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Implausible Denial

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The current Atlantean home-world had only two seasons--summer and winter--and even though Atlantis was beautiful at all times of the year, Rodney preferred it best in the summer once the winter snows had thawed, removing all the slush and ice that were the bane of his existence. Despite being a Canadian, he hated winter and he hated snow. He wasn't actually too keen on the intense heat of summer either but it was still preferable to the six-foot snow drifts that taxed the Ancient heating to its limit--and beyond. He hated freezing his butt off in some deep recess of the city while trying to coax the heating system to start working again. As he wandered back from his laboratory, he sneezed explosively as his pollen allergy flared up--no doubt courtesy of all the plants growing in the hydroponics bays plus the local fauna that occasional traveled in the jet stream from the mainland. Rodney grumbled to himself. He'd installed special pollen filters following the Kirsan Fever incident where everyone lost their memories for a while, but still he suffered because people insisted on leaving door and windows open. He winced and twitched his nose. A few more weeks of this and he'd be hating summer and wishing for the winter wonderland once more.

His life was not idyllic but he had the respect of his peers, though that didn't mean they necessarily liked him as a person, but he could live with that. He had found a few good friends too, something that had been missing before he stepped through the Stargate that first time into Atlantis. And he had found Jennifer, so if there was something missing from his life then he had yet to figure out what it was. If anything, there were events in his life that he wished he could miss. Earlier that day, he had been forced to endure two hours in the cafeteria while everyone else celebrated his upcoming nuptials with Jennifer after a long engagement of three years. He pretended that he was having a great time just to appease Jennifer, his friends...and Cadman. In truth, he had a thousand different plans and ideas working through his head while he nodded and pretended he was listening to the banal conversation around him. It was bad enough that he was going to have to put off his work this evening too...for a stupid award show.

As the door to his quarters closed behind him, he sighed heavily and booted up his second best laptop--the one with the larger screen. Rodney rolled his eyes when Jennifer came into his quarters all excited, but at least she was bearing gifts of popcorn and other goodies to sweeten the misery of being forced to watch the awards.

"Come on Rodney! It's on soon."

If the Booker Prize was the equivalent of the Nobel Prize, then this award was the scientific world's version of the American Oscars, though why he had to sit through it was still a mystery. After all, despite being the most intelligent person in two galaxies, the very thought of hosting documentaries, docu-dramas and zany science shows to titillate the ignorant masses was an anathema to him. It was hard enough trying to instill some scientific sense into the so-called scientists that the SGC sent to work under him. Rodney was still convinced that half of them had bought their PhDs online or fished them out of a cereal box.

Dutifully, he connected to the live feed being sent through the Stargate. He had exhausted all avenues in trying to persuade Woolsey to wait until the ceremony was over, so the file could be compressed and sent in a tight data burst that would save power from the ZPM. However, several familiar names were up for awards, with the most important one being Cameron Mitchell. He was one of their own, having joined the original Atlantis Expedition as Sumner's second in command. That he had also proved to have a brain had been invaluable in those early years when they had been cut off from Earth, but then every US military pilot came with a Masters degree in something. Mitchell held a Masters in Aerodynamics with a minor in...the dramatic arts. Rodney shuddered at the thought but guessed it had worked in Mitchell's favor when he was asked to play the role of a gay scientist in the documentary-drama, To Serve Two Masters.

The Award ceremony was being held in Los Angeles and Jennifer started nudging Rodney the moment the televised feed appeared; her bony elbows sticking in his ribs while she made inane comments about the weird dresses and strange people. He rolled his eyes as the camera panned over the crowd waiting outside before returning to the red carpet. Rodney had to admit that his eyes became fixed on the dark and messy-haired, smooth talking interviewer who was standing on a podium just above the red carpet, inviting various weirdos to talk to him. His drawl and almost southern charm seemed to put the weirdos at ease as he talked to someone vaguely recognizable before the crowd began to scream. Moments later, Cameron Mitchell was standing next to the interviewer with the messy hair, spouting something about awards being a waste of time. Rodney had to agree. Awards were a complete waste of time--unless Rodney was getting one of them--which he expected to happen within the week when he was announced as the Atlantis Scientist of the Year.

Rodney tried to force a grin as he sat through the Young People's selection, his mind wandering off to a problem with the door controls only allowing an ATA gene carrier to open or close them--much to Woolsey's distress when he got locked inside the Conference Room the other day. At least it meant he missed the silly display by the Smelly Farts and Big Bangs children's show host. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to miss the main event, gaining a sharp elbow in the rib as Sam Carter stepped up to the podium to announce the winner of the Scientific Documentary Drama of the Year Award--the SCI-DOC.

"Rodney! This is it!"

Jennifer snuggled up against him, leaning across to kiss him on the cheek. Rodney felt a twinge of guilt as he looked lustfully at the beautiful Sam Carter in her elegant and revealing gown, with her military cut, short blond hair and dazzling blue eyes. Dutifully, he smiled as Sam announced the nominees, wincing at some of the familiar names: Dr. Malcolm Tunney for Global Warming, Gen. Hank Landry for A Little Bird Calls, Dr. Bill Lee for Wizards and Demons--Role-playing in Electric Dreams and, finally, Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell for To Serve Two Masters. Far worse was having to sit through snippets of each, including the over-dramatic acting of Mitchell facing a trial after it was discovered he was gay, and the trauma of him faced with chemical castration or abandoning his life's work. The scientist chose to abandon his work, and Rodney shuddered, horrified at the very thought of giving up on everything he loved for any reason.

Jennifer tightened her hold on Rodney, and he heard her muffled voice against his neck. "That was so horrible."

"And the winner is...Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell for To Serve Two Masters!"

Jennifer screamed right by his ear and left Rodney's head ringing as Mitchell stood and waved to the audience of his peers before climbing the steps onto the stage. He was still grinning as he reached the podium, praising first the crew and cast of the docu-drama before turning to the cameras with a serious expression.

"But I want to talk about another group of people. This SCI-DOC is dedicated to all the gay scientists...who are allowed to build weapons of mass destruction, but who aren't allowed to date!" The roar of applause made him pause for a moment before he started to speak over the sound of the audience. "Also, I want to add a big thank you to a very special Double-Doc scientist on Atlantis who made science come alive for me. He taught me how to look beyond the obvious, how to see the beauty in mathematical equations. Doctor McKay! We did it!...........And he's GAY!"

Rodney sat in stunned silence as the audience applauded loudly again, then slammed his hand onto the lid, cutting off the feed. More silence as he stared down at the laptop still under his hand, and shoved it aside as if it had given him an electric shock, almost knocking it off the table.

"Rodney?" He looked at Jennifer in horror, staring into her equally wide blue eyes.

The chime at his door brought Rodney to his feet and he opened it to find Jennifer's boss, Carson, and Carson's tap-dancing girlfriend, Laura Cadman, standing outside. They stared at him, eyeing him with weirdly in silence.

"Carson? Cadman?"

"Is it true, Rodney?" Carson asked, breaking the silence that would normally be filled with Rodney's dialog of life on Atlantis.

"What? NO! I don't know what's come into him! I'm not gay. I'm getting married in three days!"

Cadman grinned wolfishly. "Look, Rodney, you're our friend and we love you--straight, gay or in-between. But I've been planning this wedding for months. I NEED that wedding! I want flowers and beauty. I want music and tap dancing in the gate room. It's like heroin." She drew in a breath. "Do you hear me, Rodney. We'd love you if you burned out the ZPM, if you took a P90, climbed the stairs in the gate room and took out all the support staff. We'd love you even if you destroyed five-sixths of a solar system...but I want that wedding!"

As she talked, Rodney took several wary steps backward in horror and pulled Jennifer in close before swallowing audibly and standing taller. He cleared his throat. "Jennifer and I are getting married."

Cadman smiled brightly, her whole demeanor changing instantly from psychopath to zany girlfriend. "Good. Hey, Jennifer, we can walk you back to your quarters."

Jennifer eyed Rodney strangely. "Will you be okay?"

"Of course. I love you." He winced as he leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips, hating personal displays of affection normally.

Rodney mentally commanded the door to close slowly behind the three, keeping the smile fixed on his face until they were out of sight. As he turned back to the center of the room he heard his radio and slipped it on.

"No. I'm not gay."

With a snarl, he ripped off the radio and threw it across the room.

****

Ever since the Government revealed the existence of the Stargate program and the lost--now found--Ancient city of Atlantis, the media had been in a frenzy, and today was no different, except this time it was not the scientific community laying siege to the city, it was the entertainment industry. With his ratings hitting an all time low after he was scooped not once but twice on this year's Oscars, John Sheppard was determined to get a story, even if it was a story all about those seeking a story. Which had made a lot of sense when he first offered it up to his producer. So here he was now, standing apart from the mass of reporters and cameramen filling the gate room, filming them from the walkway above the Stargate as they waited impatiently like a pack of hounds waiting to pick up the scent of the fox--the fox in this instance being Doctor Rodney McKay.

A figure stepped up to the railing of the control area, looking down at the milling crowd in confusion and John saw McKay jerk upright and glance behind him in both directions when someone on the ground below yelled, "There he is!" The reporters surged up the wide staircase and, startled, McKay froze as the pack hurtled towards him. He turned and started to walk away briskly but John could see by the way his muscles were bunched that he was desperately trying to stop himself from running away screaming like a girl. He was cute though. Really cute, and that back view with the broad shoulders tapering down to a supremely nice ass in tight military cargo pants was mouth watering.

Definitely a fox, John thought.

Momentarily, McKay was backed against the rear panel of the transporter as several reporters and their cameramen managed to get a foot inside.

"Doctor McKay! Does the Atlantis A.I. treat you differently because you're gay?"

"Do you subscribe to Gay Scientist?"

"Do you wear women's clothing when not working?"

"What? No! No comment!" McKay managed to push one reporter backwards, creating a domino effect that saw them all stepping backwards. The transporter doors closed and when they re-opened seconds later, McKay was gone. John looked into his camera, using the gate room as a back-drop.

"A scientist in trouble. A city under siege. This is John Sheppard reporting from Atlantis, the Lost City of the Ancients. Stay tuned."

Dozens of reporters and their cameramen scrambled into the transporter, meaning to follow and John raised a sardonic eyebrow, amused as they were scattered all over the city.

***

Rodney sighed in relief as the door to the main laboratory closed behind him. He stepped forward and started yelling out orders for the day.

"Peters, I need you to check the main compressors on the Jumper gay."

"Doc? Did you say--?"

"I haven't got all gay, Peters." Rodney looked around at his silent, gaping minions. "What?" All the mouths snapped shut and Rodney narrowed his eyes. "Is this about Mitchell's acceptance speech last night?" A few tentative nods. "Fine. Spit it out or get back to work."

Everyone looked to Peters. "Is it true?"

"What? NO! I'm getting married! I seriously wonder about Mitchell's mental faculties."

Radek pushed his glasses up his nose. "Well, he has been in entertainment industry for three years."

"Oh, oh, oh!" Peters raised his hand. "And he was just in that movie about gay scientists, so his mind is all twisted around because of the way you are."

More confused, Rodney frowned and rolled his hands. "The way I am?"

"Well...you're always filing your nails," Simpson remarked.

"They get ragged from working on mechanical objects," he snarled.

Someone else piped up. "And you can be a little prissy."

"Prissy?" He placed his hands on his hips in annoyance.

"See!"

"And you always zip your shirts all the way up. And the way you walk."

"The way I walk?"

"Oh, oh, and the hands! How you talk with your hands...all limp-wristed. And how much you like Celine Dion."

The horrifying flood came to a halt when the door opened reluctantly for Woolsey.

"Doctor McKay. A moment of your time please." Grinding his teeth, Rodney moved into the furthest corner to speak to Woolsey. "The SGC has asked me to accommodate the reporters for a day or two, but they are disrupting work in the gate room."

"Did you speak to them? Ask them to vacate the gate room?"

"Yes. And they mocked me! They won't desist until they have an interview."

Rodney sighed heavily. He waved his hand. "Fine!" And headed for the door.

Radek called out, "Rodney?"

"What now?"

"Watch the hands," he dangled his hand from his wrist and Rodney jerked his hands into his pockets.

****

Two hours later, the Stargate closed behind the last of the reporters. It might have been sooner but it took that long to locate them all on the life signs detector after they inadvertently scattered themselves across Atlantis in some lame attempt to reach McKay. John was surprised at how easily he had fooled the sensors into letting him remain until the gate shut down, but the city seemed to like him--a lot. He could hear her whispering in the back of his mind, cooing like a lover. She opened doorways instantly, lit up the corridors and stairs as he walked through the city, and activated anything he wanted just by thinking about it.

He stepped into the transporter alone, having left his cameraman back in the individual quarters Woolsey had begrudgingly assigned them after John made his continued presence known and informed Woolsey that he would be staying on a little longer. It helped that Woolsey was reluctant to waste more ZPM power on opening another wormhole to Earth. By now it was close to midnight and the halls were mostly empty.

"Now. Where's McKay?" he murmured aloud, and felt his mind and finger tugged gently towards the cafeteria. Shrugging, he touched the rear panel and the door opened at his destination moments later. "Cool!"

He made out McKay's silhouette and crossed the room, standing over McKay expectantly as he waited to be acknowledged. McKay sighed, shoulders slumping as he took another bite out of his meal, not bothering to look up--or even to swallow--before speaking.

"No more interviews," he mumbled around a fork-full of mashed purple stuff.

McKay looked across in confusion. "What are you doing?" he demanded as John slid into the seat opposite him. McKay glared at him but John had suffered worse when he was in the Air Force, before his admission of guilt had set him onto a new career path. "I'm busy! You people have been hounding me all day...in my lab, in the gate room."

"I know....we're terrible human beings. Sleazy."

The young woman at the next table leaned in. "Oh, I quite like that Janet Frasier."

"Did Janet call you!" John demanded, realizing that he might have lost his opportunity to a bigger name on the networks.

"No!" McKay shoved up from the table, but John caught his wrist.

"Look, I need a chance here," John wheedled. "Everyone wants Janet or Elizabeth...my network is killing me! They want me blond!"

"With your coloring?" McKay eyed his hair strangely, as if trying to imagine him as a blond.

"I'm not like the others. They've already gone to file their stories but I care about you. I've decided to stay. I'm doing a full week on you, Rodney. I can call you Rodney?"

Rodney spluttered in shock. "What? No!"

"Come on, Rodney! It'll be great! This story has everything. Sex, an alien city in a faraway galaxy, a movie star." He framed his hands to hold Rodney pictured. "Rodney McKay, A Man on the Edge of Forever."

"My..." Rodney seemed lost for words. "You. You. You are pure television!"

John gave his patent Aww Shucks! shrug and smile. "You flatter me." But Rodney merely glared harder before pushing up and storming off, leaving John to sit and admire the view of those broad shoulders, muscular thighs and tasty ass. He licked his lips hungrily before stealing the untouched roll that Rodney had left behind.

He would wait until morning and then start to build a picture of Rodney McKay from interviews with friends and colleagues. Surprisingly, he slept really well, even if the bed was barely long enough for a child to sleep in.

The IOA had restricted his access to only the main communal areas of Atlantis, not wanting to cause any explosions or damage should John or his cameraman accidentally touch something best left alone in one of the many laboratories. That left John prowling the cafeteria and lounges, interviewing various members of the science and military community. Slowly, he built up his picture of Rodney McKay--scientist and arrogant bastard, savior and pain in the ass. It fitted the impression John had gained of the man personally, and from what he had seen of Rodney since this whole thing started, Rodney was seriously in denial, believing that his marriage to Dr. Jennifer Keller was the answer to all his problems.

That ass didn't belong to any woman though, John thought. That ass was made to be plowed by another man, and John wished he could be that man. Yet all the evidence gleaned from close associates pointed to Rodney going through with the charade of marriage, and probably suffering several years and 2.4 kids, a dog and a white picket fence before he realized what Mitchell had seen so plainly...and what John had seen too. His gaydar was not exactly the greatest--he never saw it coming--but it was pinging so loud now that he was surprised he could hear anything above the noise.

And, damn, Rodney was exactly his type, right down to the sarcasm and smart mouth. Damn. Don't think of the mouth, he thought, but it was too late. He knew he'd be having serious fantasies about that mouth and that ass later.

****

Rodney felt uncomfortable as he walked through the corridors, almost certain that everyone was speculating about him after Mitchell's declaration.

At least his bachelor party would set things back the way they ought to be, Rodney thought, and he took a deep breath before hurtling himself through the final set of doors leading to the observation lounge that had proved perfect for throwing small parties. Everyone cheered and Rodney grabbed the Sam Carter look-a-like, blow up doll and smacked a kiss on its wide-open mouth, secretly hoping no one had been using it for anything unsavory recently...or at least had washed it afterwards! Happily he eyed up the table laden down with all the sugary perfection he could handle--and decent beer rather than that weak American excuse for beer. He moved straight towards the food, grabbing something squishy and definitely edible and stuffing it into his mouth, swallowing it in a couple of bites, before chasing it down with a Czech lager.

"So! Lay it on me. Did you raid the marines' porn stash? What do we have? Tracy COMES in Atlantis?"

"No. We have all your favorites, Rodney!" Carson lifted up the DVD. "We have uncut...AVATAR!"

Deadpanned, Rodney stared at him. "Avatar? You got Leona Lewis?"

"Aye! You forced us to watch that little festival of movies with great power ballads last year. It was fun!"

"Look. This is my bachelor party and I'm NOT going to watch Avatar!"

"Good!" stated Radek. "I hated that movie. Blue people!" Radek turned away. "Have you got Elton John's El Dorado?"

"Titanic!" Carson yelled.

"Yes! Titanic!" Someone else agreed.

Rodney turned away in disgust, letting them know how he felt about watching Titanic at his bachelor party; he turned and started to walk away. No wonder half the civilized galaxy thought he was gay if even his friends thought Rodney only liked movies with power ballads. Admittedly, it did have a good film score though Rodney preferred The Lord of the Rings trilogy in that respect.

"Maybe he is right. Titanic sucks," Radek added boldly.

Rodney froze and turned slowly. "What did you say?"

"Titanic sucks. It is boring. Her voice...warbled in Titanic."

With a snarl at the insult to his favorite power ballad singer, and a Canadian at that, Rodney leaped for Radek. Eventually, they ended up watching Armageddon, which at least had a wonderful power ballad as the credits rolled, to counteract the terrible science in the rest of the movie. The party broke up once all the beer and snacks were gone, and Rodney stumbled to bed feeling a little queasy--and not just because of the amount he had consumed. The wedding was only a day away now and the doubts were starting to gnaw away at him.

His dreams were filled with worrying images and he awoke feeling even more confused and uncertain. Seeking advice on Atlantis wasn't exactly easy. He couldn't exactly step through the Stargate or take a Gateship out for a quick ride to another world just to ask for impartial advice. Heightmeyer was out of the question because the woman talked in riddles, answering questions with more questions when what he needed right now was answers. The nearest thing they had on Atlantis to a sort of confessional was the blanket strung across the center of a closet, used by the Athosians...and Rodney was an atheist.

Desperate, he slipped into the confessional box and waited, recognizing Halling's voice. He cleared his throat and tried to disguise his own voice by lowering it, just in case Halling recognized it. "I have a friend who's been engaged for three years and he's getting married...but everyone is saying things about him."

"Things?"

"That he's...gay," he mumbled.

"Gay? What is this gay you speak of?"

Rodney spoke up a little. "Gay. Homosexual. He likes other men. He's getting married...to a woman," Rodney stressed, "And his friends have arranged this big wedding, and he has a hot, blond fiancée, and he's never...never slept with her...."

"Three years? He is this thing you call gay!"

"No! No...he respects her. He loves her...he thinks. What should he do?"

"Well, he needs to know for certain. He needs to lay with her."

"Have sex? Before the wedding?"

Rodney was horrified at the thought. He had kept himself celibate all these years. He still had his celibacy pledge ring in the drawer in his quarters, preferring not to wear it in case he ended up electrocuting himself, because wearing metal wasn't such a great idea around scientific experiments. Admittedly, it was more of an excuse as he'd not exactly been the type to get the hot babes when he was younger, mostly because his classmates had tended to be three or four years older and not interested in dating a kid, and then his research took up all his time, and after that it hadn't seemed to matter so much...until Jennifer started flirting with him.

Taking a deep breath, Rodney sneaked away hoping Halling wouldn't peek around the blanket; he made his way to Jennifer's quarters with a determined stride. It was early in the afternoon and she had been on the late shift last night while he had his bachelor party. When her door opened he could hear fast, strident music in the background that made his skin crawl, but he forced it out of mind. Rodney grabbed for her, kissing her intently while trying to remove his expedition jacket and fondle her breast at the same time. They ended up backing up and falling onto her large bed as Rodney grew ever more frantic at his own lack of response below the belt. He couldn't be impotent. Not on the day before his wedding. Rodney grabbed for the hem of his t-shirt, but as he started to drag it up over his head, movement on the screen caught his eye and he shrieked when he saw Kavanagh dancing on the video feed with long hair swinging around, greasy with sweat, and a muscle shirt revealing far more of the man than Rodney was capable of dealing with right then. He fell backwards off the bed and yelped as he banged his head.

"Rodney!"

"Can you turn him off!" Rodney picked himself off the floor and sank onto the bed, putting his sore head into his hands. "I'm sorry. I'm under a lot of pressure."

Jennifer reached out and took his hands. "It's okay. I understand, and I love you. We're getting married." The silence lengthened. "We are getting married, aren't we? I transformed myself for you. Do you want me to start eating again? I'm very fragile!" Her voice rose to a Harpy shriek and Rodney cringed back, more confused than ever. He grabbed her pretty face and kissed her hard but still felt nothing from the waist down, not even a tiny spark of desire.

"I love you," he blurted but the doubts were overtaking him, dragging him down. Yet everything was on the line now. It was like the clocks had turned back fifty years, back to the days of Mitchell's To Serve Two Masters, with Woolsey saying he might lose his job if he didn't go through with the wedding. Just because the American military had these absurd rules about gays serving, Rodney didn't understand why the rest of them had to adhere to them too. The US military was not the only military on Atlantis. There were representatives of the military from other far more enlightened countries also serving here, including his own--Canada.

And what if he couldn't perform on the wedding night? What if he really was impotent?

With his thoughts a-whirl, Rodney ran out of Jennifer's quarters, heedless of the turned heads and terrified looks as he ran to the transporter, smacked his hand against the panel, and then ran and ran through the busy corridors of the science labs heading blindly towards the only place where he figured he could think--the wide expanse of the west pier. As he turned the final corner, someone came out of nowhere, and his foot caught against theirs, sending him tumbling until he landed on his back, sprawled across the corridor.

"Rodney! I didn't see you. I tried to swerve. Are you okay?"

Rodney kept his eyes closed as he recognized Sheppard's soft drawl. "No. I'm not okay." He slammed his hands down on the ground. "I want my life back!"

"Well, Rodney, that's just not going to happen. Everything has changed, and you've got to learn to deal with it."

Rodney squeezed his eyes closed tighter and rolled onto his hands and knees, crawling away a few feet before trying to use the corridor wall to help him stand up. "This is all YOUR fault. Everything was fine until you came here. I had people who cowered before me. They respected me...and I love Jennifer."

"Then think about what you're doing to her."

"What? You can't possibly understand."

"I'm gay."

Rodney looked up in shock, and felt his mouth go dry as he looked at the strong, lean runner's body clad in a t-shirt and shorts; the firmly muscled thighs and calves...hairy. He could see sprouts of dark, curly chest hair above the neck of Sheppard's t-shirt, and hair on his forearms, and wondered where else the man had thick, dark curls. His eyes darted to the man's shorts...HIS HEAD, he thought quickly, snapping his eyes up to Sheppard's face and trying to slam a door on thoughts of other parts of Sheppard's anatomy.

"Wh-what?"

"I'm gay. I came out."

"To whom?" Rodney asked incredulously.

"Everyone! My CO, my dad, my wife, my dog...everyone. One day I just snapped. I got fed up with switching pronouns and looking for sex in dirty alleys behind bars and said...I'm gay!"

"What happened?"

"Well, my CO got me an honorable discharge in recognition of my service, my wife cried and left me, and my dad said...but you're a Sheppard, then blamed my mom's side of the family." Sheppard slouched against the wall opposite Rodney.

"And that's good?" Rodney felt horrified.

"Well...yeah. My dad hated me being in the military more than he hated the idea of me being gay; my wife confessed she was having an affair so that ended up for the best for both of us, and my ex-CO is now a high ranking Pentagon officer who is even more determined to push for the end of DADT so he doesn't waste any more good men." John gave a cocky grin that made Rodney's stomach flip. "And I got to go to Hollywood. People surprise you when you give them a chance." John shrugged with one-shoulder. "You know, sometimes the worst thing you think could happen, turns out to be the best!"

"Not in my field," Rodney replied, thinking of a dozen worst scenarios of radioactive clouds that had no happy silver lining. He pushed to his feet and walked away a few steps before turning on his heel and stabbing a finger at Sheppard. "You forget...I'm not GAY!" Rodney threw his arms up in dismay and turned away once more.

"Wait." Rodney reluctantly stopped. "What hit song put The Village People on the map?"

"Macho Man in 1978," Rodney replied without missing a beat.

"Stud."

Rodney bristled at the insult. "Everyone knows that!"

"Everyone where? The Little Gay Bar on Tatooine?" Sheppard's eyes narrowed speculatively. "You know what you need?"

"I need a wedding!"

Rodney squeaked as Sheppard grabbed his arms, pulled him in and kissed him. It was electrifying, the jolt zeroing straight to his groin and making him hard in seconds--and Rodney couldn't pull himself away. He wanted more of the amazing scent and taste, more of the strength and power as he felt bristles scratch his own bristled face. He tasted the agile tongue coiling against his--hard and dirty and oh so good, like nothing he had ever experienced before.

When Sheppard finally pulled back, Rodney felt disoriented. All the blood had rushed from his magnificent brain to his groin and he was aching and so hard he could probably drill holes in Ancient metal sheeting. He staggered back in shock, lips still tingling. He reached up and touched his lips, wondering if they were as swollen to his fingers as they felt to his tongue.

"You. You...kissed me!"

"You noticed."

Determined to take back control of this...this... He didn't even know what this was. "This...this isn't Los Angeles!"

"What...people don't kiss on Atlantis?" Sheppard gave a slightly narrowed eyed, flick of his head, taunting Rodney.

"Not at an...an intersection!"

At that very moment Cadman came round the corner, with Carson just a little further behind pushing along a gurney holding an enormous, fancy-looking wedding cake.

"Hey! Rodney!"

"Cadman!"

"Look! It's the cake!"

"Is everything okay, Rodney," Carson asked.

Flustered, Rodney panicked. "Oh yes. Yes. This is my friend...John. We just ran into each other at the intersexual. Homosection. Intersection." He tapped his radio, pretending he had a communication. "Yes, Radek. I'll be right there." He waved his hand. "I've got to go!"

Cadman squinted. "You're the reporter from TV."

"Yeah. John Sheppard, KBT News and Social."

"Well, if you're Rodney's buddy then I do hope you'll be coming to the wedding," she said.

Rodney jabbed a finger at Sheppard. "Yes! That's right. Tomorrow, 09:00, in the gate room. It's formal."

Rodney rushed away, more desperate and confused than ever.

****

The gate room had filled to capacity by the time John arrived, and as he wanted a good view of the proceedings, he stayed off to the side, leaning against the wall closest to the right-hand exit on the lower floor. He could see Rodney dressed in a perfect, well-fitted tuxedo that emphasized his broad shoulders and narrowed down to that magnificent ass. He looked completely edible, and John wished he was going to be the person stripping Rodney out of that tux later.

Someone was piping organ music through the open comms and it reverberated around the high ceilings majestically. Normally, John preferred The Man in Black but he had to admit that the gate room of Atlantis was the perfect setting for a wedding. Just a shame the whole marriage idea was a grand mistake and, any minute now, the Officiator would step out and Rodney would say, YES, to a life of denial and misery. Rodney was glancing around the crowd and when their eyes met, John imagined he could see more than just the nervousness and excitement of a man about to be married. He thought he could see confusion and doubt, as well as need and want that wasn't for the woman who would walk down the main staircase at any moment.

The music changed and everyone stared up, a buzz of delight filling the room as Jennifer Keller walked down the stairs looking radiant in her beautiful, flowing white gown. John slouched back against the wall, feeling sorrow with every step she took across the gate room floor. First would come another question, and he bit the inside of his lip as the Officiator asked if anyone had a reason why Rodney and Jennifer should not marry. He wanted to cry out that Rodney loved but wasn't in love with Jennifer--or any woman--that he was trapped in a web of denial...and that he ought to be with another, with a man...with him. John could see Rodney's shoulders were stiff, and they grew more tense as the Officiator talked of being totally honest with a partner as the strongest foundation of marriage.

He listened as Jennifer gave her wedding vow, promising, "I do," and then came the moment when Rodney had to say his vow. John closed his eyes, aware of his cameraman filming every moment and knowing he would have to relive this moment when he reviewed the footage later.

"I'm gay." Rodney seemed to freeze in shock at his own softly spoken words. At Jennifer's confusion he repeated his words, "I'm...gay."

John straightened up, feeling a flare of hope bursting open in his chest as others tried to pretend Rodney had said something different but he could see Rodney releasing a deep breath as he turned to face everyone--his colleagues and his friends.

"I'm gay."

John was shocked. When he told Rodney that he had come out to everyone, he didn't mean that he had stood up in front of every person he knew and told them all at once. He had eased his way into those talks, not just blurted it out. Caught between elation and shock, he wasn't certain whether to cheer or console, especially when Jennifer's face crumpled in unearned embarrassment. She turned and fled back up the stairs to the office she had used for her final preparations before the ceremony, and Rodney raced after her. The noise level grew as those present aired their shock to those around them but everyone grew eerily silent as Jennifer's voice was heard screeching through the still open door.

"You're sorry!" It went quiet until, "...ANY other time you could have told me this! I'm wearing a wedding dress that YOU PICKED OUT!" John could see people stretching their necks upwards to try to catch more. "I pretended not to notice the power ballad thing. I thought you were just being creative...smarter than me." Suddenly Jennifer was looking over the balcony. "Does anybody here know how many times I have to listen to Heart Will Go On?"

"She had a cold that day!" Rodney stated, as if trying to be the voice of reason.

"Fuck Celine Dion...And fuck you!"

John had to admit that Jennifer didn't hold back on her punches--metaphysical or literal--as she knocked Rodney flying with a single uppercut to the jaw before racing off, and he decided then and there that he was staying well away from her. His cameraman kept filming Rodney as he picked himself up off the floor and raced after her, but John missed seeing where Rodney touched on the transporter panel. He stepped inside the empty transporter with his cameraman and closed his eyes, deciding to rely on that gut feeling and the warm touch at the back of his mind as he pulled an image of Rodney--admittedly naked--into his mind. Seconds later, the door opened onto medical science section, just in time to see Jennifer disappear into another transporter at the end of the long corridor.

With Jennifer out of the picture, John let the elation loose, enraptured by the way Rodney's hands waved and his eyes sparkled maniacally. He was so goddamn gorgeous at this moment, full of life and energy, and John wanted to kiss him again so much that he never saw the fist that clipped his cheek, though years of sparring practice at least let him ride with the blow. As Rodney raced off, John could see him holding his fist and he wondered if Rodney had broken something.

Closing his eyes, John searched for Rodney again, trying to reach that warm place in his head that would point him in the right direction, but his own feelings were in a tumult as he played back Rodney's words and actions and saw the true devastation, fear and insecurity in those wide blue eyes. In his fervor first to get a story and then to save Rodney from an ill-fated marriage--and possibly sweep Rodney off his feet instead--he had pushed and pushed until Rodney snapped. Returning to his assigned quarters, John looked in the mirror, and he saw all the things he had ever hated in his media magnate father; the ruthlessness, and the taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others. He saw his mother driven away in tears by his father's callousness, and his father's sorrow when he learned too late that he had lost something infinitely precious.

John called in his cameraman. "This is over. We'll head back later." But Woolsey refused to open the gate--not until the next official check in with Earth in four days time. The alternative was a three week journey on the Daedalus and John considered it for all of two minutes before deciding he couldn't bear to be cooped up on-board the ship for that long.

At a loose end, he made his way down to the darkened half of the mess hall that doubled for a bar later in the Atlantean evenings--seeing only a few stragglers sipping drinks--and he took a seat out on the balcony overlooking the ocean. A commotion made him look around and he saw Jennifer enter, still in her wedding dress. She went up to the man who doubled as both chef and barman.

"Well, can I get a drink...and food? I'm starving!" The mess sergeant looked terrified so John stepped in and placed three pieces of chocolate cake on her tray, and a vodka. "Thanks!" she said.

She grabbed the closest table and John sat at the table next to her, unsure what was going through his own head right now but knowing she had once been the closest person to Rodney on Atlantis. Part of him wanted to know if her skin still held Rodney's scent and he felt sickened by his own crazy desire for a man he had met only a few days earlier. It was like he wanted to live and breathe with Rodney, like he wanted to touch and taste him so bad that nothing else would suffice.

"You're that guy from TV. What are you doing here?" Jennifer asked.

He raised his glass. "Getting drunk. I had a bad day."

"EXCUSE ME!"

John winced as he looked at her. "You win."

"Am I so awful that no man would want me?"

"No! You're very attractive." He patted her hand awkwardly. "This is not your fault. Rodney should have told you years ago."

She was actually pretty in an odd sort of way--for a woman--though not quite John's ideal of beauty. His ideal came with sharper cheekbones and a strong jaw, with a five o'clock shadow, large, blunt fingers and tiny, pert nipples. Not breasts though, and even man-boobs were a turn off. He liked broad shoulders, strong thighs, and a curved ass that was not too firm and not too soft, not too big and not too flat. Rodney's ass shape--as defined in those cargo pants and in that tight fitting tuxedo--was his personal kink. But it was far more than that nice ass or the other physical traits of bright eyes and quirky smile that drew him to Rodney. It was Rodney's intelligence, his sarcasm and wit...that smart mouth and quick mind.

"I love you. You're nice."

John sneered into his drink. "I'm not nice. I'm show biz garbage." He'd been a pilot once, and a damned good one. He'd made a difference but now all he did was pander to media stars, or seek out ways to reveal their hidden secrets for his own gain and fame. He was a hack who didn't deserve someone like Rodney.

"Will you sleep with me?" John blinked hard and looked at her hopeful expression. Why did he never see this coming? "THREE YEARS!" She cried. "Three years of movie nights, of classical music and power ballads, of listening to him rant about his staff and the idiocy of the US military. It's my wedding day. I'm THERE. I'm ready....THIS IS A MEDICAL CONDITION and I should know because I'm a DOCTOR!"

"I can't!"

"Why?"

"I'm gay."

She stared at him long and hard, then shoved back her chair and yelled. "Is this the Twilight Zone? Is everybody on Atlantis GAY!?" Then she disappeared in a cloud of white lace and organza.

John took another drink.

****

News spread around Atlantis quickly but the aborted wedding really did seem like yesterday's news compared to the latest gossip that Rodney was leaving Atlantis. Instead of hard glares for his treatment of Jennifer, all he gained was concerned looks as he carried his few very personal possessions along the corridor to the gate room. Yesterday, after the fiasco of no wedding, Woolsey had called him to his office and spouted the party line about keeping the US military sweet, mentioning it was they who provided most of the funding that kept Atlantis afloat.

"I'm sorry, Rodney, but I'm handing over the Chief Scientist position to Doctor Kavanagh. I realize how hard it will be to stay so I've gained special dispensation to open the wormhole to Earth early for you."

Rodney was surprised by the number of people gathered on the gate room floor, having momentarily forgotten that it was the special announcement today, though he was certain that had been scheduled for after his departure. They looked up at him as he settled his case more comfortably in his grip. His hand still hurt from where he had punched Sheppard but he bore the pain stoically for once. Woolsey cleared his throat and stepped up, deciding to take advantage of the early gathering to make his formal announcement for the Scientist of the Year award.

"Before I make an important staff announcement, I would like to thank each and every one of you--scientist and military--for your sterling work over these past years. But today, we honor one scientist in particular...our Scientist of the Year...and as always the caliber of candidates is stellar." He looked to Chuck. "May I have the envelope, please?" Woolsey grinned, making a show of tearing open the envelope and pulling out the paper within. "Drum roll," he smiled but nobody smiled back. "And our Scientist of the Year is...Doctor Peter Kavanagh!"

A murmur of disapproval and confusion flowed across the gate room with just a smattering of applause as Kavanagh leaped up and grabbed at the plaque that Rodney had coveted, but which now seemed unimportant compared to losing his life's work on Atlantis.

"Excuse me, Doctor Kavanagh!" A voice came from the other side of the gate room. "You could say I'm a former original of this expedition."

"It's Cameron Mitchell!"

The shout went up from one of the female scientists who had shown little restraint in the past whenever a certain celebrity was mentioned, and everyone's attention went to the lower side entrance as Mitchell sauntered in. Rodney frowned at the commotion, wondering first why no one had mentioned opening the Stargate earlier to let Mitchell on Atlantis, and secondly why no one ever greeted him with ecstatic cries. After all, he saved them on an almost weekly basis--not that many noticed or acknowledged his contribution to their continued well-being. Mitchell waved and Rodney had visions of the upstairs balcony collapsing under the press of expedition members wanting to get a closer look at their returning hero...and Rodney used that word lightly.

Woolsey tried to regain control of the shrieking crowd but failed. Instead, they grew silent as Mitchell carried on. "I came here to see Doc McKay. Hey, Rodney!"

Mitchell raised a hand and waved, and Rodney found himself waving back reluctantly as Mitchell made his way to the staircase and walked up a few steps until he was standing above the heads of the crowd.

"Say, Rodney, weren't you up for the Scientist of the Year thing?"

Kavanagh grabbed the microphone. "Withdrawn!" It was wrestled back by Woolsey, "Ineligible. Doctor McKay is...is no-no longer an employee here."

The murmurs started up again but fell as Mitchell asked, "Why? What happened?"

"He resigned," Woolsey stated, which was technically true as given the choice between resigning and being fired was... actually no choice at all. At least Rodney knew he would get to keep his security clearance for other non-military projects, which was far better than ending up in some backwater high school teaching 10th grade science and math.

"Wait. Is this about the SCI-DOC and the gay thing?"

"NO! No, no, no."

"Then what is it?"

"Influence. The...community of Atlantis felt that Doctor McKay would be a poor influence on the working relationship between scientist and military on Atlantis."

"I'm sorry. Influence?" Mitchell exaggerated a frown and Rodney winced because Mitchell really was a terrible actor.

"It's all right to be this way or...or that way...at home, but this is Atlantis and Doctor McKay is...was...the Chief Scientist."

"So you were thinking of the military and scientists. So...stay with me. You think that because Doctor McKay is gay that he's going to be sending out some kind of...voodoo or snarky vibes that will turn everyone, including all the soldiers, gay."

"In a crude manner of speaking."

Mitchell turned to the rest of the gate room. "So...you've all served under or with Doctor McKay. Is that the way it works?"

It was deathly silent for a moment until...

"I'm gay!" Rodney blinked in surprise as one of his junior scientists stood up straight and tall. "I accompanied Doctor McKay on a five day trek through the mud on P97-4BX, looking for Ancient artifacts. All that snark must have rubbed off on me. I'm gay."

Meek little Miko suddenly screamed, rubbing at her arms, and everyone stepped back in case whatever she had was contagious. "I worked in the laboratory with Doctor McKay for the last four years. You are right. I must have contracted it. I am a lesbian!"

Two more scientists in the crowd shouted out but Woolsey stopped them. "Your loyalty to Doctor McKay is commendable, but this is a leadership issue and as far as the leadership on Atlantis is concerned towards Doctor McKay, they have said, no, no, no."

Radek stood up. "I am a member of command structure and I do not mind that Rodney is gay."

"But you were his deputy...as you know."

Radek pulled off his glasses and cleaned them. "So, you must know what this means. I, too, must be gay."

"But you're not military," Woolsey stated.

One of the marines stood up. "Captain Stevens. McKay fixed the shower in my quarters last month. I was in my room alone with him for several hours so I must be gay, sir."

"But you're not American or command--"

Eight people stood up. "Colonel Evan Lorne, commander of the Atlantean military forces...and off-world teams SGA2 and 7. Doctor McKay pulled our asses out of a firefight last month." Together they all yelled, "GAY!"

As more and more people stood up and shouted at Woolsey, Rodney saw John Sheppard raise his hand and say, "Gay!"

Rodney felt overwhelmed by the display of support, barely noticing as Mitchell climbed the rest of the way to the top of the stairs.

Kavanagh grabbed the microphone again. "But he's not Scientist of the Year! I am!" Kavanagh held tightly to the small plaque. "And this belongs to me!"

"Well, maybe Doctor McKay deserves something else." He pulled the SCI-DOC statue of a small solar system from his bag and held it aloft while someone piped in the theme music to his award-winning docu-movie, To Serve Two Masters. The shrieks and yells filled the gate room. "Doctor McKay!"

Mitchell pulled Rodney to his feet and presented him with the amazing award. Stunned, Rodney looked across the sea of cheering faces, and his eyes met Sheppard's.

****

Epilogue:

The gate room was decked out again in beautiful, pollen-free flowers gathered from the Athosian home-world, and downstairs the magnificent room was filling with guests for the wedding ceremony. Rodney was wearing his tuxedo again but fussing over the bow tie nervously, so John stepped in and turned him. If his father had taught him one thing, it was how to tie a mean bow tie. John stepped back and smiled. So much had changed in the three weeks since that amazing scene in the gate room. John had resigned from his post at the network and accepted a consultancy position on Atlantis, utilizing his special gene that Rodney had gone nuts over when he saw John casually lighting up the darkened corridors as he jogged along.

Apparently, his special gene was one of the strongest expressions encountered, and the addition of his military training had made him a highly sought out person. No longer being a military rank, he stood just outside of the military command structure, heading up the security of Atlantis, but like the President of the United States, that made him commander-in-chief on Atlantis.

Of course, not being military and being of equal rank to Rodney, whom Woolsey was forced to reinstate as Chief Scientist, meant no stupid military regulations and no fraternization rules applied. He was free to pursue and to tell. It still took more than a few dates before they moved from amazing hot kissing to scorching hot sex, with Rodney being more than a little shy despite his outward arrogance and bluster. Who knew the man would be a virgin?

John let his hands drop away before he lost control of the desire to kiss Rodney stupid and crease both their tuxedos in the process.

"You ready?"

Rodney took a deep breath and they walked side-by-side down the wide staircase as the room filled with beautiful, haunting orchestral music from the soundtrack of Lord of the Rings. They stopped side-by-side in front of Halling and smiled at each other. Some would call it a whirlwind romance but John had known Rodney was THE ONE from the moment he first saw him, and that first kiss at the intersection had only sealed his conviction. John knew that kiss had been the pivotal moment for Rodney too, when he could no longer deny that his feelings for Jennifer were nothing compared to how he fell instantly and so strongly for John.

"Such an unusual union, but one blessed by the Ancestors. Do you Meredith Rodney Ingram McKay take John Patrick Sheppard to be your life companion..."

When Rodney said, "I do," they all turned at the loud sob from Laura Cadman, but found her beaming in pleasure through bright, tear-filled eyes.

John repeated his vows and placed a specially made, expensive Ancient alloy ring around Rodney's finger, one that would not react to any known chemicals or effects, and was harder than steel. As they leaned in to seal their new partnership with a kiss, the whole gate room erupted with shouts and applause.

They say the wedding reception was still going on two days later...but John and Rodney had disappeared off to their quarters only hours into the music and dancing. When they finally surfaced three days later, they were both exhausted and happy, wearing grins that didn't fade until a week later when Kavanagh forgot to carry a one and almost sank the city.

END