sheppard says. "I’ll let him know you’re concerned, though. It means a lot, when someone’s been hurt like he has.”

Young nods. “Okay. Let me know how it goes.”

Sheppard tries to smile. “Okay. Will do.” He turns on his heel and reenters the room.

“I heard what you said to Colonel Young,” Rush says when he settles back down on the floor.

He cuts his gaze sideways at Rush. “And?”

“And thank you. For trying to respect my privacy.”

“Not a problem. I’ve, uh, been where you are.” Sheppard runs fingers through his hair, spiking it up more than usual. “How much are you comfortable with him knowing?”

“All of it,” Rush says, surprising both of them. “He deserves to know all of it.”

“Okay,” Sheppard says quietly. “Do you want to tell him, or should I?”

“You,” Rush says. His shoulders are hunched and he’s shaking a little. “I can’t.”

“Okay,” Sheppard repeats. “What do you need from me?”

Rush shrugs, curling further in on himself.

Sheppard asks, “Can I touch your arm?”

Rush nods, refusing to look at him.

“Are you nonverbal?”

Rush’s gaze snaps to Sheppard unwillingly, asking with his eyes how John could possibly have known. He nods again, clenching his hands into fists.

“Happens to me after a flashback sometimes,” he says apologetically. “Or if I’m overstimulated.”

Rush tips his head to one side quizzically.

“Rodney and Heightmeyer say I’m probably on the autism spectrum,” Sheppard says through gritted teeth as if Rush is pulling the words out of him with tweezers. “I don’t want to have to deal with that, so I’ve been putting off going through the diagnostic process. I don’t know what the Air Force will do once that happens.”

Rush pats him awkwardly on the shoulder. Sheppard smiles at that, and stands up. “I’m gonna go get Colonel Young, okay? I’ll tell him what you told me, and then I’ll come back and we can all have a conversation about what you need.”

He shrugs indifferently. Sheppard leaves the room, and Rush buries his face in his hands,

Sheppard taps his radio. “Colonel Young?” he says. “Would you mind coming back here?”

“Young here,” says the voice over the radio. “On my way.”

Sheppard leans against the wall casually, waiting for Young. Young comes up behind him, evidently having run to meet him.

“Is everything okay?” he asks. “Is Rush alright?”

“Yeah,” Sheppard says. “I guess. He wants you to know everything he told me. Maybe more, but all I know is what he told me.”

Young sighs. “Okay. What’s going on?”

“Well,” Sheppard says, “The way I understand it, they caught him, tortured him, raped him repeatedly, tortured him again, and, well, you know the rest. He was publicly raped and humiliated, and that’s gonna take a long while to recover from.”

“God,” Young says.

“Yeah,” Sheppard agrees. “Also, um, he said one of his rapists looked like you. Which is why he’s been very, uh, uncomfortable around you.” He frowns at the murderous look on Young’s face. “Colonel, please don’t go in there and confront him about this.”

“I would never do that to him,” Young says sincerely. “Never.”

“I know that,” Sheppard says. “Rush knows that too. He said as much, that you wouldn’t hurt him, but it doesn’t mean he’s not going to be wary of you for a while. No matter what you know intellectually, your body is always going to be pre-programmed to have a panic response.”

“So, what, I can never touch him again?”

“No, I’m not saying that. Just - you’ll have to be careful. Let him know before touching him, be careful about raising your voice, and don’t push him to talk about it.”

Young blows out a long breath. “Okay. Can I see him?”

Sheppard nods. “Yeah. When I left he was nonverbal, though, so don’t expect a lot of talking.”

“Nonverbal?” Young frowns. “I don’t know what that means.”

It’s Sheppard’s turn to take a long breath. “Okay. So, you know when you have a flashback, right, and then it’s hard to talk? Like, you want to, but your brain won’t let you?”

“...No, I can’t say that has ever happened to me,” Young says slowly.

“Oh. Uh, what about when you’re, say, playing the quiet game -” Sheppard breaks off at Young’s incredulous stare. “McKay is a lot, sometimes, okay? We play the quiet game a lot. Ronon always wins. Anyway, when you’re playing the quiet game and after you’re allowed to talk again you try to talk but it gets stuck in your throat?”

“Uh-huh,” Young says, mostly to get Sheppard to move on.

“Well, it’s like that, except you can’t push past it.”

“Okay. So basically he’s not going to talk, and I shouldn’t try to make him?”

“Basically,” Sheppard says, waving a hand in front of the door to open it. “Hey, Rush. Colonel’s here.”

Young’s heart skips a beat, seeing Rush curled in the corner, rocking back and forth slightly. “Hey, genius,” he says quietly.

Rush blinks at him.

Sheppard sits down next to Rush, leaning against the wall. He motions for Young to do the same.

Young slides down on Rush’s other side, extending his bad leg. “So. Sheppard told me what you told him.”

Rush nods warily.

“How much do you want the others to know?” Young asks. “The science team and Camile and my guys?”

Rush shakes his head and looks at Sheppard desperately.

“Yes-no questions would be better,” Sheppard says. “At least, it is for me when I’m, uh, bad.”

Rush nods, turning pleading eyes on Young. His heart breaks a little, knowing that before this Rush would never have allowed himself to be seen so vulnerable.

“Sorry, genius,” Young says. He pauses. “Does TJ know about - everything?”

Rush nods again. “Check-up,” he says hoarsely.

Young looks at Sheppard, who shrugs. “She did the original check-up, yeah. Does she need to see you again?”

This time he gets a shrug, and then a flinch away as if Rush is expecting to be hit. Young reaches out, then remembers what Sheppard had said in the corridor. “Is it okay for me to touch you, genius?”

Rush looks at him for a long time, then slowly nods. Young gently sets his hand on Rush’s arm, noticing how the mathematician tenses as he does so. “I’m really sorry this happened to you,” he says. “You didn’t deserve any of this.”

“Okay,” Sheppard says after a few seconds of silence. “I was hoping we could talk about things to do to help you,” he says to Rush.

Young starts rubbing circles with his thumb on the inside of Rush’s bicep. “When this happens, this nonverbal thing, do you need space?”

Rush shakes his head and rolls his eyes. Young looks at Sheppard for help.

“Assuming it’s like what happens to me, there should be nothing different except that he can’t talk,” Sheppard says.

Rush nods in agreement. He’s starting to relax, a little, letting Young rub his arm and leaning into the touch. Young shifts a little closer, wanting to reach out and comfort Rush in any way he could. “Okay. So you don’t need space any more than usual. Do you know if there are things, or words, or objects, that’ll make you have a flashback?”

He gets a shrug in response. This time he feels Rush flinch away more than sees it, and he recovers faster. “Okay, that’s okay,” he reassures the mathematician. “Are you okay if I put my arm around you?”

Rush shakes his head quickly and then pulled away from Young’s grip.

“Okay, genius. I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to,” Young says, feeling a strange tightness in his chest. He wasn’t usually this protective of his men, especially ones he didn’t especially like, but Rush was… an anomaly, in more ways than one. He felt responsible for Rush’s well-being, in a way, especially considering his poor choices earlier. “Shep, can you leave us alone for a minute?”

Sheppard looks at Rush. “That okay with you?”

Rush looks between Sheppard and Young, then slowly nods.

“Okay, yeah. I’ll be right outside, then,” Sheppard says. He shoots Young a look that carries a threat more effectively than anything he could have said. Young isn’t intending to hurt Rush, but even if he had he wouldn’t have wanted to cross Sheppard.

Sheppard leaves, and Young shifts his weight off his bad side. “Genius -”

Rush isn’t looking at him. “Hey, genius. I just wanted to apologize to you.”

There, now Rush is staring at him with that adorable look of confusion on his thin face. He tips his head to the side as if Young has nothing to apologize for.

“I’m sorry, Rush. I really am. I shouldn’t have left you on that planet. I was angry, and frustrated, and I thought you were purposely hampering our efforts to get home. I know better now. You deserve better than a CO who believes that of you. I know we don’t always see eye to eye -” He smiles at Rush’s snort of amusement. “- but we’ve gotten better at working together. I just wanted you to know that I’m sorry for that, and that I recognize what I did was wrong on a lot of levels, and that I want to make it up to you.”

Chapter Text

“It wasn’t even my body they violated,” Rush says angrily. “It was Colonel Telford who actually suffered. I have no right to feel like this. I’m not a victim.”

“You are,” Sheppard says. “You’re the one who was there. It might have been Telford’s body but it was really you.”

“No,” Rush says. “I’m not allowed to be upset. I’m not allowed to feel like this. I’m just complaining about something that didn’t even happen to me.”

“Listen,” Sheppard says. “Listen to me. Just because someone else has it worse doesn’t mean your reaction is wrong or invalid. Just because it was Telford’s body doesn’t mean you weren’t affected. It was your trauma, because it happened to you. They might have been using Colonel Telford’s body, but it was your mind in there. Believe me, I know how torture feels, and I know how it is to wake up with no physical scars from something that nearly killed you.”

Chapter Text

They walk in on Sheppard kissing Mitchell.

They’re not exactly innocent themselves, having been hoping to use the supply closet they opened to have a quick makeout session before Rush finds something else for Eli and Chloe to do, or Young needs Scott for something. But still, it’s a surprise to see two lieutenant colonels kissing.

They pull apart the second the door opens, but it’s not hard to tell what they’ve been doing, what with Sheppard being up against the wall and Mitchell’s lips kiss-swollen.

“We’ll just go,” Eli says uncomfortably.

Chapter Text

Young slides his palms along Rush’s back. “God, Nick,” he pants, “you look so good. Handsome man.”

“Not a man,” Rush mumbles, almost inaudibly.

Young stills his hands, letting them rest on Rush’s hips. “Sorry. Beautiful woman?” he asks.

Rush shakes his head, face still buried in Young’s shoulder. “I don’t know what my gender is,” he says.

“Um, okay,” Young says, not really sure how to proceed. He remembers his sensitivity training and asks, “What are your most correct pronouns?”

Rush pulls back to look him in the eye, startled. “They-their.”

“Okay,” Young says. “Um, are you out to anyone here or on Destiny? Like, when should I use your right pronouns? Oh, and the name, what’s your name?”

“Not out to anyone,” Rush says. Their eyes are downcast as if they’re ashamed. “Gloria and you were the only people I’ve ever told.”

Young slowly starts rubbing their back. “Thank you for trusting me,” he says, and he’s surprised to find he means it.

“Yeah,” Rush says. “Ah, Rush is fine. Nick is fine. Nicky is fine, just anything but Nicholas.”

“Alright,” Young says. “I can do that.”

“Thank you,” Rush says, settling back down against Young.

“No problem,” Young says against Rush’s hair. “Do you want to stop for tonight and just, y’know, stay like this for a while?”

“Yeah,” Rush mumbles. “Yeah.”

Chapter Text

Cam tastes like anise and smells like the good kind of shaving cream. It's bizarre and heady and alcoholic, like John could get drunk on Cam's mere presence.

Two hours ago John was taking Jumper 1 through her paces, showing her off to Cam. Two hours before that, Cam had been pulling stunts in an F-302 with John in the second seat.

Now they're in John's quarters, kissing like it's their last chance. And maybe it is, because they don't know when they'll see each other again, don't know if they'll be discovered, don't know whether the next mission could be their last. They both fumble with shirts and shoes and finally decide it's good enough.

John pulls Cam down on top of him as he falls back onto the bed. "God, Cam," he says, breathless in between kisses, "We should stop."

"Mhmmm," Cam agrees, catching John's bottom lip in his teeth.

John moans, the sound muffled against Cam's mouth. "We're not going to stop," he says, and it's more of a statement than a question.

"Nah," Cam says, grinning. "No, we're not."

He leans back, tensing slightly. "Unless you want to."

"No," John mumbles, reaching up for Cam again. "No, I don't."

Cam buries his face in John's neck, laying soft kisses down his collarbone and chest. "Me neither," he says into John's bare skin.

-

“Hey, Cam,” John says sleepily.

“Hey yourself,” Cam says, a soft smile quirking the corners of his mouth. “You good?”

“Mhm,” John mumbles, turning his face into Cam’s shoulder. “You’re nice an’ warm.”

“Thanks, but I have to get up now,” Cam reminds him. “I have a meeting with my team. And so do you.” He pauses. "Not with my team. With your team."

John grins. "I knew what you meant." He rolls over and props himself up on his elbow, rubbing his eyes with his other hand. "Meet you for lunch?"

"Yeah," Cam says. "Sounds like a plan."

Chapter Text

Zelenka flops down on the couch next to Lorne. He’s already complaining loudly about something else that McKay’s done, and Lorne hides a smile at the familiar rhythm of Czech curses and English tech jargon. They have a regular meeting set for every other night, either in Lorne’s quarters or Zelenka’s. Lorne brings blankets and junk food, Zelenka brings moonshine.

Tonight they’re watching Radek’s favorite movie. It’s in Czech, so Evan doesn’t understand most of it, but the main characters seem pretty cute, so he stays awake long enough to watch them solve the mystery. When he drifts off, he leans into Radek’s side and doesn’t notice the fond smile the scientist aims his way.

-

Radek Zelenka is not a proud man. He’s smart, and he knows it, but he doesn’t make a point of it like Rodney McKay. He appreciates the intelligence of others, and he likes to listen to other people talk.

He especially likes to listen to Evan Lorne talk. Evan’s voice is musical, and he makes an effort to understand Radek’s mother tongue. His Czech is slow, accented, and clumsy, but improving fast.

Right now, Evan’s complaining about the latest bullshit that’s gone down with AR-1. Of course, Radek’s already familiar with the sordid details, but they all have the right to bitch about their bosses’ tendencies to get into trouble.

-

Lorne kisses him on a Friday. Zelenka remembers this because the Daedalus had just left, and with the Daedalus came the news that America’s idiotic rules against homosexuality were void.

Zelenka kisses him back, and then takes him out for a candlelit dinner in the mess hall.

Chapter Text

Kiva grabs a fistful of his hair and slams his face into the floor. She seems to enjoy getting her hands dirty when she and her cronies interrogate someone. But he's not thinking about Kiva right now. He can't bear to think about her while she's torturing him. All he can think about is how fucking pissed Telford's going to be when he sees what Rush has done to his body.

His nose - Telford's nose, really - is bleeding. She tips his head back so he can feel the disgusting sensation of the blood sliding down his throat - Telford's throat. She leans in and kisses him, hard and with teeth. That's when he realizes she's not going to stop the man who's been feeling him up, and maybe she'll even encourage him.

He doesn't fight back. It's only been a few hours but he's already learned that he needs to stay silent and not make this any harder on himself than it has to be. So Rush lets her kiss him, all biting and licking the inside of his mouth, as if he's her possession and she's using him for whatever she deems fit.

He flinches when Simeon grabs his dick through his pants. He uses every ounce of aplomb he can muster to not scream, but it's fucking hard when he's already way overstimulated from the torture and he can't even use his usual coping mechanisms to stall the meltdown and keep his cool.

Simeon grins down at him wickedly. "You're going to enjoy this," he says, and Rush shudders because there's no way that means anything but that they're going to ra- going to assault him, use sex as a weapon to get him to talk.

The last person he had sex with was Gloria.

He doesn't want to lose that, lose what feels like the last of her, but he also can't tell them what they want to know, so he closes his eyes and definitely doesn't cry.

He shuts his eyes when Simeon sticks a finger in him dry. He bites his lip when he feels his cock start to fill. He breaks when Kiva kisses him.

Her lips are moving over his, tongue in his mouth, her in front, Simeon in back. Rush whimpers, makes soft pleading noises, while Simeon laughs and Kiva keeps kissing him. Her fingers are still tangled in his - Telford's - his hair, and every time she pulls he makes another noise and hates himself more for being so weak.

He doesn't remember much after Simeon held him down and started fucking him. All he remembers is the grip on his wrists holding him down, the stretch and burn of someone's cock in his ass, and thinking, I'm a whore, because his cock is hard and he can feel the orgasm coming even though he's floating somewhere outside of his body.

-

Rush wakes up screaming.

Chapter Text

“So,” Eli says, “why do you think we’re really here?” He’s sprawled out over the biggest bed they could find, big enough for the three of them to fit comfortably.

“What?” Scott peers at him over one of McKay’s comic books. “We’re on shore leave.”

“That’s what the colonel said, but really, this has never happened before. Why Atlantis, why now?”

“Because of Rush,” Chloe says, voice muffled slightly by the pillow. “Because he wants Rush to talk to what’s-his-name, the Atlantis military guy.”

“Colonel Sheppard?” Scott asks, surprised. “Why? Rush is pretty clear on his stance on the military.”

Chloe sits up, disentangling herself from Scott’s lap. “You know how he’s been kind of… off lately? Since the Lucian Alliance thing?”

“I just thought he was going through withdrawal again,” Eli says. “You know, since he was on Earth for a while.”

“He wasn’t on Earth,” Scott says, starting to put the pieces together. “He was being tortured.”

“Yeah,” Chloe says. “And I don’t know how much you know about Colonel Sheppard’s file, but he was in Afghanistan for a while and spent time as a POW. So I guess Colonel Young’s trying to get them to, I don’t know, commiserate or something?”

“It’s pretty common practice in the SGC for someone who’s been traumatized offworld to have to attend support groups,” Scott says. “Maybe the colonel just thought Rush would be more comfortable with Sheppard than with the other people on Destiny.”

Eli props himself up so he can look at them better. “I get that, I guess. Like, talking to people is awkward already, and then you have to deal with people looking at you like you’re some poor lost little thing once you open up.”

“Eli,” Chloe starts carefully.

“My mom has AIDS,” he blurts, looking at Matt. “She’s a nurse, she got stabbed with a needle and she got AIDS.”

Matt doesn’t know how to respond. “I’m sorry,” he says, finally. “I wish that hadn’t happened.”

Eli’s shoulders slump. “Thanks,” he says softly. “I just- I know what it’s like, when you tell someone a personal detail and then they never look at you the same way. I totally get why Rush wouldn’t want to talk to TJ.”

“It’s the same way with - my son,” Matt says, only hesitating a little before the words. “I didn’t want to - TJ’s great, don’t get me wrong, and I love her to death, but she’s not a professional, you know?”

“Yeah,” Eli says.

“I know,” Chloe says.

They’re silent for a few moments, then Chloe breaks it. “Do you think Rush is okay?”

“He has to be,” Eli says.

“We can’t afford him not to be,” Matt adds.

Chapter Text

Since he and Rush had started sleeping together, Young found his own nightmares calmed somewhat. The presence of another warm body in the bed with him evidently was a cue for his body that it was alright to relax. Rush’s nightmares weren’t exactly diminished, though - Young woke him (them, Young reminds himself) almost every night.

Right now they’re settled comfortably against his chest, their head tucked under Young’s chin. Young’s stroking their hair with one hand, the other arm wrapped securely around their too-thin hips. They’re not asleep, and it’s weird to think that he’s gotten so used to their breathing patterns that he can tell so quickly.

“Nick,” Young says quietly.

“What,” Rush says, trying and failing to sound annoyed.

“I’m worried about the IOA,” he says, which wasn’t what he was going to say, but what he was going to say would have been really fucking stupid to admit, especially to Rush. “I think they’re still pushing for Telford to come aboard, and if they find another Icarus planet…”

“Stop thinking so much,” Rush says. They prop their chin on Young’s collarbone. “Go to sleep, Everett,” they say, softer than usual. “You need rest.”

Young smiles tiredly. “So do you, Nicky.”

Rush puts their head back down. “‘Night.”

Chapter Text

They curl up with their head in Young’s lap. This body feels strange and wrong, but at least it’s not Telford’s. They don’t think they could stand another body swap with Telford right now. Young’s been forcing them to spend time with Sheppard, and they’ve cried and shouted and had more emotions than they thought they could take in the past two days. This round of shore leave still has another four days to go, and Rush isn’t sure they can cope with more crying.

But they have to admit it’s felt good to talk to someone who understands, even superficially, what they went through. Sheppard’s a good listener, even if he’s also really awkward. And getting to relax in a decent bed, have a decent shower, and have food that doesn’t trigger the fuck out of their sensory issues is always good. Plus, this new thing with Young isn’t half bad, even if it doesn’t make sense and still doesn’t feel real and can’t possibly last past this week.

Young is wearing the body of a pretty, dark haired major named Evan Lorne. Rush’s own consciousness occupies a very frazzled astrophysicist (which they find slightly irritating, because fucking Volker is an astrophysicist, but they’re not going to complain) named Radek Zelenka. Evan Lorne and Radek Zelenka are wandering around Destiny right now, and Rush vaguely wonders how much they’re going to have to fix when they get back.

They’re not too worried about that right now, though, because Young is petting their hair and they turn their face into Young’s hip to hide a smile. “You good, genius?” Young asks, and they can hear the smile in his voice.

“Fine,” they say, shutting their eyes and letting Young continue to run his fingers through their hair. “Worry about yourself.”

Young’s fingers tighten in their hair for an instant, and Rush wonders if they’ve said something wrong. But then Young relaxes his grip and he keeps petting Rush like they’re a cat. Rush twists to look up at Young. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Young says, after a pause that’s just a second too long. “I’m - angry.”

Rush flinches a little. “At me?”

“No, God, no Rush, I’m angry at, at Kiva, at David, at everyone who forced you, forced us into this situation. I’m pissed off because you didn’t deserve to get hurt and you didn’t deserve what I did to you and I am angry at myself because if I had been thinking more clearly, if I had done my job as CO, this wouldn’t have happened.” Young heaves a sigh, forces his voice calm. “No, Nick, I’m mostly upset with myself. You’re the last person I’m angry at.”

Chapter Text

Destiny is cold and dark. She’s pretty, sure, but not like Atlantis, who is warm and light and loving and beautiful. Evan’s already tired of not being able to see properly, tired of leaning on the makeshift cane that Young uses, tired of not being home.

He flings himself onto Rush’s bed, which is Radek’s for the week, and makes himself at home, trying not to jar Young’s leg too much, because it really hurts when he does and he’s very glad he doesn’t have to live like this all the time. It reminds him far too much of breaking his leg in elementary school and having to sit out of doing - well, pretty much everything. He’d gone too hard too fast with his recovery, and he’s been able to feel the rain coming in his leg since middle school.

Evan shakes himself out of his thoughts and powers up Inman’s laptop, borrowed in a rush in exchange for the use of Young’s quarters for the night. He doesn’t want to know what Inman’s up to in Young’s room, doesn’t really care (though he’ll check everything over carefully tomorrow to make sure nothing was compromised), and really just wants to spend time with his partner, even if they aren’t wearing their usual bodies.

Radek hurries in, looking more disheveled than usual. “Sorry, Evan,” he says. “I got distracted by the, what did Eli call it? The Apple Core? It’s very interesting, how they’ve managed to adapt Earth systems to Ancient designs. It’s not at all like Atlantis; we have more advanced Ancient design there. Brody says Rush says this ship predates gene technology.” He flushes when he realizes he’s been rambling at Lorne. “Sorry, Evan,” he repeats.

Evan bites back a grin. He loves when Radek gets science-y, all flustered and passionate about his work. “No problem. You want to shower, or are you good to watch the movie?”

“Shower first,” Radek decides. “Then movie.”

“‘Kay,” Evan says, pulling the blankets up. “See ya soon.”

Chapter Text

“You - said McKay did something to you,” Rush says, voice casual. John can hear the tension behind the words, though, and his hands stop moving over the paperwork.

“Yeah,” he says, cautiously. “He did.”

“Why?”

John turns around, crosses his arms over his chest. “Why’d he do it? Or why’d I forgive him?”

“Yes,” Rush says. “I mean, either. Both.”

“You want to know what happened,” John says. “You want to hear me say it.”

Rush doesn’t deny it, just stares pointedly at John until he caves. “There… there’s this plant,” John starts, fighting the urge to start rocking back and forth, before he remembers he doesn’t have to, and lets himself stim. “It distills down to a liquid. A drug. Makes people do what you want, once you drink it. Power of suggestion, like.”

Rush sits down on the floor, cross-legged, and John is grateful that he’s not staring. “The whole city was infected,” he says, “except me, because I had a cold. I had a cold and that spared me from when L- from when the man we found the drug with was here.” He’s rocking and fidgeting with a loose bit of thread on the hem of his shirt. “After it wore off, Rodney, uh, took some. Everyone else had been inoculated, but Carson didn’t vaccinate me because there shouldn’t have been any left for me to be under the influence of.”

“And he thought it was funny?” Rush asks softly.

“Yeah,” John mumbles. “Yeah, all he had to do was make a suggestion or mention something, and then I’d do it. He said, ‘Hey John, is there jello today?’, and I told him yes, and then I went to get him some, and he asked me to clean his rooms, and I did, and then we had sex.”

“That sounds humiliating,” Rush says, and John can’t tell if the man is genuinely sympathetic or if he’s trying to get John to finish the story.

“He tied me up,” John says. “I was clean for a while before then,” he hastens to clarify, unsure how much Rush knows about his past. “I used to use sex to self harm, but I was clean for a few months.”

“How,” Rush starts, and then stops. “Never mind.”

“I told you about my boyfriend in college,” John reminds him. “He kinda convinced me that all I was good for was sex, so, when I needed to feel useful I went out and played fucktoy for people in bars.” He looks up; Rush is staring at him now, eyes wide. “Yeah,” he says, and laughs bitterly. “I was pretty fucked up until Cam convinced me to go to group therapy. I mean, I haven’t been since the thing with Rodney, and I did relapse, but I’m mostly pretty okay now.”

Rush just blinks.

“Uh, so Rodney… did some things I wasn’t comfortable with, and it. It took me a while to trust anyone again. I still can’t be around him when I’m bad, because I’ll just hurt him more by shutting down and flinching away. But he gets it, gets that it’s not him, it’s me, that what happened programmed a response in me that I might not ever get rid of.”

“Why did you forgive him?” Rush asks, and he honestly looks confused, like he can’t imagine forgiving anyone.

“He never wanted to hurt me,” John tries to explain. “I was literally begging him to fuck me. He didn’t know - well, he knew I was under the influence of the drug, but I don’t think he knew it was going to hurt me.”

Rush frowns. “If you say so,” he says, and John feels kind of warm inside.

“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah.”