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Between the Whiskers

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[EPISODE 1]

John wanted desperately to stretch and yawn as he sat in the mission briefing from PXD 473, apparently the team who had gone found no sign of sentient life, but found what they thought was a research facility left by the Ancients.

The science half of the room seemed thrilled, none more so than McKay, who was currently sat forward in his chair, firing relentless questions at Corporal Davis.

John just let the conversation wash over him as he watched McKay.

McKay was an enigma he couldn’t quite get comfortable with.

He was the best scientist they had, one of the sole reasons Atlantis was up and running, and keeping it that way. But he was also a Shifter.

John hadn’t had much dealing with Shifter’s before, in fact, before McKay he had never met one in person. And being part of the military he was never really expecting too, after all, they were practically forbidden to work in high risk situation because of their rarity.

He had seen some stuff on TV and in films about Shifters, but that was the basis of all his knowledge. So far, he hadn’t seen McKay Shift into his big cat form. Sometimes he even doubted he actually was a Shifter. After all, they were meant to be placed timid things, of which McKay was not.

Even though, after Simmons’s death, Elizabeth had told John he was now one of McKay’s chaperones along with herself and Zelenka.

It was annoying. According to Elizabeth, one of them had to be with him at all times, it was one of the stipulations the Shifter Registry back on Earth had imposed on McKay actually being allowed to come on the mission.

So he had had to move into the quarters next to McKay’s with Zelenka at the other side and Elizabeth across the corridor.

John was just happy that he didn’t have to actually share with McKay. Because he was sure it would be hell.

At first he had been annoyed that he had to baby sit a grown man. But it had only taken a few days into his babysitting before he had to step into a situation with a few of the Shifter fans.

He had turned to talk to someone in the mess and when he turned back, McKay had been cornered by a couple of botanists and a few marines. McKay looked like he was about to explode in their faces.

John was ready to find amusement in the situation when suddenly one of the female botanists reached out as McKay swung out an arm to get past them. Her hand ended up wrapping around McKay’s wrist.

Everyone froze. Including McKay, who seemed to actually relax, even though his eyes were wide with something close to fear as he went very pale.

The whole Mess seemed to go silent in that moment with a collective indrawn breath.

Grabbing a Shifter by the wrist was forbidden, unless you actually owned it. According to law, it made them very subservient and compliant. Hell, even John had wanted to do it a time or two, just to shut McKay up, but would never act on it.

Katie Brown had let go immediately, apologising profusely as the crowd around McKay suddenly backed off.

McKay in turn had tensed up again and stormed out of the Mess. John had told one of the marines not involved to take names and report the incident to Elizabeth immediately as he ran off after McKay. He had then followed McKay to his lab, they hadn’t talked, mostly because McKay hid himself behind his computer not saying a word. John didn’t know what he could say, but he left him in Zelenka’s care when he was called to Elizabeth’s office to report as they put Katie Brown on disciplinary.

They hadn’t talked about it since, but it also meant everyone else on Atlantis kept a respectful distance, which McKay seemed happy about.

“I have to go!”

John was snapped out of his musing as McKay raised his voice.

“You know I can’t allow that McKay.” Elizabeth answered. “I’m sure Zelenka is more than capable of going.”

“He hates going off world.” McKay protested as Zelenka nodded in agreement. “I’m the best person to quickly figure out if this place is actually what I’m looking for!”

“He’s right.” Zelenka put in.

“You also said there wasn’t any danger?” McKay carried on glaring at Davis. “It should be safe if I go with Sheppard’s team and maybe SGA7. We could be back by supper if we go now.”

“Sheppard?” Elizabeth asked with a suffering sigh.

John just shrugged. “If Davis say’s it’s safe enough, I don’t see why not. It’s not that far from the gate.”

“Only about two miles.” Davis answered. “The terrain is forested, but it’s on a level.”

“Fine, Davis is your team willing to go out again?” Elizabeth asked.

“Not a problem.” Davis answered with a relaxed smile.

“Ok, go gear up. Zelenka can you help McKay. Sheppard a word.”

John stood as everyone else left the conference room. “What is it?” he asked when they were alone.

“I know I don’t need to say this. But watch McKay’s back.” She said with a smile. “He might be a rare Shifter, but he’s also a civilian and the most important scientist we have… bring him back in one piece?”

“I always try and bring everyone back.” He reassured. But there was something in her expression that made him uncomfortable.

“I know you will… but I think Rodney actually likes you, so try not to be too hard on him.”

John frowned, despite McKay being arrogant, condescending and maddeningly annoying at times. John actually liked the guy, it was rare when he found people he could get along with so well, McKay could bring out the geeky side of himself that he didn’t show many people. Also he liked watching McKay with his staff, there was no end of enjoyment there as they all ran around after his littlest whim’s or he would bark on for hours.

“I’ll try not to be.” He promised. “I should get going…”

“I’ll see you when you’re ready to depart then.” She smiled at him again before turning to leave.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney was beyond exited as Zelenka helped him get his kit together to leave on his first off world mission. He had wanted to be on a team since the get go, but knew it was too much to hope for.

But here he was all tacked up and ready to go.

He had two laptops with him, enough power bars to last a few days, a little stash of coffee, just in case they had time to make it. A tool kit with all he should need.

“Let me check you out.” Sheppard suddenly said behind him.

McKay tried not to blush as he turned, giving Zelenka a scowl as he did so, the little elf had a grin on his face Rodney didn’t like.

Then John was pulling on the straps of his backpack, moving them into a more comfortable position on Rodney’s shoulders. Then he bobbed down in front of him and Rodney swallowed hard.

“You need to double tie your laces.” Sheppard said matter of fact as he tied Rodney’s laces.

“I could have done that myself.” He snapped in embarrassment. “I’m not a child.”

Suddenly Sheppard was grinning up at him and Rodney’s heart missed a beat. “Not with that backpack. You sure it’s not too heavy?”

Rodney stepped away. “It’s got to be alright. I need everything I have.”

Sheppard just stood with that annoying grin on his face as he turned away to go help someone else.

Rodney watched him go. The man could sometimes make him have the strangest feelings he couldn’t put names too. He did like Sheppard though. It was rare to find someone who actually seemed to enjoy being his chaperone. At first he knew Sheppard resented it, but so did a lot of other people and Rodney had just learned to ignore it. But soon he found out that Sheppard could actually make him laugh. And Rodney was sure Sheppard wasn’t as thick or as laid back as he made out to be. That didn’t mean Sheppard couldn’t be an annoying bastard at time.

“Well, good luck Rodney.” Zelenka said behind him. “And make sure you stay with Sheppard, he’s a good man.”

Rodney gave him another glare, “He’s the one who has to stay with me.” He snapped as he followed the other marines out to the gate room.

--

Rodney couldn’t help but keep shifting his weight from foot to foot in his excitement. He wanted to be on his way already.

“Ready to go?” Sheppard suddenly appeared at his side again. Rodney was sure if he didn’t know better, Sheppard was trying to kill him through fright.

“I was ready ages ago!” he seethed angrily.

Sheppard just gave him one of his funny smiles before he turned to the control platform. “Ok, open the gate!”

Rodney watched as the chevrons lit up and finally the gate whooshed into life. Then Davis’s team started going though. Following them Teyla and Ford.

“Come on then.” Sheppard said and Rodney found the man taking his elbow and moving him forwards.

Rodney would have protested but he was too thrilled to care as he closed his eyes, and for the second time in his life, he stepped through the event horizon.

When he opened them again he was on a planet that looked a lot like any forest on Earth. It was a bright blue day that made Rodney sneeze out of habit, even though he had grown out of his allergies.

“Donavan, Johannes, you guys watch the gate.” Davis was instructing his men. “We need to go that way.” He said pointing off in one direction.

“Ford, Teyla, take our six.” Sheppard was saying as he pulled Rodney down the small ramp supporting the gate.

“On it!” Ford said as he waited for them to pass.

“You stay behind me at all times.” Sheppard said to him. For some reason Rodney was thrown by the way Sheppard seemed so business like and serious. “No wandering off.”

“Fine.” Rodney replied, finally pulling his arm from Sheppard hold.

Sheppard didn’t seem offended as he nodded then started walking in front of him.

Rodney rubbed his arm where Sheppard’s hand had been, where it now felt cold and just a little lonely. Quickly he made up the space between himself and Sheppard, determined to stay close to the other man, telling himself it was because he was on a strange and probably hostile planet.

--

Thirty minutes later and Rodney was regretting bringing so much stuff. His backpack felt like someone had put lead in it at some point, so keeping up with Sheppard was getting even harder.

“Wait up.” He panted out. “Can we take a rest?” he had a thought that if he Shifted, four feet were better than two as he stumbled over another tree root. But the thought of stripping naked in front of so many marines, never mind Teyla was just to embarrassing. Also he would have to modify his backpack before Shifting and someone would have to help him put it on. And the thought of someone touching him in cat form was just too much to contemplate. He hated it more than dreaming about waking up naked in the gate room, which was an actually possibility, being a Shifter, so whatever his shrink said, it was plausible paranoia.

“It’s not much farther McKay.” John said turning to look at him with a frown of disapproval on his face.

Rodney knew exactly what the stupid Major was thinking. “Well sorry.” He bit out, deciding taking his annoyance out might help a little, and Sheppard was an easy target right now. “But I’m not a muscle bound fitness freak like some people!”

“Wouldn’t hurt you if you spent some time in the gym.” Ford said behind him. “You should look after yourself, get out more.”

Rodney bared his teeth as he glared over his shoulder at Ford. “Oh and where exactly am I meant to get out more? Hu?” he barked.

Ford just snorted dismissively at him. “I don’t know. Maybe you should try getting a date instead, relieve some of that stress?” he finished the innuendo with a leer.

Rodney stopped in his tracks, fed up of all the jarheads he had to deal with on a daily basis. “Date?... Stress!” he seethed. “To right you don’t know, you don’t know anything!” he started shouting. “Go on a date? Do you have any idea what that could mean for me? Hu? Do you!”

“Hey man.” Ford said as he backed up a little.

“Guys.” Sheppard said in warning, but Rodney chose to ignore it.

“Well let me tell you!” he lowered his voice to a hiss. “It means I will probably end up being raped for the rest of my life, bonded to some dick like you who has no idea what or how to deal with a Shifter. You have no idea what I’ve had to give up to keep this little bit of freedom I have, constantly followed around by minders because if they weren’t there, some bastard will try and Bond with me because they ‘think’ it will be cool to own a Shifter!” he took a deep breath. “So excuse me if I can’t ‘get out’ much, or want to make myself all pretty and buff like some kept Shifter whore, so I apologise that I can’t be more like you!” with that he turned around, ignoring the look of startlement in Ford and Teyla’s eyes. Then walked past Sheppard, he could see Davis not to far away, waiting for them.

“I…” he heard Ford stammer.

“Can it!” Sheppard replied, he sounded angry. Rodney guessed it was mostly at him for his emotional outburst. But sod them, sod them all. He had lost his freedom at thirteen when he had been shoved into a State Shifter Dormitory and locked up like some animal in a zoo, ready to be shipped off to the first person that smelled good or made his heart flutter… or so the other Shifters whore’s described it.

After he had reached eighteen he had lost count of how many prospective Bond Mates he had been forced to meet. All of them had looked at him with hungry eyes. It wasn’t his fault he had been a pretty young man, all skinny with blond hair and blue eyes. Not one of them gave a crap about what he wanted to do with his life, all promising anything he wanted, so long as he hung off their arms and fawned over them. But the moment he mentioned science and astrophysics he saw their hungry grins turn a little stiff as he continued to baffle them.

Not one had ever understood him. They had never been interested in the child genius, just the colour of his pure skin or fur coat.

So he had put his head down and got his doctorates, and before he knew it he was twenty five and was allowed a bit more freedom.

The Dormitory staff had despaired of him and was almost glad when he managed to secure himself a place in the military. And that was where he had met Doctor Samantha Carter. He had found her very attractive, and she was the first person he had ever wanted to bond with. After all, she was a scientist almost at his own calibre and the doors she could open for him would have been numerous. But she had rejected him completely, more so when she realized he was a Shifter.

He almost resented her for that, but he knew how precious freedom could be, and even though they would have been bonded, he would still be a loadstone about her neck.

So, here he was somewhere in his mid thirties on an alien planet in another galaxy with a lot of Jarheads and Shifter fanatics who just wanted a piece of his fur.  What was more annoying was that he couldn’t even be the head of Science on Atlantis, even thought he was smarter than Zelenka just because he could be a cat some of the time.

“Hey… you ok?” Sheppard asked at his side, he hadn’t even been aware the man had caught up with him, which was saying something as he was usually always aware if anyone got close.

“I’m used to it.” Rodney sighed. He was to busy walking now to be angry anymore. “There are three type of people, one’s who think it would be cool to own a Shifter, those who are ignorant to what a Shifter is, other than the crap they show on TV,” he threw a thumb over his shoulder at Ford. “And the last, those who know enough about us that they don’t want it. Those are the smart ones.”

He glared at Sheppard when the man snorted a laugh.

“So you’re saying I’m smart?” Sheppard asked, his stupid mouth up at one side.

“As smart as your stupid hair.” Rodney retorted, unable to keep the smile from his own mouth.

“Me and my hair could have been in Mensa.” Sheppard said casually.

Rodney laughed aloud at the loonisy of that statement, before he saw the look on Sheppard’s face. “What?... really?... How?!” he blurted out.

Sheppard just shrugged one shoulder. “I took the test and passed, but I was to busy at the time to follow through.”

Rodney almost stumbled on another tree root and was surprised when he felt Sheppard’s hand on his elbow again, but it was only a fleeting touch once he had his feet again.

“How could you be too busy?!” Rodney demanded, acting like the touch had never happened.

Sheppard shrugged again. “Look, on the way back, I’ll take some of your stuff; I have room in my pack. Ah, looks like we’re there.”

Rodney watched as Sheppard jogged up to Davis. Wondering why Sheppard was being so nice. Usual he didn’t say much, just sat nearby and played his video games, or watch with a smile when Rodney balled out his staff. They had talked before, but it was like getting blood from a stone most of the time. Rodney guessed maybe the great outdoors was more Sheppard’s natural environment.

He had to admit, even grudgingly that he liked the man and wondered if maybe they could be friends?

Sheppard might be a jarhead, flyboy, whatever, but he was also smart, and smart enough not to want a Shifter destroying his life just like Samantha.

It was actually nice knowing he had two people in two galaxies who he liked and didn’t look at him with hungry eyes, well, Sam was more distain, but there was some comfort in the fact that she didn’t want him. Where as Sheppard, well, Sheppard didn’t look at him like anything really. It was just the same look he gave everyone, not wanting anything from him, which was comforting.

 

++++++++++

“Are you sure it’s wise leaving him alone?” Teyla asked as she ate her MRE.

John looked over again to make sure McKay was in sight. The man was so deep in his work, that even the temptation of food hadn’t brought him over to the camp they had set up. And John knew how much McKay liked his food.

Apparently the little ancient outpost wasn’t for making ZPM’s, but McKay had found it interesting enough he was now trying to download all the information he could from it. So they contacted SGA and they had agreed to stay the night and set back at first light.

“He should be fine.” John answered as he drank some more coffee he had found in McKay’s pack. He already kept some aside for the scientist for later and for first thing in the morning. There was no way the rest of the group could survive McKay’s temper in the morning if he didn’t have his fix.

“But what if something happened to him?” she asked. “Isn’t he one of your people’s very special people?”

“He’s a Shifter.” Davis said softly, so his voice didn’t carry to McKay. “They are special, but they are just like normal people most of the time, I’m sure he will let us know if he needs us.”

“Elizabeth said he could turn into a big cat?” Teyla said looking a little confused, even John knew they didn’t really have anything like lions or tigers in the Pegasus galaxy. “But I haven’t seen him do so yet?”

“Some don’t like Shifting much.” Davis answered, “I imagine McKay is like that too. I have a sister-in-law who’s got a brother, who’s a Shifter, and he only Shifts in public if his Bond Mate asks him to. Which she does sometimes.”

“Ah, what is this about a Bond Mate?” Teyla asked. “Is it like marriage?”

Davis frowned. “Err… kind of… but it’s more so. Once a Shifter is Bonded to a human, they are tied to that person for the rest of their life.”

“Yeah.” O’Moore said, who was one of Davis’s men. “If the Mate dies before the Shifter, the Shifter dies too. It’s why the poor bastards aren’t allowed to work in any high risk environments. In case they find a Mate there, or just get killed accidentally. People like to see Shifters get old.” He shrugged like he didn’t get it himself.

“I’m guessing that’s why Doctor McKay hasn’t bonded with anyone.” Davis said as he took another bite of his MRE. “He might be a high strung selfish twat, but I guess he cares enough not to be a burden on anyone, especially on this expedition.”

“That or he just doesn’t want to die because someone got themselves killed.” Ford muttered a little too darkly.

“Ford…” John warned. He thought the younger man got his dressing down earlier by McKay, but it seemed it might take a proper talking too. John might not know much about Shifters, but even he was affected by McKay’s little rant.

He had never thought of it quite the way McKay put it earlier. After all, John had resented having to follow the scientist about, but he shared it with two other people, he couldn’t even imagine having someone with him twenty four sever just because he was different ‘some’ of the time.

“It all sounds very restrictive.” Teyla carried on. “So, how do they become bonded? To another human. Is it something that is easy but not so easy to reverse?”

“It is, kind of.” Davis said. “It’s why in our culture it’s seen as bad if you grab someone by the wrist or back of the neck. The wrist thing is just a way of controlling a Shifter, it makes them do whatever you want them too. Where as grabbing the back of their neck will start a Bonding ritual.”

“But what if the Shifter doesn’t want to Bond with the person who grabbed their neck?” Teyla asked sounding more stressed as she kept looking over to where McKay was still working. “Do they still have to bond?”

“I was told that it will only work if the Shifter has some feelings for the person who grabbed them.” O’Moore said as he settled down against the log he was leaning against. “But I did watch this one flick once where the person who grabbed a Shifter then rejected her and she died because of it. Duno if it’s true or not. But it had my mum in tears for ages.”

“Poor Rodney.” Teyla sighed. “Maybe that is why he sometimes comes across as so arrogant… to keep people at a distance so he doesn’t have to care about them?”

John guessed she was right, then he saw McKay come towards the camp. “About time!” he called. “I saved you some coffee.”

He watched as McKay frowned dangerously. “You went in my pack!” he accused as he stomped over and grabbed the cup from John’s hand and looked into it mournfully.

“We didn’t drink all of it.” Teyla smiled up at McKay. “John made sure you have some for morning.”

“Really?” McKay asked, his eyes wide as the frown disappeared.

“Sure.” John offered with a smile. “I don’t want to listen to your bitching as we go home.” He watched with satisfaction as McKay rolled his eyes then sat down besides him, reaching out for his own MRE that sat by the fire.

“I guess you have already passed out the power bars.” McKay snarked.

“Power bars?” O’Moore said sitting up.

“Crap.” McKay muttered, but John was surprised when McKay reached for his pack then started throwing bars at everyone in turn. “There. enjoy.” He growled as he started eating. “Those are almost the last that we have.”

“Thanks man.” O’Moore said happily as he ate his bar.

John thanked him too, but decided not to say that McKay still have more in his pack, after all, the gesture from McKay was actually a nice thing.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney was full of coffee and power bars as they set out that morning, all his downloads had gone smoothly and Sheppard had done as promised and lightened his load by taking his tool kit and his spare laptop.

The day was also nice with a bright blue sky, but it wasn’t that hot, more a comfortable warmth to be trekking though a forest.

So he was actually in high spirits. Which was rare in and of itself for him. He even began to think Ford might be right, he should try and get out more, even if it was to go sit on a pier somewhere every now and again. He was sure Elizabeth wouldn’t mind.

He was just sharing a flippant comment with Sheppard, that the other man never seemed to take offence at, but in fact kept a stupid smirk on his face as he gave them back.

“Are we going to end up on ‘your moma’ joke or what?” Rodney snapped finally.

“Humm… not today, but I still say you are wrong, Spiderman would never…”

/“We got trouble!”/ they all heard O’Moore shout over their coms.

Davis and his men today were taking up the rear, with Ford and Teyla taking point.

“What kind of trouble?” Sheppard demanded.

Rodney felt something whiz past his arm and looked down to see his t-shirt was torn and blood was oozing from underneath.

/“Native… looks like they have arrows!”/Davis shouted.

“Shit.” Sheppard cursed as Rodney heard more little whizzing noises around him. “Run!” Sheppard shouted at him and suddenly Rodney was running for his life.

He could hear Davis and his men shooting off burst of rounds behind them.

“Packs!” Rodney managed out as he kept running, taking in lung full’s of air.

Sheppard cast him a look, then seemed to understand. “No. keep it on… might take an arrow instead of your back… keep up!”

Rodney guessed he had a point, also loosing the data would be a pain, and it wasn’t like they would be likely to get it back. So he kept running.

--

His lungs and legs were burning as he could finally see the clearing with the gate through the trees and he tried to put some more effort into it. But just as he did his foot caught on a tree root and he went face first onto the ground. He only just got his hand up to save him breaking his nose, but instead he felt and heard something snap in his wrist. With a cry he forced himself onto his feet, only to feel something thud into his backpack.

“Get DOWN!” he heard Sheppard cry. Then Sheppard was on him, shoving him behind one of the huge tree’s.

Once again Rodney found himself face first on the ground, a mouth full of moss. He groaned as he tried to shove Sheppard off him.

He was successful for all of a moment before his world seemed to lurch off its axes.

“Stay down, damn it!” Sheppard growled at him.

But all Rodney knew was the fingers that were digging into his neck, just below his skull.

The sound of gun shot and arrows thudding into the ground as well as shouted orders all seemed to melt away.

There was nothing but a spreading heat from the back of his neck where Sheppard’s fingers dug into his skin, keeping him down.

“Get the gate open!” he heard Sheppard call to someone.

Rodney was slightly aware when he heard the gate whoosh into life, then Sheppard hand left his neck and grabbed his arm, slipping as Rodney struggled sluggishly to his feet, then as Sheppard began running for the clearing and the gate, his hand moved to Rodney wrist and once again he found he could do nothing else but follow.

The world around him seemed insignificant as they ran towards the blue puddle. Sheppard dragging him the whole way.

Then they were through and still running as they entered Atlantis. Sheppard pulled him off to one side before letting him go completely and going back towards the gate.

Rodney groaned when Sheppard left him and he crumpled to the ground as his whole body seemed to be on fire. He tried to get his wobbly legs to work, tried to follow Sheppard. But the man was to far away and he couldn’t get the breath to call him back.

“Rodney?” someone was calling his name, but he ignored it as he kept his eyes on Sheppard. “Rodney, crap you’re bleeding. Someone get me a gurney!”

Rodney sobbed then as he was being moved onto a gurney, then he was being wheeled away from Sheppard.

He tried to fight, tried to call out. But as he was taken out of sight his whole world seemed to collapse in on itself.

 

++++++++++

 

Carson was furious with Elizabeth. She should have known better then to send Rodney on an away mission. Even though it should have been a peaceful one, they had still come back under fire. And now the only Shifter on Atlantis was injured and unresponsive, even though he wasn’t unconscious.

Carson had moved him to the quietest corner of the infirmary and quickly drawn all the curtains, knowing how Rodney craved his privacy.

So slowly he took his friends pack off, then started removing his t-shirt, so he would have easier access to the bleeding wound on Rodney’s arm.

“I’m just gonna take your shirt off.” He said, still worried that Rodney was being so complacent and not bitching about the cut. Even in the long months they had been here, he knew Rodney loved to play at being a hypochondriac when he was bored.

As he looked at the shallow cut, he was starting to worry it might be poisonous. That might explain why Rodney was being strange.

So he cleaned the blood away and bandaged it up as best he could, then he went and got a needle to take some blood. But he almost dropped everything as he looked up and saw Rodney’s back.

There were finger tip bruises at the top of Rodney’s neck, and Carsons heart sank.

“Oh, lad.” He whispered as he took a closer look, now careful not to touch his friend at all. Then he moved to the front of Rodney and looked at his friends wrists.

His right one was swelling up alarmingly, the other, again, had bruises where someone had grabbed his wrist.

The urge to pull Rodney into his arms was strong, but he knew enough about Shifter law to know that would only cause Rodney more pain. He had no idea how he had actually sat though Carson manhandling him in his current condition.

“Lad… Who did this?” he asked softly. “Come on, talk to me?” he pleaded.

Slowly Rodney looked up at him, his normally vibrant blue eyes seemed dull and grey.

Carson had never seen someone who was drained of hope, but he was looking into those eyes right now.

“Who is it?” he asked again. He instinctively knew that this wasn’t something Rodney could get out of, whoever had laid hands on him, Rodney must have had some feelings for.

Now it was just a case of seeing if the other person had any emotions back.

“J....” was all Rodney got out before his eyes suddenly filled with tears that slipped down his cheeks as he looked down.

Carson froze, then he got angry. “You wait here lad, I’ll be back soon.” Then he went out into the main part of the infirmary.

His staff were treating the rest of the away team, as far as he could tell, no one had suffered anything life threatening, only scraps and near misses. Then his eyes fell on John and he went over to him.

“Hey Doc.” John said with a smile. “How’s McKay.”

Carson didn’t even answered as he grabbed John’s elbow and dragged him away so they wouldn’t be overheard.

“What’s up?” John was asking in concern.

Carson had to take a calming breath. “What happened?” he asked.

John looked at him in confusion. “We got attacked by natives with arrows… wait, they aren’t poisoned at they?”

“I don’t think so… but I’m not talking about that… I’m talking what happened between you and Rodney?”

He watched as John frowned at him, then his eyes got wide. “Ah… I pulled him towards the gate… I, err, thought it would be easier if I took his wrist.”

“Is that all?” Carson demanded. “What happened before you got to the gate and you decided to use one of his weaknesses against him?”

John had the decency to look ashamed. “We were getting shot at, so we ran, then McKay went down and I had to push him behind a tree and keep him down… Look Doc, is he ok?”

Carson took another deep breath. “How did you keep him down?”

“I had a hand on his back… Look, we were under fire, I did what I could.” John protested.

Carson snapped then as he pulled John towards the curtain hiding Rodney, then he pulled it aside a little. “Look at his neck.” He seethed, shaking John’s arm.

“Wha…” John said before he came to a realising halt. “Can’t be…” he breathed out.

“It can, and it is!” Carson snapped.

“But I…” John whispered.

Carson saw Rodney move out of the corner of his eye, then turned to see his friend turn around, when his eyes saw John; he slid from the gurney and tried to stand using the gurney as support.

“John…” Rodney let out brokenly as he held his broken hand out to the Major.

“I…” Sheppard uttered, then Carson didn’t have time to react as John ran out of the infirmary.

Carson was just in time to watch as Rodney crumpled to the floor unconscious.

“Crap.” He uttered as he went to his fallen friend.

 

++++++++++

 

“Still haven’t found him?” Carson asked as he kept vigil at Rodney’s bedside.

It had been almost two day’s since John had fled and gone to ground somewhere in Atlantis.

“Zelenka think he’s somewhere in the south pier.” Elizabeth sighed. “I can’t believe he did this.”

“I know lass.” Carson sympathised. “But right now I just want to hit him.”

“You and me both… how is McKay doing?” she asked softly.

Carson looked at the man in the bed. He seemed to have shrunken in on himself. And even though he wasn’t unconscious his eyes looked off at nothing. He hadn’t said a thing since John had run away. The only reaction anyone got from him was when Carson had had to put a splint on his wrist and change his bandages.

“Same as yesterday… though the last blood samples we took already show his organs are failing.”

Elizabeth let out a gush of air. “So soon?” she asked.

Carson nodded, “From what I was forced to research by the Shifter Registry, it’s quite common. Rodney must have has some deep feelings for Sheppard or he wouldn’t be in such a state now.”

Elizabeth rubbed a hand over her eyes. “I never even suspected they would get along so well… it’s why I made John one of his chaperones. They are like oil and water.”

“Who can see into someone’s heart?” Carson offered. “I’m sure if it was me or you, or even Zelenka, who had done this, we wouldn’t be sat here right now. Rodney would have gone though some discomfort, but he would have rejected us.”

Elizabeth nodded. “I knew they were becoming friends, but I thought that’s all it was. Have you heard them fight?” she smiled a little. “If I had to bet on it, John would have been my last option for a winning bet at someone becoming Rodney’s mate.”

“I think Rodney liked it because John is intelligent enough to give as good as he gets, and not make it personal.” Carson sagged into his chair.

“Right, well, I’ll get back on the search.” She said as she started to leave.

“Good luck.” He called as he got to his feet stiffly, he guessed Rodney would be okay for a while as he went and got another coffee.

What he didn’t expect was to see John leaning against a gurney at the other side of the curtain.

“Where the hell have ya been!” he shouted as he took in John’s appearance, the man looked like he hadn’t slept in days, or eaten.

“What is it?” Elizabeth asked as she came back into the infirmary. “John?”

John looked at his own feet as he crossed his arms defensively. “Is what you said true?” he asked in all but a croaked whisper.

“Which bit?” Elizabeth asked sharply.

“He’s dieing because of me?” John asked, not looking up.

“In short.” Carson said. “Yes… He’s also in physiological pain evertime we have to touch him… his entire system is shutting down.”

“And there is no other way of helping him?” John asked.

“I could give him enough morphine he won’t feel anything anymore.” Carson couldn’t help but snap. “Look, don’t think ya will do him any favours if you decide to play the hero!”

Sheppard looked up at him then with anger in his eyes. “I was just asking.” He growled back. “Even I know he’s too important to lose!”

Carson let his own anger out as he stepped up to the Major and poked him in the chest. “Just because Rodney is irreplaceable for this damn city, doesn’t mean you can play the sacrificial lamb!” he poked again. “Rodney saw something in you that he liked, god only knows what, and he was foolish enough to let you get under his guard… so if you can’t return them feelings, I’d rather he die now than suffer a lifetime bonded to someone who doesn’t love him in kind, damn it, he deserves that!”

Sheppard pushed him away as he stood up properly. “Don’t question me!” he shouted. “This has just been a hell of a lot to take in! so excuse me if I freaked out because I did something by accident!” he took breath before lowering his voice. “I’m perfectly aware that this is something that will impact the rest of our lives, so excuse me for asking if there was anyway I could stop Rodney being lumbered with me!”

Carson blinked in surprise as he stepped back, he hadn’t quite seen it from John’s perspective, and it took him back a bit.

“Now excuse me.” Sheppard said as he pushed passed him and went through the curtain to Rodney.

Silently Carson moved to watch, Elizabeth at his side.

They watched as John stepped up to the bed. “Hey buddy.” He whispered thickly.

For the first time in day’s Rodney moved his head to look up at him.

Then all hell broke loose as the monitors hooked up to Rodney started going off like sirens.

Carson quickly went over to them, the reading weren’t making much sense, they were showing signs that Rodney’s system was in distress, but that they were also improving. Carson just couldn’t understand as he turned to his patient.

“Don’t touch him!” John growled out as he stopped Carson from going to check all the leads were still attached to Rodney.

“I have to check…” Carson was saying as he watched John finally reach out and put his hand on the side of Rodney’s face and some of the monitoring equipment went silent.

“Sorry I was gone so long.” John was saying to Rodney, then he looked up at Carson. “What do I do now?” he asked, looking a little lost.

Carson shared a quick look with Elizabeth before answering. “Ya have to bond with him.” he replied to John, then felt embarrassed as he looked back down at his friend. “From what I read, you actually have to have sex with him… though in his current condition I’m not sure that’s possible.”

“Is he safe to move?” Elizabeth whispered.

Carson sighed. “I don’t know… but I canna do anything for him anymore.”

“All right.” Elizabeth said keeping her tone soft. “I’ll have the halls cleared and we will move him to your quarters, John… From there only you can figure this out, just do what feels natural.”

Carson watched as John nodded, he was slightly relived that John hadn’t looked away from Rodney the whole time, even though he didn’t look comfortable, like he was still battling with something he wasn’t sure of. “Can ya see to it Elizabeth?” he asked. “John… if I canna touch him, can ya remove the monitoring equipment for me?”

“Sure.” John replied in a whisper.

Carson gave Elizabeth a nod as she gave him a tight smile, then left.

 

++++++++++

 

John sat on the edge of his bed, his thigh pressed up against McKay’s own as the other man seemed to be asleep.

Once he had wheeled McKay’s bed to his quarters, he had pulled McKay off onto his own bed, then kicked the gurney out into the corridor and locked his door practically in Beckets face.

Slowly he put his head into his hands, wondering what the hell he had got himself into. For Christ sake they had only just been talking about how crappy being a Bond Mate to a Shifter was… and here John was with the only one in the sodding city, galaxy for that matter.

For almost thirty six hours he had skulked the corners of the city not yet explored.

At first he was sure it was some huge galactic mistake, that maybe McKay had fallen awkwardly and got the bruises that way. But he knew somewhere deep down that that wasn’t the case. As he scoured his memory he knew he had done it. Mostly to save the guys life, but that was no excuse now.

He gritted his teeth in frustration. He fucked up every personal relationship he had ever had, from his parents to his brother, even his disastrous marriage had ended in him hurting Nancy.

He was a lone wolf, no matter how he looked at it, he liked being by himself, it made things easy. He was bad at communicating, bad at understanding others feeling, in short he was just bad luck to anyone he got to close too.

So it had just been easier not to get emotionally attached to anyone. That way he could keep them, as well as himself, safe.

He had liked Antarctica for that very reason, there were only a handful of guys he had to work with, and then the thought of going to another galaxy with just a few people seemed a great option, there was less people who might give a crap about him.

But then he had been lumbered with looking after the most annoying guy in the city… and somewhere along the lines of arguing about comic books and playing chess, or the ancient version of SimCity… he had given a crap.

“Nugg.”

John looked up to see McKay blinking open his eyes. “Hey buddy.” He whispered as he instinctively reached out and laced his fingers with McKay’s uninjured hand.

McKay’s hand tightened on his own before their eyes met and John had to take a gasp of air as his chest constricted. Before he could think of anything to weird, he pulled on McKay’s arm, then reached out and pulled the other man up till he was resting against John’s chest. Instinctively he wrapped his arms around McKay, pulling him into a tight hug.

He closed his eyes as he felt McKay melt against him, and he held on tighter, like if he let go he would loose all warmth he had ever known. Which his rational mind knew was stupid, he should be weirded out by this, the last guy he had ever hugged was his brother for gods sake, when he was like eight.

“Better?” he asked.

He felt McKay nod against his shoulder, then a hand fist into the back of his t-shirt.

They stayed like that for about five minutes before he felt McKay pull away a little so he could look up at him and John found himself staring down into wide blue eyes.

Before he could think about it John leaned down and laid his lips against McKay’s. Then he was running his tongue over those strange but alluring lips as something inside John shifted.

It was strange like an ‘Oh’ realization moment, like when an idea or something just clicked into place, and he pushed his tongue in-between unresisting lips. Suddenly hungry for the taste, needing to fill all his senses with the person in his arms. He couldn’t even close his eyes as he looked into blue ones.

He’d never been with a guy before, it had never even really crossed his mind, but as his pants got tight he knew he needed to be inside McKay right now.

So as he was vaguely aware of Atlantic singing happily into his mind, he lay Rodney down onto the bed without breaking the kiss and slowly began to pull his scrubs open.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney lay looking up at the ceiling as he fought to get his breathing under control.

John was still laid on top of him; his hand still fisted around Rodney’s cock while his own cock was still buried ball’s deep in Rodney’s ass.

Despite the fact Rodney still felt like he had been run over by a truck for days, he just had the best orgasm of his life.

But it wasn’t like he had any experience beyond his own hand and imagination.

He groaned when he felt John move as the other man levered himself up on his elbows and looked down at him.

“Hey.” John uttered in a gravely tone that just tingled at the tremors already going through Rodney’s body.

“Hi.” He smiled up at John.

“I take it you’re feeling better?” John asked.

Rodney couldn’t keep the grin from his face as suddenly John was leaning down and Rodney closed his eyes as once again John’s tongue invaded his mouth and god it felt wonderful as he pushed his own tongue against John’s. Not in his wildest fantasies had he imagined it could be this good. And the feel of John on top of him, skin to skin was making his whole body hot and tingly, it was like a really good pudding he just couldn’t get enough of.

Without thinking he reached up and tried to pull John closer if that was possible. But instead he found an unpleasant bolt of agony engulf his right wrist then shoot up his arm.

He pushed John away as he brought his arm to his chest and cradled his crudely bandaged wrist. He was only dimly aware of John pulling away and out of him hurriedly. And Rodney was subjected to a whole new world of pain.

With a grunt he reached out blindly, his hands at first caught John’s knee, mindless of the physical pain in his wrist he forced himself against John’s chest, wrapping his arms around the other man. It seemed to take ages before he could breath again as he sat awkwardly, clutching at John like a child.

“Rodney?” John asked after a while.

“I’m ok… I’m ok…” he recited as he felt shameful tears still coming out of his traitorous eyes. His wrist hurt like hell, but the thought of the agony when John had pulled away from him was just too much to have it happen again.

“Come on… let me look.” John was pushing at his shoulders now.

“No!” Rodney said defiantly as he pushed against John again. Then John was slipping away from him and Rodney could do nothing but follow.

“Oof!” John let out as they both fell off the end of stupidly small bed.

Rodney let out a growled scream as he felt bones grinding in his wrist where John had fallen on his hand.

“Right, that’s it… we need to sit up and I need to see you hand.” John snapped and despite his annoyed tone, John was actually rather gentle with him as he moved them both so they were sitting up. Now Rodney sat with his ass on the floor, but his legs over John’s as they were almost facing each other.

Then John was taking his bandaged wrist. “I thought Becket had sorted this out.” John was saying, and he sounded pissed as he began to unwind the bandage.

Rodney couldn’t quite understand why he was letting John do this, but there was no way he could pull away.

It was almost like when someone grabbed his wrist, like all his will suddenly wasn’t his own. But this didn’t carry the humiliation and he had no inkling to even form the thought of fighting back.

As he gave it a fleeting thought. He felt surprisingly calm. His mind was quiet, his body relaxed. It was the best he could ever remember feeling.

“Ouch!” he complained half-heartedly as John gently ran fingers over the swelling in his wrist.

“Sorry.” John winced. “We really need to get this seen too.”

“Yeah.” Rodney replied.

John was looking up at him again, a worried look in his hazel eyes, almost like an apology. Then he was leaning forward to start kissing him again.

Rodney didn’t have any qualms about that, it seemed it was something John was keen on, and Rodney could hardly blame him as his mind stilled again as he just lived the moment.

John was pushing him down to the floor again as Rodney became startlingly aware of something leaking from his bottom and he gasped and squirmed. “Bathroom.” He squeaked. “I need the bathroom!”

“Can’t it wait?” John murmured as his wonderful lips trailed down to Rodney’s collarbone.

Rodney closed his eyes and looked away in embarrassed shame. “It’s coming… out.” He whispered miserably.

Suddenly John was letting go of his broken wrist to lay it on the ground as his hand moved to between Rodney’s legs, that he parted instinctively, then for the second time that day he felt John’s fingers enter him and he couldn’t help but groan with pleasure as his muscles tightened around the invasion.

“This the only reason?” John asked huskily as his mouth moved to one of Rodney’s nipples, then he was biting down softly. Rodney gasped as his back arched off the floor with startled pleasure.

“Uh, hu.” He affirmed senselessly as John slowly started to thrust his fingers back and forth inside him. He could feel himself getting hard again as all the blood in his body once again left his brain and travelled to his cock.

 

++++++++++

 

John rested with Rodney spooned up against his chest, the arm that he had around the other man was now cradling Rodney’s broken wrist.

Rodney was now very much asleep and snoring lightly, more like snuffled breaths of air that made John feel strongly protective of his sleeping friend.

He lazily looked out the window at the night sky and all the stars. As he let his mind slowly turn itself over, not really catching on to any subject as he started to remember the last six hours.

He had made love to Rodney four times, each time Rodney lay beneath him almost like a doll, which was strange because John preferred more active bed fellows. But as he smiled at the way Rodney would react to even the slightest touch in the most alluring ways, he came to the realization that threatened to send a chill through him.

Lightly he pushed as Rodney’s shoulder with his chin, and was satisfied to hear a grumbled snort. “Hu?” Rodney asked out sleepily. “Again?”

John would have chuckled if the question wasn’t burning in his brain. “You’re a virgin?”

Rodney squirmed a little, like he was trying to get closer. “Was.” He clarified and John could hear the smug smile in it.

John rested his forehead against Rodney’s back and sighed. Trust him to go and pop someone’s cherry at his age, when he hadn’t done it before, ever, not even when he was a stupid teen. Well, at least it explained why Rodney had seemed a little bit like a sack of potatoes.

But there was also something else that was bothering him, something seemed incomplete, and he couldn’t put his finger on what. “Something’s missing.” He whispered out without meaning too.

“Humm?” Rodney hummed, then turned just enough to look over his shoulder at John. He looked tired and John regretted waking him. “Err… you haven’t bitten me yet?” he sounded unsure.

John pulled his arm from under Rodney’s head as he rested on his elbow to get a better look at his friend. “What? But…” he bit his lip as he looked down, he could still see the faded bruises on the back of Rodney’s neck. “Isn’t that just a TV thing?”

“Not if I remember the crap they tried to teach me in Shifter Bonding class.” Rodney yawned as he put his head back, then moved his chin towards his chest, exposing his neck as he moved slightly so he was half laying on his side.

John guessed he should at least try as he leaned down and ran his tongue over the finger marks he had left their. The marks that had started all this insanity.

Rodney twitched and groaned beneath him, “Oh… crap.” He uttered a little desperately.

“Too much?” John asked pulling away, feeling how much Rodney was trembling.

“Hard!... do it again!” Rodney muttered demandingly into the mattress.

John blinked, then he slowly rested Rodney’s broken hand on the bed as he moved his hand down Rodney’s almost hairless belly then came in contact with Rodney’s erection that was straining and twitching as John wrapped his fingers around it.

“Christ.” John uttered out as he pressed his own awakening erection into the crack of Rodney’s ass, then he pushed Rodney down into the mattress with his own body as he ran his teeth over the back of Rodney’s exposed neck. Once again feeling the tremors go through his friend.

He knew he wouldn’t last long, as he tightened his grip on Rodney’s cock as he pumped it and he crushed his own against Rodney, his hips jerking a little, all the time he licked and nipped at Rodney’s neck, then as he came he opened his mouth and bit down hard, growling as he released, his jaw contracted a little as he heard Rodney scream out his own orgasm.

John must have blacked out a little, because when he came too, his teeth were still on Rodney’s flesh and his cock was limp in his hand.

He pulled away, tasting blood in his mouth, then looked at the damage he had caused. Just below Rodney’s hair line were livid deep bruises a perfect imprint of his teeth, it didn’t help that some of them were bleeding. “Shit… Rodney, we have to get this seen too!”

Rodney gave a high pitched whined as John tried to move. “Stay here.”

“No.” John tried to insist. “They could get infected.”

“Then just lick them and make them better.” Rodney uttered and John knew he was falling asleep again.

John felt the moment Rodney slipped into sleep, and to be honest, he really didn’t want to leave the sanctuary of his room right now. The thought of having to take Rodney thought Atlantis made him very uneasy.

So with a sigh he settled back down as he looked at the marks he had left and smiled, despite the gory sight of blood that still trickled down Rodney’s neck.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes and finally went to sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

“Should we go next door?” John asked as he pulled some clean boxes from his drawers one handed, the other was still holding Rodney’s left hand.

When they had woken that morning, they soon found out that letting go physically was a really bad idea. John had felt sick as they had tried to get up off the bed, Rodney had let out a desperate little sound that John hadn’t liked one bit.

So with blushes and averted eyes, they somehow managed to get through going to the toilet. Then John had found a little pleasure as he had shoved Rodney into the shower.

The smell of stale sweat and dried come might have pushed all John’s happy buttons, but he didn’t want the rest of the base smelling it too. It was something he selfishly wanted to keep to himself, just like he wanted to keep Rodney in his room. But practicalities wouldn’t allow that.

So he had pushed Rodney to the back of the shower stall, then taken his time in washing him down. Rodney had blushed through the whole thing until John had moved him around and started playing.

One touch to Rodney’s hole, and he knew he wasn’t going to get any today. Rodney was over sensitive and the little groan of pain made John back off instantly. It didn’t stop him lapping a tongue over the bruises and small scabs that had formed on the back of Rodney’s neck though, which got him a much better response.

When he had made Rodney come again, he pulled him out and dried him off.

Rodney seemed terribly embarrassed by it all, but he accepted everything John did to him. Which only made John that little bit more possessive.

He knew Rodney could be brave, even if he bitched about it. But John doubted that anyone had ever been this physical with him before.

John was used to being naked with other people. He was just a little surprised at himself at how touchy feely he was being right now. But he couldn’t resist, neither did he mind as he laid hands on Rodney. He had never even been so hands on with Nancy, and he had been married to her.

“Err… I…” Rodney stammered.

“Ok, you can just wear mine for now, they should fit.” He said holding up another pair of boxers.

They stood for a moment just looking at them before John grinned. “I even have to dress you now?” he joked as Rodney blushed furiously. John grinned as he moved in close and gave Rodney a chaste kiss. “I guess I’m the only one with a free hand. Don’t worry about it.” He assured softly, kissing a warm cheek.

He put the hand he was holding onto his shoulder, then bent and opened the waistband of the underwear as Rodney put his feet through the holes, then John pulled them up. Copping a feel, to make sure Rodney was in them comfortably.

“I can’t…” Rodney uttered out.

“I know. Just making sure they fit.” John grinned. Then he turned and opened another draw for a loose t-shirt and some stretchy sweat pants.

The pants were easy to get on. The T-shirt was a different matter. “Ok… err…” John made sure the shirt was the right way round, then put a hand thought the right arm hole and out the bottom hem. “Ok, gimmi your hand.” He said as Rodney placed his swollen wrist into John’s hand with only a wince. Carefully John pulled the shirt over Rodney’s wrist and up his arm. “Ok buddy, let go and put your other arm in. I won’t let go.”

Once again without a word, Rodney did as he was told; quickly taking his good hand off John’s shoulder, as John pulled the t-shirt over Rodney’s head, and pulled the hem down. “Ok… I think we are going to have to go to your room and get some shoes.”

Rodney just shrugged one shoulder.

“Fine… I guess I’m making all the decisions today?” He bitched a little, thought he couldn’t put his heart into it.

Rodney just gave him a little lopsided smile that John couldn’t help but kiss. Before he pulled Rodney’s hand from his shoulder and took hold of it. “Ok, lets go.” He turned to the door then stopped when he realized Rodney wasn’t moving. “What is it?”

Rodney looked down at their hands. “Umm… can you hold my wrist?” asked.

John shook his head as he moved his grip. “Whatever you want.” He said, this time when he moved, Rodney followed.

 

++++++++++

 

Carson couldn’t help but smile as he saw Elizabeth come into his little office. “Good afternoon lass.” He greeted as he turned to her. “What can I do for you?”

Elizabeth gave him a tight smile as she rested her hip against the end of his desk. “Have you heard anything yet?” she asked and he knew what she was talking about.

“Not yet. But I was going to get some food from the Mess and leave it outside their door.” He confessed. “I’m a little concerned that Rodney hasn’t eaten anything in the past few days. So I’m worried about his hypoglycaemia.”

“I don’t think Sheppard’s eaten anything either.” Elizabeth sighed. “I was just refreshing myself on the Shifter Law last night… Bonding can take anything from a few hours, to a week.”

“Ay, it can.” Carson nodded. “But it’s also very taxing on the system and Rodney wasn’t in good shape to begin with… I’m almost starting to think I should actually try and talk to them… Maybe John will let me see Rodney.”

Elizabeth gave a little snort of a laugh. “You think that’s even possible?”

Carson sagged. “I guess not… but I also don’t want to see them suffer ineffable damage if they don’t show up soon.”

“Ah, speak of the devil.” Elizabeth said.

Carson turned to see John peeking into the empty infirmary. “Come in lad!” he called as he stood.

“I’ll talk to you later.” Elizabeth said as she walked out the other door.

Carson kept his attention on John as the Major came into the room, Rodney in toe, the latter was being led by John’s hand on his wrist. Carson felt a moment of shock before he had to remember this was natural for a Bonded pair. “Come in… You’re lucky, today I have no patients.” He went to the closest bed and began to pull most of the surrounding curtains closed. “Sit down lads.” He offered patting the bed.

He watched as John pulled Rodney behind him as they made their way over. Then John turned to Rodney and began helping him up onto the gurney.

Carson moved in to help and was surprised when John blocked his way to Rodney with his back. “Ah… sorry.” He said backing off with his hand up.

Finally John turned to him, an apologetic slant to his mouth. “Rodney needs his wrist fixing.”

“Ah, yes!” he exclaimed, “It’s a simple fracture. I would have fixed it earlier, but Rodney was in to much pain… Let me get the stuff I need.”

“Thanks.” John offered.

When Carson got back, John was now sat on the gurney next to Rodney. Carson took it as a reassuring sign. “Ok, let me look at your wrist, I can see the swelling hasn’t gone down much.” He said as he reached out to the affected limb. As soon as his fingers brushed skin, Rodney let out a distressed whined as John knocked Carson’s hands away and pulled Rodney into his arms.

“Don’t…” John seethes out dangerously as he slipped off the bed. “I knew this was a bad idea.”

“Wait, wait!” Carson soothed quickly. “I canna leave the break like this…” he was relieved when John glared at him but didn’t move. “Look, I have everything here. I’ll talk you through what you need to do, and you can put the cast on.”

John nodded, ever his silent self.

So Carson talked him through putting the padding around Rodney’s wrist, then wrapping the fibreglass properly around it. “Not to tight.” Carson warned. “How is it feeling Rodney?” he asked. But when he looked up, yet again, Rodney wasn’t looking at him, his eyes were just fixed on John.

“Well?” John asked.

“It’s fine.” Rodney said, his voice soft. To Carson he almost sounded content, which was something he had never heard before.

“It’s fine.” John parroted with a slight grin before he finished off wrapping the yellow fibreglass around Rodney’s hand. “There… Is that it?”

“Should be.” Carson answered. “Is there anything else I need to see?”

John bit his lip before looking at him a little guiltily. “Err… the back of his neck… I… I drew blood.” He trailed off.

“It’s ok son.” Carson tried not to chuckle as he moved around the gurney. “Don’t worry, I’m just goanna look.” He said, and sure enough he could see the imprint of a bite mark where some of the skin had been pierced and were now forming little scabs.

“Nothing looks to bad, I’ll get you some antibiotic cream to put on it.” He said as he moved back around the bed, noting how John’s eyes hadn’t left him the whole time.

He gave John a nod then went to get the cream.

When he got back he placed the cream and a small bottle of lubrication on the bed. “I thought you might be needing that too,” he offered, letting his grin show.

John looked a little embarrassed.

“When you both need more. Just ask.” He couldn’t help but tease.

“Thanks Doc.” John sounded like he was almost being throttled to get those words out.

“Ok… Now I want you both to get something to eat, especially Rodney. So just go to the Mess.”

“I… can’t…” John bit out.

Carson shook his head, “Ah, I’m sorry lad…” finally he belatedly realized that they both must still be going through their Bonding Ritual. And knowing what a private personality John had, he guessed going to the Mess with a lot of people, just might be harmful. Mostly to the rest of the Atlantis population.

“Ok, Go back to your room. I’ll personally bring you some supplies. Just let me and Elizabeth know when you’re ready to surface again.”

“Thanks.” John nodded to him. Then he was turning to Rodney and pulling him off the gurney, they left without another word.

Carson ran a hand over his face as he moved back to his office and sat down for a moment before he went to the mess.

He still didn’t know how he felt about it all. He knew John was concerned for everyone on Atlantis, especially his team, but he had always had an air of standoffishness. To see him suddenly as Rodney’s almost care giver was a little eerie. And then there was Rodney, he hadn’t complained once, at least not verbally.

His view on the two men was thrown out of skew.

“Hey… have they gone?” Carson jumped as Elizabeth came into his office, a grin on her face. “So, how did it go?”

“They are still in the Bonding stage… So I had to get John to put a cast on Rodney’s arm.”

“That all?”

Carson saw the glint in her eyes. “Well, to put it bluntly. John’s not being subtle about leaving his mark on Rodney’s neck.”

“Really?” Elizabeth grinned. “So you think John’s going to be the possessive type?”

Carson rolled his eyes. “And dominant… To be honest, I had thought it would be Rodney.”

Elizabeth covered her smile with a hand. “John is a great leader though.” She said. “I wonder how much he will let Rodney get away with.”

Carson smiled too. “As much as Rodney bloody well wants to.”

They laughed together.

“Come… I have to get our love birds some food… and maybe Rodney some of his own clothes.” He muttered as he stood.

“What?” Elizabeth asked as she walked at his side.

“Rodney was wearing John’s clothes.” Carson clarified.

“But their quarters are side by side?” she frowned. “Wow, maybe John really is going to be that possessive.”

“Who knows.” Carson shrugged. “But they both smelt like they had showered before coming to me… Lets just hope John doesn’t start marking his territory.” He chuckled, happy that Elizabeth joined in and it warmed Carson’s heart. Hell knew, they had to find some humour amongst the permanent threat of death.

 

++++++++++

 

John stretched lazily as he woke up, Rodney still in his arms. He hugged the other man closer to himself as he was aware of Rodney waking up too. “Morning.” He uttered into Rodney’s ear.

“My god we have to get a bigger bed!” Rodney muttered.

John grinned, he couldn’t agree more. Even if he enjoyed spooning with Rodney, it was still a little cramped. “I’ll get us one as soon as possible.” He promised, on his trip around the unexplored sections of the city, he had found untouched apartment, and was sure there must be something there. In fact, he was sure he could find a bigger place for them both, somewhere a little more quiet. Especial now he knew how vocal Rodney could be while he was screwing him.

He grinned at the memoires of the last few days. If he could give a crap, he would feel sorry for Zelenka and Elizabeth.

For the past three day’s, in-between their most intimate moments. They had eaten what Carson left for them outside the door and managed to watch nearly ever episode of Doctor Who Rodney had stashed away on the Atlantis servers.

Yesterday they had found they could finally let go of each other for short periods of time so they could go to the toilet alone, even if Rodney threw an almost tantrum if John tried to close the door.

And that was another thing, Rodney had started reverting back slightly to his old personality and stopped being so silent. Which John didn’t mind too much, he preferred their sparing matches, which had been numerous as he bitched about Doctor Who and the physics that couldn’t possible work behind it.

At one point John had grabbed Rodney’s wrist and the Shifter had shut up instantly. John had felt guilty, so he had moved his hold, but Rodney had just grinned at him, called him a cheat then cuddled up to his side.

“Do you want to use the head while I go see what Becket’s left for breakfast?” he asked as he got up a little.

“Sure.” Rodney yawned and stretched. “It better be something non healthy or I’m going to eat my entire stash of chocolate in front of him.”

John laughed as he laid a kiss on Rodney’s bare shoulder. “And you think he would let you?”

“No.” Rodney scoffed. “But you would stop him.” he grinned, his blue eyes sparkling.

John narrowed his eyes. “Would I now?”

“Yup.” Rodney purred. “Because I would let you lick off what was left.”

John closed his eyes as he thought about getting some chocolate spread from somewhere, if not he was sure he could think of something. “Fine.” He said as he got to his feet, slapping Rodney’s hip as he went to the door. When he was sure no one was in the corridor beyond he opened the door. “Err..”

“What?” Rodney asked as he rolled onto his back.

“There’s nothing here.” John looked up and down, nothing.

“Maybe he forgot?” Rodney sighed. “And I’m hungry now too.”

John thought about grabbing his radio. But he really didn’t want to put out a medical emergency just because they needed something to eat. “How about we go to the Mess?” the urge to stay where they were was very strong, here he could keep Rodney safe. But he also needed to get out and check his city, even if it was just for a little while.

Rodney looked a little unsure before he nodded. “Can we make a stop at the Lab after?” he asked softly.

“Anything you want.” John promised. “Come on, lets get you showered.” He also wanted to make sure Rodney looked his best.

It took a little longer than usual to finish with their shower seeing as Rodney had to keep his cast outside the stall, it didn’t stop John going to his knees and giving the Shifter a blow job though.

Then he had shaved the stubble from Rodney’s jaw, finding it unbelievably sensual. Rodney had offered to do the same, but John had just smothered him in towels as he shaved his own chin, promising the pout Rodney was giving him that he could do it when he had two hands so he wouldn’t end up slitting John’s throat.

“Is this going to be a permanent thing of yours?” Rodney suddenly asked as John fished about for clean clothes of his diminishing pile.

“What?” John asked as he pulled out boxes and another t-shirt that might fit Rodney’s broader shoulders. They were almost of a size anyway, only Rodney was stockier looking where as John was just taller.

“Me wearing your clothes?” Rodney asked as he caught the pants John tossed his way.

John blinked at him as he held two t-shirts in his hands. He knew all they had to do was go next door and get Rodney’s own clothes. But there was something inside him that just didn’t like that idea. Sure he had to concede where boots were concerned, he had bigger feet. “Is it a problem?” he asked instead of anything else.

He half expected Rodney to get mad at him, instead the Shifter smiled and shrugged. “I guess not… but you don’t have a science uniform.”

John walked over and sat besides Rodney and took his hand in his own, for some reason he had a moment of embarrassment, not at the fact they were both still naked, but at what he was about to say.

“Maybe it will get better when we move our stuff in together.” He trailed off, not looking at the man besides him.

Rodney was silent for a moment. “We should start looking for an apartment?” he whispered with trepidation.

John looked up at him then and couldn’t help but smile through his stupid awkwardness. “That’s what I was thinking… more room for a bigger bed too.”

“Want to look after we eat?” Rodney asked.

“Sure.” John answered, feeling a lot better about things. “I’ll get the laundry to wash my stuff with all yours… It might take the edge off.” Then he held up a t-shirt. “But till then…”

“Fine.” Rodney said rolling his eyes as he took the shirt with the fingers of his cast hand. “Sure you don’t want to dress me too?”

John hung his head as he tried not to admit that he would.

“Oh, for heaven sake.” Rodney groaned as he shoved the t-shirt back at him. “Get on with it then.”

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t help being on edge as he led Rodney into the Mess, they had met a few people on their way here, but most had just given them a quick greeting. He had hoped the place would be almost empty this early in the morning, but sadly, it wasn’t.

If anything, it was packed.

With a deep sigh to try and calm his nerves, it didn’t help so he tightened his grip on Rodney’s hand and pulled him towards the food line.

“Get as much as you want.” He told Rodney as he grabbed his own tray.

His skin was crawling with everyone’s eyes on them as he mindlessly put stuff on his tray.

“Wait, not that!” Rodney suddenly said at his side,

John looked down to see an orange in his hand. “Ah… Really?”

Rodney sighed dramatically. “Citrus allergy.” He snapped with no bite. “And I don’t have an epi pen with me.”

John put the orange back down. “Anything else I can’t eat now?” he couldn’t help but smile.

“Just nothing with Lemons.” Rodney grinned back. “Well… unless you brush your teeth and don’t come near me for about twelve hours.”

“So no lemons ever again then.” He purred as he crowded into Rodney’s space,

“Can you move on?” someone asked behind them.

John tried not to growl as he pushed Rodney in front of him in line.

Once they had got food and coffee John immediately walked over to where he had spied Teyla and Ford sat at the back of the room together. It was a little awkward carrying his tray in one hand, but he still couldn’t let go of Rodney.

He put his tray on the table, then pushed Rodney past him, Teyla looked up then pushed her tray to the other side of the table and moved, so John could push Rodney into her chair.

“Good day.” Teyla greeted them. “I’m glad to see you are better Rodney.” She said without sounding offended.

“Err… ya, thanks.” Rodney said as John watched him blush then he put his head down and started stuffing his face with buttered toast.

“So.” Ford said, and John tried not to cringe. “Sir… Is it true what everyone is saying?”

John cringed anyway. “And what would that be?” he asked instead as he picked up his coffee, not looking at the younger man.

“That you two have been at it like bunnies?” Ford uttered.

John almost chocked on his coffee as he glared at the lieutenant.

“I’m not a bloody rabbit!” Rodney suddenly exploded. “And if you are implying that the Major has Bonded me to him, then you would be right!”

“Then should we not celebrate this union?” Teyla added softly as she smiled at them both.

“Not really.” Rodney added as he started eating again. “Some idiots throw parties for it… Oww… maybe we can get a cake from this?” Rodney said brightly as he turned to John.

“I’ll ask.” John promised. Thought the thought of having a party was a little daunting, after all… it wasn’t like they got married… but then they kind of had… crap. At least he had dodged the bullet of a reception dinner and the disco afterwards.

“If you don’t mind, I would like to see to the cake.” Teyla offered. “As to small token of respect… Though I am still not sure what you would look like as a… a big cat?”

“Ah… well that won’t be for a while.” Rodney said as he held up his cast hand. “Not unless you want to see me rolling around on the floor with a crushed paw.”

John hadn’t thought about that. He actually didn’t even know what Rodney Shifted into. He hadn’t even thought to ask.

“So what can you Shift into Doctor McKay?” Ford asked and John pricked up his ears.

Rodney snorted. “Into a big cat.” He said dismissively, avoiding the subject.

“So you’re a rare then?” Ford leaned forward. “Don’t tell me you’re a Jaguar?”

John went very still.

“Do you know how rare those are?” Rodney shrilled angrily. “And males more so… and if I was there would be no way I would be sitting here right now!”

“What is the significance?” Teyla asked looking a little lost.

“Male Shifter Jaguar’s can actually get pregnant and give birth to children of their own.” Rodney explained. “So I’m sorry Lieutenant Ford, but there won’t be any rugrats running around Atlantis. I’m just a Rare Coat. That’s all.”

John let the breath he was holding out very slowly in relief.

“Aren’t rare coats sterile then?” Ford pressed and John didn’t like a slightly cruel smirk on the other man’s face.

“That’s a myth by hack fantasists to make films more exiting for idiots.” Rodney sneered. John caught Rodney glancing at him. “And not like it’s a problem even if I was.”

“Well, for what it’s worth.” Teyla gave Ford a ‘look’ before she carried on. “When you are ready, I would be honoured to see your Shifted form Rodney. And welcome to the team?” she said looking at John.

“Team?” Rodney squeaked.

“Err… I haven’t thought about that yet.” John confessed as he rubbed his knee against Rodney’s under the table. “We’ll have to talk to Weir, but I guess I can’t just leave you behind.”

“Oh… well…” Rodney looked like a deer in headlights.

“That’s if you want to?” John said quickly.

“Err… Well we don’t know what effect the gate will have on a Bond… Earth’s the only place we have ever found Shifters, and as far as I know, non have ever used it.” Rodney stammered. “I heard that the bond is subject to distance… I never thought…”

John couldn’t help putting his arm around Rodney’s waist and pulling him tight against his side. “We’ll figure it out.” He reassured.

“Oh god… I just remembered something else!” Rodney whispered and the distress radiating from him made John very uneasy. “When I signed the contract to come here… It said I wasn’t allowed to become Bonded. It was in the Shifter Registry and the SGC ones… I’m so screwed!”

“It wasn’t your fault.” John said as his hand went up Rodney’s back to rest on his neck. He could feel Rodney relax. “It’s not like they can do anything now… that’s if we ever make contact again.”

“But…” Rodney sighed out calmly. “They will call me back to Earth when we do… They would stop my pay!”

John smiled at that, it seemed a big thing with most of the scientists on base. Give them money, coffee and free rain and they were mostly happy. “That’s fine… it’s not like I’m strapped for cash.” He grinned. Then it hit him. This was for the long haul. All that ‘death do us part’ nonsense was actually blindingly true. That and it also meant leaving the first place he felt like he actually made a difference.

He let out a long breath as he rested his forehead against Rodney’s; he guessed the honeymoon was almost over.

“I’m going to be a Kept Shifter.” Rodney snorted with a bit of amusement. “Who knew?”

John couldn’t resist the urge as he tightened his grip on Rodney’s neck, moving his head back a little as he leaned in and kissed his Mate.

He only pulled away when he heard the Mess suddenly burst into hissed whispers. As he looked around he saw way to many disapproving looks.

At first he saw Katie Brown and her gaggle of Shifter Fans. They all glared at him with thinly veiled hate. A few others looked disgusted, mostly the marines. About the only people who didn’t look dismayed or shocked were the scientists he recognised.

“Congratulations.”

John jumped; he hadn’t even seen Zelenka approach.

“Yes, yes... Thank you. We all know you are just happy that you no longer have to Chaperone me anymore.” Rodney said dismissively.

Zelenka just ginned. “I am happy still for you.” He said as he patted John on the shoulder a few times. “Oh, and let you know, City is still standing.”

“That or you just haven’t found a problem yet!” Rodney gasped.

John squeezed his fingers a little where they still rested on Rodney’s neck. “Thank you Radek. I’m sure he will be giving you more grey hairs soon enough.”

Zelenka grinned some more before he turned and went back to the table he had come from where he proceeded to get grilled by the other scientists there.

“I’ve got… err… stuff to do.” Ford said as he stood stiffly. “Sir.” He grabbed his tray and stomped away.

“What’s his problem?” Rodney asked.

“I believe he is still young.” Teyla said as she also watched Ford disappear out of the mess. “And he might not approve of his commanding officers choice of partners?”

John shared an understanding look with Teyla. Ford was a good lieutenant, but he sometimes had a hard time understanding not everyone thought like he did.

“Hu… well it’s not like he can do anything about it now.”

“I’m sure he will get over it.” Teyla assured.

“Yeah.” John said, but he wasn’t so sure.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney never usually took notice of other people, let alone their emotions.

But he could feel the eyes on him when they had been in the Mess, and it had put him off his food. About the only thing he was glad about, was that the group of Shifter fan’s now wouldn’t be trying to touch him. Or they could, but if John didn’t shoot them, he could.

“So… this one doesn’t look so bad.” John said at his side, their hands still clasped as they look around the sixth apartment they had found.

Rodney sniffed. “Well, it’s closer to a transporter than the others, and it’s got a bath… and the view isn’t half bad.”

“You sure?” John asked. “It’s only two bedrooms.”

“We need more?” He never really cared where he lived so long as there was a bath, enough room for a bed, a couch and a wide screen TV.

“I thought you would like an office or something?” John questioned.

“Hn, I have a whole city for that… anyway if we need more room, I’ll just kick someone out from next door or something.” Then he realized John might want a bigger place. “Unless you don’t like it?”

“No.” John nodded. “It suites me fine… So.” John turned to him and Rodney could see the twinkle in his Mate’s eyes. “Want to christen our new apartment?”

Rodney just grinned as John closed in on him.

/”Major Sheppard?”/

Rodney froze as he heard Elizabeth’s voice in his ear.

John grimaced as he raised his hand to his ear. “This is Sheppard.”

Rodney grinned at his Mate.

/”Davis hasn’t reported in yet and we can’t reach them on radio… I don’t mean to disturb you, but you’re team is the only one free to go search for them…”/

Rodney let John pull him into a tight hug. He didn’t really understand it, so he just fisted his good hand into the back of John’s t-shirt

“Fine, can we take a jumper?” John asked Weir.

/”I believe so.”/

“Right, we are on our way. Sheppard out.”

“So much for the honeymoon.” Rodney sighed.

“I was thinking the same thing earlier.” John chuckled.

Then Rodney felt John’s tongue down his throat again, which quite frankly he didn’t mind one bit. Well, apart from in the Mess, but the bastard had cheated by grabbing his neck.

When John pulled back, Rodney found himself clinging on as his knees threatened to buckle underneath him.

For Christ sake, no one had touched him since he was thirteen, and in the past two days he just couldn’t get enough physical contact. It was insane. He never thought in a month of Sunday’s that he would be such a whore. And like it.

“Come on buddy.” John was grinning at him smugly. “Let’s get going.”

 

++++++++++

 

“It looks like a storm was setting in.” Elizabeth was saying though the Jumpers coms. “But we couldn’t see Davis and his team with the Malp and it was getting dark.”

“Ok, we are good to go.” John answered.

It had taken a little longer to get geared up, mostly because Rodney really didn’t have a proper off world kit. So John had been happy enough to kit him out as best he could with his own stuff. But then he didn’t plan on letting Rodney out of the Jumper if he could help it, even though he hadn’t managed to get two feet away from the other guy yet.

Carson had had a fit when they realized he was taking Rodney out. But John had somehow managed to convince him it would be ok. It would have been easier if Bates hadn’t been on Carson’s side. But his stand point that Rodney wasn’t trained. Which he did have a point, and soon as they got back, he would be running Rodney though some survival training.

“Open the gate!” Elizabeth called.

“Rodney. Come here.” John said as he motioned behind himself.

“But?” Rodney muttered, but he still came up besides John.

John just took Rodney’s hand and placed it on his own shoulder. “Don’t let go till we are through the gate… then you can sit down.”

“Ah, ok.” Rodney said as he leaned against the chair.

“You sure that’s wise?” Ford asked. Apparently he still hadn’t got over whatever hang up he had from that morning.

John just glanced at him. “You’ll understand one day Lieutenant.” Was his only reply as the gate activated and the Jumper lowered itself into the gate room. “Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!” he called as he moved the jumper through the gate as Rodney chuckled at his side.

--

John gasped when they materialized on the other side of the gate into darkness. For a split second something shot through his chest taking his breath, then it was gone and the grip Rodney had on his shoulder was almost painfully tight.

“The storm is bad.” Teyla was saying as John brought up the HUD. Outside was very wet and was about 4 Celsius.

“At least it’s not windy.” John tried to sound positive. “Davis, come in?”

“There… there, is that them?” Rodney asked as he pointed at the screen. And sure enough there were four life signs huddled together. With a thought he brought up the terrain. Davis and his men seemed to have been separated from the gate by a deep gully. “Ok, Atlantis, we think we found them. Going to see why they aren’t responding now.”

/“Ok, Good luck!”/ Weir said as suddenly the only illumination was the Jumper’s lights as the gate shut off.

It took a little while for John to actually find somewhere to land.

“Are you sure it’s safe?” Rodney asked worriedly.

“It’s as close as I can get.” John answered as he got up. “Ok, it’s going to be cold and wet, so let’s get this over with.” He said as he hit the release for the hatch.

The cold air threw rain about just beyond the hatch and even Teyla shivered. “This is not going to be pleasant.” She muttered as she pulled on her night vision goggles and stepped into the night with Ford close on her heals.

“You stay here.” John said as he turned to Rodney who was looking at him with wide eyes.

“But…” Rodney uttered and John could tell he was caught between relief and concern.

“They should be less than six hundred foot away; they have probably already seen the Jumper and are on their way over. But I need you to stay where I know it’s going to be safe.” He said putting his hands on the Shifters shoulders.

Reluctantly Rodney nodded. “Be safe.” He whispered.

John just leaned in and placed a kiss on his lips before turning and going out into the storm.

As he jogged to catch up with his team, every step he had to resist the urge to look over his shoulder. He just wanted to turn around and go back, but he gritted his teeth and carried on.

That was until he was thrown to the floor as the very earth shifted under his feet. He saw Teyla and Ford also go down as the ground shook.

“Earthquake!” he shouted as he got to all fours and waited it out.

It only took a few moments before it ended.

/“JOHN!”/

Before he could even click his radio he heard a rumbling sound coming from behind.

“Rodney!” he said clicking his radio.

/”The ground just opened up… The Jumpers gone!”/ Rodney came back.

John’s heart missed a beat before he realised Rodney was still talking, so he was safe. “Are you ok?”

/”Yeah, I got out…”/

“Stay where you are, I’m coming back for you!” then he turned to Teyla. “You guy’s go find Davis, We’ll catch up.” Then he turned back.

“Knew we shouldn’t have brought him.” John heard Ford snap out.

John ignored it as he started running. Every step felt better as he got closer to Rodney. And in no time at all he found him huddled up against a tree.

“Rodney.” He said in relief as he took the other man in his arms, needing that connection again, it also meant he could feel his Mate shivering, so he rubbed Rodney’s arms as he looked over to where the Jumper had been, he could still see some lights coming up from what now looked like a mud slide. “Come on, walking will keep you warm.” He said pulling Rodney with him. “We’ll find Davis and his men then find somewhere to shelter for the night.”

“Sure.” Rodney replied miserably. “I’m starting to think I’m bad luck.”

“Nah. Stuff happens. Lets just think about getting home.”

They were walking for about ten minutes when he heard Teyla come over the radio.

/”Major, we have found Davis and his men, they are safe but got caught off guard by the storm and the earthquakes and lost their radios and most of their gear.”/

“Ok, just hang tight. We’ll be there soon. Is there any shelter nearby?” John asked.

/”Some, we have a fire going to keep the chill off.”/

John was just about to say they would only have to wait it out another hour before Atlantis dialled in again and another jumper could be sent when he was thrown to the floor again, Rodney at his side.

The ground seemed to scream this time as a tree nearby fell over, its roots spraying them with splinters and mud.

John climbed over Rodney, trying to shield him form anything else that this world might at throw and them, and clung on.

It seemed to go on longer this time before the world stopped moving and it became quiet.

“Is this place trying to rip it’s self apart?” Rodney whined beneath him.

“Who knows.” John answered as he sat up. “Teyla?”

/”We are fine.”/ She replied quickly. /”though I’m afraid we are cut off, another fissure has opened up the way we came.”/

“Fine… Just stay put… if you can, get somewhere that might be safer.” John replied as he pulled Rodney up too.

/”Be safe.”/ Teyla replied before the radio went dead.

“Oh my god!” Rodney suddenly exclaimed. “John, you’re bleeding!” then Rodney was holding his head and looking at his forehead.

“Hu?” he answered as he tried to bring his own hand up but Rodney just batted it away.

“It’s a deep cut… don’t you have any emergency bandages?” Rodney asked as his hands moved to John’s flack jacket.

John reached for the pocket that had his emergency dressings and pulled it out, at which point Rodney grabbed it and started tearing it open with is teeth.

“Bloody rain!” Rodney cursed as he pulled the night vision goggled off his head then held the padded part of the dressing to his wound. “Hold this.” And John complied as he winced as the wound began to sting and throb. “At least it’s washing the blood away… we need to find somewhere not so wet.” Rodney was babbling as he secured the bandage around John’s head.

John held out the goggles. “Here, this should make it easier.”

Rodney rolled his eyes then pointed at his own eyes “Shifter, I have good night vision.” He said as he stood and looked around. “Over there…” he pointed to his left. “Couple of trees leaning together.” Then he reached down and hauled John to his feet.

For a moment John couldn’t move as the world went a little wobbly. At first he feared another earthquake before he realized it was his own legs. He hadn’t thought he had lost that much blood and it didn’t feel like he had a concussion.

“Come on.” Rodney said as John felt arms around him, then he was being led forward.  “You better not faint on me!”

“Trying not to.” John growled as he clung on.

“Ok… almost there... OUCH! What the fuck!” Rodney yelped and then John felt something hard hitting his head and bouncing off.

“Hail?” he gasped as he saw something white and large fall past his face and Rodney was all but dragging him forwards.

“The temperatures dropping!” Rodney huffed. “Keep moving I can’t carry you.”

John tried his best to keep his feet under him, but it still seemed to take and age before Rodney was dropping him to the floor.

“Hun, at least we won’t get concussions even if it is still wet.” Rodney sighed as John felt him sit down at his side. “You ok?”

“Felt better.” John muttered as he looked out past their little shelter as more hail began to fall, covering the ground with white.

Rodney cuddled up a little closer as they waited.

--

Three hours later and still they were sat in the same place.

“Why haven’t they dialled in yet?” Rodney whined as he moved a little, pulling his feet away from the bank of hail stones that were still farming in front of them.

John shivered again feeling miserable, he had lost feeling in his hands and feet hours ago, which was a small blessing as he was sure the ground around them was freezing.

At least he knew Teyla’s group was doing fine, they still had a fire and were fairing well wherever they were as they radioed in every half hour.

/”Major Sheppard?”/

John closed his eyes as he heard Bates come over the radio, finally Atlantis had opened the gate. He tried to answered but his teeth were chattering too much.

“We need a Jumper evac immediately!” Rodney spoke into his radio. “We found Davis’s team, they are safe, but we lost our Jumper. The ground is highly unstable and we are all cut off from the gate. Also the temperature is still dropping. Me and Sheppard are separated from Teyla and Davis. The Major is hurt and I think he’s going into hypothermic shock.”

/”We have a situation here.”/ Bates replied, and John was surprised the guy actually sounded distressed instead of his usual anger. /”We will try and get someone to you as soon as possible… but I can’t say how long that will be… We were just gateing in to update you on the circumstances.”/

/”I’ll try and get a medical team to you as soon as we can.”/ Weir suddenly said.

/”The hail seems to be easing, we can try and get to you Rodney.”/ Teyla said.

John closed his eyes, they hadn’t told her how bad he was finding it.

“No, no… I have an idea… you can’t reach us anyway.” Rodney signed. “Just stay safe…”

/”I’m sorry but we have to disconnect.”/ Weir said regrettable. /”Make sure you make it all home.”/

Then the connection was severed.

/”Rodney, how bad is the Major?”/ Teyla asked and she sounded pissed.

“A head wound and we are freezing here.” Rodney snapped back. “I’ll contact you soon… I’m gonna try something.”

/”Rodney…”/ Teyla said now sounding concerned.

But Rodney didn’t reply, then John watched as Rodney began tugging off his tack vest and messing with the straps and lacings.

“What are you doing?” he asked through chattering teeth.

“Shut up.” Rodney uttered as he seemed satisfied. Then he started taking off his jacket, that he then laid over John’s chest.

“Rodney?” he warned. If he was freezing, then Rodney had to be just as cold.

“I said shut up.” Rodney growled as he stood and began pulling off his boots, John watched in horror as he also began removing his pants, then his t-shirt till he was totally naked. “This is hardly the time.” He tried to joke as he feared that Rodney had lost his mind, he could see the goose bumps all over his Mate’s pale skin.

“I’m about to do something stupid.” Rodney snapped as he laid his clothes over John. Then he picked up his tac vest and put it back on. John could see how loose it now was as it hung from Rodney’s shoulders.

Then Rodney leaned in and gave him a kiss. “Don’t die on me ok?” he said, his eyes wide.

“Ok.” John answered as he watched Rodney pull off the cast on his arm with a growl of pain.

“Next time, Carson’s putting this on.” Rodney said as he pulled the sodden cotton wool padding from his broken wrist. “Ok… Show time.”

John watched Rodney crouch on all four, then muscle and skin morphed, if he would have blinked he would have missed the hair that sprouted all over Rodney’s body. Then, in front of him stood a huge white tiger. Familiar blue eyes looked at him from the huge head of the cat and John’s heart swelled in his chest.

“Beautiful.” He muttered as the tiger opened its mouth in what John guessed was a smile. Then a large pink tongue licked up the side of his face and the cat turned round and ran into the hail.

John watched it go with amazement at it was soon lost in the pale light that the stars illuminated off the hail.

“Well… wow.” He muttered to himself as he snuggled down, at least he was a little warmer with Rodney’s added clothes, that or it was just an illusion of his Mate’s scent.

 

++++++++++

 

The hail under Rodney’s paws was biting cold and made his footing unsteady now and again, but it was easier than if he just had two feet. Well, it would have been even easier with four paws, but his broken wrist meant he had to keep it up as best he could.

At least his thick coat was keeping the best of the cold out, even if the frigid air was burning his nose and throat as he took in lungful’s of stinging cold air.

But it had taken him no time at all to see where the Jumper had gone down, it’s lights still shone up from the gully it had fallen into. When he got to the edge of the gully he could see the Jumper half on its side at the bottom, it had only slipped about twenty feet, it was just getting down to it.

He limped his way up and down till he finally found somewhere to get down. And almost laughed because it was more like a direct path.

When he got to the Jumper he was relieved when all he had to do was hit a paw against the external door release. He did have to stumble out of the way as the door moved past his face. When it opened fully it slammed into the side of the gully, rocking the Jumper more onto its side.

He had to wait till it stopped rocking as he looked longingly into the light warmth it offered. Then he cautiously walking inside, the footing was treacherous, a lot of equipment had spilled out and now littered the side of the Jumper. But at least it was warm inside.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes and Shifted, then shook the slight moment of pain off as his muscles and skin morphed back into his human form. It seemed like years since he had Shifted, and his skin was itching because of it.

With a deep breath he started reaching for the locker that held the medical supplies, luckily it had stayed closed as he started pulling out the emergency foil blankets, as he pulled out powerbars from the largest pocket in his flack jacket, he considered taking the cotton thermal blankets too, but they were to bulky. So as he worked quickly on tightening and loosening straps on his jacket he spied some hand warmers, so he tucked them away too.

He looked over at the cockpit, once again annoyed with his Shifter blood that meant he couldn’t just fly the Jumper to John. With a growl he turned away and as he Shifted back into his tiger form he ran back towards his Mate, knowing instinctively where to go.

 

++++++++++

 

John felt his head suddenly rock to the side as he blinked open his eyes to a warm breath being puffed into his face, followed by an annoyed grunt.

“Wha…” he said as he looked up to see a tiger staring back at him. “Hey.” He said happily. “Sorry, I must have nodded off.” He smiled when the Tiger rolled it’s eyes, then yipped as it turned, nudging his arm with it’s huge head.

John got the overwhelming feeling that he should open the pocket on the flack jacket the Tiger was wearing. So sitting up he freed his numb hand and fumbled with the velcro till he was pulling out two foil thermal blankets.

The Tiger nudged him again.

“Yeah, yeah.” He answered back. “You know it would help if you could give me a hand.

The Tiger snorted.

“Well you shouldn’t have taken all your clothes off!” John answered as the thought of talking to a Tiger seemed a little obscure, but it was like Rodney was speaking to him, just not in words. He fumbled the blankets out of their packets and put them over himself as best he could. Once the Tiger was satisfied, he slumped next to John sides.

John couldn’t help but sink his fingers into the soft fur at the cats neck. Despite how damp the Tiger was, past the outer fur it was warm, and warm was what he needed as he shoved his face into the cat’s shoulder.

“You smell like wet dog.” He chuckled, feeling the tiger grumble. But John didn’t care as he felt himself drift off.

--

When he awoke again, the world was still dark, but he felt warm. He moved a little and the warmth he was resting against, moved.

“Don’t!” he mumbled as he looked up to see the Tiger still at his side, looking down at him. “What?”

The Tiger stood, nudged John’s legs with his nose then looked off into the night.

“You want me to move?” John asked as he tried to get to his feet anyway. “Can I get to the Jumper?”

The Tiger nodded its huge head, then moved close to John, pushing up against his legs. John reached down, realizing that the cat came up to his hip as he ran his hand over wide powerful shoulders. Then the cat was moving and John followed.

“What about your clothes?” he asked, concentrating on moving his numb feet.

The cat made an annoyed sound.

John struggled when the Tiger started hopping and he remembered Rodney’s broken wrist. But there was no way he would let go of the support the Tiger offered, so he just kept moving until he went to his knees, slipping on hail that had covered a patch of rock.

The Tiger whined as he tried getting John to get up. “I’m getting, stop pushing.” John huffed out, trying to get his shivering under control. He got a foot under him, but as he used the Tigers shoulder to get up he slipped again, this time scraping his knee open.

John tried to push the Tiger away as the animal tried to get under him, it’s head had gone under one of his arms, it took a moment before he realised what Rodney was trying to do. “I’m too heavy!” he protested.

Rodney gave out an annoyed roar, pushing some more.

John got the message as he manage to get himself onto the Tiger, he lay on it’s back as he wrapped his arm around its chest holding onto the straps of Rodney’s tac vest while his leg hung down either side of the Tigers own back legs.

Then Rodney was lurching to his feet with only a slight huff and grumble of pain.

“Told you I was heavy.” John gripped as he buried his face into the warm fur at the back of the Tigers neck.

Then they were moving and John let himself relax, despite the fact his toes were dragging along the ground and his fingers were nothing but numb pain at the end of his arms as he clung on to the swaying awkward gait of the Tiger. He was warm, and it was radiating into his belly and chest.

As they moved and John warmed up a little, he couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle.

The Tiger looked over its shoulder at him.

“I was just thinking how nice this was.” He explained.

He got a distinct feeling that Rodney wasn’t thinking it quite that way as he snorted.

“Well… maybe in better circumstances.” He teased and suddenly had to cling on tighter as their angle changed, they were going down hill, then he looked up past two fluffy black ears and saw in the distance the welcoming warm light of the Jumper.

She was on her side, but she looked whole. A small hope welled in his belly that maybe she was still working. But this being the Pegasus galaxy, he knew that was more than unlikely. At least it looked warm.

As they got closer, Rodney limp was becoming more apparent as they started uphill towards the Jumper.

“Let me get off… I can walk the distance.” John said. But Rodney just kept moving and John knew better then to try and slide off and make it on his own.

So slowly he watched as they got closer, when Rodney breached the inside of the Jumper the warmth that hit John’s skin was painful and took his breath away as the Tiger slowly laid down and John could now feel how hard Rodney was panting.

He rolled off, trying to ignore the crap that was digging into his side as pins and needles crippled his hands and feet, so he closed his eyes and shoved his freezing hands under his chin.

“John… Are you alright?” Rodney asked at his side, and John groaned as a cold hand covered his own and started rubbing. “John.”

“How about you?” John asked as he opened his eyes and looked up at his Shifter.

Rodney looked relived before he replied. “You are heavy.” He complained with a grin. “But I’m fine… I never did suffer much from the cold… Shifter and all.”

“I didn’t know that was a Shifter trait.” John said as he sat up, noting how Rodney was keeping his right arm against his bare chest, it looked swollen again. “Crap, your arm.”

“It hurts like hell.” Rodney complained about his arm. “And it depends on the Shifter… Now do you think the Jumper can still fly?”

John reached out and put a hand on Rodney’s shoulder, feeling better just by the physical contact. “Don’t know till we try. Help me up… Also… that’s a good look on you.” He said as Rodney pulled him to his feet.

Rodney blushed furiously. As John looked him up and down. All he was wearing was his loose tac vest and dog tags. “If we just had a little more time.” John purred in Rodney’s ear as he pulled the man closer to him.

Rodney yelped as John felt himself being pushed away. “Not when you’re so cold!”

“Spoil sport.” John pouted as he looked towards the cockpit. “Come on, I should think the others want to get of this rock asap too.”

“We still don’t now what’s happened at Atlantis.” Rodney said as they climbed into the cockpit. “Do you think it’s the Wraith?”

John shrugged, “Let’s hope not.” He said as he tried to get a look at the controls. “Ok, stand with your back on the floor.” He told Rodney, he didn’t even have to look to know he was doing it. He managed to reach the controls for the door, so he closed the inner door, then closed the outer hatch doors. He grabbed onto the chair as the Jumper rocked more into an upright position.

One it stopped rocking John hit the button that would lift the Jumper of the ground.

He couldn’t keep a hold on the chair as he was thrown to the ground as with a screech of metal the Jumper righted itself.

“You ok?” he asked Rodney.

“Yeah, you?”

“Fine.” John said getting to his feet, then he turned to help Rodney.

“No, no, I don’t feel like giving the others a peep show.” Rodney said as he sat on the floor.

John grinned. “But I don’t mind it too much.”

Rodney grinned back as he started blushing again. “If you could, why do I think you would stick a collar on me and drag me about naked everywhere?”

John laughed as he got into the pilot chair. “Don’t be stupid.” He said as he brought up the HUD as he looked for the others. “I want to keep your naked ass all to myself.”

He heard Rodney laugh, then felt the moment Rodney Shifted back into a Tiger. “Though you are naked now.” he said looking down at the big cat.

Rodney growled at him as he sat his backside on the floor.

“Ok, I’m going. They aren’t too far away.” Then he reached up and tapped his Radio as hail started pounding the outside of the Jumper again. “Teyla?”

/”John, it’s good to hear your voice.”/ Teyla said.

“Yours too… Get your stuff together, I’m bringing the Jumper over now.” he said as the Jumper shuddered sideways. “Looks like you’ve got something to fix when we get back,” he told Rodney, who just grunted.

/”You got to the Jumper?”/ Teyla sounded surprised.

“Rodney found a way to get to it… She’s not handling to well from her fall, so I don’t want to land.”

/”We are ready.”/ Teyla answered.

John was just seeing if he could get any closer, when a sensor went off on the HUD. It was saying there was another earthquake. “Teyla!”

/”Hurry!”/ She came over the radio.

John gritted his teeth as he pushed the Jumper a little harder, it only took another minute to find the stranded group. “Rodney secure yourself… somehow.” He said as he moved the Jumper straight down and opened the rear hatch while also opening the inner door. “Teyla, can you see us?”

/”We are trying.”/ Teyla called back and this time John could hear Davis shouting at everyone to move. The ground was still shaking and John got as low as he could as a tree in front of the Jumper fell over.

John turned in his seat to see O’Moore dive onto the hatch, then get to his feet and start pulling others after him. Finally all of them were on bored with Ford and Teyla bringing up the rear.

“Move!” Davis called back at John.

John didn’t need telling twice as he moved up, shutting the outer hatch as the ground seemed to slip away beneath them and the Jumper gave another lurch sideways. “Secure yourselves!” John ordered as he got above what was left of the tree line.

“In all this mess?” Davis asked with an exhausted chuckle.

“I can live with the bloody mess.” O’Moore laughed. “but can this heap of metal get us home?”

“Working on it.” John answered as he made his way to the Stargate, he just hoped it was still standing.

“John… where is… What the…” Teyla was asking before a note of shock entered her voice.

John turned to see her pulling out her belt knife as she stared behind John’s chair. She looked like she was about to pounce. “STOP!” he shouted in realization as he struggled out of his chair to stand in front of Rodney, who had backed up as much as he could. “Put your knife away.” He ordered as he saw everyone else stand and look into the cockpit.

“McKay?” Ford gasped behind Teyla.

“A bloody white!” O’Moore gasped. “No wonder you never Shifted on base, Doctor McKay” The Irish lieutenant carried on. “Them Shifter-nuts would have had you for breakfast!”

Rodney huffed from behind John’s leg.

“So what happened?” Davis asked actually looking up at him.

“McKay found the Jumper, then lead me here.” John answered. “Seems the Jumper just slipped into a gully.”

“Hu…” Davis answered as he turned away, “Come on, get sat down. Sheppard, aren’t you mean to be driving?”

“Sure.” He answered, but wasn’t ready to move yet because Teyla still seemed on edge. “This is Rodney’s Shifted form.” He said softly as he rested a hand on Rodney’s large head.

He watched as Teyla forced herself to relax as she put her knife away. “I’m sorry.” She said bowing her head to them. “It just took me by surprise.”

John gave her a respectful nod back. “That’s fine… I better get us home.”

“Yes… please do.” Teyla said as she edged into the cockpit and sat down in the co-pilots seat.

John gave Ford a lift of his chin as the younger man took his chair behind Teyla.

Satisfied, John got into his chair and moved the Jumper towards the gate as he felt Rodney move up on his left side. John gave him a look then put his hand on Rodney’s head again.

 

++++++++++

 

Teyla looked out of the Jumper window, watching the huge hail still pelting down around them as John tried again to get a connection with Atlantis.

So far it had been almost three hours since they had found the gate, it was still standing, but the ground beneath it looks ready to slip away. John had assured them the gate was on bedrock, and probably wouldn’t fall. But it didn’t ease her worry.

She sat back in her chair as Davis and his men played cards with Ford in the back of the Jumper. And yet again she found herself looking over at the large animal sat next to John.

She had never seen something like it before, it was hairy with black stripes through its white fur. It looked almost cute, if it wasn’t for the claws that she could see on its huge feet, or the white teeth when she had seen it yawn.

She was in no doubt that the animal could kill her very easily.

“Still no luck.” Davis asked from the back.

“Nope.” John answered as he sat back in his own chair.

Teyla watched as John put his hand back on the huge animals head that rested in his lap. The animals blue eyes, that seemed so familiar, were looking up at John.

“Stop worrying.” John whispered and at first Teyla was about to answered before she realized he wasn’t talking to her.

“I’m sure there is a perfectly good reason why we can’t dial in.” John continued as Teyla watched him start stroking the huge head, then grabbing one of its fluffy ears and tug on it.

The large cat shook its head a little before resting it back down as John started stroking again. “I’m fine… How’s your wrist?”

The animal gave a little whine.

“I did say I would let Carson do it this time didn’t I?” John was saying. “I’ll try and not flip out… He can also do this.” John touched his head. “Do you think it will need stitches?”

The cat’s face twitched.

“Recon it will leave a cool scar?” John was asking before he chuckled to himself softly.

Teyla was growing more concerned as John closed his eyes. He looked very pale, but at least he had stopped shivering as he had dried out over their wait. She had tried to intervene after their first dial in had failed, but John had just told her to back off. And with the look in his eyes, she had done just that.

Now though he was talking to himself and looking very ill. She feared that maybe the wound on his head was more serious under the badly placed dressing.

“Here.”

She jumped as she looked up to see Davis stood at her side. He was holding out a cup of coffee.

“Thank you Major.” She said taking it as he eyes moved back to John.

“Worried about him?” Davis whispered.

She nodded as she glanced at him with a smile.

Suddenly Davis was facing John and the large animal. “Doctor McKay?” he said and the cat opened its eyes to look at Davis. “Will Sheppard be ok?”

Teyla couldn’t quite believe it when the cat lifted its head slowly then nodded.

“Ok, but if he falls out of the chair, I’ll have to make sure he’s ok, can you cope with that?” Davis asked.

The cat rolled his eyes but nodded.

“And finally… would you like some coffee?”

The cat’s ears suddenly stood straight up and swivelled forwards.

“Fine, I’m sure I can find a pan somewhere, just wait there.” Davis said as he moved into the back.

Teyla watched as the cat looked up at John, then slowly began to move from besides the chair to sit behind it. Looking back into the rear compartment with interest. She could also see it was holding it’s right paw against it’s chest.

Finally Davis came back in holding a billy can. “Hope this will do.” He said as he put the can on the floor about a foot away from the large animal.

The cat suddenly gave a purr as it tried to lean down to the can of lightly steaming coffee.

“Ah… err…” Davis said. “I can hold it up for you?”

The cat backed off then looked at Teyla.

“Not good enough hu?” Davis chuckled as he stood again. “Teyla, can you help him drink? I think he knows you better?”

Teyla really didn’t want to get any closer than she was to those claws and teeth.

“It’s only Doctor McKay.” Davis whispered. “He still has the mind of the man you know.”

Teyla swallowed as she looked back at the cat. Even if she couldn’t put McKay together with the cat in her head, she knew she had to help, even if it was for John’s sake.

Slowly she stood and took the can from Davis. “I will do what I can.”

Davis slapped her on her shoulder. “Good, just don’t touch him. Oh and Doctor McKay. Sorry, we did look to see if there were any spare clothes, there aren’t even any scrubs.”

The cat gave a huff that sounded a little like understanding.

“Well… I have a game to win, if you will excuse me.” Then Davis was gone and Teyal found herself practically alone with the huge creature.

Slowly she bobbed down and held the can out as far as she could towards the cat.

Then tried not to flinch as the cat came forward on three legs, sat down and sniffed at the can.

She watched in horror as it opened its mouth to reveal its teeth, then a large pink tongue came out and started lapping at the coffee. Every time it took a drink it purred like it was happy, its eyes closed.

It didn’t take long before all the coffee was gone and the cat gave a little grunt of displeasure as it got up and made its way back to John’s side where it put it’s huge head on his lap again.

Teyla stood. She knew the best way to conquer fear, was to know more about what you were scared about. She would quiz John when all this was over. Or better yet, he would talk to Rodney.

With a sigh she went and sat down again to watch the gate.

 

++++++++++

 

Carson was exhausted as he waited for Sheppard’s Jumper to land in the hanger.

He had been on his feet all day helping out with the injured from one of their trading partners that had been hit with a tsunami. So Atlantis was currently full of refugees as they waited for the waters to recede.

“Hello Doctor!” Major James Davis said as he stepped out of the Jumper. “Just one walking wounded, so I’ll get my men to the infirmary.” He said as he thumbed over his shoulder.

“Oh, thanks lad… so where is my wounded?” he asked as O’Moore gave him a grin as he came past.

“Right here Doc.” John called.

Carson could see John stood past Teyla and Aiden, then his eyes moved to the huge white tiger at John’s side. “Oh my.” He uttered. Then he got over his shock as he waved them forward. “Come on then, let’s get you seen too… I’m sure I can find somewhere private to see to you.” He couldn’t help seeing the dark look of Aiden’s expression, or the way Teyla seemed to want to be as far from Rodney as she could. But he was too tired to deal with them right now as he could see blood coming from under John’s soaked bandage. “Do I need to get a gurney?” He asked as he saw John wobbled and reach out to Rodney for support.

“No… I’m good, lead on.” John sighed, sounding very tired.

So Carson led the way to the nearest transporters. “Sorry Teyla, Ford, I don’t think there is enough room.” He said as he tried to squash himself in the corner as Rodney limped into the small space with John at his side.

“Not a problem Doctor.” Teyla said looking relived.

In a flash they were in the corridor for the infirmary.

Along the corridor make shift beds were still set up with injured Refugees, once Rodney got out of the transporters, those who were aware enough to be awake took one look and shrank back as they stared at the huge animal walking past them.

“It’s ok.” Carson called, trying to reassure them. “He’s one of us, he won’t harm anyone!” No one looked convinced, but there wasn’t really much he could do, so he just led the way, taking a quick look behind.

Rodney might have been limping badly on three legs, but his head was held high and proud as he resolutely ignored everyone, even John was walking past like nothing was out of the ordinary as he kept one hand on Rodney’s shoulder, any sign of weakness put away for now.

“Come on.” He said as he went into the infirmary proper, one look around told him there wasn’t going to be any quiet corner, so with a moment of inspiration he lead the two to his office, then held the door open for them to enter. Before he followed he turned back to the main room, where even his staff was gauping at them. “Get back to work!” he shouted. “It’s not like you haven’t seen a Shifter before!” then he walked into his office and slammed the door. “Sorry about that.” He apologised.

“We kind of expected it.” John said as he slouched in Carson’s chair, once again looking tired. “Also, Rodney is a fine looking Shifter, if I do say so myself.”

Carson couldn’t help but smile as he watched John scratch behind Rodney’s ears while the Tiger looked almost shy.

“Well, I really need to get a look at that wound on your head.” Carson said taking one step forwards. “Can I?” he said lifting his hands.

John sighed, “It’s not like we have a choice. Go ahead.”

Carson reached for the bandage and started unwinding it, then carefully pulled the padding away as John winced.

“Oh, Crap.” he uttered; the wound was deep and already showed signs of infection as it still bled a little.

“What?” John exclaimed as Rodney whined.

“There are stitches and antibiotics in your immediate future Major… I also want to do a scan. How did it happen?”

“A tree uprooted near us and I must have got hit by a rock or root or something.” John grimaced. “Is it goanna leave a scar?”

“Probably. But I’ll do the best I can to minimise it.” Carson offered then frowned as Rodney gave a huff of breath and John chuckled.

“It’ll look cool!” John suddenly said.

“I’m sure it might.” Carson said before he realized John wasn’t talking to him.

“I don’t have to see it to know its goanna look cool.”

Carson blinked as John almost pouted.

Then John was looking up at him. “Will you tell him?” he asked tugging on one of Rodney’s ears.

Carson looked down at blue eyes that were glaring up at him. “I’ll do my best to make it ‘look’ cool and not be so noticeable.” He promised. “Right well, I’ll just be a moment to get the things I need. And do you want me to find you something to wear Rodney?”

The Tiger nodded his head, looking relived.

“And I was hoping to drag you through the city and show you off.” John said indulgently.

The Tiger held up his right paw and whined again as he glared at John, then turned imploring eyes on Carson.

“Ah, I forgot about that, I’m guessing I’ll need to scan that too?”

Rodney nodded.

“Ok, I’ll just be a little while, try not to injure yourselves while I’m gone.” He chuckled as he left his office.

He was just getting a syringe for the local antithetic when he was aware of Teyla striding towards him determinedly. “What can I do for you lass?” he asked.

“How is Major Sheppard?” she asked.

“Oh, he should be fine once I stitched him up and he’s got some rest.” He assured as her frown deepened. “Is there something else?”

“When we were waiting in the Jumper.” She started. “John kept talking to himself… or really, talking to… to…” she struggled. “The Shifted?” she finished a little lamely.

“You mean Rodney?” he asked.

“Err… yes… It’s still a little… odd. I’ve never seen such a thing…”

“Well, he might look like a big fluffy Tiger, but it’s still Rodney inside.” He smiled. “It’s not that common on Earth to come across people like Rodney, so you don’t have to worry. Just speak to Rodney like you would normally, he’ll understand. You just wont get any of his flippant remarks.” He tried to Joke, but Teyla didn’t smile.

“I had guessed as much.” She continued. “But John was holding a one sided conversation… like Rodney was taking to him… Could it be the knock on his head?”

Carson frowned, “I’m not sure… I’ll ask them about it. Don’t you worry, I’ll fix them both up.”

“Thank you Carson.” She smiled at him. “Now, I must help with the refugees.”

“Ah, don’t you need to rest?” he asked as she started to walk about.

“I can rest later.” She smiled back.

Carson watched her go; hoping what she said wouldn’t turn out to be something more serious. So with a sigh he turned and got everything else he needed.

--

“Ok.” Carson said as he entered his office pushing a trolley. “Lets get your head seen too.”

“Did you get the stuff for Rodney’s arm? cos he wont stop bitching.” John said as he closed the door.

“Ay. I got everything I need, and some scrubs.” Carson said as he remembered Teyla’s comments. But first he busied himself with getting the scrubs. “Here ya go.” He said putting them down on his table. “I’ve seen it all before, so don’t mind Shifting while I sort John out.” He said turning to the trolley.

“Oh my god that hurt!” Carson heard Rodney shrill complaint and he couldn’t help but turn back to see John with the shirt of the scrubs in his hands.

“Here, put your hand through.” John was saying.

Carson watched as John then helped Rodney put the shirt on, then reach for the pants and hold them open so Rodney could step into them and pulled them up.

“It really hurts.” Rodney moaned, and Carson could see his right wrist was swollen again.

John took Rodney’s hand in his own. “You idiot, it looks worse… you did this carrying me?”

“Carrying you?!” Carson gasped.

“It’s not like I had a choice!” Rodney bitched. “We had to rescue ourselves, so I did what I had to… It was also that or watch you get properly hypothermic!” he snapped at John.

“Can you fix his arm first Doc?” John asked.

Carson sighed. “I’ll stitch you up first. Rodney why don’t you sit down and try not to move your hand?”

The entire time Carson was cleaning and stitching John was looking at Rodney and holding his hand. It was like watching some young newlyweds, at least it kept Rodney’s mouth shut, so Carson guessed he could cope.

“There we are. Almost done.” He said as he started on the last few stitches. “That was another thing I wanted to ask you boys.”

“And that would be?” Rodney asked.

“Well, Teyla brought it up actually. She said you were talking to Rodney when he was Shifted?”

“Well yeah.” John answered with a slight sarcastic lilt to his voice.

“She said you were acting like Rodney was talking back? Is that true? Or did you get hit harder than I thought?” He watched as John glanced up at him as best he could, made almost comical by a forehead full of anaesthetic. Then he was looking at Rodney.

“Don’t look at me.” Rodney shrilled a little. “But you were answering back to what I was thinking…”

“And you didn’t find this odd?” Carson asked.

“Err… no.” Rodney replied though he sounded a little unsure.

“John?” Carson asked.

“Well… It’s just like I know what he’s going to say… saying… I thought it was just a Shifter thing?” John replied.

“I thought so too.” Rodney agreed. “It’s not like I just go Bonding with every bed headed fly boy I meet.”

“I thought you liked my hair.” John was pouting.

“That’s besides the point.” Rodney said dismissively. “And this is the first time I’ve managed to Shift since I broke my wrist… which still hurts by the way.”

“I guess you have a point.” Carson said as he finished stitching. But he couldn’t remember reading anything about such a bond being formed, but he guessed it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. He would have to experiment on them later. When he wasn’t so tired. “Right, I’ll put another bandage on this, then see if you’ve done anymore harm to yourself Rodney.”

“About time.” Rodney groused.

 

TBC

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 2]

[Three weeks later]

Rodney yawned as he stretched in his chair and looked over the lab to realise he was the only one there. Then he remembered Zelenka wishing him good night at some point.

He sighed as he actually felt a little lonely.

After getting back from their disastrous / successful rescue mission and finding out he hasn’t done any permanent damage to his arm, after sending all the refugees home and moving all his stuff with his Mates into their new apartment, and after the storm hitting Atlantis and the stupid Genii running amuck. Things had settled down and life had got a little bit back to normal.

John was still being a little bit protective, but Rodney really didn’t mind it, especially when the Shifter fanatics stopped looking at him with longing, and now just glared at John. The scientist’s were a little put out, Rodney guessed it’s because they thought he would mellow out, probably from all the sex, they were sadly mistaken. The Marines had actually been the biggest surprise; they just seemed to accept it. The security videos might have helped, after all, they were all over Atlantis fifteen minutes after Rodney had walked off the Jumper.

Rodney grinned at the thought of maybe being Atlantis’s new mascot.

But the one thing he thought he wanted most of all, he was quickly finding out he hated.

Till he was twenty five the only privacy he had was in his room in the Canadian state run Shifter Dormitory. And he only got his own room because he forced any roomies to beg to be moved.

Once he reached twenty five he was allowed a bit more freedom, but that came with Chaperones. After all, he might be over the desirable age to be placed with a Bond candidate. Though he had had no end of propositions, which he always turned down, being pretty, skinny and a rare, pure breed, white tiger meant a lot of people wanted him to say yes. But once he got fatter and his hair started to thin, the interest got a lot less, much to his relief.

So for his entire waking life, someone had always been there, hovering over his shoulder whether they wanted to be or not.

But now, as a Bonded Shifter, he could practically do as he pleased. Like a normal human.

No one was looking over his shoulder; he didn’t have to be dragged to another chaperon when the one he was with needed to clock off and do their own thing. There was no risk of some brash idiot grabbing him by the neck and trying to bond with him.

He was free…

But like right now.

He was alone and hating it.

The lab was so silent it was grating on his nerves, so much so he had lost all his concentration.

“Hey.”

Rodney jumped as he felt John whisper huskily in his ear. “Don’t sneak up on me!” he snapped but feeling nothing but relief.

John just put his arms around him from behind. “Sorry I was running late.” He said with a light chuckle, ignoring Rodney’s complaint, as always. “Want to go get something to eat?”

Rodney yelped when he felt John’s lips on the back of his neck, then melted as he let his head drop forwards exposing his neck some more. “Cheat.” He managed to utter as his body responded to his Mate.

“Come on then.” John’s breath was hot on his skin as his tongue ran over recent bruises making Rodney groan some more. “I think its mystery meat hotpot tonight.”

Rodney stomach growled at the thought. But he didn’t want to move as John carried on exploiting his erogenous zone.

This was maybe one of the times he didn’t mind being alone, when John was with him.

In public John actually kept his hands mostly to himself, keeping his cool aloof attitude. But soon as they were alone, Rodney found himself being groped, which he really didn’t mind one bit.

“Ah… Sorry, forgot laptop!” Zelenka suddenly said and Rodney found himself being pulled out of his chair.

“Not to worry!” John said lightly as he dragged Rodney to the door, “We were just on our way to get something to eat, Night Zelenka!”

“Night.” Zelenka replied and Rodney could hear him chucking to himself.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney stood and just took John fussing over him as they stood in the gear up room. “You already checked everything.” He grumbled. “I’m sure the guys in supplies were scared enough to do a good job.”

It had taken a week to get a new Tack vest made by the guy’s in supplies, as well as alterations to his off world clothes.

The Tack vest had emergency releases on the front fastenings to make them longer, the lacing’s down the sides had been lowered and replaced with strong elastic. So if he had to Shift it would still be secure on his Tiger form. Underneath he was wearing a large t-shirt, with a coat that was fastened with Velcro.

His pants John had been in stitches about because they looked like something a stripper would wear, but with an elasticised waist band with elastic bands about the knee’s and ankles with Velcro seams down the side. Again, if he had to Shift he wouldn’t end up naked when he Shifted back. It wasn’t going to win any fashion awards though.

The fitting and measuring for all his special gear had been almost humiliating, but John had dragged him off to the training room and got him to Shift in all the gear and run around a bit. It had been awkward, it wasn’t like he was used to Shifting in the first place. But finally he had got used to it and John had got good at fastening him up again. He had suspected John made him Shift more times than was truly necessary because it was just another excuse to grope him in semi public.

“Doctor McKay is right.” Teyla said as she secured her own pack. “You have already made sure of that, shall we go?”

Rodney gave her a thank you smile, which she returned. Having finally got over her fear of him when he was in cat form. John had even let her pat his head and that had worked wonders on her. He guessed it was a female thing for anything fluffy.

“Fine, fine, we all ready?” John asked as he gave Rodney a wink then took his wrist and started striding towards the gate room.

--

“Ah, Rodney, wait please?”

Rodney sighed as Zelenka came running up to him as they were about to go through the gate “Yes, what is it?” he asked turning to the man.

“Just need to look at figures.” Zelenka said as he held up a tablet for him. “I think there is something wrong but I can’t see it.”

Rodney took the tablet as John released his wrist.

“Don’t be too long.” John said as he walked away.

It was Rodney’s first mission off world since his cast was removed, so he wasn’t eager to go, but he was also a little excited too. He could see the problem instantly and corrected it then shoved it back into Zelenka’s arms.

“Don’t blow up the city!” He warned as he turned to leave.

He was just in time to see Ford disappear into the gate as Teyla followed, she put her hand on John’s arm as she went, then John was also stepping through the gate.

Rodney suddenly found himself on the floor on all fours with no idea how he got there, then he was throwing up profusely.

It was like his chest was being squeezed tight, he felt
himself shivering as he threw up again.

He tried to get up, he knew he had to make it to the gate as his brain seemed to get sluggish. He couldn’t think, all he knew was he had to get to John.

He was vaguely aware of voices around him, until the gate shut off and as he threw up again he collapsed completely.

 

++++++++++

 

Teyla stepped out of the gate on yet another planet from the Ancient database. It looked much like any other they had been too, but it also seemed a little lifeless and very hot.

She could see a shimmer of heat coming from the vast plain they faced.

“Looks a little boring.” Ford said as he went to check the DHD.  “And hot.”

Teyla was just about to answer when John came out of the gate by her side, then to her surprised and shock he fell to his knees clutching his chest.

“John!” She asked as she went to his side. “What is the matter?”

“Rodney…” John gasped out, almost like he was in pain.

Teyla quickly clicked her radio. “Atlantis… where is Doctor McKay?”

/“He’s collapsed.”/ Chuck’s voice came back to her. /“I suggest you close the gate and come back asap!”/

“Ford!” She called over to the lieutenant as she pulled John from the gate.

“I can’t believe this.” She heard Ford mutter as the gate shut off and John gave a groan of distress.

“Dial back now!” she barked at the younger man.

“I’m on it!” Ford answered.

When the gate activated she pulled John upright, then ran with him towards the gate.

When she was through John pulled himself from her arms and ran over to the activity over by the stairs up to the control platform.

 

++++++++++

 

John grabbed Rodney from Elizabeth’s arms, not caring if he was not being subtle about it. And suddenly the tight pain in his chest eased completely and he could think again.

Rodney felt cold in his arms as he called the other man’s name. Finally blue eyes opened and stared up at him.

“What the hell?” Rodney gasped out as he brought one hand up to his mouth. “Ugg…”

“What’s going on here?”

John looked up to see Carson pushing though the people still stood around them.

“Doctor McKay just collapsed.” Elizabeth was saying as she stood up. “He was violently sick then passed out.”

John helped to sit Rodney up as Carson bobbed down at their side.

“Did you eat something odd this morning?” Carson was asking.

“No… it wasn’t that.” Rodney said.

John watched as Rodney’s eyes got wide then looked at him.

“You went though the gate without me.” Rodney said accusingly.

“Yeah… sorry.” John answered, “Was just reflex… I didn’t think…” he trailed off.

“It’s the separation thing.” Rodney was saying. “A bonded Shifter in Russia told me about it once… She couldn’t go more than a city block from her bonded before feeling anxious, two and she would go into panic attacks…”

“But we’ve been through in Jumpers before without this?” John answered.

“We were side by side those times.” Rodney said. “Bloody hell that hurt… But I feel fine now…” John watching him wince as he looked down at the floor. “Shame about my breakfast.”

“Well… I still think I need to check you out.” Carson was looking at them sternly.

“You did pass out when the gate closed Rodney.” Elizabeth put in.

“But I’m fine… it was just a Shifter thing.” Rodney argued and John got to his feet then helped Rodney up. “ugg… but I do need a hose down. Then we should be good to go.”

“Infirmary. Now.” Carson barked.

“But!”

“Come on Rodney, get checked out, then we can go this afternoon.” John said as he shamelessly took Rodney’s wrist and squeezed lightly, rubbing his thumb over the soft underside in apology.

Rodney just sighed and nodded his head.

“I think it might be prudent to take a Jumper later.” Teyla said at their side as they followed Carson. “It would seem a rather barren world.”

“Ah, that’s good then.” Rodney said.

John just rolled his eyes.

--

John sat swinging his legs from the gurney he sat on next to Rodney as they waited for the Doctor to come back.

One of the nurses had taken John’s pants and Rodney’s gear that had got sick on it, to give them a sponge down. John didn’t mind, he had a change of clothes but Rodney’s second set of off world gear was still being made.

So Carson had put Rodney through the scanner, taken his blood and gotten them something else to eat as they waited for the results.

“Ah finally.” Rodney bitched at his side as Carson came up to them.

“So what’s the verdict Doc?” John asked instead.

Carson gave Rodney a frown but nodded at John. “Well, you are fine now, but all the tests say you had a very large shock to your system.”

“But I’m fine now.” Rodney stated firmly. “So can we go now?”

Carson gave a deep sigh before nodding. “But never, and I mean, never go through the gate without holding hands or something.”

“That’s not a problem.” John assured with a grin, after all he was holding Rodney’s hand right now. “Can we go get lunch and then set out again?”

Carson waved them away. “Go, but check back with me when you get back.” He sighed.

John grinned as he pulled Rodney out of the infirmary.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney couldn’t believe that Elizabeth had told John to ‘look after’ the alien. For a start, Rodney didn’t like her. Chaya’s attraction towards John was making his skin itch.

What was more worrying was John’s attitude towards Chaya.

Yeah, sure he got the ‘diplomatic’ crap and the need to have somewhere to ship refugees, but something was wrong, something was very, very wrong.

He also hadn’t managed to get John to himself since she set foot on Atlantis.

Which was unusual in and of itself. It was very late and still John had not turned up to drag him off to bed.

Now he just sat fiddling with more of the bitch’s scans, she was too prefect. Something so wasn’t right, he just had to find out what.

He picked up his coffee to take another sip when the mug slipped from his fingers to shatter on the floor as he clutched his chest.

He couldn’t breath; it felt like he was having a heart attack.

“McKay?” Chuck asked. “Crap. Doctor Becket?... Emergency in the control room, I think Doctor McKay is having a heart attack!”

Then the feeling went away to only leave a lingering pain. “I’m fine.” He growled out as he tapped his own com. “Becket, delay that order… I just had some wind!”

/”You sure?”/ Carson asked back. /”I’ll get Sheppard to drag you in if I have too.”/

“I said I’m fine… I’ll go find him now anyway.”

/”Fine… are you sure?”/

“Perfectly.” He snapped as he stood up and walked out of the control room.

It didn’t take him long to find John strolling down a corridor and he couldn’t keep his anger in check. He was just glad that John was alone.

“Major.” He seethed. Even as John was walking away from him, trying to avoid him he could smell The Bitch on him.

“Hi, Rodney.” John said in his normal avoidance tone. “What are you doin’ up so late?”

“I was just…” He bit out, but couldn’t say that he was looking for John. “I was alone… so I couldn’t sleep so I was going up to the control room to do some research. What about you?”

“No thanks.” John tried to say, his false light tone was grating on Rodney’s nerves.

Rodney gritted his teeth. “No. I mean, what were YOU doing up so late?” after all, John was normally in bed this late, and stripping Rodney of his clothes.

“I’m normally up late, Rodney.” Finally John turned to look at him, the smell of The Bitch was stronger and Rodney’s heart gave another painful twinge, like he couldn’t breathe.

“Word of caution.” He managed to get past his teeth. “The whole false Captain Kirk routine… Is problematic to say the least, let alone morally dubious.” He couldn’t help but be snide about it. For fuck sake they were an item! It was ok romancing the floozy to ‘get’ something was almost standard MO, after all, they needed supplies.

“What Routine?” John bit back, like he was truly confused.

“The Romancing the alien priestess? It’s very 1967 of you. Actually, I’m surprised…”

“If and when anything I do becomes your business…” John cut him off angrily and Rodney felt another twinge in his chest.

“It became my business, Major.” He sneered. “When you Bonded with me! So when an alien woman who is not who she claims to be has the ranking military officer and my Bond Mate wrapped around her little finger…”

“Don’t go there, McKay… We need her help… I’m just…!” John tried but Rodney just couldn’t help but be pissed.

“I’m sorry.” He said sarcastically. “I know I’m not normally Mr. Sensitive, but you gotta believe me when I say there’s something about her. I know its intangible, but I can feel it.”

Rodney stood his ground as John looked up at him almost threateningly. He half expected John to grab his wrist and force him to shut up, and if he did, there was nothing at all that he could do about it. But John just sounded angry.

“I said, don’t go there!” John growled, but made no more to touch him. Rodney really didn’t know if it was a good thing or not. All he did know was that the pain in his chest got a little more intense.

“It’s just a matter of time before I prove it. Major.” He snipped out John’s rank again, it still felt odd that John hadn’t even questioned him about it, or had the least bit of reaction. “I’m just telling you that in the meantime you keep your ha…”

He saw John looking over his shoulder to see The Bitch behind him. She crossed her arms over her flat chest then walked away looking pissed.

Rodney resisted the urge to Shift and go rip her throat out. But when he turned back John was already walking away.

Rodney felt desolated, like his whole world was on an axes and it could go either way and he was damn sure he was going to fight to stay alive.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney couldn’t listen to the spew coming out of Chaya’s mouth as they sat in the conference room. So far his equipment was picking up nothing from The Bitch. What pissed him off most, was the fact that John was sat at her side, and not his… but in the circumstances, he guessed that was best, because whatever she was doing to John, he would probably try and stop him.

He was only half listening to the conversation, some crap about trust or something, then he felt The Bitch’s eye on him.

“Have your scans found anything yet, Doctor McKay?” The Bitch asked, when he looked up she was glaring at him.

“Err… err…” He looked around the table to see all eyes on him. “Actually… no.” he uttered as he closed his laptop that showed nothing.

“What the hell is this?” John asked, and Rodney could tell he was annoyed.

“I’m sorry, Major. There was cause for a legitimate concern as to…” Elizabeth tried to cover for him, but The Bitch just couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

“Whether I was or not who I claimed to be.” The Bitch told John with a haughty tone.

“You’re an Ancient!” Rodney suddenly got it as he couldn’t help but get to his feet, pointing an accusing finger at her.

“She’s what?” John asked and Rodney was satisfied when his Mate moved away a little from The Bitch.

“I’m right aren’t I?” He demanded from her.

“I see, in my desire to come to Atlantis, I have revealed too much of myself.”

“If you had ‘revealed’ anymore of yourself I would have ripped your throat out.” Rodney growled at her, slamming a hand down on the table.

The Bitch just blinked at him as she frowned, like he was the one in the wrong here? He actually had every right under Earth Shifter law to kill her for interfering with a Bonded couple.

“He’s right?” Elizabeth asked in surprise, ignoring his last comment.

“Of course I’m right.” Rodney scoffed.

“Yes,” The Bitch said slowly. “I am what you call an Ancient. And it’s also true that I can never offer your people sanctuary. But as to why I came here…” she looked down then sideways at John but didn’t finish what she was saying.

“Then why did you come here?” John asked and Rodney knew his Mate was a little pissed. Rodney almost snorted with glee, all that charming had gotten John nowhere.

“You John.” The fucking bitch said giving John a sappy eyed look. “I have lived in solitude for so long that when you asked me to come to Atlantis… I…”

Rodney could smell her arousal, and he really couldn’t hold himself in any longer as he launched himself around the desk at her.

John was suddenly in his path and before he could actually lay his hand on her, John had grabbed him and bent him over the desk with his hand on the back of Rodney’s neck.

In an instant Rodney went from pure blood rage to calm.

It was enough to make Rodney sick as adrenalin still coursed through his system that no longer needed it and he gave a little whine of distress, he could still smell her, but there was no way he could act on his impulse to kill her so long as John dug his fingers into his neck.

“Calm down.” John was saying to him, the grip on his neck tightened for a moment.

“I’m sorry.” Elizabeth was saying in her diplomatic tone. But Rodney knew she was shaken by his sudden actions. “I’m sure Major Sheppard never meant to deceive you, but he is Doctor McKay’s Bond Mate.”

Rodney couldn’t see The Bitch, but he heard her get to her feet. “That’s all right.” The Bitch said. “I’ve stayed here long enough.” Then he heard her walking out of the conference room.

“Come on.” John growled at him, then he grabbed Rodney’s right wrist and pulled him off the table, but didn’t let go of his neck as they moved to follow The Bitch.

A corner of Rodney’s mind knew he should be humiliated by being forced to be so docile in front of the rest of Atlantis. But John’s hold on him was too strong and he would go anywhere half bent over in such a subservient position.

 “Come on. Chaya.” John said. “You and your people are the reason we came here in the first place. The least you can do is answer some of our questions?”

“Can’t… Can’t…” Rodney heard The Bitch whisper out as John went closer to her. Then he saw her collapse to the floor and he couldn’t help but grin as Teyla went to help her up.

“What the hell was that?” John was asking, but not going closer.

“They are coming for them.” The Bitch said cryptically. “I should have never left them.” She sounded almost desperate.

“What’s going on?” Elizabeth asked.

“I’m sorry John.” The Bitch said and Rodney wanted to go for her again. Then from what he could see as he faced the floor a light seemed to come from The Bitch’s direction. So he guessed she was going all ascended glowing blob. Then he heard the gate activate and the light disappeared.

“Do you think the Wraith are attacking her planet?” Teyla asked softly.

“I don’t know.” John said as Rodney found himself being dragged towards the stairs up to the Jumper bay.

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Elizabeth asked worriedly.

“I guess there is only one way to find out.” John said as they started walking up the stairs even though it was a little awkward.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney found himself being pushed into the co-pilot seat as John finally let him go. He sat down but couldn’t bring himself to look at John. He didn’t want to go back to Proculus, he definitely did not want to go back and see The Bitch, even if she was an Ancient and could answer all his questions, he just didn’t want John near her ever again.

He listened to Elizabeth trying to talk John out of going back, and he would have to thank her at some point, he knew it wouldn’t work, but at least she was trying.

It also stopped Rodney having to talk to John. He knew the moment he opened his mouth he would start shouting… and maybe some crying. He just knew that it wasn’t going to be pretty. But if he was going to be stuck with this bone headed bastard for the rest of his life, then god damn it John was going to listen to him!

They were through the gate and straight into a Wraith battle. There were Dart’s everywhere.

Then The Bitch was there behind them. “Why did you come?” she asked.

Rodney was just about to explain in great detail he didn’t want to be there, at all, and she could fuck off. But John was glaring at him and as he scowled back he kept his teeth firmly closed.

“I thought you might need some help.” John answered The Bitch. “To protect your people.”

“I will handle this… Leave.” She said as she went all glowy.

For the first time, Rodney agreed with her. He did want to leave. But John just raised a finger for him to keep silent.

Then the big ball of energy appeared and started destroying all the darts and John pointed the Jumper at the planet.

So Rodney got up and kicked his shoes and socks off as he started getting undressed. He would have preferred to do this with his off world gear, but seeing as John hadn’t let him change. He would do this in the buff.

He saw John giving him a raised eyebrow.

“Just to warn you.” Rodney sneered. “She touches you, I will attack her!” then he Shifted before he could say anything else. If he wasn’t allowed to say anything right now, then he couldn’t as a tiger.

“McKay!” John shouted after him as Rodney went into the back to sit his bare ass down on the cold floor at the back hatch of the Jumper. His back to John definitely.

--

Rodney was still almost growling over what John was doing as he felt the Jumper finally land. Then John was by his side as he opened the door.

Rodney jogged easily after him as the other man ran into the Athar sanctuary.

“Where the hell is she…” Rodney heard John growl as he
ran up some stairs. Then he could smell The Bitch and growled loudly himself. It got John’s attention as he came to stand besides him.

“So?” John was saying as The Bitch came out dressed all in white.

Rodney felt his hackles rise, The Bitch looked like she was in a white bloody wedding dress!

“Is it ‘Chaya’ or ‘Athar’? I’m just curious.” John sounded sarcastic, which was an improvement.

Rodney moved his weight so he was closer to John’s side as The Bitch took a step forwards.

“When I was mortal, I lived here.” She said, ignoring John’s question but she was also only looking at him. “This was my home, when those of us who you call the Ancients ascended… We were supposed to leave behind us all human ties. Some of us found this difficult.” She carried on with her sob story as she got closer.

“So you couldn’t stand by and watch your people getting wiped out by the Wraith? I get that…” John said.

“When their terrible fleet approached, I lashed out with my mind and with a single thought destroyed them all. The others of my kind did not approve of such interference of corporeal matters. And so I was exiled. My punishment was the unending protection of this world.”

Rodney couldn’t help but move a little bit in front of John as he felt his muscles tensing as she still felt the need to walk closer to John. She still hadn’t taken her eyes off him, it was like Rodney didn’t exist.

“Why pretend to be human at all?” John asked.

“So that time to time I may walk among the people. Know them as the good and kind souls they are. For thousands of years, I have come and gone to the villages. Never staying too long to get attached to anyone.. until I met you. I have never regretted the choice I have made all these years… until now…” She let out in a sultry whisper

Rodney let his lips curl back as he bared his teeth and growled at The Bitch as he also shoved John in the knees with his shoulder forcing him back from The Bitch. He felt John’s hand fall just below his shoulders, but made no move up to his neck. Then he let out a roar as she was about to move ever closer.

Finally her eyes moved down to Rodney and she scowled at him as her hand began to raise.

Rodney tensed and was just about to leap at her, Ancient or not, he could still sink his teeth into her corporeal form.

“Chaya… Step back.”

Rodney almost jumped as a man suddenly appeared at The Bitch’s side.

“Who the…” John sounded just as surprised.

“Janus… this has nothing to do with you.” The Bitch said softly but her eyes were still hard.

The other Ancient laughed at her. “Oh, I think it might have a little bit to do with me.” He said as he turned to Rodney with a fond smile.

Rodney whined a little as he pushed himself against John, this time more for protection, he really couldn’t understand the look on the other Ancients face. It wasn’t threatening, it was a little bit like the look prospective Mates would give him.

The Ancient’s smile widened at his actions.

“I was just going to inform them of why I can’t help his people.” The Bitch was saying.

“Ah, yes. I’m sorry but she’s quite right.” Janus said with regret as he looked up at John. “She can only protect this world and its people. That is why we have a space gate here.” Then he clapped his hands together once, “Don’t you think it would be boring if you could just move the worlds population here and be safe?”

“People are dying out there!” John snapped. “I can live with boring!”

Janus just gave John a sad smile. “That’s not how life works, Proculus is a special case, its people live in peace for Chaya’s punishment. She must watch her people live, prosper and ultimately die. If you bring in more people, it might upset the balance of peace which is all her people know.”

“Then why did you let us come here?” John asked angrily.

“We didn’t.” Janus said as he gave The Bitch a look.

The Bitch in turn looked away, Rodney could smell how pissed off she was and he grinned.

“And that’s another thing…” Janus said, sounding a little pissed now as he glared at The Bitch. “Take that emotional hold you have over this man off.”

“I don’t have any…” The Bitch tried to say and Rodney felt his hackles rise again.

“Chaya…” Janus warned. “I know you are aware of what this fine specimen is here.”

Rodney sat down at John’s feet as Janus turned to point at him.

“And what John Sheppard is to him… so remove it…” Janus demanded as he looked at The Bitch again.

Suddenly Rodney felt the tension in his chest, that he had been experiencing ever since they met The Bitch, disappear. He looked up at John to see him looking back down at him, then John was reaching out as he kneeled down and wrapped his arms about Rodney’s neck.

“What the hell…” John breathed out as Rodney nuzzled at his Mate’s shoulder. “What did you do!”

“Be about your business.” Janus said and before The Bitch could even answer, she was gone. “I’m sorry about her.” He said as he then bobbed down and smiled at them both. “As to your question. She just put a suggestion in your head to fall in love with her.” He sighed dramatically. “And she was fully aware of what your companion was,”

“Rodney’s a Shifter.” John said, still sounding a little stunned as Rodney felt John’s fingers tighten in his fur.

“Shifter’s?” Janus grinned. “What an unflattering name for someone so beautiful.”

Rodney blinked, for a change he felt a little flattered with an Ancient saying it to him. He was afraid he was blushing.

“I haven’t looked in on Earth culture in a while; I’ll have to go see how your species is doing.” Janus was grinning, then he was looking at John. “Can you ask him to change for me?”

Rodney went cold, the last thing he wanted to do in front of a stranger was stand buck naked. No matter whom that stranger was.

“No.” John said offended, “Who are you?”

Janus was still grinning as he stood. “Oh, just another Ascended.” He winked at them. “But I will apologise again for Chaya, it would seem her loneliness had got to her. But for her trying to meddle with your Bond, I will see to a little extra punishment for her.”

“What did she do to me?... us?” John asked as he stood, his hand still on Rodney’s back.

Janus sighed. “She made herself more alluring to you, so much so it affected your Mate here.” He gestured at Rodney.

“Rodney?”

Rodney looked up at his Mate and gave a little acknowledging grumble.

“Crap… you should have said.”

Rodney was quite sure that he kind of had… or at least tried too.

“Yeah… well next time get Teyla to throw me into a wall.” John was saying softly as he scratched his fingers though the place just in-between his shoulder blades and Rodney couldn’t help but let out a little purr, understanding why his cats always like it too.

“Not your fault dear boy!” Janus was saying. “So try to go easy on him.” He said looking at Rodney. “But there is something a little off here.” He was frowning. “May I touch you for a moment?”

Rodney looked up at John, he was a little apprehensive, he just didn’t want this guy doing something funny to him.

“He wants to know what you’re going to do to him.” John said.

“Oh, marvellous!” Janus gushed. “You can read his thoughts too?”

John shrugged one shoulder. “Not really.”

“Humm… fascinating…” Janus said as Rodney saw a different kind of hunger enter his eyes, like he was a bloody biologist who wanted to get him on a slab and open him up to see how he ticked.

“So?” John persisted, as he was loosing his patience.

“Ah, yes!” Janus said taking his eyes off him. “I can tell you’re one of my peoples descendants John Sheppard. But our friend here is too, of a sort.”

“What?” John asked because Rodney was thinking it too. “He’s got the gene too?”

Janus pulled a face. “Kind of.” He hedged and Rodney could tell he was keeping something from them. “But he should be able to use our technology too, I’m guessing right now he can’t?”

“Yeah.” John answered. “But our Doctor’s say they can’t activate his gene without killing him.”

“You have gotten that far with genetic therapy?” Janus blinked.

“I guess… so what do you want to do with Rodney?” John asked.

“Oh, I just want to fix a little genetic hiccup that seems to have arisen over the centuries.” Janus smiled. “May I?”

Rodney shrugged. He couldn’t help the little squirm of excitement in his belly at the thought of being able to actually play about with Ancient tech. He had been gutted when Carson had said he couldn’t have the gene therapy. And only his Shifter blood had saved him from having his brain damaged by the nano virus they had found. As well as the stupid energy sucking cloud they encountered when they first got to Atlantis. But there could be something else out there in the city that might kill him without the real gene.

“Will it hurt?” John asked. “Or change him in anyway?”

Janus was waving his hand dismissively. “No… or it shouldn’t… but if it does, I’ll put him back as good as new.” He promised.

Rodney just shrugged a shoulder, but he would let John have the final say. So he watched John chew on his bottom lip indecisively as he waited.

“You want this?” John asked him.

Rodney nodded his head.

“Fine… but he better be in one piece after.” John warned Janus.

“He will be.” Janus said as he stepped forwards and stretched out his hand. “This should also help you both with Gate travel…”

Rodney wanted to know what that last comment was about when he felt Janus’s hand on the top of his head. Then he felt pins and needles all over and inside his body that left him shaky on his feet and panting heavily before it all faded away.

“Rodney!” John was kneeling at his side again, his hands in his fur.

Rodney looked up at him then licked the side of John’s face. Letting him know he was fine.

“I’ll turn my back while you change into your human form.” Janus was saying to them with amusement. “Just to make sure everything’s in the right place while I’m still here.” Then he was actually turning his back on them.

John stood then patted his shoulders and Rodney knew what he was asking as Rodney bounced up, placing his forepaws onto John’s shoulders, then he Shifted.

It took a moment but when he Shifted, as he normally would, till he was standing in front of John with his hand on the other man’s shoulders.

“Well, you look fine.” John grinned as he looked him up and down as he laid his hands on Rodney’s hips.

“I feel fine.” Rodney blinked, then grinned, but before he could say anything else John was pulling him close as their mouths met and he lost himself in the intimacy, it had been days since John had even kissed him and god he had missed it like the whore he was for his Mate.

There was a sudden flash off bright white light behind his eye lids and when he opened them with a gasp. He found himself back in the Puddle-jumper with John looking at him just as surprised.

“What the…” He gasped as John turned and pulled him into the cockpit. Outside the window they could see the gate and what remained of the Wraith darts.

“We are in space…” John said stupidly.

“I guessed that. I guess they wanted to get rid of us.” Rodney chuckled as he leaned against John as the man put his arm about Rodney’s shoulders.

Then Rodney found himself being pushed back into the chair behind the pilot seat as John stood between his legs, their mouths fastened together as John kept a hand on the back of Rodney’s head.

Rodney yelped as cloth rubbed against his sensitive erection that was then soothed away as John wrapped his hand around the receptive head of his cock and began a whole different kind of rubbing that just brought Rodney’s knees up around John’s hips as he groaned into his Mates wonderful mouth.

--

Rodney was boneless after John had made him come so hard he couldn’t think anymore. Then he just watched as his Mate cleaned them both up and started dressing Rodney in his clothes again.

“Come on Buddy.” John was saying as he had the waist band of Rodney’s pants in his hands. “Need you to stand up.”

Rodney reached up and put his hands on John’s shoulders as he slipped off the high chair John had just banged him on and he giggled as his legs felt wobbly so he had to cling onto his Mate harder.

John finished fastening his pants, then began kissing him again, then he pulled away and just pulled Rodney into a tight hug.

“I’m sorry.”

Rodney clung to his Mate as he whispered in his ear and Rodney didn’t like it, didn’t like how broken those two words sounded, not from John.

“Not your fault.” He said back feeling John’s grip tighten.

“I kissed that bitch.”

Rodney felt himself go tense at the confession, but he just tightened his hold on the back of John’s Jacket. “Just before I met you in the corridor last night?” he asked also as quietly.

John nodded. “I didn’t mean too… God, I didn’t really want too.”

Rodney closed his eyes again, hating the broken tone. “It’s fine…” he said and he actually meant it as what Janus said actually sank in. “She mind fucked you… my god, I was right! She was a bitch!” he said as he pulled John away a little so he could look into his Mates face. “If I ever see her again I’m gonna kick her ancient ass!” he grinned.

“But…” John tried to say as he bit his lip again, so Rodney kissed it.

“Shut up.” Rodney snapped. “Just… err… give me the life signs detector!”

John just blinked at him as Rodney pushed him away.

“Give, give!” he insisted. “I want to see if what that guy did to me actually worked!”

John said nothing as he leaned over the pilot seat as the LS fell into his hand, then he held it out.

Rodney took it, thought ‘on’ and the thing instantly showed him two little dots. “Wow.” He grinned as he held it out for John to see. “Look!” he gushed, when he had first tried to use it, the thing had just gone dead in his hand. Then he went to the front of the jumper and put his hand on the console and suddenly the HUD came up and showed him the gate, then the planet below. “This… This…!” he lost the words as his brain started spinning with all the possibilities, he could use ancient tech, finally! His work would be so much easier now. “Zelenka’s gonna be so pissed!” he said excitedly.

He felt John’s hand on the small of his back. “So you’re not going to need me turning everything on for you anymore?”

Rodney turned to him and slapped the back of his hand into John’s chest. “Don’t be stupid!.” He grinned. “Like I’m not going to use it as an excuse to call you to my layer?”

“Good to know.” John grinned back. “But err… can we not tell anyone till tomorrow?”

Rodney blinked in confusion, he was almost itching to go brag about it in Zalenka’s face, then he would tell Carson… “Oh.” He said in realization.

“Yeah.” John said back.

“I really don’t wanna be filled with needles.” He winced. No doubt soon as Carson found out he would want to force all kinds of tests on him, trying to find out what Janus had done to him, and if it could be recreated and used on anyone else.

“And I kinda want you alone for a while.” John uttered into his ear.

“I can go with that…” Rodney smiled as John pulled him into another kiss.

/”Sheppard?”/ Elizabeth’s voice filled the Jumper.

“Crap.” John grumbled as he went to answer the call.

 

++++++++++

 

John sighed as he sat on a stool besides Rodney’s gurney as the other man slept, still clutching the LSD like a teddy bear. He smiled fondly at his friend as he ran his hand through his hair.

These last two day’s had been fucked up. But when Chaya had disappeared a few hours ago back on the planet, John’s world had fallen back into place.

For months he had nothing but Rodney on his mind. Even when they had managed to separate he still thought about the guy and would use any excuse to go see him in his Lab. And it always warmed him up when Rodney’s large eyes would sparkle as he walked in the door.

It had surprised him when he had a moment to think about it, that he hadn’t got angry at Rodney for always just being there, always at his side. But once whatever Chaya had done to him had gone. He knew he never wanted to lose him.

So when they got back to Atlantis he had planned to drag Rodney back to their apartment and stay there for a few days to apologise for putting Rodney through shit for the last few days… But as always the universe had other idea’s.

John had tried to get Rodney to leave the LSD in the Jumper, but when he had seen the lost look in those blue eyes, he had given in and let him keep it.

So it had only been a few minutes before Elizabeth had seen it and asked what he had.

Rodney had been like an exited puppy, almost wriggling with exhilaration, but he had remained silent. That was until Carson had come up to them and seen that the device in Rodney’s hands was actually working for him.

John had sighed as he gave a full report as to what happened, about the other ancient showing up and doing something to Rodney so he could use Ancient tech.

So in a heartbeat Carson had dragged them into the infirmary and siphoned enough blood from Rodney to actually make him dizzy. And then run all sorts of tests that John had growled though, sure half of them weren’t necessary.

Finally Carson had gotten the hint and buggered off to leave them alone for a bit.

John was just thinking of pushing Rodney over and getting on the gurney with him, he was bored, so a little nap wouldn’t hurt but Carson came into their little curtained off space.

“Ah, he’s asleep?” Carson asked with a fond smile.

“With all the blood you took? I’m surprised he’s not unconscious.” John groused.

At least Carson had the honesty to look humbled. “Yes, sorry about that lad, but it was worth it… I found something out while I looked at all the data.”

John jostled Rodney’s head a bit till the other man opened his eyes and blinked up at him groggily. “Morning.” John grinned down at him. “Think you might want to hear what Carson has to tell us.”

Rodney yawned as he rubbed a hand over his face then used John to leaver himself up as Carson raised the head of the gurney.

“I hope it’s worth it.” Rodney grumbled. “I’m starving for a big juicy steak right now!”

“I think I can manage some mystery meat.” John grinned.

“So… what’s the verdict?” Rodney asked yawning again as he laced their fingers together.

“Well… I found out what that Ancient did to you.” Carson was saying as he looked at his notes.

“Gave me the gene?” Rodney asked sarcastically, “I could have told you that.” He said, holding up the detector and shaking it about a little.

“Well… not really.” Carson said. “It’s not like the gene me or Sheppard has, or anyone with the Ancient gene.”

“What do you mean?” John asked, suddenly feeling not so happy.

“Well, Rodney had a dormant form of the Ancient Gene, but I couldn’t administer the Gene Therapy I crated because it would attack his normal blood cells. But whatever the Ancient did, he fused the Shifter gene with the Ancient dormant gene. I’m not sure how at the moment. But your genetic makeup had been slightly altered.”

“Will there be any side affects?” John asked as he tightened his fingers around Rodney’s.

“Not that I can tell… I’ll just have to monitor you for a while till I’m sure.” Carson smiled. “I’ll also be running your blood through various tests to make sure it won’t react with any of the medication I might have to give you in the future.”

“You can’t have anymore of my blood now!” Rodney squeaked and John was quite sure if Carson did try and take anymore he just might have to thump the Scottish doctor.

“Ock, no.” Carson chuckled as he patted Rodney’s ankle. “I think I took a wee too much as it is. But that’s not the only thing that I think has you a little under the weather at the moment.” he sighed. “It would seem you have also put your body under some stress, if I didn’t know better all your results show signs of when you two first bonded and you, Major, had run off.”

“Like a rejection?” Rodney whispered as John watched him rub a hand over his own chest.

“Ay. Whatever Chaya was playing at, she must’ve been blocking the Shifter bond in some way and your body was acting like you were being rejected.” Carson said as he patted Rodney on the shoulder consolingly. “But you are recovering just as swiftly as you did before.”

“So, can I break him out of here?” John asked as he started pulling Rodney out of the bed anyway.

“Yeah, but Rodney needs to take it easy for a few days and eat properly, and cut back on the coffee at the same time.”

John grinned at that, knowing even he wasn’t going to get between Rodney and fresh coffee.

“Thanks Doc!” He said as he gave Carson a wave and pulled Rodney in the way of the Mess.

 

++++++++++

 

“I was going to ball you out you know.” Rodney said sleepily.

John just grinned as he looked up at the ceiling of their bedroom, Rodney’s head resting on his arm as they lay side by side. “I thought you just kinda did.”

Rodney snorted, spluttered then ended up chuckling his deep little laugh that just warmed John up all over. “I was so angry with you!” Rodney whispered finally.

“I know.” John answered, and he did, once he had time to reflect on it. He knew now he had been hurting Rodney the way he never wanted to, for god sake he couldn’t even be angry with him the way he used to before they were bonded.

He still couldn’t help but be mad at Chaya, she was an attractive woman, but she had messed with his mind, making him hurt Rodney. They might have just been together for a few months, but he didn’t like being away from the Shifter.

Then he went cold as his mind threw another thought into his head, “What she did to me…” he found himself saying. “It’s what the Shifter bond kind of does to you isn’t it?”

“Hu?” Rodney asked sounding a little surprised.

“She was making me lust after her… Just like the Shifter thing does to you?” he managed to get out, not wanting to bring any of this crap up and its stark truths.

“What?” Rodney yelped a little as he turned onto his side and pilled away a little making John’s side cold. “She asked you to fall in love with her!”

“No!” John groaned. “If she had I could have said no!” he watched Rodney stop being so tense and settle down onto the bed. “But it’s almost the same… I didn’t give you a choice…” he trailed off.

Rodney just blinked at him a few times. “I could have refused you.” He said softly, all his anger gone.

“But you couldn’t!” John felt himself get angry. “You would have died if I hadn’t come back when I did!”

Rodney lowered his gaze, his insecurity showed plainly on his face. “Do you wish you hadn’t come back?” he whispered.

John gritted his teeth as he pulled Rodney back into his arms and held on tight. “Not a damn second!” he growled out. “But for god sake, you didn’t have a choice… not really! I practically raped you!”

He felt Rodney shrug awkwardly against him. “Do you know how many people I’ve ever met that I would have let bond with me?”

John closed his eyes, this was like the ‘how many people have you slept with?’ question that he never asked because he never really cared.

But Rodney seemed to know what he was thinking so carried on talking. “Two.” He whispered.

“Oh…?” John offered lamely.

“The fist was Major Samantha Carter… I think you might have met her at the SGC? Tall gorgeous blond with an intellect almost on a par with my own genius.”

John could hear the fondness in Rodney’s voice and he really didn’t want to hear more. But he was out of luck.

“She totally rejected me, not for lack of trying.” Rodney was sighing. “And soon as she found out I was a Shifter she rejected me flat out. I got the hint when I found my ass in Siberia.”

“Who was the second?” John found his traitorous mouth asking. “Ouch!” he exclaimed when he found a finger being poked into his side, right into the soft bit below his ribs.

“I don’t know.” Rodney was laughing. “I kinda fell for this average height Major with messy un-regulation hair who likes to pretend he’s cool when he’s actually a total geek too and isn’t as thick as he liked to make people believe… ring any bells?”

John smiled. “He sounds like a total dick.”

“My dick.” Rodney purred as he moved so he was looking up at him. “So can you stop worrying now?” he asked. “I don’t want a headache.”

John just let his smile widen, then he said something that even shocked himself.

“I love you…”

His heart froze in his chest as he watched Rodney’s eyes get very wide, then his Mates face seemed to soften as he smiled.

“I love you too.” Rodney was grinning, even though John could see the blush forming on Rodney’s cheeks. “So… are you good?”

“We’re good.” John grinned back as he began to pull Rodney up so he could kiss him some more.

 

++++++++++

 

“Nope, not feeling anything yet.” Rodney yawned into his mic as he looked into his empty coffee mug mournfully.

/”Same here.”/ John replied as Rodney watched John’s Jumper finally break atmosphere and go into space. /”I’ll head back now.”/

“Fine… I’m off to get more coffee.” He said as he stood up and stretched. He still wasn’t terribly comfortable with John going so far, but it wasn’t as debilitating as it used to be.

/”Don’t forget to get Becket.”/ John chuckled, /”and get me a sandwich while you’re at it.”/

“So I’m your slave now?” Rodney grumbled, but smiled anyway. “You know there are laws in place about Shifter abuse?”

/”Nope.”/ John replied. /”But I’m guessing you would want me to keep my strength up. So get something to eat too.”/

Rodney tried not to blush as he herd the two gate operators giggling behind his back. “Get back here so I can push you through an incoming wormhole!” he snapped back as he made his way to the Mess.

--

“Are you sure about this?” Carson was asking as he secured a blood pressure cuff to his arm.

“Well we didn’t feel much when I used the Jumper.” John said as he carried on eating his cheese sandwich.

“We?” Carson spluttered. “You feel something when you’re separated too?”

Rodney rolled his eyes at John who suddenly looked like he was having difficulty swallowing.

“The first time John came through the gate after they both bonded.” Teyla suddenly said. John had already asked her to accompany him through the gate on this trial. “He clutched his chest like he was in great pain.”

“Thanks Teyla.” John glowered at her.

“Why didn’t you tell me this?” Carson demanded angrily.

“We both had other things on our minds at the time.” John said unhappily as he pulled a face.

“Ay, I’m sure we did, but ya could have told me after!” Rodney yelped as Carson snapped the cuff on his arm too tight. “Sorry lad… but still.”

“Look, soon as I got back through the gate I was fine.” John answered as he took another bit of his sandwich.

“Well I’m guessing it’s to bloody late now to test you.” Carson growled. “Can we get this over with, it’s late.”

“Fine. Come on Teyla.” John said as he got up then bent down, Rodney leaned up to accept the kiss before John was jogging towards the gate with Teyla in tow.

“Opening the gate to the Alpha site.” Rodney called as he punched in the coordinates.

“I’ll go through first.” Teyla said as she disappeared through the gate.

Rodney couldn’t help the stab of anxiety as John turned to give him a wave. He watched John take a deep breath, then walk through the event horizon.

Rodney gasped as his chest tightened, but he wasn’t on his knees and puking his guts out.

“Major?” Carson called.

/“I’m fine.”/ John answered, though Rodney could tell he was about as uncomfortable as himself. /”It’s not as bad as last time.”/

/”I will close the gate and dial back.”/ Teyla was saying.

Again Rodney braced himself as Carson carried on watching over his vital signs.

The gate shut down and Rodney gasped as he tried not to faint. Carson was making little distressed noises as they waited. But the pain quickly faded to a dull bearable needing ache.

When the gate activated again Rodney let out a breath of relief. “Come on through guys.” Rodney said over their coms as the system accepted their IDC

“Honey, I’m home!” John sang as he and Teyla came through the gate and Rodney felt like nothing had happened.

“How was it?” Rodney asked as he tried to push Carson away, but the Doctor was having none of it.

“Little uncomfortable.” John was saying as he jogged up the stairs. “But nothing that wasn’t bearable.”

Rodney found himself being hugged as John got to him and threw his arms around his neck. “Same here, as you can see, I’ve not thrown up all over myself.”

“That’s always good.” John chuckled. “So, what’s the verdict Doc?”

“Without a proper scan, I know your blood pressure went up, and you were showing signs of stress, but nothing that isn’t almost normal for you Rodney.” Carson smiles as Rodney found himself finally being freed from the pressure cuff.

“Great. Well, thank you for the help guys.” John said as Rodney was pulled up out of his chair. “Now, if you will excuse us.”

“Night!” Rodney waved to Carson and Teyla as he was pulled out of the control room.

++++++++++

To Be Continued

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 3]

Rodney was beyond exhausted.

They just couldn’t get the Jumper Remote Controlled in time, and time had run out.

The Hive ships were overhead, bearing down on Atlantis and all its inhabitants.

Now Rodney sat in John’s lap as his Mate held him with one arm, the other controlling the Jumper with the nuke in the back, as they made their way towards the other ship in stealth mode.

Rodney just buried his face into John’s shoulder, breathing in his scent and the lingering smell of Aqua Velva. John had used the last of it almost a week ago, Rodney had promised to get him some more as he mocked his Mate mourning over the empty bottle. But that wasn’t an option anymore.

They were never going to see Earth again.

They were about to die in a blaze of radioactive heat as their ash swept through the Hive ship and hopefully took it out. But it was preferable to the alternative. If John had left him behind, he would have died slowly from cascading organ failure, and he had been there and almost done that, and he never wanted to do it again. At least with this, they got to die together, and it would be quick.

So it wasn’t all bad.

Only fifteen minutes ago they had been in the Chair Room. Until John had got up, grabbed his arm and started running. Despite not having slept in days Rodney kept up. Probably from John dragging him on his morning runs, which Rodney had refused to do on two legs, and it saved time with dressing, so he could just jump in the shower first. Even if John did say it was cheating.

Before they had boarded the Jumper and after Elizabeth had asked them if they were sure. John had paused and taken Rodney’s face in his hands. John hadn’t said a word, he didn’t need too.

Rodney had just pressed his lips together and given his Mate a single nod.

Now they sat in silence, John’s arm around his back as the Shadow from the Wraith ship darkened the interior of the Jumper like a black oppressive shroud.

A shiver ran down Rodney’s spine as he held on a little tighter. It was strange though, how calm he felt.

“Sorry.” John whispered in his ear.

“Shut up.” Rodney sobbed out as he tightened his grip. “We’re together… It’s fine.”

He felt John’s hand on his back, then it crept up to caress the fading bruises at the back of his neck, left there too long ago, not refreshed since the Wraith decided to attack.

“I love you.” John whispered softly.

“I know.” Rodney answered back. “I know…” he said again. “I’ll follow wherever you go.” He managed past the lump in his throat. They had only been together just under six month’s and now it was moments from being over.

The universe hated him, but at least he wasn’t about to be left behind, to die mourning the loss of his mate. A slow and lingering death that would take days. So he guessed in that respect he was lucky, he got to die with his mate and not many Shifters got to do that.

/”Major Sheppard, decloak your Jumper immediately.”/ A voice came over the radio.

Rodney sat up instantly to look out the windshield to see the opening of the Wraith ship in front of them.

“What? Who the hell is this?” John asked.

/”Authentication Alpha Charlie one. Decloak now.”/

Whoever it was sounded very insistent and John instantly leaned forward and hit the decloak button as Rodney eased himself from John’s lap. Then John was taking his wrist and looking up at him in shock.

Suddenly a bright light blinded him and when he blinked he was still looking at John, but they weren’t in the Jumper anymore.

“Welcome abroad the Daedalus , Major Sheppard. Doctor McKay.” The man on the radio spoke and they both turned to look at the man sat in the command chair.

“Oh my god.” Rodney couldn’t help but blurt as he looked around, he had seen the plans for the ship, even had a hand in it himself. But to actually be aboard her?

“And you are?” John asked as Rodney felt his wrist being squeezed.

“I’m Colonel Steven Caldwell, commander of this vessel.” The man said with a smile on his face, looking a little smug.

“The enemy ship just exploded.” One of the people sat beside the Commander said.

“It worked.” Rodney looked at his mate, he didn’t know if he should be relived or still shit scared. They would have just been dead. John was looking at him with the same kind of confused expression.

“Yeah.” John replied before he went all business like again. “How did we get here?”

“Asgard beaming technology.” The commander said as he stood to stand with them at the window.

“Great, well, thanks… but can you patch me through to Atlantis?”

“Of course.” The commander said, nodding to one of his men.

“Atlantis, this is Sheppard.” John said, giving Rodney a shit-eating grin.

/”John?”/ Weir’s voice came over the coms a little disbelievingly

“What other Sheppard’s do you know?” John answered cockily.

Rodney just let the introductions wash over him as he carried on looking about the ship. Almost desperate to get his hands on it. Then he watched as two marines came over to them holding a metal box.

“I assume you have someone who can install this?” the colonel asked and Rodney only just realized he was talking to him. “It’s a charged ZPM.” The other man said and Rodney had a stab of excitement. “I’d like you to stay aboard for a little longer Major Sheppard, we are in uncharted territory here and we could use your expertise.”

Rodney blinked, “err… I could get Za…”

“McKay can take it back, he’s the best qualified and I’ll stay here.” John cut him off.

“But?” the Colonel said and Rodney saw the odd, almost disgusted look the other man was giving him. “I read in the reports he was your Shifter?”

John lifted his hand that still held Rodney’s wrist. “He is, but its fine if he goes back alone.”

Rodney reached out to the box the marines still held, making a one handed ‘gimmi’ motion.

“Let them carry it Rodney.” John said patiently, he pulled Rodney to him and laid a kiss on his forehead in front of everyone, then let him go with a slight push towards the two marines.

“If you’re sure Major?” if it was possible, the colonel looked even more disgusted.

“I’m sure.” John replied.

“Ok, beam him down.” He said. “Atlantis, we have something for you.”

Then Rodney was surrounded by a bright light again to suddenly find Weir, Carson and the gate staff blinking at him.

He felt a moment of disorientation and then the tight separation anxiety. He took a deep breath as Carson and Elizabeth came up to him. “I’m good, but I need to get this plugged in!” he said pointing at the box happily.

 

++++++++++

 

“Come on Rodney.” John said as he stuffed some more t-shirts into his duffle bag.

“I don’t see why I have to go back.” Rodney grumbled. “Zalenka’s the head of Science.”

John rolled his eyes. “We went over this,” he said turning to his mate and put a hand on his shoulder. “We need someone to look after the city while we’re gone.” Rodney still looked unsure and he could tell, he could almost feel it. “I can’t leave you here for a month alone.” He tried more softly.

“But?” Rodney started but stopped himself.

“What is it?” John asked instinctively he wrapped his fingers around Rodney’s wrist to calm him.

Rodney cast his eyes down. “The Shifter Registry might demand we stay on Earth…”

John sighed, Elizabeth had already assured them it wouldn’t happen. “It’s gonna be alright.”

Rodney looked back up at him. “She can’t undo what’s already been done! It’s in all the damn contracts I had to sign just to get here, I couldn’t get bonded! We can’t know what’s going to happen just because I got you…” he trailed off, his eyes already moist.

John pulled Rodney into a hug, “Look… What ever happens, I’m with you.” He hated the thought of never coming back to Atlantis, it was almost enough for him to demand they stay, but there wasn’t much of a choice. The SGC wanted all the heads of department to show face and report back. Also, they would drag them back unwilling if they didn’t go, and then there would be no coming back. A small possibility was better than none at all.

He felt Rodney start to tremble a little and he hated it.

“I’ve ruined you’re life!” Rodney started saying desperately. “Even if we have to stay… you won’t even be able to fly anymore! You’ll end up hating me for it!”

John pulled Rodney away and shook him by the shoulders. “Stop that. We are doing this. We are going to come back!”

Rodney looked at him with an unhappy frown. “Then we don’t let them know we can be far apart… Not yet anyway… they will take me from you if they know!”

“Anything you want.” John smiled. He had been thinking along the same lines. These last few weeks had been hell, an exercise in stress they had all got through and come out the other side. So spending a little time with his hip glued to Rodney’s didn’t sound like a bad thing, especially if they could relax for a little bit.

Rodney nodded. “Ok.”

“Good.” John grinned. “Now, get packed. We’ll try and go shopping for some new stuff back on Earth, so pack light.”

“Oww… Shopping.” Rodney pulled an even more grumpy face. “Just what I need to add to my stress!”

John just laughed as he pushed Rodney towards his bag. “Pack!” he said as he turned back to his own packing.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

No one at the SGC had seemed surprised that he came as the stand in for the HoS, and it wasn’t just because he was now John’s Shifter. It had actually been quite nice to get the recognition he deserved.

But after they had grilled all the heads of Atlantis… and they were all now mostly off hand picking new members to take back. As soon as Rodney had handed in the list of people he and Zelenka had already gone over on Atlantis, with a few extra choices of his own, the Shifter Registry and the SGC had descended on him.

The SGC had not been very happy, he and John had had to sit through an ‘interview’, that Rodney knew was more of an interrogation. They had frowned and tutted about it, but their attitude was mostly ‘what’s done is done’, and they were drafting up two new contracts for them both as a Bonded pair.

Nothing much would change for Rodney, but John’s was going to be more restricted, they would no longer be classed as SGA-1, meaning no first contact missions. But Rodney knew if they did get back to Atlantis, then John would ignore those bits of his contract. Which Rodney was strangely glad about.

But now the Shifter Registry was demanding their own interviews, wanting to know how Rodney had gotten Bonded to a ‘Major’ in the air force.

No doubt they were more concerned into how it actually happened and if it was totally consensual. Which Rodney thought was a mute bloody point, and too late if it wasn’t.

“We have a car waiting for you topside.” General Landry was telling them as they sat in the conference room that looked out into the gate room. “We have already sent our report to the Shifter Registry, stating that as far as this facility is concerned northing much had changed. We are also sending Doctor Weir with you as your representative.”

“Thank you sir.” John replied, using his subordinate voice that always made Rodney’s skin itch a little bit. But his hand around Rodney’s wrist kept him quiet.

“But I also hope you realize that we must abide with their decision.” General Landry carried on. “If they decide that you, Doctor McKay, are at to much of a risk and must resign from the SGC then our hands are tied.”

“I guess you already have our resignations just waiting for our signature?” Rodney snapped out.

The General gave him a slow calculating smile. “Of course.”

“I’m sure you won’t be needing them, sir.” John smiled back.

Rodney just wished he had John’s confidence.

 

++++++++++

 

“So.” John said as he looked up at the slightly boring looking building. “This is the Colorado Springs Shifter Registry Office?”

“Seems so.” Elizabeth said as she walked from the SGC car up to the building. “Come on, let’s get out of this rain.” She said hurrying towards the front door.

John followed with Rodney plastered to his side. Since they had left the General back at the SGC, his mate had been unusually quiet.

Once inside, there wasn’t anyone around. Just a few comfortable looking chairs and an empty reception desk.

“For god sake.” Rodney said in annoyance as John was pulled up to the desk and watched Rodney hit a buzzer on the high counter. “It’s always the bloody same no matter what bloody office it is! HELLO?” he yelled.

“I’m sure someone will come soon.” Elizabeth said and John caught the look of shock she was sending him.

He guessed she had been in about as many Shifter offices as he had, which was none.

“Hu.” Rodney snorted. “I’m not yelling more just because it’s not baby popping season.”

John wondered what the hell that meant and was about to ask when a plump woman came waddling in from another door carrying a cup of tea.

“Oh, I’m sorry dears.” She smiled at them all as she made her way around the desk. “What can I help you with?”

“We are here for the interrogation!” Rodney snapped.

John closed his eyes, if Rodney was going to be like this, it was going to be a very long day. When he opened his eyes the receptionist was looking at Rodney in shock.

“We have an interview.” Elizabeth stepped up. “This is Doctor M. R. McKay and his mate, Major J. Sheppard.”

The woman looked relived as she smiled at Elizabeth then turned to her computer. “Ah, Meredith McKay and his bonded. Yes I have you down here. I’ll just let the Director know you are here, if you would take a seat?”

“It’s Rodney!” Rodney snapped out as John watched Weir actually put her hand on Rodney’s upper arm and turn him away.

“Thank you.” Elizabeth smiled at the receptionist as they pushed Rodney away.

John followed and sat next to his friend, still holding his hand. “Meredith?” he asked. Still a little surprised, he had never thought to question if Rodney had any other names.

Rodney glared at him. “My parents were sadistic bastards!” he snapped. “Do you not read anything?”

John grinned at him.

“For crying out loud, you are lazy!”

John shrugged, but saw the slight smile on his mate’s face which made him happy.

“Seriously? You never wondered what the M was for in my name?” Rodney was still smiling.

“Not really.” He replied with a slight smile of his own. “Would you have told me anyway?”

Rodney blinked at him. “Probably not.” He was grinning now.

“After all.” John said lightly as he slouched in his chair purposefully. “They could have called you Sue.”

He watched as Rodney looked at him in confusion, then the slow realization as he rolled his eyes. “Seriously? You think of a Johnny Cash song at a time like this?”

“I could sing it to you if you like?” John said as he watched the slow calculating smile spread across Rodney’s face.

“Go on then.” Rodney said.

“Please don’t!” Elizabeth laughed from her chair at Rodney’s other side. “I think it might dent any respect I have for you.” She teased.

“Hey!” John mocked offence.

“McKay?”

John looked over to see an elderly guy come into the lobby, he had a kindly face and if he wasn’t so lean he could have played a descent Father Christmas.

“Yes, yes.” Rodney said as he stood. “Can we just get on with this?”

“It’s always a pleasure McKay.” The other man kept smiling. So obviously he knew Rodney. “So, do you mind introducing me to your Bond mate?” he asked as he looked directly at John.

“This is Major John Sheppard.” Rodney said with little patience in his voice, but somewhere in there was a little pride.

“Ah.” The man said holding out his hand to John. “We don’t get many military men here.”

John shook his hand, glad and a little surprised he hadn’t tried to shake Rodney’s. “Umm Hi.”

“Oh, sorry, I’m Director Mike Walker.” The other man smiled as he turned to Elizabeth and held his hand out again. “And this lovely lady?”

“Doctor Elizabeth Weir.” John watched her turn on the charm as she shook Walker’s hand. “I’m here as Major Sheppard’s character witness.”

“Ah, lovely!” Walker gushed a little. “We are all ready for you. If you could follow me as I explain the situation?”

Rodney made a shooing motion with his free hand.

“Of course.” Elizabeth said as she started walking at Walker’s side as they went further into the building.

“We will have separate interviews for our records; it’s just a standard procedure in such spontaneous Bonding circumstances. Just to make sure nothing untoward is going on…”

“What!” Rodney bit out. “Separate? No one said anything about separate!”

“Not to worry!” Walker said smiling at Rodney. “We will make sure you are both very close to each other, after all if you are bonded then there is little we can do now.”

“IF!” Rodney spluttered angrily and John could tell he was getting more agitated, so he moved his grip from Rodney’s hand to his wrist and squeeze gently, watching as his mate calmed to a slow simmer.

“You ok now?” John asked. “Carson will kill me if your blood pressure goes up while we are here.”

“Is that before or after these people decide to destroy our lives?” Rodney asked even though, John could tell he was calming down, but it wasn’t enough. So as Walker followed Elizabeth through another door. He pulled Rodney to a stop then put his arms around him.

“Look… after this, we’ll go get a pizza or to Burger King or something, anything you want to eat.” He said quietly into Rodney’s ear. “Then we can catch a movie or find a comic book shop or something?”

Rodney snuggled closer to him as John felt him truly start to loosen up and not be so damn tense. “You’re going to take me on a date?”

John let out a huff as he smiled. “I thought it might be about time.”

“Ah, sorry.” John heard Elizabeth whisper. “Rodney’s been a little stressed about this. He really likes his job and doesn’t want to lose it.”

John could have kissed her right then, she was already working in her diplomatic charm.

“It’s all right.” Walker was whispering back. “I’m quite used to Bonded mates to be a little affectionate from time to time.”

 

++++++++++

 

John was getting more frustrated as he sat across a table from Walker and another Shifter councillor who just smiled at them as she seemed to be taking notes.

Rodney was sat at his side, fidgeting and trying to keep his mouth shut while Elizabeth sat at the back of the little office they were in.

“Ok, so now we have that out of the way.” Walker smiled at him after asking a bunch of questions about his name and work history, which he was sure the SGC would have already sent them. “Before we get on with the separate interviews. I just have to go over what the Registry will require of you Major Sheppard.”

“Fine.” He answered.

“Seen as you have no children and are no longer paying Alimony to your ex-wife.”

John rolled his eyes, he hadn’t even realized Nancy had got re-married. But neither did he give a crap.

“We don’t have to deal with all of that.” Walker was carrying on. “But as to any other financial situation. All and any of your past and current assets need to be put into your joint names. We understand that you might only have a short time in the city, so we need to help you sort them out as soon as possible.”

“Hun!” Rodney snorted. “I’ve already started the ball rolling on that one. They are just waiting for our ID’s from you so the bank can confirm everything.”

John gave his mate a slow look, Rodney hadn’t said anything about it to him.

“What?” Rodney asked him. “I did it all while I was bored when you were… err… doing flyboy stuff.”

“Did what?” John asked keeping his voice purposefully low.

“I don’t know, I thought you were checking out the new 3Oooo… err… things.” Rodney trailed off then realization came into his eyes as he grinned. “Oh, well, I got your records and went into your account and started to put all our ‘assets’ into a joint account.”

“So you hacked into my back account?” John asked, surprised he was being so calm.

Rodney beamed at him and waved the fingers of his free hand in the air then pointed at himself. “Genius… and by the way, you said you would make me a kept Shifter!” he said accusingly. “Seems I’ll be keeping your ass.”

John was a little taken aback by that, it hurt his male pride. “Rodney…?”

“I get paid more than you.” Rodney said happily and John just rolled his eyes but couldn’t help but smile. Scientists. “I also put all the royalties I get from all my private patents into that account too.”

“How much money do you have?” John found himself asking, though he didn’t really care too much. He had always made enough to get by.

If it was possible Rodney’s grin got wider. “I guess you just won the McKay lottery.” He said smugly.

John huffed out a laugh. “You’re an idiot.” He teased affectionately. It wasn’t like they really had use for cash on Atlantis. “So long as it makes you happy.” He added, resisting the urge to actually pull Rodney forward to kiss the smug smile.

They were interrupted by Walker giving a light cough and when John looked over the other man and the woman were grinning at them.

“We will need that information to confirm it for our records.” Walker said.

“You should already have it with the information our employers sent.” Rodney answered snippily.

Walker was looking at the woman who shuffled through some papers then nodded.

“Ok, as for another matter. Your employer is currently looking after your medical care.”

“The best anywhere.” Rodney put in.

“I’m sure it is.” Walker allowed calmly. “But once you are no longer in their employ, we will be paying for any and all care through the Registry, we will be issuing you both with medical numbers on your ID cards… And we had a case just recently over in DC where we had to issue military style metal tags, so we’ll be doing that for the both of you as well as cards. We also need to take some ID photos once we have finished with the interviews.”

“I’m not taking any of me Shifted.” Rodney snapped. “You already have me on file so use those!”

“We will.” Walker smiled at Rodney. “Ok. Now we need to do the separate interviews, they are normally done before a Bond is allowed, so they are mostly a formality. But we will do them at the same time so you gentlemen can be on your way.”

“Fine.” John acknowledged, trying not to still be annoyed. It wasn’t like they could force him to give Rodney up or break the bond, well not so far as he knew. And he was damn sure he didn’t want that anyway, so all this was really just a waste of time.

“Rachel here will be taking Doctor McKay’s interview and I’ll have Stan Donovan taking yours Major Sheppard.” Walker said as he stood.

“Great,” Rodney rumbled as John stood up. “I get the bloody Shifter.”

“Hu?” John asked.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Walker was saying. “Rachel is my beloved Shifter, I’m sorry sometimes I forget not everyone knows. I thought you would find it more comfortable to have a bonded Shifter interview Doctor McKay?”

“Should I be?” John asked in confusion. “I thought once we had bonded no one else could do it to him?”

Walker gave him a smile. “Yes, that is the case, my apologies again, I’m also not used to doing this with an already bonded pair! We are a small office, so it’s extremely rare we get un-registered Shifters or already Bonded pair’s in here without going through the usual precursor bonding rituals.”

“Ok then.” John answered, he had never realized how damn complicated all this stuff could be.

“Right, if you could follow me, so we can get this started.” Walker said as he left the little office.

 

++++++++++

 

Elizabeth was a little concerned when they led John and Rodney into interview rooms that were next to each other. John had seemed annoyed by it, but he had finally left Rodney after sitting him down in his own interview room, then going to the other room where Stan Donovan was already waiting for him.

Then Walker had led her around the corner and into a darkened room where three other people were already sat looking through a window into the two interview rooms where John and Rodney now sat.

She glanced through the obvious one way mirror. Neither man looked very happy, but the way the mirror was set up, she could see both of them sat with their shoulders against the wall that separated them.

“This is Iona Bunarasu from the main Shifter Registry in Europe,” Walker was introducing the other people quietly to her.  Elizabeth shook the shorter woman’s hand as they smiled at each other. “And this is Thomas Anderson of the North American branch of the Shifter Registry and his Shifter Wesley Anderson.”

Elizabeth smiled through her shock as she shook Thomas’s hand and gave a nod at Wesley. She had actually heard of them before, and was quite aware that she was now stood with practically Shifter royalty. Wesley Anderson was a black Jaguar, of which only 53 where known worldwide. And only 19 of them were male.

She had thought knowing Rodney as a rare coat colour would be the closest she ever came to a rare. But now she was stood with the only species on the planet where a male could get pregnant and as she introduced herself she couldn’t help but look at Wesley’s midsection.

“I think I’m a little old now to be pregnant.” Wesley smiled at her.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, I never…” She tried to apologise.

“That’s all right.” The attractive Shifter smiled at her. And she could see the white at his temples and the slight crow’s feet around his sparkling blue eyes. “I’m used to it and I’m not offended.”

She gave him a smile as she heard the interview begin to start beyond the mirror. “Won’t they know we are watching?” she asked softly.

“The Shifter will.” Iona said. “He should be able to smell us.”

“That’s right.” Wesley answered. “But we are here mostly to ascertain why and how the bond was started. After all, it was in Doctor McKay’s contract that he not to get bonded while he was on the one year contract. We just need to know what actually happened and if nothing untoward occurred.”

“And if it did?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Doctor McKay is a rare.” Iona said a little snappily. “If we fear that he is in any physical or emotional harm from the man who bonded with him, then we will have to send them for more evaluations and intensive therapy.”

“So this is just to see if Major Sheppard is of any harm to Rodney?” she asked in shock.

Wesley gave her a sympathetic look. “It has happened before.” He said softly. “I lost a very good friend because she let a very bad man bond with her without the usual pre-bonding ritual, sadly, before anyone could step in, he made her life miserable then killed her. She was very wealthy so he thought he could keep it all to himself.”

She watched as Thomas put his arm around Wesley’s shoulders and held him close, even though his eyes were still watching John through the mirror.

“It’s why there has always been a registry.” Wesley carried on. “To try and prevent Shifters being mistreated by those who will take advantage.”

“I understand.” She said back, the urge to put her hand on his arm in comfort was very strong. “But Sheppard would never hurt McKay. Not intentionally.” She added, remembering how John had run off and left Rodney when they first bonded.

“That’s what we are here to ascertain.” Thomas answered a little stiffly.

“Don’t mind him.” Wesley grinned at her. “He’s just a little sensitive because of what happened to my friend.”

“And what do you think?” she couldn’t help but ask the Shifter.

He gave her a wink as he pointed at John. “He wouldn’t be sat with his shoulder plastered against the wall right next to his Bonded and looking so pissed if he didn’t care.”

“That means nothing.” Thomas said in his deep voice.

“Pfft.” Wesley said as he turned away from Elizabeth. “I can smell how pissed off he is through the glass.”

“Will you please be quiet!” Iona snapped.

Elizabeth sat down in the chair next to Wesley as they all watched John’s interview.

 

++++++++++

 

John was trying to keep calm, but knew he was failing a little. He could feel Rodney practically through the wall. Even though they could now be light years away from each other with miles of space separating them. Right now a thin wall was making his skin itch and his chest tight.

He had to keep reminding himself that it was just because he was in unfamiliar surroundings with a situation he had no authority over. It wasn’t like he could just pick up a gun and shoot the bad guy.

“Like I said.” He took a breath. “We were under fire from the locals with bows… McKay tripped and I had to keep him from getting up… my hand slipped on his back and I started the bonding process.”

“Then you went AWOL for a few days?” Donavan asked as he carried on scribbling away.

John rubbed his forehead. “I didn’t know what I was doing to him.” He said. “Before that, I never had any dealings with a Shifter, it’s not like I studied up on it or anything. It just happened.”

“Do you regret what happened?” Donavan asked.

“No.” John sighed out.

“If you could do it over, what would you do differently, if anything?”  Donavan read from the form.

John pressed his shoulder harder into the wall. “I don’t know…” he answered honestly. “If it hadn’t happened we would still have been friends, I didn’t mind being his Chaperone; he’s a great guy… Would I have ever wanted to bond with him… I can’t say.” He sighed, “But I did and we are, and that’s fine with me.”

He looked up at his own reflection as Donavan scribbled down his answer. He knew he was being watched and it annoyed him, there were more people beyond the two way mirror than just Elizabeth and Walker.

“Ok, what would you do if Doctor McKay were to pass on before you?” Donavan asked in a monotone.

John blinked as his chest went a little cold. “Don’t even ask that!” he snapped out.

“But…” Donavan finally looked up at him.

“NO!” John almost shouted. “It’s not going to happen.”

Donavan was frowning at him. “As far as I’m aware you work in a high risk environment? Accidents happen.”

“I don’t care.” John slammed his hand down on the table. “If anything happens I’ll be with him! I’m not answering that damn question!”

“Fine…” Donavan said a little shakily as he started writing his notes again.

John would feel sorry for him if he wasn’t feeling quite so sick. He couldn’t afford to think of anything like that. He would keep Rodney as safe as he could. And if he failed in that he doubted he could carry on. So he didn’t need to think about it. Ever.

“John?”

John got to his feet and opened his arms as Rodney stomped into the room.

“What happened?” Rodney was asking. “I suddenly felt sick.”

John closed his eyes as he held Rodney tight. “They just asked a stupid question.” He replied. “I got angry that’s all.”

“What the hell did you say!” Rodney had pulled away to yell accusingly at Donavan.

“You can’t be in here.” Rachel said as she also came into the little room.

“Get lost!” Rodney snapped at her as she took a step back. “I’ve had enough of this!”

“But… but we haven’t finished yet?” Rachel stammered.

John felt a little sorry for her when faced with Rodney’s wrath. But not by much.

“It’s ok.” He told his mate as he pushed him towards the door. “Let’s get you back, quicker this is over, quicker we can get out of here.”

“I’m fed up of them staring at you!” Rodney said as he pointed over John’s shoulder at the mirror.

“That’s cos I’m so attractive.” He joked back as he shoved Rodney into the hall. “Now, go.” He pointed to the other door down the corridor.

Rodney glowered at him. “Fine.” Then he turned back to Rachel. “Come on then!” he snapped at her as he stomped off. John watched them enter the other room before he went to sit down again to see Donavan looking for another bit of the form he was filling in.

“Just then.” Donavan said waving a hand at the door John had purposefully left open. “You didn’t use any calming measures to control Doctor McKay?”

“Hu?” John asked.

“You didn’t take a hold of his wrist or neck, those are calming measures.” Donavan explained like he was talking to a child.

John slouched into his chair. “No.” he answered, truly bored with all this.

“Why was that? He was being quite volatile.”

John had to laugh out loud at that. “That wasn’t volatile.” He scoffed. “He throws more of a fit if he doesn’t get his morning coffee.”

“So you don’t use any calming measures on him?” Donavan asked looking a little surprised.

“Only when he needs it.” John answered being purposefully obtuse, he wasn’t about to tell this guy ever fucking time he knew Rodney needed his wrist being held or why. “Are we done yet?”

“No, sorry.” Donovan asked turning back to the last set of questions.

 

++++++++++

 

Elizabeth was a little surprised when she saw John actually get mad, and the way Rodney had shot out of his chair and run to the room with John was also surprising.

“Do you think?” She heard Wesley ask as they all watched the show in the interrogation room as John held Rodney tightly.

“He could have heard his mate’s distress.” Thomas answered.

“Those rooms are soundproofed and they can’t hear through the glass.” Walker was saying and he sounded a little awed.

Elizabeth couldn’t help but frown at what they were saying. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

Wesley turned to her but his eyes were still watching what was going on in John’s interview room. “Nothings wrong.” He said distractedly. “It’s rare, but sometimes the Bond formed between a Shifter and a normal person can be a more… err… spiritual in nature. There have been extensive experiments done on bonded pairs that share this higher bond.”

Elizabeth felt something tug at the corners of her memory. “You mean like telepathy?” she asked.

Wesley looked at her for a moment and smiled. “Almost, like they can feel each others emotional state.”

“Oh…” Then she remembered meeting John as he was jogging through the halls with Rodney’s Shifted at his side. At first she thought it was funny watching John talking to Rodney who couldn’t answer back and knew how that must be killing the Shifter. But then she realised John was pausing between each sentence, like he was listening to a reply before responding to it.

For a moment she wondered if she should say anything. After all, these people had John and Rodney’s lives in their hands. And she wanted them back on Atlantis.

“It’s all hearsay.” Thomas was saying. “Also this doesn’t apply to what just happened, you would have done the same thing.”

Wesley shrugged. “True, but why don’t we see if it works the other way?” he was asking his mate.

“We can’t, Sheppard left his door open.” Thomas replied.

“I have an idea.” Wesley said softly. “And if I’m right can we stop all this nonsense and let these men pursue their careers?”

She watched Thomas turn narrowed eyes on his mate.

“I don’t care what you think… The military were very insistent that they want nothing to change, and so far… I like John.” Wesley said.

“I want them back under my command.” Elizabeth said softly as they turned to look at her. “I think I know what your talking about with the almost telepathy. I’ve witnessed it myself.”

“Really?” Wesley asked as he leaned towards her intrigued. “Can I ask when?”

“I saw Sheppard talking to McKay when he was Shifted. But it wasn’t like talking to a pet,” she said giving a little smile. But Wesley didn’t seem offended so she carried on. “Sheppard was actually waiting for a reply. When they saw me they stopped and we talked about what we were doing that morning until McKay started getting a little fidgety and John asked if they were serving the last of the bacon in the mess hall. I said that I had just eaten some cooked especially for me, Sheppard got a little glazed look before he informed me that McKay was asking if they had more.” The whole time she watched Wesley get more exited but Thomas got more disbelieving. “It’s also been mentioned by other members of my staff.”

“Fascinating.” Wesley grinned as he turned back to his mate. “I’ll take McKay for something to drink at the other side of the building. You stay here and watch Sheppard, and if he leaves, follow him.”

“I don’t like that plan.” Thomas growled, “Not like anything will happen, but he’s military, I can see the hardness in his eyes and I don’t want him near you.”

Wesley slapped Thomas on the arm. “I’ll be fine!” he was grinning.

“I have no problem with it.” Iona said as she kept watching John’s interview. “If Wesley is right, I can go home early.”

“Wait.” Elizabeth asked quickly. “If they have this telepathy or something, why wouldn’t you need to asses Sheppard as you are?” after all that was why they were here.

“Because if they do,” Wesley smiled. “Then their bond was fated to be.” Thomas grumbled something she didn’t quite hear. “He doesn’t believe in such things.” Wesley explained as he waved a hand at his mate. “But if it is a true bond, in the purest sense of the word, then just as a Shifter will pine itself to death after its mate passes, so will the Mate if the Shifter dies.”

Elizabeth blinked at that as she looked back into the interview room to see John slouched against the wall again looking bored.

“You’re just a bloody romantic.” Thomas said.

Wesley ignored him as he continued talking to Elizabeth. “It’s why I had that question added. The one about what he would do if McKay passed. Normal they answer with mourn their passing, or ‘I would kill myself too’. Something normal, but the fact Sheppard got mad and wouldn’t answer say’s a lot.”

“Really?” she asked.

“He’s right.” Thomas was saying and Elizabeth saw Iona nodding to in agreement. “I’ve attended a lot of these things, and I’ve never seen that response before.”

“So, can I try it?” Wesley asked again.

Thomas took a deep breath before nodding. “Take Mike and Weir. But if he lays a hand on you…”

“If he does, you will do nothing.” It was the first time she had heard Wesley raze his voice. “Even I can tell he will probably try and kill you without knowing what he’s doing, I can smell the danger on him. But that doesn’t mean he will hurt me. So keep your hands to yourself… ok?” he purred out the last bit.

Thomas rolled his eyes. “Fine… But you can tell the kids why your dead then.”

Wesley chuckled as he stood the leaned down to kiss Thomas on the forehead.

“Wait here.” Wesley said as Elizabeth was about to get up and follow him. “I need to pass here with Rodney anyway.” Then he was gone.

“I’m starting to realize who actually runs the American branch.” Iona was saying with a chuckle in her voice.

“Shut up.” Thomas replied snappily before a smile appeared on his face. “Like it isn’t common knowledge.”

Elizabeth hid her smile behind a hand as she watched Wesley enter Rodney’s interview room and asked him to follow, telling Rachel she can finish the paperwork later.

She watched John for a moment as he seemed to sit up straight and look at the door, then Wesley was putting his head into the room.

“I’m just taking your mate for some coffee. Would you like some too?”

John didn’t look happy. “Sure… Rodney knows how I like it.”

“Ok!” Wesley said and he shut the door when he left. It only took a few moments before he was opening the door to the viewing room. “You guys coming?” he asked.

Elizabeth got up and hurried out to Rodney who was still looking pissed. “You ok?” she asked.

He rolled his eyes. “No, I want to go.” He snapped. “Hurry up I need coffee you bloody freak of nature.” He snapped at Wesley.

“Rodney!” She gasped at him.

“He’s just jealous.” Wesley was grinning as he started walking up the corridor.

“So?” Rodney was saying. “How are those rugrats of yours? Your house husband still stressing over them?”

“They are in collage now.” Wesley was saying like Rodney’s offensive tone wasn’t affecting him at all. “Did you know I had another daughter since we last met?”

“I take it you didn’t spawn anymore black’s seeing as the count hasn’t gone up?” Rodney sneered a little maliciously.

“Nope, she’s just a regular jaguar just like her brothers. But the count has gone up by one.”

“Really? You found another poor bastard then?” Rodney sniffed.

Wesley shook his head. “Kind of, he was unregistered and working for NCIS up in DC, ended up getting bonded to his boss.” He chuckled.

“Em, that’s confidential information.” Walker said giving Elizabeth a worried look.

Wesley stopped and turned to look at Elizabeth. “I’m guessing you have had to sign ever confidentiality agreement known to man, just like Rodney?” he asked.

She nodded.

“She’s signed ones your snooping nose doesn’t even know about.” Rodney answered.

“Then it’s not a problem, this conversation is also covered by those agreements.” Wesley smiled. “If you don’t mind?”

Elizabeth smiled. “I’m quite used to keeping my mouth shut.” She promised.

“Great.” Wesley said before they started walking again. “So anyway, Jane White, you remember her?”

“No, but carry on.” Rodney sighed.

“Well, because of this new black Jaguar, she actually started making a noise about new polices. About helping Shifters stay with their families after puberty instead of being shipped off to Shifter Dormitories. She’s going for something like the English system.”

“Really?” Rodney asked and for the first time he sounded interested.

“Yup, she’s trying to get the families to be the official Chaperones, and to only use Dormitories for a kind of day care, alongside the standard Dorms.” Wesley had gone strangely more business-like as he talked.

“I would have still been stuck in a Dorm.” Rodney growled. “But you might not have been so fucked up.”

“I’ll have you know I’m very happy.” Wesley sniffed.

“Now.” Rodney snorted.

“But now ‘you’ know what I mean.” Wesley chuckled. “So will you stop calling me a love sick twit now?”

“You’re still a twit.” Rodney replied as he lifted his chin defiantly. “As to the rest… yeah.” He grinned. “I get it.”

Elizabeth had no idea what they were on about, but they seemed to have known each other a long time and were sharing some memory.

“Oh, that’s right.” Walker was saying. “You were both in the same dorm for a while?”

“Yeah, when my family moved to Vancouver for a few years.” Wesley said. “I was stuck in this Dorm with a very obnoxious science geek.”

“I was not obnoxious!” Rodney snapped. “But I followed my dreams…”

Elizabeth watched as Wesley put a hand on Rodney’s shoulder. “And you found something you always said would never happen to you.” He said softly with so much compassion it was almost painful to hear. “I don’t think you can understand how happy that makes me.”

She couldn’t see Rodney’s face for a moment as he walked in front of her.

“You’re still the same stupid romantic.” Rodney’s voice sounded thick, and she wondered if this is what the plan was.

Wesley just laughed as he pushed yet another set of fire doors open. “Ok, come on Rodney, help me make the coffee for everyone.”

“What the hell do I look like?” Rodney seethed.

Elizabeth was just about to follow, but she found Walker’s hand on her elbow. “Why don’t we just take a seat over here?” he said.

She looked around the simple break room and realised where Rodney was now arguing with Wesley was a wide open space from the door. With tables and chairs at the opposite side in an L shape.

She sat down with Walker as they watched the Shifters bantering back and forth. She wasn’t sure what she was meant to expect. But suddenly Rodney cried out and cursed.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Wesley was saying

Elizabeth was just about to get up when Walker’s hand on her arm kept her in place. “Just wait.” He whispered to her. We are at the other side of the building than the interview rooms. Just wait.”

So she did as she watched Rodney moaning in pain. As far as she could tell, Wesley had spilled scalding hot water over Rodney’s hand, and was now trying to mop it up.

“Really, you’re still all elbows.” Wesley was saying as he cradled Rodney’s arm in his hand. “It doesn’t look too bad, I don’t think the water was hot enough.”

“Oh, Crap!” Rodney suddenly let out as Elizabeth watched his eyes go wide as he turned to the door and started towards it. When Wesley quickly reached out and grabbed Rodney’s wrist.

She watched as Rodney instantly lost all forward momentum and seemed to relax, just like when John did it. But instead of staying that way Rodney started to fight, in fact he looked a little frantic.

“Let go!” he was whining in a high pitched way that usually meant he was stressed or scared. “Please, Wes! You don’t understand!”

“Please Rodney, just wait here a moment.” Wesley was saying as he struggled to keep Rodney in one place.

Elizabeth heard him before she saw him, then the heavy door was being thrown open and John came charging in, not even stopping as he ran up to the other Shifter.

She watched as one of John’s hands wrapped around Wesley’s wrist that held Rodney’s, his other hand going for the Shifter’s throat. She gasped as Rodney managed to knock John’s hand away from actually hitting Wesley in the neck.

“John!” Rodney was now yelling angrily. “Calm down!” then he was trying to push himself between John and Wesley, who had let Rodney go in the scuffle.

“He hurt you.” John growled out.

“No… yes… it was just an accident!” Rodney was saying as he was pushing himself up against John’s chest. “Please let him go…. Major!”

As she took in the scene she noticed how still Wesley was being, then she saw his eyes. They had turned into blue orbs and he had gone deathly pale.

“Major Sheppard stand down!” she yelled at him, hoping her authority might carry some weight here. It had some effect as Rodney seemed to move John a step back, but he wasn’t letting go of Wesley’s wrist.

Then Thomas was running into the room and he barrelled into John’s back. Knocking all four men into the beverages table.

Wesley was the only one who fell as John lost his grip on him. But John was the first to recover as he pulled Rodney away. And it was almost like nothing had happened as John pulled Rodney’s scalded hand into his own and started looking at the damage, turning Rodney’s hand over.

“It doesn’t look so bad.” John was saying.

“Hurts like hell!” Rodney whined then winced as John ran his fingers over the red mark Elizabeth could see. It defiantly looked sore.

“Doesn’t look like it’s going to blister.”

“You fucking bastard!” Thomas was suddenly yelling as he shoved John in the shoulder.

Elizabeth gritted her teeth, John was still too battle ready after weeks of being on edge.

John suddenly turned on the slightly taller man and snarled at Thomas as he simultaneously shoved Rodney behind him.

“How dare you touch my Shifter!” it seemed Thomas didn’t know when he was facing down someone who could be dangerous. “You don’t hold another bonded Shifters wrist!”

“He just hurt my mate.” John hissed quietly as he butted chests with Thomas.

“For god sake!” Rodney seethed angrily. “It was an accident. And Wesley was the one holding my wrist when John came in!” Then Rodney walked past both men, he bent over and started helping Wesley to his feet. “Now if you would like to tell me what the hell all this is all about?”

Wesley gave Rodney an apologetic smile, though he still looked very pale. “Thomas… What happened?”

It took a moment before the other man answered. But without looking away from John he finally replied. “He just got up and ran straight here… didn’t even stop or go the wrong way.”

“Because you’re bloody Shifter was pouring scolding water all over my mate!” John growled. “Excuse me if I get a little offended by that!”

“But you knew?” Wesley was asking even though his voice was shaky.

“How could I not!” John was saying. “No one hurts what’s mine!”

“But you knew he was hurt.” Wesley was persisting. “And you knew exactly where he was?”

John seemed to deflate a little. “So? I always know where he is.”

Elizabeth watched as Wesley shared a look with Thomas. “He’s also an Alpha.”

Suddenly the whole atmosphere changed in the room from hostile to something she couldn’t put her finger on. But Thomas instantly backed down as he stepped back and took hold of Wesley’s hand.

“Are you sure.” Thomas asked as he kept looking at John like he was a dangerous criminal.

“Jesus, yes…” Wesley whispered. “I couldn’t break the hold he had on me…” then he seemed to be blushing. “I would have done anything he said.” He gave a little nervous chuckle.

“But I’ve seen Rodney fight John’s hold if he really didn’t want to do what he said.” Elizabeth couldn’t help but enter the conversation.

Wesley seemed to melt some more into Thomas’s side. “That’s because Rodney is a Pure Breed.” He sighed and to Elizabeth he looked very tired.

“Pure Breed?” she asked a little shocked as she looked at Rodney.

“I have no distinguishing Shifter marks.” Rodney sighed as he also seemed to push himself into John’s side.

“Like this.” Wesley started pushing the sleeve of his suit up to reveal very faint circular patterns on his skin. “I have them on my forearms and ankles.” He said. “They are like my markings as a Jaguar.”

“An Alpha with a pure breed?” Thomas almost smiled as he turned to his Shifter. “I think I’ve just started believing in your ‘fate’ nonsense.”

Elizabeth couldn’t help the apprehension she felt as she learned more. “So what does that mean for them?” she asked. “Does this mean they can’t go back to work?”

“No, no.” Walker said as he came to stand at her side. “Rachel… do you feel the same as Wesley?”

Elizabeth looked over to see Rachel standing in the door way.

“Once Wesley said it.” Rachel nodded. “I knew that was why I was feeling so odd. He’s an Alpha, he feels just like the other Alpha’s I’ve met.”

“Would someone mind telling me what the hell that means?” John demanded.

“It simply means.” Walker said. “That you can control any Shifter you want. Bonded or not.”

“He could bond with another Shifter!” Rodney squeaked in panic. Instantly John seemed to hold him closer.

“Ah, no you misunderstand.” Walker raised his hands in reassurance. “Alphas appear only once they have bonded with their own Shifter. If anyone in this room were to take Wesley’s wrist he would try and fight it, but he wouldn’t even try if you did it. We believe it has something to do with pheromones, all Shifters can sense it.”

“So I can be an Evil Shifter Manipulator?” John asked with irony as Rodney snorted with amusement.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes.

“It’s been known.” Walker chuckled. “But it’s more like a mother who has a Shifter child, she’s the only one who can discipline her child by holding it by the scruff or wrist and not bond with it. Being an Alpha is much the same, but you can do it to any Shifter and not start a bonding, but the Shifter can’t fight it, like with their mothers or a bond mate.”

“Alpha mom!” Rodney laughed at John who looked terribly uncomfortable.

“Well… I don’t make it a habit of grabbing other Shifters.” John muttered. “So… are we done here?”

“We would wish that you could find something other than the military…” Wesley said with a sigh. “But, yes… you can go back to your jobs. There will be no limitations on either of you this time.”

“Great.” John said as he nodded to Wesley. “Well can we go now?”

“We have to sort out your Photo’s then we will make your ID’s and have them sent to your base.” Walker said as he motioned to the door.

“I didn’t even get my coffee.” Rodney rumbled a complained as John just took his arm and led him out.

With a smile, Elizabeth followed feeling a lot better.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney still couldn’t believe how smart John had looked in his dress blues, he looked all trim and totally gorgeous. It had taken everything Rodney had not to jump his mate and demand to be fucked into the floor.

He had never cared much for uniforms before, but hell, John was just lickable. So as John had tried to dress him in the new grey suit they had bought, John had pushed him down on the bed and blown him till he couldn’t think straight, only then could John get his pants up.

Rodney had then followed John in a daze as General Landry had given John his promotion to a Lieutenant Colonel in front of the gate with lots of people watching. Rodney hadn’t really taken note of who was there, as John never let go of his wrist the whole time.

Now, they were sat in a random bar, drinking their own body weight in booze and eating real steak to celebrate with Carson and Elizabeth.

“Oh, this isn’t the best steak I’ve ever had.” Carson was saying as he put another bit into his mouth. “But my god, there is nothing like real cow!”

“I don’t know whether to get seconds or leave space for the double chocolate cake!” Rodney confessed as he also dug into the huge slab of meat on his plate. Then he felt John leaning into his side.

“Why not just get seconds on the cake?” John asked. Rodney blinked as he could hear the slight gravely tone that usually meant John was horny.

“I think I will join you on that Rodney!” Elizabeth grinned as she drank some more of her wine. Rodney was sure she was almost on her second bottle.

“I should be warning you all as your doctor.” Carson was saying. “That all this red meat and sugar is bad for us… But I’m gonna have more steak. And I’m almost out of beer… anyone see the bar wench?” he giggled.

--

Two hours later, and a lot more alcohol, they all stumbled out of the bar and called a car to come pick them up.

Once they got back to the mountain they all went their own ways, everyone had an early morning and hangovers were imminent.

Once he and John got back to their quarters, Rodney couldn’t help but push John up against the wall by the door and pull him in for a sloppy drunken kiss.

“Think I’m too drunk,” John chuckled as they separated. “But why don’t we get less clothed?”

“NO!” Rodney shouted as he wiggled against John. “That uniform… I’ve wanted to jump you all day and it’s driving me insane!”

“I could say the same.” John grinned. “We have to get you another suit…”

“I was just thinking dry-cleaning.” Rodney grinned back.

John leaned forward to nip at his lips. “If it survived.” he growled low and Rodney felt his pants get tight.

“Do you have more dress blues?” Rodney gasped out as John started rubbing their groins together.

“Don’t care.” John uttered as he claimed Rodney’s lips again. “Get on the bed.”

 

++++++++++

 

John woke with a stinking hangover and he shoved his nose into the back of Rodney’s neck then sneezed when his face met fur, which only made his head pound more.

The room was pitch black so he thought on at the lights before he remembered he wasn’t on Atlantis, So with a painful moan he reached over and hit the light switch at his side of the bed, then turned back to cuddle up against Rodney’s warm back, digging his fingers into soft warm chest fur.

It wasn’t often he woke to a Tiger in his bed. And quite shamelessly, he quite liked it. The feel of soft warm fur against his naked skin was wonderful.

It only really happened when Rodney was exhausted, like he couldn’t keep his human form.

He shoved his nose again into the back of Rodney’s neck, breathing in his warm scent. As he hugged the cat tighter he felt Rodney waking up, then knew he wanted to know what time it was, so he looked over to Rodney’s side of the bed. “It’s almost eight.” He replied as he couldn’t help but nip at a black tipped ear that had swivelled back to him.

Rodney let out a grumble of protest.

“Me too, but we have to get up, I have another supply meeting in an hour.” John groaned. “Ugg… what are you doing?” Rodney was rolling onto his paws, then John found himself pinned as Rodney straddled him then flopped down on top of him. A large wet tongue licking up the side of his face.

“You’re heavy.” He complained as he wriggled a little underneath Rodney, who in Tiger form was considerable heavier than when he was human. “Rodney!” He laughed then almost chocked as Rodney’s huge tongue rasped over the roof of his mouth. He managed to push the huge tiger head away then looked up to find Rodney grinning at him. “You did that on purpose!” he accused as he grinned too.

He let go of Rodney’s head as his mate carried on licking his face and purring loudly, the reverberation went through John and he found it strangely relaxing and intimate.

--

John blinked his eyes open to find Rodney had also fallen asleep again, still on top of him. His head resting besides John’s.

“Come on.” He groaned as he sank his fingers into the fur on Rodney’s head and shook lightly. “We have to get up.”

Rodney huffed then rolled off, only to snuggle into the covers again.

John sighed as he got up. “Come on buddy.” He said slapping one fury thigh. “We aren’t going running today.” He took another look at the clock, “Ugg, come on, we only have ten minutes to get to my meeting. Get out something you want to wear!” He walked into the bathroom, deciding a shave and a quick wash would have to do.

When he walked back into the room, Rodney was staring at him from underneath the covers on the bed; just his big pink nose, whiskers and eyes were visible.

“Oh, so you want me to sit though these meeting alone with a hangover from hell?” he asked as he started pulling his clothes out of his duffle bag. He grinned when he heard Rodney move behind him.

“No.” Rodney groaned, when John turned Rodney was walking into the bathroom. John grinned as he watched his mates bare ass as he remembered keeping him up for a few drunken sloppy hours last night. “I’m just going to be asleep on the floor… Think you can take a blanket for me?” Rodney called as John heard water running.

“Thanks for the support!” he called as he pulled his boxers on.

“You’re welcome!” Rodney called back. “Can we grab some coffee before we go?”

“The Mess hall is on the way, so I don’t see why not.” John answered as he finished pulling on his boots.

As he waited for Rodney to finish off his ablution he reached into Rodney’s stuff and started pulling out clean clothes, throwing them on the bed. No doubt as some point Rodney would get mad enough to want to start ranting at someone and he would want to dress quickly.

“Ugg… I’m not getting dressed!” Rodney snapped as he came back into the room.

“I know, I know.” John said as he pulled a minty fresh Rodney into his arms. “But are you going to spend all day as a kitty?” he smiled as he kissed the side of Rodney’s slanting lips.

“Maybe.” Rodney groused. “Maybe I should just let my Lieutenant Colonel mate pamper me all day?”

John felt a little giddy at that. He might be career military, but he had given up long ago on getting promoted. Not with his track record. And here he stood, the military commander of an ancient city, a Lieutenant Colonel with his Shifter on his arm. He guessed, despite the pounding in his head, life didn’t get much better.

“If I could, I would.” He promised as he kissed Rodney again.

/“Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard?”/

John jumped then groaned as General Landry barked in his ear. “Crap.” He gave Rodney another quick kiss as he started towards the door. “We are on our way General. Err, our alarm didn’t work.” He winced at the lie.

/”I’m sure.”/ Landry drolled sarcastically, /”You have five minutes.”/

John sighed as he held the door open for Rodney, who was trying to drag one of the comforters off the bed with his teeth. He couldn’t help but laugh as he went to help. He pulled the thin comforter from Rodney’s mouth then folded it and threw it over Rodney’s broad back.

“Well, I’m not carrying it.” He told the disgruntled tiger.

Rodney gave an annoyed growl as John went to the door again.

“I’ll need both hands for the coffee.” He said holding the door open. “And we have five minutes to get it, so hurry up.”

 

++++++++++

 

Elizabeth couldn’t believe John was late. Especially when she had put almost everything on the line to get him promoted so he could go back to Atlantis and resume his position.

“Ah, it’s good of you to finally join us.” General Landry said as the door opened behind her. “What the…”

Elizabeth turned at the surprised look on the Generals face.

John had two cups of coffee in his hands as he was holding the door open with his elbow. She looked down to see Rodney pad past him with a dark blue comforter on his back.

“McKay?” she asked. Knowing he didn’t really have to be at this meeting, and even as a Tiger, he looked terribly hung-over and tired.

With one look from John she realized what was going on. They were putting on some kind of show.

The Lieutenant Colonel with the black marks on his record and his rare white Tiger Shifter, strutting around the SGC like it was an everyday thing. She gave John a smile and a nod to let him know she knew what they were doing.

“Sorry we are late, but my ‘Shifter’ wouldn’t be able to sleep with me so far away.” John said as he came to the chair besides her and put his coffee down, giving her another ‘look’. As he then took the comforter from Rodney’s back and laid it on the floor between their chairs. “There ya go,” he told Rodney as he stroked his head.

She watched as Rodney circled then laid down and closed his bright blue eyes.

“Ok… So what can’t we have?” John asked lightly as he instantly slouched in his chair.

--

Elizabeth was growing tired of the negotiations for most of the military equipment. She had already argued for provisions and then medical supplies with Becket. Even Rodney’s need for his science equipment had been more fun, mostly because McKay had argued for everything and on leaving the meeting he had confessed to her he had gotten more than he thought he would. John had just grinned over that whole meeting.

“But we need that ammunition.” John was saying. “There must be somewhere we can pack it in?”

“Then you have to lose something else.” Major Dean Harkens was saying tolerantly.

John was frowning as he looked over his lists again.

Then Rodney’s head appeared on the table, his chin resting inches from the coffee cup John hadn’t touched.

“Ah, should be cold enough now.” John said as he picked up the cup and removed the plastic lid then held it low enough for Rodney to start lapping from.

“If you wouldn’t mind?” Hank was saying. “I do have another meeting I have to attend tomorrow.”

Elizabeth saw the way John was tensing up. “I’m sorry General. This is quite normal for us on Atlantis.” She lied smoothly.

She watched as the General’s eyes narrowed in disapproval. Obviously this was another mark in his book against John.

“That may be so.” Hank was saying. “But this is not Atlantis.”

“Of course not.” John said lightly. “But McKay is still a Shifter wherever he is.”

“And in being so he had a choice not to be here.” Hank answered.

“Excuse me?” John asked as he slowly turned to look at the General.

Elizabeth saw Rodney get to his feet out of the corner of his eye. “Gentlemen, please. I’m sorry General, but I’m sure you would rather deal with Doctor McKay like this.” She said as she instinctively put her hand on Rodney’s head, between his ears as she gave Hank a knowing smile. “And as Colonel Sheppard said, Doctor McKay wouldn’t have been able to rest; we are a long way down from the personal quarters.”

“I understand.” Hank replied calmly. “So can we please continue?”

“Sure… I still need that ammo.” John replied.

“We might be able to send it in the next consignment.” Dean tried. “Or we half the amount of C4 and ammo, then send them next time?”

Elizabeth let them argue as she realized she still had her hand on Rodney’s head. She quickly removed it as she looked down at him. At some point John had put his hand on Rodney’s neck, just below her own. But Rodney was now looking up at her, she was sure he looked amused more than annoyed at her for her physical contact.

‘Sorry.’ She mouthed.

Rodney just raised his chin as he looked away then put his chin onto the table as he sat on his haunches, managing to look bored.

--

When she heard the door close behind her she couldn’t help but bend down to Rodney. “I’m so sorry!” she said earnestly. “I wasn’t thinking when I touched you!”

Rodney just grunted at her as they made their way towards the elevator.

“Don’t worry about it.” John said. “He was a little surprised, but we don’t mind.”

“Really? But I thought…” she still felt like it had been wrong, especially after everything she had read.

John just shrugged as he hit the call button for the elevator. “I guess seeing as it’s you, its ok.” He said. “Just.. err… don’t touch him anywhere else.”

She saw the amused twinkle in John’s eyes as they got into the elevator. “I wouldn’t dream…” she started.

“Oh!” John said. “I’m not worried about you grabbing any of his weak point…” he wouldn’t meet her eyes, and neither would Rodney. “You just have to remember he’s actually naked right now.”

She felt her cheeks blush furiously at that. Then she couldn’t help but smile as John started trying to stop his laughter and Rodney just sat down and gave out grunty little snorts.

“Stop laughing!” She grinned. “Both of you!”

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney still couldn’t stop the snorts of amusement as they entered the Mess Hall. He couldn’t feel too guilty about making Elizabeth blush. And watching John almost chocking on his own laughter was more than funny.

So now he strutted alongside his mate as people began to stop in the hall to watch them go by.

He found it kind of funny. All these Jarheads were finally a little afraid of him.

“Aren’t you going to Shift to get something to eat?” Elizabeth asked as they walked into the almost empty Mess hall.

“He wants to be a pampered pussy today.” John said so Rodney turned his head and nipped at John’s hand, then he growled as John just put his hand on his nose and pushed him away. “Am I wrong?” John was laughing at him.

So in response he just jogged forward to the food counter where a ton of lovely earth food smells were making his mouth water. He jumped up and put his forepaws on the tray counter and licked his lips when he spied the fried chicken.

 

++++++++++

 

Elizabeth watched the almost horrified look when Rodney jumped up at the food counter as John got a tray, she didn’t bother getting one of her own, her stomach was still feeling a little queasy from the night before.

She heard Rodney yip as his claws grated across the counter.

“Chicken and mash.” John was saying to the startled looking man behind the counter. “Fine, but we aren’t there yet.” John was complaining. “So get your mucky paws off the counter.”

“Anything else?” The man behind the counter asked.

“Oh… err, the same I guess.”

Elizabeth just reached over and got another tray. “I’ll carry yours.” She said with a smile.

“You not eating?” John asked.

She patted her belly. “Just coffee for me.” She winced.

John just gave her a knowing smile as he carried on getting some blue jello and a slice of chocolate cake. Then once they had got the coffee they went and sat down.

She stifled a laugh as Rodney tried to get on a chair, until John put two chairs together and held them as Rodney got up and sat down, staring at the food. So she sipped her coffee as she watched John hand feeding the large Tiger at his side.

Slowly she became aware of the other people in the Mess. The room had filled considerable since they had come in, and almost all of them were watching her two friends. The aura in the room was just curious though. Which she guessed was better than hostile.

After all, it wasn’t every day you got to see a Shifter in its cat form wandering around your workplace.

“Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard?”

Elizabeth looked up from John shoving the slice of chocolate cake into Rodney’s wide open mouth, to see Lieutenant Marks standing at the end of the table looking a little awkward.

“Yes, Lieutenant?” John asked as he busied himself with wiping jello and chocolate crumbs from Rodney’s mussel.

“This just came for you from the Shifter Registry office.” Marks said as he held out a vanilla envelope. “And I also have this from General Landry.” He held out another little envelope.

John wiped his hands on the napkin and took them both. “Thank you, dismissed.” John said as he first started opening the larger envelope. He took a look inside, then poured the content out on the table.

She watched as two metal tags fell out already attached to silver chains, along with two ID cards with photos. “May I?” she asked as she reached out for one of the ID’s.

“Sure.” John said distractedly as he picked up the metal tags.

She picked up one of the card sized ID’s. It had John’s name with no rank at the top with a Photo of himself that they had taken the day they were at the Registry office. It also had a medical insurance number at the bottom. It also claimed John was ‘The Mate’. She turned it over to see two photos of Rodney, one photo had been taken a few days ago, and the other was a head shot of what looked like a slightly younger version of his Shifted state, below this photo was Rodney’s full name and below that, it’s just said ‘White Tiger (Pure)’. Out of Curiosity she picked up Rodney’s. It was almost the same as John.

 “What do the tags say?” she asked, putting Rodney’s card down.

“Here.” John said handing over one of the tags as he showed Rodney the cards.

The little tag had John’s name on it again, claiming he was ‘The Mate’, Rodney’s full name under it with the insurance number under that. “You’ll have to tell personal about the medical insurance number.” She said handing it back.

“Not like we really need it.” He grinned as he took the tag and threw it over his own head. Then he picked up the other and put it over Rodney’s larger head where it fit a little snugly about his neck.

Rodney grumbled something as he seemed to be trying to look at it.

“What did he say?” she asked, trying not to laugh as Rodney moved his head about.

“He thinks it too tight.” John answered with a smile of his own as he rubbed the top of Rodney’s head. “I’ll put them on our own tags later, we forgot them in our room.”

“So what’s the other letter about?” she asked, as far as she knew, John and Rodney were now just waiting for the Daedalas to be ready.

John picked it up and read it, as Elizabeth watched she saw him go a little pale as Rodney gave a little whine and shuffled closer to John’s side as he also looked like he was reading.

“I’ll go see her today.” John was saying to Rodney. “You don’t have to come.”

Rodney shook his head as he carefully turned and jumped down from his chairs.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Fords cousin insists I go talk to her…” he replied as she watched the shadows cross John’s face.

She was painfully aware at how losing the young lieutenant had affected John, they were team. She knew John felt like he failed in protecting the younger man. Even if there was no helping what had happened.

“Are you sure?... I could go.” She offered but knew his pride wouldn’t allow that.

“No.” he said standing up. “I’ll see you later.” Then he was walking away.

She only just noticed Rodney looked at her, he looked sad, but he gave her a decisive nod before padding after Sheppard.

She just hoped John would be ok.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney wanted to get up and do something, he was feeling fidgety because he hated these emotional moment, if they didn’t spew from him naturally, then he really had no clue as to what to actually do.

So he sat besides John in the car, as they both just looked out the windshield over Colorado   Springs, mostly because he couldn’t look at John’s knuckles on the steering wheel going white.

Rodney had stayed in the car as John went in to see Ford’s cousin. He hadn’t even asked John if he wanted to join him in this, he just knew this was something his mate had to do alone.

After all, he and Ford didn’t really get along. The young Lieutenant always seemed to resent him. Whilst Rodney wasn’t glad when Ford ran away, personally it had been a slight relief because he never knew how to handle the guy. But he knew how much John liked him. The mixed emotions just confused him.

“Let’s go get Pizza.” John suddenly said as he started up the car and began to move back onto the road. “I’m sure I saw a large comic book shop on the way here.”

“With a Golf Shop next door.” Rodney groaned as he looked out his side window, hiding his smile.

“Really?” John drolled as he pulled into traffic. “I didn’t notice… But now you mention it…”

Rodney rolled his eyes at John’s attempt to try an innocent tone. “And don’t think I’m getting a set of clubs!” he snipped. “I can’t think of anything more boring that hitting a small white ball around a field, and where the hell are you going to use them on Atlantis? Or are you thinking of doing it on the main land. I’m not going to make a damn lawnmower for you!” he carried on ranting, knowing sometimes how it would calm John down.

And it seemed to be working if the smile on John’s face was anything to go by.

 

++++++++++

 

[Over two week’s later]

 

“You sure I can’t have a go?” Rodney asked a little hopefully.

“I said no.” John was laughing at him. “You can’t even fly a Jumper in a straight line. A F3O2 is a little more complicated.”

Rodney folded his arms over his chest as he carried on looking out the window at nothing. “So why do you think Colonel Caldwell hates you?”

He saw John fidget in front. “Think because I got promoted… Weir alluded to it a bit.”

“Who knows.” Rodney offered. “I do know that he put us in the general population with separate beds. Instead of one of the cabins that I ‘do’ know have double beds.”

“Really?” John asked.

“Yeah…” Rodney groused. “If you don’t fuck me soon I just might go feral and do you in front of Caldwell!” Ten days of nothing but sneaky blow jobs was great and all, but he really needed some mind blowing sex, and soon.

John laughed, “I think I’m with you on that one. Ok. Almost there.”

“Great.” Rodney sighed. “Least we can get Carson to check us for mutations. Seriously any more radiation and we might just melt!”

“You mean we could end up like ‘The Blob’?” John asked.

Rodney glowered at the back of John’s head. “You saying I’m fat?”

“No.” John turned enough to look back at him. “You know I like your squishy bits.”

Rodney felt a little squirming of pleasure in his belly. “I think I might have to Shift and eat Caldwell.” He uttered, then snapped his fingers. “I could! He’s interfering with a Shifter and its Mate! The law would be on our side!”

John gave a hoot of a laugh. “Don’t tempt me.” He chuckled. “But two days… Then we will be home and I promise I will keep you satisfied for a few days.”

“Just a few.” Rodney cheered up.

John was shaking his head. “I forgot my Viagra on Earth, so you will have to deal.”

“Fine, fine.” Rodney grinned. “Now get us on the damn ship so we can go home.”

“Yes, captain!” John sang as they headed towards the Daedalus’s docking bay.

 

++++++++++

 

To Be Continued.

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 4]

++++++++++ [S02E03]

Rodney couldn’t believe he had just shot Ford as he turned and fled as fast as he could.

He knew Ford didn’t like him much, but after listening to the young man rant for most of the day, just proved Ford was now insane.

He cursed the fact that his senses were so screwed up that he couldn’t even find John and had to be led about half the day by someone who didn’t even realize they were going in circles.

So now he was running, he’d given up trying to pull the stupid radiation suit off so he could Shift, if he could he knew he could out run Ford and at least find the guys by the Jumper if he couldn’t find John. But as he was running the damn suit just wouldn’t budge so screaming he shot his gun in the air, hoping that someone might hear it.

The next thing he knew he was being pulled off his legs and hoisted into the air so fast the world spun. It took him a moment before he realised what happened before he started swearing.

Not only was he terribly lost, now he was hanging from a bloody tree and his ankle was screaming in pain.

“Well, look at you.”

Rodney tensed as he heard Ford. “Yes. Look at me… huh.” He grunted, trying to act like this was some great joke. “You set this up? That’s clever.” He tried not to seethe.

“Wasn’t me.” Ford laughed as he got closer.

“No? well, I’m glad we can both still laugh about this… Together.” He let out an awkward laugh as he tried not to think about the pain now consuming his whole leg. “How about putting me down now?” he asked desperately.

“No.” Ford growled out, once again his quick silver mood making Rodney panic. “I’m still gonna kill you.”

Great, now the mad man was definitely back and he got angry. “It’s a flesh wound! I knew I wasn’t gonna hurt you! You’re Super-Ford, remember?” a little flattery never hurt.

“You tried to kill me!” Ford snapped as he raised his gun.

“Wait. Hey. You… you can’t just kill an unarmed, upside-down man!” he panicked again. He really did not want to die without John.

Suddenly something rushed Ford as the insane man’s gun went off. He covered himself before he realized he hadn’t been shot.

He looked down… up to see a huge cave man fighting with Ford. For a moment he was happy that it wasn’t a Wraith. But he was damned if he would be stuck up here a moment longer as he tried to reach up to his ankle, but the radiation suit was too restrictive and he couldn’t reach and his hands slipped on the plastic as he tried to pull himself up. Each time a failure.

“Lieutenant!”

Rodney felt a rush of relief as he heard John’s voice. Then looked over to see John with his P90 trained on Ford. He looked over to the younger man who looked like he had been going for his own gun.

“Don’t!” John warned.

The whole clearing went deadly still as they all heard the Wraith Darts screaming overhead with flashes of their beams illuminating the sky. And Rodney felt a whole new kind of urgency.

Then Ford was legging it.

“Rodney?!” John shouted as he started to run after Ford.

“Go!” Rodney replied back as he watched his Mate run away from him.

It took him a moment before he realised that the cave man was stood not too far away.

“Hi.” He said to the big guy, he guessed John knew him or he wouldn’t have left him alone with the guy. “It’s Doctor Rodney McKay.” He introduced himself. Holding out his hand awkwardly as the guy looked at him. “Could you get me down… please?” he asked then watched as the guy took a step closer, a feral grin appearing on his face and Rodney felt a little chill of dread as the guy reached out and spun him around.

“Hey!” he cried. “What’s the big idea.” Then he saw the guy lift a knife to where Rodney could see his tether attached to the base of another tree. “Wait!” But it was too late, he only had enough time to pull himself up a little bit before he landed on the floor on his back with a shameful cry of agony before the wind was knocked from his lungs and he couldn’t breathe for a moment.

“Get up.” The guy growled at him.

He managed to sit up, but he was still struggling to take a breath when the guy suddenly grabbed him by the shoulders and hauled him to his feet.

“Move!” The guy barked into his face as he started to drag Rodney forward.

Black spots swam in Rodney’s vision as he tried to keep up, but his leg was still numb and was refusing to work properly. Pins and needles made ever step painful as blood rushed back into his feet.

He desperately wanted to sit down and get his breath back, but he heard more Wraith beams screaming past and he tried to keep up. Not like he had much choice.

He eventually got a lung full of air, then another. Then his world stilled as he felt the guy suddenly move his grip to his wrist and pull him into the side of a tree.

Momentarily he stilled before crying out and starting to fight, trying to get the guy’s hand off his wrist.

“Get off!” he whined before a large hand came over his mouth and his panic heightened because he couldn’t breath again.

“Shut up!” The guy growled as Rodney saw a Wraith beam pass not three feet away. Then he was being dragged to his feet and again he tried to pull the guy’s hand from his wrist.

“Let him go!”

Rodney felt a moment of relief as the big guy actually let go, then he was stumbling towards John, past his gun to shove himself into John’s chest. He almost sobbed at the contact as John wrapped his free arm around him.

“We gotta hide.” The big guy was saying.

“The Jumper should be this way.” John replied more calmly. “Rodney, you ok?”

“No.” Rodney answered honestly.

“Come on.” John tightened his arm around his waist, then Rodney found himself being pulled along again. “It’s not far.”

“Ford?” he managed, putting an arm around John’s shoulder as he limped along as fast as he could.

He felt John tense, but not stop. “Gone.” Was all he said, and Rodney guessed that was all he was going to get, and at the moment, that was fine.

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t believe he had lost Ford. Once again he had failed.

But at least when they got back to the Jumper everyone else was already there. So he helped Rodney into the co-pilot seat, quickly closed the hatch and took off to hover the jumper just above and behind the gate.

Wraith Darts were still coming though, so he had a moment to check on Rodney.

Even though the Jumper was packed he didn’t care as he went to his mate who was still breathing heavily.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, knowing Carson was hovering nearby.

“My leg hurts.” Rodney answered as he reached out, holding onto the arm of John’s coat. “If I broke my ankle I’m not going to be happy.”

“What about your breathing?” Carson asked as John started to unzip the stupid radiation suit.

Rodney waved his free hand in the air. “Winded myself.” He panted out. “When the cave man cut me down.”

John cast a look at Ronon Dex who was stood in the back of the Jumper glowering at everyone.

“Cut down?” Carson exclaimed getting a little closer.

“Trap… hoisted me in the air like a damn piñata by my ankle!” Rodney grumbled as John started pulling Rodney’s arms out of the rubber suit. “I’m gonna be bruised from head to toe, if I haven’t broken anything. Ouch.” He said half heartedly as John started pulling him onto his feet.

Then he gave Rodney a shoulder to hang onto as Carson helped him step out of the suit.

“Were you with Ford the whole time?” Major Lorne asked from the back of the Jumper.

“Yeah.” Rodney said as John helped him sit back down. “He’s gone totally insane… Sorry John.” He finished, giving him an apologetic look.

“It’s ok…” John said as he began to unlace the shoe Rodney had been limping on. It already looked swollen. “Did he hurt you?”

Rodney flinched as John pulled his shoe off. “Not through lack of trying…” he panted as John pulled his sock off too, the foot looked fine if a little pale. “He shot at me and dragged me around in circles most of the time… I… I had to shoot him.” He trailed off.

John looked up at him, giving him a nod, “Its ok… I had to shoot him too.” He whispered as he looked down again as he pulled Rodney’s pant leg up and winced himself as Carson gasped.

Rodney’s ankle was swollen with an already purpling bruise around it where the rope had dug into his flesh. All Rodney’s weight had been taken by it.

“Can you wiggle your toes?” Carson asked and Rodney did manage to move them as he gasped in pain again which made John feel sick. He should have never let Rodney go with Lorne, but he thought he would be safe enough. He was damned if he was going to make that stupid mistake again.

“Can I?” Carson asked as he reached out for Rodney’s ankle.

“Sure.” John said as he made room for the Doctor as he went to stand at Rodney’s side, taking the other man’s hand instead. On impulse he ran his other hand through his mate’s hair, needing the physical contact.

When Rodney let out a little high pitched whine of pain, he couldn’t help but pull Rodney’s head against his chest as he kissed the top of his head.

“Doesn’t look broken or dislocated.” Carson said, “Let’s hope it’s just badly sprained, I’ll know better once I get you under the scanner… I also need to check you have no broken ribs, I still don’t like your breathing.”

“Sheppard.” Major Lorne said softly. “The gates closed.”

John gave Rodney another quick kiss on his head, then headed to his own chair as Teyla was punching in Atlantis’s address.

“Let’s get home first.” He told Carson as he manoeuvred back in front of the gate.

 

++++++++++

 

“So?” John asked as he continued to thrash Rodney at Super Bomber man on their linked DS’s.

“Nothing’s broken.” Carson answered. “Just trauma to the hip, knee and ankle. So for a week with crutches, pain meds and light duties.”

“What?” Rodney squeaked then cursed as John won the round they were playing. “So I don’t even get leave for a few days?”

“Sorry Rodney, but its better if you keep moving around, or your recovery time will be longer.” Carson grinned. “I’ll tell you what...”

John could see the twinkle of mischief in the doctor’s eye.

“What?” Rodney asked hopefully.

“I’ll let you have the rest of the day off.” Carson pulled a face as he tried not to laugh.

Rodney just lowered his hands to his lap with the DS as he looked slowly at Carson. “Oh, ha ha.” He replied sarcastically. “Can we go now? I’m tired.”

“Sure, just come back for your meds and a check up in the morning.” Carson said as he patted Rodney’s ankle then walked away.

“Come on then.” John said as he stood and stretched. “Let’s go.”

 

++++++++++ [S02E04]

 

John watched Rodney from afar as his mate looked like he was muttering to himself as he sat alone in the Mess.

Their first mission out after finding Ronon, and Rodney get’s sucked up by a Wraith Dart along with Cadman. And now they both shared Rodney’s body.

And it was freaking John out.

For almost nine months they had been glued at the hip, apart from the when they met Chaya. Since then they hadn’t spent a night apart.

They had had an awkward conversation, where John had tried to hold Rodney’s hand, but his mate had suddenly blushed furiously and backed away looking very embarrassed.

John had resisted the urge to growl at the unwelcomed presence in Rodney’s head when a moment of jealousy had risen inside his chest. But he would be projecting it at Rodney and he couldn’t do that to his mate.

He doubted that he could work with Cadman once they got her body back. No one was allowed to get close to Rodney, and sharing his body was unforgivable for some unexplainable reason. And his rational mind KNEW it wasn’t her fault, it still didn’t stop him from wanting to rip her apart.

So, John had gruffly told Rodney he would stay away from their apartment and he would be staying in his old room till this was sorted.

Rodney had nodded understandingly, even though his eyes looked so sad and John had had to look away or shame himself, by either hugging his mate or trying to beat Cadman out of him. Neither an acceptable option.

So now he had to spy on his mate.

“You okay?” Elizabeth asked suddenly as she sat down at his side.

He glanced up at her before looking back across the room. “No.” he replied.

Elizabeth patted his arm. “Kate said she was seeing him after lunch.” She said softly. “Maybe she can help a little?”

John shrugged; he was already planning on loitering outside Heightmeyer’s office. “How…?” he asked bitterly.

“I have no idea.” She confessed. “Is it that hard?”

He gave her another quick glance. “Someone’s closer to him than I can be.” He replied in a growl. “And I can’t eliminate that threat.”

“Ah. I hadn’t seen it that way.” She said softly. “Zelenka will sort this out soon.”

John just nodded but didn’t reply. He wasn’t sure he was controlling his temper right now and she didn’t deserve that.

 

++++++++++

 

/”So…”/ Cadman drolled and Rodney just rolled his eyes.

“What?” he snapped at her.

/”What’s it like to Shift?”/ she asked.

Rodney just leaned over and rested his head on his desk. “Haven’t you and Heightmeyer tortured me enough?” he groaned.

/”That was fun and all… But… When is another human going to get to feel what it’s like to be a Shifter?”/ Cadman uttered in a tone that set Rodney’s teeth on edge.

“It’s bad enough you are keeping me from my mate!” he snapped sitting up. “And now you want the thrill of me Shifting for you like some animal in a circus?”

/”Rooooodny!”/ she whined. /”I didn’t mean it like that.”/

“Yes you did!” Rodney snarled. “You think this is fun for me?” he asked tightly. “I’m sure you can feel how much this is actually hurting me because I can’t get close to my mate?” he reiterated.

Cadman was quiet for a moment. /”Oh…”/ she finally came out with. /”I thought that was just heartburn or something?”/

Rodney snorted as he absently rubbed at his chest with the heel of his hand. “No… That’s because Sheppard can’t get near me without wanting to kill you and he can’t because that would damage me… So I have to endure the pain of him not wanting to be near me, but I still feel his eyes on me constantly.” He rubbed a little harder as he closed his eyes. “So excuse me if I don’t feel like performing right now.” He sagged into his chair feeling very tired.

The pain from being separated form John was almost unbearable. Sure they had been apart before; John had even been through the gate without him, and while it wasn’t comfortable, it was only a matter of time before they were together again.

This was something totally different. He could feel John was close, but being unable to go to him was a whole new kind of agony.

Then his sluggish tired mind gave him an idea.

“Actually… maybe we should try this…” he said. Maybe if he Shifted she wouldn’t have a voice? Maybe he could find John and at least they could touch…

/”Huh?”/ Cadman asked and he could hear the excitement in her thoughts as he got to his feet and started removing his shoes.

“I’ll Shift.” He said trying not to give his plan away, after all she couldn’t hear his thoughts.

/“Okay… Oh, are you getting naked”/ she asked.

“Kinda have too.” He said as he pulled his shirt off. “I’m not in my off-world gear. So DON’T look!” he snapped as he pointedly looked at the ceiling as he undid his pants.

Without a thought he let himself fall forwards as he Shifted. Before his forepaws hit the floor, bone, muscle and skin had morphed into his tiger form.

Then he staggered as Cadman screamed into his mind.

Instantly he Shifted back so he was laying on the floor, his hand going to his head in pain as his now ever present headache got a little worse.

“Shut up!” he barked at her.

/”Don’t… Don’t do that again!”/ She begged piteously.

“What the hell is the matter?” he snapped as he began dressing again hurriedly.

/”How can you do that?”/ She gasped.

Rodney really had no idea what she was on about. “Quite easily.” He grabbed his shirt and threw it over his head. “There was no need to start screaming.”

/”But it hurts… I’ve… I never thought it would be painful… my god I felt that!”/ she said.

“It’s not that bad.” He muttered as he finished sorting out his clothes, then the pain in his chest intensified a little more and he knew John was close. He looked up to see the door to their apartment open and John came in.

Rodney gasped when John saw him and paused, his mates face twisting into a look of uncertainty and Rodney groaned as he bent over a little clutching his chest.

Suddenly John was at his side. Pulling him into his arms as he forced Rodney’s head into his shoulder.

Rodney let out a sob as the pain eased instantly as he clutched at his mate. Needing to feel him, needing to smell him.

/”Crap, McKay.”/ Cadman whispered into his mind.

He guessed she felt his relief, but he ignored her. John was with him and he would ignore her if it meant John wouldn’t look at him like that again.

Then John was pulling him back and they fell onto the sofa. Rodney wanted to curl into his mate, but John was pushing him away, then pulling Rodney so his back was against John’s chest.

“Let’s just rest like this.” John whispered into his ear as arms wrapped around him so tightly it was almost painful. Rodney reached up to hold John’s arms that rested across his chest. “Are you okay?”

Rodney shook his head but didn’t answer. He was aware enough of John’s emotion to know he was feeling the same distress and relief.

“Missed you.” John uttered as Rodney felt him nuzzling his hair just behind his ear.

“Me too.” Rodney sighed, letting himself relax a little as he closed his eyes, just revelling in the presence of his mate.

He knew it wouldn’t last, but he would take what he could get.

- -

Rodney woke to John moving at his back. “Huh…” he uttered reaching up to wipe the drool off his chin. “Ugg… time?”

“It’s only been a few hours.” John replied softly in his ear. “You should get something to eat.”

Rodney sighed deeply as he relaxed again. “Can’t we just stay like this?” he almost begged, he hadn’t felt so good since all this crap had started.

/”You can stay like this if you want.”/ Cadman said into his mind.

Rodney shot to his feet like he had been electrocuted, then stumbled as the sudden movement made him dizzy for a second. He heard John let out a long breath.

“I’ll go see Ronon, then go see Zelenka.” John said softly as Rodney watched him move to the door. “Go get something to eat.”

Rodney groaned miserably as John left their apartment, even Atlantis knew not to close the door on John’s retreating back. All Rodney could do was watch him walk away.

/”Sorry.”/ Cadman whispered. At least she sounded contrite. /”I just never realised this was what it was like for you.”/

“What the hell did you THINK it would be like?” Rodney snarled as he slumped back onto the sofa.

/”I don’t know.”/ Cadman sighed. /”I always though it was just an emotional thing… But it’s physical too?”/

Rodney ran a hand over his eyes. “It’s both.” He replied.

/”But it’s not really optional for you is it?”/ She insisted. /”It’s… compulsory…”/

Rodney nodded. “Yes, I don’t really have a choice… but it’s not like I’m complaining.” He grinned for a moment.

/”I know that… But I always thought that Shifter’s were… well… pathetic.”/

Rodney resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

/”They are always shown to be running after a Bond Mate or fluttering their eyelashes at them and refusing them, only to give in later… it’s always romantic tosh.”/

Rodney guessed Cadman would be pulling a face of mild disgust right now, and didn’t know why.

/”Or the Shifters would be following their bond mate around like simpering idiots.”/ She carried on with disapproval before her tone got a little softer. /”But you really don’t have a choice do you.”/ She stated.

“Not really.” He sighed deeply. “That’s why I adamantly avoided being Bonded to some deluded sycophant…”

/”And you got Major Sheppard.”/ He felt she was smiling a little.

He didn’t reply, deciding she had had enough of his honestly for today.

Cadman chuckled. /”He’s not my type, to be honest.”/ She said. /”Though if you wanted to spend some more time with Doctor Becket… I wouldn’t object.”/

Rodney snorted. “Really?” he asked a little shocked as he got to his feet again. “Carson?”

/”He’s nice!”/ Cadman said a little huffily.

Rodney just snorted a laugh as he started walking towards the infirmary. He knew Carson would be interested if they ever got this whole mess sorted out.

- -

Rodney dashed out of the infirmary, leaving a very confused Carson behind. He felt himself about to retch but gritted his teeth together as he carried on walking.

/”Oh my god!”/ Cadman exclaimed. /”What just happened?”/ She asked.

“I don’t know!” Rodney growled past his teeth.

/”Did I just take control?”/ She asked a little excited.

Rodney had no idea, but as he was talking to Becket and knowing he was being a little cruel to Cadman, suddenly he had no control over his own body but he was still moving.

But when Cadman had reached out with his own hand to touch Carson’s hand. The pain of rejection suddenly swept through his whole body and he was in control again, and he HAD to find John, and now.

/”I’m so sorry!”/ She was prattling into his mind. /”I just wanted to touch him… I didn’t mean any harm.”/

Rodney ignored her as he kept walking, knowing John would more than likely be in the training room. It took a few minutes just to get there.

The door was open so he barged right in. The cave man was grappling with some of the other jarheads, but his eyes were only on John who was stood to the back of the room.

John stood up straight as Rodney marched up to him and threw his arms around his Mate and buried his face into John’s chest. Letting the pain ease as he relaxed.

John had been stiff for a heartbeat before Rodney felt arms around him, rubbing his back in soothing circles.

Rodney fought back the tears of relief and frustration as he just breathed in his mates scent, desperately trying to calm himself as the pain eased.

“What’s up?” John whispered.

Rodney just shook his head but didn’t move.

“Is Doctor McKay feeling okay?” One of the Marines asked.

Rodney was a little surprised that the guy who spoke actually sounded concerned, he had been expecting cat calls or the usual disapproval of such mushiness. He knew he was coming off as pathetic and needy. Just like Cadman thought Shifters were.

“It’s been a long few days.” John replied. “You guys carry on.” He said as Rodney felt John start to move towards the door. “Anderson, why don’t you take over… I need to go sort something out.”

“Not a problem, Sir.” One of the Marines said as John pulled Rodney from the training room.

As they walked away, Rodney heard the Neanderthal speak for the first time. “What was that about?”

“Just some trouble we had with a Wraith dart.” Anderson replied. “So what was that move again?”

Rodney just sighed; at least his pride didn’t seem to be too dented.

“Want to tell me what’s going on?” John asked once they were on one of the balconies.

/”Sorry again.”/ Cadman said guiltily.

“I was with Carson… and… somehow, Cadman took over my body and touched Becket…” Rodney breathed out in a rush. “She fancies him… but Oh god… why does this always seem to happen to me!” he whined a little, not opening his eyes or letting go of his mate.

John just rubbed a hand up his back that finally came to rest at the nap of his neck, massaging the faded bruises there and instantly Rodney relaxed as the world just melted away and it was just him and his mate.

“Better?” John asked softly. “I’m sorry though, I felt it… but what with… this… err… well, it seems to happen a lot and I don’t want to hurt you.” John’s grip on his neck turned hard and Rodney just let himself give into it. Knowing John’s possessiveness would only bring them both pain if he didn’t submit to John’s dominance right now. “Keep your eyes shut.” John growled.

Rodney did as he was told as John’s other hand came up to his jaw and tilted his head back. Then John’s mouth descended on his own as his tongue demanded entry and Rodney opened up, letting John have his way.

For the first time in days, Rodney felt like he was floating as John’s grip tightened on his neck and jaw. He wasn’t sure how long it lasted before John was pulling away, but they were both panting hard when John pushed Rodney’s face back against his chest.

“Don’t you have another appointment with Heightmeyer?” John asked a little breathlessly.

Rodney nodded. “I should go…” but he didn’t want to let go. It was John who pushed him away.

“I’ll go see how Zelenka is getting on…”

“Yeah.” Rodney uttered, feeling miserable as he finally looked up at his mate.

John gave him a smile; then pushed Rodney so he was walking in front. “Go… I can’t walk away again, not today.”

Rodney just nodded as he walked towards the nearest transporter without looking back.

/”let’s go McKay.”/Carson said softly when Rodney realised he was just standing in the transporter.

“Yeah…” he replied numbly.

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t help but hover at Rodney’s side as his mate stood before the wraith beam thing that was now hooked up to gate tech. He had no real idea what Rodney and Zelenka had done.

After he ran into Heightmeyer’s office earlier that day, along with Carson and his emergency team to find Rodney unconscious on the floor with Heightmeyer hovering over him. That was enough to shred every last one of John’s nerves.

He still couldn’t get comfortable knowing there was someone else in Rodney’s head, and until all this crap had started he hadn’t realised quite how much he wanted to be around his mate, how much he needed to be in physical contact with him. So to have Rodney stood right in front of him and unable to touch him was almost unbearable.

So now it was make or break time.

In a few moments he was either going to get his mate back, or he was about to lose him.

He knew there was another option, to just let Cadman fade away and disappear. But that was no option at all.

“Hey… Hey!”

John opened eyes he hadn’t realised he’d closed. “Yeah?” he asked as he looked into brilliant blue eyes.

“You need to be outside the lines.” Rodney said impatiently as he reached out and took John’s arm, then pushed him towards Elizabeth and Carson who still had a slight frown on his face.

John just pressed his lips together as he stood besides Elizabeth and folded his arms across his chest. He watched as Rodney went to stand inside the taped off area.

Rodney suddenly held up his hand, but John could tell it wasn’t his mate, the move just wasn’t quite right.

Then he watched as Rodney walked right up to Carson, took the Doctor’s face in his hands, then kissed him.

John didn’t realize he was moving till Elizabeth’s hand on his arm dug into his bicep, he turned to growl at her, but instead of letting go, her grip tightened as she frowned at him, giving a slight shake of her head. When he looked back at his Mate, Rodney was already stepping back into the test zone with his face in his hand.

“Just… just, hit it.” Rodney said as he waved his hand before covering his face.

John grit his teeth, just like the first time he felt Rodney go into the beam, his chest constricted with pain as the white light blinded them for a moment and Rodney was gone.

He had no idea what Zelenka was saying, he just needed his mate back, and right now! “Just get him out of there!” he snapped. He heard Zelenka hit something, then another blinding light and the pain went away as
Rodney and Cadman suddenly appeared, then both collapsed to the ground.

John instantly went to Rodney but the Shifter was totally out of it as John pulled him into his arms, leaving Cadman to Carson.

John felt better as he hugged his mate to him, for the first time in days, Rodney felt right, even if he was unconscious.

--

[A few hours later]

John grinned when he saw Rodney slowly start to rouse, his mouth slightly agape as he blinked open his bright blue eyes. John couldn’t help but reach out and softly cup the side of his Mates face. “Morning, sunshine.” He smirked as Rodney blinked up at him then smiled slowly before his eyes roamed to the left, to look at the other bed.

“Oh, no.” Rodney let out in a pained groan.

“Over here.” Cadman said from the other side. John looked over as she gave Rodney a little wave. She had woken up about fifteen minutes ago and so far she seemed fine, so Rodney was sure to be the same.

“You feeling okay?” John asked as Rodney gave Cadman a returning wave, looking relived.

“Err… umm… yeah.” Rodney grinned sloppily making John’s chest tighten in a good way as he leaned down and claimed soft lips he hadn’t kissed in what seemed like forever. “Better.” Rodney chuckled as John pulled away. “Can we get out of here now?”

“Not just yet.” Elizabeth said as she came alongside Rodney’s bed. “I’m sure Carson has all kinds of tests for you.”

“I do!” Carson sang from Cadman’s bedside.

John sighed, he had already had this argument with Carson but the Doctor would have none of it. He was just about to give Carson another imploring look when he found himself being tugged down onto the bed by his shirt as Rodney buried his face into neck.

“Okay buddy, I got ya.” He smiled as he closed his eyes and held on to his mate.

 

++++++++++ [S02]

 

[A few weeks later]

“So…” Ronon said as he dodged one of Teyla’s sticks.

“Yes?” Teyla asked as she grinned at him, forcing her advantage. He guessed even she got frustrated when they weren’t going off world.

“What is it with Sheppard?” he asked as he forced her back a little bit taking a hit on the arm as she danced away.

“What do you mean?” she asked, preparing for another assault.

“What’s his deal with McKay?” he asked blocking her.

She looked confused as she danced back and lowered her sticks. “I have already explained this… They are a couple.”

He let himself relax a little; already knowing she could be sneaky. “But why?” he pressed.

He watched as she stood straight. “Because they love each other… Did you not have such pairings on Sateda?”

He shrugged one shoulder. It wasn’t unheard of but it was every person’s duty to have children, and it wasn’t something he had ever had a problem with. He just couldn’t understand why someone like Sheppard would have any interest in McKay, the guy was annoying. “McKay’s not the kind of person I would expect Sheppard to be with.” He said.

So far the annoying guy had just proved himself weak and a coward, and when he wasn’t being that he was loud as he complained constantly.

He had heard McKay was meant to be some kind of genius but there was no way he should ever be on an off world team, never mind handling weapons, he was more likely to shoot one of them than the enemy, he was a liability.

It also didn’t help when their first time off world as a team, McKay had slipped down two steps and sprained his ankle in the gate room and Sheppard had almost called the whole thing off before Weir had told him to go. So they had left McKay groaning on the floor like a child.

“Well…” Teyla had given up all pretence of sparing now as she went for her towel. “As I understand it, they did not have much of a choice. Sheppard did something to Doctor McKay and their bond was formed. It’s because McKay is a Shifter… A large cat…” she smiled at him even though he still didn’t know what that was. “But they were forming a friendship before this happened, even though I did not know McKay well, I could see it in their interactions.”

“I still think McKay is a liability to us.” He voiced his distain for the plump older man. “Of what I’ve seen he can’t fight or protect himself. We don’t need someone who we have to protect off world.” He said as he stepped into the hall. “He’s not fit or young enough to make a fighter, he should stay in his lab.”

“I have to disa…” Teyla was saying as she joined him. Then she stopped and looked up the hall.

Ronon followed her gaze to see John stood panting just up the hall, within hearing distance of the training room; he looked like he had been running. Then his eyes moved to something at John’s side and instantly he pulled a dagger from his belt and launched himself at the creature.

It looked like a Kichik, only with more fur and larger, they were vicious, deadly and this thing was just behind John, its fangs already bared.

The Kichik backed up a step as it lowered its head.

Ronon pushed John into the wall as he raised his dagger.

He didn’t have time to bring it down into the beasts back as it jumped at him. Its shoulder hit him in the chest sending them both to the floor, but the beast jumped away before Ronon got his wits about him to plunge his weapon into its side. He jumped to his feet and turned on the creature as it stood by Teyla. Then it was jumping at him again.

 

++++++++++

 

John rubbed the shoulder that had slammed into the wall when Ronon pushed him into it. He cast a look over at Teyla at the other side of the fight.

She gave him a concerned look so he just shrugged back. He did have a slight concern at the dagger Ronon had, but Rodney was making sure the larger man wasn’t on his feet enough to really use it.

It would actually seem that all the training sessions he and Teyla had put Rodney through were actually working. He was really quite proud of his Mate right now.

He was about to call an end to the fight when Rodney knocked Ronon to the ground again, then one back paw stood on Ronon’s right hand with the dagger as Rodney’s jaws clamped around Ronon’s throat. John watched as Ronon tried to push Rodney off, but with a twitch of his jaw and a deep growl, Ronon stopped trying to move.

John moved forward, he could sense Rodney gloating in his mind, he could also feel how upset his mate still was about what they had overheard Ronon saying. Slowly he bobbed down by Ronon’s head as he rested one hand on Rodney’s shoulder.

“Finished?” he asked Ronon with a grin. The younger man’s eyes moved from staring in shock at the ceiling to John.

Rodney growled and Ronon froze again.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” John smiled as Rodney’s ranting swam about in his mind. “McKay would like an apology from you.” He said as he rubbed his hand across Rodney’s head so Ronon could see. “He gets a little upset when someone calls him fat.” He winced as Rodney’s teeth tightened a little more; he just hoped there would be no blood drawn.

Ronon managed to frown even though he still looked a little scared, if that was possible.

“I do not believe Ronon has seen Rodney in this form.” Teyla said from his side. John glanced up at her, she had one of her smug smiles on her face, so he guessed she approved of Rodney’s treatment of the younger man.

“Ah, that would explain it then.” John gave her a smile as he looked back down at Ronon. “This is McKay in his Shifted form. He takes on the appearance of a large predatory animal back on Earth. And as you just witnessed, they like to play with their prey… No, as you know, McKay here is my Mate, and do you think for a second I would risk his life off world if I didn’t think he was fit enough to defend himself?” He tried not to smirk as Ronon let out a little grunt of affirmation. “So on that note, do you think I would let my Mate keep those extra pounds if I didn’t want too?”  He braced himself as Rodney suddenly let go of Ronon’s neck to bare his teeth and hiss at John. He ignored the threat and kissed Rodney’s pink nose instead, grinned at him. “Behave if you keep ‘wanting’ to steal my puddings.” he said rubbing a hand under Rodney’s fury chin.

Unfortunately Ronon took the distraction to try and move.

Rodney’s head whipped back down to the younger man as Rodney opened his mouth, showing off his impressive white fangs and roared straight into Ronon’s face, spittle and all.

John actually winced at the volume of Rodney’s roar as the younger man seemed to pale a little and once again went very still as Rodney’s spittle ran down his cheeks and some got stuck in his beard.

“Maybe Ronon has learned his lesson?” Teyla said softly. “And we have to prepare for the mission briefing.”

John got to his feet; using Rodney’s shoulder to do so. Then he patted his Mate. “You’re right, and I have to get this lug into the shower, dressed and then fed before that. Come on Rodney, I think Ronon’s fed up of being a chew toy.”

He felt Rodney’s reluctance to move, but the Shifter grudgingly stepped over Ronon, managing to step on the younger mans stomach before circling around John’s legs to glare at the Satedan.

John reached out a hand to help Ronon up. For a moment he thought the younger man’s pride might be damaged beyond repair and he would refuse the help, which would only mean problems for the future. But the Satedan took his hand and let John help get him to his feet.

“I didn’t mean any disrespect.” Ronon grumbled as he looked John in the eyes.

John gave him a nod, knowing the other man was at least being honest. “That’s fine.” John said giving him a quick slap on the arm. “Just come to me if you have concerns, okay?”

Ronon nodded, but stayed quiet.

“Ok, we’ll meet you guys in an hour then.” John said as he turned and began to jog away, Rodney close at his side.

He glanced down at his mate, who was holding his head in the air as he all but pranced along. John knew Rodney couldn’t keep that stance up for long as he was trying to show how confident and fit he was to the younger man. So John moved around the nearest corner where there was a transporter and ushered his Shifter inside.

The moment they got back to their apartment and the door closed. Rodney Shifted and was in full rage mode. So John just leaned back against the door and crossed his arms.

“FAT!” Rodney yelled as he turned on John. “He thinks I’m fat and useless!” he began to pace, still not realising he was completely naked except for his tags. “Oh my god, he even thinks I’m too old! I’m going to turn his hot water off! Then let’s see how tough he is when he has to shower in ice cold water for the next month! I save this damn city from exploding every other week while under constant threat from aliens, does he have any clue as to how brilliant I am? No, he’s a jock, he wouldn’t know what smart was if it walked up to him and bit him on the ass!...”

John watched as Rodney stopped as a grin appeared on his Mates face.

“Or neck.” Rodney smirked as he turned to look at John conspiratorial. “I didn’t break the skin but he’s going to have some nice bruises on his neck, as well as from the floor hitting him constantly.” He gave a low chuckle that gave John a pleasant lustful squirm in his belly.

Rodney’s eyes widened impossible. “Seriously?” he squeaked. “You’re getting off on this?”

John uncrossed his arms as he pushed himself away from the wall and stalked up to his Mate a few feet away. “I always get off ‘in’ you.” Rodney got all flustered as John watched his Shifters cheeks turn pink as he went all coy and his body language went from agitated to submissive in a heartbeat.

John pressed up against Rodney’s side without reaching out to hold him as he normally would; instead he kept his arms at his side as he crowded his Mates personal space. He leaned forward so he could whisper in Rodney’s ear. “Or maybe I just liked the way you got all protective.” He heard Rodney swallow hard as he kept his mouth close to Rodney’s ear.

“Really?” Rodney uttered.

John hummed and felt Rodney shiver where their bodies touched. “I prefer to do the protecting…” he said honestly in a low grumble, “So I’m torn between rewarding you, or punishing you.”

Rodney’s whole body shuddered. “I prefer rewarding.” He let out in a breathy whisper. “I’ve… err… never responded to… err… punishment.”

“Really?” John asked as he finally reached out and slid his hand over Rodney’s soft belly, feeling the muscles beneath his hand twitch. “I guess it depends on the punishment.” He quickly slid his hand down till it wrapped around Rodney’s already hard cock and squeezed his fingers around the base.

John felt himself get a little harder as Rodney groaned but didn’t move, not even to push John away, or encourage him.

And John was just finding a new kink.

He hadn’t wanted Rodney to move, hadn’t even told him not to. But it was what John wanted right now, needed, and Rodney was reacting to his non verbal command with unspoken trust.

John squeezed a little tighter as he finally move, reaching around to hold onto Rodney’s other elbow as he pressed up against his lovers back, then with an animalistic growl of his own. He clamped his teeth onto the back of his Shifter’s neck.

Rodney gave a long groan as he moved his head forward as he pushed back against him.

John tightened his jaw then let go to growl into Rodney’s ear. “Do not come.” He breathed heavily with a grin, feeling as Rodney began to shake.

“I… please.” Rodney begged piteously. “Need…”

John ignored him as he moved his hips away so he could fumble with his sweat pants, pushing them down to release his own erection. “I’ve decided to punish you.” He uttered into Rodney ear.

He then began pushing Rodney towards the back of one of the sofas, where he more gently than he thought he could manage, pushed Rodney over its back, keeping a tight grip on his lovers cock. “Get the lube.” He growled.

Rodney reached out and fumbled down the back of one of the sofa cushions where they kept a small tube of lubrication, in fact they had some stashed away all over the apartment, just in case. And this was a ‘just in case’ moment.

“Now…” John nuzzled a kiss behind Rodney’s ear. “I want you to prep yourself.”

Rodney gave a little grunt of confusion. John’s grin widened as he nipped at Rodney’s ear. Then he pushed himself upright, with one hand on the small of Rodney’s back he managed to push his hips reluctantly away from where they were quite happy being glued to Rodney’s delectable soft ass cheeks. “Now.” He said as he ran his hand down the length of Rodney’s cock then let go completely as he move to make room for Rodney’s hand. “You still can’t come.” He growled, “Not till I come inside you.”

Rodney didn’t reply verbally as he moved his right hand, now slick with lube, around to his own ass.

With his free hand John reached down and pulled one side of Rodney’s ass cheek away for his Mate to get better access to the sweet pucker of flesh that he was about to bury himself into and he resisted the urge to just push himself inside. Instead he watched as the tip of Rodney’s fingers breached himself.

John tried to control his breathing as Rodney groaned as he started thrusting his fingers in and out. John knew he should look away before he lost it, but even an immediate Wraith attack couldn’t make him. So he bit his lip as Rodney moved and pushed a third finger inside his own ass.

John watched for a few more moments before he grabbed Rodney’s wrist and squeezed tightly. The Shifter stilled instantly, and John couldn’t hold back as he quickly positioned his own cock at Rodney’s hole then with a groan his slid inside the tight warm heat. He could feel Rodney’s heartbeat through the connection as he pulled out a little then pushed back in all the way.

He groaned as he closed his eyes, just revelling in the feel of being inside his Mate. It never got old and he prayed it never did. Finally he began moving again; he knew he couldn’t last long as the pressure built in his belly and balls as Rodney’s heat quivered around him.

It didn’t take long before he was pounding into his Mate and with a deep growl he let go completely, buried deep inside Rodney’s body he let his orgasm spill out unchecked as he gave little deep thrusts till he was completely spent.

It took a few moments for his brain to start working again and he realised he was still holding Rodney’s wrist. The Shifter had been completely incapacitated through the whole thing. But before he could think to deeply about it, John let go of Rodney’s wrist as he once again buried his teeth into the already abused flesh of Rodney’s neck.

It had the desired affect as Rodney screamed, stiffening beneath John’s weight.

John winced as Rodney’s muscled clamped tight around his flaccid cock as the Shifter came. John felt smug as Rodney’s orgasm seemed to go on for some time as the other man shook and whimpered beneath him.

When it was over, John reluctantly pulled out. Then he put his arms around the other man’s waist and pulled him up off the sofa then eased them both down to the floor where he held Rodney tight against his chest as the Shifter panted trying to recover.

“That was so unfair…” Rodney finally uttered.

“Good though.” John grinned, enjoying the way Rodney was like a rag doll in his arms, completely spent.

“Oh my god, yes!” Rodney affirmed with a little chuckle. “but I think you burned some of my intelligence away… just so you know.”

John laughed as he lifted one of Rodney’s limp hands to his mouth and kissed his fingers. “That would be impossible.” He said indulgently. “And if so, you would still be the most intelligent man in two galaxies.”

Rodney snorted with amusement. “Obviously.” He said with confidence. “Can’t we just skip the meeting?… I don’t think I have joints anymore.”

John chuckled, he wanted to stay where he was, but they really had to go to the meeting. Slowly he managed to get to his feet, but kept his hand’s on Rodney who seemed not to want to support himself. “Come on buddy, lets get ready and I think there is some bacon in the mess this morning.”

“I think you broke me!” Rodney let out in a high pitched whine. “Can’t you just go get me something to eat?” he said looking up at John, not making the effort to move, just leaning against his legs bonelessly.

“Not today, come on, move.” John grinned as he moved his knees, rocking them into Rodney’s shoulder. “But I do have a plan.”

 

++++++++++

 

John grinned as he made his way into the Mess, he had one hand on the small of Rodney’s back to keep the Shifter moving.

He had practically dragged Rodney into the shower, dried him off, then dressed him in one of Rodney’s new science uniforms that were designed to let him Shift if needed. Then pushed him out the door.

When they got to the counter, Rodney grabbed two bacon butties for himself and John grabbed his own. As he turned to follow Rodney to the coffee he saw Teyla and Ronon already seated at their usual table. With tray in one hand he guided Rodney to the table with the other, then pushed him into the chair next to Teyla, while he sat down next to Ronon.

Ronon was frowning at Rodney like he still wasn’t sure about the man, but Rodney, being Rodney, just ignored the young Satedan as he dug into his butty.

John could already see the bruises on the front of Ronon’s neck from where Rodney had bitten him. But he had already guessed Ronon reacted more to actions than words. And Rodney couldn’t really have been more eloquent. Now John was sure Ronon still needed a little physical demonstration, that Rodney was actually the animal that had kicked his ass just a few hours ago.

So he chatted with Teyla a little as he kept an eye on Rodney. Then soon as his Mate had finished his first butty, John reached out and snagged the edge of the tray with a finger, sharply pulling it a little towards himself.

It had the desired effect as Rodney frowned up at him but made no move to grab his food.

John just nodded his head towards his free side without breaking eye contact.

“Here?” Rodney squeaked.

John nodded his head once, trying hard to keep the smug smile from his face.

Rodney made a disapproving noise but pushed his chair back and leaned down to pull the Velcro on his shoes so he could kick them off his bare feet.

“Rodney, your neck?” Teyla suddenly exclaimed as she saw the fresh bruising and a few scabs where John had broken the skin on the back of Rodney’s neck. She reached out and put a hand on Rodney’s back consolingly as she gave John a glare. “You really should be more careful.” She admonished.

“It’s fine.” Rodney said looking up at her, John could see his cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “It’s a Shifter thing.”

“Still.” She said to him softly. “Maybe you should get Beckett to look at it?”

“I’ll be fine.” Rodney gave her a smile before pulling off his other shoe as he then looked at John, “Don’t forget my shoes again.” He accused before standing and going to John’s side.

“I’ll remember.” John smiled up at him as he pushed his own chair back a little. “Now why don’t you Shift and give Ronon a demonstration at how brilliant you are?”

He was half expecting Rodney to put up a protest. But instead Rodney just started bending over and landed on all fours as a white tiger.

John heard Ronon’s chair scrape across the floor in surprise behind him, so as he reached out to lay a hand on Rodney’s head, he turned to look at the younger man.

Ronon was staring at Rodney with wide eyes, his body tense and ready to fight or flee.

“I thought you might not have believed me, or really understood what we were talking about earlier.” John smiled at Ronon, “So I thought you might like to see it happen first hand.” He watched as Ronon seemed to relax. “Now, I’m sure Teyla has already told you about some of our customs about not grabbing people by the wrist or the back of their neck?”

Ronon moved his gaze to John for a moment before moving them back to Rodney, who now had his chin on John’s legs. The younger man nodded once.

“Well, that’s because of people like Rodney here, it’s a means of control for them, some more permanent than others.” He said as he ran a hand over the back of Rodney’s neck, feeling the scabs even in his Shifted form. “I’m the only one allowed to do it. Now, Rodney’s the only Shifter on this base, but doing it to anyone is very rude.”

“Fine.” Ronon uttered stiffly. “So long as he doesn’t attack me again.”

John chuckled at that as he heard Rodney let out a grumble deep in his chest. So John just started scratching behind his ears until the growl turned to purrs. “He won’t, well, not unless you plan on threatening either of us. He gets a little protective in this form.”

“It is also still McKay’s mind inside this beautiful creature.” Teyla said softly. “So talk to him as you would normally, he understands.” John watched as a very cunning smile lit up her face. “He just can not respond with words.”

John gave her a knowing wink. “She’s right.” He told the Satedan. “Sooner you get used to it the better… Now…” He turned his attention back to Rodney who was staring up at him then looking towards the table. “You can’t eat it hot.” He told his Mate, feeling Rodney’s grumbling in the back of his mind. He reached out and picked up Rodney’s butty, then held it for the tiger to start biting chunks out of the sandwich messily.

 

++++++++++

 

To be continued

Chapter Text

[Episode 5]

++++++++++ [S03E03] Irresistible

 

John pulled one of Rodney’s straps tighter on his flack jacket, making sure it fit properly, then promptly sneezed over Rodney’s back. “Ugg… sorry.” He apologised as his Mate squeaked with disgust and turned on him.

“Look, I know I have a schedule to keep. Those gates won’t get themselves.” Rodney said with a little cough of his own. “But are you sure you’re up to this… I don’t want to crash into a tree or something because you’ve sneezed gunk onto the Jumpers control panel!”

“I’m fine, Rodney.” John said wiping his nose on his sleeve, making his Mate pull a disgusted face. “After all, you’re the one who bloody gave me this cold in the first place.” He muttered as he began walking up to the Jumper bay, Rodney following at his side.

“Well I warned you… but you didn’t listen.” Rodney sang happily.

“I didn’t hear you complain.” John answered back. Well, Rodney had, but for all of three seconds before John pushed him up against a wall and kissed him.

“You took advantage of a sick and dying man, so you only have yourself to blame.”

John glared at him sideways. “Then maybe I should be asking how you got a cold in the first place?”

Rodney took that moment to sneeze, “Stupid sickly staff who take antihistamines for every allergy under the sun. It’s those bloody botanists I swear! I should petition Elizabeth to get them to stop bringing all those damn plants back!”

John rolled his sore eyes, he guessed that was a good enough answer. For a moment he wondered if Rodney was going to look after him now his own cold was getting better, but then thought better of it. Rodney’s hypochondria was legendary, but he didn’t want to test if Rodney had any Munchausen by proxy tendencies too.

“Ah, John,” Teyla said as she joined them as they walked into the Jumper bay, “How are you feeling today?” she asked, at least she sounded truly concerned for his health.

“He’s dying and but he’s just going to tell you he’s fine.” Rodney replied snappily.

John sighed, then started coughing. “I’m fine.” He said anyway. “It’s just a little cold, not like Rodney’s ‘man-flu’.” He shared a knowing grin with Teyla. “Anyway, I promise not to crash into anything, so let’s get going.”

Little did John know that the day would turn out to be such a disaster.

 

++++++++++

 

“What, you’re leaving me here alone?” Rodney whined desperately as John started walking away from him.

“What? You said you needed the liquid.” John said, turning back to him.

“Yeah, but the place is turning into a nut house.” He stated, everyone was acting like the Shifter sycophants he was all too familiar with, and it was freaking him out. Thank you very much.

“Yeah, but someone’s gotta stay.” John reasoned annoyingly. “Just keep away from the nuts. And you gotta disable the DHD as soon as I’m gone to prevent anyone from dialling out, ok?” John coughed as he ran away. Thus ending Rodney’s hope of not being left along in a city full of mad Lucius worshipping zombies.

So Rodney didn’t even try and follow him, knowing there was no point and he was sure John wouldn’t be long. With a sneeze he waited for the Mass-spec to get through with the results, hoping that the Voodoo science might come up with something before John got back.

Ten minutes later, he was bored. He wondered about getting some coffee, so he stood, maybe he should go by the control platform first and disable the DHD, he was sure he could come up with some excuse to do it.

But before he got to the door he heard Lucius Lavin talking to Ronon, and they were coming his way. Panicked he tried to make his way out the other door of the lab, but before he could get there, two marines came in, blocking the exit.

“I told you he was here.” Ronon said happily, as Rodney turned to see the two men coming in.

“Ah, Hello Doctor McKay!” Lucius grinned at him. And Rodney froze, seeing the familiar hungry look in the alien’s eyes. The one that said they wanted him for what he could turn into and nothing else.

Rodney straightened his back as he smiled the best he could. “Yeah, hi…” He gave a little awkward wave, then stifled a sneeze, his cold was wearing off, and the stink coming from Lucius was making him feel queasy. He smelled like the liquid in the vial, only there was something very wrong about it. “Well, if you will excuse me, I’m a very busy man and I need some coffee.” He said confidently as he tried to walk straight past. Only to find Ronon stood in his way. “Move.” He said glaring up at the taller man.

“Ah, don’t be like that.” Lucius said in his smarmy tone. “I just want to talk… I’m sure someone else can get us some of this coffee?”

“I can!” One of the marines said and Rodney heard him running away.

“I’m still busy.” Rodney growled as he carried on glaring at Ronon, who just smiled back at him, which was bloody eerie.

“Come on and sit down with me.” Lucius said. “Ronon, why don’t you help Doctor McKay sit down?”

Suddenly Ronon was grabbed him by the arm and forcing him back to the chair he just left. “Get off me…” He warned, but sat down when Ronon pushed him, after all, he was no match for the bigger man in human form.

“Now, I’ve been hearing interesting things about you Rodney, may I call you Rodney?”

“No.” Rodney snapped, trying to pull his arm from Ronon’s bruising grip.

“Okay, okay.” Lucius soothed. “Well, Elizabeth was telling me that you can change into a… what was it again?” he asked Ronon.

“A tiger.” Ronon answered.

“Yes, a tiger. I was wondering if you could do it now? Or do you need to get undressed first?” Lucius asked, grinning at him again, his eyes once again had that hungry glint that made Rodney sick to his stomach.

Rodney narrowed his eyes at the other man. “There is only one man who can tell me to do that.” He lied back. “And he’s not here.”

“Oh… that would be Colonel Sheppard?” Lucius nodded. “It’s such a shame, maybe I’ll ask him once he gets back…”

“You could try grabbing his wrist.” Ronon suddenly said. “It’s what I’ve seen Sheppard do to control him.”

“Really?” Lucius brightened up as he went to reach for Rodney’s arm.

Rodney instantly pulled his arms away and started to fight. He was not going to let this man touch him. He managed to punch Ronon in the chest with the arm he wasn’t holding, but only succeeded in falling off the chair. Where Ronon fell on top of him. He was just about to Shift when Ronon hooked one leg around his own and pulled it back.

Rodney screamed with the pain and frustration, if he did Shift, his leg would be dislocated at the angle it was. Then Ronon was pulling one of his arms free from under his chest and holding it out, also twisting it back.

“Take it.” Ronon was saying, then Rodney stilled his struggle as one of Lucius’s hands wrapped around his wrist.

“Like this?” the man was asking.

“Yeah.” Ronon intones as he moved a little. Pulling Rodney’s other arm free. “Take the other one too.”

Rodney started to fight again, struggling to pull his hands away as he tried to buck Ronon off his back. He yowled when his other wrist was suddenly being squeezed.

“Well… this is awkward, but maybe I should tell you a story?”

Rodney screamed, but his body was no longer listening as it lost the will to struggle so hard, with both his wrist held tightly his body betrayed him, it felt like he had been running for weeks, every muscle felt tired and stiff. His last thoughts were of John as Lucius started talking about the pie his fourth wife had made and burned.

 

++++++++++

 

John got what he had left for, he just needed to find Rodney and stop all the insanity. But as he came through the gate, he knew something was instantly wrong.

He had always been aware of his Mate’s presence the moment they were closer together, but right now it was muted, almost like Rodney was asleep or unconscious.

What didn’t help was the lack of people in the gate room. As he jogged up the stairs to the control platform, he could hear voices coming from Weir’s office.

Then his adrenalin spiked as he saw Lucius talking to Rodney, who was sat on the floor at Lucius’s feet in his Shifter form. But what made him sick to the core was some fucker had put a collar on ‘his’ Mate.

“Rodney…” He said barely holding his rage in check as he walked into the room. But Rodney didn’t even look at him, there was also no answering presence in his mind. And that just wasn’t right.

“Colonel!” Lucius said happily. “You should have told me about this!” he said gesturing down at Rodney. “He’s much more agreeable this way, don’t you think?”

“No I do not think.” He growled out, then he saw what kind of collar was about Rodney’s neck, it was a prong collar, the kind that would dig into the animals neck, with dull spikes when the lead was pulled, and it already looked tight. He took a step towards his Mate as he heard weapons being cocked and he froze.

“Ronon told me you might be a little upset.” Lucius pouted mockingly at him. As John turned his head slowly to see Major Davis with his gun trained on him. “I’m sure you won’t mind sharing him for a while. The last time I had a pet was when I was a small boy… until it got rolled over by a grain cart.” He sighed dramatically.

“He’s not a pet.” John seethed. “And you will give him to me right now!” A dark expression came over Lucius’s face for a moment before he was smiling again. “You ever heard of sharing Sheppard?”

John held himself back from attacking the fucker, seeing Davis take a step forward.

“Ah, Lucius!” Elizabeth came into her office, holding out a plate with a sandwich on it. “I brought you something to eat. Oh, John, welcome back.”

“Elizabeth.” He managed calmly as he glared at Lucius. “Would you please tell Lucius that Rodney isn’t a pet?”

Lucius just let his smirk widen.

“Rodney’s fine.” Elizabeth said as she all but snuggled up to the man. “We did have to use some calming measures, but he’s doing fine now, he’s much more obedient… You should learn to share, John, you really do monopolise him a little too much.”

John could feel every nerve in his body tighten. The only person Rodney should ever be obedient to is John, and he’d never asked it of his Mate if he didn’t truly want too.

“Incoming wormhole!” Chuck called from the control room as the gate opened.

“Oh, this must be Becket and the others!” Elizabeth said excitedly as she skipped past John.

Lucius stood, he also looked exited as he tugged on the lead attached to Rodney’s collar.

John’s stomach churned as he saw Rodney chock a little, then stumble after Lucius as he passed, keeping Rodney at his other side.

John could do nothing but follow, glaring helplessly into the bastards back as Davis followed behind.

--

John turned his back as he left the gate room, feeling sick as he left his Mate behind. But the obvious threat from everyone there was a dangerous situation.

The whole of Atlantis was now against him.

Rodney was hurting, but there was nothing he could do. He had to form a plan and hopefully they would all get out of this alive.

If not…

Then he would have to kill everyone.

Starting with Lucius Lavin.

 

++++++++++

 

John landed the Jumper on the mainland as he turned to Lucius. “Now, sit there and be ‘very’ quiet. Or you might be falling out the back of this Jumper, and straight into the nearest volcano I can find.” He smiled viciously.

Carson would contact him as soon as everyone on Atlantis stopped acting like love sick idiots. But till then, he had more important things to sort out, and Lucius wasn’t one of them.

So he got up, walked up to the quivering man in the co-pilot chair, made sure he was also securely bound to the chair. Then he turned his back on him and went to Rodney, who was sat slumped against one of the benches.

He sat down and quickly took hold of the collar and tried to pull it off, instead it just dug in tight and Rodney slumped onto his belly at John’s feet. John realized finally why Rodney had been acting like a zombie. John thought it was because of the hormone, that Rodney’s stronger sense of smell, even with a cold, had affected the Shifter more.

But with a sick feeling in his gut, he knew it was something worse.

The prongs of the collar were actually digging into the sensitive part of Rodney’s neck, just below his skull. Rodney could fight someone holding his wrist, but he couldn’t fight this. So something John used to bring his Mate such pleasure, was now turned to something very ugly. Rodney had been robbed of his will, violated.

He quickly grabbed Rodney’s head and forced him to look up. “Shift.” He ordered, putting all his authority into it. For a sickening moment he thought it wouldn’t work. But suddenly Rodney was in human form. The chain instantly loosened about his neck and fell down to his bare shoulders, at which point he let out a distressed whined, his hands darting up to the collar as he sat up.

“Easy… Easy.” John said as he could finally get to the hook that kept the collar fastened, once he got it open he flung the damn thing straight at Lucius. He had a moment of satisfaction as it hit the man on the side of the head and fell to the floor.

Then Rodney was clutching at him, so he pulled Rodney up until he was kneeling between John’s legs as he held him as tight as he could. “You’re okay now.” He promised his Shifter, running one hand through his hair.

Rodney growled in his arms, then he was pulling away. Before his eyes, Rodney Shifted and was launching himself at Lucius.

The man screamed in pain as Rodney sank his teeth into Lucius’s arm, biting down hard. John winced a little as Rodney slipped as his paws lost purchase on the chair, and he adjusted his bite, once again sinking his teeth into the other man.

“Get him off!” Lucius screamed, his eyes wide as he struggled.

John leaned back and just watched as Rodney growled, tightening his jaws. “I’m guessing no one told you about our laws on Shifters?” he said as he folded his arms across his chest, relaxing against the back of the Jumper.

“What?” Lucius gasped through his pain.

John smiled slowly. “Because of what you’ve done to McKay, he has every right to kill you… To be honest, I would have done it the moment I got back, but I really didn’t want to kill my people.” He explained as Rodney moved his head a little, no doubt to cause more pain. “You see… if you interfere with a Bond pair, and the Shifter kills you, they cannot be held accountable. So, if he wants to kill you right now, there is nothing I would do to stop him.” It was almost pleasurable to watch the other man go very pale as his eyes moved to Rodney. “Maybe you should try apologising?”

“I’m sorry!” Lucius said desperately. “I didn’t know! Everyone just said it would be okay, that you wouldn’t mind.”

Rodney growled again, but didn’t let go.

“Please!” Lucius begged, “What can I do?!”

John shrugged. “Well, if he doesn’t kill you… maybe you should learn a lesson that you can’t just take whoever you want, sometimes they bite back.” He smirked. No doubt that if Lucius did get back to his people, then he was going to get his comeuppance with all the poor woman he married practically against their will.

“Okay, fine, I get it, I really do.” Lucius sobbed. “I just wanted people to like me… I took it too far, I’m sorry!”

Rodney let go, then spat blood onto the floor. John could see blood also spreading through Lucius’s clothes. So he was going to be scared from this, a lasting lesson.

“Come here.” John said softly as he stood up, once again ignoring the sobbing man. He reached into one of the lockers and pulled out a bottle of water. He cracked it open then poured it into Rodney’s open mouth, helping to swill off the blood. “Yeah.” He replied to Rodney’s thoughts that were once again swimming in his mind. “Carson should have left you a change of clothes.” It took him a moment to find them, in another locker at the other side, and out of Lucius’s sight. “Shift, lets get you dressed.” He said as he shook out the pants. Carson hadn’t brought underwear, but he hoped they wouldn’t be here for long.

Rodney Shifted and John helped him into the pants, but when he stood and looked at his Mate, his blood ran with rage again. Around Rodney’s neck was a ring of small bruises where the prong collar had dug into his flesh. But the slight lost look on his Mates face stopped him just killing Lucius right that second, then hunting down the prick who had the fucking thing in the first place and hurting them too.

“Sorry.” He uttered as Rodney went pale, John, concentrated on getting Rodney fully dressed, hoping it would restore some of Rodney’s lost dignity. Once he was, John sat down at the very back of the jumper and pulled Rodney down to his side, then wrapped his arms around him and held on tight.

--

When the call came a few hours later. John got up, pulling Rodney with him as he went to the pilot seat.

Lucius glared at them, but flinched when John took a deliberate step towards him. The man was still bleeding, but he had the sense enough to keep his mouth shut. So John gently pushed Rodney into the pilot seat, it was a little awkward getting the Jumper up and heading back towards Atlantis, but he had to keep himself between his Mate and the man who had abused him for his own amusement.

Once they landed in Atlantis he pulled Rodney to his feet and towards the back of the Jumper. As the hatch lowered he saw Carson and Elizabeth, who was looking angry and ashamed at the same time.

“John…” She said a little too apologetically for his temper.

“Carson, he needs medical attention.” He said, waving over his shoulder vaguely as he walked past everyone with Rodney, ignoring Elizabeth for now. “Did you get a team together to help his village?”

“Already sent.” Elizabeth called.

Then from further away he heard Carson exclaim in horror. Obviously seeing what Rodney had done to Lucius.

John didn’t care as he walked from the jumper bay, Rodney following quietly… too quietly.

Rodney hadn’t said a word; even the constant churning of his mind was silent. Which in turn was concerning John more than anything. He had thought Rodney would come around in the Jumper as they waited. But it had never happened. His Mate was blocking him somehow and John really didn’t like that idea.

It took them no time at all to get to their apartment, where John locked the door with a thought and pulled Rodney towards the bathroom.

For his own peace of mind, he needed to get Rodney clean. Even if he wasn’t mucky, John still needed to wash him in their soap, to make him smell clean again, the stink of the pheromone Lucius had used clung to Rodney’s skin and turned John’s stomach.

Once inside the bathroom, keeping one hand on his Mate he turned the water on in the bath, to let it fill slowly as he turned the shower on too. He would quickly wash Rodney off, for his own peace of mind, before getting Rodney in the bath for a soak, knowing it would relax him and hopefully bring him around.

As the steam began to warm up the small room he turned and pulled Rodney’s shirt off, then he reached for his pants. But as his fingers started to open the button, Rodney was suddenly a ball of frantic movement.

“No!” Rodney growled out at him and his anger filling the bond they shared.

“Rodney…?” John asked as his hands were knocked away viciously. He knew better than to reach out again.

“NO!” Rodney sobbed as he pushed himself up against the wall between the toilet and sink, like he was trying to get away. “No… no… I just need to go… go… NO! Don’t come near me!” he shrieked when John shifted on his feet.

John took a step back, holding his hands up. “Okay… See… Where do you want to go?” he asked trying to keep his voice calm in the face of Rodney’s panic. “We can go anywhere you want.”

Rodney looked so lost it was breaking John’s heart. But his Mate was just looking around the small room in desperation. “I don’t know!” Rodney sobbed through gritted teeth. “I just…”

“Well… while your thinking, why don’t you just take a shower?...” John moved aside a little so Rodney could see the stall. “Then take a nice hot bath, we still have some bubble-bath.” He slowly reached out a hand, but the moment Rodney saw it he flinched again. “Okay… you have to tell me what’s going on in that head of yours.” Because he was getting nothing at all from his awareness of the other man.

Rodney glanced as him sideways, before looking away and burying his face in a hand. Then he whispered something John couldn’t hear over the noise of the running water.

“Sorry? Can you say that again?”

Suddenly Rodney turned to face him, his face contorted in anger. “They cut my clothes off me!” he snarled, his face red with rage.

John’s heart went cold at that as he let Rodney’s anger slowly seep into his own. He would kill them all. He knew all too well Rodney’s fear of being forced to Shift into human form and being naked in a room full of strangers. But to know someone had forced him into that position was a little more than John could take.

“They forced me to Shift into a tiger, after putting that fucking collar on me, then Lucius cut my clothes from me! Right in front of Ronon, Davis and that fucking botanist!” Rodney screamed, his whole body stiff as John started to feel humiliation and helplessness mix in with the rage that seemed to be seeping away. “They all thought it was so ‘cute’!...” Then just as quickly as the anger had come, it was gone as Rodney buried his face in his hand again as his other went to his neck. “The collar was so tight.” He gasped out brokenly.

John gowned his teeth together, caught between going and killing Lucius or pulling Rodney into his arms.

“I couldn’t do anything as he…” Rodney carried on, “He just kept petting me like a dog and I couldn’t do anything…” he trailed off.

John didn’t know why, but he needed the answer to his next question as his fingers dug into his palms. “Who else touched you?”

Rodney gave a bitter little chuckle that had no humour in it. “No one.” He snapped. “Didn’t stop ‘him’ trying!”

John let out the breath he had been holding, even if he was a little confused. “Trying?”

Rodney let out a long sigh as his arms wrapped around his bare chest in a self hug. “As he dragged me around like an animal on a leash, he kept telling people they should pet me too.” His whole body shivered in revulsion and John had to fight back the urge to hold him. “Gloating on how ‘soft’ my ‘pretty’ coat was… But no one took him up on the offer.” A twisted smile touched his lips, looking more like a grimace. “Not even Ronon… and Weir did tell him they couldn’t, but he didn’t fucking get it! Just kept touching me… god…”

John moved the moment he saw tears leaking from Rodney’s eyes. He couldn’t take not having Rodney in his arms a moment longer. His lover fought him at first, but John just pulled him into his arms. With a groan of misery, Rodney finally stopped struggling to get away, fisting his hands into John’s shirt.

John ran his hand over Rodney’s hair as he kissed his temple, wishing he could stop the trembling. He couldn’t really understand Rodney aversion to being touched, but as Rodney had once tried to explain, if it wasn’t John himself, but someone he didn’t know or like, then it was like someone running hot pokers over his skin, more so when he was Shifted, because he was usually naked, even if he was covered in fur. It still felt terribly wrong.

Rodney took in a deep breath, then began speaking in a very small voice. “I… I feel violated…” And John tried not to tense up as he closed his eyes, but it was proving to be very hard. “… as the collar dug into my neck… I couldn’t do anything… I had to do everything he wanted… couldn’t… couldn’t even obey you…” he began sobbing and growling hard, his mixed emotions finally breaking through their bond full force and John clung on almost as desperately to his Mate. “It was everything I was always afraid of… being some kept Shifter whore, only worth their coat…” he whispered out miserably. “I wasn’t valued for my intellect, or… or what I could do… he didn’t even care for who I was… nothing… just a pretty toy…”

John closed his eyes as he rested his cheek against his Mates head. He couldn’t understand how anyone could just take the hurricane that Rodney was, and think of him as nothing more than a pet. Sure he had asked his Mate to Shift, even ordered it a time or two, and would in the future… but he could never force him to do it; he would always let Rodney have that decision. Even if they fought about it later.

Rodney was suddenly pulling away, but John would only let him go as far to look him in the eyes. “Promise me.” Rodney said, a little too desperately, “Promise me you will never do that to me.”

John smiled a little, knowing exactly what his Mate was asking. “I promise you I will never force you to do anything you really don’t want too.” He said, watching the frown slowly appear on Rodney’s brow. “I already own you Rodney.” He let his smile spread sardonically. “I can’t help the way I feel,” he shrugged one shoulder. “You know how possessive I am… But I would never knowingly do something to hurt you… You know that right?”

Slowly Rodney nodded once.

John leaned in and kissed the tip of Rodney’s nose affectionately. “And I’m sure you would kick my ass if I ever tried.” That got a proper smiled on Rodney’s lips. “So… Before I go and kill someone and hunt down ‘that’ botanist… why don’t you let me pamper you for a while?”

Rodney nodded again as he sank back into John’s arms.

John let everything sink in as he pulled Rodney over to the shower.

 

++++++++++

 

“I leave you morons along for one day and you managed to break my city!”

John leaned back in his chair as he listened to Rodney screaming at his staff who had somehow missed a failure in the water filtration system, that would mean some poor bastards were going to be sent to the waste disposal tanks, to spend a few days hip deep in the cities crap, literally.

“We were under influence of alien herb at time, McKay.” Zelenka was growling back. All the apologetic glances they had received from the other scientists when they first came in, were now gone as Rodney fought with their CO, they were just trying to avoid the attention of their second in command, some like Miko, had already fled.

John hid his smirk behind his DS as he felt Rodney’s rage begin to build. But he just let his Mate have his temper. It would be good for him.

The day they had got back to Atlantis after Rodney attacked Lucius, John had spent hours trying to get Rodney to feel like himself again, then spend the next day caressing, licking, hugging and fondling him until the Shifter had finally responded. When he had reclaimed his Mate, it had been messy and almost violent as he bit into the back of Rodney’s neck, drawing blood as he tried to eradicate the bruises caused by the collar. But despite the viciousness of the whole thing, it had done Rodney the world of good.

The moment they had both recovered. Rodney had started growling and plotting revenge if he ever saw Lucius again, it was all bluff and bluster. But John just listened and agreed, after all, a silent Rodney was a very upset and hurt Rodney, and John needed to hear his Mate ranting and raving to know he would be okay, eventually. Sure, it wasn’t the kind of therapy Heightmeyer would recommend, and John was sure Rodney would pay her a visit. But for now, it was the best John knew, to get his Mate feeling better.

When they had surfaced. Everyone had been apologetic, even Ronon had said sorry. Which nether man had expected.

While they were held up in their apartment, a team had been sent to Lucius’s village, and the man himself had been patched up by Carson and sent back. Apparently Ronon had done the honours himself, as Teyla had a word with Lucius’s many wives. Just to make sure Lucius’s home coming wouldn’t be very pleasant at all.

If the man got away with his manhood intact, it would be a miracle.

So now all John had to do was relax as Zelenka took on Rodney’s rage and the two men screamed at each other.

 

++++++++++ [S03]

 

[A few weeks later]

 

Ronon tried again to push the tree off his leg, but the damn thing just rocked a little then settled back into place, grinding the broken bone in his leg together, making him almost black out at the pain.

It had started out as a simple exploration mission to an uninhabited planet, to see if they could steal the gate for McKay’s ‘gate bridge’. But they had found an unusual signal as they flew over the planet in the jumper. McKay had said it was something like the tracker the Wraith had put into Ronon, they guessed there must be another Runner on the planet somewhere.

So Sheppard had landed near the signal as they started to do some hunting of their own.

After about half an hour, Ronon had finally caught a glimpse of another man running in the direction of the gate, and taken chase, with Sheppard yelled at him to stay close.

He had ignored him as he tracked down the other man, after all, Sheppard could find him with the LSD if need be. All Ronon wanted to do was help the poor sod.

But he had been to focused on the Runner to realise he was being closed in on himself by the Wraith. Then he was running for his own life.

He had taken two of the bastards out before he was sure he lost the other two chasing him. But as he was running across the top of a ridge, looking for a way down, a stun blast had gone off at his feet and one wrong foot sent him hurtling down the side of the ridge where he came to an abrupt stop. His left leg getting wedged under a fallen tree, but the momentum of the rest of him slamming into it as the bone’s in his thigh gave under the stress and snapped.

When the black spots cleared from his vision, he looked up to see a Wraith grinning down at him, as it then ran off. No doubt looking for a way down, so it could feed on him.

He tried again to move the tree and get himself free, there was no way he was going to die like this, he was going to go out fighting or not at all.

He tried to radio Sheppard, but the damn thing was broken in the fall, so he hurled the communicator away with a growl of frustration.

Then he heard a guttural chuckle that sent a shiver down his spine. The Wraith was now stalking up on him slowly, an insane grin on its ugly face.

Ronon didn’t hesitate to start reaching for every knife he had, throwing them at the Wraith, satisfied when some hit home, but none hit anything vital, and the Wraith just laughed as he pulled the knives free and let them fall to the ground as it kept coming.

Ronon kept the last one in his hand as the Wraith finally put one foot on the tree over his leg and snarled down at him.

Ronon tensed, ready for whatever the Wraith was about to do next. What he, and the Wraith, did not expect, was a large white and black monster hurtling down the ridge.

The Wraith only had a moment to look up before the tiger barrelled into it.

Ronon levered himself up on his elbows as he peered over the tree to watch the fight.

McKay was like a streak of white teeth and claws as the Wraith struggled to keep up. Both beasts were growling and snarling. But it was becoming evident that the Wraith was out matched as the tiger kept biting, jumping away, circling, darting back in, to swipe at the Wraith ankles, trying to knock it off its feet, but all the time McKay was trying to get behind the damn monster.

Ronon had never seen anything like it.

Yeah sure, Sheppard had boasted at McKay’s prowess and intelligent. But Sheppard was fucking the man. So Ronon had taken it all with a pinch of salt. When he looked at McKay, he couldn’t see a fighter. Just a short, pudgy, older man who needed to stay in his lab.

And, sure, Ronon had first hand experience at how fast McKay could be, had carried the bruises to prove it and respected him for it. But to actually see him fight and mean it was a whole different story.

McKay was focused and he was winning, the Wraith was tiring fast, obviously used to more easily subdued pray.

He watched as McKay got another shot in at the Wraith’s feet, then he had to cover his head as dirt started descending around him. He growled as something slammed into the tree over his legs.

“Easy!” He heard Sheppard hiss at him as a hand clamped on his shoulder. “Are you just stuck?”

Ronon looked up at Sheppard. “Leg’s broken.” He hissed back, watching as Sheppard pulled one of his annoyed worried faces.

“Great…” John growled sarcastically. “Lets get you out, there is another Wraith near by, Teyla’s looking for it now.” Then Sheppard was putting his legs against the tree as he braced himself against the soil at their backs. “Ready?”

Ronon nodded and they were both pushing. Ronon growled out in pain and effort as the tree moved a little, then with another push it slipped a few feet and Ronon knew he was free. Sheppard started helping to pull him up and away.

“That looked like it hurts.” Sheppard offered as he pulled Ronon’s arm over his shoulders. Then he was turning his attention to the fight. “McKay!”

Ronon couldn’t believe that Sheppard had just turned the Wraith attention towards them.

Then he saw why. McKay was now behind the Wraith and he didn’t hesitate as he leapt on its back, his huge mouth clamping around the back of the Wraith’s neck, his teeth sinking into the hard flesh.

The Wraith screamed, but its scram turned to a bloody gurgle as black blood began spluttering from its mouth as both Wraith and Shifter hit the floor. The Wraith struggled to knock the tiger off, but McKay moved his head sharply and a sickening crack filled their small clearing.

Silence fell as all Ronon could hear was McKay panting as he still stood over the dead Wraith.

Then there was gun fire off to their right, making them all tense up.

“Rodney! Go help Teyla!” Sheppard shouted as Ronon found himself being pulled over the tree that had trapped him.

Growling in pain, he watched as McKay ran off in the direction of the gun fight.

“Teyla, Rodney’s incoming,” Sheppard was saying into his communicator. “Distract it.”

/”on it.”/ Ronon heard Teyla’s reedy voice as it came from Sheppard’s communicator.

As Ronon limped the way McKay had gone, the gunfire ceased and John kept pushing to go faster.

“Teyla?”

/”It’s down.”/ Teyla came back.

When they got to her, she was holding a bottle of water above McKay’s head, helping him swill black blood from his mouth, every now and again he spluttered and shook his head. But Ronon could see it would take more than a bottle to get McKay clean, he was almost black with Wraith blood.

“You should have kept your clothes on.” Sheppard was joking as they kept walking.

Ronan spied the second Wraith McKay had taken out, it was in much the same shape, laying face down, its neck broken, only this one was also riddled with bullets.

“We can pick them up on the way back.” Teyla said as she rubbed her hand over McKay’s head. “But we must hurry… Ronon?” she asked.

“Broken leg.” Sheppard told her. “Keep moving.”

--

Twenty minutes later and Ronon was exhausted, he was now dragging his leg across the floor, most of his weight now on Sheppard’s shoulders, and the smaller man was tiring. Teyla and McKay were on alert for more enemies, but he knew Teyla was getting edgy as their pace slowed.

“You sure?” Sheppard suddenly said when McKay had come up to them.

McKay nodded his large head, grumbling.

Sheppard stopped walking which angered Ronon because stopping was the last thing he wanted to do, he wasn’t sure he could get going again as his right leg burned with the effort of practically hopping this whole way. Then McKay was pushing his ass up to Ronon’s legs.

“What the hell!” He snarled as he tried to back up.

“Shut up.” Sheppard snapped. “Rodney’s going to carry you the rest of the way.”

Ronan gave the man a disbelieving look.

“Just open your legs, then we’ll easy you down onto his back. Just hold on tight.” Sheppard said.

Ronon didn’t like this one bit, but even he had to accept he wouldn’t make it back to the Jumper as they were. So he opened his legs as best he could as McKay backed up a little more. “Ok, just lean down.” Sheppard said as he took hold of Ronon’s elbow, his other hand getting hold of his belt. “Put your other hand on his shoulder.”

Somehow, with Sheppard’s support, Ronon found himself laying down on McKay’s back. When the tiger moved a little, Ronon reached around and fisted his hands into the tigers blood splattered fur just below its chin.

“Teyla, you got bandages on you?” Sheppard asked. “We need to strap his leg up so it’s not dragging on the ground.”

Ronon closed his eyes and grit his teeth together as they moved his broken leg, pulling his knee up then strapping it all together. It hurt like hell and he let out a guff of air when they finished. “This is humiliating.” He snapped.

Sheppard just chuckled at him. “Rodney would like you to know, he’s not happy about this either.” He said as Ronon felt him put a hand on his back. “Ok, let’s get going.”

When McKay took his first step, he wobbled a bit, and Ronon clung on tighter. “I’m too heavy!” But his complains were ignored as McKay kept moving.

The constant sway was sickening, but Ronon had to admit they were making better ground, even if with every step his leg screamed with pain.

“Shit.” He heard Sheppard exclaim eventually. “I think we have Wraith incoming behind us. McKay?”

The tiger grumbled something, then McKay was lurching forwards as he began to run.

Ronon lost all sense of what was going on as he just clung on for dear life.

He wasn’t sure how long it took to get back to the Jumper till McKay was lowering him down to the hard grating and rolling him off his back. He was dimly aware of Sheppard running past them as McKay slumped to the floor panting hard, while Teyla began firing out the back.

Then they were moving, the hatch closed making it darker inside as Teyla went up front with Sheppard.

He turned his attention back to the creature at his side. McKay’s sides were heaving as he breathed hard.

Without thinking about it to much, he reached out and laid a hand on the tigers shoulder. McKay had saved his life, twice.

McKay lifted his large head to look at him, his blue eyes questioning.

“Thanks.” He said.

McKay’s head cocked a little to the side, then he snorted through his nose, looked like he was smiling before he moved his head forward again, putting his chin on his paws.

Ronon just smiled as he patted McKay’s shoulder one more time before settling down and waiting till they got home.

 

++++++++++

 

Ronon limped into the Mess. Becket had let him go after fixing his fractured thigh and putting his leg into a cast that was heavy and awkward. The crutches were even more annoying. But after Beckett had laughed at him when he almost fell, he had grabbed the damn things and left the infirmary.

“Ronon, over here!” Sheppard called from their usual table. As he went forward Sheppard was getting up. “What can I get you?” he asked pointing at the food line.

“Everything.” Ronon answered as Teyla smiled up at him.

“Doctor Beckett let you go so soon?” she asked. After all, they had only been back a few hours.

Ronon shrugged, he was about to take his usual seat next to Teyla, before he changed his mind and sat next to McKay. The Shifter glanced up at him from his coffee, then glanced at Teyla. Who in turn gave him the same kind of look. “Easier on my lag.” Was all the answer he was going to give, and had nothing to do with that fact that prior to today, he had always been quite happy keeping his distance from the man who could change into an animal. A fact he knew the others were aware of.

“How long will you be keeping the cast for?” Teyla asked instead.

“About two weeks. Said the scanners things can only do so much.” Ronon answered as John put a tray down in font of him on the table, then took the seat opposite. “Comfortable?” Sheppard asked sarcastically as he pulled over his own coffee.

“Yeah.” Ronon offered as he looked over his tray. There was less than he normally took. Then he saw a hand dart in and snatch his fruit cup. “Hey!” He growled as he went to grab it back.

“Last thing you need to do is put on more weight!” McKay growled back, holding the cup in his other hand, then he was doing that chin lifty annoying thing as he smiled smugly. “Just try it cave man.”

Ronon bristled at the nickname, sure there was some Earth meaning to it he didn’t get along with the obvious. He made another grab for the cup anyway, almost pushing McKay from his chair. The high pitched whine from McKay satisfied his pride enough as he settled down to just eat. Ignoring Sheppard and Teyla who were chuckling together.

He would let it go this time, after all, the guy did just carry him back to safety. He guessed he could trust the man now.

At least Teyla would be happy after all her talks about how brave McKay was. And Sheppard might stop being so guarded whenever he got close to the scientist.

“Rodney, did you manage to get the information you needed?” Teyla asked, obviously changing the subject.

“Yes… I need a little more time to refine it.” McKay way saying as he opened the fruit cup and started picking fruit out.

“Refine what?” Ronon asked.

“Well.” McKay was only happy when he was talking or eating, so now he was doing both, Ronon guessed he was in heaven. “That Runner we missed?... According to the Jumpers sensors he got through the gate. So I recorded the signal his implant was giving off… I’m setting up a program that will work with the long range sensors, so every time we open a gate, we can check for Runners, or anything else that gives off a signal so long as I know how to calibrate it to different wavelengths. It should be up and running in another week or so, well, so long as the Wraith don’t attack in that time, and the city decides not to blow up for forty eight hours.”

Ronon actually paused to look at the scientist. “So we’re looking for Runners now?”

“If we can help those in the same situation as we found you.” Teyla said softly. “I think it would be a splendid opportunity.”

Ronon nodded as he carried on eating. He couldn’t agree more.

All was good.

 

++++++++++ [S03E07]

 

That was until a month later. When Ronon found himself having to hold McKay up as the man started screaming in pain.

That morning, the Genii had betrayed them and kidnapped Sheppard, then moved him instantly to another planet before they could gate back, McKay was frantic. But Ronon had kept close as McKay became very focused and began doing something with the DHD, apparently getting addresses from it that they could check when they were back on Atlantis.

They had gone through half of the addresses. Each time they opened one McKay just knew Sheppard wasn’t there, then shut the gate down and went to the next.

Elizabeth had talked to the proper Genii when they had been back to the planet and she was still talking with the other Genii, who were apparently the good guys.

That was before an incoming wormhole and some guy called Kolya started spouting off about crap, Ronon didn’t care to understand. All he knew was McKay knew they had Sheppard and when Kolya moved on screen, he revealed Sheppard strapped and gagged in a chair behind him.

The moment the Wraith had started feeding. McKay had collapsed against him and started screaming, almost acting like he was being fed on himself.

Ronon heard Elizabeth begging the bastard Kolya to stop, he managed to drag McKay over to a chair and put him down into it as the Wraith was pulled off Sheppard, Kolya promising more in another three hours as the gate shut down, McKay groaning in what sounded like hopelessness and pain.

“Rodney… I’m so… McKay?” Elizabeth was saying as she turned to them. Then she saw the state of the scientist. Ronon could already see the grey through McKay’s thinning hair. “Doctor Beckett to the control room now!” she said into her com as she knelt before McKay. “Rodney, what happened?”

“He just got fed on.” Ronon stated, thinking it was quite obvious.

“I have work to do…” Rodney uttered brokenly.

“What happened?” Doctor Becket was asking as he came over too. “Oh my god…”

Ronon took a step back as he shared a look with Teyla. They both knew what had happened, they had seen it too often not to, even if it made no sense.

 

++++++++++

 

Elizabeth watched as Rodney carried on opening gates to try and find Sheppard. So far, and even with Radim’s new list of possible outposts, he still hadn’t found anything. It would take time to sift through them all.

She had also been surprised that Rodney hadn’t even mentioned handing over Radim to get his Mate back, just sat in his chair looking a little older and very tired as he absently rubbed at his chest.

“How is he?” she asked Carson who stood by her side. He had already told them that after this third feeding; it would be very unlikely that John would survive another. She looked back at Rodney who already looked like he was in his seventies, his hair grey and dull, his skin sagging and age worn. He looked like someone had sucked all the life from him, which in reality, the Wraith had.

After the last dial in, she knew Ronon had grabbed Rodney, turned him away from the screen and against his chest as the Wraith fed. Muffling the Shifters screams of agony that mirrored Sheppard’s.

Now the young warrior stood over Rodney like his protector, as he couldn’t do anything else, he was going to stand guard over the only thing Sheppard truly loved.

“I have no idea.” Carson confessed wearily to her question. “It might have something to do with the Shifter bond they share. Like they can share their life forces… but that’s all hearsay. Rodney is exhibiting signs that he had been fed upon by a Wraith, but without the physical feeding signs.” He sighed deeply. “I do want to keep him in the infirmary under observation, but even I know that would be cruel.”

She nodded as she gave him a tight knowing smile. Rodney needed to help, especially as his life was on the line too. “I’ll go talk to Ladon again, see if we can work something out.”

“Ay, I’ll stay here and keep an eye on Rodney.” Carson said, giving her a consoling pat on the arm.

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t quite believe he had escaped especially with the help of a Wraith, but here he was, taking first watch as the Wraith slept.

He put his back against a tree and slid down as he listened to the stolen radio. Every bone in his body felt like lead and every muscle hurt more than he could ever remember. All he wanted to do was sleep.

But like he told the Wraith, he had a home to go back too. And he couldn’t die without seeing Rodney again, he needed to apologise to him for shortening his life. Because without even looking, John knew he only had years left, instead of decades, if they actually managed to get off this damn planet.

He knew without a doubt that Rodney would be moving heaven and Earth to get him back. He smiled, thinking how he would be ranting and raving, making everyone’s life hell.

He guessed Kolya must have taken him somewhere really obscure if they still hadn’t found him. But he had only been aware of Rodney when they had brought him into the room with an ancient looking camera and strapped him to the chair.

He rubbed his eyes as the night wore on. The radio had gone quiet a few hours ago, and he found he couldn’t stay awake anymore, a little rest couldn’t hurt.

--

He woke up to the Wraith standing over him.

“They are coming.” Was all it said as he slammed his hand against John’s chest.

John cried out with the pain, like hot pokers sinking into his chest as they drew his very soul from his body. His vision clouded over as he felt himself shrivelling up and drying out.

The Wraith was gone and he was pulled away from the tree to lay prone on the floor, unable to move, but still painfully aware.

Then he felt Rodney, and his heart sang.

 

++++++++++

 

Carson hated flying the jumpers, it felt weird and he was crap at it. But the moment they got through the wormhole and cloaked, Rodney, who had been sat behind him, slumped off his chair, screaming.

“Can you see John?” Teyla was asking desperately as Carson tried to look over his shoulder. He had tried talking Rodney out of coming; he would have been much safer back on Atlantis. But his friend had just glared at him as Ronon loomed over them both.

“Er…” he said turning back to the HUD. “His subcutaneous transmitters still broadcasting. So I guess that’s Sheppard.

“Then set us down there.” Ronon growled as he went to help Rodney.

Carson did the best he could. Setting the jumper down as the Marines in the back opened the hatch and started pouring out.

That was when Carson got a better look at Rodney. The man looked like he was in his hundreds and buried a month already, the skin on his face was shrunken and his eyes were clouded over. “Crap, get me blankets.” Carson could only guess that John must have been fed on again, and was either dead or close to it, either way Rodney looked like death frozen over.

“No…” Rodney uttered in a reedy voice, but his tone was firm. “Not… dying like this…”

“For gods sake Rodney.” Carson pleaded. But Rodney was having none of it as he stiffly turned onto his front and Shifted. Though this time the transition looked slow and painful. But finally a skinny and very bedraggled tiger stood before them. Its muzzle all but white, and what fur Carson could see under his special uniform, was patchy and thin, showing pale white skin underneath that had lost all its elasticity.

Then Rodney was walking out of the jumper and heading the way the HUD had shown Sheppard to be.

They followed Rodney who, despite his considerable age, was keeping a good clip, even making the marines who were following him, have to jog to keep up.

Carson took a moment to look at the LSD in his hand and he knew they were getting close, but there were other life signs with him too. As he watched three of them blinked out, and the one still moving, went to the life sign he suspected was John.

He was just about to call out his findings when Rodney went down on his side with a growl. His legs kicking at the ground, throwing clumps of sod into the air.

“Is he dying?” one of the Marines asked desperately looking scared.

Carson had no idea. But Ronan and Teyla were by Rodney’s side, their hands trying to calm his thrashing before hurting himself. But a few seconds later, Rodney was shaking his large head as he stood up. And Carson and a few of the Marines gasped.

Rodney looked like he always had, a full grown healthy tiger. Even his eyes were normal and the black had returned to his fur and his nose was once again pink.

But they didn’t have much time to process what they had just seen as Rodney leapt away and started running fast the way he had been going, and this time they all had to run to keep up.

Carson heard Rodney roar, and when he got to the clearing, he saw Rodney barrelling into a Wraith.

The Wraith spun away as Ronon turned his gun on it and Rodney got ready to run at the thing.

“WAIT!”

They all heard Sheppard shout, then he was standing up behind Ronon and they all got a good look at him. “Leave him. That’s an order!”

“I don’t understand.” Carson gasped as he kept his gun on the Wraith. “We all saw what he did to you.” But right now, John looked like he did the morning he had left.

“He just undid it...” John said as he looked at the Wraith. “Lower your weapons!” he ordered again as the Wraith carried on glaring at them all.

 

++++++++++

 

John really had no idea what had happened, didn’t even know why he stunned the Wraith and didn’t kill it. But in the end, he would be dead now if it wasn’t for the damn creature.

He watched as the Marines picked the Wraith up and began to walk away, Ronon and Teyla following in confusion.

“John?” Carson said stepping forward, but John held up his hand to stop the Doctor as he sank to his knees, his hands sinking into Rodney’s fur as he bent and laid his lips against the short fur on the top of Rodney’s nose, loving the feel of this simple pleasure.

He closed his eyes as he hugged Rodney’s head, breathing in his familiar musky smell. It felt so good to have his Mates solid warmth pressed up against him. Though he knew he had some apologising to do, for a moment he had wanted to give up, even if it was definitely.

Rodney grumbled beneath him.

“No, don’t Shift.” He answered, “You’re not wearing boots.” He smiled, he also wasn’t sure he could resist just shoving Rodney up against a tree and getting reacquainted, very personally.

“John… We need to go.” Carson said softly. “I also really need to get you back and check you both out.”

John gave Rodney another kiss. Then he stood, taking one of Rodney’s ears in his hand. “Come on then.” he said as they started walking. Then something Carson said sank in. “Both of us?” he asked looking down at Rodney, he seemed fine and he was sure wasn’t complaining about anything right now.

“As we watched that Wraith feed off you, Rodney was going through the same trauma.” Carson was explaining. “So I need to make sure the stress on both your systems don’t have any lingering effects.”

John didn’t like the idea that Rodney had gone through the same pain he had and it left him feeling a little helpless and angry. A place he really didn’t like.

Rodney huffed at him then sighed, and John got a distinct impression that Rodney was thinking he was being stupid.

“Did you take photos?” John asked Carson, who blinked at him in confusion. “I need to know if he gets bald in his old age.” John grinned, trying to ease his own tension.

Carson laughed as Rodney gave a growl of annoyance.

 

++++++++++

 

John wasn’t sure that letting the Wraith go was a good idea, but he was going to stick to his word. There was also something different about that Wraith that had nothing to do with being stuck in a prison together.

Sure he had never really talked to one before, never really cared too. But the Wraith actually talked sense and he knew a thing or two about honour. He actually wished they never met again, but he would kill him if he had too, even if he wouldn’t like it.

Ronon had not been terribly happy about letting the Wraith go, or, curiously enough, not letting Rodney anywhere near it as it lay on the floor of the Jumper. Teyla had just kept a curious frown on her face the whole time they transported the Wraith to another planet and dropped him off.

When they got back to Atlantis, Elizabeth hugged him, but before she could say anything else, Carson had pushed him and Rodney to the infirmary where he made them sit through a bunch of tests.

It was actually nice to hear Rodney bitch through every procedure. It was like despite everything, some things never changed. Even if he had been about to give it all up as he lay dying.

“I just need to get you both a change of clothes.” Carson said happily.

“What the hell for?” Rodney bitched.

“I need to observe you both through the night, and to wait till I get all your tests back.” Carson said as he just walked away.

Rodney slid off the bed next to John angrily, about to follow the Doctor. But John had other plans as he caught Rodney’s arm and pulled him back.

“Wha…” Rodney growled.

John just smiled as he moved Rodney between his knees, looking into his bright blue eyes. “Hello.” He said putting his hands on either side of Rodney’s head, then pulled him in and began kissing him, licking his Mate’s mouth open, feeling Rodney respond just as desperately.

Since he had been saved, he hadn’t had a free moment with his Mate, and he needed it right now. Needed to drink him all in, to bury himself into willing flesh, to make his Mate lose his mind in ecstasy and to know it was of his own doing.

Until this sweet moment as he reconnected with his Mate, he never really thought of himself as overprotective. But as his grip on Rodney tightened, he knew for this one single being he would do anything for. Wherever Rodney was, was home.

Suddenly Rodney pulled out of the kiss, and stared at him, his beautiful dark blue eyes wide, his mouth open in shock. Then Rodney’s features softened as he smiled a little, his chin tilting down as he began to blush.

John guessed the strange instinctually understanding he had when Rodney was Shifted, might actually work both ways. And he smiled back stupidly in return.

“Welcome home.” Rodney whispered softly as the red in his cheeks intensified as he looked away demurely.

With a jolt, it hit every one of John’s Alpha male buttons, as well as hitting him hard in his libido. With a growl he grabbed his Mate and forced their lips together as one hand ran down Rodney’s back, pulling their hips together as he ground his groin into Rodney’s, growling as he felt his Mate’s arousal through too much material.

“Ock… Crap!”

John just ignored the Doctor. Rodney had warned Carson that they wanted to get out of here ASAP. In defiance he lifted his hand up from Rodney’s ass, then proceeded to push his hand down Rodney’s pants, where he grabbed a handful of soft warm flesh. Rodney let out a little whimper of pleasure into John’s mouth.

“Lads.” Carson hissed as John heard curtains being closed around them. “I have other patients! Ya gonna have to stop!”

John felt the hair’s go up on his arms when he felt Carson get too close. It took a moment to get his mouth away from Rodney’s, who seemed determined to follow his lips. But eventually Rodney just moved on to kissing his neck as John glared at Carson.

The doctor swallowed and backed off a step, not needing a verbal warning.

John slid off the bed; bit back his own lustful groan as his whole body was rubbed up against Rodney’s. “If we are about to drop dead…” he managed to say without too much lost dignity. “Then… and only then, can you come get us.” He managed to get hold of one of Rodney’s wrists as he walked them both out of the infirmary. If he didn’t get them to their apartment fast, he was going to have to kill people and then delete the security footage evidence while writing up accidental death reports.

And he hated paperwork.

 

++++++++++

 

John was feeling a little smug the next day.

Despite the fact they had both been totally shattered the night before from all the stress they had gone through, both physically and mentally, that day. John had thrown Rodney down on their bed, stripped them both and slowly dragged his Mate to heaven. Then they had fallen into a sticky satisfied heap, holding each other a little too desperately.

In the morning, John had woken first. Then spent the next hour or so sending Rodney back to his happy orgasmic place. Then he had pulled him out of bed and into the shower, where he pushed Rodney up against the wall and marked the back of his neck, refreshing his marks and dominance. A fact Rodney was quite happy about.

Then he had dried and dressed them both as he gave Rodney a power bar and coffee breakfast. The whole time, Rodney just had a happy little smile on his face, his eyes seemed a little unfocused, but he watched everything John was doing in a contented silence.

He then took Rodney to his lab.

“Oh. Good morning.” Zelenka greeted as John pushed Rodney into his usual chair.

“Morning, Radek.” John answered as he turned on Rodney’s laptop for him. Then gave him a kiss on the forehead. It took him a moment to remove his hand from Rodney’s shoulder, but eventually he did as Rodney turned to his laptop.

As he walked past Zelenka, who had his eyes on Rodney with a disbelieving frown, John leaned in. “Just keep him away from the idiots…” Rodney gave a derisive snort behind them that made them both wince. “Feed him coffee and he might last till I pick him for lunch before he starts yelling.”

“Pfft. Not likely.” Rodney answered loudly, but he sounded distracted, so John guessed he hadn’t fucked it up for the science staff.

Zelenka rolled his eyes as John gave him a wink and left.

Carson hadn’t called on them, so he guessed he and Rodney were not about to break out ‘Wraith’, not like he wanted to do ‘that’ again, being a bug had been bad enough on both of them. So he figured that he should go see if Elizabeth was free. After Carson had dragged them off to the infirmary, he hadn’t seen her.

She was in her office when he knocked and walked in.

“John!” She said standing up smiling, though he could see a crease of guilt around her eyes. “Come on in… I was just going over Carson’s report. I’m relived to hear that you are both fine.”

John shrugged dismissively as he went to sit down in the chair across from her. “If anything.” He said, slouching down a little more. “I feel better than when I left.”

Elizabeth sat down in her own chair, leaning forward. “Is it true?” she asked, her eyes sparkling a little. “That the Wraith gave you back your… youth?”

John nodded. “He drained me almost to death to kill the Genii, then stuck his hand on me, hurt like hell, but he gave back what he took.” He rubbed his chest, even though the mark there had already faded.

“Fascinating.” She smiled, leaning back in her chair.

“There is much about Wraith that we do not know.” He parroted.

“And much about the Shifter Bond we don’t know.” She replied.

 

++++++++++

 

To be continued

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 6]

++++++++++ [S03E08]

John watched as Rodney walked up to his sister’s door and knocked.

He still didn’t know why he had talked himself into coming, he would have been happy to stay on the Prometheus, hell he would have stayed on Atlantis, he had paperwork to catch up with, instead of foisting it all onto Lorne like he had. He really didn’t have to be here, but like Rodney had mused, they still hadn’t let on that they couldn’t be separated for great distances to the SGC even if it was common knowledge on Atlantis. And he really didn’t want to see if being as far as different galaxies might be a tad too much.

So here he sat in their rented car, courtesy of the SGC and the local air force base, as he watched Rodney step into the quaint looking home.

He couldn’t really see who his Shifter was talking too from his vantage point. All he had learned of Mrs J Miller was that they hadn’t really gotten on and that Rodney was disapproving of her dropping out of her profession to get married to an English Major and have a kid.

He wondered how like Rodney she was, she was obviously a genius or they wouldn’t be here.

He saw Rodney turn and gesture for him to come on over. He guessed the cheap flowers Rodney had bought at the last gas station must have worked, though now he was wondering if he should have brought chocolates or something.

“Jeannie, this is Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard.” Rodney was saying as John jogged up the few steps to Rodney’s side. “John, my sister, Jeannie.”

John pulled off his aviator glasses as he held his hand out as Rodney stepped aside. The woman was shorter than her brother, but the look of hardly contained mistrust and slight anger was all Rodney. But she held out her hand and shook it anyway.

“Pleasure to meet you.” He smiled his best ‘Meet the aliens for the first time’. But she obviously was not impressed.

“So what punishment are you on that you have to Chaperone my brother?” she asked sarcastically.

John gave Rodney a look, he thought he would have told her who he was already. But Rodney was to busy blushing and rolling his eyes at the same time.

“He’s not my Chaperone.” Rodney snapped. “I don’t need them anymore!”

The frown on Jeannie’s brow was deepening rapidly.

“What Rodney is trying to say…” John kept his smile in place as he put his hand on the base of Rodney’s back. Apparently the SGC needed this woman and he wasn’t going to let his Mate fuck it up and have another thing that made Rodney insecure. “Is that I’m his Bond Mate.”

He wasn’t expecting Jeannie to take a hurried step back as she clamped a hand over her mouth, she looked like she was about to faint or something. He was just about to get concerned when suddenly she let out a loud laugh that had more scorn in it than humour. “You…” she said pointing at Rodney. “Got a Bond Mate? You?” she said incredulously. “You who said ‘I’ll never be stupid enough to fall in love with some stupid English Major’.” She was getting a little flushed, just the way Rodney did when he was angry. “You go and give your cherry away to some jar-head?!”

“Hey!” John wasn’t a marine, and didn’t like the implication.

She just gave him a scathing look. “Or has the American military finally found the only way to control you is to Bond you into their service? Is that what happened? Oh my god, I knew this would happen someday. Mer how could you let this happen?” when she turned her attention back to her brother her face suddenly softened. “Do I need to call the police? I will, they can’t do this to you! You must know someone in the Canadian government you haven’t pissed off who can help you? Oh, but you’ve managed to piss everyone off haven’t you?” she said still sounding sympathetic. “That’s why I got that letter from Siberia and why I haven’t heard from you in four years? Oh, Mer I’m so sorry!”

John didn’t know if he should be angry, offended or understanding. But he instinctively knew Rodney wasn’t happy, the slight touch of embarrassment was all to clear though, as was the slight tremor John felt through his hand on Rodney’s back.

Jeannie went to put her hand on Rodney’s arm and John just couldn’t allow it. Not right now with Rodney in such emotional turmoil. So he hooked his arm around Rodney’s waist and pulled him back and away from Jeannie as he stepped between the two siblings. “No.” he said firmly.

Jeannie was looking up at him in shock that soon turned to distrust again. “You.” She snorted at him as she tilted her chin up defiantly. “Can stand outside while I talk to my brother!”

John gave her his not so pretty smile, she looked unsure for a moment, but just like her brother she stood her ground, so he had to respect her for that. “Look, we didn’t come here to fight.” He said to her as calmly as he could, he wasn’t really angry at her, she just didn’t understand, so with his free arm he closed the door so they had a little privacy. She didn’t like it but she kept her peace. “I used to be Rodney’s Chaperone, and well… something happened and we Bonded.” What he hadn’t expected was how fast Jeannie could move as her hand came up and slapped him across the face, hard. He had just enough time though for his brain not to kick in his battle ready reflexes and take her down.

Now his cheek stung like hell and adrenalin was cursing though his system unpleasantly as he slowly turned to glare at her. She wasn’t giving an inch. “So you raped my brother?” she sneered.

At the same time Rodney was squirming behind John. “What the hell!” he squeaked angrily as John let him go enough to get to his side, then hands were on his face as Rodney tried to look at his abused cheek. But he was talking to his sister. “You can’t just go slapping my Bond Mate!” he was saying. John knew better than to shrug Rodney off, knowing the Shifter had to make sure he was okay or he would never calm down. So he bared it, all the time he and Jeannie were glaring at each other. “And how the hell could he rape me?” Rodney carried on, but he seemed happy John was okay as he turned to his sister. “I wouldn’t have Bonded with just any old flyboy, there has to be some willingness to it!” he snapped.

“Old flyboy?” John muttered as he felt himself relax a little.

“Well you’re no spring chicken.” Rodney snapped at him, before talking to Jeannie again. “And ok, so it was a screwed up time for the both of us. He’s still only the second person I ever wanted to bond with, and to be frank, I’m quite happy with what happened.”

John could tell Jeannie wasn’t buying it. “Don’t you see?” She growled. “Mer, how can you be sure he’s not a plant by the military? Sent to seduce you?!”

Rodney snorted angrily. “You think I could be fooled like that?” he asked almost rhetorically. “And I know John never wanted to be lumbered with a Shifter!”

John shrugged at that, it was true. Now, though, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Rodney could drive him to the point of insanity, then a moment later they would be laughing so much it hurt. Life with Rodney was never boring.

“Prove it then?” Jeannie demanded as the arms across her chest tightened some what.

John frowned, what did she want? A bloody floor show as he took her brother in the hall?

“Fine.” Rodney said as he turned to John. “Call… the base and tell them we resign, we aren’t going home and you are not allowed to fly ever again.”

John felt a moment of panic as he looked into his lovers blue eyes. “Rodney?” He questioned darkly, though he was still reaching for the issued cell phone in his pocket.

“It’s ok.” Rodney said softly. “We can stay here with Jeannie till we find other work, they can’t extradite you from Canada, and if they try we can go to the Registry. They can protect us.” He said as he moved closer against John’s side, putting his arms around him, as John did the same with his free arm. His other was already hitting the speed dial for General Landry’s office.

John brought the phone to his ear as it rang, he couldn’t take his eyes off of Rodney. Wondering where this was leading.

“Hey… wait!” Jeannie suddenly said, sounding a little startled.

‘General H Landry.’ John heard.

“General Landry, its Sheppard.”

‘Ah, have you talked to McKay’s sister?’ Landry asked.

“No!” Jeannie said loudly. “I didn’t mean something like this! And you are NOT staying with me!”

“You wanted proof?” Rodney answered. “You’re getting it; John will give up everything he loves for it!”

“I didn’t mean something like this!” Jeannie said in distress. “Stop being such an idiot!”

John heard Landry sounding confused on the other end of the line. He was about to answer when Rodney snatched the cell phone out of his hand.

“Sorry, Hank.” Rodney said into the phone. “Still working on it.” Then he hung up.

“You just hung up on the General.” John couldn’t help the slight smile of amusement.

Rodney huffed. “He’s used to it.” He said turning to his sister as he put the phone back into John’s jean pocket. “So what proof did you want?” he asked.

Jeannie actually blushed as she gave a little shrug.

“Oh, for…” Rodney sighed. “John, kiss me.”

John gave Jeannie a glance, he didn’t do audiences, but fuck it. He cupped the back of Rodney’s head then pulled him in and began kissing him. It only took a few moments for the kiss to deepen, then he was pushing Rodney up against the door as he devoured him. Satisfied when he made the Shifter groan in pleasure, it always did wonderful things for his ego.

“I get the idea.” Jeannie sighed and John pulled away to rest their foreheads together as they caught their breaths.

“Jennie, do you know where… Oh… err?”

John turned to see a tall man with curly dark hair stood by another door looking a little surprised.

“Kaleb. This is John… My brothers Bond Mate.” Jeannie announced.

“Hi.” John offered as he kept his arm around Rodney’s waist.

“Hi.” Kaleb responded. “I guess that’s another for lunch?” he smiled.

 

++++++++++

 

Jeannie had kept an eye on the Colonel as she argued with Mer, she still didn’t trust him. She might not really know her brother that well anymore, but she knew him well enough to know he would never jeopardise his career for ‘love’. And fine, Mer may have had some feelings for the military man, but that never really meant they had to be returned.

Also, that look he had given her in the hall? There was something dark and dangerous about the colonel that sent a warning shiver down her spine. She guessed she shouldn’t have hit him as a second later his eyes had turned hard, she figured he had just controlled himself enough not to end up giving her a broken jaw.

She still couldn’t figure out what Mer saw in the Colonel. He was attractive in a dark sultry way, but usually military men weren’t all that bright, and Mer only took notice of brainy people.

She had also tried keeping Maddy away from him. But he had given her a smile and asked her name, and she was all over him, even ran off to get one of her favourite books so he could read it to her, which he had without any preambles as she sat on his lap, engrossed in his story telling.

Then Kaleb had announced dinner was ready, and she hadn’t missed the way the Colonels face had twisted in displeasure as Mer let him know it was going to be tofu turkey. They had then shared a look and started chuckling together. She heard the Colonel say something like ‘at least it wasn’t mystery chicken’, to which they chuckled some more.

Through dinner, Kaleb had actually talked a lot with the Colonel, whose answers had sometimes been stilted as he gave an apologetic smile, meaning he couldn’t answer all his question.

And now she stood by the sink, still reeling that Mer expected her to be away from her husband and daughter for three months, and he just couldn’t understand that she couldn’t do it.

“Fine, you give me no choice!” Mer exclaimed.

“Rodney?” the Colonel said in a warning tone. He had been stood behind her brother looking uninterested the whole time.

“I said this was a last resort, trust me.” Met said over his shoulder as he moved around the counter. “Give me your hand.” He said holding out his own.

“Why?” she asked tentatively, giving the Colonel another glance as the man stood behind Mer, with his hand hooked through her brothers elbow.

“Please, just give me your hand. Will you just…”

She reluctantly did against her better judgment as he used something in his other hand.

The next thing she knew there was a bright light and she was somewhere else.

 

++++++++++

 

“I thought your sister took it well.” John said as they got back into their courtesy car and he pulled away into traffic.

“She’ll come around.” Rodney smirked. “She can’t resist all the toys I showed her.”

John smiled. “I don’t think she likes me much.” He confessed.

Rodney snorted. “Because she distrusts the military and still can’t believe you’re not some kind of military plant to control me.”

“Chance would be a fine thing.” John rolled his eyes. “There are only four things that I know of to get you to do anything.” He saw Rodney look at him sharply out of the corner of his eye as he came to an intersection.

“And those are?” Rodney asked mockingly.

“The threat of imminent death.” John answered as there was a break in the traffic.

“and?” Rodney persisted.

“Coffee, Chocolate.” He answered, then leered at his Mate. “And sex.” Rodney was glaring at him before he looked back to the road. “Tell me I’m wrong?”

Rodney sat smouldering for a moment before answering grudgingly. “I only put out for the good stuff.”

“I should hope the sex is always the good stuff.” He replied, enjoying the way Rodney snorted with embarrassment besides him.

“Well obviously!” Rodney said dismissively. “And that reminds me… we need to get some European chocolate. There should be somewhere in the city we can get it.”

John shook his head, trust Rodney to mention sex and chocolate in the same breath. “Weren’t we also meant to get the latest movies?” There had actually been an extensive list, hurriedly put together by almost everyone on base before they went through the gate.

“Already downloading them off the internet.” Rodney replied. “I guess we are going shopping?” he sighed.

“Only for stuff we want.” John replied. “I gave the list in at the SGC for them to get the rest… We also need to get more good coffee and beer. I think Zalenka also wanted stuff to make a better distillery.”

Rodney groaned. Zelenka’s moonshine gave the Athosian’s version a run for its money on how fast it could strip a persons insides. And it was almost a right of passage for any new personnel to down a shot of the damn stuff and not die. Elizabeth and Carson had disapproved when one of the new botanists had breathed in when he drank and ended up with a bad asthma attack. But they had eventually just ignored it, realising how it was actually a moral booster, well, for the sadistic bastards watching and not for the poor sod who didn’t know better.

He was sure Caldwell tried to warn his crew not to drink anything offered to them, but it didn’t work. It was now more of an event, and people would call their friends to come watch. Any amusement in a battle zone was better than none.

“We can go to a Wallmart for that stuff I guess.” Rodney said as he fished out his phone and started looking through it.

“What ya looking for now?” John enquired.

“Specialist chocolate and coffee shops.” Rodney muttered.

“Look up some game shops too… I want to get us DSi’s, and Frank was telling me there are some golf games I should try.” He didn’t even have to see Rodney rolling his eyes to know he was.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney stole John’s blue jello as his Mate was looking over the list of supplies that the SGC had managed to get for everyone back at Atlantis. They had already planned on nabbing Zelenka’s manga collection, and looking for any porn before giving it to the scientist. They were just annoyed they couldn’t get their hands on it first as they waited for his stupid sister to make up her mind.

“Ah, Rod!” Rodney looked up to see Daniel stood by the door to the Mess, “Just the man I wanted to see!”

“Hu?” he asked, as John turned slowly to look at the archaeologist, Daniel was about the only person who ever called him that, which always earned points in Rodney’s book. “What?”

“Come!” Daniel said as he then just walked back out of the Mess.

Rodney thought about just finishing his blue jello instead of following. But John stood and pulled him along, “He’s only going to keep hunting us down.” John sighed.

They followed the archaeologist to his layer as the man was pulling out a chair. “Ah… Sheppard… Grab that chair over there; I guess you would want to hear this too.” Daniel gave John a vague apologetic smile.

Rodney sat down in the chair Daniel had pulled out for him as John sat next to him. “Ok, so what have you found in your dusty books?” Rodney grinned as he looked about the dim room.

Daniel just smiled at him. “Well.” The man said as he sat in his own chair and seemed to get even more exited. “You know how the Shifter Bastet helped to take down Ra and was then the protector of the Eye of Ra, the Stargate?”

Rodney yawned dramatically. “Yes, yes, we all got taught that in kindergarten.”

“Well, we have been wondering why there were never any Shifters found on other worlds. I’ve read some of the reports from Atlantis, and there are also no Shifters there.”

“Nope.” John said at his side. “Teyla had never even seen a big cat before, and no one we have dealt with has ever seen one either, not even in their legends.”

Daniel nodded, “It’s the same in this galaxy too. But the history of Shifters goes back even before Ra turned up, or any of the other Goa’uld. And we wondered why that was.” Daniel said happily. “After all, the Goa’uld took many people to other world, we would have expected at least some Shifters to show up here and there, even if it’s only one percent of Earth population who are actually born Shifters. Some should have been born in the rest of this galaxy.”

“And you have found out why?” John asked as he slouched in his chair, throwing one arm across the back of Rodney’s.

Daniel pulled a face, “Well, actually we can only summarise on that point. We guess that maybe all the Shifter and their families were put into exile or sent away. Which is maybe why Shifters are more prevalent in Northern Europe, South Africa, some parts of Asia and Russia and were so numerous among the American Indians before they were mostly whipped out.” He said. “So most of the blood lines that could carry a Shifter blood line were never exposed to Goa’uld. But even then we can’t say why they never appeared anywhere else in this galaxy, maybe they were just wiped out by the Goa’uld because apparently they can’t be host to symbiotes.”

“I can’t?… Oh, well, that’s always nice to know.” Rodney grinned at his Mate, “I can tell the Doctors to stop scanning me for them now.”

John just gave him a grin back.

“So why are we getting this history lesson?” Rodney asked Daniel. “Because I left half my blue jello for this, and if you realized how hard that was to get…”

“I’ll make sure there is some in your supplies.” Daniel grinned. “As to my point.” He said raising a finger into the air. “They finally got through deciphering some of the corrupted data from the ancient outpost in the Antarctic!”

“And?” Rodney sighed getting a little bored, it wasn’t like he was ever any good at history anyway.

“Shifters were created by the ancients shortly after they abandoned Atlantis.” Daniel said like he had just revealed the greatest thing on Earth, like a few full charged ZedPM’s. Rodney just stared at the archaeologist as the basted just looked at him with a smug smile.

“So.” John drawled out and Rodney could hear the slight anger in it. “They made the Wraith and thought it would be a good idea to do something similar?”

Rodney watched as Daniel winced, and he went cold inside.

“Almost.” Daniel said with less excitement. “From what we have from the data. They were trying to make something to fight the Wraith, if they ever made it to earth… and to be honest they succeeded.”

Rodney just blinked. The ancients had given him the best things in his life, they had given him Atlantis, they had given him the best playground ever, they had also given John the ancient gene so they could meet and Bond… and now he was being told that his life had also been ruined from birth by the very people he idolised?

Rodney felt John move and take his wrist and slowly rub his thumb over the underside. It only calmed him down from a full on panic attack, but not by much.

“So Shifters were meant to be Earth’s protectors?” John asked softly.

Rodney watched as Daniel looked at their hands. Then he was nodding. “From what the biologist have been working on here and on Atlantis, also from what we found in the database. Shifters, in Shifted form will be immune to Wraith feeding. Their genetics we’ve known for a long time have always been a little different to normal people, so there are theories that even as human the Wraith might find it unpleasant to feed off a Shifter, if they could at all.”

“I already know they only like feeding off humans.” John said darkly. “And I’m not going to let a Wraith feed off Rodney.”

Daniel smiled at that, which made Rodney want to hit him.

“You actually have it the wrong way around.” Daniel said. “It’s the Shifter that should be protecting you Colonel.”

Rodney knew John was grinning at that without even looking. “Really?” John drawled slowly.

“That is after all, why Shifters are like they are.” Daniel continued, ignoring John’s sarcasm. “Through the ages and probably since the Goa’uld were kicked from Earth, maybe even before. Shifters have been worshiped, as something special that need protecting. After all Bastet was original a fierce lioness goddess who was a protector, she was also seen as a woman with the head of a lion, till finally she appears as the domestic cat we know today, probably long after she died and history rolled on. So Shifters went from fierce protectors to something that needs protecting.”

“Get to the point.” Rodney growled.

“Ah, yes. Well I think the ancients didn’t want to make the same mistake as they did with the Wraith. So they genetically built in fail-safe’s.”

“Great.” Rodney wanted to leave. But John’s hand on his wrist was growing tighter.

“If you say so.” Daniel answered sarcastically. “So, anyway, they used the kitten reflex where if a mother cat picks up a kitten, they instantly go limp, but they kept it in Shifters as a permanent trait, but the neck thing.” Daniel pointed vaguely to his own throat. “Is to make the Shifter so loyal to the person they bonded with, so that they are incapable of betraying or turning against the person they are protecting.”

Rodney looked at John, it was true, and there was not a bone in his body that would even think of doing any harm to him.

“That’s not the worse bit in the database.” Daniel was carrying on. “They also put in some kind of switch that we always put down to grief before. But if a Shifter fails in protecting their bonded and they die, the Shifter dies too, but not the other way around. Well, apart from rare Alphas.” Daniel said giving John a look.

“So… I’m nothing but a glorified bloody bodyguard?” Rodney squeaked. “That’s all I was born for?”

“At first… yes.” Daniel said, at least he looked a little bit more contrite now.

“At first?” John asked softly.

“Just like with the Wraith, they couldn’t control everything. We know from history that there is an element of ‘feelings’ involved for a Bonding to actually take place, or a Shifter can reject a bond. So in that they failed in what they were after. Also we have since found that the strongest Bonds are actually formed between someone with the ancient gene and a Shifter.”

Rodney felt John’s grip on his wrist tighten a little.

“So that would explain why you two have such a good Bond.” Daniel smiled. “Or so Doctor Lam was telling me.”

“I bet that’s got you worried then,” Rodney sneered still angry that he was just a tool, that he was being compared with a Wraith, just another Ancient biological weapon gone wrong.

“Umm… why?” Daniel asked bemused.

“O’Neill is a strong gene carrier… I can’t imagine you would be too happy if he got himself a Shifter.” He grinned viciously as he watched Daniel blush and look away.

“Rodney….” John whispered softly and Rodney knew he wanted him to shut up, but he just couldn’t.

“What?!” he snapped, turning to his Mate. “He stinks of O’Neill most of the time; to be honest I’m surprised the General isn’t pissing on him to mark his territory!”

“That’s enough.” John said now grinding his fingers into Rodney’s wrist.

“DADT was rescinded while we were away.” Rodney said with less anger, he was finding it very hard to keep his mood as John was forcing him into a more passive state of mind. After all, DADT was only between military personnel, of which Daniel was not. “It’s not my fault I have a good sense of smell!”

“He’s just the messenger.” John said. “So calm down.”

“Bit hard not too.” Rodney said feeling himself smile stupidly.

“So apologise to him.” John ordered lightly, nodding his head at Daniel as he also gave Rodney a tight smile.

Rodney was just about to do it when Daniel spoke.

“That’s fine. But that’s another thing, You holding his wrist like that Sheppard isn’t fair, you’re suppressing Rod’s own will, so anything you say he should follow blindly.” Daniel said quietly. “If you told him to kill me right now, he would whether he wanted to or not. More so if you had your hands on his neck.”

Rodney knew that was true if John truly wanted him too, and he hated it most of the time. Not so much right now as John’s hand left his wrist to climb up his back to rest lightly on his neck.

“Huu.” John huffed in amusement at Rodney’s side. “I think Rodney’s must be broken. Rodney, pick up that cup and drop it on the floor.”

Rodney found his other hand around the only half filled cup on the desk, still steaming with fresh, real coffee. So with a snarl he picked it up and drank the contents down with relish. After all, everyone knew Jackson always had good coffee so there was no way he would waste it. Then he slammed the cup back on the table and glared at John.

“See.” John smiled back at him. “I don’t know about other Shifters, but even I know he wouldn’t waste good coffee without a fight. And he wouldn’t do anything I told him if he really didn’t want too. But then I would never ask him to either.”

“Interesting.” Daniel said as Rodney turned to see the anthropologist looking at him.

“You cannot study me!” Rodney snapped.

Daniel chuckled, “Shame, but in short, Rod, you are probably one of the most invaluable members of the Atlantis expedition.”

“Well obviously.” Rodney huffed. “Without my genius there wouldn’t be any expedition anymore and Atlantis would be at the bottom of the ocean again.”

“I’m sure.” Daniel said in a dry tone Rodney didn’t like.

“He’s right.” John put in, in his defence.

“Even so.” Daniel said. “I mean you were actually made to fight the Wraith, or at least to protect humans from them.”

“Err… I’d rather not.” Rodney answered with a grimace; he wasn’t a fighter, however much John trained him to be. He preferred pumping the enemy full of lead than sinking his teeth into their necks and snapping them like twigs, also the taste of blood, Wraith or not, was disgusting, and the feel of it on his claws made him itch to clean them. He was a scientist first and foremost. Not a warrior like Ronon.

“You do just fine.” John answered a little proudly. Obviously remembering the Wraith Rodney had taken out.

“It’s been what? Almost ten thousand years! I’m might be ‘made’ to fight! But I still prefer guns, big guns! As far away as humanly possible!”

“Then you need more practise on the firing range.” John grinned. “You know how nerves it makes Ronon when you start shooting.”

“Daniel! You here?!”

Rodney looked over to see General O’Neill come sauntering into Daniel’s lab and he grinned wolfishly as John got to his feet.

“Oh… you have company?” O’Neill said as he paused in the doorway.

Rodney watched as Daniel looked at the book on the table at his side.

“That’s ok General.” John said crisply. “I think we were done here?”

“Oh, yes, I’ll send you anything else that we find out.” Daniel said.

“Ok, come on Rodney. Good day Dr Jackson, General.” John said with a nod at each.

Rodney bounded to his feet as he leaned in to Daniel. “Tell Jack to stop being sloppy with you at work.” He whispered to the other man before he ran after John who was stood at the door.

“What the hell did he mean?” Rodney heard O’Neill asking.

“Ah… umm…” Daniel was replying.

“You really shouldn’t tease him.” John said with a laugh. “So you think they do it at work?” he whispered as they walked towards the elevators.

Rodney snorted. “They were at it like bunnies in Antarctica.” He said. “I could barely stand being around them.”

“McKay!”

“Oops.” Rodney grinned at his Mate as they turned around to see O’Neill stood outside the door they had just left. “Yes?”

“Keep your nose to yourself!” O’Neill growled.

“Slightly hard to do when I need to breath.” Rodney replied snappily. “Why don’t you just stick a ring on his finger before you meet another Shifter!” then he was being dragged into an elevator as he watched O’Neill’s face go a little white.

When the doors shut John started hauling with laughter. “We are so gonna pay for that.”

“Hn… I just made his day.” Rodney grinned. “You think Dan heard what I said?”

John was holding onto his shoulder as he bent over trying to catch his breath. “Who knows.”

 

++++++++++

[A few days later abroad the Daedalus]

 

It was late, and Jeannie was wishing Mer would just let her go to bed. But they had just hit a vital bit of coding that even she knew they couldn’t sleep on before getting it all down.

Mer was just typing up all they had discussed, so she sat back in her chair and yawned.

Two weeks she had been cooped up on this ship they called The Daedalus. At first she hated the fact Mer wanted to work and she just wanted to explore. Two day’s in though, John had announced he was giving her a tour, and Mer should join then so he could do all the ‘geek stuff’.

She had been so thrilled, and Mer seemed more than happy to gush at her about all the ships working and what he had done on the project to help. John had just tagged on behind with a slight smile on his face like he had heard it all before, but was contented to hear it all again.

At one point Mer had wandered into a room that seemed to be full of people. But John had caught her arm.

“Err… There is an alien called Hermiod. Try not to stare at him, apparently he doesn’t like it.”

She had laughed at him. “What? Is he a little green man?” John’s face had twisted into something she couldn’t quite read, but he just pushed her into the room where Mer was impatiently waiting for them.

Then she saw the little gray alien… and stared. She still did. They were real? She just couldn’t get over the fact, apparently he was an Asgard and it freaked her out a bit.

But the space ship, little grey men or their work hadn’t been the only thing she had been paying close attention too.

She had also been studying John Sheppard.

She found out quick enough that he was very well respected for his bravery and keeping the city and it’s people safe, that he was the military commander of Atlantis, and the only reason, according to some, that he wasn’t the leader was because he was to lazy to actually want to. All agreed he was a man of action, not diplomacy.

She also learned that he was a man of few words. Well, unless it was arguing with Mer, which they seemed to do a lot. Well, arguing wasn’t quite the right analogy. They talked to each other in sarcasm varying in volume.

Most of the crew seemed to just ignore their arguments, some actually listened in, and a few others who seemed concerned about it, soon learned it was just their way of communicating. It didn’t help that in the mess she had found their relationship was the main fodder for gossip. She had been offended before realising it wasn’t all that malicious, in fact it seemed to amuse most but not in a bad way.

And then there had been the incident four day’s into the trip when she had woken with another idea and gone running into the next room where she knew Mer would be, only to find Mer stood in his boxers yawning as John was pulling up Mer’s pants.

They both froze as they looked at her.

“Close the door!” Mer had snapped at her, which broke the spell, she went into the room, closed the door and turned; John had already fastened Mer’s pants and was reaching for a t-shirt. “So why are you here?” Mer had asked as he put his arms out for John who was helping him into the t-shirt.

“Emm, I just had an idea…” she had blushed.

“And?” Mer insisted as John pulled the shirt over Mer’s head.

But she couldn’t say anything as she watched. “You can’t even dress yourself?” she had asked instead.

Mer gave a long suffering sigh. “Not when this idiot is around.” He replied. “If I don’t let him dress me, he’s grumpy for the entire day.”

“I’m not grumpy.” John had replied as he held up Mer’s uniform jacket. “It just feels… wrong.”

Mer had just snorted, but there was a smile on his face as he turned to put his arms out as John slid the jacket on, then he had looked at her. “See, this is what happened when I went and Bonded with a damn Alpha!”

“Alpha?” she had gasped in disbelief.

“Yes.” Mer had replied witheringly. “Apparently ‘this’ Alpha has to dress and undress me or he get’s grumpy.” He said before turning to John who was looking a little awkward. “He would wear my clothes before I did if he could get away with it.”

John had growled something under his breath that she hadn’t quite caught.

“No it would not!” Mer had snapped. “You would still dress me! And I would have to deal with your smell all day!”

“And that would be a bad thing?” John had asked a little too heatedly.

Then she had to watch her brother melt against the other man’s chest with a grin. “Maybe I’ll have to start wearing vests?”

The look of lust on John’s face had Jeannie hightailing it out of the room before either man could respond. She hadn’t seen them till an hour later looking a little flushed and John looking very smug. Also she was sure John had dressed Mer in a white t-shirt, though now he was wearing a black one.

- -

John had come in about an hour ago. He hadn’t said anything, just sat down next to Mer and started playing on his little games console. Eventually Mer had turned a little sideways in his chair, away from John while John had leaned against his back. The Colonel was still their, sound asleep, the side of his head resting against the back of Mer’s neck.

They hadn’t said anything to each other the whole time, like this was the most natural thing in the world.

“He really does love you… doesn’t he?” she found herself asking quietly.

Mer glanced up at her with a frown, like she had just asked if he was sitting on a chair. Then realisation made his frown deeper. “No.” he answered scathingly. “You almost forgot he’s a military spy, set to make me do terrible things.”

She rolled her eyes. “You did blow up a whole galaxy.”

“Half, and that was my idea… not the blowing up… Shut up.” He snapped as he looked back down at his laptop.

She just smiled. She knew she was right. After all, it’s the little things that count in a relationship. The dressing was a little strange, but the way John would just turn up with coffee no matter where they were, the way he would just lay a hand on Mer when they were together, for those who didn’t know, it could just be construed as ‘friendly’, but John wasn’t like that with anyone else, not one bit, he didn’t even like her touching him, even accidentally. Or the way he would let Mer steal his pudding, and the way they would just look at each other and start giggling about something, like they could read each others minds.

When she had casually asked Mer about it at one point, he had just huffed and said it was mostly a Shifter thing, and left it at that.

But she knew all her fears were unfounded. Even if neither would actually tell her how they came to be bonded. It was obvious now that John loved her brother with every fibre of his being.

She yawned again loudly, she really needed some sleep and was about to ask if they could call it a night when he looked over at Mer.

Mer had gone completely still as his eyes stared out of the window. His pupils were also blown wide. She was about to ask if he was okay when she saw John move slightly. He had turned his head and was now nibbling the back of Mer’s neck, his arms were also about Mer’s waist and looked like they were trying to get under his clothes.

She gawped when John’s arms suddenly tightened and he bit into the back of Mer’s neck, making her brother groan out in pain and pleasure. She winced, it looked painful and Mer hated pain, but he also wasn’t protesting.

She was about to protest when it actually dawned on her what was happening, John wasn’t awake as he started fondling her brother, so blushing she got up as quietly as she could and left the room, closing the door behind her.

For a moment she considered calling Caldwell and asking that no one come into the conference room. But thought better of it, no one ever disturbed them before, other than John. And she was sure if it got common knowledge, half the crew would be down here with cameras to watch the floor show.

So with a shake of her head, she went to her own quarters to get a good nights sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney couldn’t believe that his sister had told the team about all the embarrassing crap that happened to him as a kid before he got thrown into a Dorm. At least she didn’t know most of the crap the other Shifters did to a geeky, good looking, pure breed, and rare coat. But he really didn’t like to think about that shit.

“Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay to the isolation room immediately!” Elizabeth’s worried voice came over the tannoy system.

Just when he thought everything was going so well. “Isolation room?... Come on!” he snapped at his Mate and sister.

Ten minutes later he had John plastered to his side as they looked down at another version of himself. Who was also looking up at them and waving.

They had already gone over all the why’s and where for’s and Jeannie had already made a point of trying to belittle him, which is probably why John was trying to get into his skin, to make him feel better.

“What do we do now?” Elizabeth was asking.

“Err… I guess we go talk to him.” Jeannie answered.

Though Rodney really didn’t want too.

“He’s not a Shifter.” John suddenly said.

“How can you tell from here?” Elizabeth asked, looking down at the other man.

John just shrugged. “Trust me, he’s not.”

“How could he not be, if he’s you?” Jeannie asked.

Rodney waved his hand in the air dismissively. “Even teams back at the SGC haven’t come across a parallel universe that has Shifters. There has to be some, but we haven’t come across them yet, so the likelihood that we would have tapped into one is almost astronomical.”

“Why don’t you go talk to him?” Elizabeth asked.

“Fine.” He answered distantly, his head still spinning till he turned on his sister. “You’re coming too, this is half your fault.”

Jeannie pulled a face. “Fine.”

Rodney was a little surprised when John let him go, and he looked at his mate curiously.

“I… I’ll stay up here for now.” John replied looking a little awkward.

Rodney could feel how confused his mate was about all this, so he just nodded and followed his sister.

 

++++++++++

 

John felt unbelievably awkward as he watched Rodney talking with ‘Rod’.

Rod looked like Rodney in every way, but he felt so totally wrong, like there was something missing that he just couldn’t put his finger on.

“You okay?” Elizabeth asked quietly as they listened to the conversation going on below.

John shrugged, not taking his eyes off the two identical men. “Forty percent is having interesting fantasies…” He confessed. “The other.” He frowned. “Wants to kill him because he’s not Rodney.”

Elizabeth hummed at his side. “Maybe you should talk to him first. Though he doesn’t seem to have any of Rodney’s insecurities.”

John nodded, but then that was something else that was grating on his nerves. Even as he watched them talk, Rod was making Rodney look stupid. And there wasn’t anything in him that would stand for that.

“Oh… that’s not good.” Elizabeth said, standing up a little.

“Hu.” John hadn’t been listening.

“Rod’s stuck here apparently.” She said giving him a sympathetic smile. “There are some free quarters on the east pier, why don’t you take Rod over there and get him settled in, then we can see about what to do about this situation?”

The look of confusion and the vague feeling of despair he could feel from his mate, got his feet moving as he went down to the Iso room.

Jeannie was asking him something when he walked in.

The feeling of wrongness hit him ten fold as he walked around him and straight for Rodney, who was standing up and looking at him with a lost expression on his face. Instinctively he reached out and took Rodney’s wrist and squeezed softly, feeling his Mate calm down, if only a little.

“Sheppard!” Rod said, sounding happy to see him.

John turned to nod at him. Trying hard not to flinch away from his offered hand, but out of manners he took it, then instantly let go, trying very hard not to growl as he pulled Rodney to his side a little more possessively.

The only way he could think of the contact was like touching a warm corpse. The connection he had with Rodney just wasn’t there and it creeped him out. Just the thought of Rodney being dead wasn’t something he ever wanted to contemplate, yet here stood a man with his mate’s face that felt dead to him.

“Err?” Rod said a little awkwardly as he looked at Jeannie questioningly.

“Oh, um. Rodney is Sheppard’s Shifter, and you being here is kind of making him uneasy?” she answered looking at John for confirmation.

John nodded, “Just a little.”

“Shifter? What’s tha… Oh!” Rod said as his eyes went wide and he waggled a finger between John and Rodney. “Like romantically involved?” he asked, pulling a face.

“Well… no.” Jeannie tried to explain. “Actually, yes. They are romantically involved. But my brother is a Shifter, it means he can turn into a big cat. He’s a white Tiger.” She said with a little pride.

Rod was looking shocked as he looked Rodney up and down. “Really? That’s kinda cool. Can a lot of people do it in this universe?”

“No,” Rodney said, “It’s a rare trait in Earth’s population. Apparently the Ancients weren’t just satisfied with making Wraith and Replicators. They made Shifters too, to fight the Wraith if they ever got back to Earth.”

“Did it work?” Rod asked instantly, looking intrigued.

“They never got to Earth.” John finally found his voice. “But Rodney can take a Wraith down without much problem, and they can’t feed from him.”

“Interesting.” Rod smiled. “So you have a lot here then?”

“Because they are rare, they are discouraged from being on front lines.” John answered. “Look… Elizabeth said we should get you settled in.”

He really just wanted to get this guy as far from Rodney as he could, and himself. He needed a little time with Rodney. Or just to be away from Rod.

 

++++++++++

 

John putted another golf ball into the great blue sea as Rodney lay on the floor just behind him, his big head resting on his paws as he watched the ball’s disappear.

He’s never told Rodney to stay Shifted before that morning.

But after a night of attempting to watch brainless TV together, then going to bed not feeling very amorous, they had both woken up feeling tired and grumpy.

John still didn’t like the thought of Rod being about, and Rodney had been berating himself about another experiment going stupendously wrong and fucking up.

So after their run that morning, that hadn’t helped either of their moods. He had called in saying they were both having the morning off, then told Rodney he had to stay as a tiger till lunch.

Rodney had grumbled, but some instinct in John knew it was the right thing to do. They both needed to relax and process the fact that Rod was going to be a permanent fixture in their universe. Even if Rodney had muttered something about cascade failure might make it a mute point in forty eight hours. If they were lucky.

So now John was doing one thing that relaxed him, that he enjoyed, even if most of the time Rodney would just leave him to it. So it was pleasant to actually have his Mate with him.

“Oh, here you are!”

John froze as he watched his latest shot disappear, he knew Rodney was getting to his feet. “Stay where you are.” He said to his Mate, seeing Rodney sit down on his backside, but his head was turning towards the intruder to their peaceful bubble.

“Jesus!” He heard Rod exclaim before John could turn to look at the other man.

“We asked not to be disturbed.” John couldn’t help but say.

“Is that a tiger?!” Rod was now pointing at Rodney, who gave a growl and John could hear Rodney asking if he could attack him.

“No.” John replied as he laid a hand on Rodney’s head, answering both questions at once.

“You have pet tigers?” Rod was asking, his eyes wide.

“No.” John repeated himself. “This is Rodney, who’s a Shifter.” He clarified. “Can we help you with something?”

Rod finally looked up at him, then smiled. “Oh, no. I just heard you might be out here Golfing, so I had to come take a look. No one really liked it back home, so I don’t get to do it much.”

“Doesn’t your Sheppard Golf?” He found himself asking. Even thought he could feel the agitation from Rodney, so he just scratched him between the ears.

Rod just laughed. “Not at all, in fact you have to take a cattle prod to Sheppard to get him up this early.”

“Late night’s partying?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“If you could call it that, He’s very active with the MENSA Club we have back there.” He smiled whimsically. “They have a ‘lot’ of functions.”

Rodney gave a snort then he started laughing as only a tiger could, so it came out more of a coughing fit.

“Shut up.” John said as he dug his knuckles into Rodney’s fury head, making him yelp, John immediately rubbed it better. “And you can’t blame a man for his intelligence.”

Rodney gave a snort of disbelief then started ranting something about idiot colonels with a death wish who liked to pretend they were stupid by acting like a laid back surfer boy who was to old to pull it off anymore and thought his fluffy hair made him look younger than he was. Then he was looking up at John with a smug smile.

“This idiot colonel just might be asking you to stay Shifted for the rest of the day.” He shot back with his own smug smile as Rodney glared up at him. “Yes I would.”

“Is that Telepathy too?” Rod said, making his disturbing presence known again.

John shrugged. “No, I just know what he’s saying.”

“Like thoughts? Or like when you just know what someone’s going to say next?” Rod asked, his face looking like Rodney when he was offered a new ancient artefact.

John looked down at his mate, who just shrugged. It didn’t quite work the same way with Rodney, because John could always answer him, but so far he had never been wrong about understanding him. “Both I guess.”

“Fascinating.” Rod was now looking at Rodney like he was some new toy to be played with, and it disturbed John to the core. It also didn’t help that Rodney stood and backed around John’s legs as he looked away from Rod.

“Don’t look at him like that.” John bit out, getting a surprised look from Rod. “He’s had to many potential Bond Mate’s look at him like that.” And Rodney gave a little whine.

Rod held his hand up. “Oh, I don’t want to… err… Bond with him! I’m just fascinated by it all.”

“You can’t Bond with an already Bonded Shifter.” John explained. “Look, if you want to know more, you’re better off talking to Elizabeth or Carson.”

“Ah, I get the hint.” Rod smiled again. “You’re a lot different to my Sheppard.” He said. “He’s more talkative and can’t help reminding me how intelligent he is all the time.”

John almost laughed at that before he looked down at Rodney then grinned. Rodney thought he shouldn’t even think about it and no he wasn’t going to shut up, most intelligent man in two galaxies, he wasn’t about to concede his title to his Bond Mate, however much he loved him.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” John grinned as Rodney snorted up at him.

“What did he say?” Rod asked.

John waved his hand dismissively. “So, do you want to try a few swings?”

“Oh, yes.” Rod said as he stepped forwards. John held out the end of his club for him to take, so they didn’t have to touch in anyway.

Then he tugged on Rodney’s ear as they went to stand back by the door. As Rod lined up a shot, John bobbed down as he put one arm around his Shifter shoulders, sinking his fingers into soft fur.

He actually didn’t want to imagine the world Rod came from. Then Rodney was demanding he ask the question, so with a sigh he did. “So.” He started a little self-consciously. “You and your Sheppard aren’t an item?”

Rod took the swing, before he chuckled to himself. “No, defiantly not.” He said turning to look down at them. “No offence, but I’m into blonds of the fairer sex.”

“Samantha Carter, by any chance?” John asked as Rodney turned his head and snapped his teeth at him.

Rod shrugged, “She’s an attractive lady, but she went to join the Tok'ra before I really got to know her. Why, did Rodney have a thing for her?”

“He did.” John answered a little smugly as Rodney shoved him with his shoulder. “Luckily for me, she rejected him.” That earned him a saliva thick tongue up the side of his face. John just wiped it off with a hand, then stroked it into Rodney’s fur to dry it.

Rodney yelped and tried to pull away and John let him as he laughed.

“Can I see you transform?” Rod suddenly asked.

Rodney instantly backed away and hissed at Rod as John stood up. “He say’s no… It’s also very rude to ask.”

“Ah, sorry.” Rod replied looking disappointed more than ashamed. “I just guessed, as we are the same person physically, it wouldn’t be a problem.”

“Well, Carson might have some videos.” John replied once again feeling very uneasy again. “Why don’t you just have a few more swings. We should be getting back anyway.”

“Ah, not a problem. And thank you.” Rod said as he went back to the basket of balls.

John just turned and left. Rodney at his side.

 

++++++++++

 

Jeannie still couldn’t believe she was so upset by what she had just said to her brother.

It didn’t help that she found it easier to talk to Rod than Mer. He was everything she wanted her big brother to be. Kind, friendly, thoughtful. For heavens sake he had pictures of her children in his wallet. It hurt knowing that her Mer would never have a photo of Maddy.

“Are you okay?”

Jeannie jumped not realising that Elizabeth had walked up on her. “I’m fine.” She said before sighing. “I just told Mer he’s a bad brother.”

Elizabeth laid a hand on her arm, “I heard… I guess they never forwarded on his video message to you?”

Jeannie blinked as she frowned. “No, I haven’t got anything from him in four years. Like I said.”

Elizabeth sighed. “If you have time, ask John to show it to you.” She said softly. “Also, we were stranded for nearly a year out here. We had no way of contacting Earth… I’m guessing as he received no reply, he thought you might not have been interested in talking to him.” She said leaning against the table Jeannie was working on. “Also, he’s had a lot to contend with these last years. I think you need to know that despite all of Rodney’s faults, he has saved a lot of lives, kept this city from being destroyed from outside forces as well as internal ones with a city this old. Despite all his faults. He is still one of the bravest men I know.”

Jeannie snorted at that. Even if Elizabeth’s other words struck her deep, Mer hadn’t really mentioned any of that to her. And it was a little hard to believe when Mer was the first person to boast about his own achievements.

Elizabeth smiled sardonically. “I know. The front he puts on can be quite hard to get past. But he is brave and sacrificing when our back’s have been against the wall. I don’t think I ever believed in miracle workers till I met your brother.”

“Great, just make me feel worse.” Jeannie muttered.

Elizabeth shrugged. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s also the most frustrating person I have ever met too.” She smiled as she leaned in a little. “But don’t tell him the first bit, I don’t want it going to his head.”

Jeannie smiled in return, she wouldn’t open that bag of worms. Then he had another question that this woman might be the best person to ask. “Do you know how my brother bonded with the Colonel?”

Elizabeth’s face went blank, which was a warning sign of itself. “Why don’t we get something to drink, and return to my office?”

--

Elizabeth had greeted people as they walked through the city, pointing out interesting things that she was happy to discuss. Jeannie knew it was all small talk, until Elizabeth was gesturing her to take one of the comfortable chairs in her office as she then sat down in a chair besides her.

“So.” She said as she sipped her coffee. “What happened? I know it’s not good because Mer has been evasive and John just squishes his lips together.”

Elizabeth nodded with an understanding smile.

--

Jeannie found it very hard not to interrupt as Elizabeth told her all the details. She had seen how much they loved each other. But to find out that it had all been an accident? That Mer had almost died because John had run out of him?

She was ready to hunt Sheppard down and beat the crap out of him, before Elizabeth carried on.

“We couldn’t quite believe that John had actually asked if there was a way to reverse the Bond…”

“What!” Jeannie exclaimed as she got to her feet.

“Wait.” Elizabeth said softly. “He was asking because he didn’t want your brother to be tied to him for the rest of his life, in his words. He didn’t want Rodney ‘Lumbered’ with him.” She slowly got to her feet. “But that day, I saw two very emotional damaged men start to heal each other.”

“But…” Jeannie whispered as she looked at her own feet. “Do you think they would have ever got together if John hadn’t started the bonding?” after all, this woman had known Mer more recently than she had. And she couldn’t help but feel a little guilty about that and angry at Mer at the same time.

“I can’t say.” Elizabeth said softly. “But I do know they were becoming friends before it happened. John is a very private person, he has people he’s close acquaintances with, and he would die from every single one of us. But he doesn’t really have confidantes… Even I saw that when I made John a Chaperon they were actually becoming strong friends… With more time, I’m sure they would have sorted something out.” She was smiling when Jeannie looked back up at her. “If I ever believe it fate,” she was continuing. “then I believe it was at work the day they Bonded.”

“I’m still going to hit him.” Jeannie muttered as she wipe at her eyes that had become a bit damp.

“Don’t worry.” Elizabeth was chuckling, “I feel like doing it to the pair of them some times too.” She grinned. “But despite the way they Bonded, I think it was what they both needed. Rodney has more freedom and John has someone he has to care about.”

Jeannie shrugged. “Mer, hasn’t had much freedom since he was thirteen.” She confessed. “Sometimes I keep forgetting that.”

Elizabeth reached out and rubbed Jeannie’s arm sympathetically. “I found giving him some Chocolate cake or a cup of good coffee can go a long way to an apology.”

Jeannie nodded with a little smile. “Thank you.”

 

++++++++++

 

John could feel all the emotional crap rolling off his Mate and it was giving him a headache that had started just before Rodney had come ranting about how Jeannie hated him and he was a bad brother. John had tried to calm him, but eventually had just sat down trying to clean the smell of Rod from his golf clubs as he let Rodney spend all his fanatic energy. There wasn’t much he could say, after all his own relationship with his own family was abysmal. So who was he to give advice?

That didn’t mean he might have to have a strong word with Jeannie, and just let her know if she wanted to say that crap again, he was going to make sure she never had contact with her brother again.

But finally Rod was gone, much to the relief of his nerves. Granted they were now screwed on the power front, but that wasn’t Rodney’s fault, and he had made sure Elizabeth wasn’t going to ball Rodney out too much for it before he let her have a meeting with the science team. Luckily she had indulged him.

So, as Rodney left Weir’s office, he had Zelenka go back to the lab for a bit, and John had snagged Jeannie. Maybe he could wait on ‘The Talk’ if he showed her the videos from their first year.

It had seemed to work, when Rodney had come into her room. John had left the siblings to it as he went into the main part of their apartment and searched for something that they could all watch, eventually he guessed ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ was the best choice. It was one of the few films where Rodney couldn’t rattle on about the science and just enjoy.

So he sat down on the settee and waited for his Mate. It actually didn’t take long for him to come out of the spare room Jeannie was in.

“Hu… what’s this?” Rodney asked.

“This…” John said as he looked over the back of the sofa, already feeling his headache ease up. “Is a little private movie night, with treats.” He gestured to the coffee table in front, watching as Rodney’s eyes widened and he got a little happy smile as he saw the sponge cake and cream, and the cans of beer with a huge bowl of popcorn behind the cans.

Rodney came around the sofa and plonked down as close to John’s side as he could get without actually sitting on his lap. “What film are we watching?” he asked distractedly as he picked up a beer.

The groan of suffering from his Mate made him smile as he told him. “You know you like it.” John replied with a smile. “Jeannie? You coming!” he called.

“Oh… Ah?” She said as she came into the main room.

“I thought we could all do with some down time before you go home tomorrow.” John said, waving to the chair to his right. “We only have beer, but I got us all some cake and there’s popcorn for later.”

“I should lay off the cake.” Jeannie said with a smile as she sat down.

“More for us then!” Rodney sang as he picked up a plate with a slice of cake.

“You really should try it.” John said instead as he leaned back and wrapped an arm around his mate. “I promised the catering staff they could have the rest if they baked it for us. It’s a rare occurrence when we have the ingredients to make one. Or so I’m told.” He said softly. After all it was just manners, he could give his slice away for a few days worth of coffee after all.

Luckily she seemed to get the hint as she picked up the other slice with a ‘thank you’.

John relaxed some more as he started the film rolling.

--

A few hours later, when they were on their next movie, Dogma, Rodney was drooling onto John’s leg where his head rested while John was absently massaging his fingers through Rodney’s hair as his other hand propped his own head up.

Halfway through Pirates, Rodney had shuffled down to get more comfortable and had fallen asleep soon after. It was a vague relief for John as his headache finally eased.

“Elizabeth told me how you Bonded with my brother.” Jeannie said suddenly in a soft voice.

John tried not to tense. “Oh?” he offered, keeping his eyes on the large ancient screen Rodney had jerry rigged to work from an old laptop.

“So I’ll never apologise to you for punching you the day I met you.” She said.

“Fine.” John replied. “I guess I deserved it… and the crap I pulled after.”

“Exactly.” She said, but there was no hate in it, just a vague understanding. “He might have been taken away from me when he was thirteen.” She carried on in a hushed tone. “But I still love him… I said some cruel things to him today.” John guessed that contributed to half his headache then. “But after talking with Elizabeth… and that video… You were Bonded at the time right?” she asked.

“Yeah.” He said, guessing telling her that soon after he had been willing to sacrifice them both for the city, wasn’t such a good idea right now.

“Well… As you’re now Sister-in-law…” she said thickly. “Thank you for making him happy.”

John looked at her then and could see the tears in her eyes as she gave him a brave smile. “It’s not a hardship.” He smiled back as his fingers began massaging Rodney’s scalp again. “But if you could stop making him feel like crap, I would be grateful. Give me a headache. And I mean literally.” He gave her a mock wince as her smile widened.

“Deal.” She nodded. “So… err… You’re both invited for Christmas dinner… that’s if you can get the time off?”

John didn’t really know how to react to that. He hadn’t been to any of his own family’s holiday meals since he joined the air force. But he had liked Kaleb and loved little Maddy. “If we can get the time off.” He promised. “If we can’t though…”

“Oh!” she waved her hand in the air. “If not, you’re welcome anytime you can get away.”

“I’ll see what we can do.” He promised.

 

++++++++++

 

Elizabeth couldn’t quite believe the new staffing lists she had got from their last dial up from the SGC. It was the usual replacements, what she didn’t expect were six new members, so she was now looking for John.

She knew the two would be on their morning run, so when she got Chuck to look for them, she knew it was them on the south pier.

She was just heading down one of the corridors when she heard distressed roaring and immediately picked up her pace. She rounded a corner, then stopped and blinked.

McKay was on his back, all four paws flailing in the air, roaring at the top of his lungs. Meanwhile, Sheppard was sat on the tiger’s belly, John’s thighs keeping the tiger from rolling over as his hands were buried into the fur where the tiger’s armpits were. It didn’t help that the Colonel was hooping with laughter as the tiger struggled, his back legs kicking out uselessly.

As she tried not to laugh, she leaned her shoulder against the wall as she watched her CO’s carry on their tickle fight.

“Tell me where the Cookies are and I’ll stop!” John laughed. “Or I’ll start on your feet.”

Rodney paused roaring and looked up at his mate, Elizabeth didn’t think a cat could look pissed off, but Rodney was managing it. The tiger let out a chirruping type sound.

John was shaking his head. “Not good enough, I know where all your coffee stashes are anyway.”

Rodney growled and struggled a bit.

“Give up now and I’ll share them with you.” John was reasoning as he leaned forwards so his nose was just inches away from a large pink one.

Suddenly Rodney lurched his head up and ran a huge pink tongue up the centre of John’s face, from chin to hairline.

Elizabeth winced, seeing the thick saliva dripping from John’s chin. So before the fight started up again she coughed loud enough to make both man and tiger flinch.

“Don’t get up on my account.” She grinned at them both as they stared at her.

“There an emergency?” John asked as he sat back on Rodney’s stomach and began wiping his face dry with the bottom of his shirt.

“Oh, no… I just thought you would like to know about what the SGC are sending us on the next trip back?”

John looked down at Rodney, who had relaxed onto his back, paws gone all floppy. “Somehow I don’t think it’s going to be three fully charge ZPM’s packed in milk chocolate.” John said pulling a face as Rodney snorted and it sounded disappointed.

“Not this time.” Elizabeth couldn’t help but laugh. “We will be getting three Shifter’s and their Mates.” She informed them.

Both of them looked at her, then both seemed to look uncomfortable.

“Yes, you’re exclusiveness on this city isn’t going to last for long.” She said.

“It’s not that.” John said as he used Rodney’s chest to help leaver himself onto his feet, Rodney turned and also got up. “Will they be sending a representative from the Registry?”

She frowned, “No. To be honest I don’t even know if the SGC has invited them to be involved fully. Is that a problem?”

John shook his head. “I hope not. But who’s going to be responsible for them?”

“Well Beckett will be getting the psychotherapist and her Shifter. Rodney, you’re getting a Shifter and his Bond Mate they are two science computer technicians, so they can help out with cataloguing the ancient database… and John.” She said with a sigh. “You’re getting a Marine who bonded with a Shifter on a drunken night out apparently, but I am informed she is now training to become a weapons expert.”

“Oh.” John said in his most noncommittal way. “Sounds fine.”

“Well. We can talk about it after you get back from P1B 120, we still need to find out what happened to Major Leanard’s team, Beckett and the Marine team are almost ready to go.” It was amazing to watch as the man and cat suddenly became a little more alert.

“Ah, excuse us.” John said as he started to jog past her with Rodney keeping pace. “No.” she heard him say as they rounded the corner. “and don’t think I haven’t forgotten about the cookies!”

 

++++++++

 

TBC

Chapter Text

 

[Episode 7]

++++++++++ [S03]

 

“I told you to wait down here.” John said as he helped Rodney slowly down the stairs to the gate room. “I could have gotten a chair.”

Rodney just huffed as he concentrated on one step at a time, one arm around John’s shoulders, the other clamped to his left side, over the bullet wound John had given him on P1B 120, they had been lucky John hadn’t hit anything vital, but it was a slow and painful recover. Especially when Carson had told Rodney he couldn’t Shift till he had healed inside. John believed the exact words were, ‘I’m not a sodding vet!’. So for two weeks Rodney had the temper of a bear because he couldn’t be a cat.

When they got to the bottom, John was surprised to see Lorne with one of the stool from the labs. “I thought you might need this.” Lorne said with a genuine smile as he wheeled the chair closer to Rodney.

John eased his Mate down, then rested his hand on the back of it, Rodney’s own arm slipped from John’s shoulders to fist in the back of his jacket.

And that was another thing that was strange. Apart from Rodney’s original bitching on the planet, he hadn’t really said a word about it since. Almost like he knew John was having a bit of a hard time dealing with his own guilt and didn’t need reminding. And he didn’t seem to mind that John was being a bit of a limpet. Especially since John had to go off world for a day on an envoy mission and it had been hell. He had almost lost Atlantic a major deal on Tava beans because his mind was elsewhere.

“Thanks, Lorne.” John said as they all waited for the six new arrivals that were being beamed straight in front of the gate.

He still wasn’t sure why they weren’t getting off like the other five new crew members. Elizabeth thought it would be best this way.

“Daedalus is ready to beam down.” Chuck said from the control room.

“Let them know we are ready!” Elizabeth answered as she came up alongside John’s other side, with Carson who gave them a strained smile.

He gave her a nod of welcome as they saw six bright lights appear before the gate.

John instantly knew that he was in the presence of other Shifters. He had felt other Shifters when he had been on Earth in the Registry, but that had been slow. The instant feeling now though was rather unsettling.

Elizabeth went towards as the six people by the gate who were looking around in awe. She greeted them all.

“Can we go now?” Rodney muttered at his side as he pulled himself to his feet, using John as his leverage.

John shook his head as they slowly walked forward.

“This is Doctor Carson Becket, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard and Doctor Rodney McKay.” Elizabeth introduced them all in turn. “Doctor Becket this is Doctor Shanique Swaby and her Shifter, Lilia Swaby. Elizabeth indicated an exotically tall Jamaica beauty and her thin little blond haired blue eyes Shifter, who seemed glued to her Mates side.

“Oh, Hello.” Carson said stepping forward and shaking Doctor Shanique’s hand, “I’ll be your CO, and I’ll introduce you both to Doctor Heightmeyer as soon as she’s free, she’s been asking for someone else to help out, so she will be thrilled.”

Shanique’s smile was professional, but her beep brown eyes seemed to hold some sparkle. “Thank you, I can’t wait to get started.”

“Colonel Sheppard, this is Private Kevin Jamison and his Shifter Amelia Banks.” Elizabeth said, carrying on the introductions.

John nodded at them both as the Private gave him a stiff salute, which John returned in his usual sloppy manner. Jamison looked a little to much like a typical muscle bound Marine, but any arm that could hold a gun was good enough he guessed, knowing if he was too much of a prick the others would put him in his place, or he would be sent back home, if he lived long enough. The Shifter was another tall woman who still looked like she was in her early twenties. But he just gave her a smile and a nod, he knew not to offer his hand after being bitched at by Rodney for hours about proper Shifter etiquette.

“And finally, Doctor McKay, this is Iskra Shpak and her Shifter Mark Shpak.” Elizabeth introduced the dorky looking pair, for a second. John wondered if they were related they looked so alike, but he could tell the male was the Shifter, there was just something about him, but John couldn’t put his finger on it. Not like he really could. “They are the two Computer Technicians.”

Rodney huffed, “Yes, welcome to Atlantis.” He said as he gave a nod to the woman, but held his hand out to the man. Who took it with a smile.

At first John was a little shocked. Especially after everything Rodney had said.

“Is pleasure to finally meet you!” Iskra said in a thick Russian accent.

“Yes.” Mark said. Thought he sounded English. “We heard you had been the only Shifter here?”

“Err… yes.” Rodney offered and John could feel his injury starting to exhaust his Mate. So he turned his head to look at Lorne who instantly knew to bring the stool over.

“Are you all right?” Doctor Shanique asked worriedly, as John lowered him down again.

“It was an accident off world.” Elizabeth said softly. “It happens from time to time, dealing with Alien technology isn’t always as safe as we would like it to be.”

“I was the only person John didn’t shoot that day.” Carson chuckled under his breath.

John rolled his eyes, for a moment he was glad that the new staff hadn’t heard, now he wasn’t so lucky.

“Your Mate shot you?” Shanique asked appalled as she now started glaring at John. At the psychotherapist side, her Mate looked like she was about to cry. A quick glance at the others and he saw the same appalled look.

“We were all being mind whammied at the time.” John protested. “I thought he was an enemy soldier!”

“But still… to even think of such a thing….” Shanique said as she pulled her whimpering Shifter closer.

John noted how the Shpak’s did the same, but if anything the Private and his Shifter moved apart, which he found more disturbing.

“Stop being so shallow minded!” Rodney suddenly snapped at them all. “You wouldn’t have been sent here if you couldn’t think outside your stupid boxes. Things here aren’t all black and white. And Sheppard is an Alpha, to even think he would hurt me willingly is as ridicules as assuming any one of you is more intelligent than me!” he scoffed.

John winced, but saw realization come into all the other Shifter’s eyes.

“Also, if he really wanted to kill me, I would be dead.” Rodney growled. “So get over yourselves.”

“Well…” Elizabeth said heartily. “Why don’t we show you to your new quarters, then show you around and how things work here?”

“Great, that means I can get back to work.” Rodney said as he slipped off the stool and almost collapsed if John still didn’t have a hand on him.

“You idiot.” John growled as he held Rodney against his chest till he felt his Mates pain ease a little. “Can someone get me a wheelchair?”

“On it!” He heard Lorne say as he walked away.

“Don’t need one.” Rodney whined.

“You can’t lie to me about this.” John answered as he freed one hand and ran it up Rodney’s arm that was clutching John’s chest. Then slowly rubbed his thumb over the underside of Rodney’s wrist. It was something he had learned would relax his Mate enough so muscles in his abdomen would loosen up and stop pulling against all the stitches.

“I told ya, you need a few more days rest.” Carson admonished as Lorne came in with the wheelchair.

John eased Rodney down carefully then bobbed down in front of him, one hand still on Rodney’s wrist. His mate was sweating as his blue eyes glared at him. But John knew his Mate was being quiet because if he did start hurling abuse, it would come out in high pitched whines of pain. Gradually Rodney’s breathing eased as he finally let go and relaxed as his pain diminish.

“Okay?” he asked softy.

Rodney just nodded. His face still looked like thunder, but at least he wasn’t hurting anymore.

Slowly John stood and gave Elizabeth a look, before turning to the other Shifters and their Mates. “If you will excuse me.” He apologised. “I’ll join up with you all once I’m free.” He gave them all a slight bow before pushing Rodney out of the gate room.

Lorne quickly informed him he would follow the Shifters with Elizabeth, and help them get settled, then he’d go and sort out the other new staff coming off the Daedalus.

So finally they were alone and had a bit of free time.

Rodney chuckled and John couldn’t help but frown. “Rodney?” he asked.

His Mate looked over his shoulder as best he could. “I think that Shannon… Sanquentin… whatever her name is, the tall one. She’s going to get a shock if she thinks you shooting me is such a big deal.”

John frowned harder. “Doctor Shanique Swaby.” He said. “And she is the new psychotherapist.”

Rodney hummed. “So how are we going to play her? Maybe you should start saying I’m an abusive Shifter, never give you any peace and treat you like my own personal slave?... I can tell her that you’re smothering or something?” he chuckled again.

John rolled his eyes as he pulled Rodney into the transporter. “So, why do you hate her already?” he asked as he touched the map.

Rodney snorted derisively as the doors opened on their corridor. “Because she was making conclusions about you!” he snapped. “She was already thinking you were an abusive Mate, and I’m sorry but I won’t stand for that!”

“Thanks.” John grinned.

“Overprotective, possessive, domineering, yes… but abusive? Pfft.” He snorted again. “Also she’s one of those ‘traditionalists’.”

“And that’s a bad thing?” John asked as he ran his hand over their door panel. Choosing to ignore the other comments against his personality, after all, they were mostly true.

Rodney waved his hands in the air. “She thinks Shifter should be protected, that we are weak and need handling with care. If it was left up to her, we still wouldn’t have a vote and handled like precious possessions, ‘Seen and not heard’!”

John snorted at that. “I don’t think she’s that bad.” He said as they entered their bedroom.

“You saw the way her stupid simpering Shifter was, I don’t think that girl has two brain cells to rub together she’s been so brainwashed by the Dormitory educational system!” Rodney growled.

John vowed to keep the two Shifters as far apart as possible. “What about the two computer geeks you have?” he asked changing the subject as he went to help Rodney out of the chair and back into bed.

Once Rodney was sat down again with only a slight wince of discomfort. “Boring, I’ll let Zalenka deal with them, it won’t be much fun to do it myself. They will gang together, so I won’t be able to make them cry.” He pouted unhappily as John took his shoes off.

“And the last two?”

Rodney was quiet for a spell, and John looked up at him, seeing the slight confused look on his Mates face. “They don’t even smell like a Bonded pair… but the girl doesn’t smell unbonded… I don’t know why she didn’t refuse the bond, but it doesn’t feel completed either.”

“I thought they didn’t look very… couplely.” John said ineptly as he got up and pulled the covers back and started helping Rodney to lie down.

“Well, I have no idea.” Rodney said as he settled on his side. “It’s too late for them not to be Bonded, so something needs to give… maybe Heightmeyer can help them sort it out.” He yawned.

John couldn’t imagine being so distant from Rodney, even when he was running around the city, hiding from their Bond as Rodney lay dying, all he had wanted was to go to Rodney’s side and hold him. He guessed it must be hell for the Shifter, and she seemed like a nice young woman on paper. Then he realized he didn’t have much compassion for the Marine. “Maybe I’ll have a word with the Private, see where he’s gone wrong.”

“You do that.” Rodney said half heartedly as he closed his eyes.

“Ok… now sleep. Call me to come get you if you want to leave the apartment again.” He said leaning down to kiss his Mates temple.

“Humm… yeah…” Rodney smiled as he slipped into sleep.

John kissed him again as he smiled.

The day they had Bonded, John had been thinking he could probably be very good friends with McKay, by that night he took his virginity and he knew he was besotted with Rodney.

From what little he had read, there was a lot of lore for a Shifter needing to be ‘in love’ or have ‘strong feeling’ for a human to start a Bond. But very little for it being the other way around, apart from there must be something, or the human would stray more.

John just knew that he would and could never think of having anyone but Rodney in his heart, or his bed.

So, in a way he had never been before, he was curious as to why Private Jamison wasn’t all over his Shifter.

 

++++++++++

 

Two week later and John just wanted to kick Private Jamison off the base and straight onto a hive ship that was about to explode. The marine was a total lost cause. How he had ever passed his training John had no idea.

Lorne had even had a chat with him about the Private, apparently he upset some of the other Marines, to the point where there was talk of telling him that running into an inbound wormhole was like jumping against a bouncy castle. John had told Rodney about that one and they had both chuckled darkly about it for ages, Rodney pondering to see how many of his scientists would fall for it, it would save off sacking them and using up resources. But as John had pointed out, Lorne had begged him for less paperwork, and Zelenka wouldn’t do Rodney’s.

It didn’t help that almost everyone who met Amelia Banks thought she was great, she seemed to soak up everything the men were teaching her and in five days of being on Atlantis, she was showing the Marines a thing or two about hand to hand combat. And she was a crack shot. John just wished he could put her on a team, but Jamison would have to go with her, and that just wasn’t acceptable, the man was just a liability.

It also didn’t help that Carson had gushed about Dr Swaby and fawned about her pretty little Shifter, Lilia. John hadn’t had much dealings with Shanique, but she seemed alright now she wasn’t screaming Shifter abuse. But he just couldn’t get Lilia, she was just to… well, he didn’t know what to make of her, she talked in whispers and just tried to make herself pretty as she demanded to be petted all the time by Shanique.

Rodney on the other hand couldn’t give a crap about his two new tech’s, which kind of meant he liked them, because he wasn’t bitching about them or throwing them onto the Daedalus the moment it was due back.

John had also learned that all the other Shifters were lions, which Rodney had a field day over, because apparently there was a Shifter hierarchy, and he being what he was, meant he out ranked them all. According to Rodney, only Jaguars out ranked him. Which was a new one on John, but he wasn’t going to argue, especially when it made his Mate happy in an annoyingly smug sort of way.

Now he was sat in a mission briefing with his team as they discussed what Teyla and Ronon might know about the locals, and if they were hostile or not.

Ronon had no clue but Teyla had said they should be okay, they were just another trading world and that they had beasts there that sounded like cows. So Rodney was eager to go, even if they might not have anything to keep his interest for more than a few seconds.

“Ok.” Elizabeth said, “I also want you to take Private Jamison and Miss Banks.”

John couldn’t help but sit up as his spine stiffened. “No.” he said instantly as Elizabeth sighed.

“Look… I know you don’t like him. But I need to place them somewhere.” She said rubbing a hand over her eyes. “If I could I would keep Amelia. But that is just not possible. Beckett is working on another Shifter Gene therapy from what Janus did to you Rodney, so at the moment they need to go together. I also need you all to give them both some experience off world.”

“Even I’m a better shot than that Jarhead!” Rodney barked out.

“Pains me to say it.” Ronon intoned. “But he’s right.”

“I’m hoping there won’t be any shooting needed.” Elizabeth said pointedly. “It’s just a simple meet and greet to see if they have anything willing to trade. I would like everyone back with no injuries.”

Ronon snorted. “Jamison will injure himself, so we can’t do that.”

John gave his younger friend a grin. “I’ll take some ice packs for when he sprains his ankle.”

Ronon just shrugged at that as he leaned back in his chair.

“I’m sure he will be fine.” Teyla tried to sound positive, but the slight frown gave her away. “Do they know they are accompanying us?” she asked Elizabeth.

“Yes, I sent them to get off world uniforms this morning; I will tell them you are ready to go in another hour.” She said as she stood.

“Fine.” John sighed as she got up. “Let’s get ready then.”

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney stuck close to John’s side as they followed the locals towards the small town they could see at the end of a long valley, and it was going to take about two hours to get there.

“On the way back, can I Shift?” Rodney whispered as he bumped shoulders with John. He was already a little hot even though they were going down hill.

“Depends.” John offered.

“On what?” Rodney asked as he looked about at the farmland that flanked them on either side.

“Whether the locals will skin you for your pretty fur.”

Rodney snorted, then noticed Banks looking over her shoulder at him again. He hadn’t talked to her, but he heard nothing but good, not like he cared.

“Why don’t you talk to her?” John suddenly asked.

“What on Earth for?” he snapped. “It’s not like we have anything in common. She’s just another grunt.”

John sighed. “Tough, you’re going to talk to her.” Then he was jogging off.

Rodney growled as he kept his own pace as John said something to Banks and she nodded then turned and looked directly at him as she stopped walking. Waiting for him.

“Fine.” He said as she fell into step at his side. “What do you want to ask me?”

“Is it true?” she asked, looking at him as they walked.

Rodney glared at her. “What?” he snapped, his patience was already gone.

“How you and Colonel Sheppard Bonded?” she lowered her voice as she glanced forward at John. “That it was an accident?”

Rodney rolled his eyes. “He was saving my life at the time.” He said defensively. “And as you know, it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t want it too… why?” he narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

Banks had the manners to blush as he watched her eyes go past John, to where Jamison was following Teyla. “I don’t mean to be rude.” She said. “But even I can see the Colonel returns your feelings…”

“He better.” Rodney huffed. “Or I would make his life very uncomfortable.” She actually grinned at him then, and he found himself returning it. Then she sobered up.

“Do you think it’s just because he’s an Alpha?” she asked.

Rodney opened his mouth, about to deny it out right, but nothing came out at first. “I don’t know.” He offered finally. “We only get one shot at Bonding, so I don’t have any prior experience. But if it helps, it’s like all those stupid Shifter lore lessons you more than likely had to endure.” He remembered them all too well, mostly because his teacher kept waking him up with a blackboard rubber thrown at his head.

She groaned a little with understanding. “All to well… So what they said is true? You would die for him? As he should for you?”

“Yes.” He said without hesitation this time. They had proved it one too many times for Rodney’s liking.

That seemed to make her fold in on herself a little. “You’re lucky.” She whispered.

“Hu?” Rodney asked, maybe he was a little intrigued.

She looked a little embarrassed as she fiddled with her gun. “Well… I was old enough to be let out of my Dorm to stay with my family for a fortnight… I was with one of my best friends, who was acting as my Chaperone for the day, and she was going to this party. It was full of Marines… and well, I thought they would be responsible… but we all drank too much and I thought Kevin was interested in me, and well.” She gave him a crooked self-deprecating smile. “He is good looking, I thought we had something in common, with firearms.” She patted her gun. “We met at a few more parties. Till one night we were all so drunk that I thought he was leaning into me, seems he was more interested in my friend and he kinda pushed me out of the way… only…”

“He grabbed your neck…” Rodney actually felt a stirring of pity for her.

Banks nodded as she looked down at her feet.

“Where the hell was your Chaperone?!” he gasped.

“My friend was my Chaperone.” She sighed. “So as he was kissing her, I had started to bond with him…”

“Why didn’t you reject him!”

“I was very drunk.” She answered softly, not looking up at him. “That night… we had a threesome… when I woke up it was too late.” She straightened her shoulders then as she kept her eyes forwards. “It was confusing and painful… The Registry wasn’t happy, but his commanding officers had already signed papers to get him transferred to try and cover up the embarrassment. And there wasn’t much my family or the Registry could do…”

Rodney reached out and held her free hand. He wasn’t sure why. But he couldn’t imagine his life if John didn’t want him. “I’m sorry.” He whispered, meaning it.

She squeezed his hand and didn’t let go. “Thanks.” She gave him a brave smile. “I have no idea how we ended up here… but I’m happy to be here.”

“I guess it can be a little mad.” He confessed with grin. “Never a dull moment… apart from when the popcorn runs out and you’ve seen every movie three times over.”

She chuckled. “Is it also true that you’re a Pure?” she asked. The obvious change of subject wasn’t even lost on him. So he grinned.

“Yup. Not a stripe or a strange fluffy bit on me.” He puffed his chest out a little.

“Neat.” She said. “I have a little stripe of fur down my back.” She confessed. “But don’t tell anyone!”

Rodney actually laughed. “I take it you wax?”

She nodded. “Every other week.” Then her face fell again as she looked away. “Kevin doesn’t like it…”

Rodney felt uncomfortable, realizing maybe for the first time how lucky he actually was. John had proved many times how much he liked every inch of Rodney. “Well…” he said awkwardly. “I don’t think it’s so bad, Sheppard’s like a gorilla he’s that hairy.”

Banks let out a laugh.

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m going to wake up to a gorilla in the morning.” He joked.

“That bad?” she asked, the darkness gone from her brown eyes.

Rodney rolled his eyes. “He covers it well.”

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t help but turn to look at his Mate and Banks as he heard them both laughing hard. When they saw him looking, they broke down into giggles.

He turned leaving them to it. He wasn’t getting much from Rodney at the moment, other than a smattering of concern and the fact they were now talking about him in some way. He would grill Rodney about it later anyway.

Then he noticed how Private Jamison was glaring over his shoulder at the two.

“Eyes forward!” he barked at the man. That glare was being aimed to close to his Mate for comfort. And what the hell did Jamison have to be jealous or angry over. It was plainly obvious the man didn’t want his Shifter. For god sake, he had to be ordered to take her hand before John would let them go through the gate, and had instantly let go on the other side.

He was guessing that he had made the right call, getting Rodney to talk to Banks. After all, Rodney wasn’t a very touchy feely person with anyone but John, and he had seen the way Rodney was holding the young woman’s hand.

He was just musing over how he could get the two Shifters to spend a bit of time together back on Atlantis when he watched Jamison fall flat on his face.

“You okay?” he asked as he jogged the few steps towards the Private.

Jamison was picking himself up. “I’m fine. Sir.” He said gruffly as he dusted himself off.

“Good. Keep walking.” John said as he dropped back in line. Teyla giving him a quick glance of concern, to which he just shrugged. And they all kept walking.

John glanced over his shoulder. If he had fallen like that, Rodney would have been at his side, helping him up and no doubt laughing himself sick while checking him over. But the Shifters were just looking on with frowns, Banks’s hand still in Rodney’s. She hadn’t even made an attempt to move.

Rodney gave him a slight nod, indicating he understood and he would tell him everything later.

John turned away, knowing that something was unbelievably wrong, but he had no idea how to fix it.

 

++++++++++

 

The meetings had gone well so far, and John had seen the almost cow like creatures Teyla was negotiating for. They were large lumbering beast that looked a little like buffalo, only creamy coloured and woolly. Apparently their coats were used as wool too, as well as meat and strange creamy purple tinged milk.

So now, they were led into a large room to freshen up, before the welcome feast, later that day. Mostly to try out the local produce.

Once the door had closed, John instantly grabbed Rodney and pulled him away to a far corner. Then giving him a hug as he crowded the Shifter into the corner, needing him alone for a moment, even if the best he could do was to shield him with his own body from the rest of the room.

“It’s only been a few hours.” Rodney said softly with a hint of amusement.

John agreed, but in all that time, Rodney had been holding Banks’ hand, and John had to keep his hands to himself. “Just reacquainting myself.” He said, then “You doing okay with Banks?” he felt Rodney slump against his chest a little.

“That poor girl.” Rodney said so softly John had to strain to hear it. “You ever treat me like that.” He carried on. “And I’m going to get Carson to cut your feet off.”

John chuckled. “Are you going to go all ‘Misery’ on me?”

Rodney huffed. “I wouldn’t be so half hearted about it.” He scoffed.

John knew first hand how creative Rodney could be, and he hoped he never had to find out personally. Well, not in a broken legs kind of way. “Anyway.” He said, nuzzling his nose into the side of Rodney’s face. “Do you mind staying with her till we get home?”

“No… She’s got a sick sense of humour and she’s not stupid.” Which was a big compliment coming from Rodney.

“Great. Thanks.” He said as he kissed his way to Rodney’s lips and gave him a proper kiss, needing the contact right now. Normally he managed to keep his hands to himself off world. But there was just something about Banks and Jamison’s relationship that disturbed him to the core.

“Get a room!” Ronon called; obviously he was spending too much time around the Marines and picking up Earth sayings.

“We have one!” Rodney snapped back. “So get out!” which just got a gruff laugh from the other man.

With a sigh, John pulled away but taking Rodney’s hand in his own. While they were in the room, Banks could sod off; he needed Rodney for a short time.

 

++++++++++

 

It was dark as they made their way back to the gate. The negotiations had gone very well, thanks to Teyla, they would be getting three carcases a month in return for one of their medical doctors dropping in every other month along with medical supplies. John was sure Elizabeth would be happy that no weapons were being traded, for a change.

So now Ronon was up front with his arm around Rodney’s shoulders as Ronon tried to teach the Shifter a Satedan drinking song. It didn’t help that both men couldn’t sing and they were both so drunk they could hardly stand.

“Are you sure it’s wise?” Teyla suddenly said at his side, as she hiccupped.

“Hu?” John asked as the singing got louder and so out of pitch it was almost painful.

“Leaving those two attempting to sing.” She grinned. “I think it might wilt the crops.”

John laughed. “I think our ears might break first. I’m just glad they are getting along.”

It had taken Ronon a while to get used to Rodney, but after the incident with the Wraith, when Rodney had saved his life, Ronon actually started to be nice to the Shifter, even respect him a little.

“Are you sober enough to answer a question?” Teyla suddenly asked out of the blue.

John shrugged, he had one cup of the hooch, but it was wearing off fast. “I should think so.”

Teyla looked ahead, past the two drunk idiots to Banks’s and Jamison, who were taking point. Jamison was staggering a little, but Banks’s hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol.

And yet again, they weren’t even walking close together.

“I’ve only had you and McKay as examples.” She said finally. “Till I met the Shpak’s and Swaby’s, who I would say are a lot like the pair of you. But these two seem like they do not like each other, is that even possible?”

“Nope.” John sighed. “I have to wait to talk to Rodney tonight to find out what he knows about it all.”

“Also, I thought you would have said something about Rodney holding Banks’s hand earlier?” she said with a raised brow. After all, she had witnessed a time or two John go a little insane whenever someone touched his Mate. If they were lucky, it didn’t involve guns or knives.

John just pulled a face, “I guess it’s because she’s a Shifter.” He really didn’t have any reaction to it.

“And you feel sorry for her?” Teyla smirked knowingly. “But I don’t blame you. She is a very nice young woman.”

John nodded, there was no arguing that. He was just about to say something else when suddenly a shot went off.

He instantly crouched, Teyla doing the same at his side. He saw Ronon wrestle Rodney to the ground, who went willingly.

John looked around, peering into the gloom. He saw Banks staring at the ground, then he heard the groans of pain, just past Ronon who was laying on top of Rodney. He could see Jamison on the floor, rolling about in pain.

He got up and ran forward, past Ronon who was helping Rodney to his feet and dusting him off. “What happened?” he shouted.

“He shot himself.” Banks said, looking a little wild eyed and pale.

John reached out and squeezed her shoulder. “Go look after McKay.” He ordered as he turned to Jamison who was clutching his ankle. John could see glistening black liquid running down the side of Jamison’s boot from the toe.

“Teyla.” He said, seeing the woman already pulling her medi kit from her pack.

“On it.” She replied.

“Ronon?” He looked up to see the big man already kneeling down behind Jamison, bracing one knee against the Privates back as he pulled Jamison’s shoulders back.

John gave him a nod as he knelt by Jamison’s foot. “I’m going to have to take the boot off.” He told the man.

“No!” Jamison protested. “Don’t you need to get a Puddle Jumper or something?” he gasped out. “I need a doctor!”

John stared at him for a moment. “Ronon?” He looked back down to check the bullet had been a through and through.

“I got him.” Ronon replied as he secured Jamison’s arms.

John just reached down and began opening Jamison’s laces as he started to struggle. John ignored his cries as he put a knee on Jamison’s leg, put one hand on the heel of the boot then pulled.

Jamison screaming ranked up a notch as the boot came free with the blood soaked sock. One look and John could see the idiot had lost a toe, and he wasn’t going to fish around for what was left in the boot.

Instantly Teyla was leaning in as she started wrapping his foot up and keeping it clean.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney found himself trying to comfort Banks. The woman wasn’t crying or anything, but even as the sky darkened around them. He could see how pale she was, and as he held her hand she was shaking.

He guessed the screaming from her Bonded wasn’t helping, but she was making no move to go to him, which for Rodney was way wrong. If it was John he would be the first one at his side trying to help. But then if John was stupid enough to shoot himself in the foot, then he would be laughing at him more.

Now, Jamison was being supported between Ronon and John as they made their way towards the gate. Jamison was still screaming about needing a doctor and they were being medically negligent making him walk.

Rodney knew he would be screaming the same thing. But he wouldn’t really be meaning it, or threatening to sue them all.

“Rodney, dial the gate.” John said over his shoulder as Teyla moved in to take his place with Jamison. “Banks?” he said, giving the woman at Rodney’s side a look. “You have to take his hand.”

Rodney didn’t expect her to actually shake her head as she took a step behind him. “You have too.” He insisted. As he hit the connect button in the centre of the DHD. “Believe me, it’s not nice.”

“I…” she stuttered.

“Sheppard?” Teyla called from the event horizon. “We need to go.”

“Go.” John waved his hand at Teyla and Rodney thought he had lost his mind. Then John jogged up to them and faced Banks, holding out his hand to her. “Can I?”

Rodney saw Jamison about to enter the gate, so he quickly pulled the hand he was holding and put Banks’ wrist into John’s hand.

It felt strange watching John’s hand tighten around someone else’s wrist. But Banks groaned then slumped against his side, to the point Rodney had to hold her up. “We have to get…” he said as Banks stood up a little.

“Sorry.” She uttered as she stared at John.

“Are you okay?” Rodney asked. He couldn’t stand it if someone else held his wrist, even more so after he had been Bonded, like Wesley had done. It always made him feel slightly dirty somehow.

Banks nodded slowly as a soft smile came to her lips. She looked spaced out.

With a jolt of realization he glanced at John. Who gave him a confused frown. “We should get through the gate.” John said as he reached out and took Rodney’s hand, then started walking them both towards the gate.

When they got to the other side and the gate shut down behind them, the gate room was already empty, apart from Elizabeth who looked at them with a questioning frown, that only deepened as she say where John was holding Banks.

“Where’s Jamison?” John asked.

Elizabeth pointed the way of the infirmary. “He shot his toe off?” she asked.

John was nodding as they all walked forward. “I just need to get Banks to the infirmary, then we’ll give a full report.”

“No… please.” Banks suddenly whispered and it sounded too much like a sob for Rodney’s liking as he looked at her past John’s shoulder. “I don’t want to see… him right now…”

“I’ll take her to our apartment.” Rodney said before anyone else could say anything. Then he reached out for the young woman as John let her go. He watched her blink for a moment. “Come on.” He said softly as he began leading her to the transporter.

 

++++++++++

 

“John?” Elizabeth said as they watched the Shifter walk away.

“I have no idea.” He sighed. “There is something very wrong with those two… I’ll have a talk with Carson, and once Private Jamison is ready, I’ll have a serious talk with him.”

Elizabeth nodded as she crossed her arms over her chest. “And he shot himself?”

John nodded feeling very tired, “On our way back… he was just taking point and next thing we know, he’s down and screaming. We might have to send them back.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I think you might be right… How did the trade go?”

 

++++++++++

 

John had given Elizabeth a brief report and she seemed happy they had a trade agreement. Then he had gone to the infirmary where Teyla informed him Jamison was in surgery, and that she would tell Carson that John wanted to know when the surgery was over.

When he finally got back to his apartment, he opened the door and found Rodney sat on the sofa with Banks at his side. The new episode of Wormhole Xtreme was playing on the TV and both Shifters were laughing at the actors antics.

“Come on Rodney.” John said as he walked passed. “Let’s get you changed.”

“I’m old enou… Fine.” Rodney started to say before John gave him a ‘look’ and his Mate got up with a deep ‘hard put upon’ sigh. “Coming.”

“Err… do you want me to pause it?” Banks asked, looking a little surprised.

“No.” Rodney answered. “He’s just got some kind of Alpha kink… We won’t be long.”

“Okay.” She replied as John pushed Rodney into their bedroom and closed the door.

“You know.” Rodney was saying as he sat on John’s side of the bed. “I think I’ll forget how to tie my own shoes.”

“Live with it.” John growled as he moved to get a set of Rodney’s casual clothes out of the closet. “Also, you need to tell me what you got from Banks.”

“Oh.” Rodney said, finally realizing why John was so insistent they were alone together.

Rodney quickly retold the story Bank’s had told him and John winced. Their stories were a little similar, and John admitted he fucked up in the beginning, but he had come around.

“Do you think…” Rodney said softly as John pulled one of his t-shirts out of a drawer.

“Don’t!” John snapped as he raised a finger to his Mate to shut up. “We would never have ended up like that.”

“But…” Rodney’s eyes were huge as they looked at each other.

“No.” he said as he held the t-shirt up for Rodney to put his arms into. “It was an accident, sure, but I would never treat you like that.” He said pulling the shirt over Rodney’s head and tugging it down so he could look into his Mates eyes. “Haven’t I proved this is a two way thing for us?” he asked.

A slow grin spread across Rodney’s crooked mouth. “If possessiveness is proof? I guess so.”

“Good.” John smiled back. “So… back to our problem.” He sobered up. “I’m going to have a word with Private Jamison when he’s out of surgery. I might have to send them both back… Maybe the Registry can help them better than we can.”

Rodney shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know.” He uttered. “Don’t you think it was odd she didn’t even try and fight you when you took her wrist?”

John nodded. “I guess it’s me being an Alpha?” he still didn’t really get it. “Though it didn’t feel the same as when I do it to you.”

“Oh… How so?” Rodney asked intrigued.

John thought for a moment. “Felt hollow.” He decided. “I can feel you relaxing and your mind calming down. But with her… nothing.”

Rodney huffed a sigh of relief. “That’s good then. I can’t say I liked seeing it.”

“Bit like cheating?” John asked, not liking the analogy.

“A bit… but not like what The Bitch did. It was just odd witnessing it… thought it was what Banks needed. I don’t even think she was affected by Jamison being so far away from her when he went through the gate.”

“Especially when we still get it a little.” John agreed. “Come on. I think we still have some popcorn in the cupboard.”

“Oh!” Rodney said happily as he almost skipped back into the main living room.

 

++++++++++

 

John was aware of Private Jamison waking up, but he carried on playing his DS, trying to beat his ‘brain training’ score from a few days ago.

He had already talked to Carson. They had amputated what was left of Jamison’s last two toes on his right foot, and patched it up the best they could. So once the Private was out of recovery, John had waited for him to wake up again.

Rodney was still looking after Banks, with Ronon who had showed up that morning saying he would keep her company if Rodney wanted to go to work.

So, after getting Ronon to get them all breakfast. John had come to the infirmary and waited. The Daedalus was due back soon, and there was paperwork to fill out if they were sending them back this run. So he needed to sort them out asap.

“Colonel?” he heard Jamison asked a little groggily.

“Private.” John answered as he finished his last task, and sighed at his score. One day he would beat Rodney. “Are you up for a chat?” he asked as he turned off his DS and pocketed it as he sat up and looked at the young man in the bed.

Jamison nodded looking a little petulant. “Yes, sir.” He answered.

“Good…” John rocked back on his chair as he folded his hands on his belly, a move that sometimes drove Rodney mad. “What’s going on with you and your Shifter?... Oh, sorry… what’s NOT going on?”

Jamison gave him a frown before looking straight forward. “Nothings going on, sir.”

John nodded. “And that would be the problem… Now, I know you have been told my own story as to how I ended up with Doctor McKay?”

Jamison hesitated before nodding; after all it was still the best scuttlebutt all over Atlantis for new recruits.

“Then you will know that it was an accident too. But what I can’t understand is why you are not all over her and worshiping the ground she walks on?” he said a little harshly, but keeping his relaxed demeanour.

He watched as Jamison’s eyes moved to look at the far side of the curtains that surrounded them.

“I asked a question.” He insisted.

“She…” Jamison replied in a whisper that sounded a little resentful.

“Private?”

Suddenly Jamison was looking at him angrily. “You of all people should understand.” He growled. “She’s a SHE.”

John blinked once. “And?” he asked.

Jamison sighed still looking pissed. “I’m gay, sir.”

John slowly moved his chair back on to all fours. “Then why did you sleep with her and her best friend?” he asked carefully.

Jamison sagged as he buried his face into his hand. “Her best friend’s brother was also there that night.” He muttered through his teeth. “He… He was doing me as I did her…”

“Oh.” John felt a little embarrassed. “But still…”

“I’m not attracted to her at all.” Jamison sobbed. “I thought I could be… but I’m just not…” then he was looking up at John. “How did you do it Sir?” he was asking desperately. “Someone said you were married to a woman once? And that Doctor McKay was annoying… How did you work it out with him?”

John decided playing dumb wasn’t going to work right now. “Because we were growing to be friends when it happened.” He said honestly. “And when I saw him dying three beds away from where we are now because I’d disappeared for two days. I knew I couldn’t be without him. The rest just fell into place.”

It didn’t seem to be the answer Jamison was looking for as his shoulders slumped some more.

John really didn’t get it, but he’s never been attracted to anyone, male or female. He had married Nancy just because it was something easy. His family had liked her but he really didn’t have much of an emotional attachment to her, or anyone really, not till Rodney had blundered into his life asking him to imagine where he was in the universe. And not even then until the moment he had buried himself into Rodney’s body for the first time, and well, the rest was history.

“Look.” John sat forward a little. “If you want my advice, all I can say is why don’t you try being friends with her, and see where it goes from there… But I will be sending you back on the next ship. The Shifter Registry might be able to help you more than I can.”

“Great!” Jamison exclaimed angrily. “It’ll just be another failure my Great General father can ball me out over! It will make his bloody day!”

John felt a twinge of recognition; after all, he was a failure in his own father’s eyes since he had joined the air force. More so when Nancy had divorced him, he had cut all ties with his family after that.

John ran a hand over his eyes. “Look… I’ll get scheduled appointments for you and Banks to see Doctor Swaby. To see if you can resolve anything. So I’ll let it go this time… but I’m not promising anything.” He said as he stood, seeing the look of hope in Jamison’s eyes was a little sickening. “I’ll have another chat with you in one month’s time, till then, if Banks want to, she can stay with me and my Mate.”

Jamison nodded. “Thank you, sir.”

John patted Jamison’s knee, “Just try your best.” He said as he left.

John finally figured out why Jamison was such a crappy Marine. It was probably something he had never wanted to do, but forced into it by his farther. Some people just weren’t cut out to follow in daddy-dearest’s footsteps.

 

++++++++++

 

Three weeks later and John would never have that ‘Chat’ with Jamison.

Rodney hadn’t been too thrilled with having a house guest for so long, but John had explained what was happening and he calmed down.

The appointments with Dr Swaby seemed to be having some effect on the Bonded couple, even if it still left Banks a little wild eyes. But they were becoming friends, if nothing else. John just thought it was baby steps, and Jamison would finally come to realize what a great gift Banks was to him. Well, that was if he had any sense, which almost everyone on base doubted. And it still looked like John would be filling out return papers.

“It’s like waiting for the kids to return home.” Rodney yawned at his side.

They were sat up on the control platform waiting for SGA8 to come back from their mission escorting some botanists. Banks and Jamison had gone with them. Banks had been thrilled and even though Jamison had a limp. He had held her hand almost willingly as they stepped through the gate.

“I’m not that old.” John groused as he folded his feet up on the console in front of him. “Aren’t they late?”

“Fifteen minutes sir.” Chuck informed them. “So, not as late as some teams.”

John leaned back so he could look at the gate tech. “Are you implying something?” he asked.

Chuck just grinned back. “No sir… incoming wormhole!” he called as he looked at his controls as the gate came to life. “SGA8’s IDC!”

/”Coming in hot!”/ Major Silver called over the radio.

“Active Marines to the gate room ASAP!” John called on the broad channel of his communicator. Then. “Stats?!”

/“Wraith!”/ Silver called back as John watched the botanists running through the gate, the marines below, siphoning the civilians out of the way efficiently.

“Casualties?” he asked as he made his way down the stairs, Rodney on his heals.

/”Jamison.”/ Silver said as Banks appeared with one of the other marines, Jamison hanging limply between them.

“Crap.” John heard Rodney gasp.

“Shut the gate!” John shouted up to Chuck as Major Silver came thought the gate backwards, still firing her gun as the gate disengaged. “Medical team to the gate room stat!” John said into his com as they were laying Jamison on the ground.

John noted that Banks was in bare feet as she knelt by her Mate, there was also black blood around her mouth and chest. John looked down at the withered shrunken form of Jamison and shivered. The Private was still breathing, but it was laboured and John knew there was no hope for him.

“What happened?” He demanded of Major Silver as she got her breath back.

“We left Jamison to guard the gate as the Botanists wandered, we weren’t even going that far when the gate opened and a Commander came through. Private Jamison tried to shoot him, but the Wraith was too fast and was upon him before we could do anything. Miss Banks Shifted and attacked the Wraith, killing it. But it was too late. Then we saw more Wraith coming through the trees.” Silver shivered a little as she looked at John. “I’ve never seen the like, sir. Banks… Jesus.” She whispered out, seeming truly shaken.

John pulled her a little to one side as the medical team came in and swarmed all over Jamison. He had never seen Silver shaken before and she had been with them long enough to see all kinds of crap. “If it helps.” He said. “It’s what the Ancients created Shifters to do.”

She shook herself physically. “We can spend ages pumping lead into one of them and they still keep coming.” She gasped as she looked over to Banks, “And she rips it apart in seconds! It didn’t stand a chance.”

John put a consoling hand on her shoulder. He guest Heightmeyer and Swaby would be busy for a few days. That was till Silver turned back to him, her eyes now full of excitement.

“We need more Shifter sir.” She grinned. “All this time looking for an Ancient weapon to fight them and the Goa’uld and we had them on Earth all this time!”

John nodded as he returned her smile. “I’ll add your recommendation to my next dial in.” he told her. “Go get your team checked out now.”

“Will do.” She said as she rounded up her men and followed the gurney now being rushed to the infirmary.

“John…” Rodney said softly at his side.

John reached out and took his Mates hand, lacing their fingers together as his mood darkened a little. He knew Jamison wouldn’t make it and that Banks would be soon to follow. “Come on.” He whispered as they made their way into Atlantis’s halls.

 

++++++++++

 

There wasn’t really much Carson could do anymore, other than to try and make Private Jamison as comfortable as possible. Which, right now, was pumping him full of morphine as they waited for the inevitable.

A lot of people had come and gone, but John and Rodney were still stood by Amelia’s side as she cried inconsolably.

She hadn’t even tried to touch the shrunken and old shell of her Mate, just stood to one side with the two men acting as her protectors.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered to her as he came to stand by Rodney, who just looked bleak. “I’ll make sure no one disturbed you…”

John gave him a grim nod. “Thanks.”

So, with a sinking heart he began to close the curtains around the bed. He knew he also needed some time alone right now. Loosing someone was always hard, but to loose someone to the Wraith likes this? It just went against everything he was.

He thought that maybe getting back a corpse would be easier than waiting for a man in his mid twenties to die from old age while he could do nothing.

But this was worse because Jamison wasn’t the only one they were all about to loose. And he was having serious thoughts not to recommend anymore Shifter’s coming to Atlantis.

John and Rodney were used to the dangers, had faced them a time or two. Both man and Shifter had probably come to terms with their own mortality. Carson knew, that if they gave their lives for Atlantis and the expedition, they would have both thought it worth it.

But Jamison was going to die so worthlessly, there would be no blaze of glory for him or Amelia.

He had just pulled the last curtain closed and stood for a moment more as he prayed for some miracle when he heard Rodney talk for the first time since they had come to the infirmary.

“If we are going to do whatever it is… we should do it now.”

Carson frowned, and couldn’t help but look through the tiny crack in the curtain. He saw John nodding as he bit his lip. Then Rodney was trying to get Amelia to look at him.

“Do you trust us.” He was asking the other Shifter.

Amelia finally looked up at Rodney through her tears, “Yes.” She said in a reedy whisper, tears still falling from her chin.

“Good… Then John’s going to do something… and you must do what he tells you.” Rodney was saying. “We aren’t sure what’s going to happen… but for us… you must try… okay?”

“But…?” Amelia sobbed as Carson saw her looking at the bed where her Mate lay dying. “We are going to die.”

“No!” Rodney hissed, “This is going to be so hard… But you MUST listen to the Colonel.” He insisted. Then he looked over her shoulder at John. “Do it now.”

Carson watched as Rodney stepped back and away from Amelia, soon as he was away John moved.

Carson’s chest went cold as he watched John grab the back of Amelia’s head and forced her forwards and half over her dying Mate. John’s other hand already wrapped around her wrist.

Amelia gave a startled cry.

“Reject your Mate.” John hissed in her ear, ignoring her slight struggle and sobs.

Carson couldn’t take it anymore, this was cruelty on a scale he had never witnessed before and he couldn’t stand for it. So he threw the curtain open and was about to yell at the Colonel when suddenly Rodney was hissing at him.

Carson took a step back as he looked into his friend’s eyes to see orbs of blue and his pupils were blown wide in the dim light. And Carson realized he was now looking into the eyes of the Shifter, even thought Rodney was still in human form.

“Stay back.” Rodney said, but it wasn’t his normal voice, it was more of a tiger’s growl and dripped a deadly warning.

“I said reject your Mate.” John was saying, totally ignoring what was going on at his side.

“I… I…” Amelia uttered.

“You will do it now!” John was ordering. “You don’t love him… You hardly know him and he rejected you, do the same and do it now!”

“I… but I thought…” Amelia was crying in earnest now.

“You only slept together once and you hardly remember it.” John snarled and Carson could see how his fingers were digging into the back of her neck. “He didn’t even mark you! Reject him!”

The monitor by the head of the bed suddenly caught Carson’s eye, Jamison’s vitals were all flatlining. “Oh god….” He uttered hopelessly, feeling unless.

As the last blip became a constant line Amelia suddenly screamed and it sounded more angry than anguished. And Carson looked back just in time to see Amelia collapse onto the bed, then slowly slip onto the floor.

John had let go of her as she fell, “Crap…” Carson heard him utter as John’s eyes rolled back in his head and he also went down. At the same time Rodney gave out a groan, wobbled a bit, then collapsed too.

“Shit!” Carson exclaimed as he tapped his ear. “Medic team to the infirmary!” he went to kneel down before Rodney first.

/“Becket?”/ He heard Elizabeth in his ear, she sounded tired but concerned, after all, none of them were expecting a miracle.

Carson felt Rodney’s pulse, relived it was strong, “I think Sheppard and McKay have just done something really stupid.” He said back as he checked Rodney’s eyes, they were normal for his human form, and his pupils were reacting normally as he shined his pen light into them.

/”On my way!”/Elizabeth said as Carson heard his nurses coming back into the infirmary at a run. He got up and went to check on John. “Get McKay onto a gurney.” He told the first nurse he saw. John was also just unconscious. “Then put Sheppard onto the same gurney. Someone check their vitals again for me.” Then he left the two men to his staff, they were already used to dealing with the Colonel and his Shifter.

With a heavy heart he moved on to Amelia. Her pulse was strong and just like the other two, she just seemed unconscious, but with his experience from Rodney, he knew to get her hooked up to monitoring equipment soon. He didn’t even want consider the fact what John had done might have worked.

 

++++++++++

 

“Here.” Elizabeth said as she handed Carson a cup of coffee as they watched over the three unconscious people.

When she had got to the infirmary, she wasn’t really sure what was going on. Rodney was already on a gurney and John was being draped over him in a heap. Both men dead weighs.

Then she had seen Carson helping another nurse get Amelia onto another gurney, so she had stood back as they started hooking the Shifter up to all kinds of medical equipment.

Meanwhile, another nurse was removing wires from Private Jamison, covering his face with the blanket, as the curtains were being pulled around the bed.

Elizabeth had felt very old at that moment, Jamison might have been annoying, but he was young and had his whole life ahead of him. But now he was gone. She had cast her gaze over to Amelia as the doctor and nurses still worked on her. But that had been about an hour ago.

“Thanks lass.” Carson said as he slumped down onto a free gurney.

“So?” she asked softly, Carson looked as tired as she did.

Carson ran a hand over his face. “I have no idea.” He confessed. “I was about to leave them alone when I saw John grab the back of Amelia’s neck, then tell her to reject Kevin as her Mate.”

She felt a moment of surprise. “Is that possible?” she asked, looking over to where John was still slumped across Rodney.

Carson shrugged, “I have no idea… It was just horrible to witness… The poor lass. But then when I saw Kevin pass away, Amelia screamed and they all collapsed. So far they all seem stable.”

“Even Amelia? Or is it too soon to tell?” She asked.

Carson nodded wearily. “So far all her vitals are perfectly fine, if anything they are better than when she got here.”

“That’s a good sign?” she asked hopping up onto the gurney besides him.

“Ay, it is… but it doesn’t explain why those two are still unconscious.” He said gesturing with him coffee at the two men. “I think on the next dial out, I’m going to have to request more information about Shifter health and lore. If they send more Shifters I’m going to have to get a Shifter doctor on staff.”

“Or a vet.” Elizabeth chuckled, at least getting a smile from Carson too.

“That too.” He said. “So, here to keep me company?”

“Got nothing better to do.”

Elizabeth almost jumped when Ronon came into the infirmary, Teyla just behind him.

“I hope that will be acceptable?” Teyla smiled.

“The more the merrier.” Carson offered, as they all took seats to wait.

 

++++++++++

 

John opened his eyes, and thankfully Atlantis instantly lowered the lights.

“John?” Teyla said softly as he saw her get to her feet and come over to him. “How are you feeling?”

John shivered as his arms tightened around someone and he looked down to see he was lying on top of Rodney. “Uh…” he uttered, he wasn’t really sure how he felt, other than the banging headache. “How long was I out?” because for a moment he wasn’t sure why he was in the infirmary. Then he remembered and sat up, almost falling off the gurney. “Banks?”

“She’s fine.” Carson was at his side, “She woke up about ten minutes ago.”

John looked over to the other side of the room, to see Ronon stood by Amelia’s bedside, helping her drink some water. “How is she?” he asked, not taking his eyes from her.

He had felt the moment Private Jamison had died and just after something had snapped. It felt like holding a rubber band, then pulling it apart till it broke and the recoil snapping back onto his hands, only inside his chest. It had hurt like hell. The next thing he was waking up.

“So far.” Carson was saying. “She’s not showing any signs of organ distress, and she seems quite fine, a little upset, but that’s understandable.”

John nodded, then he turned his attention to what was more important as he looked down at his Mate. Rodney was drooling into the pillow, a slight frown on his brow but was totally out of it. “And Rodney?” he asked.

“You’re both doing fine.” Teyla assured him. “And to your earlier question. You have been unconscious for about fourteen hours.”

John ran a hand over his eyes. “Can I get something for a headache?” he asked. Then added. “And something for Rodney. He’s gonna need it.” Sure that some of his pain wasn’t his own.

“Not a problem.” Carson said as he patted his knee then wandered off.

“Would you like something to drink? Eat?” Teyla asked worriedly.

He shook his head a little then was aware of Rodney waking up, his Mate blinked a little, groaned in pain, then John was being pulled down as Rodney buried his face into his chest. So he just wrapped one arm around Rodney’s head and held him tight.

“Migraine?” John asked softly, only getting a whimper in return. He looked up at Teyla who looked back at him worriedly, she had seen the way a migraine could debilitate the Shifter before. “Can you get some ice chips?” he asked. Both knowing water was all Rodney could stomach right now, without peppering the floor and maybe everything else with sick.

She nodded then went away.

“Banks seems fine.” He whispered to Rodney softly. “I think my stupid idea might have worked.”

They hadn’t actually discussed it. But as they watched and the closer Jamison came to passing away. A plan just seemed to form in his mind, so the moment Carson walked away and they finally had a moment of privacy, Rodney had acted, his total unwavering trust in John was once again put to the test as he convinced Amelia to trust in John too.

John hadn’t really been aware of what he was saying or doing. But it just seemed the right thing to do. Until he had passed out.

“Here,” Carson said as he came up to them. “I think some paracetamol should help, if it’s just a headache?”

Rodney groaned a little.

John managed to free one arm as he took the two small pills, threw them into his mouth as Carson handed him some tepid water to swill the pills down. “Can you get me a few ice packs too?” he asked.

“Oh, Rodney’s awake, how are ya feeling?” Carson asked as he leaned over a little to look at Rodney.

‘Migraine.’ John mouthed as Rodney flinched away from the doctor’s voice.

Carson’s eyes widened. Then he was stepping away again, only to come back a few moments later cracking the tab in an icepack before handing it over.

 

++++++++++

 

John finally got Rodney sat up in their bed, he had mustered all the pillows they had and some cushions from the sofas. “How’s that?” he asked, pulling the sheets up.

“I’m not an invalid.” Rodney muttered darkly.

“And that’s why I’m stumbling around in the dark?” John asked sarcastically.

“Not dark.” Rodney replied, “I can bare some light now.”

John ran his hand over Rodney’s head affectionately, mostly to stop being frustrated. The curtains were blocking out the morning sun and the lights were dim enough to practically be off.

Soon as dusk had fallen the night before, Carson let them leave the infirmary. John’s headache had lessened a little, but Rodney had still been in pain, and it was too late for any medication to help the Shifter.

“Feel like something to eat?” He asked.

Rodney pulled a face. “Coffee.” He pouted.

John grinned, knowing Carson would instantly deny him any, but John knew better. “Think you can stomach some Tylanol?”

Rodney waved his hand as he slumped a little more into the pillows.

John stood and was about to leave when there was a light knocking on the bedroom door. “Come in?” he called, wondering who it would be. He did not expect to see Amelia Banks tentatively opening the door.

“Shut the door!” Rodney growled as John gestured the young woman to come in. She did and quickly closed the door.

“I thought you would still be in the infirmary?” John said as he pulled one of the chairs over to the bed for her to sit down as he sat on the bed.

“Doctor Becket said I was fine.” She said softly, giving a look over John’s shoulder to Rodney, John glanced at him too; he had buried himself down a little more and had a frown on his face. “So he said I could come back here… But umm…” she carried on. “I have to thank you.”

“Thanks.” John said lamely as he turned back to see tears in her eyes and he instantly felt awkward. He was never very good when someone started crying in front of him.

“You smell unbonded.” Rodney muttered suddenly into the silence. “So it worked?”

Amelia was nodding as she wiped at her eyes. “I feel it too.” She answered. “For the first time in months… I feel fine.” Suddenly she seemed to loose the strength she had shown ever since getting to Atlantis and broke down. “But… for Kevin…” She started sobbing.

John didn’t know what the hell to do as she was caught in her own grief. He patted her shoulder insufficiently.

“For god sake.” Rodney growled. “Banks, get over here.”

John stood as Amelia didn’t need telling twice as she blindly climbed over John’s side of the bed to throw her arms around Rodney, where she buried her face into his chest and sobbed quietly.

John gave Rodney a startled look, his Mate just rolled his eyes and shrugged as he held Amelia and patted her back.

John guessed he couldn’t really understand her grief, he couldn’t even consider not having Rodney in his life anymore. ‘You okay?’ he mouthed.

Rodney nodded, then pointed at his head and made a gesture of drinking.

John nodded as he left the two Shifters together. He quickly slipped through the door into the main room, only to find Ronon stood by the main door, arms across his chest looking like he was guarding.

“Ronon?” he asked as he went to the little kitchenette to put the coffee maker on.

“Beckett said she might need a Chaperone.” Ronon said.

“According to Rodney, she is unbonded now. So we will have to get some people together.” John offered as he got mugs.

“I can do it.” Ronon said confidently.

John chuckled, remembering the younger man hadn’t been around when Rodney was Chaperoned. Then something else occurred to him. Ronan had been spending a lot of time with the young woman. “You fancy her!” he said with a grin.

Ronon glared at him, but then looked away.

John grinned a little harder. “Well… I’ll have to sort things out with Elizabeth, but I’ll see about getting you on the Chaperone list… But.” He sobered. “If she shows no interest in you, take yourself off the list… She’s just lost her Mate, so she’s going to need some time to adjust…”

“I know that.” Ronon glared at him. “I have honour.”

John wandered up to him and patted his arm. “I know that buddy. I’m just saying… and if she does show interest… then you have to come to me and ask for her hand.”

Ronon stared at him for a moment, before nodding. “Fine.”

John nodded as he went back to make coffee. “Well, if you want to bring us all something to eat for lunch, you can come back then.” He said. “I think we are going to be shut in the rest of the day.”

“I can do that.” Ronon said as he walked out the door without another word.

John guessed that was good enough, even if he would have to keep a closer eye on the situation. But he had more pressing matters right now. Like getting caffeine into his Mate.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney watched as Amelia left the apartment with one of the female marines, he couldn’t remember her name, but she had been with them from the start, and was now one of Amelia’s Chaperons.

Once his migraine had gone, Amelia had been like a limpet the rest of the day. He couldn’t really understand her grief, or how she was going to cope with it. After all, there was no way in hell he was ever going to have to go through that with John.

He was still a little stunned that John had actually got her to reject her Bond Mate. He was damn sure he never wanted to do it again if it meant his head was going to explode again. But other than passing out and getting killer headaches, so far there hadn’t been any other consequences.

So, in the past few days, they had sent Private Jamison’s body back to Earth, Amelia was spending time with Heightmeyer, and a lot of people had come forward to Chaperone Amelia.

“I feel like a parent sending his kid off to school for the first time.” John muttered at his side.

“Shame she’s coming back though.” Rodney groused, he still wasn’t sure if he liked having her staying in their apartment. But it wasn’t like they had much choice and Amelia seemed happy with the arrangement.

“That is true.” John admitted as Rodney felt a hand running up his back. “We don’t have to be anywhere for another hour or two…”

Rodney rolled his eyes as he considered Shifting, instead he just turned a grin on his Mate. “Make it two?” Then John was crowding him into their bedroom.

 

++++++++++

 

To be continued

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 8]

++++++++++ [S03E14]

 

Rodney froze as a string of white light surrounded him from head to toe and time seemed to pause. For a moment his whole body burned and he could feel something pulling inside his chest, and with a gasp of agony, it snapped.

“Rodney?” Zelenka asked worriedly as the whole room went dark. “What happened?” as the smell of burnt crystals filled the air.

“I’m not sure.” He replied a little stunned. “But I think I just lost.” And he was sure he had lost a lot more than just some stupid bet about wages.

 

++++++++++

 

“How is Amelia settling in?” Elizabeth was asking as they walked together towards her office.

“Well.” He answered. She had only been living with them for two weeks before she asked if it was okay to move in next door to two of her female Chaperones. Rodney had made out he was happy to see her go, though it had been a total lie. It had only been a few day’s, but they both missed her. “Though at the moment, I’ve had to refuse a moving request from Ronon.”

Elizabeth chuckled. “Is there anything I have to worry about?”

John shrugged. “Nope. I’ve warned him and Amelia will come to me or Rodney if she finds someone she’s interested in Bonding with.”

Elizabeth hummed her understanding. “Should I be looking up on proper Bonding protocol?”

“Wouldn’t hurt.” He answered casually.

“So how are the new Marines shaping up?” She asked, changing the subject.

John shrugged. “They are doing just fine, we had two freak out when they saw a Wraith for the first time, but other than that, Lorne says they should shape up. He worked with most of them when he was back at the SGC.”

“I sent him out with one today to P17 656.” She replied as they entered her office. “Also, I thought you would want to be exploring with Rodney today?”

John grinned. “He wanted me too. But exploring damp smelly places isn’t my idea of a good time…”

Elizabeth chuckled. “I already have reports our power isn’t bleeding away as it was, so I guess they are turning off most of what the Ancients turned on.” She said sitting down in her chair. “Maybe once they have finished he can see about how the Ancients controlled the city so easily.”

John nodded at that. It was driving Rodney nuts that he couldn’t get the panel up from the floor of the gate room. But he hadn’t had time to find out. “I still can’t believe they never listened to us about the Replicators.” It had taken over a week to clear up the mess and fix just the general living and working areas. Not to mention the places they didn’t really use.

He was just about to ask if they could get a crew together and sort out some of the living quarters they had discovered in one of the north towers when his whole body went very cold and something in his chest seemed to snap, making him grab the back of one of the chairs.

And with it, his constant awareness of Rodney just blinked out. Plunging his mind into complete silence.

“John?” Elizabeth was asking and he was aware of her standing and coming around her desk.

Ignoring her he put his hand to his ear. “Rodney!?” The fact he even had to use his communicator instead of just knowing instantly where his Mate was, was freaking him out.

/”Infirmary!”/ Rodney answered back instantly and John was running.

He ignored the startled looks, but knew Elizabeth was on his heals, probably calming everyone down.

When he skidded into the infirmary, Rodney was coming in from another door with Zelenka as Carson was going up to him too.

John ignored them all as he ran up to his Mate and wrapped him in his arms.

But as he pulled Rodney tight against his chest… he felt nothing.

He may as well be holding anyone. The awareness, the constant chatter in his mind, the need to be by Rodney’s side… it was all… gone.

Like it had never existed.

Physically it felt like Rodney, his solid build, broad shoulders, his comforting smell, the way he fit so well against his chest… but mentally… nothing.

“Rodney…?” He breathed out a little too desperately.

“I don’t know…” Rodney answered in a high pitched panicked tone.

“Zelenka, can you explain what’s going on?” Carson was asking the head of Science.

“We were trying to turn off machine Ancients were trying to use.” Zelenka was saying, “Rodney was looking for off switch… Machine went off and surround him in light as it exploded… Then Rodney insist we come here.” He said, obviously panicked as his English grammar went out the window.

“Ok… Gentlemen?” Carson said, and John could feel he was close. But the usual possessiveness towards Rodney never arose, at least not to the extent he was used too.

John knew there was something so not right with his Mate, and the sooner Carson sorted it out the better. So he started to pull away when Rodney grabbed his hand.

“Don’t let go!” Rodney demanded, his actions and the expression on his face and in his eyes showing his panic. But John couldn’t feel it. It was like looking at a recording of his Mate. So disjoined it almost made him dizzy.

“I won’t.” He replied, moving his hand to Rodney’s wrist and squeezing gently.

Rodney’s eyes widened further as he lost all colour, his gaze moving down to his wrist. “It… It’s not working!” he squeaked. “Oh my god! It’s not doing anything!”

John squeezed tighter till Rodney was wincing, but still it had no affect. With a sick lump in his throat he moved his other hand to the back of Rodney’s neck. And it didn’t feel right. The usual place just below Rodney’s skull, either side of his spine where the skin would give a little, was now as hard as normal flesh.

And the worse… Rodney had no reaction at all.

John felt his chest go a little hollow as he watched tears start to moisten Rodney’s eyes.

This wasn’t happening.

 

++++++++++

 

Elizabeth watched the two men as they sat together on a gurney, looking so lost it was heartbreaking.

For the past hour, as they held hands. Carson had put Rodney through so many tests she had lost count, and now they were all just waiting.

It didn’t take long for Carson to come back and they all looked at him expectantly.

The doctor did not look happy. “As far as I can tell, you’re fine.” He said as he stood at the end of the bed.

“I was hit by a mysteries energy pulse? How can that possibly be fine?” Rodney snapped.

“I’ve run every test I can…” Carson said as he moved from foot to foot. “Rodney. You’re perfectly fine… for a human.”

Elizabeth drew in a breath.

“I’m not a…” Rodney started angrily before realization hit him and Elizabeth felt a little sorry for him.

“Human?” John asked and Elizabeth saw his hand tighten around Rodney’s.

Carson looked truly miserable as he nodded. “Rodney… I have ne idea what happened to ya, or what the energy pulse did… But all my tests are coming back that ya are perfectly fine for a human… I canna find any traces of your Shifter DNA. It’s like ya never were a Shifter.”

Elizabeth had to step back as John got off the gurney, pulling Rodney with him. “Shift.” He growled out at the scientist.

Rodney stood looking at John before closing his eyes, only to open them a moment later looking terrified. “I can’t…” he whispered so miserable Elizabeth had to bite her lip, she hated feeling helpless and there was nothing she could do to help.

“It’s ok…” John was saying, though his voice sounded strained. “We just have to figure out what that thing did to you and reveres it?”

Carson made an unhappy sound. “Messing about with an Ancient device we aren’t sure what it does, to change you’re physiology on a molecular level?” he said. “I’m not sure is a good idea.”

“I have to try…” Rodney said as he seemed to shake himself. Then he was walking out of the infirmary, John right behind him.

“Carson?” Elizabeth asked softly. “Is he in any danger?”

Carson sighed deeply. “I dunna no.” he replied. “All I know is he’s human now.”

Elizabeth sighed too. “Then that means the Shifter Bond they have?” she questioned.

Carson shook his head sadly. “Had.” He corrected. “Ya saw what happened when they got here… I’m thinking the Bond disappeared the moment this happened too.”

Elizabeth felt another stab of helplessness, wondering how this would affect the two men’s relationship. All she could wish for was that it could survive without the Bond. They completed each other so well. But she couldn’t help but wonder, if Rodney had always been human, would they have ever got a clue and got together.

“Thank you Carson, let’s just try and keep an eye on them.” She said putting a hand on the doctors shoulder.

Carson nodded, “Ay, I will.” He smiled. “I always thought this would be a dream come true for Rodney.” He said softly. “He complained enough back on Earth that if he was human he would be Head of Science… But that was when life was a lot less complicated.”

Elizabeth agreed. None of them were the same, or even thought the same, as they had before Atlantis.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney sat down as he glared at the Machine that had turned his life upside down.

According to Elizabeth it was an Ascension Device. To help the stupid Ancients cheat and ascend quicker, but it didn’t work, and would kill the person using it more that actually help them ascend… No doubt the stupid Ancients they had rescued, had tried to use it instead of fighting the Replicators that killed them all anyway.

So now Carson was keeping a close eye on him to see if he would end up the same way. But after three days, there was no change in his health… other than the crushing depression.

The night before he and John had finally had sex. It had been good, but it was nothing like the almost religious experience it had ‘always’ been before.

In fact, nothing was the same.

Food tasted bland in his mouth and smelled of nothing, so with his appetite being nothing, he just didn’t eat.

The world around him was muted of all the little sounds and subdued his awareness.

And there never seemed to be enough light, and at night, he was practically blind.

It was like being plunged into a black and white silent movie.

Carson had assured him that it was all very normal for a human and he would get used to it. But Rodney didn’t want to get used to it.

But most of all… He didn’t want to go on being so utterly alone. Sure it had been something he had always wanted before he Bonded with John, but he realized fast he hated it. Being Bonded meant he would never be alone again and he had been fine with that. Because he could be alone with John.

But now he was totally alone.

He couldn’t feel his Mate, didn’t even know where he was right now like he always had before. And it hurt in a whole new kind of way he didn’t like one bit.

He still loved John… But it didn’t hold the intensity it had before. The need, the compulsion to - love… even the ‘want’ to obey was gone.

And that lead onto a whole load of other insecurities.

John was now free.

Without the Bond keeping them together, John could now look for other Mates… he corrected himself bitterly… Lovers. Doctor Swaby and the other Shifters on base had already confirmed John was no longer an Alpha. So he was free to look for someone else. Someone less annoying and more compatible.

After all, their Bond had been based on an accident, forced together though they barely knew each other.

Why would anyone stay with someone who they had no choice to be with in the first place?

John could walk away from him and there wouldn’t be a damn thing he could do about it. He would just have to watch John go and he wouldn’t even be given the mercy of a death rejection.

With a growl of annoyance he put his face into his hands, anything to stop the tears of despair and anger.

For years he had cursed the fact he was a bloody Shifter, wishing he could just be ‘normal’ and free… and here he sat, all his dreams come true… and all he wanted was to be a tiger again.

It was stupid and irrational.

If this had happened before he was Bonded, he was sure he wouldn’t even care, he would have been happy never missing what he never had, instead he was miserable. And the worst of it was he couldn’t fix the damn machine. Or more correctly, he couldn’t get it to reverse what it had done.

The machine was made before Shifters were created, so instead of ascending him, it had just fixed him as it saw fit, by making him ‘human’.

Rodney had already pondered the fact that Janus hadn’t known what he was, so it was a sure guess that a Shifter had never ascended. This was also why he couldn’t just fix it and turn it on again, because it would probably try and force him to ascend.

“Rodney?” Teyla’s voice came to him quietly, when he looked up he was shocked to see she was only stood a few feet away in the doorway. “Why do you not take a break and come get something to eat?”

“I really need to fix this.” He answered with a sigh. The thought of going to the Mess and getting all the sympathetic looks just wasn’t worth it, and especially not to eat food that had no flavour. Even coffee tasted bland and gave him headaches.

She nodded as instead of going away like he wanted, she came and sat besides him. “Zelenka informed me he would be down here in a few hours to help.” She smiled encouragingly. “And I know how much you want to be as you were.”

Rodney rubbed a hand over his face. His skin itching to Shift, but even he knew it was just a psychotically effect, he imagined it was like loosing a limb and still thinking it was attached. He hadn’t gone longer than four day’s without Shifting at least once his whole life, and it was proving to be a hard habit to break. “I don’t think it’s possible.” He confessed quietly.

He felt her put a hand on his arm. “It will take time before you are used to this.” She said kindly. “Why not take the opportunity to explore this aspect of being human while you take a break? I have great confidence in you and Zelenka, you will both find an answer to all this…” She said, gesturing to the room in general. “It will happen. So why do we not go find John? Do you know where he is now?” She asked.

Rodney felt a stab of anxiety. It was an innocent question, but it was one he couldn’t answer, and it made him feel sick, just another painful reminder that his Bond with John was gone. “I have no idea.” He managed around the lump in his throat.

He felt Teyla put a hand on his arm, no doubt trying to comfort him, when there was none to have. His skin didn’t even tingle at her touch as it always had when anyone but his close family or John touched him.

“Then why do we not go find him the normal way?” she said softly as she leaned forward trying to catch his eye. “Like before you were both Bonded?”

He nodded. It didn’t help that he couldn’t even smell where John had been or was, or anyone for that matter. It was something he thought everyone could do until he realised that wasn’t the case. “Fine.” Was all he answered as he got to his feet.

 

++++++++++

 

John wasn’t sure how long he had spent pounding the punch bag in the gym, his arms were sore and his hands were numb nubs at the end of them.

He was trying not to think, just waiting for the call that his brilliant scientist of a lover had fix the damn machine and everything would be back the way it was. Though deep in some dark corner of his mind that he didn’t want to go anywhere near, he had his doubts.

“Ah, John!” Teyla’s voice said as he saw her walk into the gym, then she was turning to someone behind her, “See, Rodney, did I not say he would be here?”

John’s heart sank as he saw Rodney behind the Athosian, he hadn’t even felt him anywhere near, never mind in the same room. It also didn’t help that Rodney didn’t even give him a proper smile when they caught each others eye.

“We were wondering if you would like to join us for something to eat?” Teyla said easily, but John could tell she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try.

“I’ll have to take a shower first, then I have a meeting with Lorne…” he tried to lie.

“You do?” Lorne suddenly said from the other side of the gym. John hadn’t even seen him come in.

“Oh… I’m sure…” he tried.

Lorne shook his head, “You don’t have anything on till Friday, sir.”

John tried to smile at Teyla, though her eyes had already narrowed and her smile had turned frosty. “I’ll take a shower then… meet you in the mess?”

“Please hurry.” Teyla said, her tone brooking no arguments. “We ‘will’ be waiting.”

John nodded as he moved his gaze to Rodney, whose eyes were down cast. Without thinking John reached out a hand to try and comfort his Mate. But as soon as his hand touched Rodney’s arm, it was like touching anyone, there was no tingle of re-connection. It made him feel awkward and slightly ill at ease. It didn’t even feel like when he had touched Rod from the parallel universe. He quickly let go with an apologetic smile when Rodney looked up at him. “I won’t be long.” He promised as he walked away.

 

++++++++++ [S03E15]

 

“Come on.” John said as he got out of bed.

It had been a long day. But he didn’t feel like staring at the ceiling for hours, for another night, as Rodney rolled restlessly at his side.

It had been another frustrating day for them off world.

Not only had Rodney lost all his Shifter abilities, they had always just taken for granted, he also wasn’t as fit as he had been. Not only had they been robbed of their Bond, but Rodney had been robbed of his stamina, which made trekking across unknown worlds hard for him as he struggled now with the weight of his pack. It also wasn’t helping that he had lost his appetite in the process. So in the past three weeks Rodney was also getting thinner and paler than John was comfortable with. But nothing he said or did seemed to help. The instinct John had always had with Rodney was also gone, and he was floundering as how to handle him.

“Hu?” Rodney groaned from under the sheets.

John fished in their closet for something for them both to wear. “Let’s go play that game.” He said. They only got to play when they had some extended down time and it usually wasted hours as the real time strategy played itself out.

“I’m trying to sleep.” Rodney moaned, but he was still getting out of bed.

“Sure.” John answered as he picked out some sweats for Rodney. And there was another thing John was finding hard. He still dressed his… lover, but there was no need behind it now. Nothing that ‘made’ him want to do it. But to keep his sanity and as long as Rodney would let him, they would go through the motions.

Rodney and Zelenka had fixed the Ascension machine. But still couldn’t figure out how it worked to dare to use it again. And over the past three weeks they had slowly stopped finding the time to figure it out as more pressing matters arose.

So once they were both dressed they trudged their way to the room with the ancient games machines. Their game was still playing, so they just took their station and started fiddling.

“Rodney…” he asked as he noticed some unusual activity going on at one of his borders.

“Hum?”

“What are you doing? Is that a mine?” John asked as he tried to get more information.

“Err… maybe…” Rodney replied, trying to sound casual, and failing. “Ok, look, I just need the coal on my side… so I’m just digging for some of it.”

“That seam goes into my land…” he replied half heartedly.

“Just need some of it.” Rodney replied, but John could already tell his friend was lost in the game, no doubt trying to advance Geldar faster than he said he was. But it wasn’t like he would ever let John look at his side. Sometimes it seemed more like playing ‘battle ships’ than SimCity.

John let it go as for the next few hours he just lost himself in the game.

But eventually his mind couldn’t help but come around to real life. He had been avoiding it for as long as he could.

For three weeks he had just tried to carry on as normal, pretending there was nothing wrong with their relationship. But as time went on he knew there was a wedge forming between them that he was struggling to fix.

All John’s life he had never really had a close relationship with anyone, other than his mother, but she was the only person he ever felt close too, even then she had been the one to always seek him out, telling him he was her special little man. He knew she had loved him till the very end. But she had died in his youth. His farther had always preferred Dave, his little ‘mini-me’ and everything John wasn’t, but even Dave had looked at him with scorn when he had left the house for good after divorcing Nancy and arguing with his father for the last time. Even now, he didn’t feel any need to contact them and make amends like Rodney had done with his sister.

He had turned his back on his family; after all, he was a failure in their eyes. Just another Military grunt. A disgraced older son who didn’t want anything to do with the family business.

What few friends he had made were either on his family’s side, or had been killed in the wars he had to fly in.

But not one of them he had ever touched him the way that Rodney had.

It was almost like he had been saving up all his emotions for this one person.

And it had been so easy to let down all his walls. Or more rightly, Rodney had just stepped through them all like they didn’t exist.

After the Bond they had shared… he just felt hollow. Like Rodney’s very soul had filled all the dark and forgotten places inside him and made him whole, but now it was gone, it had taken away more than it had filled.

He was damn sure he still loved the man. After all they had been through; Rodney was still a great man, on so many levels and at the end of the day they were still friends.

But that made him face the hard truth.

The SGC knew of Rodney’s change in circumstances, and Elizabeth had already alluded that Rodney might be facing a promotion to Head of Science now he was human. Which John thought was a kick in the teeth, knowing how Rodney was struggling with actually being human, when he should have had the position from the very start.

Then there was the fact, that for the first time in Rodney’s life… he was free to have sex with whoever he wanted and there wouldn’t be any permanent consequences. Which lead to the fact, Rodney could now have kids.

John had listened to the rants about Rodney and his despise of the little monsters. Even if they did gravitate to him no matter how badly he treated them.

So now when they went to some of the more open minded planets. Who liked to encourage strangers to have sex with their young woman in hopes of expanding the gene pool. They no longer had a solid excuse to politely refuse, and how could he not let Rodney explore if he wanted too?

John put his head back and closed his eyes.

When they had first Bonded, he had been desperate to find some way to break it, for Rodney’s own good.

John just screwed up any relationship he had, eventually. It was only a matter of time before he would disappoint Rodney. The Bond would have made it harder, but now it was gone? He could already feel their relationship on a slow downward spiral.

Their sex life used to be whenever they could find a quiet moment, and a few times, even when everything was going to pot. He knew he could send Rodney to his own orgasmic heaven. But the three times they had had sex since Rodney had become human it took longer and neither of them seemed satisfied. No doubt Rodney was thinking it was all his own fault and in his shame would never admit to it. And John wasn’t about to find the courage to admit it either.

The Bond had given them so much… and with it gone. Nothing was the same.

- -

“John?”

John woke up with a start as his feet slipped off the edge of the table. “Hu?” he asked realizing he had fallen asleep in the game room. “What time is it?”

“Time for breakfast.” Rodney replied with a ghost of a smile on his lips. “Come on.”

John rubbed his eyes as he stood. Expecting a day of paperwork and a movie night with the team. And maybe somewhere in-between he could convince Rodney to take a nap with him.

 

++++++++++

 

Teyla hadn’t been looking for John, but when she spied him slouching onto a balcony, obviously trying to avoid her, she followed. She closed the door firmly behind her, cutting off his exit, knowing it wasn’t the wisest thing to do, but when Sheppard was being stubborn, there was no other choice.

She was frustrated with her two friends, forced to watched John and Rodney’s relationship slowly falling apart over the last few weeks.

They still had a good working relationship, but they were no longer joined at the hip, or happy.

“John.” She said to his back, that had stiffened somewhat when she closed the door.

“Teyla.” He answered in a deceptive easy tone, but he didn’t turn to her.

“How is Rodney?” she asked, watching him closely, even if it was only the other man’s back. John straightened, but that was all. “I have not seen him with you lately?”

John’s shrugged his shoulders. “He’s busy in the lab… you know how he get’s when he’s working on something new.” He said turning to give her a smile, that did not reach his eyes.

She fought down a frustrated sigh. He knew what she was implying. Instead she gave him a tight smile and a nod. “Yes…” she agreed as she took a step closer to the railing. She wasn’t going to get anywhere being subtle. “You do know that people have normal relationships all the time…” she said as she looked out over the city, feeling the salt air breeze through her hair. She carried on talking when she had no response from John. “Rodney has gone through a life changing experience; I don’t think any of us can truly comprehend…” she turned to look at John’s profile as he kept his gaze fixed on the horizon. “He needs you to be strong for him right now.” She said softly. “He needs you to be strong for the both of you.”

John looked like he was about to say something before he clamped his lips together in a stubborn line.

“As I have stated already.” She carried on regardless. “People have normal relationships all the time. I know you have lost the ‘bond’ you both shared, but I do not see why this is a problem now…”

“I forced myself on him.” John growled out in a whisper she only just heard.

Now Teyla did let out a sigh, “If that were the case.” She said trying to keep a tight hold on her calm tone. “Then would your relationship not have ended up something similar to Banks and Jamison?” That got her a startled look from John as he finally looked at her. She smiled at him knowing that maybe he was finally seeing some kind of truth to her words. “I will leave you to think about that.” She said as he patted him on the arm as she began to walk away. “I expect to see you with Rodney for supper tonight. Goodbye for now.” She said as she left John to his own thought, hoping she had helped them somehow.

 

++++++++++ [S03E16] The Ark

 

Rodney couldn’t believe John was trying to pull this kind of shit on him again, forcing him to try and work under impossible condition, especially after he was the only one mobile to try and save everyone after the stupid bastard they just saved had tried to kill them all, along with himself, as he booted up the rocket and it’s engines had blasted a hole in the moon base as well as sending their own jumper flying off into space… It wasn’t like they had an endless supply of them, so he would have been happy to kill the alien twit, if he wasn’t already vaporised to death.

He wasn’t sure how long the old space ship would last and it wasn’t helping that the moon it was in, was now plummeting towards the damn planet!

He didn’t need John shouting at him to know he was totally useless right now, it hadn’t helped that he didn’t even have the strength to shut a damn door, when he could have before he was made into a damn human.

And now John was confusing the crap out of him as they stood over the storage device.

“I’m not talking about the Jumper.” John said as he started to walk away. “I always wanted to fly a space shuttle. Now’s my chance.”

“Oh, no-no-no-no-no.” Rodney said desperately as he followed. John was ‘not’ going to be pulling this crap on him again. He had promised never to do stupid suicidal stunts again! Even if Teyla was in the damn thing.

“Just get this thing disconnected and help these guys get to the Jumper while I suit up.” John snapped angrily at him.

Rodney felt his anger boil up, “Look, I know how much you love to think you can fly anything but it is not ...” he seethed.

“Just get this thing disconnected. That’s an order.”

Rodney flinched inside, waiting for the inevitable compulsion to obey a direct order. But it never came. And for a moment, as John walked away, he thought about disobeying. But he knew there wasn’t much choice. They would have to save Teyla. So he went back and began unhooking the storage device. 

Once he was done, Lorne and Ronon began helping to push it towards the aliens shuttle.

Rodney ignored their banter about John being insane. It was a fact he was well aware of. But his resolve had been building as he worked.

Ever since M17 656, were they had been playing a game with peoples lives, John had become a little more distant from him, no longer seeking him out to eat, or drag him off to bed when he spent too long in the lab. It didn’t even help that John no longer found the need to dress him anymore, which was the first inkling Rodney had that something was wrong.

Slowly Rodney had realised that he was the one to initiate any contact. Something he was not used to in their relationship, he never had too. John would just turn up and know what Rodney needed or wanted.

He had heard somewhere that a relationship was a two way thing, something about give and take.

But he was floundering as to how humans did this kind of thing all the time.

He had just relied on their Bond to sort everything out.

It wasn’t like he had any other kind of experience. Distancing himself from people was easy, he had been doing that all his life. But to keep them? He didn’t have a clue… and every day, John was growing more distant.

“Ya ‘do’ realise you’re out of your bloody mind, right?” Rodney heard Carson saying and he looked up to see the doctor helping John back into his spacesuit.

“Yeah, probably.” John replied as the base shook hard.

Rodney tried to bite down his panic. “Alright, we’re all set. Once we are inside the shuttle, it should be fairly easy to get the device into the receptacle.”

John looked at him sharply. “We?” he asked.

Rodney nodded. “You don’t think I’m letting you do this without me?” he asked incredulously.

“That’s because I am doing this without you.” John replied in his no nonsense tone. “Look, we don’t have time to argue about this.” He growled, giving Rodney a glare like he was the enemy.

 “But…” Rodney said feeling the squirms of uncertainty in his gut.

John pulled the face that meant he was thinking about saying something or not and Rodney tried to brace himself.

“We aren’t Bonded anymore, McKay…” John snapped as Rodney felt the cracks in his world fracture a little bit more. “So I’ll be doing this alone!”

“No.” Rodney tried to summon up his stubbornness, but it was failing him for desperation.

“Major Lorne.” John said as he stared Rodney down. “Take Doctor McKay back to the Jumper… By force if you have too.”

Rodney flinched as Lorne came toward him with an apologetic look on his face, then he was crowding Rodney backwards.

“Don’t do this. It’s impossible.” He begged as he felt Carson take his arm and also start pulling him away from John. He tried to fight a little bit.

“Just go McKay.” John growled angrily as he turned and Rodney felt like sobbing as he was dragged away, too weak to fight and too heartsick to try.

 

++++++++++

 

Becket couldn’t believe John had actually pulled it off. The man was a bloody miracle worker and the luckiest sod he had ever known.

But as their pilot moved in to land close to the downed shuttle, he couldn’t understand Rodney’s almost passive interest. Apart from to confirm John was alive, he hadn’t even asked after his condition. Just sat in the co-pilot chair and waited.

Carson could see the slight pull of muscles about the other mans eyes to know there was something wrong with his friend. He could only guess it had something to do with the argument they both had back in the moon base.

But Carson could see John’s point of view. Now Rodney was no longer a Shifter and their Bond wasn’t there. It meant that if one lost their lives, they wouldn’t pull the other after. John had made the right call trying to protect Rodney. Though Carson know Rodney didn’t think like that.

After all, Rodney’s transition from Shifter to Human had proved a hard one. He knew Rodney still wasn’t comfortable, had even mentioned once that he felt disconnected from everything because nothing was the same.

Carson had tried to understand. But even after talking with the other Shifter’s and their Mates on Atlantis about it. The Mates had just clutched their Shifters closer while the Shifters themselves looked horrified. But all four had no advice, even though they didn’t share a Bond as strong as the one John and Rodney had. They just confessed it wasn’t something they ever wanted to think about, and Shanique had demanded that the ascension room be sealed immediately.

But that wasn’t the only thing. His talks with Elizabeth, Teyla and even Redek, had all come to the same conclusion… that something was wrong between the two men.

And the more time passed, Carson was just waiting for the day the two men parted ways. No one close to them thought their relationship would last much longer. And he was sure he had seen the first signs today of that inevitability.

“We’ve landed.” Evan was saying over the comms as the back of the jumper opened. “Can you get out Colonel? Or do we have to cut you out?”

/”Err… I only think the hull suffered on landing.”/ John replied. /”Give me a minute.”/

Carson followed Evan and Ronon out of the Jumper as they walked the short distance to the door on the other shuttle. It took a few moments before the door was thrown open as it promptly fell off its hinges and John stood grinning down at them all.

“Well… That was interesting.” John said as he hopped down the few feet to the sand. “And I really can pilot anything.” He grinned proudly.

“Just because you can.” Evan was saying. “Doesn’t mean you should, Colonel.”

John waved him off. “Well I got her down.”

“So, do you want to start getting people out now? Or come back with a larger team?” Evan was asking.

“Let’s just see if we can wait for backup.” John said turning to look at what was left of the Shuttle. “It said the power was still working to the storage device. But the sooner we can get Teyla out the better.”

Carson nodded, then he turned to look for Rodney. Only to see him stood about four foot away, and not looking happy. “Do you want to take a look Rodney?” he asked. For an answer Rodney just shrugged.

“I’m sure what the Colonel said is true.” Rodney answered without looking at any of them. “It’s up to you.”

Carson sighed. “Fine… Evan, take Ronon back and get him seen too…”

“I’m fine.” Ronon intoned.

Carson glared at him. “You’re going back… Evan, if you could start sending back food, water and all the jumpers we can spare with tents and basic living supplies.”

“We also need to scout out the area... see if there is anywhere more hospitable than a desert.” John put in. “So squeeze in a botanist or two, and that geologist… And maybe we should see about getting the gate down here for these folks? Well, that if they are actually okay.”

“I’ll let Elizabeth know, let her sort it out?” Evan said.

John nodded. “Sure. Just hurry up. And see where the Daedalus is, we could use it if we have to transport a lot of people.”

“On it.” Evan said as he walked away, gesturing for Ronon to follow him.

“Go.” John ordered the young man, who actually followed.

They watched the Jumper fly away in silence. Carson could feel the tension in the air as he turned back to the shuttle.

“Alright gentlemen.” He said walking over to the door to the shuttle. “Shell we get started?”

“Sure, here.” John said as he laced his hands together and bent down, so Carson could use it as a boost up, which he did and was soon inside the shuttle. He turned to help Rodney as the other man came closer and John did the same for him. But instead Rodney just waved John off, growling. “I can do it.” And grunting, he did actually manage to get up and inside.

Carson gave John a concerned look, that the Colonel returned before giving a little shrug and climbing in himself.

 

++++++++++

 

They had eighty five very confused people out of the device when four other Jumpers announced they were incoming, with medical staff and supplies.

“Will you be okay here Rodney?” Carson asked as Rodney carried on getting people out of storage. The Scientist had been silent through the whole process as he and John busied themselves with calming the people down and getting them outside. Where John was now.

Rodney nodded. “Just tell me when you want me to continue.” Was his subdued reply.

- -

It was hours later before Carson realised he hadn’t seen Rodney since the Jumpers had got to them.

He had been busy sorting out the medical staff and the Marines, mostly to set up the tents and make sure everyone was okay and that they had a meal and were briefed on what was happening. Even some of the people they had first got out, started helping out, organising their own people. He quickly learned that they were mostly military personnel and people from the government who knew what was going on.

Even though everyone seemed healthy, they all looked a little shell-shocked. After all, for them, when they left their world it had still been intact to an extent. So to learn that everything was gone and everyone they had loved and left behind were long since dead. Was enough to make anyone depressed, more so when they found out that the second shuttle hadn’t made it.

So now he started looking for his friend. It took him longer than he thought, almost thinking that Rodney had caught a Jumper back to Atlantis before he saw John walking behind one of the Jumpers furthest away. He jogged over, if anyone knew where the physicist was, it would be John. But as he got closer he could hear John talking to someone else. So, with a guilty squirm, he crept up to listen.

“Look… You know I was only thinking of you…” John was saying, sounding a little frustrated.

“I get it…” Came back Rodney’s voice, and it sounded flat. “We don’t need to discuss this.”

“One life to try and save an entire civilisation.” John carried on. “And I wasn’t going to risk your life when I don’t have to anymore.”

“I said.” Rodney was sounding angry now. “That I get it! We aren’t Bonded anymore. So feel free to just throw your life away any way you see fit. Don’t worry about me, I’ll only be left behind… It’s…. It’s…” Rodney floundered as all anger left his voice now and Carson had to strain to hear his next words. “Why don’t we just… Our Bonding was an accident… and I know I’ve been nothing but a burden to you ever since…”

“That’s not true!” John was growling angrily. “I’m not finding this easy either, Rodney!”

“No… No I don’t think you are… You have women falling at you feet all the time.” Rodney chuckled hollowly. “No don’t touch me!” he exclaimed. “Just… I’m sorry.”

Carson had just enough time to back into the darkness of the Jumper as Rodney ran past. But he wasn’t so lucky to miss John’s attention as he came walking past. The Colonel just looked at him for a moment, knowing he had heard everything. Then John looked away and carried on walking.

Carson felt his chest tighten in sympathy. Knowing he had just seen the end of something that was meant to be. This was something he couldn’t just fix with a plaster. If it could ever be fixed again.

 

++++++++++ [S03E17]

 

It took some time to actually find Rodney, but the last place Carson thought of looking was his lab.

“Rodney?” he asked as he walked in, seeing the other man sat at his laptop. He looked tired, no doubt he hadn’t got much sleep after berating Hewstone and Watson. He still found himself wincing when Hewstone had mentioned that Rodney couldn’t fix every problem, referring to the ascension machine. But Rodney had recovered well as he balled them out.

“Hey, Carson.” The other man yawned as he greeted him.

“What are ya doing here?” Carson asked as he looked at the screen Rodney was working on. “We are going fishing remember?”

“Hu?” Rodney blinked up at him. “Oh… yeah… look, I really need to sort this out.” He said gesturing at his laptop. “Something’s niggling at me about it.”

“Like what?” Carson couldn’t help but ask. “Today is our day off from all this, can it not wait till tomorrow?”

For a moment Rodney looked a little confused. “Err… I… no. Something isn’t right.”

Carson sighed, he had been looking forward to today for over a month. But as he looked closer at his friend, he could see how worn out the other man truly was. “Ok… Well it can wait for a few an hour or two. Lets get something to eat?” and then maybe they could talk about what happened back on the planet where they had saved an entire civilisation.

He was sure that Rodney hadn’t talked to anyone, and the whole city knew that the two men were looking less and less like an item, and more like casual colleagues. Once they had never been seen apart, now it was almost impossible to see them together. And Rodney looked like death warmed over.

“I’m not hungry.” Rodney replied softly as he turned back to his work.

“I’ll go get us something to eat anyway.” He said walking away.

- -

Eventually Carson had managed to get half a sandwich down Rodney’s throat. But it wasn’t looking like anything else was about to go down. So finally he decided to ask the ultimate question.

“How are you and John getting alone?” It was a question he should have asked a lot sooner that this, but what with sorting out and helping settle a whole race on a world they no longer recognised had taken up a lot of his time. And he berated himself for not asking earlier.

Rodney paused in his reading as his eyes closed and he went a little pale.

“Kate is a good couple’s councilor.” Carson said when he realized he wasn’t going to get a response. “I know how hard it is since you became human… but ya should try it?”

Rodney shook his head. “What’s the point?” he asked miserably. “Sheppard has already made it clear that he doesn’t want anything to do with me…”

“Really? How?” Carson asked as he leaned forward a little, feigning ignorance.

Rodney rubbed a hand across his eyes as he sat back in his chair. “He sleeps in the spare room… when I get home, he’s either asleep or doesn’t get back till I’m asleep. Then in the morning he’s gone… I just don’t know what to do when he’s avoiding me…” he finished in a miserable whisper. “It’s pretty obvious that he never wanted me, not really. I was forced upon him and now he’s free…”

Carson reached out to his friend’s pain as he put a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t think that’s how John sees it.”

Rodney glared at him. “Then how does he see it?!” He demanded, suddenly angry.

Carson looked into his friends troubled eyes, he might not know John as well as he knew Rodney, but he knew what kind of man John was. “Maybe he’s just thinking of you…”

Rodney snorted derisively as he looked away.

“Look at it from his perspective.” Carson carried on. “Yes, he Bonded with ya accidently. But to me, and everyone else on Atlantis, it didna look like he regretted it at all. Have ya ever thought that maybe he sees it as you’re the one who has been set free?” he asked softly, watching his friends eyes widen a little. “You’re human now, and can look for love with whoever you like, have sex with anyone you want with no consequences?”

Rodney looked up at him slowly. “But…” he uttered.

“John is a self sacrificing man. We both know that.” He smiled a little. “Maybe he wants ya to find the life the rest of us take for granted? And somewhere in his thick skull, he thinks that’s letting ya go?”

“I don’t want letting go…” Rodney whispered.

Carson smiled. “Then don’t you think you should try telling ‘him’ that?”

Rodney nodded as he pushed his chair away from the table, he looked like he was about to say something when the room shook and they heard the sounds of an explosion.

 

++++++++++

 

Ronon was bored. He had got out of stupid golfing, and John had balked at the sparing session like a wimp.

So now he just sat drinking beer in John and Rodney’s apartment as the other man read a book about golfing. They had talked a bit about a subject Ronon really didn’t want to think about. After seeing your lover go up in a ball of flame was not something he really liked to dwell on.

So after questions about his love life, he decided to turn the tables. “What about you?”

John looked decidedly edgy as he flicked a page of his book. “What about me?”

Ronon shrugged, he was well aware of John’s relationship with McKay being on rocky ground right now. And he couldn’t really understand it. He’d never seen two people so sickeningly besotted with each other and he didn’t see why McKay suddenly being ‘normal’ could change that. “When are you getting married?” he said, enjoying the way John squirmed a little bit then laughed ruefully.

“Already done that. Not very good at it.” John replied.

“Really?” Ronon asked. He couldn’t imagine a Sheppard without a McKay. And he was sure someone would have told him if the two men were actually married.

John looked awkward. “A long time ago… before I came here. It didn’t work out and she divorced me.”

“Her loss then.” Ronon drank some more beer. “So you wouldn’t think of marrying McKay?”

John finally put his stupid book down with a sigh. “There wasn’t a need before.” He said, probably meaning the ‘Bond’ thing they had. “Now… I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

“But wouldn’t it keep him at your side?” Ronon queried. He was sure it worked the same way in Earth culture as it did on Sateda.

“I’m not sure he wants to be at my side.” John growled and Ronon could hear the warning that Sheppard had had enough, it was just a shame Ronon hadn’t.

“Who else’s side does he want to be at then?”

John actually scowled at him. “How should I know!” he snapped. “Some pretty, short haired blond, intelligent woman?”

Ronon snorted at that. “He was on a whole planet of those.” He replied taking another swig on his beer. “I didn’t see him looking at any of them, not even that Nola.” He grinned as he watched the realization come into Sheppard’s eyes. “And you left him alone with her often enough. Nothing happened.”

Sheppard slowly looked up at him, then his expression darkened. “He still needs to be free to make his own mind up.” He replied. “And I screw up relationships… it was only a matter of time…”

Ronon thought about maybe beating some sense into his thick skull again. He might not have seen the attraction between the two men when he first got here. But even he wasn’t blind.

He was just about to say something else when they both heard an explosion go off that rocked the floor, and they were both running.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney lay in bed staring at the ceiling wishing he could just close his eyes and sleep. It had been days since he managed not to wake up to a nightmare. It seemed every time he closed his eyes, Carson was there, trying to talk to him, but Rodney had run away, waking up in tears feeling so guilty it took his breath away.

If he hadn’t been so caught up in his non-relationship with John and been a little bit more focused. Hewstone wouldn’t have exploded; with not enough parts left of her to send back to her family… and Carson wouldn’t be dead…

He closed his eyes against the tears he wouldn’t shed. Feeling another wave of guilt and grief overwhelm him.

Carson’s family had been so accepting of him, apparently they knew about Rodney and that he was one of Carson’s close friends. They also seemed a little awed to have a Shifter at the funeral. He was just glad no one had asked him to Shift. It was painful enough to not be reminded he was just a normal man now.

And there was the fact he and John still had to act the part when they left the base.

The SGC were still hesitant as how to explain to the Shifter Registry how he wasn’t a Shifter anymore without giving away too much. But Landry had mumbled something about the promotion to Head of Science on Atlantis. Rodney had just nodded. He still didn’t want it… after what he had let happen, he was no longer competent to take the roll. Not to mention that Zelenka would have to take a step down…

So, here he was. A failure at his job, not even keeping able to keep friends and colleagues safe. A failure at keeping any relationship together. John had said very little to him on their trip to Earth and in Scotland had mostly just avoided him. Or avoided each other if the truth be told.

At least Ronon hadn’t avoided him. The man had stuck to his side, where John should have been, the whole time they were on Earth. His silent support had been nice, even if Rodney couldn’t understand it, Ronon usual hung out with John or Teyla, and Rodney was only involved when he was with the other two. But for the past few days Ronon had brought him food, sat next to him, even stayed with him when John walked away. They didn’t really speak, Rodney hadn’t wanted to and Ronon seemed happy enough not to try and talk.

With a groan he rolled onto his side. Looking across the empty space in the bed, to the door. He heard John come back an hour or so ago, no doubt the man had gone to bed in the spare room.

Rodney felt a lump forming in his chest and rise up his throat.

It was stupid how much he wanted John to just come in and hold him, to stroke his hair and make all the crap he was feeling go away like he used to.

John had always known exactly what he needed and when. And right now, he needed a shoulder to cry on, to get all his grief and guilt out. To know, no matter what. He still had someone in the whole galaxy who could never be taken away from him, not even in death.

At least that was one thing being a Shifter was good for, they never had to grieve long for their Mate. It was a small mercy, and right now? Rodney finally appreciated it.

It was nights like this, when he was so exhausted that he wanted to Shift, then slink away somewhere to stop being himself for a short while, to let everything just melt away.

He felt the tears finally seep from his eyes as he let the grief he felt for the tiger join in with all the other crap he was feeling.

He closed his eyes against the pain that seemed a permanent fixture in his chest. He felt so lonely it was crushing him.

He let out a deep sigh… then slipped away.

 

++++++++++

 

Teyla sighed as she sat down slowly on her bed. “Thank you Ronon.” She smiled at him. “This wound is taking longer to heal that I would like.”

“Gut wounds are like that.” Ronon replied as he sat down in a chair. “Are you sure you should be out of the infirmary?”

“I could not spend one more moment there.” She sighed, “Without Carson, it just seems… odd.”

“McKay’s not taking it too well.” Ronon said, surprising her. It was very rare Ronon really had a care for the scientist. Even though she knew he respected the man, and had been there for Rodney when Sheppard had been kidnapped.

“No… I fear loosing a good friend is something he hasn’t experienced before.” She said as she leaned back against her pillows, slowly, thankful that it didn’t hurt. “I’m sure he will come around. We have all lost loved ones… I will try and talk to him tomorrow.”

“Hun… Sheppard should be talking to him.”

Teyla blinked at the large man, not used to hearing such an annoyed tone when referring to the Colonel. “They did not talk on the trip to Earth?”

Ronon shook his head. “I had to follow McKay around to make sure he was safe.”

“Oh…” She found that very disturbing. John was normally very protective, even if it wasn’t Rodney, so for him to all but abandon his partner… “I should go talk to John right now.” She said, but easing her self up involved muscles that didn’t want to move without pain.

“Stay still.” Ronon grumbled. “And I already did… He thinks Rodney should be free… or something as stupid.”

“Free from what?” she asked puzzled.

Ronon shrugged. “From himself.” He said getting up. “Rest, I’ll drag Sheppard into the sparing room tomorrow morning. You can sit and talk sense into him while I beat it into him.”

Teyla smiled as she watched Ronon leave. “I will be there.” She promised.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney found himself stood on the edge of one of the piers, looking out over the calm ocean, turned gold from a dusk sky, mist slowly rising from the water as he watched.

The world seemed quiet, like for this moment, he could rest, just for a little moment without feeling much of anything.

“How’d it go back on Earth?”

Rodney smiled at the sound of his friends voice, of course Carson would sneak up on him when he found a moment of peace. “It was, um, it was awful.” He confessed with a smile as he turned to look at his friend. “Your family was amazing, though.” He put in lamely.

Carson smiled. “Aye, they are. Good turnout?” he asked.

Rodney looked back out over the ocean, unable to keep looking at his friend. “Oh, packed the church.” Remembering as Carson’s mother had pulled him to sit with her, leaving Ronon and John standing at the end of the isle against the wall.

“Oh, that’s good to hear!” Carson said softly. “So, at least you’ve stopped avoiding me?”

Rodney nodded. “Sorry…” He felt the familiar sting of tears in his eyes. “You were the closest thing to a best friend I ever had. I’m really, really sorry. I should have just...”

“Hey. This isn’t your fault.” Carson smiled at him warmly.

“You’re just telling me what I wanna hear.” Rodney accused.

“Well, that’s what best friends do sometimes. And in this case it also happens to be true.” Carson answered, still smiling. “There is also this…” he said, reaching out and putting a hand on Rodney’s shoulder.

Rodney felt a moment of dizziness as there was a buzzing in his ears. “Wha…?”

“Something for when you wake up.” Carson’s smile widened. “Take care of yourself, Rodney. And that stubborn Colonel…”

Rodney just raised his hand, giving Carson a weak little wave. “Goodbye, Carson.”

His friend gave him one last warm smile before fading away.

Rodney felt alone again as he closed his eyes, at least he felt a little bit better.

- -

When he opened his eyes he was wide awake.

And suddenly he knew how to fix one of his worries.

Struggling he got out of bed and began throwing on one of his old uniforms that still smelled slightly of John’s aftershave. It had been months since he had warn it. After all, what did a human need with a uniform fastened with Velcro and elastic?

If the information Dream Carson had somehow put into his head worked, he would need it… if not… well that didn’t matter. He didn’t want to go on as he was anyway.

Once dressed he ran out of the bedroom to see John sprawled on one of the sofas. He woke up as Rodney walked past quickly.

“Rodney?” John asked sleepily. But Rodney had no time to answer; he needed to get to the infirmary and to find his old DNA records.


++++++++++

 

John woke from a stupidly real dream, where Carson was laughing at him while berating him at the same time, telling him to follow his ‘heart’ and to stop being such a berk. John wasn’t sure what a berk was, but it didn’t sound complimentary.

Then he saw Rodney storming past him and out the door of their apartment. He tried calling to him, but Rodney had that look, that said, nothing was going to stop him.

So with a grunt of effort he got up and began to follow, before he could think too much about it. After all, if Rodney was so determined about something, it had to be interesting. Or incredibly stupid.

At first he tracked Rodney down to the infirmary, where he watched as he went through the infirmary computers, telling the medical staff to ‘back off’ if they weren’t going to be any help. At least there weren’t many people around this time of night. He glanced at his watch, four am, so there was only a skeleton crew around.

He hung back just watching. Not wanting to get in his friends way, not when he was like this. Especially with their crumbling relationship as non existent as it was.

Rodney must have found what he was looking for as he started downloading something to a tablet. Then he was throwing leads around as he got up and ran off to the nearest transporter.

For a moment, John thought about jumping in after him, but instead he just contacted the staff in the control room and asked them where Rodney had gone. It took a few minute for the guy to finally get a signal. And the moment he told John where Rodney was, he took off at a run, adrenalin pumping through his vanes.

He ran down the corridor, seeing that the tape they had put up over the door, as a temporary measure to keep people out, was laying on the floor, the door wide open.

He skidded inside to see Rodney had already hooked up his tablet to the ascension machine in the middle of the room.

“Rodney!” he shouted angrily. Not believing what his friend was doing.

Rodney didn’t even turn to look at him, just carried on with what he was doing as the whole console lit up along with the screen in front of the device.

“For god sake!” he tried again, taking a few steps closer, but not wanting to touch the console. “You can’t use this… It’s not going to solve anything!” he barked. The thought of loosing Rodney, even to ascension, made him sick.

“Shut up!” Rodney snapped back, looking like he was reconfiguring something on the screen. “I can’t live like this anymore!”

“Can’t live like what?” he demanded back. “If this is about ‘us’…” he said, swallowing the lump in his throat. “We can work it out… just step down!”

Rodney spun on him. “Us?” he screeched. “‘You’ do not WANT an ‘us’.” He said with a slash of his hand. “You just think I want to go out and shag anyone that crosses my path… Well I have news for you, Colonel.” He hissed out angrily. “Did you ever stop to think that I do not want that… that I already ‘had’ everything I wanted…” he trailed off, seeming to deflate, his broad shoulders slumping. “But then I guess if I’m free to do that… then so are you.” He turned away looking broken and John’s chest tightened and went cold. “Then I let you go… Just… try not to flaunt it…”

“Jesus, Rodney!” John breathed out in a rush, “That’s not it at all… But please don’t do this…” he said taking a step forwards. “I don’t want you to ascend!”

Rodney huffed out a bitter laugh. “Neither do I…”

“Then…” John asked in confusion, his heart pounding.

“Like I said.” Rodney uttered softly. “I can’t live like this… as a Human…”

John was at a loss, “It’s not that bad…”

“You would think differently if all your senses were taken from you! It’s like I’m blind, deaf, I can’t taste anything, I can’t ‘feel’ things they way I should!” Rodney sounded so lost and John hadn’t known or listened. “I’m sorry.” Rodney finished cryptically.

John tried to make a grab for Rodney, when the man hit something on the console and suddenly he had to shield his eyes as a bright light came down from the ceiling, wrapping around Rodney for a few moments, and then disappeared. “Rodney!” he cried as the other man collapsed to the base of the console. But before he could lay hand on him, Rodney held out a hand for him to stop.

Then Rodney was getting to his feet, using the console to help, as he leaned against it.

“Are you okay?” John asked softly. Torn between hugging him, or kicking his stupid ass.

Rodney nodded slowly as he blinked and looked about the room. “I… Think it worked…”

“What did?” John asked trying not to get annoyed.

He didn’t have to wait long before he was looking down at a white tiger, who was looking back up at him with wide blue eyes.

Without thinking he moved, throwing his arms around the animals neck, digging his fingers into its fur as he went to his knees. It was true; you never missed what you had till it was gone. And god, he had missed the tiger. Its solid warmth and strength, the slightly musky smell.

But he didn’t have long to revel in it as Rodney was pulling away. Then he Shifted again.

“It worked.” Rodney gasped out a little surprised, and for the first time in months, he looked happy. “Err… Maybe I should get checked out?”

“You look fine to me.” John replied with a smile before he realized what he had said, but it wasn’t a word of a lie on either meaning. “You really do…” he said more softly as Rodney turned wide eyes on him.

Then his friend seemed to pale a little before whispering in a broken voice. “It didn’t restore the bond…” he lifted his hand to his chest. “I… I didn’t think it would, not really… but…”

John reached out and took Rodney’s shoulders as they both sank down to the floor. “Rodney… what is it?” he asked, worried that maybe everything wasn’t as fine as Rodney thought.

“It… It still doesn’t feel right… odd…” Rodney replied, looking confused before he looked crushed again. “Oh… I forgot what it feels like…” he trailed off.

“For crying out loud, Rodney! What is it?” John demanded.

Rodney looked up at him, a slight ghost of a smile twisting his lips. “I forgot what it feels like to be un-Bonded.” He confessed in a small voice, now looking slightly embarrassed.

John let out a loud breath as he felt his own lips quirk up in amusement. “Stop scaring me like that.” He admonished lightly. Then he sobered up a little as he slowly began to run his hands down Rodney’s arms till he ended up with Rodney’s wrist’s resting lightly in his open hands.

Rodney looked down as their hands rested on his own knees.

John’s heart was pounding again in his chest as he looked at the man sat across from him. Letting Rodney make the decision this time. If the Shifter pulled his hand away, he would have his answer and he steeled himself if that happened. He would get up and walk away. After all, that’s practically what he had been doing for months. Slowly pushing Rodney away, thinking it was for his own good.

Originally he had forced their Bond onto Rodney. The least he could do now was respect the man if he wanted nothing to do with him. Especially as he’d been an ass for so long.

Rodney slowly lifted his eyes. “Do you still want… want this?” he asked softly as he swallowed loud enough for John to hear and he could see the doubt in Rodney’s expression. He didn’t think he was good enough, his insecurities coming to the surface and John could only respond to that.

He nodded once in affirmation. “But this time… It’s your choice… If you want to walk away… I’ll understand.”

Rodney still looked uncertain. “I never didn’t want this.” He whispered.

John smiled again, feeling the weight of the world lift from his shoulders. “Then Doctor Meredith Rodney McKay. Will you take me as your Bond Mate… again?”

Rodney blushed hard but the smile John had missed for what seemed like an eternity appeared. “Yes.” He answered confidently. “But…” he looked away shyly.

“But?” John felt like a love sick fool as he fought the urge to just grab Rodney and kiss him breathless.

“But this time… can we do it right?” Rodney asked.

John frowned. “I have no idea what that is.” He confessed.

Rodney looked up at him then, a twinkle in his eyes. “Don’t run out on me.” He said with a grin.

John returned the smirk. “I don’t plan too.”

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney melted with contentment as John’s hands finally wrapped about his wrists and his fingers dug softly into the soft flesh.

It felt so unbelievably good, his body responding as it should. Forcing all the muscles that had been tense for weeks to loosen and relax.

This was who he was, what he was. Who needed to be human when you could love and be loved unconditionally?

At this very moment, he didn’t care that John had been prepared to let him go in his misguided self sacrificing stupidity. Just the fact he was willing to tie himself to Rodney again was enough. There was no uncertainty in a Bond.

“Rodney?” John was asking softly, sounding a little concerned.

Rodney looked up, then found he had to blink as tears started pouring from his eyes. He heard himself groan piteously as John let go of his left wrist and raised his hand to his cheek.

“I hope those are tears of joy.” John said, slightly sarcastically, but Rodney heard the concern in it.

“Yes… no!” Rodney said as he surged forward and threw himself against John’s chest. Letting his grief finally flow freely. He buried his face into John’s shoulder, trying to hide as John’s arms came around him. One hand going to Rodney’s hair, stroking tenderly as John uttered soft shushing sounds. After a time they both fell silent as John just rocked him.

Rodney had no idea how long they stayed like that, huddled on the floor in a heap.

Finally he had no more tears to shed and his eyes felt sore and puffy. But inside he felt much calmer. He knew there was still a hill to climb before everything would be normal again. But, finally, he felt able to climb it, rather than just slipping down.

“Let’s go home.” John whispered into his ear.

Rodney nodded, smiling at the thought, ‘their home’. Just a small apartment in a city that was a ship in another galaxy to the one they were born in. The bizarreness of it wasn’t lost on him.

“Come on.” John was saying as he pulled away a little, but to Rodney’s relief, he took his wrist and held it tightly. “I think my legs have locked up.” He smiled as Rodney looked at him. “Can you stand?”

Rodney nodded as he obediently followed John’s lead and got up stiffly.

“Are you o... Ah, I almost forgot about this.” John said as he lifted Rodney’s hand to his mouth and kissed the back of his wrist, making Rodney melt a little inside. “I guess it still counts… even though we aren’t bonded?”

Rodney just nodded, he guessed if it was John holding his wrist, he didn’t care, before letting out a jaw cracking yawn.

“Let’s go.” John said as he started backing away, pulling Rodney with him.

- -

It took to long to get back to their apartment, Rodney felt like his feet were made of lead, each step a heroic effort. But John just kept smiling and encouraging him to keep going, with promises of a soft bed and a late morning to sleep in.

Finally John was leading him towards their bed, still rumpled from where Rodney had tried to sleep earlier. But it looked so inviting.

“Let’s get your clothes off first.” John chuckled at him as he tried to just collapse into bed. But a slight squeeze of his wrist kept him on his feet, even if he wasn’t happy about it. Then John was undressing him. For a moment he just went with the familiarity of it before he remembered John hadn’t done this in weeks and he felt his sore eyes begin to leek again.

“Shh… shh.” John was saying. “Almost done. Then I promise you can sleep.”

Rodney shook his head. “Not…” he managed.

“I know buddy.” John replied as Rodney lifted his leg so John could pull his pants off. “Ok, now get into bed and scoot over for me.”

Rodney did as he was told as John held the sheets up for him to get in, keeping a hand on his all the time.

“Turn so you can look at me.” John said and Rodney wanted to hit him, his body felt so heavy, but with help he managed to turn onto his side facing John. “I’m going to let go… just for a second. I need to get undressed too.”

Rodney grunted his understanding, but that didn’t help when John let go as a chill ran through Rodney making him a little more alert as he fixed his gaze on John. He watched as John practically threw his clothes off, then his hand was on Rodney’s shoulder again as he climbed in.

“Come here.” John said as he put one arm under Rodney’s head and pulled him against his chest with the other.

“But…” Rodney asked, feeling exhaustion pulling at his very soul. If he blinked now, he wouldn’t be able to open them again.

John kissed his forehead. “Sleep… I won’t leave you.” He promised with another light kiss. “We can Bond tomorrow… I don’t want you passing out on me too soon.” He chuckled.

Rodney managed a smile before his eyes fell shut and his body instantly relaxed against his Mate. “Promise?” he asked.

“Go to sleep.” John ordered softly. “As long as you need… I’ll be here…”

Rodney felt himself slowly giving in as sleep crept up on him, but before he succumbed to the darkness he heard John say one last word.

“… always.”

Then he was oblivious to everything but a dreamless healing sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

John blinked at the bright light that was streaming in through the cracks in the curtains. At first he was wondering why something didn’t feel right.

With a wince, the past few months crashed in on him.

Then he realized what the wrongness was.

Rodney was drooling and snoring softly on his chest, which was a normal enough occurrence. But the other man didn’t feel like he should, and his resolve to be Bonded again to this man was almost overwhelming.

He needed to know how his Shifter was feeling. Needed to have that instinct back again, of how to handle his Mate.

He had known Rodney was grieving and feeling guilty about Carson. But like a total twat, he had done nothing. He knew now that he would never have let Rodney suffer alone if he could have felt his emotions. He came to the realization that was why he was so crap with any other relationship. It was easy when you could feel your lover’s emotions.

Like now, he could only guess if Rodney needed more sleep.

He wanted the Bond back as much as Rodney seemed to… he didn’t felt complete without it.

It also didn’t help that Amelia was avoiding him like the plague and he had to find out from one of her Chaperone that she was disturbed by him because he wasn’t bonded anymore.

He craned his head to see that it was almost nine in the morning. So four hours sleep was enough for him, but Rodney would need more time. John still didn’t like how thin the other man was, or how anaemic he looked.

So, with reluctance he began to pull his arm from under Rodney’s head, the Shifter woke up at the move, looking a little panicked.

“Morning sunshine.” John teased as he kissed his Mates cheek. “Don’t wake up… do you think you can do without me for a little bit?”

“No.” Rodney replied sleepily.

John kissed him again, “I’m just going to get us food. How does breakfast in bed sound?”

Rodney shrugged as he reached out to wrap his fingers into John’s hand.

“I won’t be long… We need to keep our strength up for the rest of the day… I’ll bring you some extra strong coffee.” He bribed. Then an idea struck him as Rodney still looked petulant. He reached over and put Rodney communicator on a free channel, then carefully placed it into Rodney’s ear. “I’ll be on this channel the whole time… but try and sleep some more?”

Reluctantly Rodney let go, and even more reluctantly John reached for his own communicator, set it to the same channel and put it on. “Better?” he asked.

Rodney nodded. “I want chocolate.” He muttered.

John rolled his eyes as he began to throw clothes on. Then he leaned back over the bed to lay a final kiss on Rodney’s stubbly cheek before leaving the apartment.

He felt a little odd as he muttered all his movement into the open com, but he wasn’t sure on what else to say that would hopefully give Rodney some peace so he could sleep some more.

He was just about to enter the mess when he almost ran into Ronon’s chest. “Oh, hey big guy.” He smiled at his friend. “Can’t stop.” He said as he tried to step past him. But Ronon moved and Teyla appeared to block his way.

“We need to talk to you.” Teyla said, and she didn’t look happy at all.

“Shouldn’t you still be in the infirmary?” he asked in concern, she had been pretty beat up.

“I am perfectly fine for talking.” She said, “Ronon.”

John stepped out of the larger mans reach as he went to grab him. “Whoo.” He said, holding up his hands. “Really. I don’t have time for this.”

“You will make time.” Teyla snapped.

Crap. “Look, I’m sorry I’ve not had time for you both… but I really have more important matters right now.”

“More important than your relationship with McKay?” Teyla asked in her no nonsense voice, that usually meant he was about to get his ass kicked.

John smiled, realizing they had no idea what had happened. “Fine… follow me.” He said as he began to walk towards Elizabeth’s office. Thankfully when they got there she was already sat at her computer.

He knocked and walked in. “Do you have a quick moment?” he asked as she frowned up at him.

“Yes?”

“Great.” He smiled. “Me and Rodney need to be left alone…” he didn’t get to finish as Teyla stepped in.

“That is the problem,” she said in a low, warning voice. “You have left him ‘alone’ long enough.”

“I have to say I agree.” Elizabeth stood and came to stand at Teyla’s side. “I know I shouldn’t be interfering. But this needs to be resolved.”

“I know, I know.” John said holding up his hands to try and calm them, “Can you let me finish?”

All three of his interrogators nodded.

“I have no idea what really happened… but Rodney used the ascension machine again last night…”

Elizabeth’s frown deepened angrily as Teyla gasped.

“Just hear me out… Whatever it did, he’s a Shifter again.” Now the two women looked shocked. “So… I need to request some time off for us both, I need to get breakfast and I ‘need’ to get back to Rodney.”

/”Tell them to shut up.”/ Rodney said over the com. /”bring coffee…”/

John tried to suppress a smile, but for show he raised his hand to his ear. “I’m coming as fast as I can… Shouldn’t you be asleep?” he heard Rodney moving.

/”Can’t sleep when you’re talking to morons.”/ Rodney said through a yawn. /”Tell them thanks.”/

“Err… Rodney appreciates your concerns.” He said to the room at large. “So, can I get back to him?”

Elizabeth still seemed a little surprised, Teyla was smiling and Ronon just looked confused. After all, he hadn’t been around the first time he and Rodney got together, or had to wonder why they had disappeared for days.

“You have as long as you need.” Elizabeth finally replied as a smile started to touch her lips. “I’ll have food left at your door. Just take care of him.”

John gave her a wink as he turned and left.

He was about to spend the rest of his life taking care of McKay… no matter what happened.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney glared at John as he slurped the last of his coffee. “I don’t see why I have to eat right now… the coffee would have been fine.”

John just smirked at him annoyingly. “Well, I mean to start as I mean to go on.”

Rodney made a ‘gimme’ motion with his hand for John’s coffee. John just huffed, smiled then handed over his own half finished mug. Without a word he gulped it down. Feeling a little more alive, even if he was still in bed. “Can’t we just get on with this?” he asked, knowing he was being whinny, but he couldn’t help it.

Sure, everything was suffused with colour and sound again, along with all its smells. It had proved a little overwhelming at first when he woke up. But everything finally felt right. The only exception was his connection to the man sat at his feet.

“We can, once you finish your breakfast.” John replied.

“You’re about as romantic as a dead fish falling at my feet.” Rodney growled as he picked up his last slice of melted cheese on toast. It didn’t help that it was now slightly rubbery and cold, but it tasted divine. “And you mean to make me fat?” he said around a mouthful.

John smiled as he shrugged one shoulder. “Only enough so you stop being bony… I have chocolate cake for later.”

Rodney blinked. “Then why the hell am I not eating it right now?”

John leaned forward a little. “Because it’s for later.” He all but purred.

Rodney blushed, “Something to look forward too then.” He muttered sarcastically, hiding his sudden rush of arousal.

John ignored the comment as he pulled the tray off Rodney’s legs, and dropping it on the floor. Then he plucked the half eaten cheese on toast from Rodney’s hand and dropped that over the side of the bed too.

Rodney swallowed what was in his mouth as John began to crawl up the bed. Their eyes locked together. And Rodney could see the sparkle of lust on the other mans expression.

“Oh…” He said in realisation as John stopped an inch away from his face. “Shouldn’t you get undressed too?” he asked weakly as his eyes fixated on John’s mouth.

John didn’t answer as Rodney felt John lift an arm and run a hand up his back ever so slowly. Rodney swallowed as John moved closer. Then he was closing his eyes as John’s lips touched his own.

John’s hand ran up Rodney’s neck, his fingers ghosting over the place, just below his skull. Rodney groaned as tingles of anticipation ran through his whole body as he reached up to grab handfuls of John’s t-shirt as John nudged his lips open and licked his way inside Rodney’s mouth.

John tasted of coffee and mint and oh so fucking good as he lost himself in the sensation. John was always a good kisser.

He was losing himself to it when his eyes flew open and his body stiffened as John’s fingers dug into the back of his neck, in just the right place.

The world seemed to explode and fade away all at the same time as he slowly became aware of John pushing him down onto the bed, his mouth still exploring as his grip on Rodney’s neck tightened.

Just like the first time, Rodney’s whole body was heating up as warmth swept through him, then with a startled grunt of recognition, he could feel the Bond he had had with John start forming again.

At first it was slow, like individually plugged in circuits. But then it felt like a ZPM over riding a Naquada generator’s power output and he found himself arching up against John, who was pinning Rodney down with his own weight.

It was almost painful before he found himself coming as he screamed out his orgasm. He was dimly aware of John growling hard into his ear.

Rodney gasped as he stared at the ceiling, then he couldn’t stay still as he tried to push John off him as he kicked at the sheets, while also grabbing at John’s clothes, there was too much material separating them.

“Wh… wait!” John gasped. “Rodney!”

“No… need skin!” Rodney insisted as he kicked the wet sheet down to his feet.

“Two seconds.” John said as he grabbed Rodney’s wrist and instantly his grip on John’s t-shirt loosened. Then John was struggling out of the t-shirt with one arm, leaving it to fall around their joined hands. Then he slipped off the bed and began opening his pants. Rodney could see the damp patch at John’s crotch, so at least he wasn’t the only one who came. Rodney was desperate to help, but John just tightened his grip as one handed he pushed his pants and boxers down his legs. Then promptly fell onto the bed as his feet got tangled.

Rodney couldn’t help the snort of amusement as John let go of his wrist to try and reach for his feet. But Rodney was free and he wasn’t going to let John get away from him, especially when it was painful to not be in physical contact. So he lurched and tackled John onto his back, then claimed his Mates mouth.

It took John a moment to stop fighting and get back with the program as he clutched at Rodney just as desperately.

As they kissed, Rodney managed to get on top as he straddled John’s hips, and soon as his swelling cock touched John’s he couldn’t help but whimper at the sensation. Even though he had just come, he was almost ready to go again as his whole body shivered with lust.

He rubbed himself against John’s cock again, forcing a groan from his Mate as John’s hands roamed down his back to end up at his butt cheeks, where he squeezed hard, pulling Rodney’s groin down to his own as he arched up into Rodney.

Rodney had to break the kiss as he rested his face against John’s shoulder so he could breathe as he mewled his pleasure. Then he let out a long drawn out keen as John pulled a finger up the crack of his bottom, only to stop and rub the pad of one finger over Rodney’s hole.

“Lube…” Rodney managed as John pushed the tip of his finger in dry. It had been weeks since they had slept together and in his hormonally charged brain he knew if they wanted to keep this up for the rest of the day, he needed preparing.

“Christ…” John growled out. “Pillow?” he asked as he scraped his teeth across Rodney’s shoulder.

Rodney reached out and fumbled for what seemed like eternity, till his fingers closed over a small bottle, and he pushed himself up so he was sitting on his Mate, for a moment he had to close his eyes and grit his teeth as their hard cock’s slipped against each other. He rested his hands on his Mates hairy belly as he tried to catch his breath, resolute not to come again till John was buried inside him.

“Give…” John said with a pant as Rodney felt him trying to get the bottle from his hands. Rodney gave it willingly as he tried to calm himself. He opened his eyes to see John fumbling the cap off the bottle. Then John grabbed one of his wrists and pulled him back down.

Rodney could do nothing but respond as he settled; he was now face to face with his Mate as he looked into brilliant hazel eyes, now mostly pupil in his arousal. Then Rodney winced as he felt the cold lube start to trickle down his ass cheeks. John grinned as his fingers once again found Rodney’s hole, but this time he didn’t pause as he slicked his finger and pushed it inside Rodney’s willing hole.

Despite the fact John still had hold of his wrist; he leaned down and started kissing John as the other man’s fingers kept thrusting slowly inside his body. He lost himself to the sensations, only reacting with a guttural groan when another of John’s fingers entered his body.

Rodney tried to follow John’s mouth when he tried to break the kiss.

“Gotta…” John uttered thickly.

Then Rodney grunted when John pushed him off and onto the bed, face down. He tried to roll over. But John kept him down with a hand on the small of his back.

“Stay.” John ordered gruffly.

Rodney wriggled, he cock painfully rubbing against the mattress until John was ordering him to get on his knees. He did so, managing not to swear at his Mate as he felt pillows being pushed under his belly, then John was forcing him down onto them.

Rodney tried to crane his neck around, but John was already climbing over the top of him.

“Can’t wait.” John warned then Rodney let out a growl as he felt John part his butt cheeks then with ease born of practice, John slid into Rodney with one smooth thrust.

Rodney grabbed at the valance with both hands as he pushed himself back, wanting to feel himself stretch painfully. Wherever John touched, Rodney’s skin tingled as his whole body shivered.

“Christ…” John uttered above him, then he was leaning down as his chest laid against Rodney’s back. And they both paused for a moment.

Rodney tried to control his breathing, still not ready to come. Then John pulled out a little and thrust back in and Rodney couldn’t keep a groan in at the sheer sensation of John’s cock inside.

John moved his hips as he began thrusting with a bit more desperation and Rodney screamed as John found his prostate with startling accuracy. Each thrust now sending bolts of electricity through Rodney and straight to his cock that was bumping into the pillows with each of John’s forward thrusts.

Rodney screamed again when he felt John wrap a hand around his cock. “Nooo…” he begged. “Too… too much!” he managed as his back arched down, changing the angle of John’s thrusts. John growled above him as his muscles in his ass contracted, but he did let go.

Rodney buried his face into the mattress, with all the sensations they were started to push him over the edge, he could hardly take it anymore as pleasure started shutting his brain down and there was nothing but the feel of John all around him.

But just before he was about to fall he felt John thrust in to his body deeper than he had ever been before. Then John’s mouth descended on his neck and teeth bit into his flesh just below his skull.

Rodney’s world shattered into a zillion fragments as he felt himself coming so hard he screamed through it as he felt John’s teeth contract on his neck as he bumped against Rodney’s ass with his own release.

His orgasm consumed time itself as he accepted the pain and pleasure washing through him from his Mate as he was claimed. His whole body stiffened with it.

It was too much as every muscle suddenly relaxed and he slumped under John’s weight.

It took some time as he basked in the post orgasmic bliss to realize he was staring blankly at the curtains and slowly he smiled. John was still on him, buried to the hilt in side him.

And finally the universe seemed right again.

Like the months of crap he had gone through being a human, and all the shit that had happened during were nothing but a horrible dream. John was where he should be, and Rodney felt at peace.

“You okay?” John eventually asked as Rodney felt his Mate start to kiss his shoulder.

Rodney hummed contentedly. His brain still not capable of forming normal speech, but able to wonder how John could.

John chuckled and Rodney felt something odd, but he really couldn’t be bothered to think to hard in that direction, then he growled as he felt John moving as he shushed gently as Rodney felt him pull out, leaving him with a bit of a lost feeling, just like every time, only right now it was a little more intense. But he didn’t have much time to dwell as John pulled him onto his side, then lay down at his back and pulled Rodney against his chest, putting one arm under Rodney’s head as the other rested on his belly.

“Just a quick nap.” John said huskily then Rodney felt his Mate slip into sleep.

Rodney smiled, then followed him, unable to do anything else.

 

++++++++++

 

“Do you really have to put something on it?” Rodney bitched as he felt John place the large dressing across the back of his neck.

So, sure, the second time John had tried, and succeeded, in giving him an orgasmic lobotomy in the shower, he had bitten his neck so hard; Rodney could feel a trickle of blood down his back when the world finally solidified around him.

“Yes.” John replied as he flopped down at his side on the bed. “I over did it… that, and I really don’t fancy explaining to the laundry why all our collars have blood on them.”

Rodney snorted as he reached up and touched the dressing, he couldn’t help but grin a little. It hurt like a sonofabitch, and it felt so good. The Shifter side of him felt contented at being marked again. “What about blood on the sheets?” Rodney asked as he rolled onto his back so he could smile up at his Mate. “Or you want them to think you’ve popped my cherry… again?”

John smiled as he leaned down and gave him a quick kiss. “I think they have more to worry about than blood.” He grinned as one of his hands roamed down Rodney’s belly suggestively.

Rodney squeaked as John’s hand ran over his dick. “Noooo.” He begged, he was way too sensitive, and there was no way he could get hard again, not so soon anyway. The mind was always willing, but his body had had enough for now.

“Aw… are you sore?” John pouted at him mockingly.

Rodney was too satisfied and relaxed to even lift a hand to smack his Mate. “If I could Shift right now… which I can!” he said delightedly “I would bite you.”

“Humm.” John hummed as he settled down next to Rodney. “And I just might let you.”

“I’ll think about it.” He smiled slowly.

“So… do you think they have left us anything to eat?” John mussed.

“No idea… how long do you think we can draw this out?” They had already discovered that they didn’t need the constant physical contact like the first time they Bonded. But he was damn sure he couldn’t face the rest of the world right now.

Then he felt something, which brought him around a little. As he concentrated he could also sense John’s feeling of agreement and contentment. For Rodney it was like his own emotions, but they felt like an echo, hollow, like his understanding of them were just written on paper and he was reading them.

“What’s wrong?” John frowned, feeling like he was concerned; like he was worried he had done something wrong.

“I… I can sense your… err… emotions?” Rodney replied lamely as he rested a hand on John’s leg.

“Like an echo?” John asked with a knowing smile.

Rodney just blinked. “I fail with my own emotions… why the hell would I want yours too?”

John snuggled a little closer. For such a hard ass man’s man who killed without batting an eye lid, he sure liked to cuddle. “You’ll get used to it.” He answered as he nibbled at Rodney’s shoulder. “As to your earlier question. I think we can get two days?”

“Including today?” Rodney asked feeling sleepy again.

“Nope” John said amicably. “So long as no one decades to attack us… lets shamelessly take advantage of our second honeymoon.”

“I can do that.” Rodney answered; it was easy to forget the rest of the world and all the crap in it while he was in John’s arms, locked away in their own apartment.

 

TBC

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 9]

++++++++++ [S04]

 

“Rodney!” John practically whined as his Mate kept pushing him back behind the huge white boards of his private lab.

“What?” Rodney asked, taking his lips away from John’s neck long enough to say the one word.

“Oowf!” John let out a breath as Rodney pushing him hard up against the back wall of the lab. “I have a meeting with Lorne in five minutes… Ouch!” he gasped when Rodney bit his ear lobe a little too hard. He would protest more if he wasn’t actually being turned on by Rodney’s sudden sexual aggressiveness.

“Need you.” Rodney begged as John felt their erections being forced together as Rodney rubbed up against him.

John groaned when he felt Rodney’s hands forcing themselves into his pants. “Whoa, wait!” John begged piteously. Torn between duty to his work and duty to his own lust and his Mates obvious need, that was rolling into his own mind.

“No!” Rodney growled as he turned his attention from licking and kissing John’s neck to his hands trying to get John’s pants open.

“Jesus Rodney… Are you in heat or something?” John chuckled as Rodney’s determination won out and John felt hands wrap around his erection. “You didn’t have enough this morning?” he uttered as he leaned his forehead against Rodney’s shoulder, his own hands going down Rodney’s back, one slipping into his Mate’s waist band.

“Not a woman!” Rodney growled out angrily, finally getting full access into John’s pants and taking full advantage of his prize.

“Rut, then.” John gasped out a little too high pitched as Rodney’s long and talented fingers began pulling on his already hard cock.

“What month is it?” Rodney asked distractedly.

John sank a finger into Rodney body, still damp and slack from their mornings foray. “Err… July?” his brain managed to connect with his mouth.

Rodney brought one arm up and hooked it around John’s neck, bringing John’s head down so Rodney could kiss him. They both seemed to forget what their hands were doing as they lost themselves in the kiss.

“Probably.” Rodney said when they finally pulled apart.

“But what happened to last year?” John asked as he went in for another taste of coffee with a hint of chocolate.

“Umm…” Rodney said gasping a little as John pushed another finger into his Mates ass. “Lucius…?” Rodney hissed out, with a hint of anger.

“Oh…” John uttered as he nibbled the side of Rodney’s down turned mouth; determine to get rid of the frown. He couldn’t really remember Rodney being like he was right now, all hot and needy. But what little processing power he still had, he remembered at the time; he had been too focused on reclaiming and calming his Mate. Which usually involved lots of sex anyway.

But with the remembrance of Lucius, he also remembered Kolya. That bastard always had a thing for wanting Rodney, then using him to get to John. He still had no regrets about killing the man, even if it had freaked Rodney out a bit. But his Mate had stumbled over into his arms as John’s bullet lay cooling in Kolya’s heart. And the only regret he had, was that he hadn’t killed the Genii commander sooner.

A lingering anger over Kolya bubbled up into his lust as he began forcing Rodney back, pushing him towards the nearest desk, where, with one quick movement he turned Rodney by the shoulders and bent him over the metal table.

Rodney squeaked as he turned to look over his shoulder, his eyes already dilated, the whites gone, replaced by blue.

John shoved one hand down the back of Rodney’s pants again as he leaned down and captured his Mate’s lips, devouring Rodney’s groans of pleasure as he pushed a third finger inside Rodney’s hole.

“Holly Hanna!”

Rodney yelped as John yanked his hand out of his pants and spun on the person who had just interrupted them, angrily. Moving so he was stood with Rodney at his back as he faced the intruder down.

Carter had one hand over her mouth, but John could see her smirk. “I’m so sorry!” She said.

John didn’t think she was quite as sorry as she should be, or she would have at least turned her back, or walked away. Instead she just stood grinning at them.

“Can we help you?” Rodney growled and John felt him moving at his back. “Sam!” he exclaimed. “For crying out loud… You do know it’s against the law to disturb a Bonded Pair?”

Carter rolled her eyes. “Yes, Rodney. But you can do what you like so long as it’s not on my time… and before you start, yes, I have been fully briefed on Shifter Law.”

“Good.” Rodney said as he took a step forward, but John couldn’t help but put a hand around Rodney’s elbow to stop him getting closer to the Colonel. He couldn’t help but feel a little possessive around the woman, especially as she was Rodney’s first love. Even if she was no threat to him, having her here stirred up emotions he didn’t like. One of them being resentment because she wasn’t Elizabeth.

Rodney didn’t even miss a beat, even taking a step back to John’s side as he carried on talking. “Then I will inform you now. I’m in rut. And as there is no impending death raining down on our head’s right now, we are allowed a little leeway behind locked doors.”

Carter looked a little smug as she thumbed over her shoulder. “The door wasn’t locked.” She stated.

“Rodney!” John muttered accusingly.

“What!” Rodney barked, turning on him. “I kinda had other things on my mind… why didn’t you lock it?” he asked, reaching up and tapping John sharply on the forehead, meaning he could have asked Atlantis to do it mentally.

John scowled at his Mate as he grabbed his hand. “You were the one who jumped me!” he answered back. “I only came in to tell you I would be busy for a few hours!”

“Too bad.” Rodney smirked at him and John felt the lingering tendrils of lust coming from his Mate, who obviously only had one thing on his mind right now, and it was quickly becoming the only thing on John’s.

John sighed and closed his eyes for a moment as Carter gave a little cough. “Major Lorne asked me to come get you.” She said happily. “Apparently he went to look for you in Zelenka’s lab?”

John figured she knew that Evan had lied to her. After all, it wouldn’t have been the first time Evan had walked in on them. Every time complaining about needing to scrub his eyes.

“So, if you could go meet with Major Lorne, I’ll look after McKay for you.” Carter said with a smile. “Then you both can have the rest of the day off.”

John couldn’t help but tighten his hold on his Mate. “No, that’s fine.” He smiled back at her as he began to push Rodney forward. “Let’s go.”

“But?” Rodney asked, looking over at his laptop.

John didn’t listen as he gave Carter a tight smile as they walked past. She just gave him a knowing smile back, but said nothing.

After the Replicators had attacked and Elizabeth had been brought back to them with nanites. A fact he couldn’t blame Rodney for, but put all his displeasure onto Keller’s shoulders for manipulating Rodney into it.

After losing Elizabeth on the Replicator home world, and having to pilot Atlantis to another planet and then being incredibly proud of his Mate at he held everything together, proving that in the midst of chaos Rodney could take command and keep everyone working.

It was only afterwards that Rodney had a melt down.

Losing Elizabeth had hit them all hard. And with Ronon pulling a coup on them with his old Satedan buddies. John hadn’t liked the uneven ground he felt himself on, so he liked to keep Rodney as close as he could for the time being.

He felt Rodney looking at him, as the Shifter pulled John’s hand off his elbow and moved to take hold of his hand instead.

“And people think I’m the hysterical one.” Rodney smiled at him.

John grinned back, he kept forgetting that Rodney could also read his emotions and glimpse his thoughts now. “Sorry.” He said feeling a little self-conscious.

Rodney snorted with humour as he pulled John into a transporter. “No you’re not.” He stated as he hit the right place on the map. When the door opened Rodney carried on. “And I’m only putting up with clingy stuff till the end of the month…. Then you’re going to have to play with the Jarhead kids for a bit.”

John grinned at that, “I’d rather be playing with you.” He said playfully.

Rodney groaned. “Stop teasing!” he snapped back. “Seriously… I don’t think I’m going to last this meeting!”

“You could always Shift.” John suggested. Which made Rodney snort.

“You know how uncomfortable walking around as a tiger with a boner is?” he asked snappily.

John couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Nope.” He answered as they neared Lorne’s little office. “But I’m sure you can tell me later.”

 

++++++++++ [S04E04]

 

John felt numb.

All he could hear was…

“He’s dead.”

He had no idea how he got into the corridor past the isolation room, or why he wasn’t at Rodney’s side. Holding his Mates hand and waiting for the inevitable.

Rodney had told him about his nightmare of whales after waking him up with them a few times. He never thought he would actually be witness to Rodney’s worse dream, and that he would succumb to it.

But when Keller had announced his Mate dead, his whole world seemed to slip away.

He should have demanded they keep trying.

He should be holding a cooling hand to his own heart.

He should have stayed with Rodney until his own system shut down and he could follow his Mate into the dark.

Rodney shouldn’t be alone… even if he wasn’t there anymore. Not really.

It felt nothing like when their Bond had been removed. It felt like something was snapped, broken and bleeding uncontrollably in his chest. And he was aware that, this time, nothing could fix it.

Rodney was beyond his reach.

All he had to do now was wait.

“This is all your fault, John.” Teyla suddenly said as she walked up to him, looking at him like she was about to kick his ass.

“If you hadn't touched that stupid rock, McKay'd still be alive right now.” Ronon growled coming to stand besides Teyla.

John frowned as he looked over to Carter who had also turned up. “I thought you were gonna help him.” She said in disappointment. Like this had all been his fault to begin with. Didn’t they realize that if he could take it all back, he would.

“I tried…” he breathed out.

“Some friend you are.” Keller said shaking her head at him and he couldn’t help a little growl, like she knew anything about their relationship, or the fact she had stepped on his toes over what she made Rodney do with Elizabeth, and that she had also let his Mate die… and not try harder… but then it didn’t really matter. What was done was done, and it would soon mean nothing to him as he joined Rodney.

“Colonel, you've been compromised. I'm relieving you of duty.” Carter clipped out.

Like John gave a fuck about his position right now.

Then he looked away from them all to see another figure stood near the wall where he had come from. It took a moment to realise that it was himself.

And John knew where to channel the last of his energy. With a growl he lunged at the cause of all the nightmares and lost lives. “Son of a bitch!” he screamed as he jumped on the version of himself.

He didn’t know how. But they ended up on the gate room floor, the Entity on top of him, with a growl he pushed it off and got to his feet.

“You can quit now. I'm not afraid of you.” He said to the thing. After all, the worse thing in his life had already happened.

The Entity faced him, almost smirking. “Oh yes you are.” It said. “I'm the one thing you ‘are’ afraid of. You failed your friends. You brought this on them and there is NOTHING you can do… to stop it.” It finished softly.

John threw himself at the Entity, like it know anything about him, it was just wearing his face and all John needed to know about ‘it’, was that it had killed Rodney.

He managed to get a few good punches in before the Entity kicked him in the gut, so hard it took his breath away. Then it was grinning at him as it delivered another blow.

John fought at best he could, but the thing was too fast and too strong and John knew he was wakening with every attack the thing landed. Until he was being thrown about the gate room like a rag doll.

Each time he tried to get to his feet, the Entity just kicked or punched him down again, until he found himself being thrown from the control room, down onto the gate room floor, his body numb with exhaustion and pain.

After all, this was only prolonging the inevitable. The Entity was winning, no matter how many times John got back onto his feet. This was a losing fight.

Even the will to get revenge was slipping away as he lay in a heap, his body refusing anymore punishment.

He heard the Entity land behind him. “Get up… come on, John.” It said mockingly as it walked closer. “FIGHT!” it barked.

But John had, and now he was too weak to even get up. “No. That's what you want.” He managed.

“It's your fault Heightmeyer's dead.” It said trying to provoke John. Like he didn’t know that already. Then it went in with a vicious taunt. “Your fault McKay is dead.”

That struck a blow right to John’s heart, but he wouldn’t, couldn’t take that blame. He would and could never do anything to harm Rodney.

“I'm not dead!”

John’s heart took another blow as it skipped a beat at his Mate’s voice, echoing clearly off the walls and into his soul.

He managed to roll onto his back to see the Entity charging his Mate and pinning him up against the wall. He tried again to get up before it dawned on him that he wasn’t feeling any fear from his Mate, in fact Rodney was feeling smug about something.

“You can’t win!” The Entity growled in Rodney’s face.

“Yes we can.” Rodney replied, a large feral grin on his face as he glared right at the Entity. “You're vulnerable to electric shock. That's why I'm still alive. You left before you could finish the job!” He shouted into its face.

Then, suddenly, the Entity was surrounded by lightening and the hum of sparking electricity filled the gate room followed by the screams of the Entity as it backed away from Rodney.

“What the hell was that?” John asked as he managed to sit up, somehow feeling a little stronger as the pain in his body from all the blows began to fade. Then the Entity was hit again by electricity.

John pulled himself to his feet, knowing now what he had to do as the tables were turned. He walked over to the pathetic thing on the floor and dragged it to its feet, then furious he spun around, before finally throwing the thing through the wormhole, and to wherever the damn thing came from.

“Which one are you?” Rodney said behind him, sounding a little nervous.

John turned, but didn’t run to his Mate. “Me.” He said lamely.

“Good you or bad you?” Rodney asked, and John could feel his hesitation mirroring his own.

“’Me’ me.” He replied, taking a step closer, unable to stop himself. Ten minutes ago he thought Rodney was dead. “Is that ‘you’ you?” he asked, there was something different about his mate he couldn’t put his finger on from this distance.

Rodney looked confused. “I think so.”

And that was all John needed as he quickly closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around Rodney’s neck, pulling him tight against himself.

Rodney felt warm and real and alive.

“Thanks.” He sighed into his Mates ear. The hollowness in his chest was gone as he realised their Bond had never been broken.

“Yeah.” Rodney said happily. “Are you okay?”

John pulled away to look down into Rodney’s face, when he did, he pushed Rodney to arms length, but kept his hands on the Shifters shoulders.

Rodney frowned at him. “What?” he asked a little alarmed.

John couldn’t help but stare: Rodney’s eyes were bright blue orbs, which wasn’t anything unusual when he was emotional. But he looked slightly younger and his canine teeth were more pronounced than normal. As John watched Rodney’s blushing bright red skin was being replaced by a covering of short white fur with his usual black markings. But he stayed in human form.

Suddenly Rodney gasped as he squirmed, reaching around to his own ass, then bringing his right hand forward, his fingers rapped around a fluffy tail that twitched agitatedly.

“What the hell?” Rodney gasped, his voice now low and gravely, halfway between his normal voice and that of his Tiger’s lower tone.

John reached a hand up to stroke the side of Rodney’s face, feeling the soft fur under his fingers as whiskers grew out of Rodney’s upper lip. Even Rodney’s ears had turned round with black tips. “Can you do this normally?” John asked, still mesmerised by the creature now stood before him.

Human shaped, but with all the marking and slight attributed of the Tiger.

Rodney looked shocked as he looked down at himself, even lifting up his jacket with one hand to see his belly was also covered in short white fur. “No…” he answered in awe. “Again… What the hell?”

John couldn’t help but smile a little as he reached out to his Mate and taking hold of the zip on Rodney’s jacket, slowly began to pull it down. “Why don’t we get a better look?” he asked softly.

“Oh… I guess.” Rodney replied, but only helped when John pushed his jacket off his shoulders. Then John pulled Rodney’s t-shirt off to reveal a stocky chest and broad shoulders, all covered by the short white fuzz.

John didn’t resist the urge to run a finger over one of the pink nipples poking through the fur, felling it harden at his touch.

Rodney let out a little surprised groan of pleasure.

But John didn’t play more, there was more he wanted to see as he started to undo Rodney’s pants.

“Wait!” Rodney gasped. “Not in the gate room!”

John paused as he looked about pointedly. “I don’t think we will be disturbed.” He said as he yanked Rodney’s pants down his legs, then paused as he tried not to giggle as he bobbed down in front of his Mate.

Rodney’s legs were covered in fur too, but what amused him was that Rodney balls looked like they were covered in soft white velvet and laying on top was Rodney’s flaccid pink penis.

Rodney instantly tried to cover himself with hands that now sprouted claws instead of finger nails.

“Don’t!” John ordered as he pushed Rodney’s hands to his sides. With one hand he reached out to see if Rodney’s balls really were soft. Rodney gasped as John ran his fingers over warm velvet, then he leaned forwards and kissed the soft pink flesh of Rodney’s cock, feeling it come to life against his lips as his hand played with the soft pouches of flesh beneath.

With his tongue John lifted the head of Rodney’s still soft cock and sucked it into his mouth. When Rodney started to harden, John began to blow him just the way his Mate liked, one hand fisted around the shaft as his tongue played with Rodney’s slit ever now and again between thrusting.

Rodney finally rested his hands against John’s shoulders as his breathing started to get heavy. With a slight grin, John added teeth to the teasing, knowing it would drive his Mate wild.

He could feel Rodney getting close to coming as his legs started trembling and John was just about to pull away when he felt something bat into the underside of his chin. With a grunt he moved back to see Rodney’s tail between his legs.

Rodney gave a pities groan as John removed his hand from his cock and instead grabbed the tail, and as he looked up at his Mate he licked his tongue over the black tip then bit lightly at the now soggy wet end.

Rodney yelped and John had just enough time to move to the side as Rodney came hard over John’s shoulder. John grinned as he put his hands on Rodney’s hips and helped him collapse to the soft comforter that had appeared behind him on the floor.

“Just lay back.” John said softly. His Mate just smiled up at him stupidly as he did as he was told, beginning to purr from deep in his chest. Then John removed Rodney’s pants and threw them away as he turned and shuffled onto the comforter and ran a hand down his Mate’s chest, reviling in the feel of the fur. Shorter than when Rodney was a tiger. It was fascinating, especially the way his pink nipples showed up so brightly amongst all the white.

“You are such a pervert.” Rodney said over the purr.

“Only for you.” John answered as he leaned down to lick the nipple that fascinated him, feeling smug when Rodney arched up and let out a keen of pleasure.

“Like this?” Rodney said panting, letting out a low growl as John went to the other nipple.

John stopped when he felt sharp claws scrape over his scalp and grab his hair, then his head was being lifted.

“Of all the things?” Rodney asked as they looked at each other, Rodney eyes still orbs of mesmerising pools of blue. “You’re a furry?”

John just grinned, “Not till now.” He said as he pushed himself up Rodney’s body, making his Mate squirm and yelp.

“Fur… the wrong way!”

John just grinned, he could sense how it was also turning his Mate on again. He pushed up more then eased himself back, flattening Rodney’s fur the right way, as he then began kissing him, running his tongue over sharp canines as his hands stroked over Rodney’s face and shoulders.

John eventually pulled away as he became aware that he was rubbing his own erection against Rodney’s furry thigh. He also wasn’t sure when, or even how, he had become naked. Or when the eerie blue light from the gate had become a soft golden glow.

Neither did he much care as Rodney looked up at him, his mouth slightly open and his eyes shinning with his second arousal.

“You…” Rodney swallowed loudly, a smile playing in his kiss swollen lips. “You have the best dream’s ever.”

John smiled indulgently at his Mate. “We should do this more often…” already feeling Rodney forming plans on how to steal the machines they were hooked up to in reality. But reality seemed a far away place right now, and he wasn’t in a hurry to get back.

“Turn over.” John uttered thickly. “I want to claim you in our dreams too.”

It had the desired reaction as Rodney blinked up at him, then looked away almost shyly. He didn’t say anything though as he moved onto his front, then slowly lifted his fur covered ass into the air, his tail already lifted over his back as he presented himself to John.

John rested a hand on his Mates hip as he bit his lip, trying not to come at the sight. Two white fur covered orbs of Rodney’s ass cheeks just begging to be fondled and John didn’t deny himself as he grabbed handfuls. Just beneath hung Rodney’s heavy white velvety balls. But as Rodney arched his back down and pulled his tail up more, John was presented with a pink pucker of flesh that looked eager for his attention.

John couldn’t hold himself back anymore as he got into position, then grabbed the base of Rodney’s tail hard, pulling up on it. “I’m going in hard.” He gasped as Rodney squirmed beneath him, pushing himself back against John’s rock hard cock.

Then John shoved into the warm welcoming heat, that was already slick and encompassed him down to the root with one thrust.

John let out a growl of pleasure as Rodney mewed beneath him.

Then he was blinking up at the ceiling of the iso room. His whole body felt heavy as he lifted his head, then with a release of adrenalin he slowly looked over to where Rodney should be. Relieved to see his Mate was fine and normal. But Rodney was looking back at him with a slight panicked look.

John glanced down, making sure Rodney didn’t have a bonner in front of the medical staff, and everyone else who was watching them form above. He was also happy he didn’t have one of his own… which given the dream he just had, was surprising.

“Are you okay?” Keller was asking Rodney.

“Err… good.” Rodney’s voice cracked making John wince.

 

++++++++++

 

“So…” John drolled. “Your worse nightmare really is getting eaten by a whale?” he said trying to sound offended as they walked back to their apartment.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Rodney bit back. “I thought you refusing to help me was bad enough. And what you… ‘it’, said…”

John couldn’t take the feelings of depression seeping through their bond. So he reached out and took Rodney’s hand. “You know I’d never say or do anything like that right?”

Rodney nodded, still feeling a bit miserable.

“Well.” He carried on. “Ok, so I might, but only to pull your leg.” Which made Rodney chuckle slightly.

“But your nightmare is losing me?” Rodney whispered as he bumped their shoulders together.

“Yeah.” John admitted softly. He was still a little put out that Rodney’s wasn’t losing him.

Suddenly Rodney snorted in annoyance as he pulled away to look him in the face. “That’s because if it was I would be living it every time you got a suicidal notion in your head.” He snapped poking John in the chest. “And anyway…” he said looking away for a moment. “Don’t think I would let you die alone?”

John felt his eyes begin to sting a little, but he desperately needed to change the subject before he embarrassed himself in the hallway with security cameras. But Rodney got there first.

 “So… You are still a pervert!” Rodney cackled after a few moments of silence.

“Drop it.” John growled in annoyance, he was still so sexually frustrated he was about ready to scream. The other two options were to throw Rodney down right now and fuck him in front of the security camera’s, or slap him stupid.

“How can I?” Rodney giggled. “I just found out my Mate wants to screw me as a tiger!” he danced a little around John. “You know they have words for this kind of kink? ‘Fur-Shiftise’.” Rodney sang. “They warned us about your kind in Shifter school.”

John growled again, Rodney was finding this ‘way’ to amusing. “I don’t want to fuck a tiger.” He hissed.

Suddenly Rodney grabbed his arm and clung on like a limpet as he leaned up to John’s ear. “Really?” he whispered huskily. “It might be fun?”

John turned his head to stare at his Mate. Rodney was actually being serious. “And I’m the Fur-Shiftise?”

Rodney grinned at him. “I’ll leave it up to my big strong Bond Mate to decide.” He said, actually batting his long lashes at John and pouting.

John couldn’t help but smile as he looked away, “Start acting like a simpering Shifter.” He said, thinking about Lilia Swaby and how she was nothing but a blond airhead, living up to all the stereotypical Shifter traits. “And I’ll start treating you like one.”

Rodney snorted. “Sorry to tell you this… but you already do!”

“Like hell.” John said looking back at Rodney, only to see him rolling his eyes.

“You dress me. You would spoon feed me, ‘if’ I let you ‘all’ the time. You’re possessive, overprotective and sometimes smothering. You always have to be the dominant one in bed. Shut up, I haven’t finished!... You force me to exercise every morning. And you get jealous even though you have no need too.” Rodney smirked. “And you pamper me shamelessly. And before you start… No. I am NOT complaining… well only about the exercise and the fact you should let me sleep in once in a while.”

“I do let you sleep in.” John tried not to sound sulkily. He was going to leave the rest alone, it was true.

Rodney smiled. “Not complaining.” He said again as he ran his hand over their door panel. “You’re just lucky I’m not a typical Shifter.”

John sighed as the door closed behind him. Then he grabbed his Mate by the shoulders. “Good job I like ‘my’ Shifter awkward, demanding and annoying then isn’t it?” he said as he kissed Rodney hard.

 

++++++++++ [S04E05]

 

Teyla observed Rodney closely as they watched the strange ships in front of their cloaked Jumper suddenly take off through the hyper gates. Rodney was hesitant as to which ship John had been on. They were still unsure as to who had taken Sheppard. But right now Rodney was actually looking relived.

“He wasn’t on any of those ships!” He said excitedly as they watched the ships disappear. “He’s still out there!”

Teyla sighed in relief, She did not like seeing Rodney go through such stress as when John was taken from him. It affected them all.

In the early days of his and John’s Bond, when she hadn’t known McKay that well. She thought he was someone who would not cope well under pressure. It was always a surprise to her how strong he actually was. Like when the replicators had attacked Atlantis and Elizabeth was critically injured. Rodney had stepped up and managed to lead the whole city to their new world.

Even after healing Elizabeth against John’s wishes. A fact they all still blamed Doctor Keller for. Then losing her the very same day to protect the city. Rodney had still been standing at the end, even while everyone else was feeling Elizabeth’s loss deeply. It was only a few days later when the cracks had shown and John pulled him away for a little down time.

She couldn’t be more proud of the man who would whine at the smallest thing, but stand tall when he really needed too. Like this day. Even though John had been lost to them, Rodney had kept a calm head and they had found him. They just needed to know he was still in one peace.

Suddenly a beeping came from the console. “I’m getting a contact!” Rodney said hurriedly as he opened a channel. “It’s a Jumper!”

“Colonel Sheppard, this is Major Lorne. Is that you?” Lorne said over the radio.

To everyone’s relief John’s voice was filled their Jumper. /“That's affirmative, Major. It's good to hear from you.”/

Teyla watched as Rodney sank his face into his hands, concerned she got up to put a hand on his shoulder, feeling him trembling slightly.

“Likewise, sir! Seemed like we came pretty close to losing you there.” Lorne was replying.

/”You don't know the half of it.”/ John said ruefully. /”But I’ll explain everything when we get back home.”/

“Are you well, John?” Teyla asked after Rodney still remained quiet.

There was a apologetic laugh over the radio. /”I will be.”/ He replied. /”And Rodney?”/

Teyla was afraid that Rodney wouldn’t answer before a sulky mutter came from between the man’s fingers. “Rodney?” she asked.

“What!” Rodney growled out and Teyla knew he was angry, though she wasn’t sure why.

/”Sorry.”/ John said simpily, actually sounding regretful. /”I tried to secure you a new toy to play with… but after running into a few hitches… they kept it.”/

Rodney suddenly got to his feet as he began to shout out of the window as John’s Jumper came into sight through the screen. “You think I’m bothered about a bloody SHIP!”

/”It was a very shinny Ancient Aurora Class battleship, Rodney.”/ Teyla could almost hear John shrugging. /”Needed very little work… well… before I took out a section of it… but you would have loved it.”/

“What do you mean you took out a section of it!” Rodney’s voice went up a few octaves, making everyone on the Jumper wince. “And you wonder why I have kittens every time you touch something! You always break the nice things!”

/”I do not!”/ John muttered. /”Haven’t broken you yet… Anyway, I’ll explain everything when we get home… Now… where’s the nearest Gate?”/

“Follow me, Colonel.” Lorne said as he turned the Jumper around.

“Don’t think you’re getting out of this so easily Sheppard!” Rodney bit out. “Did you damage it enough that those who took it will have a hard time fixing it?”

John laughed over the radio. /“A little.”/ He answered. /”So… did you miss me?”/

“How could I!” Rodney shrieked. “I was too busy looking for your stupid ass!”

“We missed you very much.” Teyla said as Rodney turned to glare at her, but she just smiled at him. “And Rodney was very efficient in finding you.”

John snorted. /”Shame you weren’t just that little bit quicker.”/

Teyla frowned, almost thinking John was being critical, but instead it just sounded regretful. But that just put Rodney in the mood for a screaming match with his Mate.

Teyla looked at Ronan who just rolled his eyes as she went and sat down again. She already knew that this would continue until they finally came face to face and John would just hug the Shifter and Rodney would instantly be mollified.

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t help but feel a little bit of trepidation as he stepped out of his Jumper in the landing bay as he watched Lorne’s ship automatically dock itself two bays down.

Rodney had balled him out practically the whole way home, only pausing to take breaths. But it was all bluff and bluster because he could feel Rodney’s relief, even if there was lingering fear and concern.

Right now, he really wanted to go scrub himself down in a hot shower. He was damn sure the first thing Rodney would smell on him was Larrin, who had been all over him like a hot rash. Sure he had flirted back, any means to an end to get back to his Mate, even if that meant leading on some pretty woman, who three years ago he would have tried harder to get into her leather pants. Now, he could just appreciate her for the strong woman she was for her people. Even if she did take a very sparkly ancient ship that he did try hard to steal.

But he suddenly had more pressing matters as he heard Rodney stomping towards him. And with a moment of inspiration he opened his arms and waited.

Rodney came around the side of his Jumper, his face like thunder until he saw John’s split lip and bruised cheek. Then his Mate was running into his arms for a hug instead of an argument.

“Hey, buddy.” John said with a slight smile as he held Rodney tight.

It wasn’t to last as Rodney suddenly pushed away to look him straight in the face. “Your face?” he asked, his large capable hands coming up to run fingers lightly over John’s abused cheek and lip. Then his eyes darkened as he took a sniff. “You smell like a woman!” he seethed, if he was Shifted his hackles would be up.

John snorted as he gave Rodney a smirk. “Are you jealous?” he asked.

Rodney’s glare got more pronounced before he suddenly grinned too. “If I ever meet her I’m going to bite her.”

John gave him a frown. “Just bite?” he huffed.

Rodney’s grin got a little vicious. “Her pretty face?”

“You’re such a romantic!” He laughed as he pulled Rodney into his arms again.

“John?” Teyla asked as she smiled at him. He would have to ask her and Ronan how Rodney had managed while he was… well… kidnapped.

“I’m good.” He assured her. “But first I think I need to go get a shower, hit the infirmary, then I can give you all a briefing.”

Teyla nodded her understanding. “I will let Carter and Doctor Keller know.” She said as John pulled Rodney towards the back door of the Jumper bay. As he pulled Rodney though, he heard Carter’s voice asking where he was. And Teyla’s reassuring voice as the door closed.

 

++++++++++ [S04E06]

 

Rodney rubbed at his eyes again. It wasn’t even lunch yet and the headache he had woken up with was only getting worse, despite the painkillers he had taken. Not even coffee or a glass of water had any affect.

Eventually he slunk away to his own lab to get a bit of peace, snarking to Zelenka that he could actually ‘do’ his job today and take all the flack from the imbeciles as he left.

He had tried fiddling on a new project but had finally just settled on doing his emails. He was just about to open one from Iskra Shpak. Frowning because he hadn’t really heard anything from her and her Shifter in a while. He guessed that Zelenka was their go to guy. He wasn’t even sure what they were working on anymore.

/”Rodney… Where are you right now?”/ John’s voice came over his communicator.

Rodney gasped in surprise making his head pound as the room went a little wobbly. “In my lab, why?” he growled back, even if a part of him was happy to hear his Mate’s voice. He had been fighting the urge to just hunt John down ever since his Mate had kissed him and left him in the main lab after breakfast. And as his headache got worse, so had his need to be with John.

He had thoroughly tried to ignore both.

John made an un-happy sound as Rodney clicked on the Shpak’s email.

“John?” he asked as he began reading, fighting down his annoyance.

/”How’s your headache?”/

Rodney snorted as his brows began to draw together as he figured out what he was reading. A request reassignment letter… back to Earth! The Shpak’s had hardly been on Atlantis for a few months, and already they wanted to leave?

/”McKay!”/ John was sounding concerned and Rodney realized he hadn’t answered.

“The Shpak’s want to cut and run!” he hissed out. “Apparently, they are concerned about the jeopardy their Bond might be in. After you breaking Banks’s bond and us losing ours from my sudden ‘human’-ness. Not to mention all the other stuff, that crystal entity, going to another planet, almost having the city destroyed every other week… I thought they were thoroughly briefed about all the danger they would be in before they damn well came here!”

/”So I guess your headaches ok then?”/ John said and Rodney could hear the slight chuckle in it.

“NO!” He snapped as he reached up and rubbed his eyes again. “The aspirin I got off Doctor Keller this morning aren’t touching it… and I think I didn’t eat enough this morning, the room keeps spinning.” He confessed miserably. “Can you bring me some coffee and a muffin?” he tried hopefully. At least then he wouldn’t have to stumble about the halls, John could just come to him, sorting out a lot of problems at once.

/”Shit.”/ Rodney heard John curse, then he was talking to someone else. /”When did Doctor Keller say the first sufferers came in?”/ Rodney heard Sam say something. /”Crap… Rodney, just stay where you are okay?”/ John said to him. /”I’ll try and get Doctor Neaves to come check on you soon.”/

“Wait… WHAT?!” Rodney said as he got to his feet, then braced his hands against his desk as the room spun a little and seemed to get too bright. “What’s going on?”

John sighed.

“You will tell me right now!” Rodney growled, hoping John could feel how much pain he was actually in. Though usually John only felt the throb of Rodney’s migraines.

/”Doctor Keller thinks the mainland team from yesterday might have brought something back… She’s quarantined the sickbay. So Doctor Neaves will see if you’re okay soon. Just stay put… there should be some power bars in your cupboard. Go eat one now.”/

Rodney automatically went over to his supplies cupboard. “Will I be okay?” he found himself asking as he discovered four bars stacked against a jar of instant coffee. He pulled a face, but any caffeine would do in a medical emergency.

He felt John’s worry, but he replied with. /”Just sit tight. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”/

“Fine.” He grumbled as he reached further back for the old electric kettle.

 

++++++++++

 

Soon Keller came back with the second set of blood tests, confirming that quarantine was practically useless, as most of the base was already infected. Including himself and Rodney. He had sprinted off to Rodney’s lab as everyone else started making the Mess hall into an infirmary.

He jogged straight into the lab, the door already open for him. “Rodney!” he smiled when he saw his Mate getting to his feet and making a bee line straight for him. “Whoa!” John cried as Rodney jumped on him and they both fell to the floor.

“Ouch!... Rodney!” he complained as Rodney squirmed on top of him, like he was trying to get under his skin.

“Shut up!” Rodney said, but his voice sounded odd, more gravely than his normal tone and deeper.

John struggled to get his arms free, when he managed it he grabbed Rodney’s head and pushed it up so he could look into his Mate’s face. And soon as Rodney’s blue eyes met his own, he gasped and pushed Rodney off and sat up.

“What?” Rodney asked, now looking concerned.

“Your eyes…” John breathed out. Rodney’s eyes were blue orbs like those of his cat form, which was nothing unusual when Rodney was highly emotional. What was strange was that they were the shape of a tiger, his long lashes were also completely black and more bushy, along with his eyebrows. With a sinking feeling John moved his thumbs to pull up Rodney’s top lip, to see his canine teeth were also longer than they should be.

“John!” Rodney squeaked, but he didn’t try and move John’s thumbs out of his mouth.

John ignored him as he looked his Mate over more thoroughly. And he could see mottled stripes of black already coming through Rodney’s hair. “Why are you Shifting?” he asked.

“I’m… what?” Rodney battered John’s hands away as he started to get to his feet.

John followed hurriedly as Rodney grabbed his arm then stomped off towards the small bathroom at the other side of the lab.

“What the…” Rodney gasped as he looked in the mirror above the sink. “But I’m not Shifting…”

“So what’s going on?” John asked. “Can you Shift to normal?” For a moment Rodney’s grip on his arm grew tight. But Rodney just let out a huff of breath before turning to him, his eyes impossibly wide.

“No…” Rodney replied a little confused.

John could feel his Mate’s panic squirming around in his belly, along with his own. “Can you Shift the other way?” He watched as Rodney closed his strange eyes, but nothing happened.

“NO!” Rodney finally said as he opened his eyes, his panic now full blown.

John took his Mates hands. “Ok… just calm down… it’s got to be this virus or something. Let’s get you to the infirmary and find out. Okay?”

Rodney nodded his head as John started pulling him out the bathroom.

“At least this time we know you’re not human.” John tried to joke, grinning when he got a glare.

 

++++++++++

 

When they got to the infirmary. John hadn’t really been surprised to see the Shpak’s or the Swaby’s as Keller directed them to the closest isolation room.

“We don’t really know how Kirsan fever is affecting our Shifter’s.” Keller was saying as she led them into the iso room. “But so far, as well as the headaches and memory loss it’s also affecting the Shifting ability…” She rubbed her forehead. “Umm… if you want to take the bed in the corner I’ll have someone come in and get another sample of blood.”

“What?” Rodney said angrily and John was growing concerned at how deep Rodney’s voice was getting. Where at any other time, he would have thought it a little sexy, now, it was just so wrong. “I have work to do, I can’t be sitting here just staring at four walls!”

“I don’t know how this fever is affecting you all.” Keller replied as her face got a pinched look. “So I need to keep an eye on you all for now.”

“That’s ok Doc.” John said as he pushed Rodney towards the bed by the door. “I’ll make sure he stays here.”

“Thanks.” She said as she just turned and left the room without another word.

John did have a moment of sympathy for her, but it didn’t last long before Rodney was growling about something and holding his hands up in front of his face.

“What the hell!” Rodney cried.

John took one of his Mates hands and watched slowly as Rodney’s fingernails began to change into claws. “Does it hurt?” he asked as his own head started to throb with his ever growing headache.

“YES! Shit!” Rodney whimpered.

“It’s happening to us too.” Iskra Shpak said huffily as she sat on a gurney, her husband curled up with his head on her lap. And as John took a closer look, he could see Mark Shpak with his hands curled up against his chest, his face already looking more lion than human. “We play cards with Gerald Baxter last night.” She carried on. “He was feeling ill… We woke up with headache.” She rubbed her forehead with one hand as the other ran over her Shifters head. “We want to leave.” She all but sobbed.

“Yes, well…” Rodney muttered awkwardly as John nudged him to sit on the gurney. “I’m looking over your request.”

“I’m sure everything’s going to be all right.” John assured as he helped Rodney up. “Doctor Swaby… how are you two?”

Shanique sighed as she held her Shifter to her side. “We are fine.” She answered as John looked at Lilia, the Shifter looked about as far gone as Rodney. It was a little shocking to see her looking a little more dangerous than her normal pretty petite self. He also felt a little uneasy at the way she was looked at him. Her blue eyes looking fierce and a little threatening.

“That’s good…” John said, as a distraction he jumped up on the gurney besides his Mate, putting one arm around Rodney, pulling him close. He couldn’t help the twinges of anxiety that their Bond might be under threat again. What would happen if he forgot Rodney? Would it break their Bond if they both forgot about it?

After all the emotional crap they were still dealing with from the ascension machine when Rodney was human, the last thing they needed was more emotional stress adding to their relationship.

Even he had to admit that their second go round at being Bonded felt a lot more solid and grounded than their first… He just didn’t want to try it for a third time.

 “Urrr.” Rodney groaned at his side as he leaned in and shoved his head under John’s chin. “Stop thinking.” The Shifter said softly, his voice gruff, almost like it was hard for him to talk. “We’re going to be fine…”

“I know.” John smiled a little as he wrapped his arms around Rodney, one hand stroking through his hair, trying to reassure his Shifter. He laid a kiss on the strange hair/fur, then rested his cheek against Rodney’s head, closing his eyes to just take a moment with the one thing that mattered the most to him. Determined not to forget.

 

++++++++++

 

“You see this dot? That’s us.” Ronon explained as he pointed to a dot on the HUD, “You want us to go to this dot.” He said pointing at Atlantic.

“Yeah…” John replied, still sounding confused. “I need to go that way.”

Ronon rolled his eyes as he sat back down in the co-pilot seat. The amusement from stunning Sheppard and tying him up had worn off rather quickly. And he now couldn’t help but wonder how Teyla was getting on with the other half of the love sick duo.

It was strange, seeing McKay caught somewhere between his cat and human form, but seeing McKay losing the power of speech was far stranger. The only person who could understand him in the end had been Sheppard as McKay whined and growled. And just like all the other Shifters they had locked in the Iso room. McKay had got rather protective of Sheppard. To the point they had to hand-cuff him to his desk in front of his laptop. Sheppard had assured them all that McKay could understand them. Then they had left Teyla to keep reminding him what he was doing and why. Just like everyone else, he was also losing his memory.

But as they walked away. McKay had gone a little wild. Roaring and pulling at his bonds. He hadn’t sounded happy at all. He just hoped Teyla had kept him working. Or he and Teyla were going to find themselves in a city full of the dead. A prospect he really didn’t want to think about. He might not be the most talkative of characters, but he had to admit he loved the company and the people he had found to call family and couldn’t stand the thought of losing another home.

Slowly his thought’s turned to Amelia. He had been a little disturbed to see her also half changed into a cat. A Lion, he remembered McKay telling him once. He hadn’t actually seen her Shifted before. When he had asked Sheppard about it, he had awkwardly explained that some Shifter’s preferred to keep their Shifted form private.

He hadn’t asked her to Shift, but the tone of Sheppard’s voice told him he shouldn’t ask. He liked and respected Amelia to much to want to upset her with a stupid question that might make her feel awkward around him.

He hadn’t quite liked the way she had clung to McKay though, as Sheppard took him out of the Ico room. She had given him a look, but she was more upset by the fact McKay was leaving her. He had reached out to touch her, but she had backed away quickly. And he hated to admit it, but it had hurt.

“When we get there.” He said as he finally saw Atlantis glittering on the horizon. “Just let the auto pilot guide us in.”

“Auto pilot?” Sheppard asked and Ronon looked at him, seeing the sweat pouring off his friend.

“Yeah… don’t worry about it.” He hoped that the auto pilot would kick in, it wasn’t like he was an expert when it came to Jumpers.

“I need to get there faster.” Sheppard said after a pause. He still sounded confused.

“Yeah, you do.” Ronon sighed.

“Why?” Sheppard asked turning to look at him with a frown. “Is it that?” he said pointing at the bags in the back of the Jumper.

“Mostly.” He replied being vague. Maybe being mean to the other man would distract him enough from his other thoughts.

“Oh…” Sheppard huffed as he looked back towards Atlantis. After a short silence he spoke again. “That’s not it… there is someone… I have a name but I can’t… remember the name…”

“Yeah, there is someone who you have to get back too.” Ronon grinned.

“Can’t this thing go any faster?” Sheppard demanded.

Ronon shrugged, “I think we are going as fast as we can.”

--

Ronon banged on the door of McKay’s lab. “Teyla!” he called through the metal.

After almost getting stunned and dragged off by Lorne and his men, to who knows where after getting out of the Jumper. Ronon had headed straight here.

It was odd having Lorne and his men following him around, looking as lost and as sick as Sheppard was.

Suddenly the door slid open and Teyla looked up at him in relief. “Oh, finally. Did you find the Enchuri plant?”

Ronon lifted one of the bags. “I hope I got enough.” He said as Teyla relaxed a little, then she closed her eyes as there was a rattle of metal and a growl behind her.

Ronon grunted as he was shoved to the side hard as Sheppard rushed past him. He had just enough time to grab the back of Sheppard’s collar.

“Let him go.” Teyla said softly. “Rodney has finished what he needed to do and has been most agitated for the past ten minutes.”

“You sure?” he asked as Sheppard tried to twist in his hold.

Teyla shrugged. “I will take the Enchuri. You stay here with them, lock them in if they become agitated or threatening.”

Ronon nodded as he pushed the bag filled with the Enchuri plants at Lorne. “Do whatever she says!” He barked at the men. Then Teyla was walking past him as he let go of Sheppard.

He followed slowly as he watched Sheppard run around the desk and monitors to McKay who was still cuffed to the table that was bolted to the floor. He got around the table in time to see Sheppard fall to his knees, wrapping McKay in his arms.

From what Ronon could see of the other man, McKay was even hairier that when they had left him, and his ears were also more like the tiger he could be. Sheppard was muttering something Ronon couldn’t quite hear and getting guttural replies.

He rested his hip against the table. It was obvious Sheppard would be fine. He just hoped their idea would work, he really didn’t like seeing everyone he knew so sick.

He was about to leave and help Teyla when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye and flinched away in time before one of McKay’s clawed hands dug itself into his leg. Then the Shifter was snarling at him, the arm cuffed to the table was strained behind McKay’s back as he tried to attack him again. Ronon could see blood already dripping from McKay’s arm where the skin had broken around the cuff.

He wondered for a moment if he should give Sheppard the key to them when he looked over to see Sheppard looking at him, eyes hard and cold, not a hint of recognition.

Ronon swallowed his nervousness as he took another step back. McKay wasn’t much of a threat as he was, still cuffed, but Sheppard wasn’t, and Ronon recognised the look in Sheppard’s eyes all too easily, the Colonel was already forgetting who he was. So rising his hands he backed away some more. “Fine.” He said. “You just stay here, I’m leaving now.” He kept backing up slowly towards the door, watching as Sheppard slowly got to his feet, his eyes never blinking.

As soon as Ronon took a step out of the door he quickly moved his hand over the panel at the side, closing it instantly. His last glimpse of Sheppard was the man tensing as his eyes narrowed. Quickly he pulled the crystals from the panel, knowing it would disable the door.

The last thing he wanted was Sheppard coming after him when he was ready to fight, he doubted stunning him would work when he was in such a deadly frame of mind.

 

++++++++++

 

John woke with a start, then wished he hadn’t as his head throbbed painfully, then hurt even more when it fell back onto a hard cold floor.

/“Sheppard?”/

“Hu?” He blinked up at the ceiling with a frown. He felt damp, cold and as he brought his hand up to touch the communicator in his ear, weak. “Carter?” he asked in confusion when he found out he wasn’t wearing his com.

/“Oh, finally you’re awake!”/ Carter replied. /”How are you feeling?”/

“Like hell?” He groaned, rubbing his hand over his eyes.

/”How’s McKay?”/ She asked over the city intercom.

John moved his hand from his eyes to run over Rodney’s head that rested on his chest. He couldn’t quite fathom why they were on the floor in Rodney’s lab. “Err… Rodney?” he asked, then looked down painfully. Rodney was looking at him with half lidded eyes. But other than that he was very still. John could see he was breathing. Rodney still looked like he was caught somewhere between Shifting. Then vague memories started flooding into John’s mind as he struggled to sit up. Rodney a dead weight against him. “Come on Rodney!” he said shaking the Shifters shoulder.

Finally Rodney grumbled something and John remembered something about his Mate not being able to talk when they had left him here, cuffed to his desk. Then he looked to where Rodney arm was pulled awkwardly away from his back and growled himself. He could see blood still oozing from the wound around Rodney’s wrist where he had been fighting against the damn thing.

“Get a medic team in here NOW!” John shouted as he pushed at Rodney, trying to get him to sit up so his wrist and arm weren’t so contorted. He couldn’t understand why no one had been in sooner to check on them!

/”How is McKay?”/ Carter asked again.

“He’s bleeding!” John snapped as he managed to get Rodney to sit up and lean back against a box under the table, carefully he picked up Rodney’s hand. Blood covered Rodney’s arm and a lot of his side. “Shit…” He uttered, Ronon had the key to the cuffs so all he could do was try and stop the bleeding.

/”Sheppard!”/ Carter demanded. /”I need to know if I can send a team in!”/

“YES!” he shouted. “And where the hell is Ronon! I need to get these damn cuffs off now!”

John heard the door being opened as Ronon came around the table. The key already in his hand. But he didn’t come any closer, and there was no one behind him!

John reached out for the key. “Give it here!” Ronon finally leaned in and put the key in his hand, but didn’t come closer. “Where the hell is a medic?” he demanded as he began to carefully move the cuff so he could unlock it. “Why haven’t we been seen to earlier?!” the cuff opened and he let it fall as he lifted Rodney’s hand up, he couldn’t tell where the blood was still coming from, all he could do was wrap both his hands around Rodney’s wrist.

“We tried.” Ronon said.

As soon as he spoke, Rodney lurched towards the larger man growling weakly as he did so. Ronon took a step back as Rodney just slumped to the side.

“He keeps trying to attack us… And Keller said stunning him wasn’t a good idea.” Ronon said softly. “The cure isn’t working as well on the Shifters. She said we had to wait till you were awake…”

“Well I’m awake now!” John snarled. “Get the damn medics in here now before he bleeds to death!” He saw Ronon lift his arm to the door as he turned his attention back to his Mate.

The presence of Rodney was already feeling muggy and dull in his mind. He desperately wanted to reach out and take his Mate’s face in his hands, force him to look at him as he ordered his Shifter to stay with him, that he wasn’t allowed to pass out or leave him.

After everything they had survived and been through… and it all might come to an end from handcuffs?

“Sheppard?” Keller’s voice interrupted him, he glanced up at her and her team, they all looked like hell, but they were not coming any closer.

“For god sake!” he snapped. “He’s not going to attack you! He’s too weak!” he said, shaking the wrist he held. “Just get over here and deal with this while I deal with him!”

It was Doctor Marie who actually came around John and reached out for Rodney’s wrist. “Just slide your hands down.” She said. John did as he was told as Rodney began growling again and John reached out and took his Mate’s face in his hands.

“I’m here.” He told Rodney. “They are here to help, just relax.” Instinctively he knew it wasn’t helping, so he moved one bloody hand from Rodney’s face to the back of his lover’s neck and squeezed, instantly he felt his Mate go limp. “That’s it… Just let me look after you now.” He uttered, not caring who heard.

“He’s lost a lot of blood.” Doctor Marie said. “We need to get him to the infirmary stat!”

John could have kissed her as the rest of the medical team moved in.

 

++++++++++

 

Sam watched as Doctor Marie stepped away from McKay’s beside. Leaving the two men alone.

“How is he?” she asked as Marie came up to her.

Marie looked over her shoulder for a moment. “He was lucky, he hadn’t nicked an artery like we feared, and there is no nerve or muscle damage. He’s just got a lot of stitches and we might have to perform some plastic surgery later… He’s lost a lot of blood, but he will recover from it.”

Sam nodded in relief. “What about the fever?”

“The more concentrated Enchuri we are giving him through a vaporiser seems to be working.” Marie said as she ran a hand over her eyes. “We just need to administer it to the other Shifters in the Iso room. Their Mates are already doing fine once we opened up the vents. But like Doctor McKay, the Shifters are still violently protective.”

“I know… I’ll have a word with Sheppard now.” Sam assured her as she reached out and rubbed the other woman’s arm, seeing how tired she was. “Go get some rest, I’ll have Doctor Keller help me later.”

“Thank you.” Marie smiled back as she walked away.

With a deep breath, Sam approached Sheppard. “How are you doing?” She asked. “Marie already told me that Rodney’s going to be okay.”

Sheppard looked up at her and she could see how exhausted he was. Keller had already explained to her that Sheppard must be one of the ones that the fever had affected more than the general population. After all, he had been out for hours, and he still looked sick. “Yeah.” He replied, turning his attention back to McKay. “We were lucky they still had some of his blood in storage.” He took a deep breath that was more a yawn. “His only match here is Amelia Banks… Apparently they can have human donors, but it’s not ideal.”

She smiled. “Learn something new every day.” She joked softly, earning a smile from Sheppard. “But its Banks and the other Shifters I need to have a word with you about.” She said getting to the root of her current problem.

Sheppard gave her a weary look. “Yeah?”

“For the same reason we couldn’t get to you and Rodney sooner.” She said as she came to stand along side him so she didn’t have to raise her voice. “The other Shifters are also proving to be violently protective of their Bond Mates and won’t let anyone in the Iso room. We can’t even open the door.”

Sheppard looked back at Rodney who still lay very still on the gurney, he seemed very pale but at least he was looking more human than cat now. “Are their Mates responding to treatment?” he asked.

“Yes, they seem to be doing fine. But they can’t control their Shifters, nothing they do is working. As soon as someone even approaches the door, they go a little wild.” She sighed as she leaned one hip against McKay’s gurney, refusing to sit down, fearing that if she did, she wasn’t going to get back up for a long time. “And we can’t get the vaporisers into the Iso room… Shanique thinks that you being an Alpha, you might be able to get in… or at least hand them the Vaporisers?”

She watched as Sheppard’s head hung low between his shoulders, then he huffed out a breath and started getting to his feet. “Fine.” He said as he started to press the brakes off the gurney’s wheels with his foot. “Get the other side.”

Sam stood straight as she frowned at him. “You can’t mean…”

He just looked at her. “I can’t leave him here.” He said, and to make a point, he let go of McKay’s hand and instantly the Shifter became agitated, even in his sleep. “Can you get the other vaporisers?” he asked as he took McKay’s hand and the Shifter settled down.

She gave him a grim nod as she went off to look for Doctor Keller.

 

++++++++++

 

“I still don’t think this is a good idea.” Keller was saying again and John tried to just ignore her.

He was bone tired, and he was trying to hide the trembling of his limbs as he kept pushing Rodney’s gurney towards the Iso room. Once they got to the door, he could already hear growling from inside.

“I need you all to get back.” He told Keller and Carter. “And don’t go up to observation for an hour or so… that’s how long this will take to work?” he asked patting one of the vaporiser attached to a mask that lay by Rodney’s side.

Keller nodded. “Maybe more time for Mark, he was exposed longer.”

“Right… go.” He said as he ran his hand down Rodney’s body so he could get to the door of the Iso room.

He finally heard them leave as he rested his head against the door for a moment. All he really wanted to do was crawl onto the bed next to Rodney and sleep the rest of the crappy day away.

He winced when something hit the door at the other side with a bang.

So, squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath he banged his fist against the door in return. Then without thinking to much about it he thought it open.

He had a quick assessing look around. Mark Shpak was crouched over his wife, his teeth bared. Amelia was sat, crossed legged, on the gurney he and Rodney had been on earlier, she looked wary and her eyes narrowed as she watched him. Dismissing them both as not an immediate threat he turned to stare at Lilia.

She was on all fours nearer the door, her teeth bared as he saw her tense, ready to pounce.

He didn’t move or take a step forward, he just stared her down. Waiting.

He wasn’t scared of her, even as she took a sideways shuffle, trying to distract him.

He let her know she was no threat to him. He would and could take her down if he had to and he was letting her know it. He had faced down more scary shit that her, and he wasn’t going to let a little pampered Shifter intimidate him.

He saw the moment her brows creased as her snarls turned a little less sure.

“Get back.” He told her, but he didn’t wait to let her decide what she was going to do as he just walked forward, pulling Rodney’s gurney behind him. She had to move or get rolled over. Once the bed was in the room he closed the door and locked it with his mind.

In his moment of distraction Lilia lunged at the gurney and Rodney, probably sensing the Shifters vulnerability and going on the attack.

John just grabbed her wrist that was going for Rodney’s belly and twisted it behind her back. She hit the floor hard, growling and snarling but he just squeezed and felt a moment of satisfaction as she went limp at his feet.

He kept her there as he gave a warning glare at the other two Shifters. Amelia looked away instantly. Mark just growled low in his throat as he pushed poor Iskra against the wall. But they had got the message.

“Shanique?” he said slowly, finally looking at the woman. She was watching him with surprise, but she looked terrible. Her normally manicured appearance was gone, replaced with a woman who looked tired and sick.

“Yes?” she said as she slowly got to her feet. No doubt she was hated seeing her Mate being manhandled by another person.

“Get one of the masks from the bed and put it on Lilia.” He gestured to Rodney’s side. “It’s got the medicine in it.”

He watched as Shanique quickly did as he asked. Lilia had tensed up and tried to fight her own Mate as Shanique tried to put the mask on. So with a wince of sympathy for the woman, he leaned down and grabbed the back of Lilia’s neck, it took a second to find the right place, but when he did Lilia instantly went still.

John felt like he was violating the little Shifter, it felt so wrong and went against his moral code. He looked at Shanique grimly, but even though her face was pale, she gave him a nod of understanding as she got the mask over her Mate’s head.

It took about five minutes before Lilia began to sink to the floor.

“I think it’s working…” Shanique whispered hopefully.

John hoped so as he slowly let go of the little Shifters neck, then did the same with her wrist. “Sorry.” He said, knowing that the small pale wrist would be bruised later.

“It’s fine.” Shanique said as she began to pull the little Shifter off the floor and into her arms. “You did what had to be done.” She gave him a tight smile as she moved off to their corner of the room.

He let her go as he turned his attention back to his own Mate. Rodney had been agitated when he had let go. But had soon settled, much to John’s relief.

So he took the next mask and walked around Rodney’s gurney towards Amelia. “Are you going to make this hard?” he asked as she stared at him warily as he held the mask out for her to see. But as he went closer she flinched away, her gaze going to Rodney behind him. So with a sudden spur of inspiration he reached out a hand to her as he half turned, reaching out he pulled Rodney’s gurney closer. “He’s fine.” He said softly, letting her see his Mate. “If you put the mask on, I’ll let you snuggle.” He grinned a little, knowing Rodney would protest, but wouldn’t mind it in the long run. He looked back at her as he felt the vaporiser move in his hand. Amelia was touching it with one clawed finger. “It will make you better.” He promised, hoping she still understood him.

Her eyes looked up at him, then at Rodney again and slowly she gave a nod, moving her head towards him. So carefully he manoeuvred the mask over her head, trying not to touch her to much as she flinched ever time he did. Once he had it on, he touched her shoulder. “You need to lie down.” He told her quietly as she gave him a frown. “Lay down and I’ll move his bed against yours… okay?”

The only recognition she gave that she understood him, was that she actually lay on her side. So he moved away and pushed Rodney’s gurney up against hers. He watched as she reached out and took Rodney’s hand, then shuffled as close as she could to his Shifter.

He left her to it as he picked up the last vaporiser.

Mark was looking more relaxed now, but he still crowded his wife into the corner.

“Iskra? You still with me?” he asked.

“Yes.” She uttered.

“Think you can get this mask on him?”

He saw her nod, then reach out a hand past Mark’s shoulder. “I will try.” and she sounded as tired as he felt. Slowly he moved forward then heard Mark start to growl low in his throat. “Don’t.” he told the Shifter. But obviously it wasn’t going to be that easy, as soon as he got the vaporiser close enough for Iskra to take, Mark lashed out with his hand to knock it away, but John was quicker as he grabbed the Shifters wrist and squeezed tight, shoving the mask into Iskra’s hand. “Get it on him now.” He ordered and was relived that she was quick about it as Mark began to get more agitated. Once it was on he let go and backed up a step.

Instantly Mark tried to take the mask off, but Iskra grabbed the back of his neck and began to growl at him in Russian. John had no idea what she was saying, but it was having an effect on her husband as he seemed to settle and relax against her.

“How are you doing Shaniuque?” he asked as he looked over to her.

“I think its working.” The woman said quietly, all her attention on her little wife as Lilia just lay curled up on Shanique’s lap.

“Good.” He sagged in relief. “We will be here for a few hours… so get some rest everyone.” Then he turned back to his own Mate. And taking his own advice he pushed Rodney onto his side, closer to Amelia, then climbed up on the gurney and pressed himself against his Mate’s back, holding him close as he closed his eyes. Letting his exhaustion finally get the better of him as he slipped into sleep.

 

++++++++++

“I really don’t see what their problem is.” Rodney bitched at John’s side as they walked towards Carters office. “I mean everyone is fine…” John gave him a look. “Ok… well… apart from those few people who died… But this is a new unexplored planet, these things happen. Did they think they were going to some tourist jaunt in the Amazon that we ‘called’ an expedition to make it ‘sound’ more exiting?”

“I dunno.” John replied casually, “I think it would be neat riding an elephant to work everyday.” He fought back a smirk as Rodney actually stopped walking to glair at him like he had just grown two heads.

“There aren’t any elephants in… OH!” Rodney gave him a withering glower. “Very funny, ha ha. One day, someone will think you are as stupid as you make out.” He started walking again, pushing John with him. Then he scoffed a laugh. “But I guess it’s too late for that!”

“Thanks.” John rolled his eyes, but Rodney was feeling happy, so John really had no complaint.

After John had woken in the Iso room, all the Shifters were back to normal. Well almost.

Rodney had bitched about his wrist, but John didn’t much blame him, he knew it would hurt like hell, and even three day’s later it was still causing his Mate pain. Amelia had just shaken the fever off and gone back to her Chaperons, well, once she had actually managed to let go of Rodney, which had taken a few hours.

If fact, Lilia seemed the most changed by the experience. When John had asked her how she was, she had looked him directly in the eye, then thanked him with a slight smile as she took Shanique’s hand. Usually she would have hidden behind her Mate and he didn’t think she ever looked him in the eye before. He had looked at Shanique, but she just gave him a smile. One he could understand. She was proud of her Shifter. He just hoped Shanique was up for letting little Lilia have some more independence, because he got the notion the little Shifter would be taking it whether her Mate liked it or not.

But Mark hadn’t fared so well. He seemed shell shocked by his sudden protective side. The reports said that had come to him, was that the Shifter hadn’t really spoke since they had all been sick. Just clung to his wife and Mate like a child.

So today they were going back to Earth using the Midway station. Carter had tried to get them to wait for the Daedalus, or at least to go back when they sent all the bodies back in another two days. But they had been insistent, so they were going to see them off now.

Rodney didn’t really see why he should be there, and John felt pretty much the same. They didn’t know the Shpak’s over much.

“Oh god… she’s already crying.” Rodney hissed under his breath as they walked through the control room.

John could see Iskra Shpak sobbing on Mark’s shoulder through the glass. “Hey Chuck.” He said quickly. “No emergencies we need to attend asap?”

The tech just smirked at him as he looked over to Carter’s office. “No, sorry sir.” He answered. “But if it help’s dial out is scheduled in another ten minutes.”

“Good enough.” John answered as he sighed, turning to his Mate. “You could always play sick, so we can get out of there faster?”

Rodney’s eyes sparkled as his mouth slanted up at one side. “I’ll faint if you promise to catch me.”

John snorted. “Always.”

“I can call a medical team?” Chuck chuckled. “Let them know what’s happening?”

“Do that. Chip!” Rodney said as took John’s arm, leaning on it as he began to walk forwards.

“It’s Chuck.” John tried to school his features into something more concerned as they walked towards the office. But he knew they were already busted as Carter gave them a quick frown as they approached.

“Oh… He should have said something then.” Rodney said then fell silent as the doors to Carter’s office opened for them.

“Ah, Hello Colonel, McKay.” Carter said as John helped Rodney over to one of the chairs and eased him down into it.

“Sorry we were running late.” John apologised as he sat down on the wide arm of the chair, putting a hand on Rodney’s shoulder. He looked around. Apart from Carter, the Swaby’s were there, along with Keller and Zelenka. Even Lorne was leaning against the far wall.

“I still wish you stay to finish off project you were working on.” Zelenka was saying to the Shpak’s. “It’s only week away from completion.”

“I’m sorry.” Iskra said with a deep sigh. Zelenka had already complained to Rodney about it. “But we need to go home. It’s too dangerous here. Every day, new threat.” She suddenly turned to glare at John. “I am not fine seeing my Shifter in danger each day. I value his health and well being.”

John frowned, not liking her tone. Even if he knew how emotional she was at the moment as her Russian accent got thick.

“If you are so concerned about his ‘well being’.” Rodney suddenly snapped. “Then why the hell did you bring him here?!”

John closed his eyes. Iskra had just walked into Rodney biggest irritation about them leaving.

“McKay.” Carter warned. But John opened his eyes to look at her, catching her eye, he gave a minute shake of his head. He was actually intrigued to hear Iskra’s answer.

“No.” Rodney said as he edged forward in his chair. “I looked over the program you were both creating, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s all his work with very little of your input… So I want to hear it from him!” he jabbed a finger at Mark Shpak.

“You saying I do nothing!” Iskra barked, outraged.

Rodney snorted derisively. “Did you want to come here?” he asked looking directly at Mark. Who in turn was actually looking at Rodney.

John was a little surprised when Mark actually shook his head, as he went a little pale, while Iskra went red in the face.

“What about you Lilia?” Rodney demanded of the little Shifter, who was curled up at Shanique’s side. “Do you want to come?”

A slow smile appeared on her pretty little mouth, her blue eyes sparkled as she nodded emphatically. “Yes.” She said her voice firm and louder than anyone in the room had heard before. “It’s exiting.” She actually grinned.

John couldn’t help but smile as Shanique hugged her Shifter a little tighter, giving her a fond smile. He guessed they wouldn’t be losing the two any time soon.

“I would not have come if my wife had not been so insistent on being here.” Shanique said proudly. “Even as I had my doubts, she did not. And I will do anything she wants.”

“I do what my Shifter want to!” Iskra snapped. “Is why we go home now!”

“Not soon enough!” Rodney growled back as he stood. “Mark, your work is exemplary and we will be sorry to lose such talent.” Rodney said as calmly as John guessed he could muster. “It’s a shame you didn’t hold out for a Mate that didn’t just want you as a prize and to just use your mind… Goodbye.” Then he turned and walked out of the office.

John got to his feet as everyone just watched his Mate storm off. And he couldn’t help but see the slight proud, but regretful smile on Mark Shpak’s face.

If what Rodney said was true, then he felt sorry for the Shifter. Rodney might be a pain in the ass from time to time, and he himself might have dragged them both into impossible situation. But at the end of the day. He would never do anything if Rodney didn’t want to. He would even give up Atlantis and everything she meant to him, if Rodney wanted to leave.

And that’s when he got a flash of insight. Iskra was terrified of losing her Shifter. But not to death as he was, and he was sure Shanique were. But to losing his talent, that as Mark’s Bond Mate, she could ruthlessly exploit. He smirked at Iskra, no doubt she had been terrified of what he had done with Amelia, in breaking her Bond. And more so when Rodney made himself human. After all, John was sure if Mark did become human, he would have run from Iskra without ever looking back.

He had a slight notion to actually take him aside and offer him the chance.

Iskra had probably opened doors for him he would have never got alone. After all it took a special kind of person to be as pig headedly stubborn as Rodney.

/“One minute to gate activation.”/ Chuck’s voice came over the intercom.

“Ah… why don’t we all move to the gate room?” Carter said into the silence.

--

John let out a huff as the gate shut down.

“I half wish the plan you and McKay cooked up had worked.” Carter said at his side.

He gave her a confused frown as they turned to go back up to the control room. “I don’t know what you mean.” He feigned innocent.

She just smirked at him. “Something about a medical emergency?”

John just grinned. “We would never…” he started to say as she held up her hand.

“I worked with O’Neill for far too long.” She said. “And believe it or not, you’re much alike… and it’s something he would have tried.”

John shrugged. “Great men think alike.” He said making her laugh.

“I’m sure… Will McKay be okay?” She asked. “He seemed pretty intense back there.”

John waved a hand at his head as they walked into her office. “He’s busy arguing with someone right now… so he’s fine.” He guessed it was one of Zelenka’s minions. “But he did bring up an important point.”

“Lots.” Carter sighed as she threw herself into her chair as John took one opposite her. “But which one are you thinking about?”

“The process of bringing more Shifters and their Mates here.” He said. “We need to ask the Shifters what they want, without their Bond Mate being involved.”

Carter nodded. “Well, see about writing something up. And I’ll look over it and send it to the SGC. But I don’t think they will send anymore Shifter’s any time soon.”

John nodded, he was sure Iskra and the Russian government would have something to say about it.

 

++++++++++

 

John put an arm across the back of Rodney’s chair as he sat besides him, lounging in his own. His Mate was working on something, tapping away one handed at the keys. “Want to get something to eat?” he asked finally. He had talked with Carter some more before discussing his teams next mission, and finally he had come looking for his Mate.

“Humm…” Rodney asked absently. “Oh... What time is it?”

“Time you ate something?” John said vaguely. Rodney still looked pallid and Marie had already given him the lecture that Rodney needed to eat iron rich foods as well as fluids and lots of rest for a week or more.

Rodney sighed as he clicked save on his laptop then sat back against John’s arm. “That could have been me…” he said softly, folding his arms across his chest, looking at nothing over the top of his laptop.

John hoped they wouldn’t have this conversation right now, but if his Mate was bringing it up, then Rodney wanted to get it out of his system. “But it wasn’t.” John said, knowing they were talking about Mark Shpak. “You never gave up.”

He watched a slight sardonic smile cross Rodney’s lips as he brought his chin to rest on his chest.

“No.” Rodney said. “I found the greatest science toy in two universes…” he gave John a sideways look. “And a flyboy who will spoil me rotten… well…” he smirked. “Most of the time.”

John snorted through his own smile. “Happy to oblige…” he said before adding. “Most of the time.”

Rodney snorted a laugh before he pushed his chair back and got to his feet. “Well you can spoil me rotten now… I still need my food cutting up for me.” He said raising his heavily bandaged arm and hand.

John got to his feet too as he then wrapped his arm around Rodney’s waist. “Maybe after I can feed you pudding.” He said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively, making his Shifter laugh.

“Fine.” Rodney said as he pushed John towards the door. “And maybe I’ll make you spill some on me and you can lick it off.”

John tightened his grip. Any other day he would have gone straight to the pudding. But he really didn’t want Rodney passing out on him in a compromising position. “I can go for that.” He grinned.

 

++++++++++

 

TBC

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 10]

++++++++++ [S04E09]

 

John growled as he pulled another broken comb tooth out of the knot in Rodney’s fur by his shoulder.

Rodney grunted a question.

“That’s another tooth… seriously, why can’t I use a brush?” He complained. As he started to work at the knot again, he would make sure he orders a metal comb.

Rodney started purring for a reply and John sighed, remembering the lecture from his Mate. About how good a comb felt through his fur and a brush just couldn’t get through to his skin the way a comb could.

Another stiff breeze swept over the balcony outside their apartment where they sat, blowing away most of the fur, John had already brushed out.

They hadn’t had the time to just sit and bond together in a while, and John found it soothing to do such a simple act for his Mate. Even if they had to do it outside to save on finding clumps of fur all over the apartment.

“So.” He finally said as he ran the comb through silky fur. “Are you going to tell me what else you saw in the vision Davos gave you?”

Rodney snorted, turning his head away.

John sighed, he could feel his Mate keeping something from him. But what with Rodney still being so self-deprecating over the fact the replicators were now killing human’s because of the code he modified. And that they were now waiting for an email from Jeannie who, hopefully, would help get it all sorted seeing as Rodney was refusing to ask Todd the Wraith to help. John had let his questions of the vision go. But now he was itching to know. “I could order you to tell me.” He said softly.

Rodney huffed as he turned to glare at him, which was always funny coming from a tiger.

But John could feel a slight nudge of embarrassment and bewilderment coming from Rodney.

“Fine.” He gave in. “Once you figure out how to put it into words… just tell me. Okay.”

Rodney nodded once, giving a little huff that he understood, before he put his head down again on John’s knee.

After some time, John felt Rodney’s head grow heavy and his mind go a little foggy as he started to dose. John wanted to move as his ass was getting numb from the floor of the balcony. But he knew his Mate needed the rest.

He was just dosing off himself when the door chime went off. With a grunt he blinked as Rodney raised his head. John just thought the door open and turned to see Carter come into the apartment looking a little harried. “Over here.” He called.

“Ah… Is McKay… Oh.” She said as she came over to look at them.

“What is it?” John asked, seeing the frown on her face, so he started to get to his feet.

“We just got an emergency dial in from Earth.” Carter said. “I’m sorry to say this… But McKay… it’s your sister.”

Rodney grunted as John’s chest went cold with dread.

“What about Jeannie?” John asked.

Carter sighed. “She’s been kidnapped.”

“What?” Rodney said suddenly. “When? How?”

John watched Carter look a little shocked. But she kept her cool, her eyes never lowering past Rodney’s bare chest. “We don’t know. But her family is fine… Get dressed and come to the gate room. We are sending you back as soon as you’re ready.”

Rodney shoved past them both as he hurried to their bedroom, John started to follow. “We’ll be there.” John said as Carter gave him a grim look.

“Hurry.” She said as she left.

 

++++++++++

 

John put Rodney’s coffee down near his Mates elbow, then sat down next to him, resting one hand on his back as he leaned back in his own chair.

He glanced over at Ronon, who sat with Barrett, watching some game on the TV in the corner. Any other time he would have paid good money to sit with them and watch a real live game. But the stress emanating from his Mate was palpable.

Rodney was trying to keep it together, falling back into what he knew and how to fix things. But he couldn’t keep his emotional undercurrent from John.

He could feel how desperate Rodney was to get his sister back, terrified that he had caused her to be abducted in the first place.

It hadn’t helped that Kaleb had blown up at Rodney, accusing him of causing all this. When Rodney had floundered, lost at how to respond, John had just kept his arm around his Mate, glairing the taller man down as Rodney promised to get his sister back.

At that moment John had to fight the urge to slap the man for causing his Mate stress. But the guy had just lost his wife in a traumatic way, and technically, Kaleb was his brother-in-law. So he guessed hitting him might not be the best idea.

He took a sip of his coffee as he peered at the game over Ronon’s shoulder.

“I… I have an address!” Rodney suddenly cheered, making John jump a little. Especially after hours of silence.

--

An hour later and John was feeling decidedly twitchy. The building Barrett was pulling up to looked very deserted. He wished he had a gun, or that backup would get to them quicker. Or he could resist Rodney’s need to hurry, but he wasn’t that strong right now, he wanted to follow his Mate.

“Do you have anymore guns?” John asked Bennett as Rodney turned his torch on and walked into the darkened building. The hackles were rising on the back of John’s neck.

“Yeah, I've got a shotgun in the car.” Bennett said as he took a step back.

John turned just in time to see someone disarm Bennett and take him down, just as something connected with his own head and everything went black.

The last thing he was aware of was Ronon calling his name.

--

“Rodney!” John shouted as he sat up abruptly, the world suddenly rocking sickeningly as his head throbbed painfully.

“Easy.” Ronon was saying. “And the men who attacked us took him.”

“Shit.” John cursed as Ronon helped him to his feet. Then he tried to reach out for his Mate, tried to get a feel for where he was. But all that he got was a muffled sense that Rodney was, at least, still alive. But nothing else.

“We need to get back to the SGC.” Bennett groaned. “Those were professionals.”

“Dishonourable bastards.” Ronon growled angrily.

When John looked at him, he could see his friend was bruised and looked like he had a split lip.

“Didn’t manage to get any?” John asked hopefully, but a quick look around, there was only the three of them and the car.

Ronon snorted. “Tried.” He answered. “Can you take us to where McKay is?”

John shook his head as he turned around slowly. He couldn’t even get a direction as to where to go. “No.” he answered. “They must have him drugged or something….”

“Or something…” Ronon repeated. Not saying what that something might be, but John really didn’t want to think that far. Rodney was alive, for now, and that was all that mattered.

“Lets go.” He said as he strode towards the car.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney felt sick.

The men who had attacked John and the other guy, had tasered him. As he woke up he knew he was on a plane, with something over his head.

But that wasn’t the worse part. He had also been restrained. A quick shuffle and he knew there was a belt around his waist, with thick leather cuffs around his ankles and wrist. The ones on his wrists had something that felt like a ball digging into the underside of his wrists, the one on his right wrist seemed painfully tight. After the fever and him damaging his wrist, not even John used that wrist to calm him because it caused more discomfort than anything else, the skin was still thin and sensitive under the scare tissue.

As he moved he could hear the heavy clink of metal, so all the restraints were chained together. And he knew all of them would also be connected to the thick collar about his neck.

He moved his arms down, and with a jolt of sickening fear, the collar on his neck pulled and something metallic tightened at the back of his neck making his whole body instantly go limp.

He scrunched up his eyes. Knowing what they had done to him. Something he had only seen once in his life, a month after being put in his first Shifter Dorm, one of the older Shifters had been told their family had died in an accident and the Shifter had gone insanely violent. And right in front of him in the corridor to his room. The staff had pinned the Shifter down and strapped restraints about the Shifter, rendering her totally immobile, scared and terrified. He remembered her face now, streaked with tears, her eyes wide with fear as they carted her away.

The restraints had targeted all her weak points. Half metal balls fastened into the leather cuffs would dig into her wrist constantly, and the chains that went into the collar looped through hoops on the belt at her waist so if she raised her arms it would pull on two bits of metal in the collar. There was also another chain from the belt going down to her feet where two more cuffs went around her ankles, connected by another bit of chain, so she couldn’t even run. All together, they would prevent her from Shifting.

She had been hobbled.

And now, so was he.

He knew that hobbling had been outlawed in Canada many years ago. He thought it had been banned everywhere. To even have such a device was punishable by ten years in prison. To use one meant life.

“Get up!” Someone said as Rodney felt himself being man handled onto his feet. He struggled the best he could, but it was pretty pathetic, especially with the way he was bound and the fact he felt as weak as a kitten. It would also help if he could see where the hell he was going.

--

The uncomfortable car ride had been hell. He had tried taking stock of familiar sounds, like the noise of the car bouncing off buildings, or other traffic. But he eventually just gave up as his worry over John slowly started to intensify.

He knew John was unconscious, and was very far away. So that meant John wasn’t with him. Which scared the hell out of him.

Eventually he was pulled from the car by the silent bastards who began pushing him inside a building, and as soon as he heard a door close behind him, his stomach dropped out as a cold sweat covered his body, joined by a very annoying high pitched sound that stabbed into his head.

And he couldn’t feel John.

He stumbled into one of his captors, who just pushed him away, then held him as he was pushed forward.

Taking a deep breath, he realised he could feel his Mate, but it was muted, like John was asleep or unconscious. But either of those options just didn’t feel right.

He heard a door being unlocked then he was pushed forward again and he could instantly smell his sister, and her fear.

“Meredith?!” Jeannie gasped as the bag over Rodney’s head was pulled off, and he finally got to see her.

“Jeannie…!” He said as he stumbled over to her. “Thank God you’re alive!” he tried to hug her as she wrapped her own arms around him.

“What are you doing here?” She asked as Rodney heard the door close behind him, he turned to see the goons had left them alone in the room.

“We came back to Earth as soon as we heard you’d been kidnapped.” He said hurriedly as he stepped away and almost tripped on the chains around his ankles. “Can you get this thing off me?” he whined.

Jeannie reached up to the collar around his neck, making him wince and go a little funny as it pulled on the back of his neck. “It’s got a padlock on it.” She answered letting go and taking a step back. “What did they do to you?”

Rodney waved his hand dismissively. “They hobbled me… Have you seen John?” he asked hopefully.

Jeannie frowned, before her hands shot to her mouth. “Oh my god, isn’t that illegal?”

Rodney nodded impatiently. “Have you seen John?”

She shook her head. “No… Have you seen Madison and Kaleb?”

At least there was something he could answer as he looked around the room. “Yes. They're a little shaken but they're ok. I've put a security detail on them, so you don't have to worry.” There seemed to be a control terminal in the centre of the room, with more banks of computers around the walls.

“Then, how did you ...?” She asked.

Rodney felt a little embarrassed. It didn’t help that, again, he had been kidnapped and the only woman HE got to spend time with was his sister, but he guessed it could have been worse. At least he was used to getting beat up by her. “We got ambushed trying to track down the guys who took you.” He confessed.

“Oh, great.” She exclaimed. “That's just great! First you get me captured, then you…”

“Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa. I got ‘you’ captured? How do you figure ‘that’?!” he snapped. It wasn’t like he was here on a holiday!

Rodney let the argument wash over him, it was something familiar and almost safe as she accused him of sending her email’s to solve his problems. He didn’t tell her that all the science staff had revolted and Zalenka had told him flat out to talk to her.

They were just pondering on where they actually where, when the only door in the room opened.

Muscle bound freaks came in, with a man, who looked like a typical kind of business man followed them in.

He was looking directly at Rodney as he came forward. The man’s henchmen standing behind him ominously.

“Doctor McKay. I've heard a lot about you. It's a pleasure.” The man said as he held out his hand to him.

Instinctively Rodney moved back. “Obviously not enough.” He muttered. They had him hobbled, so they ‘knew’ he was a Shifter. So why the hell was this man trying to shake his hand.

The man just smiled at him as he lowered his hand. “My apologies, force of habit.” The man said. “I thought you might show up if your sister went missing.” He carried on. “We couldn't count on it, of course, but it's a pretty big bonus.”

Crap. Rodney thought. But he had faced down worse than this guy and his two goons. “Bonus?! Look, I have no idea who you are but you have made a terrible mistake bringing me here. Now, I suggest you let us both go right now, otherwise about a hundred marines and my Mate are gonna come kicking down your front door in the next two minutes.” He boasted. After all, he had the whole world’s military on his side right now.

But the guy just smirked at him. “I'm pretty sure they won't, actually. Your subcutaneous transmitter has been deactivated.” He said. “And I’m told that the noise you can probably hear, should be nullifying your Shifter ability, so your Bonded won’t even be able to locate you.”

Rodney felt his stomach turn over in dread. So that would explain the piercing shrill that hadn’t stopped since he got here, and why he couldn’t sense John properly. “Who ‘are’ you?” he asked instead as the man began to walk away.

“I should have started with that.” The man said as he sat down. “My name is Henry Wallace. I'm the President of ...”

Rodney couldn’t actually believe he knew this guys name. “D.M.T. Great…” he sighed. So now he was speaking to the head of Devlin Medical Technologies. Just the people who might be interested in the nanite technology he had been working on.

So Wallace had been monitoring their communication in hopes he would find out more to no doubt fill his bank vaults with gold then retire in Tahiti, or somewhere equally as dull.

 

++++++++++

 

John was growing more impatient. He still couldn’t feel where Rodney was, and couldn’t help thinking that Caldwell had rubbed it in a little too hard when they were on the Daedalus.

But now they were in the SGC and it was all coming down to nothing more than paperwork.

Paperwork he had run away from when he ran away from his family. It was annoying how things came back to bite you in the ass.

As he watched Ronon walk out the door of the office they had been shoved in, he couldn’t help but feel like crap.

He guessed this was how Rodney felt every time he went missing. And he didn’t like it, not one bit.

With a hard sigh he sat forward and began working again.

Eventually Bennett came back in and started working on another pile.

He wasn’t sure how long they had been working, being under so much rock and concrete always messed with his sense of time. But something caught his eye at the edge of the table. Out of curiosity he picked it up and quickly read over the business and how it was connected to the SGC. And finally he knew where his Mate was,

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney knew Jeannie was pissed at him. It wasn’t his fault the first thing on his mind had been escape from the building and his crippling chains, as well as getting back to John. Not some sick girl in a bed a mad man wanted them to heal with technology that wasn’t ready for it.

But as soon as Wallace had injected Jeannie with the same defective nanites that were running thought his daughters system, Rodney was also now personally involved.

He might not see eye to eye with his sister all the time. And sure it had taken being Bonded to John for him to finally understand, if only a little, her love of Kaleb, and what made her give up everything for him.

And now he couldn’t let Kaleb lose her.

And he could not lose his sister.

It had been ages since they had updated their new program to Jeannie and the girl, and still they had heard nothing. Even Jeannie was being impatient with him now as he paced up and down the room they were in.

It was mostly for something to do, to take his mind off John and the fact he was actually hungry, even if every time he turned round, his restraints which Wallace had refused to remove, pulled and made him feel sick.

“Ok, sit down, before you fall over!” Jeannie snapped at him. “You're driving me crazy.”

Rodney shuffled over to his chair and slumped into it. The chains clinking as he did so, he winced at the leather of the cuffs rubbed into already sore skin. He lifted his right wrist for a closer look, John was going to kill Wallace once he saw the way the leather had already started to make the healing skin start to bleed slightly in places.

He had argued that he would work faster without being hobbled, but Wallace had just smiled at him, shaking his head. It didn’t help that it also made his mind fuzzy and dull.

Wallace knew, that the moment Rodney was free of the restraints he would Shift and rip his fucking throat out.

“So…” Jeannie said into the silence. “Are you and John going to get married?”

He looked up at her a little startled. “What?!” he asked, his mind trying to figure out what she was on about.

“You heard me.” She said huffily.

He sat up a little straighter, then wished he hadn’t as the clamps on the back of his neck pulled. Growling he replied. “Where did ‘that’ come from?”

Jeannie rolled her eyes at him. “I’m trying to take my mind off the fact that I have tiny robots running through my veins because ‘you’ needed help with your homework.” She grinned viciously. “Would you rather talk about that?”

Rodney slumped back in his chair. “Not really.” Like he didn’t feel guilty enough.

“So.” She carried on. “Are you gonna marry him?”

Rodney sighed, wishing that he could rub his eyes. “I don’t know.” He confessed. It wasn’t like they had talked about it or anything. He thought a Bond was good enough, it wasn’t like a little bit of paper would change anything. It was just a ritual for human couples to say they would be together forever. And it wasn’t like that little bit of paper ever helped when they usually just got divorced. He and John were not about to do that.

“You’ve been Bonded for years now.” She carried on, not letting the matter go, and he was too tired to try and change it.

“I'm aware of that, thank you!” he snapped.

“It’s not like you’re gonna find someone better.” She grinned some more.

“No,” he answered.

Jeannie was chuckling to herself now. “Cause you couldn’t.”

Rodney frowned at that, it was ok for her to have a go at him, but not John. “Hang on…” he started to protest.

“I still can’t believe you actually found a nice man who’s willing to put up with all your many little flaws, it’s a miracle.” She was grinning more now, and he wanted to throttle her.

“Look…” he growled. Hoping she would just shut up.

“How you managed to find someone who’s also physically good looking?” she chortled and there was a mean tone to it he remembered from his youth. “Cause, how do I put this? You’re no John Sheppard.”

He glowered at her. “I’ve been informed I’m a very good looking tiger!” he snorted as he got to his feet, he really didn’t want to talk about John right now, he had tried not to think about his Mate. “Let's go back to talking about how this is my fault, because I think I liked that better ...” he trailed off as the door to the lab opened.

One of Wallace’s goons came in. “Come with me.” he said.

 

++++++++++

 

Jeannie was exhausted but all her nerves were on edge.

“So she's gonna be stuck in this vegetative state?” Wallace was asking Meredith.

“Technically, her brain is perfectly healthy. It's like she's been re-set to zero, so to speak.” Her brother said, his chains clinking, and she knew that without the restraints, Mer would have been able to work a lot faster, instead of zoning out every time he moved..

But she wasn’t really listening to what they were saying.

She had nanites in her system that didn’t work. Or more rightly, worked but would reset her back to zero.

It was so obvious Sharon Wallace had no idea what was going on around her, but at least she didn’t seem scared. And, if what she thought was true, then Sharon would have to learn everything all over again. But she would never be the same person. She didn’t remember her dad, she wouldn’t remember her mother, or any of the experience in her life that made her who she was.

And it terrified Jeannie.

She couldn’t think about forgetting Kaleb, and to forget Maddy just wasn’t an option.

Then what her brother was saying sank in. “Meredith, what about me?” She asked fighting down a wave of panic. “I don't ‘have’ any cancer. They'll look around and go straight for ...” She really couldn’t say the rest as she stared into Meredith’s eyes that were now green orbs.

“... your epilepsy.” He finished as they both realised that the nanites now had a legitimate reason for going to her brain.

“I don't ‘wanna’ be shut down for repairs.” She heard herself gasp desperately.

She watched as he brother got the scared but concentrated look on his face.

“Ok, ok.” He said. “The first thing we've gotta do is make sure ...”

But he didn’t finish as suddenly a shot rang out and the door to the lab was kicked open.

For the first time since she had been kidnapped she felt elated as she saw armed men come into the lab, closely followed by John, who strode towards Meredith.

“Are you ok?” John asked as he reached out with one hand to Meredith, his other hand still holding out his gun, trained on Wallace.

“How did you…?” She asked. Meredith had already said his transmitter wasn’t working and that he couldn’t feel John like he should through their Bond. However that worked. But she knew John wasn’t listening as Meredith plastered himself to John’s side.

“We need to get Jeanie to the SGC. Immediately. Is the Daedalus still in orbit?” Meredith said in a rush.

John frowned a little. “You're welcome! It was a daring rescue…” he said a little moodily but then she watched as John put his gun away and reached for the collar about Meredith’s neck. He had a murderous look in his eyes that worried her, especially when she had seen it before, right after she smacked him across the face in her own home.

“Yes, yes, yes.” Meredith was saying as he wave John’s hand away. “Thank you, but we're nowhere near out of the woods yet. We have to get to the SGC, NOW!”

“Who’s got the key?” John asked in a low tone that sent a shiver down Jeannie’s spine.

“He should have it.” She said, pointing at Wallace who the marines had bent over the console.

“I’ll get it.” Ronon said as he patted John on the shoulder.

“Radio, Daedalus, NOW!” Meredith said again.

She couldn’t help but put a hand on her brother’s back, for a little reassurance, as John reached a hand to his ear. “Daedalus, this is Sheppard. We need a lift.”

The next thing she knew, there was a moment of disorientation, then she was on the dull gray bridge of the Daedalus.

 

++++++++++

 

John hovered just inside the infirmary at the SGC. Once they had beamed aboard the Daedalus, Rodney was demanding they be beamed straight to the SGC.

Caldwell had been a little pissy, as always. But when Jeannie started shouting too, they soon found themselves in the infirmary. Where Rodney had given him a quick kiss then rushed Jeannie off behind a curtain, demanding the attention of Doctor Lamb and her staff.

As soon as they had gotten aboard the Daedalus, all his senses of Rodney came back in full, like a blanket had been lifted off their Bond, but that still hadn’t stopped him wanting to be a little clingy and protective.

He had tried to hang around the infirmary, but he had to wait for Ronon to get back with the key for the lock on the collar around Rodney’s neck. He also had to fight down his rage at the way his Mate had been trust up like a prisoner or something. He didn’t like it one ‘fucking’ bit. It also didn’t help that General Landry had turned up, insistent on a quick report.

He was just pacing back from the door toward a chair, when Ronon came in.

“Here.” The big man said as he held out a little key. “Took longer cause it was in his office.”

John took the small key and dug it into his palm. The anger coming back a little too strong. “Thanks.” He managed.

Ronon just shrugged a shoulder. “Geoff said he thought McKay had been Hobbled?” he said. “He said it was illegal here?” Geoff had been one of the marines who helped them storm Devlin Medical Tech.

John scowled. “Never heard of it before.” He said as he turned to pace back toward the chair. “But soon as I get it off Rodney, I’m not going to be very happy with someone.” If he didn’t kill Wallace himself.

“Thought you two would have disappeared already.” Ronon said as he moved around John to sit in the chair he was using as a pacing marker.

John shook his head. “He’s still in there with Jeannie.” He pointed towards a curtained off area.

After fifteen minutes of more pacing, John finally threw himself down in the chair next to his friend. Where they waited some more in silence. Listening to the sounds coming from behind the curtain.

John stood when, finally, Rodney came out. His Mate looked tired and strain was showing about his eyes. “I have the key, come on.” He said, putting a hand on Rodney’s shoulder as he led him to another gurney and shoving him toward it, he then closed the curtains, giving them a modicum of privacy.

He helped Rodney up onto the gurney, noting how Rodney whimpered a little and went white. John ground his teeth as he put the key in the lock and turned, throwing the little thing to the ground as the chains fell into Rodney’s lap. Rodney lifted his head to let John unbuckle the padded collar.

John was about to let it fall to the floor when he caught sight of two metal plates in the back of the collar and the hairs on the back of his neck rose as he turned the thing over to show his Mate.

“Yeah.” Rodney said with weary sarcasm. “Guess what that did to me…” Though it wasn’t a question and John’s stomach went a little cold with rage.

He threw the collar on the floor as he reached and turned Rodney around a little so he could get a better look. Apart from the red rings where the leather had rubbed Rodney’s skin a little raw, there were two distinct red patched where the two metal plated had dug into Rodney’s neck, just below his skull. “I’ll fucking kill him.” He growled.

“Yes, yes.” Rodney sighed. “But can you get the rest off first?” he said, lifting his arms.

John quickly obliged as Rodney held out his left wrist. The cuff was almost impossible to get off, and he had to use two hands to accomplish it. Now he understood why Rodney hadn’t just got them off earlier.

Once again, John was faced with red marks around Rodney’s wrist, and as he looked at the cuff, he felt sick again as he looked at a half metal orb that would dig into the Shifters wrist, and sure enough, Rodney had a large darkening bruise. Quickly he moved to the right one and saw blood. Rodney groaned in pain as John let the cuff fall.

The healing skin on Rodney’s wrist had been rubbed open in places.

“Shh…” Rodney whispered as John felt him put a hand on his shoulder. “We have more important things to worry about now.”

John blinked up at his Mate. Stunned for a moment by the soft urgency. “But…”

Rodney actually rolled his eyes. “I do not like being hobbled. So, if you wouldn’t mind?” he said raising his legs.

John just got to work on the cuffs at Rodney’s ankles, relived that whoever put them on, had put them on over his sweat pants and there was no damage. While he was doing it, Rodney had reached around and undone the buckle of the belt that was at his back, and he promptly shoved the whole lot to the floor.

“Make sure someone keeps that for evidence.” Rodney growled, sounding more like himself.

“What the hell was it?” John asked as he shoved the restraints to the side with a foot.

“Hobbling.” Rodney snorted as he eased himself off the gurney. “Used to restrain Shifter’s who ‘get out of hand’ or violent.” He rubbed his eyes and John couldn’t help pulling the Shifter into his arms and hugging him.

He could feel how tired and worried his Mate was, and all he wanted to do was take it all way, or at least get Rodney to sleep for a few hours. “Come on, you need to get some rest. I explained what I knew to Landry.”

Rodney took a deep breath and sigh as he let John take his weight for a moment. “As much as I would love to do just that… I have to fix Jeannie.” John let him go as he stood straight. “Come on… I need to talk to the General.”

 

++++++++++

 

John really wasn’t happy about bringing a Wraith to Earth. General Landry had been even less impressed. But if Rodney was saying he couldn’t fix the nanite code in time, then they all knew he actually couldn’t do it. And they couldn’t risk moving Jeannie to Atlantis.

So they had brought Todd to Earth. The first, and hopefully the last, Wraith to ever set foot on their planet.

He had quietly listened as Rodney gave his little speech to Todd, actually getting the Wraith to help him in a backwards kind of way, but it had worked. And if they could solve the problem. Then it would be another threat they could live without.

Eventually he had left Rodney to it, and come to sit with Jeannie; every now and again the nurses would break her legs again. When that happened, he got up and left till it was over. He never thought he was squeamish till now.

It had been a few hours when finally Rodney came back in, and John didn’t like the grim look on his Mates face.

The constant hum in the back of his mind of Rodney working had slowly turned darker over the hours, more distressed and bleak.

“You okay?” he asked as he got to his feet, reaching out for his Mate.

Rodney shook his head as grim faced he led John out of the infirmary and into someone’s unlocked office.

“So?” John asked softly. Letting his Mate go as he leaned against a desk. Knowing Rodney needed the space right now to get out whatever he had to say.

He heard Rodney out as he explained how weak Todd was getting and that the Wraith had collapsed on them in the lab.

“What if he's faking? What if he's just milking it for a hot meal?” John couldn’t help but ask. He didn’t trust a Wraith, even Todd.

“No, I believe him. He can't finish the coding without feeding. I understand exactly what he's doing, but he's far more versed at implementing it than I am. Maybe if I had a couple of weeks, but he's the only one that can do it in a day.” Rodney said in one long breath.

John could feel his Mates desperation, “The N.I.D. is not gonna provide us with a human for him to feed on.” He thought aloud.

“I know…” Rodney whispered brokenly. “It needs to be us…”

John felt a cold shock go through his whole body as he looked at his Mate. “What?” he asked.

“I can’t think of anyone else.” Rodney said, finally looking at him. “The only other person would be Kaleb…”

John stood as his stomach turned over. “No.” he said firmly. “What about Maddy.”

“Then let him feed off us…” Rodney said again. “…get his strength back, then he can finish the coding and save Jeannie.”

John was trying to keep his anger and his own despair in check. “Then what? Force him to give us our life back? He's not gonna do that.”

“Sharon died half an hour ago.” Rodney uttered brokenly.

John finally reached out to put a hand on his Mates shoulder. Needing physical contact. “I don't understand. What happened? I thought the nanites were ...” He asked. If it was true. Then Jeannie wouldn’t just be gone mentally, but physically too.

“This time it wasn't a problem with the programming. It was a manufacturing defect. In layman's terms, the nanites ran out of steam while they were repairing her arteries. She bled out internally. There was nothing we could do.” Rodney said in utter anguish.

Well shit. John thought as he looked into his Mates pleading eyes.

“I can't lose my sister, John. How am I gonna explain it to her husband, to Maddy?”

John pulled Rodney in and hugged him as tight as he could, “The Wraith will kill us.”

Rodney shook his head. “We could give him just enough…” He was babbling desperately. “Just a sip… we share a life pool or whatever, we did it before… Todd can do it again?”

John tightened his hold, knowing it was growing painful. “I can’t…” he finally admitted, feeling the sickening waves of desolation and fear from Rodney mixing with his own. He would give his life for Rodney, do anything for him. But he couldn’t give their lives up for just one person, not even when it was his Mates sister. Rodney would be devastated and it would irrefutably damage him, but John would just pick up the peaces, spending the rest of his existence making the Shifter smile again.

“Please….” Rodney begged, but his hands were still firmly fisted in the back of John’s shirt.

“I’m sorry.” He answered softly. As another plan began forcing its dark way into his mind. He laid a kiss on the side of Rodney’s head. “Come on…” he uttered as he began to pull Rodney towards the door. “Go sit with Jeannie for a while, and try and get some rest… I need to go see the General…”

“I can’t rest.” Rodney whined, his voice thick with unshed tears.

“Fine… just stay with your sister.” John said as they went into the corridor.

 

++++++++++

 

John watched with a little detachment as the medical staff moved Wallace’s shrivelled corpse into a body bag.

He knew everyone who had been involved in this ‘suicide’ now saw him in a slightly darker light. But he could live with that.

His ‘little’ talk with a devastated man, who had just lost everything in his life he loved, had prevented everything in John’s life from falling apart.

It wasn’t a revelation to him that he would literally do ‘anything’ for his Mate. But he guessed he had just sunk to his lowest. He would have felt better if he had taken a gun and blown Wallace’s brains out himself. This all just seemed terribly underhanded, but it had been an ends to a means. He would worry about going straight to hell once Jeannie was better… if in fact Todd was as good as Rodney claimed… if not. He wouldn’t loose any sleep by putting some hot lead into the Wraiths skull.

He knew Rodney was outside the door to the lab as the medics began lifting the body bag onto a gurney. So he turned and gave the Marine stood by the door a nod to open it.

“John?” Rodney asked as he took a step inside and saw him.

John could feel his Mates confusion, so he reached out a hand so Rodney would come to him. “It’s okay Fuller.” He said to the Marine who looked like he still wanted to stop Rodney. The Marine just gave him a nod as he went back to his station.

Then his attention was back on his Mate as Rodney moved to his side so John could put his arm around his waist.

“What?” Rodney asked in a small voice as they watched the medics walk past.

John bit his lip, knowing that Rodney would sense he was lying. “I was showing Wallace the labs. The Wraith got the upper hand. That's what the report's gonna say.”

Rodney looked up at him in shock, but John knew his Mate got it. “You…” Rodney uttered.

John just tightened his hold a little. There would be a lot to discuss later. “Come on. You've got work to do.” He said, trying to misdirect for now.

“No, he does not.” Todd suddenly said. “I've completed the reprogramming.”

John blinked as Rodney walked towards the Wraith. “That was quick.” John said as he followed his Mate, feeling his stunned relief. “Well, get it uploaded!”

 

++++++++++

 

John walked into the infirmary with coffee, but stopped when he saw his Mate hugging his sister awkwardly.

They had been waiting for Jeannie to wake up for over an hour, so he had finally offered to get something to drink. According to the medical staff she should be fine, and John let out a breath of relief.

“I love you.” John heard Jeannie say and he couldn’t help but smile. If anyone else told his Mate that, he would happily discourage them from ever even thinking it again. But from his sister, Rodney could hear it all he needed.

“I know.” Rodney was smiling as they pulled apart.

“Well?” Jeannie demanded.

Rodney fidgeted awkwardly for a moment. “I love you too.” He finally answered.

John could sense how emotional Rodney was getting, but floundering as how to actually let it out. So he started moving again.

“Nice to see you awake.” He said as he handed Rodney his coffee. Then offered his own to Jeannie. Which she refused with a smile. “How are you feeling?”

Jeannie just shrugged. “A little weird.” She answered.

“Well, if you’re feeling up to it, we can go get something to eat.” He said as he put an arm around his Mates waist. “Then we just have to wait for the all clear, and the Daedalus will pick us up and we can take you home.”

“Oh!” Jeannie said with a full smile. “Can you make it happen sooner? I want to see Maddy and Kaleb.”

“Food first.” He said as he gestured for her to start walking. “We have a few days leave… So I was wondering if we could stay with you?” he asked. Instantly Rodney was confused but happy by the prospect. “That is if you have room… we could get a hotel room near by.”

“No no.” Jeannie was waving a hand in the air. “We have a spare room! And Maddy would love to play with her uncle Mer the tiger.” She grinned.

“I’m not a toy.” Rodney uttered darkly.

John huffed a laugh. “I think piggy back’s are in your future.” Knowing he would make it happen for the little girl he knew briefly, but adored all the same.

“I don’t think Kaleb wants us around though…” Rodney said.

“He’ll get over it.” Jeannie dismissed as they walked up to the elevator. “And he liked John.”

John knew Rodney was pulling a face, but he just smiled at his ‘kind of’ sister-in-law.

 

++++++++++

 

“Hold on tight!” Jeannie hollered at her daughter as Mer gave her a glare. She knew John had done some fast talking to get Mer to Shift and wander around the back garden with Maddy on his back. Maddy was loving it as she tugged on his ears.

She sat back in her chair on the back porch and sipped her tea. “Sorry about this morning.” She said to John, who was sat at her side.

It was the second morning since she had got home and yesterday Mer had bought her a new car. She had tried to talk him out of it after Kaleb had hurriedly reminded her that Mer’s money was also John’s now. But in the end John had just rolled his eyes as he produced his bank card.

And that morning as Kaleb got ready for work, they had almost panicked when they couldn’t find Maddy in her bed. It had taken some hurried searching before they found their little girl.

Jeannie had entered the spare room quietly to find Maddy curled up against Mer’s chest, fast asleep between his forepaws with John’s arm thrown across the pair of them protectively. All three were fast asleep. Mer was even snorting softly as he chin rested on top of Maddy’s head.

When she saw the sight, her chest warmed up at the cuteness. And she had thought about getting a camera to preserve the moment. But Kaleb had come in behind her, and he hadn’t found it quite so cute.

She had grown up with Mer sometimes being a tiger. Hell, even she had slept with her brother when he was Shifted, usually in thunderstorms or when their parents had argued at night.

But Kaleb wasn’t quite so happy to see his daughter in the clutches of a predatorial animal, even if it was Maddy’s uncle. And when he had come in and saw them all, he had gasped loudly in horror.

Instantly John had woken up and spun on them, the look in his eyes for a moment had been deadly before he recognised them. Mer had also woken with a snorted growl, then with one paw had pulled Maddy against his chest as he half sat up.

There had been apologies on both sides as Jeannie just offered to make breakfast for everyone. Then she had pushed Kaleb from the room and tried to calm him down and off to work.

“It’s ok.” John said as he sipped his coffee.

“I asked her not to wake you up.” She said. The night before Maddy had been insistent that she wanted to sleep with her kitty uncle.

John shrugged a shoulder. “I found her crawling up the bed at about five.” He said. “I was gonna put her back to bed, but she already had a grip on Rodney, and he didn’t mind… I didn’t mean to go against what you told her.”

She waved his apology away. “I don’t mind.” She smiled. “It was kinda cute.”

John snorted into his coffee. “I take it Kaleb wasn’t so happy?”

She shook her head. “No… but then he’s never known a Shifter before.”

“And finding his daughter in bed with a strange man and a tiger? I get it.”

She snorted. “I think it was more his daughter in the clutches of a tiger was more shocking… He’s not seen Mer Shifted before.”

“That would do it I guess.” John reasoned.

“As to you being a stranger?” she leaned over and waked him on the arm, hard. “When are you going to marry my brother and make him an honest Shifter?”

John rubbed his abused arm as he looked at her, then pulled an awkward face. “I don’t know… It’s not like we need too.”

“Pfft!” she exclaimed loudly. “It’s not all about you two!”

He gave her a look before glancing back at Mer, but didn’t answer.

“Look. You Bonded with my brother. Sure, that makes you family… but it would be nice to have us be a proper family.” She smiled at him.

She watched him fidget in his chair. “I’ll think about it.” He finally offered.

“Good… And I’m sure your family would also appreciate it.” Soon as she mentioned John’s family she knew it was the wrong thing to say as he became very still and his expression darkened.

“I doubt that.” He finally said, like he was mentioning something nasty.

“Oh… Sorry…” she said softly, but before the silence between them got too strained, Mer was climbing onto the porch, his attention on John.

She watched as John reached out a hand and patted Mer’s head.

“Bored already?” John teased Mer, like nothing had happened.

“No! wanna ride more!” Maddy said, kicking Mer in the ribs, making the tiger huff in pain.

John just got up and plucked Maddy from Mer’s back before Jeannie could even move. “Why don’t we all go out and get ice-cream?” he said, tickling her.

Jeannie got up too. Her curiosity about John’s family would have to wait because the man had made sure that he wasn’t going to be forth coming any time soon.

 

++++++++++

 

Jeannie licked at her ice cream as she watched Maddy having great fun on the jungle gym as she ran John ragged.

It was strange seeing the John in another light. She had seen the hard lined military man. She had seen the softer man who loved her stupid brother unconditionally. And now she was seeing the playful side of him as he played with a little girl.

She was quite impressed at how nimble he could be as he followed Maddy about on the huge wooden frame. He wasn’t young, but he was keeping up with a four year old.

“Ugg.” Mer said at her side as he finished devouring the last of John’s ice cream. “Just watching them makes my back ach!” he whined as the watched John climb up a pole. “I’m sure after playing a blood horse all morning that I’ve done something to my back!”

She whacked him on the arm. “And given your niece a memory that’s priceless. Stop bitching.”

“I would rather just buy her a pony!” He growled.

She hit him again. “Don’t even think about it! I’ll tell John!”

He just gave her a glare. “Talking about the monkey.” He gestured to the gym. “What the hell did you say to him this morning?”

She looked away, but if anyone knew anything, then Mer would. “I just mentioned his family.” She said cautiously. “And he got a little upset.”

Mer snorted. “You could say that.” He answered as he slouched more on the park bench.

When he didn’t say more, she pressed a little. “Doesn’t he have one?” It might explain why she had hit a nerve.

Mer huffed again before he started talking quietly. “I know he’s got a dad and a brother. And an ex-wife I don’t want to meet… I don’t know anymore because I got bored reading his personal file.” He shrugged.

Jeannie couldn’t help but be a bit flabbergasted at the fact John had an ex-wife. She couldn’t quite imagine the man being with anyone but her brother. “He have kids?” she queried softly.

“Nope.” Mer answered instantly.

“But you don’t know anything else about his family?” she pressed some more.

Mer shrugged. “He doesn’t talk about it.”

“And you don’t care.” She said a little too sarcastically.

Mer actually grinned. “If he wants nothing to do with them, why should I?” he asked.

There was no faulting that logic she guessed. After all, if she hadn’t had a moment of inspiration that got recognised by the military, she probably would still be in the dark about where Mer was and what he had gotten himself into.

“Besides,” he carried on. “Just dealing with you is enough of a headache for us both!”

She hit him again as they shared grins. Then flinches as a small rock came sailing past their heads.

“Rodney!” John shouted over to them. “Come play!”

“COME PLAY UNCLE MER!” Maddy also yelled as she hung onto John’s back like a little ape.

“I’d rather just stay here!” Mer shouted back.

“Come play now!” John was grinning. “Or we go for a five mile run later! With no four legged perks!”

“You wouldn’t!” Mer shouted indignantly.

John was just grinning.

“I think he means it.” Jeannie smirked.

“He usually does.” Mer growled darkly before he got up with a groan and went jogging over to the gym.

She had to blink as she watched Mer clamber up the side of the gym to get to his Mate and Maddy like there was nothing wrong with his back. Then she just sat back listening to all three laughing as they disappeared to the far side of the climbing frame.

 

++++++++++

 

“It’s nice to be home.” Rodney was saying as they rested on their bed, watching old Doctor Who episodes they had got while Earth side.

They had spent a few more days with Jeannie and her family before they had to use the Gate bridge to get back to Atlantis.

Now they were just lounging about before getting back to work in the morning.

“Yeah.” John answered. The usual hum of Atlantis always settled him, it also helped that she listened to him to open doors or create mood lighting.

“Listen,” Rodney said, and John knew he wasn’t about to like the ensuing conversation. “I can't believe what you did.”

“I don't really wanna talk about it.” He knew this was going to be about Wallace.

“You talked Wallace into sacrificing himself.” Rodney said softly with a touch of guilt flowing through their Bond.

“No… I didn’t.” He replied, squeezing his Mate a little tighter as he rested against his chest.

“Well… Then, how did he?” Rodney asked as he tried to turn, but John really didn’t want to look him in the eye right now. Rodney would be feeling his unease through the Bond anyway.

“I… I presented a situation. He volunteered.” It was the truth. Even if the man had been a little unsure at the end, but Rodney didn’t need to know that.

“Still… you talked a man into killing himself… for me.” So the guilt was cranking up.

John laid a kiss on the side of his Mates head. “He wanted to make things right… I merely… uh…”

“… presented the situation.” Rodney finished for him.

“Yeah.” John said quietly.

Rodney was silent for a moment as his emotions also seemed to calm themselves. “Thanks.” He said in a small voice.

John just closed his eyes as he rested his lips against Rodney’s hair. Hoping his Mate was picking up on the fact John would do anything for him, but that sometimes there was a line John couldn’t cross.

He still felt a little guilty that he would sacrifice them both for a city full of strangers, but couldn’t risk Rodney’s life for just one person, even if that person was Jeannie.

They were both quiet for a bit as the episode of Doctor Who came to a close.

“Say…” Rodney said eventually. “You and I are about even when it comes to looks, right?”

John couldn’t help but frown. “Who’s been lying to you?” he asked. It had taken him all his resolve not to just throw Doctor Brown through the wormhole and down the SGC’s ramp, when he finally found out it had been her who provided the pronged collar to Lucius. Now he would have to start with someone else…

“No… I’m serious.” Rodney persisted.

“I am too.” He growled. “Who’s been lying to you?”

“No one…” Rodney said as he fidgeted a little bit, a feeling of insecurity flitting across his mind. “Fine… it was something Jeannie said.”

John let out a huge breath as he smiled. “Well, you’re her brother, so she obviously doesn’t see your good looks.” He knew it was the right thing to say as Rodney finally turned and looked up at him.

“Wanna get something to eat?” Rodney asked.

“Sure.” John smiled as he pulled Rodney to his feet.

 

++++++++++

 

Teyla was still trying to figure out how much exercise she should actually be doing as she couldn’t keep up her usual sparing sessions anymore. It was too risky. And she was fast running out of excuses to keep people at bay.

Keller had already told her it wouldn’t be long before she started to show, and she would have to start telling people soon.

He was just finishing up on the exercise bike when McKay came into the gym.

“Ah. Good morning.” She greeted the tiger with a smile. “Where is John?” she asked. Noting how Rodney was dressed in a pair of his off world pants and a t-shirt. The shirt looked tight on the tigers frame, but the pants were bunched up around his back legs.

“Oh, morning Teyla.” John said as he finally came to stand by the door. “Come on Rodney, I have that meeting.”

Rodney just turned to his Mate and raised a paw.

Teyla watched as John rolled his eyes. “Teyla, can you spare with him a bit?” he asked.

She looked at Rodney, really not wanting to exercise with something so powerful, but she couldn’t refuse. Not the way Rodney was now looking at her, his eyes intense. “It will be a pleasure.” She lied.

“Ok. Well, when you’re finished you know where I’ll be.”

Rodney just grunted as John gave her a wave and jogged off.

Slowly she got off the bike, wondering what she was supposed to do next when Rodney was stood right in front of her. She stood still as he began to sniff her loudly.

“Rodney… I…” She said as she took a step back, not liking the attention, but before she could say anything else, Rodney had Shifted and was stood staring at her in shock.

“You’re pregnant!” he gasped out. “Oh my god… Teyla…”

She grimaced as she turned away from him as she went and picked up her towel.

“I thought you smelled different!” he said as he followed her. “I couldn’t put my finger on it till we went back to Earth… but you are pregnant.” He sounded pleased with himself at his little revelation, which only grated on her nerves.

“Fine… yes.” She snapped, before she took a deep calming breath and sat down. “Yes.” She repeated.

“Oh.” Rodney said softly now as he sat down besides her. “Did I upset you?”

She gave him a slight smile as she patted his leg. “No… It’s just a hard time for all this to be happening.” She admitted.

“Oh.” Rodney nodded. “Because of your people?” he asked.

She was calmed by his true concern. “Yes… because one of them is the farther.” She gritted her teeth, determined not to cry, it would get her nowhere and she had to stay strong.

“Humm…” Rodney uttered. “When will you tell John?” He asked.

She sighed as she looked at him. “I don’t know… I guess you will tell him now?”

Rodney pulled a face as he shrugged a shoulder. “Not if you don’t want me too… but if he asks I’ll have to.”

She nodded in understanding. She felt a modicum of sympathy for him in the fact he couldn’t lie. “That will have to be acceptable.” She conceded.

“But it might answer one of my other worries.” Rodney said. When she looked at him, she could see his concern about something.

“Worries?” she asked.

Rodney gave her a sideways glance. “I’ve kinda been keeping something else from John.” He winced.

“Oh?” She couldn’t help but ask. Wondering what he would keep from his Mate.

It took a few moments before he started talking again in a hushed tone. “When Davos gave me that vision about the Wraith ambushing us…”

She gave him a nod that she understood, remembering the look of horror on his face.

“Well… there was a second vision…”

She frowned then, non of the visions had ever really been pleasant ones.

“It was me holding a small baby.” He whispered, leaning towards her a little.

“Mine?” She asked as she rested a hand on her abdomen. But he was shaking his head.

“I… No, I don’t think so.” He said sounding a little confused. “It was only a very brief vision… but it… the baby. Felt like it was mine, now I think about it.” He gave her a wide eyed desperate look.

She couldn’t help but blink at him as she looked down at his belly. “Is that possible?”

“No.” he answered. “I’m not a Jaguar.”

She didn’t really understand what that meant, but he sounded adamant enough. “And it wasn’t mine?” she asked again.

If it was possible, Rodney’s eyes got wider. “Oh… OH!... no, no, it wasn’t yours, I know that. I didn’t feel any grief in the vision… and it was a very small baby.”

She felt a slow release of relief at that fact. So she reached out to him again, resting her hand on his leg. “Well… if it’s something that will happen. Then there is no point in worrying about it.”

He nodded. “But I don’t know how to tell John…” he confessed, looking a little depressed.

“Has he asked you about it?”

He shrugged a little. “He has, but I was Shifted at the time. Then all the trouble with Jeannie started and I forgot about it.”

“Well… why don’t we make a deal.” She said, giving him a smile. “If he asks either of us… We will tell him the truth.”

Rodney smiled finally as he nodded. “Deal.”

 

++++++++++

 

TBC

 

Chapter Text

[EPISODE 11]

++++++++++ [S04E14]

 

John stared at the painting behind Harmony; he couldn’t quite believe what he was looking at. It was a knock to his ego.

Sure, he knew Rodney was brave and gallant; it was one of the little things he loved about the guy.

But to see himself portrayed as ‘cowering’ behind a little girl, was just a little too much.

Rodney on the other hand, was loving it, if his gloating looks were anything to go by. And if John sensed anymore of it, he was going to slap his Mate, hard.

“Well…” He said, “We have to be going.”

Instantly Harmony was glairing at him. “You…” She said pointedly. “…may go. This is a celebration for Doctor McKay anyway. In fact, I insist on it.” She turned to flutter her eyes at Rodney.

John tried to keep his temper, but then looked at his Mate, who was giving off a sense of annoyance.

“’We’ would love to stay.” Rodney said haughtily. “But ‘we’ have very important things to get back too, things that will save the galaxy. As you know, ‘we’ are very busy men. So thank you very much for the honour. But ‘we’ have to go.”

“Oh.” Harmony said looking mock disappointed. “Well I would not want to keep you from your important work Doctor McKay.”

“Goodbye.” Rodney said as he turned and began to stride through the silent crowd, waving people away when they didn’t move fast enough.

John just followed trying to keep the smirk off his face. He doubted they would ever be back. He would lumber Lorne’s team with the task.

It had been bad enough the little brat had been fawning all over him when they had to take her to her ‘sacred temple’. Even worse when she turned that attention to Rodney.

“Oh crap!” Rodney suddenly cursed as they were walking back to the Jumper.

“What?” John asked a little surprised as he began to walk alongside his Mate.

Rodney looked at him with wide eyes. “I didn’t get a photo!” he gasped.

John growled as he slapped the back of his Mates head. “Don’t even think about it.”

Rodney rubbed the back of his head as they kept walking. “It’s ok… I’ll ask Lorne to get me one!” He sang. “I’ll use it as my desktop!”

John kept his head down and carried on walking. “You do… and I’ll take one of you with all four paws in the air begging for a belly rub!”

Rodney snorted. “You already have tones of those.”

John turned to look at him. “Not on my desktop.” He smirked. “And I could barter some more photos for whatever I wanted… I know the Botanist department would be more than interested.”

Rodney just laughed at him. “Like you’re insane jealousy would let you give up any of your ‘Shifter-porn’.”

John grabbed hold of Rodney’s flack jacket and pulled him close. Then grinned, “The only ‘Shifter-porn’ I have is of your fury white ass.” Which was true. Jeannie had given him a digital camera so they could send her photos for Maddy every now and again. Unfortunately it had also been used in more ‘personal’ situations.

Rodney grinned right beck, but there was something edgy to it. “And one day you will ‘do’ my fury white ass.”

John huffed a laugh. “I prefer to just ‘do’ you’re peachy pink ass.” He purred, his lips touching Rodney’s as he talked.

Rodney swallowed loudly. “Oh my god.” He uttered a little breathlessly.

“Yeah.” John agreed as he pushed up against his Mate.

“Humm…” Rodney hummed.

John reached down and took Rodney’s wrist in his hand as he began striding towards the Jumper. He guessed they were going to be a little late for a dial in.

 

++++++++++ [S04E15] Outcast

 

“I still say you’re wrong.” Rodney snorted as he took a slurp of his good coffee.

Zelenka pointed adamantly at the equation on screen. “I still say it should be a three not a four!”

Rodney just smirked, he had already run the maths through a simulation and it worked. But baiting the Head of Science was just too much fun. Zelenka’s hair got messier as his face got redder. He knew he shouldn’t do it, that it wasn’t Zelenka’s fault the SGC had decided a ‘Shifter’ still couldn’t do the job. But the higher up’s weren’t stood in front of him now so Zelenka would have to deal with it.

It also helped that for a short time, everything was quiet. The replicators were gone, the Wrath were far away doing god knows what and everything was calm. So calm the science team had a few moments to sit about and work on projects that were fun.

“I bet you a weeks pay it works.” Rodney said, taking another sip of coffee.

Zelenka’s eyes narrowed at him, and Rodney knew the game was up.

“Sheppard already said you not allowed to bet wages anymore.” Zelenka warned.

Rodney’s let his grin get wider. So maybe the game wasn’t up.

He was just about to try betting something else when suddenly a cold dread swept through him so fast his mug slipped from his fingers to smash on the floor.

“Rodney?” Zelenka said, looking at him in concern. “You went white… what’s matter?”

“I… I… Shit…” He said as he took off out the door.

The feeling wasn’t going away as he made his way closer to John. Something was wrong, very wrong. So much so he couldn’t think of anything else.

Finally he ran down the corridor to see Carter stood in front of John outside their apartment.

“John!” He called as he went to his Mate, still feeling the crushing emotions.

Carter reached out and patted John’s arm as she gave Rodney a grim nod, then she was gone.

“What happened?” Rodney asked as he put his own hands on John’s arms.

John looked pale and his face was scrunched up trying to hide his emotions from showing on his face.

“He just got some bad news.” Ronon said gruffly behind John.

Rodney was floundering; he had no idea what emotions John was feeling, though he could sense some grief in it. “What news?” He asked his Mate, looking him directly in the eyes.

“My dad…” John said, suddenly he looked lost, as the grief intensified. “He…” John swallowed. “He died yesterday… heart attack.”

“Oh.” Rodney said uselessly. His own farther had gone the same way. But Rodney hadn’t felt much of anything for the man. As soon as he was thrown into a Shifter Dorm. He only saw his dad when Jeannie insisted on a visit. He never even signed the Christmas or birthday cards Jeannie and his mother sent. It was much the same when his mother died, but he was busy in Siberia at the time. He felt sad, but both his parents didn’t really have much to do with his life after he was thirteen. After all, he was just a Shifter, only good for being someone’s pet. A mind gone to waste in their eyes. Little did they know.

But he could empathise a little. The thought of losing John or his sister were just not thinkable. And he had faced both to recently for comfort.

“Come on in and sit down.” He said, guiding John by the arm to sit on the sofa. “Ronon, can you go get us all some coffee… Steal the whole jug if it’s full.”

“Er… on it.” The big man said as he gave John another look, then left. Closing the door behind him.

Rodney sat down close to his Mate. Knowing that now wasn’t the time for hugging as John projected a bubble around himself, as he tried to sort out his emotions. Rodney could feel it all but had no idea how to help.

So he just sat, his shoulder and hip pressed up against John’s as they waited.

“I’ll have to go to the funeral…” John finally whispered.

Rodney nodded. “Do you know when?” he asked also as softly.

“In two days.” John answered. “They can send me back to Earth tomorrow.”

“Us.” Rodney stated. He might not give a crap about the people who raised and ultimately fucked his Mate over to leave the man he loved so damaged. But there was no way in hell he was going to let John face them alone.

“Yeah…” John said with a ghost of a smile as his hand reached out and settled atop Rodney’s.

They sat like that until Ronon came back with the coffee, Teyla in toe.

Rodney let Teyla be all ‘quiet sympathy’ as she sat at John’s other side. Ronon just dolled out the coffee in mugs he had also brought, then turned on the TV and put a movie on.

They all watched it blindly.

It took a few more movies before finally John turned to Rodney; put his arms around him as he buried his face into Rodney shoulder.

At first Rodney though he might be crying, but his Mate was silent. So Rodney just held him close.

That’s what families did.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney looked around as he got out of the car after John.

The house they had pulled up to looked very expensive. There were also a lot of people milling about, all dressed in black, in suites that looked like they cost about as much as their cars.

John was wearing the only suit he had, which luckily was black, just like everything else he owned. Rodney had wondered why his Mate hadn’t worn his dress blues, and now wished he had voice it and then insisted.

They had found some black trousers for Ronon and a shirt to match. But John had stopped off at a clothes shop, then dressed Rodney in a fine new black suit. He had tired to protest, but John was being moodily silent and had just ignored him.

“Lots of people.” Ronon stated as he walked around the car to their side.

“Yeah.” John replied and to Rodney’s amusement he reached back and took his hand. “The old man was pretty well connected.”

Rodney humffed. “To all the right people it looks like.” He muttered under his breath as he stood just behind his Mates left shoulder.

“John.”

Rodney watched as a tall younger man came up to them. And he felt John start to squirm inside.

“Dave.” John replied.

“I wasn’t sure you were gonna make it.” Dave said as he shook John’s hand. “It's good to see you. I contacted your unit commander at Peterson but sometimes those messages don't seem to reach you.” He carried on.

Rodney smirked a little at that. Another galaxy was always tricky when it came to snail mail.

“Well, we came as soon as I heard.” John replied smoothly as Rodney felt him squeeze his hand a little as Dave first looked at Rodney, then to Ronon.

“Uh.” John said awkwardly. “This is Ronon.”

Dave gave Ronon a ‘polite’ smile, then reached out his hand to shake. “Nice to meet you.”

Rodney could tell his guy had been raised in a suit.

“And this is Doctor Rodney McKay…” John said, introducing him.

Dave gave him another one of his ‘polite’ smiles and held out his hand.

But John just pulled Rodney’s hand to the front and held it up. “He’s my Shifter.”

“Oh.” Dave said as he took his hand back, and Rodney resisted the urge not to grin some more. It was always nice seeing someone like Dave taken off guard. Especially when it came to proper social etiquette. But the man recovered all too quickly. “Pleasure.” He put his false smile back on his face. “You all work together in the Air Force?”

“They are both civilian contractors.”  John answered. “And guy’s, this is Dave, my brother.”

Rodney couldn’t really see the family resemblance. Dave looked more angular and he didn’t have John’s elf ears. And now the man was looking at them like he didn’t believe what John was telling him. Which instantly put Rodney on guard.

“Right. Anyway, John, I think we should probably talk.” Dave was saying.

“Yeah.” John answered as his hold on Rodney’s hand grew painfully tight.

“I’ll catch up with you later.” Dave said at he turned and left to go back to his little gaggle of cronies.

“He don’t look like you.” Ronon suddenly said.

“Err… no I take after my grandfather.” John answered a little tightly as he began to move towards the other mourners.

Rodney felt a little uncomfortable, like being watched, but he put it down to the surreptitious glances they were attracting. Then something else occurred to him. “Do they know you have a Shifter?” he whispered.

John kept walking and didn’t look back, just shrugged. “I don’t know… Probably.”

Rodney guessed they would figure it out eventually with the grip John had on his hand. That or they would just think he had turned gay. Either way, Rodney straightened up and put his shoulders back, he would make sure everyone knew how proud he was of his Mate. Because the feeling he was getting from the crowd wasn’t all together pleasant, and John’s emotions were so mixed up, they were already giving him a headache.

“I… err… got something to do. Why don’t you go get something to eat?” John was saying to Ronon as he pointed towards the back of the house. “I think that’s the buffet table.”

“Oh sure, you want anything?” Ronon asked.

John shook his head. “We’ll come find you soon.”

“Sure.” Ronon said as he ambled off into the crowd.

Rodney wanted to go with him, but John was leading him towards one of the wings of the house, to a conservatory. And he was sure at a ‘do’ like this, there would be enough food to feed Atlantis for a week.

His heart did a flutter as he finally realized where John was taking him as they entered the posh conservatory. Against the back wall was a coffin. With exquisitely arranged flowers around the room with a large photo of an elderly looking gentlemen, who Rodney knew was John’s dad. Again, he looked nothing like his son. But there were small favours; at least the casket was closed.

For a long time he just stood beside his Mate as John kept his eyes on the coffin. His emotions seemed to be calming down a little, or becoming muted and still Rodney had no idea of what he should be doing, or saying. He was useless in situations like this. So he just shuffled a little closer to John’s side and waited.

The spell was broken when another mourner came into the room and John took a hasty step back, then pulled Rodney out into the bright crisp day. At least the weather was lovely, if a little unfitting for the day.

Rodney followed silently as they passed a pool then stood before a horse manège with stables behind. He wondered if this was the way John had been brought up, or if he came from a more humble background and left before his father made money. But he knew his questions wouldn’t be welcome right now.

“Lots of food over there.” Ronon said as he came up to them, the plate in his hand full of tasty smelling nibbles.

“I’m good.” John answered.

But Rodney could have kissed Ronon, as the cave man held out his plate and Rodney couldn’t help but pluck a vol-au-vent from it. Happy to see it was a mushroom one with white sauce, so he started to nibble at it.

“This the house you were raised in?” Ronon asked as he gave the mansion a once over.

“One of them.” John replied. So Rodney guessed there were no humble beginnings for the man he loved. Which was a little surprising, for some reason, Rodney had always figured John grew up much the same way he had.

“That’s nice.” Ronon said approvingly.

“Yeah. Couldn't wait to get out of here.” John said and once again his emotions were all over the place, making Rodney’s head throb.

“Yeah? Why?” Ronon asked curiously.

“My dad's idea of teenage rebellion was going to Stanford instead of Harvard.” John sighed.

Rodney just snorted at that. “You’re more fitted to go to MIT.” He muttered as John finally turned to look at him as they shared a grin. But Ronon just looked confused.

“He just… he had everything planned out for me since I was about fourteen.” John carried on.

“So you ran off and joined the Air Force.” Rodney smiled. That was more the man he knew, and would explain John’s aversion to authority figures.

“So what do we do now?” Ronon asked as he ate something else.

John shrugged. “Mostly people sit around, drink, eat… some more than others.” He said looking at Ronon’s plate. “Mostly they talk. They don't know what to say, but they talk.”

“And it’s boring.” Rodney put it, which earned him a look from John, “What? It’s true. And awkward.”

“Yeah, well. Your brother seems to be handling it well.” Ronon said as he looked around at the crowd behind them.

Rodney turned to see John’s brother talking and laughing with some old guys.

John nodded grimly as another wash of emotions swept through their Bond. “That's what he does… he handles things.”

“How come you never mentioned him before?” Ronon asked. Which was a good question. Especially when John had done so much to save Rodney’s own sibling. He never mentioned his own. But then if the SGC hadn’t stepped in, then Jeannie might never have come up either.

“It's complicated.” Was all John said as once again they lapsed into silence.

Rodney just wanted this all to be over with. One, because stuff like this were boring and depressing. Two, he didn’t know anyone here apart from the two men he was with. And three, he didn’t like the way it was making John so unstable emotionally. Sure he knew his Mate had always been a little fucked up about his past. But this was bordering on painful, for both of them.

Suddenly he felt John tense up as he turned away from the crowd. “I told you I had an ex-wife, right?”

Instantly Rodney was on edge as he turned to see a petit woman walking towards them, her eyes fixed on John.

“Yeah, why?” Ronon said in confusion.

“Here she comes.” John uttered as his hand grew painfully tight as he turned, pulling Rodney around so he was stood at John’s back.

“Hi, John.” She smiled.

Rodney felt his hackles rise. He had never wanted to meet this woman.

“Nancy. I didn't expect to see you here.” John replied, his emotions once again flooding into Rodney, confusing him and making him jumpy.

He rationally knew that John had had other partners before they had met, even knew about the ex-wife. But his irrational mind wanted her gone. Dead, preferably. The through of anyone knowing John the way he did just wasn’t acceptable. And the uncomprehending jealousy was making bile rise at the back of his throat. Especially when there was no reason for it. John was his. End of story.

But as she went to reach out to give John a sympathetic hug, the wind changed direction and he got a good smell of her. Under the floral perfume, he could smell her arousal, and he lunged. Knocking John aside as he went for her, his body already Shifting as he aimed for her slim throat.

Then he was looking at grass and his own shoes.

He snarled as a hand at the back of his neck tightened. Another squeezing painfully about his wrist and all the fight suddenly left him. But despite all the crushing control that was forcing his body to comply and relax, the adrenalin in his system was making his muscles twitch and jump.

“I suggest you take a step back.” Ronon was saying.

Rodney was aware that Nancy was actually taking a few steps away from him, and more importantly, away from John.

“Nancy, Ronon. Ronon, Nancy.” John was saying above Rodney, his tone tightly calm.

“Pleased to meet you.” Nancy was saying nervously.

Rodney couldn’t help but let out another snarl. He could now smell her fear mixed in with the stench of her attraction towards John. But as he let his protest be voiced, John just forced his head down even more.

”How long are you here?” John was asking as Rodney still struggled with his own warring emotions.

He listened with half an ear as John made small talk with his ex.

His knees were starting to shake as they carried on, and as well as wanting to kill the woman, he was trying to project his discomfort to his Mate. Though it didn’t seem to be working.

“Yeah, he is. He's, uh ... yeah, he's doing well.” Nancy was saying, as she talked about what Rodney guessed was her new husband, a man she should be fucking lusting after. Nancy had her chance with John and she blew it, she had no right to still want his Mate. “You know, your dad was always very good to me.”

He felt a modicum of shame and guilt coming from John and he shivered with the impact, as he struggled against his Shifter genetics and tried to attack her again.

“Well, in ‘his’ mind, marrying you was probably the best thing I ever did…” John uttered with enough self deprecation, John’s firm hold wavered for a second.

Rodney tried to flinch out of the hold at John moment of weakness. He just wanted to make this woman go away, permanently. How dare she make John feel like crap! Who the hell did she think she was bringing all the bullshit up?.

But John saw through his escape attempt and just tightened his grip as he projected obedience and calm through their Bond.

“And this here…” John carried on speaking. “…is Doctor Rodney McKay.”

Rodney felt John’s pride in him. Even if he had a death grip on his neck.

“Oh.” Nancy said. “Your father said you had gotten one… He did mention that he would have liked to meet it.”

‘IT!’ Rodney whimpered as John’s guilt once again invaded his own homicidal need to kill this woman.

“Well… If you would excuse us.” John said in his ‘being polite to the hostile aliens’ voice. “I think we will be going to the bar.”

“Ok. Well, it's good to see you again, John. Take care of yourself.”

Rodney felt her starting to walk away and he felt relief wash over him as he finally gave in and let his body relax.

 

++++++++++

 

John watched as Nancy finally walked back into the crowd of his father’s friends and cronies.

He had been shocked to see his ex-wife, especially here. But wasn’t to surprised that his dad had kept in contact with her. His dad had loved her and the argument that had ensued when she had divorced him had been the last time he had seen or spoken with his father. Who had made it perfectly clear that John was nothing but a big disappointment to him, and wanted nothing more to do with him until he ‘grew up’.

John had just bitten his lip back then. His dad was a powerful man, but he didn’t have an ounce of security clearance to even know who John worked for, never mind all the black ops crap he did.

To his father, John was just a warmongering flyboy who had turned his back on his education, ‘the business’ and his family, to be the stubborn, self imposed black sheep in the family.

His attention was brought back to Rodney, who stood half bent over, shivering slightly. But the Shifter had finally calmed down and he was no longer feeling the rage coming from his Mate.

“Come here.” He said as he let go of Rodney’s wrist, but pulled him up by his neck so he could hold Rodney against his chest. The Shifter was still trembling slightly, but his hands had come up to fist into the back of John’s jacket.

John slowly let the grip on the back of Rodney’s neck go as he stroked his hair instead. Feeling his Mate relax even more.

He should never have come. Or he should have forced Rodney stay on base. It was enough of an emotional fuck up for himself, never mind subjecting Rodney to it as well. But as he held his Mate close, he couldn’t help but be thankful Rodney was with him. His Shifter had been his quiet shadow, and John appreciated that.

The fact that Rodney had just tried to viciously attack Nancy had actually helped. It grounded John as he concentrated on trying to calm Rodney down. Restoring the power balance in their relationship.

“So.” Ronon said softly. “Where’s this bar?”

John looked over Rodney’s shoulder to see the big man stood between themselves and the rest of the crowd, who were looking at them more closely now.

Obviously they had just provided enough gossip for a few years. No doubt it would be something along the lines of ‘John has a violent Shifter who he could barely control.’. The fact that Rodney could have killed Nancy without much consequence wouldn’t even enter their dull minds. Even John knew Shifters didn’t attack people for no good reason.

“Yeah.” John replied as he started walking towards the other wing of the house where there was a small bar his dad had installed after his mother had died. At least it would get them out of sight of most of the prying eyes.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney still felt shaky as he clung to his Mate. He knew he should be stronger, he should take a step back, he should be okay with just holding John’s hand. Especially when his Mate always felt uncomfortable with lots of physical contact with so many strangers about. But John was making it perfectly clear that the arm he had around Rodney’s waist wasn’t going anywhere fast.

“Three scotches.” John called to a bar tender. “Here. Sit down.” He said as Rodney felt a stool at the back of his legs.

“Sorry.” He muttered as he took the seat, John moved up close to his side, half supporting his weight. He was totally drained and his head was throbbing again.

“It’s fine… Maybe we should go somewhere quieter.” John said as he reached out for his drink. “Could I get some water to?” He asked the bartender.

“Sparkling or still?” the man at the bar asked.

“Still.” John replied. “No lemon.”

“This stuff isn’t as strong as Radek’s.” Ronon grumbled. “They got anything stronger?”

Rodney let their conversation about alcohol, not made by a mad Czech scientist in a makeshift still, wash over him as he just rested against his Mate. Accepting the water John held out for him and sipping it slowly. The thought of getting drunk was appealing, but he knew with his current headache he would be paying for it in a few hours. He still felt like they were being watched and it was getting annoying.

“That’s him over there.” Rodney heard a man say. “Sat on the stool by the bar…”

“Really?” A woman replied, in disbelief.

“He tried to attack Nancy outside. John only just managed to control it before it jumped on her.” The man whispered in distain.

The woman scoffed. “Well what do you expect?” She said derisively. “His oldest son was always a disappointment to Patrick.”

Rodney stiffened.

“He ran out on the family.” Another man started talking in hushed tones. “Then he turns up here with a violent Shifter.”

“You know why.” The woman sniffed.

There was a general mutter of understanding and agreement.

“It’s not even a good looking Shifter.” A younger woman replied.

“Reject.” The original man said to muttered giggles. “They probably made John Bond with it to try and calm him down.”

“Or punishment.” The woman laughed.

“Well what else is he good for?” The man asked.

Rodney had had enough as he got to his feet.

“Leave it.” John muttered, but made no move to take hold of his wrist.

“I fucking will not!” Rodney growled as he stalked towards the door where the bastards were all huddled. Now looking at him with wide eyes. Rodney could also tell that the people around them had also been listening in closely, no doubt agreeing with what they were spouting.

Everyone shut up now as he approached.

“I’ll have you know that Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard is a highly decorated officer in the US Air Force.” He growled at them as he felt John’s hand rest on the small of his back. “And is the second in command of a very important base. Somewhere that you shallow minded lives can not comprehend!”

“We…” the younger woman said softly, probably trying to explain away all their rudeness.

“Shut up!” he barked at her. “And I will have you know, that I am the smartest man on this planet! And just because I’m a Shifter does NOT make me an IT!” he snarled at them all.

He could smell a slight whiff of fear coming from them all, but the two original people who started talking looked like they were getting defensively angry.

“You still tried to attack his ex-wife!” The man snapped back.

Rodney let out a growl. “Because ‘she’ was still attracted to my ‘Mate’.”

“John.” The woman said, looking past Rodney’s shoulder. “You should control your Shifter.” She said haughtily. “It’s making a scene… and at your fathers funeral.”

Then Rodney truly looked at her and he couldn’t help but take a sniff of the air. “Oh my god!” he exclaimed as he instantly recognised her.

“Rodney?” John asked curiously. But he wasn’t angry.

Rodney turned to him as he pointed at the woman. “I rejected her!” he said as John frowned at him. Rodney turned back to the woman who was now looking at him a little less sure of herself. “Years ago.” He said as he talked at her. “They even forced me to meet you after I said no. I believe your dad arranged it, pulled some strings?” He couldn’t help but laugh.

The woman, whose name escaped Rodney, not like he gave a shit about any of the potential Bond Mates the Registry tried to hook him up with. But she was one of the few he had been blackmailed into actually meeting.

“The pure white tiger?” she whispered as she looked him up and down, probably trying to see the young attractive skinny runt he had been.

Rodney puffed out his chest a little. “As you can see. I held out for someone who didn’t get off on my coat.” He sneered a little. “And someone worthy of my attention… If I remember rightly, you were almost slipping off your chair when we met, you were that wet… by the way, it stank.”

He grinned as she took a step back, embarrassment oozing off her. As the rest of the crowd also started looking at her curiously.

“I can also tell that the rest of the Shifter community wanted nothing to do with you as you still don’t have a Shifter… but then looking at you, you’re too old now. Maybe ‘you’ can go get yourself a proper reject!”

“Rodney.” John said again. “I think that’s enough.”

“No.” Rodney replied. “They can think what the hell they want about me. But I will NOT stand for them bad mouthing you!”

“I know.” John smiled at him. “But you know I don’t care what they think.” Then he was holding his other hand up, and Rodney knew what it meant. So he lifted his own arm up, but paused with his wrist above John’s open hand.

He turned back to the silent gaggle of idiots. “And you all should know that despite everything John is. He’s also an Alpha… look it up.” Then he placed his wrist in John’s hand.

John moved against his side as he gave a slight nod to the idiots. “Good day.” He said as he pulled Rodney away and towards another door in the bar.

It looked like they were heading down a main corridor in the house. But Rodney didn’t care so long as it was somewhere quiet as his headache started coming back.

“Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard?” A woman called out, making John stop.

“Yes.” John acknowledged. “This is a private part of the house… I’m not sure you should be here.”

“My name is Ava Dixon.” She introduced herself, and Rodney gave her a quick look, another skinny petite woman, but she didn’t smell of attraction. In face, she smelled funny and it was making his face ache now. “You must be Ronon. And Doctor McKay?” she said.

“Do I know you?” John asked wearily.

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t believe that he couldn’t come to Earth without getting into something work related.

All he wanted to do was pay respects to his father, and go home. It wasn’t that much to ask, just one day off to deal with personal stuff.

It also didn’t help that he just wanted to get Rodney somewhere quiet. He had just planned on going to the families private sitting room and taking a break from all the disapproving eyes while they dealt with Rodney’s headache.

But no, it wasn’t meant to be as he found himself walking out of the wake with a woman he had never met before but knew too much about stuff she really shouldn’t.

He threw the rented car keys at Ronon as he saw his brother. He guessed he should at least say he was going. “Take her to the car.” He said as Ronon gave him a nod and walked off with Dixon.

“John.” Dave said as he walked over to them. “I was thinking that we should probably ...”

John squeezed Rodney’s fingers as his Mate stood besides him quietly. Rodney had seemed a little out of it since the incident in the bar. And hoped he could get through this conversation with his brother quickly. “Uh, look, something came up. I've gotta go.” He said quickly.

“It's Dad's wake.” Dave said incredulously, and John could see the disapproval in his brother’s eyes.

“I know, but this is work-related.” He tried to explain.

“Oh.. Oh…” Dave answered irritated. “Oh. What is it, top secret, national security, that sort of thing?”

Rodney huffed at John’s side. “Of course it is… Or we wouldn’t be going!”

John just gave him a glance as he replied to his brother. “Yeah, something like that.”

“You know… This is so typical.” Dave said angrily, and John could understand. But he really didn’t have the time to play nice.

“If you've got something to say, just say it.” He responded instead. Feeling Rodney starting to tense up again, so he moved his hand up to take Rodney’s wrist, trying to calm him as his own emotions simmered under the surface.

“Look.” Dave said, glowering at him, but he was starting to sound so much like their father it was eerie. “There’s just one thing I wanna know. What's your level of expectation here?”

John felt himself bristle as Rodney became more alert. “What are you talking about?” he tried not to growl, but with Rodney’s disbelief and anger, it was hard.

Dave straightened his back, “I mean, are you going to challenge the will?”

“WHAT!?” Rodney barked at John’s side. “Seriously?”

John relaxed his hold on his Mates wrist, because he couldn’t form words at that moment. Too flabbergasted by what his brother was saying. He had never, ever asked for anything from the family, least of all money.

Dave narrowed his eyes at Rodney. “I have no idea what it says, of course, but I think I can guess.”

John moved his hand down to Rodney’s, needing his support as their joined anger mixed together as they stood shoulder to shoulder, as equals.

“’That’s’ what you wanna talk about?” He asked, as Rodney had just gawped. “You wanna talk about money?”

“Is he being serious?” Rodney asked John as he pointed at Dave. “Seriously?”

John couldn’t quite believe his brother had just admitted it to his face.

“That's why you're here, isn't it?” Dave asked.

And Rodney exploded.

“We came a ‘very’ long way to get here! I had to give an important job to someone else that could mean life or death for a lot of young people, when I’m the most qualified person to do it. I came here.” Rodney pointed at himself with his free hand. “To support my Mate at a hard time, the man who earned my respect and loyalty above everyone else I have ever known!” His finger moved to John. “He came here to pay his respects to his bloody father!” he waved his hand off in the direction of the house. Then he scoffed loudly. “And YOU think we are here for a share of the inheritance?!” John let him take a step toward Dave, as his volume lowered. “Let me tell you something.” He hissed, making sure Dave was the only one who could hear. “We could buy out your silly little gaggle of directors and liquefy the whole company, just for kicks!”

John doubted they actually had that much money, and he was sure once Dave got over his shock he would be finding out if they could.

But Dave was quickly recovering from Rodney’s wild rave as he turned his eyes on him.

“Well…” Dave straightened. “You’ve been gone a long time, John. It’s not much of a stretch.”

John just glared at his younger brother before he answered, turning around to pull Rodney after himself. “You have nothing to worry about.” He growled as he started to walk away from his family for the second time. Dave could fucking have everything. John hadn’t expected to get anything anyway.

“Hey!” Dave called.

John did stop despite his better judgment to look at his brother past Rodney’s shoulder.

“If I've got the wrong impression of you, it's not my fault.” Dave said quietly sounding a little more like the younger brother John had known and liked, “You're the one who left, remember? ‘I’ stayed. ‘I’ looked after Dad; I ran the business while you're off doing God knows what.”

John pressed his lips together. It was true. But unless their father told Dave. He wouldn’t know about the arguments they had. John knew he would have just looked like a rebellious spoiled brat. He doubted that Dave could understand he had given up everything to find the sky. And had lost a lot more before he had finally come home to Atlantis, to Rodney.

“I'm assuming that's what Dad wanted.” He finally said. When John had walked away the last time, he had been followed by a. ‘Then just stay gone! You’re no son of mine!’ So John had taken his father at his word and had never looked back.

“No…” Dave said, and there was a touch of regret in his voice now. “No. No, it's not, John. Dad regretted what happened between you two right up to the end.” Then he was walking away, back up to the people he had left.

John just stood there stunned. His dad never regretted anything.

Rodney snorted at his side. “Regretted it.” He sneered. “But never thought to try and get in contact… He…” he waved his hand at Dave’s back. “Managed to get you a message easy enough.” Then he turned to look at John. “And you are so going to tell me what the fuck went on between you and your dad. So far I’m not impressed with him.”

John started walking back towards the car. “Just a long and boring argument about being a disappointment cause I didn’t want to step into his shoes.” He explained. “Same as you I guess.”

Rodney huffed. “I was born a disappointment. So my parents never expected much of me. Little did they know.” He smiled. Then, as John watched, his Mate went very pale as a sheen of sweet broke out on his brow. “Crap.”

“Shit.” John stopped walking to he could lay a hand on Rodney brow. It was cold and clammy. “Migraine?”

Rodney sank against his side. “A mother of all headaches at the moment.” He muttered. “I just need to eat something and lay down.”

John agreed. “The Apollo should still be in orbit… I’ll get you settled there. Me and Ronon can deal with Ava Dixon.”

“Hotel is fine…” Rodney uttered.

John couldn’t help but smile. “I want you somewhere where I know you’re gonna be safe… no arguments.”

“Fine… I want pizza though.”

John brought Rodney’s hand to his mouth and kissed it. “Your wish is my command.” Which made Rodney smiled softly, even though John could feel the edges of his pain now.

 

++++++++++

 

[A few days later]

Rodney sat huddled in a blanket as he watched Bill as he monitored where the stupid replicator was.

The last few day’s had been hell. After they had transported up to the Apollo, the ships Doctor had insisted on seeing him, instead of just handing out the painkillers and sending him off to bed. Apparently the Doctor had some experience with Shifters, and pronounced that Rodney had somehow contracted ‘Shifter Flu’ in the short trip from the SGC to John’s old home.

So, as he laid on one of the Apollo’s gurney in its infirmary, shivering and delirious with Shifter Flue. While John was gallivanting around Earth with Ronon and Bates. As Doctor Lee bitched about his holiday, constantly.

By the time Rodney actually could make sense of where he was and why. They had mostly sorted everything out. It kind of hurt that John couldn’t be with him constantly, and even more that he hadn’t been able to help. Because he knew all this mess would have been sorted out a lot quicker.

But he couldn’t help but admire Bill Lee’s genius.

He and Zelenka had desperately wanted him to come to Atlantis. But the man had used his wife and kids as an excuse. But after some badgering Rodney got down to the real reason. The man was obsessed with an online game, World of Warcraft. And had confessed that gaming just wouldn’t have the same feel as playing a fantasy game with millions of other people across the globe.

Rodney had scoffed at Bill before Elizabeth had banned him and John from playing their own real life strategy game on Atlantis, with ‘actual’ real people. Chess just didn’t cut it, and even through almost all the science staff had recoded The Sims2, it just wasn’t the same. After all, you could only kill the characters so many times in new and interesting ways, before it got boring.

“I still say you’re wasted here.” Rodney muttered, as he pulled John’s t-shirt up to his nose and breathed in his Mates scent, it was wearing off now he could actually smell it. But the fever had broken that morning, and he actually felt better.

“Humm…” Bill said distractedly. “But they are releasing a new expansion of WoW next month… it’s why I took the holiday now, not much to do till then.”

Rodney rolled his eyes.

“Oh… But thanks for the offer!” Bill smiled at him. Then he leaned forward against his desk. “But I have to ask. Because I’ve seen some of the choices you and Doctor Zelenka has made in recruiting people…” he pulled a face on his sunburned face. “and… well… some of them aren’t very qualified?”

Rodney huffed. “No… because the morons we do want.” He glared pointedly at Bill. “Won’t come.”

Bill just pushed his glasses up his nose and smiled. “Well, if you can ever bring Atlantis to Earth. I’ll come and pay you a visit.”

Rodney was about to start complaining about ZedPM’s when suddenly his back felt like he had just fallen over, and it took his breath away.

Bill looked at him in concern. “Are you okay?” he asked as he stood up and came around to him.

Then Rodney felt like something was crushing his throat and once again he couldn’t breath. When he tried to concentrate on John, the sensation just intensified. And as suddenly as it came, it went. Leaving him bent over his knees, gasping.

“Should I get Doctor Smith?” Bill was asking as his hands fidgeted inches from Rodney, but not touching. “Is it that flu you have?”

Rodney managed to shake his head as he heard John’s voice come over the ship wide coms. /“Now!”/

To Rodney, John sounded horse. But at least he was alive as the Apollo crew beamed the damn human replicator out into orbit.

/”Confirmed disintegration of target.”/ someone said. /”Target is destroyed.”/

Rodney sagged a little in relief. At least that was one damn problem out of the way.

Now John could come and look after him, then take them home and they could put this whole sorry mess behind them.

But of course, things never went the way he planned.

 

++++++++++

 

“I guess it was a hard party last night?”

John gave the driver of their taxi a half smile. He had pondered getting a hire car, but with Rodney still being so sick, he wanted to comfort his Mate rather than drive. Which is why Rodney was slumped against him now and drooling on his shoulder. He just wished the taxi driver wasn’t so chatty.

“He’s been sick.” John answered.

“Oh, nothing catching?” the driver asked.

John shook his head. “Not unless you’re a Shifter apparently.” He said as the taxi hit a bump and Rodney slipped a bit. And John wrapped his arms a little more securely around his Mate.

“Shifter?” the driver said excitedly as he moved in his seat, trying to get a closer look at Rodney in the rear-view mirror.

“Yeah.” John said slowly as he found himself moving and bringing a hand up to the side of Rodney’s face to hide him from the man’s curious eyes.

“Can’t say I ever had a Shifter in my car before.” The driver was still trying to catch a look. And John felt his anger rising as the man had the audacity to even reach up and adjust his mirror. “The boys at the office arnt gonna believe this… I thought Shifters usually went around in cat form or something.”

“No.” John answered, feeling uncomfortable.

This was a new experience for him. Everyone on Atlantis and back at the SGC knew what Rodney was. Sure there had been looks, and dealing with the Shifter-fans hadn’t been easy. But this was his first time he had ever encountered a member of the public who had just found out for the first time.

And he didn’t like it. Not one fucking bit.

The way the driver was interested was bordering on being rude, and John couldn’t just make the man go away by shooting him or leaving.

“I take it you’ve been together for some time.” The driver carried on, still glancing in his mirror, paying less attention to the road.

“A few years.” He answered, wishing the conversation would just get back to football. It was what put Rodney to sleep in the first place.

“So how did you get him?” The man asked curiously.

John sighed. At least he didn’t refer to Rodney as ‘it’ like the bastards at his dad’s wake had. “We work together.” John said,

“Oh, you worked in a Dorm?” the man asked as he over took a truck.

“No.” He really was getting board of this conversation, but it was keeping his mind off where they were heading. “He’s a renowned physicist with a few doctorates under his name.” he said, letting his pride tint his words.

The Driver chuckled. “Shifters don’t normally get Doctorates and stuff do they?”

“Mine did.” John answered as he narrowed his eyes at the back of the man’s head.

“That’s nice.” The man smiled into the mirror, “For some reason, I don’t imagine he’s like what they show on TV then… and you don’t look like the kinda man who would put up with some simpering Shifter.”

John had to give the man some credit for being right. “He’s not like they show on TV.” He confirmed, but he wasn’t about to say anything about his own character.

Suddenly Rodney sneezed in his sleep, grumbled and cuddled closer, if that was possible.

The driver chuckled again. “I’ll shut up… I can see now he’s not well.”

John just hummed an affirmation as he kept his attention on Rodney. Relaxing into the rocking of the taxi and Rodney’s solid weight against his side.

The last few days had all been a bit of a blur of an adrenalin high, but at least he had been able to push the emotional crap aside, for all the physical exertion, leaving him with a bruised back and neck. It also didn’t help his emotional well being, that Rodney had been so sick, but at least he’d had time to rest while he was on the Apollo.

He was now crashing though, as the emotional stuff took precedence. He just had to take a leaf out of Rodney’s book… and somehow reconnect with his own brother.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney opened his eyes, and had no idea what was happening. The last thing he remembered was John talking football with the taxi driver. Now his warm bed was moving about.

“Keep the change.” He heard John say.

“Been a pleasure.” The taxi man said. “Want me to stick around?”

“No. We’re good. Thanks.” John replied.

Then a door was opened and cold air swept into the comfortable warmth of the car, and he could tell it was drizzling outside.

“Come on sleepy.” John was saying as he started pulling Rodney out the taxi.

Rodney felt like all his limbs were made of lead as John helped him onto his feet. And he looked around and recognised where they were. John’s old house.

He yawned as John took his hand and began leading him towards the front door. He watched with a fuzzy mind as John took a deep breath. Rodney was aware of how anxious John was. But he could do nothing but stand and watch. Then John raised his other hand and knocked on the door.

It took a few moments before the door was opened and Dave looked at them both.

“Come in.” he said softly with a hint of a smile.

So Rodney guessed that had to be a good thing, and was thankful as John led him inside. Least it wasn’t raining and it was warm.

“Can I get you anything to drink?” Dave asked.

“Coffee, black.” Rodney answered instantly. Doctor Smith had banned him from any, and they hadn’t had time to get any on the way, once the Apollo dropped them off, and after three days, he was gagging.

“Make that two…” John said.

Rodney sighed as he felt his Mates anxiety and awkwardness start building up, which was not doing anything for his head, that still ached from time to time.

“Sure. Why don’t you go into the family sitting room?” Dave said as he walked away.

“And a glass of water.” John called after his brother as Rodney found himself being pushed down a very pleasant and boring corridor. “I guess its time for more Tylanol?” John asked as he opened a large glass panelled door to a cream coloured room with cream leather sofas and a huge flat screen TV sat next to a large open fire. Rodney had a moment of regret that it wasn’t on, but the room was warm enough.

“Hmm.” He finally answered John as he was pushed down into the middle of a sofa. “We have to get one of these!” he said as he sank into the cushions.

John gave him a slight smile as he unbuttoned his jacked then sat down besides him. “I’ll see if I can bribe someone on the next supplies trip.” He promised. “Now come here.”

Rodney instantly sank against John’s side, as he turned a little so Rodney could rest against his chest. “Comfier.” He purred a little. “But you sure this is gonna be okay?” he whispered as he settled in. “You are here to try and ‘fix’ things with your brother…”

“Well, he’s gonna have to get used to this.” John answered as he ran a hand over Rodney’s hair. “And humour me… it’s been three days since we could cuddle, and you’re still sick.”

“Getting better.” Rodney smiled, as John relaxed a little. He knew it would be inevitable John would tense up during this ‘encounter’. But he would deal with that when it came.

 

++++++++++

 

John felt Rodney’s mind become a little fuzzy as he wondered where his brother was,

“Sorry about the delay.” Dave said behind him as he came into the room. “Maria’s busy preparing supper, so I thought I would bring it myself.”

John watched as Dave put a tray onto the coffee table, then start to put out three mugs and a glass of water. He reached into the top pocket of his shirt to get out the blister pack of Tylanol and popping two pills out, jostling Rodney enough so he would wake up a little.

“Come on,” He said to his Mate as he reached out for the glass, giving Rodney the Tylanol with the other hand. Rodney put them in his mouth as John held the glass for him to drink from.

“Coffee now?” Rodney asked, his eyes already on the steaming mug.

With a fond smile John put the water down then put the mug into Rodney’s grabbing hand. “Don’t drink it all at once.” He warned.

Rodney snorted, then started humming and purring as he started sipping the black coffee. He reached out for his own as he settled back, pulling Rodney against his side. Knowing that he would have to give up what was left in his own mug before it even got cool.

“So…” Dave said, breaking the moment of calm.

Rodney huffed as John felt himself stiffen up a bit.

“Yeah.” John said, not really knowing where to start.

“Oh, for…” Rodney growled. “Hi, I’m Doctor Rodney McKay. We’ve met. Sorry about your dad and all that. And I’m John’s brilliant Shifter. We met at work. We left the other day because John ‘did’ have important work to do, and I fell sick. I don’t know much about you, because frankly, I don’t care, and he doesn’t talk about anything that upsets him… apart from me, but I’m current. So… carry on, while I drink this coffee and wait for the Tylanol to kick in.”

John couldn’t help but smile. Trust Rodney to be brutally blunt. Dave was looking a little shocked though, but he settled back, looking a little more relaxed.

“Well, thank you for that Doctor McKay.” Dave said in his ‘business’ voice.

“Rodney… we are practically family now.”

 “I guess your right.” Dave actually smiled. “Then I guess I’m the first to welcome you to the Sheppard family.”

“Err… yeah… thanks.” Rodney replied awkwardly as he gave John a glance.

John guessed that was the end of Rodney’s interaction for now. “So how’s… err… Mary?” he asked.

“Oh, she’s fine.” Dave said, looking more relaxed. “Her and the kids are out shopping at the moment, they should be back in a few hours… I was just staying home to sort out some more paperwork.”

“Kids?” John asked. Feeling guilty that he didn’t even know.

“We found out Mary was pregnant about a month after you walked out.”

John winced as his brother carried on talking; at least there was no accusation in Dave’s tone.

“Jane is two and Tomas is four now.”

“Same age as Maddy.” John smiled.

“Maddy?” Dave asked.

“Madison. She’s Rodney’s niece. We, err, met a few times when we had to get help from Rodney’s sister.”

 

++++++++++

 

Dave still couldn’t quite take it in that his older brother was actually sat across from him as they made small talk. For years they had been waiting for a knock on the door telling them John was maimed or worse, dead.

Instead John was sat across from him, a Shifter cuddled up at his side and both looking like it was the most natural thing in the world.

But despite John looking older, he looked happy. Which made a difference to the last time he had laid eyes on him, years ago. Back then, John had looked warn out and hollow. Like he had seen too much, lived it harder and saw no light at the end of the tunnel anymore.

If anything, the hard edge looked warn into the lines of John’s face, but there was a light in his eyes now. Like he had finally found what he had been looking for all his life.

He hardly recognised the man John now was, and it was hard to admit, it might be a good thing. The brother he had known was a kind and generous, but also silent and distant.

Since the Wake, he had put a few feelers out about his brother’s work and the new Shifter he acquired.  

He hadn’t got far as people got incredibly tight lipped. All he had learned was that it had something to do with CheyenneMountain military base and so top secret, it practically didn’t exist. Though he had found out that his older brother was into some deep stuff, even earned himself a promotion after disobeying orders. Which apparently was a huge thing.

His questions about McKay only brought him that the Shifter was Canadian, and had refused all Bond proposals while he earned doctorate after doctorate until he had also disappeared into the Air Force. But there was no questioning the Shifter was some kind of genius. Which was hard to believe looking at him now, as John was handing over his coffee to the other man.

But both men were in something so deep, no one was talking.

He had also found out that morning, the boast McKay had made the day of his dads wake, about buying out the board of directors, was startlingly true. The Shifter was loaded, and had so many patents in his name; they would keep him comfortable forever. And that everything they had was already in their joint names.

“Err… If you would excuse me.” John was saying as he moved the Shifter aside and sat forward. “I need to powder my nose.”

“You know where it is.” Dave answered as his brother gave him a nod then left. He turned his attention to the Shifter, who was looking at him over his cup. “Would you like another coffee?” He asked.

The Shifter shook his head. “No… but I do want to know if John actually has any inheritance.”

Dave narrowed his eyes. He never really thought John as a gold digger, but he didn’t know about the Shifter. It would seem his true colours were coming out. “I don’t…” he started.

“It has everything to do with me.” The Shifter growled. Suddenly looking a little bit dangerous. “I’m his Mate, and whereas your tiny mind might not comprehend everything that that actually means… I need to know.”

“Why?” Dave asked. Really not understanding why John would put up with someone so rude. “You have enough equity of your own not to need anything from my side of the family.”

McKay actually rolled his eyes. “Because if he hasn’t got anything from daddy dearest. Then I do ‘not’ want you to say anything.” He said in a patronising tone. “We will just go home, you can keep in contact with him, and we all go on about our lives. He dose not need more stress… It gives me a headache.” He ended with a sulky mutter.

“And if he does?” Dave asked, feeling the tension had passed a little.

McKay waved a hand in the air. “Oh, well you can tell him then… Just know that is not why we are here.”

“I guessed that already.” Dave confessed, as the Shifter looked a little confused for a moment.

“Oh… good.”

They lapsed into silence for a bit, and the Shifter sat across from him looked like he had a sheen of sweat on his brow.

“Ok… Well…” Dave looked up to see his brother come back into the lounge. “We should be heading back.” John said as he came around to stand at the side of McKay.

“So soon?” Dave asked as he also got to his feet. He actually wanted John to meet his nephew and niece, especially as he had talked about McKay’s niece with such fondness, Dave couldn’t help being a bit jealous.

John glanced up at him, his lip between his teeth which usually meant he was thinking of what to say next. “He’s getting a headache again.” He said gesturing to McKay.

“I think I just need something to eat.” McKay said in a slightly whinny tone. “And the smell coming from somewhere is making me hungry.”

Dave frowned, he couldn’t smell anything. “Well, you’re welcome to stay.” He said hopefully. “Maria always makes enough for an army.”

“Italian” McKay said. “I can’t remember the last time I had Italian. I smell pasta… and meatballs…”

John looked at his watch, then sighed. “Is it ok?”

Dave nodded. “Of course.”

“Ok, then.” John sat down again, his attention fully on McKay. “It another hour before you can have more Tylanol…” he said reaching up to McKay’s brow. “Your temperature is up again.”

McKay waived him off a little weakly. “I just need a nap before dinner…”

“Fine.” Dave watched as John got to his feet again, then pushed McKay to lay down on the sofa, even lifted the Shifters feet up. “I’ll go get us some more coffee.” He said as he removed his jacket then laid it over McKay’s shoulders. “And yes, I’ll wake you up before the food is served.”

McKay muttered something, but Dave didn’t hear it.

John then gave him a look and he followed his brother out into the hall.

“Will he be alright?” Dave asked as he closed the door.

John gave him a half smile. “Yeah, like I said, he’s just getting over some kind of Shifter flu. He just needs rest.”

“You sure? He didn’t look too good.” He asked as the started walking towards the kitchen.

John gave a huff of a laugh. “He’s had worse.” He said in his usually cryptic way.

“We’re home!”

“Mary.” He said as his wife came in, Jane on her hip and Tomas running toward him, holding out his arms. Dave didn’t hesitate as he picked his son up. “Welcome home… Look who’s here.”

He watched as Mary finally looked at John, for a moment he thought she didn’t recognise him, they had only met a few times many years ago.

“Oh… John!” She said as she came forward, holding her arms out and hugging John.

Dave couldn’t help but grin a little as he watched his brother hug his wife awkwardly.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t see you the other day, I stayed away with the children, but then it wasn’t really an occasion for them.” Mary smiled a little sadly.

“It’s fine.” John said as he took a step back from her. “It’s good to see you… and who’s this?”

“Oh… this is Jane, she’s just turned two.” Mary said proudly as she bounced their daughter a little.

“Hey, Jane.” John said as he reached out and let Jane hold one of his fingers.

To Dave’s surprise, Jane actually held her arms out to John.

“She must like you.” Mary said as John took Jane and rested her on his hip. “She normally doesn’t like strangers.”

“Well, I like kids.” John said as he tapped Jane on her nose, much to her delight as she actually giggled.

Dave was surprised to see the hard lines around John’s eyes soften as he interacted with Jane.

“Oh my!” Mary was laughing. “You’re going to be the kind of uncle that spoils our kids rotten, aren’t you?”

John shrugged, “When I can.” but his smile was soft. “Though I’m not sure Rodney will be so thrilled.”

“Rodney?” Mary asked with a frown.

“Doctor Rodney McKay.” Dave answered her. “He’s John’s Shifter.”

“Yeah.” John said as he started tickling Jane a little, making her squirm and giggle. “He hates kids, but they love him.”

“Is he not with you?” Mary asked, looking behind John.

“He’s not been well, so he’s just getting a nap.” John answered.

“Kitty?” Tomas asked as he pulled on Dave’s shirt to get his attention.

“We’ll introduce you later.” He promised his son. Though he wasn’t too sure how thrilled Tomas would be on meeting the Shifter. “First, why don’t we get something to drink and wait for supper?”

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney yawned loudly. He felt better after his nap, but he was still bone tired. And it didn’t help that now two rugrats had their eyes glued to him as Mary, Dave’s wife, tried to get them to eat.

But he did his best to ignore them all as he tucked into his spaghetti and meatballs. Glad that he could get a second helping. He could tell everything was freshly made. Which wasn’t his first choice in food, but this was so good.

“My compliments to the chef.” He said between mouthfuls.

“Maria is great.” Mary said, “She’s been with the family a long time.”

“Humm…” Rodney hummed as he munched on another juicy meatball. “Well this beats Tofu turkey!”

“What?” Mary asked, sounding confused.

“My stupid sister married a vegetarian.” Rodney explained, pulling a face as he waved his fork between John and himself. “We usually get a few burgers in when we’re there.”

“You’re there a lot?” Dave asked. And Rodney glanced up at the man, sensing he was stepping on rocky ground.

“Err… well… not a lot...” he hedged. “It’s not often we get off work.”

“Maybe next time you get a vacation, you can invite us all together so we can get to know each other.” Mary said enthusiastically.

“We wouldn’t want to impose.” John muttered at Rodney’s side.

Even Rodney couldn’t ignore the look Mary shared with Dave. She was frowning at her husband.

“You haven’t told him yet?” She asked and Dave fidgeted in his chair.

“Not yet.” Dave replied uncomfortably. “I was waiting for the right time.”

“Told us what?” Rodney asked as he stole one of John’s meatballs. And grinned at his Mate when he glared at him.

“About what your Farther left you in his will.” Mary said, giving her husband another slight glare.

“Oh?” Rodney asked as he felt John stiffen up. “I thought he hadn’t left him anything.”

Mary sighed. “I’m sorry John… I know you and your father didn’t get along… But after you left that time… well… once he found out about your promotion and that you had a Shifter.” She smiled at Rodney. “I think he started to have a change of heart.”

“Not such a shameful son anymore.” John said darkly and Rodney sighed as he reached out a hand and placed it on John’s arm. Letting his Mate know that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, even less a dead guy. Rodney was proud of him. Which earned him a little grin.

Mary let out a deep sigh. “I think he just didn’t understand you.” She said softly. “Even I could tell you were never the type of man to ride a desk… I think it took your father a little bit more time to see it. He loved you John, but I think he wanted to keep you safe.” She smiled. “I don’t think risking your life in a Helicopter in war zones was his idea of safe… and he didn’t like the idea of losing you… none of us did.” She ended softly.

“Try being me.” Rodney chuckled. After all, John liked risking their lives all the damn time.

“Then maybe we should retired.” John shot back, knowing exactly what he was thinking. “We could get a place near your sister, and we could sit on the sofa all day eating popcorn and watching TV and never go out again. And no internet and it would be tofu turkey every night.”

Rodney gasped at his Mate, then he narrowed his eyes at him. “You wouldn’t.”

John just looked at him. Daring him.

“I hate you sometimes.” He growled as he stole another of John’s meatballs. “And just try living with a bored me… see how long it is before I drive you insane!”

“You do that already.” John grinned.

“Kitty now?” Tomas suddenly said into the silence. And Rodney winced as he looked over at the four year old, who kept staring at him.

Rodney was just happy that the kids parents had kept him under control.

“Oh… err… Not now sweetie.” Mary chuckled.

“Maybe some other time.” John promised the kid. Giving Rodney a smug smirk.

--

The rest of the meal was taken up by small talk, until Mary took the kids to bed.

But Rodney was feeling his energy draining away again as his headache came back to simmer annoyingly. So as they drank the great coffee, he leaned against John and rested his eyes. That was until Mary came back.

“I think we might have to be redecorating Tomas’s bedroom.” She was saying as Rodney watched her sit besides Dave with half closed eyes.

“Why?” Dave asked.

“Because he’s got a sudden urge to want a Lion.” She explained as she gave Rodney a smile.

“Tiger.” John uttered as Rodney felt his arm tighten around his shoulder. “He’s a pure white tiger.”

“A rare.” Mary gasped. “That’s lovely.”

‘Sure.’ Rodney thought sarcastically, but said nothing as he closed his eyes.

“But I take it you boys didn’t talk while I was away?” She asked, but she didn’t wait for an answer before carrying on. “Have you shown him the will?”

“No…” Dave said as a familiar tone of awkwardness entered that one word.

“Look… I really don’t want anything.” John started and Rodney sighed deeply as he reluctantly sat up.

“Shut up.” He yawned again. “Will you please just tell him what’s been left to him. So it will stop bringing up crappy emotions my sore head can’t cope with right now.” He waved his hand impatiently at Dave. “Just get it over with.”

He watched Dave sigh.

“Fine… There is a substantial amount of money, about…”

“Yes, yes…” Rodney barked, getting annoyed. “Money, great… Is there anything else?”

“Well… There is the small townhouse in Vancouver. As well as the beach house at Waimei.” Dave said quickly.

“Hawaii?” Rodney asked with a grimace, no doubt it meant bright sun, sand and waves. Everything he hated. But the feeling of shock and delight coming from John was sickening.

“Yes, Rodney.” John said fondly. “It’s where I found my love of surfing.”

Rodney glowered at him. “So how does Vancouver and ferric wheels come into it?”

“I just like ferric wheels.” John shrugged, then he was turning to his brother. “But a townhouse?” he asked. “I didn’t know he had property in Canada?”

“Patrick bought it a few years ago, about the time Jane was born.” Mary said, sounding a little sad. “I always thought he bought it for you both… Once he found out that Rodney was from Canada, he must have thought it a fitting wedding present.”

For the first time in a while, Rodney felt John’s grief actually simmer to the surface.

“But he never got in touch…” John said, his voice strained.

Mary signed. “I did pester him too.” She confessed. “But you know how stubborn he could be.”

John nodded and Rodney reached out to him, taking his hand. “Hey… hey… at least we don’t have to stay with Jeannie anymore.” He smiled.

John gave him another nod.

“Is there anything else?” Rodney asked Mary, as both brothers seemed to have gone mute.

“I think there are a few things of your mothers John. But we haven’t managed to sort everything out yet.” Mary said with a sad smile. “It’s all been rather sudden.”

“Ok… So is there anything John has to sign or something?” Rodney asked. Jeannie had sorted out all their parent’s assets when they died. So he wasn’t sure how someone went about inheriting a few houses.

“There is…” Dave said. “I can call the lawyers and get the deeds and paperwork in the morning for you both to sign.”

“Me?” Rodney asked a little surprised.

“Err… the inheritance is for both of you, as your Bonded.” Dave answered awkwardly, and for the first time Rodney saw the similarities between brothers. They were both crap at the emotional stuff.

“Well… we can come back in the morning then?” John said, just as fidgety as his younger brother.

Rodney groaned. He really didn’t want to have to find a hotel tonight.

“Can’t you stay the night?” Mary said hurriedly. “It’s not like we don’t have room. And I bought Dave some new pyjamas today, so you could have those Rodney. I’m sure you could borrow some of Dave’s John.”

“He doesn’t need any.” John uttered.

“Sorry?” Mary asked.

“Err… what I mean is… he normally sleeps as a tiger, so… We really don’t want to impose.”

“We are imposing!” Rodney raised his voice as he glared at his Mate. “Seriously… I don’t feel up to finding a hotel, my headache is coming back, and I really, really want to find out what Maria is going to make for breakfast.”

“Rodney…” John said warningly, but Rodney could feel his resolve wavering.

“Really, it’s no trouble. And I’m sure Maria will be happy to make you anything you want.” Mary said quickly.

“A full English breakfast?” Rodney asked hopefully.

Mary grinned at him. “And maybe an English tea for brunch?”

“You have clotted cream?” Rodney felt his mouth watering as Mary nodded. “John… we are staying.”

John still tried to glare at him before Rodney saw him cracking. “Fine… but I’ll have to call in first.”

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney purred as he squirmed against his Mate. John was wearing new black satin pyjamas and the feeling of the material slipping between their bodies was quite sensual. And it made a difference from old ratty t-shirts and sweat pants. He was determined to get John some more, and was sure that they would feel even better against fur.

But he hadn’t Shifted yet. He had a feeling that John was pondering something, and would eventually voice it. And he wanted to be able to reply when John finally broke his silence.

After supper, they had somehow ended up in the living room again, and watching the Six Sense. Rodney had napped through the first part. But John had moved and woken him, so now he knew how it ended, at last. Thought he wished he had seen it all through the first time around, so his curiosity wouldn’t have been wasted.

Mary had kept the conversation light and Rodney had just left her too it as he rested against his Mate, until John had finally dragged them to bed in the very large guest room, with a sinfully soft bed that was equally as huge.

He nuzzled his head against John’s arm, that he was using as a pillow and closed his eyes. He didn’t have to wait long before he felt his Mate take a deep breath.

“You asleep?” John asked.

“Nope.” Rodney answered, too tired to even be sarcastic.

“I’ve been thinking…”

“I know.”

John was silent for a moment and Rodney could tell he was probably biting his lip.

“Rodney…”

“Yes?” Rodney answered.

“Will you marry me?”

Rodney opened his eyes, to see John looking at him. There was one question he thought John would never ask. And really, he hadn’t expected it. They were Bonded, and that had been good enough for him.

But he watched as the intense light started to drain from John’s expression.

“Yes.” Rodney answered quickly as he felt his blood pressure rise.

John gave him a nod. “Thanks.”

“Oh for…” Rodney said in exasperation as he poked John in this side. “Shouldn’t you be kissing me right now, or something?”

John just grinned as he moved in capturing Rodney’s lips with his own for a lingering soft kiss.

“I want chocolates.” Rodney said when they finally parted. “You can forget the flowers… but I want Belgium chocolates.”

“Fine.” John rolled his eyes, but Rodney knew he was going to get a years supply to take back with them. “Now go to sleep…”

“We aren’t…?” Rodney asked. A little perplexed that sex wasn’t going to be next. John might not be the most romantic man in the universe, but Rodney expected a bit of heavy petting at least.

John sighed. “Not if you’re going to fall asleep half way through… So shut up and Shift. I promise we can celebrate when we get home.”

Rodney did as he was told, and he was right about the fur against satin as he squirmed against his Mate. But all too soon he was drifting off to sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

“Err… Rodney?”

Rodney grumbled as he woke up slowly, he was feeling warm, comfortable and well for the first time in days… and he did ‘not’ want to be woken up now.

“Don’t move.” John said as Rodney felt John’s hand on his shoulder. “We seem to have acquired a quest.”

Rodney grunted as he realised that there was another scent, along with the odd smells of the guest room and John. Then he recognised the smell. It was Tomas. He opened his eyes, to see John looking down at him as Rodney realized Tomas was cuddled up against his chest, much the same way Maddy had done.

He wanted to know what it was about four year old brats, and their need to snuggle up against him while he was sleeping. And how the hell John hadn’t felt the little bugger come into their bed and didn’t put him back.

“He’s sneakier than Maddy.” John explained quietly. “Anyhow, I need to go for a run… Do you want to sleep some more?”

Rodney yawned loudly and stretched, half hoping he would wake the brat up, but it didn’t work. So he shook his head.

“Feeling better then?” John asked as he started to pull Tomas away.

Rodney nodded as he got his legs free, then stood to slink off the bed. When he came around the other side, John had Tomas in his arms. The kid hadn’t even woken up.

“Determined little guy.” John grinned. And Rodney thought that the kid took after his uncle. “Err… can you sniff out where his room is?” John asked.

Rodney just nodded as he pawed at the door, till John opened it awkwardly.

--

Rodney huffed loudly as he walked at John’s side. He couldn’t believe how in a few days he could get so out of shape as the house came into view at last, so it wasn’t all bad.

“Sorry.” John said as he rubbed his fingers into the space between his ears. “I forgot you’re not up to our usual runs.”

Rodney rubbed his cheek against John’s satin covered thigh. They hadn’t even done half the distance John usually forced out of him, but at least today it had been on a flat and the gardens and trees were actually kinda nice. Rodney was just glad that the house didn’t have any close neighbours, because John was bare foot and still in his PJ’s.

“I’m guessing I have more satin pyjamas in my future?” John chuckled playfully.

Rodney nodded his affirmation firmly. The feeling of skin on fur was awesome, but there was just something about the skin warmed satin that was so sensual and decadent, it was bordering on pornographic.

“Stop thinking like that.” John said gruffly as he held the door open for Rodney to go in the house. And as soon as he stepped inside he could smell bacon and sausage cooking and his mouth watered. He yipped at John as he began to skip forward.

“What the…!”

Rodney jumped and spun around to see Mary stood with her hands over her mouth, and the smell of panic was a sharp contrast to the lovely meat cooking smells.

“Morning, Mary.” John said as Rodney felt him come up along side. “We just went out for a run…” he explained as he rested one hand on Rodney’s head.

“I’m sorry.” She said, moving her hands down to her chest. “You surprised me.”

“He has that affect on people.” John grinned.

Mary smiled a little nervously; her eyes were still fixed on Rodney so he hung his head low. Trying to make himself less threatening. It wasn’t his normal MO, but he had to get along with the people in this house, for John’s sake.

“Well… I was looking for you, Breakfasts almost ready.” Mary uttered, still sounding awed.

“KITTY!”

Rodney braced himself as he saw Tomas running straight for him, then the brat had his little arms rapped about his neck, chocking him.

“Oh, no Tommy.” Mary said as she took a step closer, reaching out to her son, but not really coming closer.

“It’s okay.” John reassured, but to Rodney’s relief he was pulling Tomas’s arms away. “Kitty doesn’t like you chocking him.” He stated to explain, then the kid was trying to hug his chest. Rodney turned his head enough to glare at his Mate.

“And you can’t hug uncle Kitty like that.” John carried on, ignoring him totally. “You can’t touch the back of his neck, but you can hug his chest or sides.”

“Are you sure?” Mary asked softly, still unsure.

Rodney rolled his eyes at her. Both kids had found him fascinating the night before, why should now be any different? Apparently a grumpy tiger was more fun that a grumpy older man.

John, chucked at him, patting him on the head like a dog. “Well, Tom snuck into our bed sometime this morning.” John explained, as he carried on encouraging Tomas to hug him. “I think kids just know he’s a big softy… they gravitate to him like candy.”

Rodney let out a loud growl, then gnashed his teeth as he lay his ears flat against his head, pulling his lips back from his teeth.

It had the desired effect on Mary as she was caught between running away or protecting her child.

Unfortunately John ground his knuckles into his head as Tomas just found the whole thing rather exciting, and it ruined Rodney’s efforts to make himself look scary.

He should have known the kid wouldn’t buy it. After all, Maddy hadn’t so far, and he had pinned that brat to the floor, then slobbered over her as he licked her face. The little monster had just squealed and demanded more. It was just a shame Jeannie had pushed him away before he could drown the brat in slobber.

“Stop that.” John chuckled as he pushed Rodney’s head away, then he stood up. “Anyway, we need to grab a shower and get dressed. We shouldn’t be long.”

“Oh, I’ll have Maria keep everything warm for us.” Mary said as she finally reached out and took Tomas’s hand, pulling him away a little. Much to Rodney’s relief. Then he was trotting along at John’s side as they headed upstairs.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney cuddled up to his Mate and smiled contentedly.

It had taken them a whole three days to get home. After breakfast at the Sheppard ranch. And they had signed deeds to the townhouse and the beach house in Hawaii, they had finally left.

After a little shopping, at Rodney’s demanding. They had gone back to the SGC, where Doctor Lam had then insisted she run a batch of tests on him, to make sure he was fit enough to go home.

Finally, John had pushed him up against the wall of the shower about an hour ago, bitten the back of his neck, then fucked him into the mattress.

So now he was in his happy hazy place, where John’s warmth at his side was all that mattered and the universe and all its horrors could just hang itself for a while.

He was just about to fall asleep when John started moving, and he growled and clung on tight.

“Don’t you think its a little cold?” John asked softly.

Rodney really didn’t think so. “No.” he groaned. John was just hot enough.

John sighed, but kept moving.

“What are you doing?” Rodney whined as he opened his eyes, now seeing how much John had gotten away from him. His Mate was leaning over the side of the bed, fishing for something in one of the bedside drawers.

John patted him with one hand. “Sit up.” He said. Then sat up himself.

Rodney blinked at the navy blue satin shirt in his hands. Then he realised what it was. “You’re the one who’s cold.” He bitched a little, but grinned anyway. “You put it on.” He was even willing to let go and watch as John did so.

“Noooo…” John said slowly as he started to open the shirt out. “I want you to wear it.”

Rodney rolled his eyes as he gave in, and he sat up with a wince as abused parts of his body protested. John didn’t give him any time to complain much as he quickly got the sleeves on Rodney’s arms then over his head, where he pulled it on by running his hands down the satin material over Rodney’s chest.

“Oh…” John uttered, and Rodney felt the muffled sensual pleasure from his Mate.

“Yeah.” Rodney agreed as he gave John a knowing smirk. “But I’m not getting out of bed to put the bottoms on.” He said as he flopped back down, staring up at his Mate.

John just huffed as he climbed out of bed and got the pyjama bottoms out of the drawer, put his legs into them, then ever so slowly pulled them up until they rested low on his hips.

Rodney felt his lower body beginning to respond, it was sluggish but it was defiantly getting turned on by the vision stood at the other side of the bed that was smirking at him.

Rodney groaned as he let one arm flop out toward his Mate.

It had taken Rodney a while to get John to agree to anything but black sating PJ’s, but the navy blue colour reminded Rodney of John’s dress blues. And right now, as his lust slowly returned after a full work out not fifteen minutes ago, he was getting ready to go again… right after some very heavy petting… where John was going to do all the work.

John just kept smirking at him as he slowly crawled onto their bed on all fours till he was over Rodney’s outstretched arm, but not touching, looking down at him, his smile turning cocky. “See something you like?” he whispered huskily.

Rodney felt a strange moment of bashfulness as he actually felt himself blushing as he moved his head to the side coyly, but looking up at his Mate through the corner of his eye. Which seemed to do the trick as John moved an arm over Rodney’s torso so he was now looking directly down at him.

“Well?” John asked in an incredibly sexy but demanding way that sent new bolts of lust through Rodney’s belly.

“You…” Rodney answered, unable to stop himself.

John didn’t answer, just kept looking down at him for what seemed like forever. Then he leaned down quickly and captured Rodney’s already swollen lips with his own.

And everything, for this short span of time, was right with the world.

 

TBC

Chapter Text

 [EPISODE 12]

++++++++++ [S04E16]

 

“Here.” Teyla said as she put another cup of Athosian tea down in front of her guest. “Would you like some sugar with it?”

“Umm, sure.” Rodney said absently as he kept his eyes glued on the movie they had been watching.

Teyla smiled as she doctored his tea and stirred it for him. Then she began to ease herself down onto her cushion next to him on the floor. Her belly was really starting to make her a little clumsy.

“Oh… err, you can sit on the bed if you want too.” Rodney said hurriedly as he watched her.

“It is fine.” She answered as she made herself and the baby comfortable. “Just let the tea cool a little before trying to pick it up.”

Rodney looked at his hands that were heavily bandaged. “Yeah… Keller said they might scar.” He said as if sad.

She reached out and laid a hand on his arm, “Earned in the honourable bravery of saving your friends.” She smiled at him.

Rodney gave her a smile, “Yeah.” Was all he answered as he turned back to the screen and the movie.

She had been with John the previous day when he had suddenly stiffened and then run off to the gate room. She had not known at the time, that Rodney, Samantha Carter and Jennifer Keller had gone to try and convince a settlement of miners to move to another planet, before their settlement fell into an old abandoned Genii mining operation.

But as John tried to raise Rodney on the radio, it was full of static and hard to understand. John had been sure they had fallen into something, probably a mine shaft, and that Rodney was in pain, but alive. They had also established over the radio static that Jennifer and Sam were fine too. But that all three were stuck underground.

She had stayed behind as John, Ronon and Evan had taken a Jumper to go save them. It had taken a few hours before they came back. All three were walking, though Rodney was holding his hands against his chest and she had seen blood.

Eventually she had found out that they had fallen into a room. Their only way out was a red door to a huge mining shaft, or back up through the hole they had fallen into. Apparently when the Jumper had landed, it had caused the room to move on its precarious foundations while also closing in the hole in the ceiling.

At the same time, Jennifer had fallen out of the red door into the mining shaft, only stopping herself by grabbing a rope as she fell. The only thing to have saved her was Rodney holding onto the other end.

Jennifer had seen a mine shaft that lead to the outside and finally all three had swung over one by one to their only way out as the room they had been in collapsed and fell into the main mine shaft.

Teyla had seen Rodney’s hands before they were wrapped up, and she had to wince, the rope must have been very rough, and now the palms of his hands were torn up.

This was why she was now ‘babysitting’, as John had called it.

Rodney had not been happy about it as John, Sam and Ronon had gone back to M5V-801, to insist a little more that the villages move, and show them the evidence of a huge hole in the ground.

But even she could tell Rodney was helpless until his hands healed. She had already noticed how stiff his fingers were as he had tried to manhandle the first small cup of tea to his mouth.

It always amused her how John would sometimes coddle the Shifter, like he was a helpless child. It wasn’t so amusing now Rodney was actually incapably of the smallest things. And she knew Rodney’s dark humour about it would waver in a few day’s as he grew bored and restless.

She glanced at him for a moment, before making herself more comfortable and closing her eyes.

--

“Teyla?”

She woke up slowly as the soft whisper of her name, and found Rodney peering at her. “Yes?” she asked as she wiped her eyes, the baby was starting to take its toll on her that she didn’t want to admit too.

“Sorry…” Rodney said, sounding unsure. “Were you having a bad dream?” he asked.

She couldn’t remember having one. “I don’t think so…”

“Oh, good.” Rodney said sounding a little pleased. “You were just groaning in your sleep… Is the baby that tiring?”

She smiled at his true concern. “I think it is more boredom and worry than anything else.” She admitted, after all, her people, her lover, were still missing. And she couldn’t afford to think she would not find them, if not well, at least alive.

Rodney gave a little nod, then seemed to stiffen a little as he looked away from her. “John’s back.” He uttered.

She sometimes envied the Bond the two men shared, what she would give now to find Kannan in such a way as their child grew inside her. “That is good… is he well?” she asked.

Rodney hummed a little before answering. “He seems fine, I guess the negotiations went better than planned… He’ll be coming to get me soon.” He turned to smile at her. “So you can rest instead of looking after the cripple.” He held his hand up.

She gave him a smile in return. “I do not mind.” She said moving as the baby kicked inside her restlessly. Then she remembered there was something she wanted to ask the Shifter before John got to them. “Have you told John about your vision yet?”

Rodney pulled a face as his check’s blushed. “Not yet.” He whispered. “He still hasn’t asked… to be honest, I had forgotten about it.”

She sighed, her ‘coming out’ about being pregnant had not been pretty at all, and John had been angry with her, and on reflection, she finally understood. But her pride and desperation to get her people back had been driving her. “You should tell him.” She said softly. “You know how he does not like secrets.”

He gave her a grim nod. “I’m sure there will be a time and place… eventually.” He uttered. “There just hasn’t been one yet… what if it isn’t true?... I don’t…” he trailed off.

She decided to be forgiving. “Do not worry… you will find the right time.” She assured.

“Knock, knock!” John said as the door to her apartment slid open, and the Colonel entered. “Having fun?” John asked, all smiled and energy.

“We were.” Rodney snarked at his Mate.

John just grinned as he went to flop down next to Rodney, where he reached out and picked up the tea Rodney hadn’t drunk yet. “I missed you too, McKay.” He said sipping the tea.

“That’s mine!” Rodney whined as John started drinking, “I was waiting till it cooled!”

John swallowed, then instantly held the cup up to Rodney’s lips to let him drink the rest. “You always make good tea, Teyla!” John said, giving her a smile. “But I also came to take you two to the Mess, I’m starving!” he jumped to his feet, then bent and took Rodney’s elbows in his hands and began to help him to his feet.

“I guess I could do with something.” Teyla said as she started to try and get up, but John was in front of her, holding out his hands. For a moment of bitterness she wanted to knock his hands aside. But instead she accepted the help as John pulled her to her feet. Then with a flourish, John put her hand in the crook of his left elbow, then noticing he was holding his other elbow out to Rodney, who put his wrist through John’s arm with a huff of tolerance.

“Bloody Alphas and their protective crap.” Rodney bitched a little, but John just chuckled as he pulled them both from Teyla’s apartment.

“The day you guys protest...” John replied. “…is the day I do it more.”

Teyla looked at Rodney behind John’s back, to see the Shifter rolling his eyes at her before he mouthed the word ‘sorry’. She just gave him a smile. If she was honest with herself, she found it a little charming. And honoured that John would treat her with the same regard, for the moment, that he held Rodney.

 

++++++++++ [S04E19]

 

John felt raw enough with his own frustration.

They had been inches away from rescuing Teyla, stood in the same fucking building as her. But still she had slipped through their fingers. It hadn’t helped that clone Carson could have saved her and killed Michael. A fact John was still torn over. He couldn’t blame the clone, it was still Carson. And Rodney had been so happy to get his best friend back it was hard for John to resist Rodney’s trust in the Clone. And if he was honest with himself, he wanted to believe Carson was the friend they had lost. He was only human.

But now he sat on the sofa in their apartment, Rodney plastered to his side as the Shifter buried his face under John’s chin and sobbed bitterly.

It wasn’t often that Rodney actually broke down and cried. It was usually at silly stuff. But this time it was heart felt sobs that were being wrenched from deep inside his chest.

They had all been chocked up as Carson went into the stasis pod. The shock of losing him the first time had been sudden. But the slow lingering death ‘this’ Carson was facing somehow seemed far worse. He was still with them, but he wasn’t.

As soon as they had made sure Carson’s vitals were fine and that he was doing ok. John had just grabbed his Mate and dragged him back to the apartment, pulled him down onto the sofa, then held on tight as the Shifter let his grief come flooding out.

So John just stroked Rodney’s back as he rubbed his cheek against the soft hair on top of Rodney’s head.

Eventually Rodney began to relax, totally spent from his emotional outburst. And John just eased them both into a more comfortable position as they rested.

“He should have stayed here…” Rodney finally whispered.

“Humm?” John asked softly, laying a kiss to the side of Rodney’s head.

“If he had stayed… maybe we would have Teyla back too.” Rodney let out a long breath. “It’s all my fault.”

John tightened his hug for a moment. “We weren’t to know.” He whispered. “And we will get Teyla back, and when we do, I’m sure she will be more relieved to know that we also saved her people, even if we couldn’t save her.” He was so sure on that point, he knew Rodney felt it.

Rodney sniffed loudly as he began to wipe his eyes with his sleeve. “Yeah… and we’ll find a cure for Carson.”

“Just a matter of time.” John reassured. “Why don’t we go find Ronon and Amelia and get something to eat?” They might be one team mate down, but John guessed a little team bonding was in order.

Rodney nodded as he pushed himself forward. “Sure.”

 

++++++++++ [S04E20]

 

Sam was just walking through the control room when she spied McKay talking to Chuck. She was just about to go over and see what he was up too when the gate engaged.

“Incoming wormhole!” Chuck called as she came up to his console.

“It’s just John.” Rodney smiled as he saw her.

“Sheppard’s IDC.” Chuck confirmed.

“He’s back a little early?” She said, and was just about to ask why Rodney wasn’t with him when suddenly the Shifter collapsed as the gate shut down. “McKay!” She instantly went to her knees. McKay was shaking violently and he sounded like he was winded as he struggled to breathe. Then he took a deep gasp and started screaming.

Sam couldn’t help the shiver that ran through her chest. She had never heard anything so chilling. It was a sound of pure grief and despair and for a moment the world seemed to get a little bleaker.

“Emergency Medical team to the control room!” She barked into her com.

“Sheppard didn’t come through the wormhole.” Chuck was saying desperately above her.

“Dial back! See what happened.” She said as she rested a hand on McKay’s shoulder as he started to retch.

/”What’s the emergency?”/ Keller came back, sounding harried.

“McKay is down.” Sam replied.

“This is like before…” Chuck was saying as he started dialling the gate and Sam glared at him for an explanation. “When Sheppard went through the gate without him.” He carried on. “He collapsed much like this. Before that Ancient sorted it out.”

Sam remembered reading Weir’s report about it vaguely.

“Major Lorne, is Sheppard still with you?” Chuck was saying over the radio.

/”Err… no.”/ Lorne replied. /”He should be with you, we watched him go through the gate just now.”/

“Tell them to gate to the Alpha site, and come in from there.” Sam said quickly as she heard the medical team coming in and she turned her attention to them. “He just collapsed.” She said as she moved away, and Keller knelt down by McKay. Chuck also quickly told the Doctor about it happening before.

Keller looked grim as she nodded, then turned her attention back to McKay. “Rodney… Rodney what’s happening?” she asked.

Rodney just flinched away from her, then started retching again, finally he was throwing up all over the base of the DHD.

“Ok, we need to get him on the gurney.” Keller was saying to her staff.

And all Sam could do was watch as she looked at the empty gate room with a sinking heart.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney woke up and wished he hadn’t.

John was dead…

But that wasn’t the right feeling. The Bond was not broken, it was still there. It was like before Janus had changed his DNA whenever being parted through a wormhole was like his whole being was stretched so thin it was agony.

He knew John wasn’t dead. And he also knew that his body was already giving up as if he was.

Wherever John was, he was so far away; even their Bond couldn’t cope with it.

He had already had a theory that Sam was looking into. She had told him John wasn’t stuck in the gate’s buffer like Teal’c had been the first time they met. But as soon as he mentioned ‘sun flares’, she had been off to look into it.

He knew he was right. That John was stuck so far into the past or future that their Bond was stretched too thin. Impossibly so.

He chuckled dryly at that. So much for all the romantic notions of their Bond even existing through death and beyond. He was now living proof that it was a load of crap.

He had smelled Keller’s grief every time she came to check on him, until he had insisted that Doctor Marie treat him.

“Rodney?”

He groaned as he turned his head away. But Keller didn’t take the hint as she came closer.

“Rodney… I’ve had an idea…” she said softly and he cringed as he felt her reach out an almost touch him. He couldn’t cope with anyone touching him. “Sorry.” She whispered. “But… I thought maybe, we should put you into stasis?”

He turned his head to look at her, and every muscle in him protested stiffly.

Keller was smiling at him, but he could still smell her crappy emotions. “I’m working on a cure for Carson. And I think that maybe we can use the same on you with a little modification?”

Rodney let out a huff as he turned away from her again. Like he wanted to live with this fucking agony, every part of him ached that not even morphine could touch it. But maybe at least in stasis, he would survive until John came back. It had already been nine days, but he knew he was dying.

He felt a tear slip down his cheek, leaving a scolding path in its wake. Wherever John was, he was probably going through the same agony.

And with that thought. He had a little epiphany.

If John was in the past… the Bond would be broken, John would have already died. But it was still there to some miniscule degree.

“He’s in the future…” he managed to utter through sore dry lips.

“What?” Keller asked a little confused.

He waved her off. “Get Carter.” He whispered.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney removed the Brain interface from his head and sighed deeply as he put it down on his desk.

Ten years in the preparation, and he was finally finished, and not a moment too soon.

The hologram was finally ready to be plugged into the Atlantis systems. The generator he had spent his life savings on was ready to go. And the information on how to save Teyla and get John back from the future were all finished.

With a shaking hand he reached out for the medication that had prolonged his life these past ten years. Quickly he opened it and swallowed three with a swig of cold coffee. Gritting his teeth as he waited for the drug to take affect. It would never dent the constant hollow pain in his chest. But it eased the physical affects that ravaged his system.

For the last few weeks he had been aware that his kidneys were giving up the fight, after all, his heart had been the first to go about five years ago, replaced with a false one. Carson had grown him a new liver about eight years ago. But apparently there still wasn’t anything they could do for his kidneys.

But he couldn’t complain too much, he had lasted longer than he thought his sanity could take.

The constant pain of losing John nibbled at his soul day by day. Only his work, his sister and her family had kept him going. And he would be eternally grateful for that.

After John had gone… and after they got him out of the stasis pod, using an altered drug therapy that they had used on saving Clone Carson. The universe had gone to hell.

Sam was dead. Ronon and Amelia were also dead on a suicide mission. Teyla was dead, her baby lost into Michael’s diabolical clutches.

Micheal had taken out the Wraith, but in the process had created a whole new race. Hell bent on making the rest of the universe like themselves.

The fight was still going on to save the people of the Pegasus galaxy. As well as their own.

But once Atlantis turned into a military base, and they had given John a very nice memorial service.

Rodney had left.

If they wouldn’t help him find John and bring him back… then he was going to do it himself. And even if it had taken longer than he planned. It was finally done.

Now all he had to do was call General Lorne in the morning and try and get himself back on Atlantis.

He knew he only had a matter of weeks now to complete his task.

His body was finally shutting down on him, as it had wanted too almost eleven years ago.

The pain was excruciating. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

There had been times when all he wanted to do was Shift, put his head on his paws, fall asleep and never wake up.

He smiled as that thought as his pills started to take affect. He knew once everything was in place. He could rest.

Losing John always felt like his very soul was missing. Together with the fact he couldn’t Shift had almost driven him insane. Carson and Keller had already told him he couldn’t, even before the false heart, that if he Shifted the drug wouldn’t work anymore and he would die.

He itched for his fur. Knowing it would be his last happy memory of this life if he did.

Stiffly, and with a groan of pain, he got to his feet. He still had things to do before he could sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

Jeannie watched her brother as he sat in his armchair; there was a slight smile on his lips as he slept.

But she had nothing to smile about.

She knew that after tomorrow she might not see him again, at least not like this.

Ten years ago, he had turned up on her door, looking like hell. And he had told her that John was lost in the future, and she had to help him get John back.

She had readily agreed. And once she found out how sick he was, and that he was only alive through some drug that they got regularly shipped in from the SGC. She had instantly moved him into the house permanently. Eventually they had moved, getting a bigger place when the boy’s were born.

Those first few years, they had worked exhaustively on figuring out how long John had been propelled into the future by the sun flare. But as the years past, Rodney was getting slower and she could see how much pain he was in constantly. She had watched the life drain from him, day after day, and there wasn’t much there to begin with.

She actually missed the surly high strung guy she always knew him as, and with John, he had actually been happy. But over time, sure, he had smiled, loved the kids. But he had never laughed again.

In the last two years, Mer would sometimes collapse into seizures that would leave him too sick to even get out of bed for days. And it didn’t help that it also pained him for anyone to touch him other than herself or the kids. Kaleb had tried to help the first time Mer collapsed, and the cries of agony had been excruciating for those who had to listen to them.

Mer also couldn’t Shift. Apparently the drugs he took only worked on his human form. And over the years, she had caught him looking at old photos of himself as a tiger, and looking so grief stricken it broke her heart. It also didn’t help that John was in most of the photos, or was the one who took them.

She rested back into the sofa as she watched him breathing. The house was quiet; Kaleb and the kids were off on a skiing weekend. So they were alone. And for the thousand time she felt her chest tighten as tears stung her eyes.

Mer was her brother.

They may never have really gotten along growing up, even less when Mer was taken away when he was just a kid, or when they argued about Kaleb and she had told him she hated him and he should just get lost… but none of that mattered anymore.

She loved the man sat across from her with all her soul, she couldn’t do anything else.

After all, he was blood… She had always taken it for granted that no matter what happened, there was someone out there who would always stand at her shoulder. If anything happened to Kaleb and the kids, she knew Mer would be there for her.

But now that solid rock was dying right in front of her. They wouldn’t grow old together, fighting and snarking at each other. That no matter what happened the person that she had an unshakable bond with was about to fade out of her life forever.

And there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it.

Anger and frustration mingled with her grief as she felt tears leaking from her eyes.

She didn’t want him to go back to Atlantis.

She didn’t want him dying alone in another galaxy where she couldn’t hold his hand.

She let out a muffled sob, clamping her hands over her mouth as she closed her eyes.

“Come here…” Mer said softly. His voice was old and faded.

She got up and sat in his lap, throwing her arms around his neck as she hugged him close as she cried. Not wanting to let him go. She wanted to keep him home, to look after him, to keep him selfishly close.

He had been through so much in his life. He deserver so much more.

She felt Mer chuckle and she clung on tighter. “Let me go with you.” She begged for the umpteenth time.

“No.” he said quietly. “If this works… none of this will have ever happened. The timeline will change.”

She had heard that crap so many times, she almost believed it herself. “That doesn’t stop what’s happening now.” She growled out, as the tears still fell and her grief made her feel hollow with despair.

Mer was patting her back softly. “I’ll bring John back.” He promised. “I’ll find him and all this will have been worth it.”

“Will it?” She asked angrily as she pulled away to glare into his dull blue eyes. And that’s when she noticed the tears in his eyes. In ten years she had never seen him cry. Just desperately depressed.

“It has to be.” He replied. “I… I lost so many people, John, Teyla and her baby, Ronon and Amelia, Sam, Carson again… Everyone died… And I couldn’t do anything to help…”

“You were dying yourself!” She snapped. “I’m still here, the kids. Maddy will be crushed! We love you!”

He smiled as he looked away. “I’ve been dying since John went away.” He whispered, then gave a little cough. “We both knew this was coming… I… I have a few weeks at best, Jeannie. I have to do this… Whenever John is… he will be dying too… and I can’t have that…”

She gritted her teeth against more tears as she hugged him tight again, resting her face against his. “Then you do what you have to do.” She muttered brokenly. “Because if you don’t make this work, I’ll kick your ass.”

Mer chuckled again. “Fine.” He answered as he held her back. But soon the hug grew less intense as she felt him go limp.

Quickly she got to her feet, relieved that Mer was still breathing. But her heart fractured again. She knew he was right, and with the yellowing of his skin, knew his kidneys had finally packed in.

She went to the sofa and pulled the afghan off it and laid it over her brother, tucking it in around him.

“Please.” She prayed. “Please let this work.”

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney hummed happily as he finally sealed the room where all his equipment was stored. Everything was hooked up successfully into Atlantis’s systems, if anything the city actually seemed to want to help.

He reached out and patted the door that contained his future affectionately as he turned and walked away. If this worked, or not, it wouldn’t matter, he had done all he could.

Slowly he made his way up to where their apartment used to be. He had already made sure the rooms were empty.

As he walked inside, he sighed deeply, a small silly part of his had hoped that there would still be a lingering smell of their time shared here. But it smelled of others, all now stale and a little musty.

With stiff painful joints he started to remove his clothes as he walked over to the balcony. When he got to the door, he was naked, his clothes strewed out on the floor behind him.

When he opened the balcony door the cold air hit him so hard it took his breath away.

He staggered to the railing and clung on as he got his breath back. Finally he looked out over the city, the blue ocean beyond. A smile tugging at his lips at all the time he had spent with John out here, just admiring their home as they spent a quiet moment together.

With a determination of will, he kept the smile on his lips as he took a step back.

His sister would have expected some great speech from him, or some romantic pledge of his undying love for his Mate.

But he wouldn’t do any of that.

Everything had already been set in motion. Everything he and John had left would go to Jeannie and her kids. His plan to get John back was complete. There was nothing else left for him to fight for.

This would either work or it wouldn’t. Either way, his involvement was now over.

He could finally rest.

Without thinking to hard about it. He did the most natural thing in the world, that he hadn’t done in so long he thought he might have forgotten how.

But in the blink of an eye, he Shifted.

He was stood on all fours, and for a moment he was caught in euphoria. It felt like rolling over in a morning and going back to sleep, because you had no where to be and the bed was so comfortable and warm.

But in a heartbeat it all changed.

The false heart stuttered and he could feel it tearing its self lose in his chest, not able to compensate to a tigers physiology. He collapsed with the pain as blood began to leek into his chest.

He managed to take a stuttering breath, letting it out in a groan.

He knew this wasn’t going to be easy as he felt the rest of his organs shutting down. And as the blood loss to his brain started to make him feel woozy, he rested his head on his paws and looked out over the ocean.

The agony he had been in for years quickly started to fade as he panted for air. He had no regrets. He had done everything he could.

The deep blue ocean slowly began too fade to black as the salty breeze lightly ruffled his fur.

The Great Doctor Meredith Rodney McKay…

…took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

He never took in another.

 

++++++++++

 

Forty eight thousand years into the future.

 

++++++++++

 

John came through the wormhole.

Then collapsed in agony as the world seemed too implode in on him. He managed to scream as something in his chest snapped free.

It was like he was bleeding internally and could actually feel it seeping cold despair into his chest.

Instantly he knew what it was.

Rodney was gone.

“Rodney!” He managed to gasp as he forced himself with pure determination to his feet. He had only been gone for a few hours, and he had felt his Mate as soon as the gate had opened. He couldn’t be ‘gone’ in the last few seconds it took to get through the gate. “RODNEY!” he screamed again when he got more air into his lungs.

He ran up to the control room, but no one was there… in fact, no one had been in the gate room either. Also, it was hot, and the light wasn’t quite right.

“This isn’t happening.” He growls as he tried another dead console. “This isn't good. The most elaborate practical joke of all time, or I'm in serious trouble here.” He muttered to himself, trying to keep the panic down as his chest felt empty.

He hit his communicator. “This is Sheppard. Anyone on this frequency?” he barked.

Suddenly there was static coming over Atlantis’s intercom.

/“John…. Is that really you?”/

“Rodney!” John cried with relief, but he still couldn’t feel his Mate.

/“I can't believe it! It actually worked!”/ Rodney was saying, though why he sounded quite so shocked and happy was insane, and John couldn’t sense it!

“What are you talking about? What the hell's going on here? And where the fuck are you?” John barked.

/” I imagine you're a little confused right now. God! For you, like, what, five minutes has passed?”/ Rodney rambled.

“RODNEY!” John growled. He needed to find him.

--

Finally John ran into the Hologram Room, but there was still no sight of Rodney. “All right. I'm here… Where the hell are you?!” he panted, for some reason he felt winded.

/” Well, activate the hologram projector.”/ Rodney said sounding frustrated.

“There’s no power!” he snapped. Gesturing to the console in the middle of the room, even he knew how much juice the damn thing took to run.

/” It's connected to an independent power source. Don't worry – it will work.”/ Rodney said, like he was talking to a child.

John did as he was told again as he hit ‘on’. Nothing happened.

“Hey there.”

John spun to see Rodney stood behind him. He didn’t even register the clothes or the fact that Rodney didn’t look much like he had left him. He just needed to have his Mate in his arms. So he lunged forward, going to grab the Shifter to him. But his hands met nothing as he fell straight thought his lover. “What the… Rodney?!” he asked in horror.

“God, it's good to see you again.” Rodney said as he turned to look at him, smiling like John hadn’t just walked right through him,

“You're a hologram!” John breathed in shock. Reaching out and testing his theory. It made John’s guts go very cold. This was so much worse than when Rodney accidentally turned himself into a human. At least back then, he had a physical form.

“No!” Rodney said sarcastically. “Of course! I tapped into the city's internal sensors, so I've got eyes and ears – so to speak.” Rodney waved his hand around. “You look good.” He ended up smiling. Thought there was a look of sadness John didn’t like in Rodney’s blue eyes.

“You look, uh…” John said as he finally took in his Mates appearance. Despite the face Rodney was wearing an old mans cardigan, something John would never let him wear. Rodney looked old, warn, ashen and too thin. There were wrinkles about his eyes and mouth, but most of all, his blue eyes looked dull, almost grey. “…Different?” he finished.

“That's ‘cause you remember me the way I was.” Rodney sighed wearily.

“What?.... you mean ‘earlier today’?” John asked angrily. This just wasn’t happening.

“Ah, it's funny, you know? I spent the last eleven years of my life trying to figure out how to make this work, and I never once thought what I was gonna say to you when you got here.”

John goggled at his Mate. “You can start by telling me what the hell's going on here!” he tried to keep his temper. If this was a practical joke, it was way past funny.

He listened as Rodney told him he was forty eight thousand years in the future. And he just couldn’t accept it.

“Surfing a thirty foot wave in Waimei is cool. Dating a supermodel was cool. This is not cool!” he snapped angrily.

Rodney got a little smirk on his face. “All right, calm down.”

John felt his heart stutter in his chest for a moment, robbing him of breath for a second. And it really did start to sink home, the startling revelation he did not want to think about. “If I'm in the future, that means you're, uh ...” He was such a coward, he couldn’t even finish the sentence.

Rodney’s smirk turned into a regretful smile. “…dead. Dead and buried and turned to dust a long, long time ago.” He said softly.

John felt his knees go out from under him as he landed hard on the floor.

“I’m sorry.” Rodney uttered.

John wiped a hand over his mouth. “What happened?” he whispered, gesturing to the room in general. Not wanting to talk about anything deeper. “Am I stuck here?”

“Oh...” Rodney said, “There's not enough power for you to gate back to Earth, and without a MALP, going anywhere else would be far too risky. It is entirely possible that you are the last human being alive.”

John sighed, Rodney sounded way to interested in that topic. “You're not doing a very good job of cheering me up here.” He moaned.

“Oh, consider yourself lucky, young man. While I was figuring out this plan, I had no way of knowing whether the city would even survive this long.” Rodney bitched back.

John had to admit that the snarkiness was actually making him feel a little better. “What plan?” he asked.

 

++++++++++

 

John listened to what had happened to everyone and everything he had ever known. But Rodney’s story had been the worse to hear. He slowly sank down the wall next to the stasis pod, unable to stand, as Rodney told him about all the holograms memories coming to an end the day before the real Rodney went to Atlantis for the last time.

John swallowed hard, his throat felt like sandpaper, probably due to the storm he had walked through, but he had a feeling something else was going on too. He felt unbelievably sick, he couldn’t put a finger on anything, but he was feeling like crap, and it was getting worse. “Do… do you know what happened to…” He couldn’t finish.

Hologram Rodney bobbed down next to him, looking worried. “Err… no. I could look…”

John waved his hand. He really didn’t need to know how Rodney had died. Just knowing he had, was enough to make him want to be sick.

“Umm… I know he wouldn’t have had enough time to install my systems and get back to Earth.” Rodney said softly.

John grimaced, “Yeah…” He said as he wiped a cold sweat from his brow.

“You really shouldn’t waste anymore time.” Rodney said as he stiffly got to his feet. “We still have to get you back to the Gate Room when you wake up… And your vital signs are just getting worse.”

“Humm?” John asked as he used the wall to stand up again, finding it harder than he imagined.

Rodney gave a nervous chuckle. “For you I’m completely dead.” He said. “And the downside of being an Alpha… is that your body is shutting down and dying as a Shifter would without its Mate.”

John closed his eyes. “Rodney went through this?”

He heard Rodney shuffle beside him. “For eleven years…”

John gritted his teeth, he hadn’t been gone thirty eight hours and he was already feeling like shit. He didn’t need more guilt.

“It wasn’t so bad all the time!” Rodney said hurriedly. “Some days his grief took over his physical pain.”

“Stop…” John begged. “Ok… lets get this over with.” he said as he stood in the stasis pod.

“I’ll be here when you get out.” Rodney smiled at him. “Good luck.”

“Thanks.” John answered as he felt a cold chill go through his whole body.

--

John found himself on the floor when he woke up with Rodney’s voice calling his name. John tried to respond to his Mates worry. But all he managed was a groan as his body shivered.

“John… you have to get up!” Rodney was pestering.

It took a few minutes before John managed to push himself to his feet. His whole body ached. “Why’s it dark…” he gasped.

“I woke you a little early.” Rodney said as he hovered at John’s side.

The urge to reach out and touch was a little over whelming, but he kept his hands to himself. “How early?” he growled as his guts seemed to throb.

“Oh… Just a few hours.” Rodney said. “You still have to make it across open ground. And I thought it would be best doing it before dawn. But the temperature is still very high, despite the shields. But at least there isn’t a storm this time.” He said happily.

John started moving the way he had come, what seemed like a few moments ago, but knew must have been a long time. Even the air smelled different, like scorched metal. “How long was I out?” he asked.

“Eight hundred and fifty three years.” Rodney answered happily. “But the solar flare to get you back will happen just after dawn.”

John nodded, not really wanting to think about how old he technically was now. He just wanted to get home, to Rodney, the real one he could touch and feel.

He let Rodney prattle on about all that had happened as he slept. He didn’t really get everything the hologram was saying, it didn’t really matter as he came to the door to the outside.

“I’ll open the door at the other side.” Rodney said as the door in front of John opened to blackness, tinged with a slight red glow on the horizon. “So you can find your way easier.”

“Thanks.” John said as he started walking. “And carry on talking.” He said over his shoulder, to see Rodney nod and smile at him.

He had to admit that this time the journey seemed shorter, but he had somewhere to actually focus in on, a little splash of bright light over shallow dunes of sand that he could still feel heat radiating from.

Apparently the solar panels had done their job, and kept everything ticking over nicely. Even though some of them had failed to the heat eventually.

John just wished that with ever step he didn’t get more and more exhausted. He could feel his body giving up. The pain in his chest was a constant and he couldn’t get enough air into his aching lungs, which in turn was affecting his whole system.

Finally he was inside Atlantis again, with Rodney looking at him with a frown of concern. John ignored it and just kept walking till he was in the gate room, where he slumped down onto the stairs to wait.

“How long?” he asked, as he slowly got his breath back.

“Just another hour and fifteen minutes.” Rodney replied. “Then I’ll open the gate, send your IDC, then tell you when to go… you must step through the moment I tell you.”

“What if this doesn’t work?” he couldn’t help but ask.

Rodney looked confused for a moment, then very sad. “I don’t know… I wasn’t programmed any farther than this… but all the calculation should be accurate.”

“Should?” John demanded.

Rodney looked embarrassed. “I was dealing with hugely difficult parameters, invented a new maths remember, just to deal with the variables!”

John smiled at his Mates, he always loved teasing him. “I know…” he sighed deeply, resting his elbows on his knees. He just wanted to take a nap. “Can you Shift?” He asked the hologram.

“Err… no.” Rodney said a little glumly.

John looked up at him. “Why?”

Rodney was looking sad again, and it made John want to rave at the world. “The drug that Keller and Carson invented could only work with human physiology. Shifting would have been very bad… And after the false heart… well, Shifting wasn’t an option anymore. I never did it again…”

John looked down at the floor between his feet. Deep down he knew Rodney had never really left Atlantis. It was, had, been their home. Rodney would have been brave in his last moments and would have Shifted. And another stab of grief robbed John of his air. He hadn’t been there and Rodney would have died alone.

“It would have been quick…” Hologram Rodney whispered thickly.

“You looked in the records?” John asked softly. Knowing the real Rodney would have done.

“Yeah…” Rodney trailed off. “General Lorne found him… Sent him back to Earth… Apparently Jeannie was allowed to come back and spread his ashes here…”

John nodded feeling sick to the stomach.

They remained silent for a long time, John wasn’t sure how long, but Rodney’s voice woke him up from a dose.

“Hu… wha…?” He asked.

“It’s getting close to the time.” Rodney said, and John watched as the gate sprang to life. “Come on, get ready!”

John stiffly got to his feet and walked over to the wormhole. “And you’re sure this will work?”

“Has too.” Rodney beamed at him. “You remember Davos?”

“The vision guy?” John asked with a frown.

“Well… He gave Rodney another vision… one that never happened in Rodney’s lifetime… And every vision Davos had always came true eventually… So… Sending your IDC.”

“What… What vision?!” John demanded desperately.

Rodney just smiled. “Get him to tell you when you see him… now GO!”

John glared at the hologram.

“GO!” Rodney snapped, then made shooing gestures and John instantly felt his whole being flood with the feeling of his Mate, he didn’t hesitate as he ran into the glowing blue event horizon.


++++++++++

 

Sam couldn’t quite believe her eyes as John Sheppard came running through the wormhole.

“Whoa!” Sheppard said as he came to a hurried stop, seeing the marines around him with guns all trained on him.

“John?” She asked sceptically.

“It worked! It worked. Rodney is a genius!” John said a little hysterically. “Where is he!”

Sam was finding it hard not to believe this was the man they had been waiting for, but she had seen to much stuff in her time to trust everything. “John, what happened?” she asked.

“How much time has gone by?” John asked hurriedly as he looked around.

“You've been missing for twelve days.” She replied as she took in how pale and ill John looked, much the same state McKay had been in not so long ago.

“Crap… Please… I need to get to Rodney NOW!” He said taking a step forward, making the marines reposition their weapons. John backed up a step, his hands up. “I need to touch him.” He growled out. “Please… Shoot me if you have to but I have to get to him now!”

Sam instantly waved the guards down. “We had to put him into a stasis pod two days ago.” She said as she gestured Sheppard to follow her, then nodded to two marines to follow them as she led the way. “Keller, I’ll need you in the Stasis room asap.” She said into her com.

/”Why?”/ She heard Keller reply, a little confused.

“Because Colonel Sheppard is back.” Sam replied, then turned her attention back to Sheppard at her side. Noting how he was struggling to keep up with her. “So where have you been?” She asked.

John gave her a quick look. “In the future.” he clipped out. “Solar flare or something.”

Sam nodded her head, Rodney had asked her to look into it before they put him in storage. And a flare had happened the moment John went through the gate. Then she tried not to stiffen up as he started fiddling with a pocket. But was relieved when he just produced a control crystal.

“Here.” He said, thrusting it at her.

“What is it?” she asked, peering at it.

“It’s where Teyla is.” Sheppard replied. “Twelve days… She’s not had the baby yet according to Rodney, but we don’t have much time… It’s also all the intel on Michael.”

“What… Rodney?” She asked in confusion. But Sheppard didn’t answer as he started to jog ahead of her.

When she actually caught up Sheppard was already inside the stasis room, he had both hands splayed out on the surface of McKay’s stasis pod.

“Open it!” Sheppard shouted and Sam saw Doctor Keller looking wide eyed and scared over by Doctor Becket’s pod. “Now!”

Sam walked over to Keller and stood in front of her. “We can’t John.” She said softly. “There are procedures we need to follow with you…” Which got her a glare that could kill. “Also, Rodney was very sick when we put him inside… We need to prepare before we can take him out.”

“He was sick because he thought I was dead!” Sheppard barked. “He’ll be fine as soon as he knows I’m here!” he said turning back to look at McKay through the stasis field. “He’s still in pain now… I can feel it.”

“Which is why we need to take our time here.” Sam tried to reason. “Also we need to make sure you are you.” Which got her another glare. “If you are not you… would you want us to just open up your Mate to more pain before we were sure?” she asked seeing her reason was actually getting through to him.

“You also don’t look well John.” Keller said from behind Sam’s shoulder. “I need to get you under a scanner.”

“No!” Sheppard snarled, then he was closing his eyes, a look of concentration came over his face and suddenly the stasis field that surrounded McKay began to retreat.

“Colonel!” Sam snapped as she heard the marines cocking their weapons. But it was too late.

She watched helplessly as Sheppard caught McKay in his arms, then they both sank down to the floor. Sheppard had McKay’s head on his shoulder as he began rocking back and forth, stroking McKay’s hair softly. Her heart broke when she heard him whispering to the unconscious Shifter, soft pleas for him to wake up, and that he was there.

“Let me help…” Keller said as she went over to the two men on the floor. But John swiped an arm at her.

“Stay back!” Sheppard snapped, making Keller jump and do just what he said.

“But…” Keller tried, a little weakly.

“He doesn’t like to be touched.” Sheppard whispered, “Not like this.” He finished a little apologetically.

Sam reached out, putting a hand on Keller’s arm and pulling her back a little. She had seen McKay start to shiver, and his hand that hung limply at Sheppard’s side start to twitch.

“That’s it…” Sheppard was saying, “Come on… open your eyes.”

Sam watched as Sheppard moved McKay so he was looking down at him, then after a few moments McKay’s eyes started to blink open. And she tensed, as she glanced at the marines. Seeing they were picking up on her wariness.

“Jo..n…” McKay let out weakly.

“Right here buddy.” Sheppard replied, his voice now thick with emotions. “You’re a genius.”

McKay gave a little crooked smile. “Missed you…”

Sheppard hugged McKay to him tightly. “Missed you too… but I’m back… You need to get up… I know where Teyla is,”

“You do?” McKay said as he started trying to move sluggishly.

“You told me.” Sheppard was smiling now as he also started pulling McKay up.

“I did?” McKay asked in confusion.

“I’ll tell you about it later.” Sheppard promised as he wrapped his arms around the scientist. “Are you okay?”

Sam took a step forward, after all, McKay would be their best indication if this was actually Sheppard.

“I am now.” McKay was smiling. “I’m hungry.” He finished with a whine as Sheppard started chuckling.

“Me too.” Sheppard replied.

“Wait!” Keller suddenly stepped up again. “I still need to get you both under the scanner!” She protested. “I’ll get someone to get you both something to eat back in the infirmary!”

For a moment, Sam thought there might be a fight, but Sheppard finally nodded. “Fine… get a wheelchair; he’s not strong enough to walk there.” He said as he backed McKay up to the table in the middle of the room and got him to sit on it. Positioning himself between the Shifters legs.

Keller instantly ran from the room as Sam waved the two marines down. Even she could see how much better McKay looked, even after such a short time with Sheppard.

She was never sure how all the Shifter stuff worked. But after their ordeal down in the Genii mining facility, and how Sheppard had tried to rescue them, then instantly been there the moment they left the mine shaft. She guessed sometimes it was a really useful thing to have. Apart from when it came with such a huge disadvantaged.

Watching McKay dying had not been fun, even less when Doctor Marie informed her that even if Sheppard was alive, he wouldn’t be for long. And she remembered Daniel saying something about Sheppard being an Alpha because of his strong ATA Gene.

She still never regretted turning the Shifter down. It was a battle enough getting respect in a male orientated world, never mind then being lumbered with a Shifter. But back then, he had been an arrogant prick. It had taken an alternative universe and actually spending time with the Shifter McKay was now. To realise he wasn’t such a dick, and he was astoundingly intelligent and brave. It was still a little annoying that his outrageous boasts weren’t all that outrageous most of the time.

She couldn’t help the smile as Sheppard started stroking McKay’s hair into more unruly tufts.

Sheppard’s affection for the Shifter was clear for everyone to see. Even if they tried not to be so affectionate in public. But she had caught them a few times being overly hands on a time or two. And so what if she had a twinge of jealousy when she saw them at it? It wasn’t as if her love life was any better. And she had heard the rumours about her being a black widow. It was sadly true.

In weak moments like those she had wondered what it would be like to have someone love her unconditionally, to be with her twenty four seven. Berating herself that she had been handed it on a platter. And she had turned McKay down flat.

But seeing how dedicated Sheppard was to his job and looking after McKay. She didn’t begrudge him his happiness. Even if he was a gluten for punishment.

“Here.” Keller said as she came back into the room. “I’ve got everything prepped for you both.”

Sam couldn’t help but chuckle as Sheppard almost threw Rodney into the chair, pushing Keller aside and striding off out the door.

 

++++++++++

 

John shoved another forkful of mashed potato into Rodney’s mouth, then got some for himself. He was ravenous, now he wasn’t in so much bloody pain. And some of that was coming from his Mate.

“Can we get another couple of plates?” John asked a passing nurse. Who looked at him funny, then smiled.

“Same thing?” she asked.

“Yup, and more coffee if you could.” He said scooping up some mystery vegetable and offering it to Rodney, who ate it instantly.

“So.” Ronon said as he stood grinning at them both. He had been in the infirmary with Amelia as soon as he pushed Rodney through the doors. “You know where Teyla will be?”

John nodded as he ate the last bit of chicken. “Yeah… but we have…” he looked at his watch. “…twelve hours to get there.”

“So what are we waiting for?” Ronon demanded.

“Food!” Rodney snapped as he rested back against the lifted head of the gurney they were both sat on.

John gave him a smile.

“I guess I can’t come with you?” Amelia asked softly.

John shook his head as he saw Ronon stiffen up. “Not this time.” He said quickly. But Amelia didn’t look that disappointed. “But you can go and get mine and Rodney’s tack together and ready to go… Also get Lorne’s team up to speed… is Davis back yet?”

“No, sir.” Amelia answered quickly, “But Anderson’s team is… and there is Krets’s team?”

John nodded. “I’ll just take Lorne and Anderson; can you go tell them to be ready in say, eight hours?”

“Sure.” She said as she gave Ronon a smile, then she was off.

“Oh… for… Ronon just go with her!”  Rodney snapped suddenly.

Ronon gave Rodney a scowl.

“If you stand around here moping anymore, I’m going to slap you!” Rodney sneered. “And isn’t it about time you asked John something?” he grinned wolfishly.

John just turned to look at the younger man, who seemed to be blushing. John raised an eyebrow at him. Then suddenly Ronon was jogging out of the infirmary after the Shifter.

“If they don’t get together soon, I’m gonna sit them down and tell them they are getting Bonded.” Rodney bitched.

“You sure?” John asked as he leaned back over Rodney’s legs with one arm, so he could face his Mate. “They haven’t said anything to me.”

Rodney snorted, “If you had my sense of smell… you wouldn’t be asking them to say anything.” He winced, scrunching up his pointed nose.

“We’ll talk to them after we save Teyla.” John promised as he took one of Rodney’s hands in his own. It was so nice just to feel Rodney’s strong solid presence. Then he remembered what the older hologram had said. “You know your older self.” He whispered softly, now they had a moment alone together. “He said you had another vision that Davos gave you?” He watched as Rodney looked away suddenly and a wash of uncertainty came from his Mate. “Rodney…” he pressed.

Rodney sighed as he seemed to sag more into the pillows at his back. “It’s silly…” he muttered. “I don’t even know if it’s real… It could be wrong.”

John shook his head. “Your future self put a lot of stock in it being real, whatever ‘it’ is… Its how he knew that the time line was wrong and his plan would work.”

“Good plan!” Rodney grinned. “I am a genius!”

John just frowned at him; he wouldn’t be put off so easy. “Rodney…?”

“Fine…” Rodney mumbled. “It was just like a snap shot really… and I promised Teyla I’d tell you if you asked…”

“Teyla knew?” John couldn’t help but be a little pissed that someone knew something about his Mate that he didn’t.

Rodney waved his free hand at him. “I wasn’t keeping it from you… I just didn’t know how to tell you!” Rodney snapped.

“Tell me then!” John demanded.

“I have your scans.” Keller suddenly said as the nurse with their food also came up to them.

“You will tell me later.” John ordered his Mate, not caring at that moment that Rodney went a little pale.

“I will…” Rodney said softly.

Which only made John feel like a total bastard. So he picked up Rodney’s hand and kissed the back of it in an apology as Keller blushed.

“Carry on Doctor.” John said as he reached for their third plate of food.

“Oh… Well, it’s like before. Cascading organ failure. But your scans show you’re almost totally recovered, Colonel. And I’ve already informed Colonel Carter that you are who you say you are… at least medically” She said with a smile as she flipped to the next page on her tablet. “But Rodney’s still recovering. I strongly recommend at least four more day’s bed rest. I’m suspecting the stasis has also affected you a little Rodney.”

“Rodney?” John asked as he began eating again. He would leave it up to Rodney if he wanted to come on the rescue mission or not. He knew his Mate was tired, but the pain was almost all gone, and he was getting his strength back. And if John was honest, he really couldn’t leave Rodney behind right now. Even if it had only been a few hours ago that the man had saved his life.

Rodney sighed as he finished eating his mouth full. “I go where you lead.” He told John. And that was answer enough.

“Thanks.” He smiled as he gave Rodney a large chuck of chicken dripping in gravy. Then he answered the Doctor. “I’ll make sure he rests when we get Teyla back.”

“That’s not good enough!” Keller snapped. “He needs rest. His system has just gone thought a huge trauma. You can’t expect him to go off on rescue missions! This is abuse of your bond!”

John glared at her as he moved his body a little so he was between his Mate and the Doctor. He knew it was a useless move. But it made her back off a step. A million and one retorts swam through his mind as he watched her wilt under his stare. Finally he fell back on reason. “If it were you out there…” he started, keeping his voice low. “Pregnant and alone... wouldn’t ‘you’ want us to do everything we could to get you back… ‘and’ your child?” He watched the petite woman blush as she backed off a little more, but quickly she squared her shoulder and looked him in the eye.

“Not at the risk of your health!” She snapped back.

He had to admire her balls, even if he didn’t like her much.

“It’s not up to you, Blondie.” Rodney suddenly snarked as John felt his arm slapped. “Keep the food coming flyboy!”

John complied as he started to prepare another fork full as Rodney kept talking with Keller.

“It’s not abuse if he asked me!” He told her as he opened his mouth for the food. “And I want to go! Ten bloody day’s without my Mate.” He said through his mouthful. “There isn’t a chance in hell I’m not sticking with him for a while!”

“But…” Keller tried.

“No.” Rodney replied, swallowing. “I’m feeling better ever second. If I couldn’t walk or hold a gun, I wouldn’t be going… so if I’m going to be fine for now. Go away.”

“I’m going to tell Sam!” Keller growled in return as she stormed off.

“Do that!” Rodney shouted after her, then to John he added. “Sam knows what ‘team’ actually means.”

“I know.” John smiled as he took a mouthful of chicken himself.

 

++++++++++

 

TBC

Chapter Text

 [EPISODE 13]

++++++++++ [S05E01]

 

Rodney couldn’t help let John win at Bomberman. After all, the stupid idiot had a huge hole in his side.

Rodney had smelled the blood the moment John had walking into engineering aboard the Daedalus. But one look from his Mate and he knew to keep his mouth shut. Sometimes John just needed to be the Colonel. Rodney never liked it, but he knew when it was going on. And to save Teyla, he was willing to play along. At the time, he thought it wasn’t too bad if he couldn’t feel John’s pain, and he was on his feet and out of the infirmary.

He still felt a little guilty that he had been so relieved when he felt John was alive, even though so many others were dead, after Micheal’s compound had collapsed on them. Even more so that he didn’t have the time to see to his Mate when he had been hurt.

At least Teyla and her baby were in the bed at the other side of John. Apparently he had done really well helping with the delivery. Even if he did have to get up close and personal with ‘that’ part of a woman’s anatomy. So he had embarrassment added to his guilt.

“How long will the surgery take?” Teyla suddenly asked.

Rodney looked up from where he sat, then cursed under his breath as John won another round on their DS’s.

“Doc says a few hours. I'll be off my feet for a week or so.” John answered as he gave Rodney a smirk.

“I cannot believe you attempted to mount a rescue in your condition.” Teyla smiled at them both before she looked back down at her son.

“’Attempt’?! The last time I checked, I succeeded.” John answered a little affronted.

“But almost bled out in the process.” Rodney bitched as he started a new game.

John snorted before he changed the subject. “How's the kid?”

“Doctor Keller says he's perfectly healthy.” She said, still looking at the baby. “I say he's perfectly everything.” She finished softly.

“Mmm. That's great. That's great.” John answered distractedly, Rodney had him cornered with bombs and he was about to die, making Rodney chuckle.

“I wanna thank you both.” She said, ignoring their antics.

“There’s no need.” John scowled at Rodney as he won the round.

“I never gave up hope because I knew.” She said seriously. “I ‘knew’ that you would come for me, John.”

Rodney felt a moment of shock come from his Mate as he looked over at Teyla. But he could already tell John was gonna be tight lipped about whatever it was.

“You would have done the same for us.” John answered as he turned to give Rodney a confused look. Rodney just shrugged and was about to tell John to stop being vague and just spit it out when Keller came in dressed in scrubs and Rodney’s heart missed a beat.

“All right. You ready, Colonel?” Keller asked cheerily as she came to stand besides John’s gurney.

“He was ready two hours ago!” Rodney snapped sulkily. “What took so long?”

Keller just gave him an annoying indulgent smile.

“Ready? From my understanding, I ... I'm not doing anything.” John said as he closed his DS and passed it at Rodney.

“Well, that's right.” Keller smiled. “You just have to lay still and let me play with your insides.”

Even Rodney could see the tumbleweed roll through the room as John went still.

“Seriously?” Rodney growled, and he was feeling John’s mistrust of her crank up a notch and it was wigging him out. It was bad enough John was injured, but having an anaesthetic too was still grating over Rodney’s nerves.

“Sorry.” Keller fidgeted. “Um… Let’s go. Marie, if you could see to Rodney?” She said as nurses came around John’s gurney to take him away.

“Wait!” Rodney said hurriedly as he got to his feet, throwing his arms around John’s neck.

“Hey… Hey.” John said softly. “Let me go get stitched up… I need a rematch.”

Rodney just put his arms around John’s neck and kissed him. Even though he knew it was irrational. The thought of losing John under anaesthetic finally came to the surface with full force. It hadn’t even been two days since he was dragged out of a stasis pod because he thought John was dead and he could lose him again.

“We can’t take you into surgery…” Keller’s voice interrupted them. “And Marie still needs to make sure you are fine, Rodney.”

“Come on.” John pushed him away a little. “Let’s get this over with and spend some proper time together.”

Rodney hated it, but he let go and stood back. “See ya soon.” He uttered, feeling a little lost.

He thought of protesting a little more about going with John, but they were already pushing John out of the room. And Marie was blocking Rodney’s way.

“Oh…” John said as he leaned over a little on his gurney. “What are you gonna name the kid?” He was asking Teyla.

“Well, if it's all right with you, I was thinking of Torren John, after my father and after you.” Teyla answered.

Rodney felt a moment of disappointment, he had hoped that she would at least include him in the naming of the baby. He had helped deliver it into the world. But he could also feel how proud John was, despite the pain meds he was on.

“Really? Wow!” John said happily. And he was feeling it too. “I’m very honoured.” He finished as they wheeled him away.

Rodney took a step to follow, but Marie just put her hand on his arm and shook her head.

“Come on. I need to make sure you’re okay too.” Marie insisted as she herded him back to the gurney behind him.

“Fine, fine.” He huffed as he shook off her arm and got onto the gurney.

“Well, when they give Sheppard the anaesthetic, you could end up on the floor.” Marie smiled smugly at him. “It’s why we didn’t have him in surgery earlier.”

“Always nice to know you would risk his life for the good of the ship.” He groused meanly. Knowing he was being unreasonable, because he understood perfectly. That didn’t stop him feeling hurt and annoyed now.

Marie just smirked at him some more as she started hooking him up to monitors. “We appreciate your sacrifice.” She answered, ignoring his rudeness.

He was just about to bitch about the blood pressure cuff being to tight when he suddenly felt very dizzy and he sagged back onto the gurney. He suddenly felt very tired, but he wasn’t sleepy.

“Doctor McKay?” Marie asked worriedly.

He tried to shake himself. Knowing that John had gone under as the Bond with his Mate went dim and quiet. “It’s okay…” he slurred out. He didn’t like it at all.

“Is it the Bond?” Marie asked, but her attention was fully on the monitors of his vital signs.

Rodney sighed, feeling a little more himself. “Unless I’m having a sudden attack of hypoglycaemia. You want to check for that! Then yes, it was the Bond… John’s gone quiet. Can I get something to eat?”

Marie just smiled at him absently. “Sure… I’ll get Jane to get you something.”

“Now?” Rodney asked sulkily.

Marie gave him a quick glare, before moving away.

“Are you okay, Rodney?” Teyla asked softly.

He rolled his head to the side so he could look at her. “hu…?” he asked, his head felt stuffed full of cotton wool.  

“Are you okay?” She asked again.

Rodney’s whole body shivered involuntary. “Oh…” He really wasn’t feeling very good at the moment. “Why didn’t you name it after me?” he muttered sulkily as he slipped down a little on the sheets. He seemed to be a little confused. For a moment he didn’t know where he was or why.

“I had my first son’s name picked out many years ago.” Teyla was saying, and it sounded like she was smiling, but he couldn’t tell because he had closed his eyes. But her statement sounded legitimate enough. “And I was thinking.” She was carrying on. “That if I have a girl… maybe she could have the name you don’t use?”

“Meredith ‘is’ a girls name…” He muttered, feeling the side of his mouth quirk up into a smile. “Good name…” he finally shut out all sound as he was pulled under into a deep sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney groaned, his mouth felt dry and sticky. His eyes gummy as he tried to blink them open.

“He’s waking up.” Someone said close by. “Do you want something to drink?”

Rodney managed to open his eyes enough to see Ronon looming over him and he nodded as he tried to move his tongue around his mouth. Then a large hand was under his head, lifting it as a glass was placed to his lips and he sipped at the cool sweet liquid. “John?” he croaked out as the glass was taken away.

“He’s not awake yet.” Came another voice at Ronon’s side and Rodney looked over Ronon’s shoulder to see Amelia smiling at him. “But he’s right there.” She said as she gestured to his left. He moved his head to see John, laid out and still asleep on another gurney that was pushed up against his own. “Oh…” He said bemused, wondering for a moment why they were in the infirmary, again.

“Doc said he’s good.” Ronon intoned and Rodney heard Amelia sighing.

“Jennifer also said the surgery went well.” Amelia filling in Ronon’s useless statement. “He should be awake soon, and that he will be off his feet for a while.”

Rodney nodded as he finally laid a hand on his Mates arm, instantly feeling better and more himself. He knew John was just asleep, and not in some drugged up unnatural unconsciousness.

“Go back to sleep.” Amelia said softly as Rodney felt a hand on his shoulder. “We’ll be here to watch over you.”

Rodney nodded as he closed his eyes, tightening his hold on John, he went back to sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

John smiled up at his Mate; as he woke up, he was feeling so good, if a little tired. The pain meds were still working and the fact he was awake meant the surgery went well and Teyla was safe, along with her baby and partner.

“Why so grumpy?” John grinned as Rodney frowned at him.

“Not grumpy.” Rodney grumbled. “How are you feeling?”

“Pfft.” John waved his Mates worry away. “I’m fine for now…” he said as he looked down at his belly. “Do I have a cool scar?” He went to poke where he could see a dressing under his scrubs.

“Don’t!” Rodney snapped as John frowned at the hand around his own. “And ‘yes’ you are going to have ‘another’ scar!” Rodney still sounded grumpy.

“You like my scars!” John purred as he looked at his Mate; he didn’t like him being upset.

“I like the fact you’re still alive enough to ‘have’ scars!” Rodney said rolling his eyes.

John grinned as he slipped his hand from Rodney’s, then reached around to clamp it onto a firm round globe of Rodney’s ass. Knowing he had hit the still sensitive scare there, left by an arrow. “I like your scars.” He purred up at his Mate.

Rodney blinked at him as he went a little red. Then looked around to see if anyone else was there, before turning back. “You just came out of surgery!” he hissed. “How can you be horny?”

John grinned up at him, “Cause I haven’t done you in over a month! I want a piece of this!” He squeezed the flesh in his hand, wishing he could actually pull his Mate to him.

He watched as Rodney looked over his shoulder, then he was leaning down to press his lips to John’s chastely. “And that’s all you’re getting.” Rodney hissed, “Well…” John watched as Rodney grunted, moving closer till his body was pressed against John’s side. “…till you can actually perform without pulling out all your stitches.” He smiled.

John kissed Rodney’s nose, because that was all he could reach. “You okay?” he asked as he finally realised Rodney was also wearing scrubs and on his own infirmary bed.

Rodney rolled his eyes as he snuggled down. “I’m fine… scared the life out of me when the building collapsed on us... And I see you have been training Lorne.” He grumbled.

John smiled, he would have to give Lorne a beer for keeping Rodney calm. Even though he was stuck and impaled, he had felt his Mate’s panic. He would also have to thank Carter when he saw her for keeping Rodney focused and working when he was incapacitated to do so.

The last week had been hell, and they had lost men… but at the end of the day, Rodney hadn’t died cold and alone. Teyla and her son were safe. They had saved the last of the Athosian’s. Carson was still in a stasis pod and Michael was presumed running, hopefully dead. And he himself had a new scar. And soon as he could get on his feet, he was going to bury himself inside Rodney and not come out for a long time. But that was going to come after a really long hot shower.

“Oh my god!” Rodney hissed into his ear. “If I wasn’t so sure you might die if I busted you out of here, and we still didn’t have company… I would blow you just to stop you thinking those thoughts!”

John suddenly felt a little dizzy as his cock perked up a little. Which scrubbed all lustful thoughts from his head as he felt a little sick. “Ouch!” He cried as Rodney thumped him in the arm, hard.

“Serves you right.” Rodney muttered darkly. “Now stop thinking and go back to sleep, it’s still early. And apparently I still need rest too after thinking you were dead and my organs still need to recover.”

“Thought you said you were fine!” John hissed accusingly as he turned his head to stare at his Mate.

“I am…” Rodney muttered as he lowered his eyes. “Apart from the obvious… So shut up and let ‘me’ sleep.”

John kissed Rodney’s forehead, then lay back and closed his eyes. Hoping that they would at least have the time to recover before something else decided to kill them all.

 

++++++++++ [S05E02]

 

Amelia felt frantic when she had to listen to Ronon being choked to death by the pathogen that had infected Doctor Keller and was trying to turn Atlantis into a wraith ship. It had been bad enough when Michael’s facility had collapsed and she had to stay back at base, waiting for any word from Ronon, or anyone else that had gone to try and rescue Teyla.

Now she stood in the infirmary, her eyes fixed on Ronon as the nurses kept trying to make him calm down and rest. She couldn’t help but smile, knowing how much the large man hated being coddled.

“Go on…” Jane said at her side, nudging her with an elbow. “He will listen to you.”

Amelia gave Jane a smile. The woman was a great chaperone, and never made Amelia feel like a burden, or that she was just another job. She liked to think they were actually friends.

She stepped into the area by Ronon’s bed. “You really should rest.” She said, a little more harsher than she meant too. But it had the desired affect as Ronon stopped trying to fight the nurse.

“Oh… Hey.” Ronon croaked out quietly.

“You shouldn’t talk!” The nurse said with a suffering sigh. “Now if you could just stay put.”

Amelia watched as Ronon glared at the nurse, and she decided to step in. She walked over and hopped up onto the gurney at Ronon’s side, earning herself a look, and a little half smile.

Sometimes it surprised her, for such a large fearless warrior of a man, he could be extraordinarily shy.

“What are we waiting for?” she asked the nurse.

The man glanced at her. “We are waiting for Doctor Beckett to get him under the scanner to make sure there isn’t any permanent damage.”

“Oh… I’ll wait with him then.” She smiled.

“You don’t have… too.” Ronon managed to say, so she glared at him.

“You’re not meant to be talking.” She said, watching as he looked at her, then started glaring at the nurse again.

“I’ll be back soon.” The nurse said as he fled.

Amelia finally peered at Ronon’s neck, seeing the thick bruising and red raw skin, she couldn’t help but wince. It sent squirms of anxiety into her stomach. She couldn’t do anything to help him, yet again she had to sit and watch as he got hurt. “Looks like it hurts.” She said softly.

Ronon just shrugged. But he gave her a smile anyway.

“A month!”

Amelia jumped as she heard Rodney start shouting from the other side of the infirmary. She hooked her arm around Ronon’s elbow, then leaned sideways so she could see what was going on.

“One month and you managed to get something stuck into your guts again!” Rodney was snarking angrily as he was fussing next to a gurney that a few nurses were around with Doctor Beckett. Amelia was surprised they were all ignoring Rodney so easily. “I swear I’m going to get those Goa’uld cuffs Carter told me about, when Daniel and Vala got stuck together, then I’m going to make sure you CAN NOT leave my side again! Because every time you do, this happens!”

“I’ll be fine.” Amelia heard John croak.

“That’s not the point!” Rodney raged, flailing his arms.

“He will be fine, Rodney.” Doctor Beckett was saying as he pushed Rodney aside, then stood facing him, a hand on Rodney’s arm. “Now I need you go get onto a gurney, so you don’t fall down as we take your Mate into surgery.”

Amelia felt sorry for Rodney, she had watched him all but pass out the first time John had gone into surgery.

Sometimes she envied the Bond that they shared. She hadn’t had anything like that with Kevin, not even close. But where she envied them, she also feared it a little. To be that close to someone you could feel their pain? Wasn’t something that had ever been taught in Shifter school. Sure, there had been rumours and hearsay from other Shifters, and what they romanticised on TV. But nothing had exposed her to what Rodney and John had.

In her talks with Shanique and Lilia about her loss and grief over losing Kevin. Amelia had brought up her feeling about all this.

Shanique had theorised that it was because John was an Alpha, as to why their Bond was so strong. Lilia had whispered that is was because she thought they were Soul-Mates and had always been destined to be together, and that maybe they would carry on reincarnating just to find each other.

Amelia had laughed at that. But the more she witnessed, the more she thought maybe Lilia had a point, however ludicrous it sounded.

Shanique had also found it fascinating that Amelia felt close to the man and Shifter. She felt safe with Rodney, he always gave her a feeling of being with her own mother. Whereas John felt almost the same way, but she would do anything he asked her.

Shanique has asked if it felt like what she had with Kevin. It did to some extent. She felt safe with John; he gave off a scent that was comforting and calm. Lilia had admitted to feeling the same thing when around the Alpha.

“How long will it take this time?” Rodney whined a little as Doctor Beckett managed to get him onto another gurney.

“I don’t know…” Beckett was answering. “So why don’t you just relax, leave it up to me to fix John. Then you can start looking after him again.”

Amelia saw the scowl on Rodney’s face, but he seemed to calm down a little as Beckett went back to working on John.

Just like last time, Amelia felt a surge of protectiveness to the older Shifter. She needed to make sure he was safe while his Mate was incapacitated.

She slip off the gurney, then almost fell over, forgetting that she still had her arm in Ronon’s. She looked to her side and smiled at the large man. “I don’t think they will mind if we go sit with Rodney.” She said.

Ronon returned her smile as he nodded once and stood too.

Amelia felt her heart do a little flutter as he moved his hand down her arm, across her wrist lightly, that made her tingle, then he was holding her hand.

She felt her cheeks blush as she turned away then pulled Ronon behind her till she was besides Rodney, Ronon at her back. She reached out with her free hand and laid it on Rodney arm. “We’ll stay with you.” She said.

Rodney glanced at her before moving his attention back to John, and the mayhem going on around him.

She sighed as she reached down and took Rodney’s hand in her free one as they began to push John away for surgery.

 

++++++++++

 

“Do I have too?” Rodney wined as he put John’s coffee down on the bedside table. It had only been four day’s since John’s latest surgery. And he was still weak; all he could manage was short trips to the bathroom.

“Yes, Rodney.” John sighed as he fidgeted in their bed. “I don’t want to have this ‘talk’ anymore than you do. But I’d rather get it over and done with now. Than wait for them to surprise it on us.”

Rodney sighed. “Fine, you have a point.” He said as he reached for his comm. “Banks, you there?” he asked.

/”Err, yes Doctor McKay. How can I help you?”/ She asked formally.

“Are you busy right now?” He asked, giving John another glare.

/”No, not really. But Jane is busy.”/ Amelia answered, talking about her chaperone.

“That’s fine. Just make your way straight to our quarters.”

/”On my way.”/ She answered back.

“One down, one to go.” John grinned at him.

“Ronon?” Rodney called on another channel.

/”What?”/ Ronon asked croakily, his voice still rough from being almost strangled to death.

“Come to our quarters… John wants a word with you.” Rodney smirked at his Mate. They had already decided that John was gonna have a non verbal ‘talk’ with Ronon, and he was going to have an embarrassed conversation with Amelia that he was sure would go horribly wrong.

/”Sure.”/ Ronon replied.

“Right, well, I’ll go wait for them.” Rodney said as he began to leave.

“Sec…” John said and Rodney turned to see his Mate holding out a hand to him.

Rodney sighed, but took the offered hand and leaned down to give the romantic fool of a Mate a kiss. “Better now?” he asked.

John just grinned at him and let him go.

As Rodney walked into the main room, the door chime went off and he answered it to find Ronon frowning at him.

“What’s up?” Ronon asked in a grumble.

Rodney thumbed over his shoulder. “John wants to talk to you.” He said, then grinned as a look of confusion crossed the young mans face. “Yeah, I know, scary… just go see him.”

Ronon frowned at him, but lumbered through to the bedroom all the same.

Rodney watched him go, then jumped as someone touched his arm. He turned to see Amelia looking at him. He bit down a curse. He really didn’t want to have this conversation. But John had a point.

“Rodney, what’s wrong?” Amelia asked.

“Oh… err, why don’t you come in and sit down?” He said, walking towards the sofa. Amelia followed, not letting go of his sleeve. He sat down, and she sat close at his side. With an awkward sigh, he patted her hand. “Ok… how do I put this…” he muttered to himself.

“Put what?” Amelia asked and he started to smell worry leaking from her.

He guessed there was no easy way to put this, so being blunt usually worked for him to some degree. “Do you want to Bond with Ronon?” There, he said it.

Amelia looked shocked as she stared at him, then she started going red in the face and she looked away.

“Well?” He asked, trying not to get annoyed.

She shrugged a shoulder, “I… Maybe.” She whispered. “I don’t know how he feels about it…”

Rodney snorted. “Even I can tell he’s smitten with you.”

“Really?” she asked, edging a little closer to him.

Rodney rolled his eyes. “If I can see it, then yes… So?”

She was blushing again. “I don’t know… he’s not from Earth… is it possible?”

Rodney hadn’t even thought about that, “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be.” He said confidently. “So, if Ronon’s going to agree to a courtship, will you?”

She fidgeted, before a slow smile spread across her face as she nodded. “Yes.” She whispered.

“Great!” He felt relieved, it hadn’t been as painful as he thought. So he hit his comm.. “You done yet?” he asked.

/”Sure, come on in.”/ John answered, sounding as relieved as he did.

Amelia was frowning at him again as he pulled her to his feet.

“Come on. Let’s start this.” He said as he walked towards his bedroom.

 

++++++++++

 

John shuffled against the pillows at his back, his stomach throbbing at him in protest. He hated to think about how used to this he was, after all, it had only been two weeks ago he was allowed back on active duty after have a bit of building stabbed in his side. Thought he had to say he preferred that to some red tentacle. And it would be the last time he ever watched some bizarre Japanese anime porn of Zelenka’s.

He heard the door chime go off. He had hoped it was Amelia, but Ronon came lumbering into his bedroom. The frown on his face was deep, so Rodney hadn’t done anything to assure the large guy nothing was wrong.

“Come on in, take a seat.” John said, gesturing to the end of the bed, but Ronon grabbed a chair and sat down. Arms crossed. Okay, so this wasn’t going to be easy on him. “Stop scowling at me.” He said. “This isn’t anything bad…” Well, not for him anyway.

“Okay…” Ronon intoned deeply, his throat still saw from being throttled.

John took a deep sigh, then wished he hadn’t as his stitches pulled painfully. “I’ll get to the point.” He gasped a little, putting a hand on his new scar. “Are you thinking of making it serious with Amelia?”

Ronon’s scowl deepened.

“Don’t play stupid.” John complained, wondering if his fever was coming back. “I told you ages ago that if you had feelings for Amelia, you should come to me… We just got bored of waiting.” He reached for the coffee Rodney had left for him and took a sip. “So, you think you want to make it official with her or what?”

Ronon actually looked away, the scowl lifted a little before he answered. “Not sure if I’m ready.” He answered.

John snorted a little. He had seen the love sick eyes Ronon made whenever Amelia was in the room, or the way he went out of his way to Chaperone her and help her. He had also seen Amelia pulling the same expression when they both thought no one was looking. “I’m not talking about Bonding right now.” He said. “Rodney was telling me there usually had to be an official courtship first… you wouldn’t be her Chaperone anymore…” Ronon glowered at him, not happy with that statement, so John hurried on. “Because you would be actually going out together.” He finished.

Ronon looked away again, like he was thinking. It took a while before he answered. “I’m a warrior.” He said softly, or as softly as Ronon could managed. “I’m always in danger…” he looked up at John. “I see what you put McKay through… I don’t want to do that to her.”

John blinked, not sure if he should be insulted or not. “You think I would put Rodney’s life in danger if I didn’t feel I had too?” he asked incredulously.

Ronon shrugged.

“I only risk our lives because it’s the last option to save others lives.” He said a little more angrily that he wanted to. But Ronon still didn’t look too convinced. “Look… If for one moment I thought Rodney wasn’t with me on ever stupid decision I made to save peoples lives… I would?”

“You never listened to his whining before.” Ronon grinned.

John wave that away. “Because I know if it wasn’t me, he would be doing it himself.” He smiled. “But let me just say, that if Rodney wanted to go back to Earth tomorrow and live in a padded room for the rest of our lives where it was safe, I would be packing our bag’s and not talking to you.” He said, feeling a little winded as he relaxed more into his pillows.

“You and McKay are different…” Ronon said, still sounding sceptical.

John hated it when things weren’t easy. “Not by much.” He answered. “Sure we kinda got things the wrong way round. But I wouldn’t have Bonded with him a second time if I didn’t love him.” He sipped some of his coffee. “All I’m offering right now is a time where you can get to know her better, to find out if you are right for each other… She likes you, you like her… why don’t you see if you want to make a go of it?”

Ronon moved in his chair. “It’s a big commitment.”

“Yup.” John grinned. “But you guys make anymore moon eyes at each other and I might lock you both in an iso room till you sort it out.”

Ronon actually cracked a smile. “So you’re giving me no choice?”

John nodded. “nope, none at all.”

Ronon’s smile actually got wider. “Fine… we can try this.”

“Great!” John smiled back, then he heard his comm come to life and Rodney’s voice fill his ear.

/”You done yet?”/ Rodney asked.

”Sure, come on in.” He answered, by what he could feel from his Mate, he knew things had gone well. He looked over as the door opened, and Rodney came in, leading Amelia by the hand. She was blushing furiously, more so when she saw Ronon, who got to his feet.

“I guess I’m announcing that you two are officially going into a courtship?” Rodney asked as he pushed Amelia to sit at the end of the bed, as he went to sit besides her.

John watched Amelia glance at Ronon again, before she nodded.

“Ronon?” Rodney asked curtly.

“Yeah.” Ronon replied gruffly, as he kept casting eyes at Amelia, then looking away. “We can try this… If it’s what you want?” he asked Amelia.

Amelia nodded again, “I would like to give it a go.” She whispered softly.

“Great!” Rodney said as he clapped his hands together. “I’ll tell Woolsey, make sure it’s as official as it can be… though the Shifter Registry might like to know too. But I’m sure the SGC can sort out all that personal stuff.” He got to his feet. “So why don’t you both go and get something to eat and talk about dates and whatever young people do for fun.”

Amelia looked a little stunned. “Don’t I still need a Chaperone?” she asked.

Rodney waved her concern away. “I think we can trust you both just this once.” He said, then made shooing gestures. “Go, go…”

Ronon actually held his hand out to the young Shifter, John couldn’t help but grin as Amelia put her own hand in his as Ronon pulled her to her feet. “I’ll get you back to Jane in a few hours.” He told her.

“Oh… yeah, thanks.” Amelia smiled.

“Awesome. Now go.” Rodney said impatiently as he herded them towards the door. “Don’t do anything we would do!” he called after them as they left.

John chuckled at that as his Mate turned back to him. “And what wouldn’t we do?” he asked as Rodney smirked at him.

“I wonder.” Rodney answered as he came around and sat on his side of the bed. “That went well.” He said as he rested against the headboard. “I hope they Bond soon… I hate sorting out Chaperone schedules.”

“I think Ronon’s having reservations about putting Amelia’s life at risk.” John confessed.

“Not like it ever stopped you!” Rodney snipped. But John felt no heat in it. “And anyway, it’s not like Ronon will have a choice if they Bond. She won’t let him do anything too stupid.”

“Never worked for you.” John grinned, which earned him a scowl.

“That’s because I’ve been infected by your stupid.” Rodney replied with a growl. “But I think it would do them both good. Ronon would finally have somewhere to belong.”

“He already has that.” John protested. Ronon had made it quite clear that he now thought Atlantis as his home.

Rodney snorted. “You know what I mean.” He said. “All that mushy romantic crap about belonging to someone else.”

“Have you been talking to Shanique again?” John asked.

Rodney nodded, not denying it. “It’ll be good for both of them.”

John couldn’t deny that. “Get the laptop… We still have some ‘big bang theory’ to watch.” At least that was a show they could both enjoy. Rodney liked to think Sheldon was based on him, as the Shifter went around torturing his Physicist Chaperones, as they tried to get a social life while looking after the socially awkward independent Shifter.

 

++++++++++ [S05E04]

 

John decided he would have to ask Zelenka for help in deleting all Rodney’s data about the parallel universe jumpy drive thing.

It was always disturbing to see an alternate reality version of themselves, more so when they were dead. But they had defected the new hostile aliens, helped a parallel universes Atlantis and talked to himself. Been cooked by an exploding sun, again. And managed to make it back to their own reality. So he was damned if Rodney was going to create another drive to destroy peoples lives.

So he just played his daily ‘brain training’ on his DS as Rodney tried to convince him it was a good idea, and he could recreate it.

“Like I said, ‘forget’ it.” He ordered, feeling the moment it had the desired affect on his Mate. He never liked ordering Rodney to do anything, but this was one of those moments. He felt the regret from Rodney, and hated himself for it. But he looked to see Teyla come into the infirmary with Torren in her arms. It was a good enough distraction. “Hey, look who's here.” He said as he closed his DS and turned to their friend.

“How's your shoulder, Rodney?” Teyla asked as she smiled at him.

“Uh, it's pretty bad, but, you know, better, thanks.” Rodney replied. And for a change he wasn’t exaggerating. Whatever kind of weapon the hostile alternate reality aliens used. It hadn’t really been a projectile, it had more burned a hole in Rodney’s arm that even John could feel stung like hell.

“Is it well enough to hold him?” Teyla asked as she looked down at her son.

John felt the squirm of joy coming from Rodney and it made him a tad uncomfortable for reasons he didn’t want to think too closely about.

“Really?!” Rodney grinned, forgetting about his pain.

“Don’t drop him.” John couldn’t help but tease. He remembered Rodney being upset that Teyla was keeping Torren from him, just because he had accidently dropped him, which hadn’t actually been on purpose.

“Thank you!” Rodney snapped back at him as he held his hand out for the blue bundle as Teyla laid Torren in his arms.

John couldn’t help but smile as Torren seemed quite content to be in Rodney’s arms. Even if his Mate was hiding his pain, he also looked quite happy to be holding the baby. Which kinda worried John, as Rodney always claimed to hate children, but was fascinated by a baby.

“Hey there, little guy.” Rodney cooed. “I think he likes me.”

Which was an understatement, the little guy had a set of lungs and he liked to use them most of the time. The fact he was quiet spoke volumes.

“It suits you.” Teyla said fondly.

“You think so?” Rodney asked hopefully. Which made John sit up a little more as he frowned, feeling a mix of anxiety and… maybe… hope?

“I think you'll make an excellent father some day.” Teyla replied.

John looked sharply at her. She was using her ‘I know something’ tone and it made ever nerve in John’s body tense. There was something he was missing, and he wanted to know what it was. It didn’t help that Rodney’s anxiety spiked through their Bond.

“D'you wanna, um ...?” Rodney was saying, and John was broken out of his concentration a little as he was aware of Rodney’s arm throbbing painfully again. Pain meds only touched burns so much.

“I think so.” Teyla smiled as she took Torren back carefully. “Ah, I think I need to go change him.” She smiled. “I will come visit you soon. Take care.” She said as she wandered back out of the informally.

And that’s when it hit John.

A conversation he had had with his Mate months ago in the infirmary. Teyla had known something about a vision that Rodney had. That he himself didn’t. He had ordered Rodney then to tell him. But they still hadn’t talked about it since, with everything that had happened in the mean time.

“Do you think you can bust me out of here tonight?” Rodney was asking, his hands twitching towards the other realities tablet PC, but not picking it up.

John reached out and put it to one side. He would hide it, and maybe destroy it later. But right now there were other things he needed to know.

“What?” Rodney asked, frowning at him, obviously picking up on his own dark emotions.

John glowered at him. “Isn’t there something you were supposed to tell me?”

Rodney instantly went a little pale as he spluttered and tried to fain ignorance. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

John just tilted his head to one side and waited. He had already ordered Rodney to tell him once; he needed to know if it had any boundaries of limitations. Even if it did mean he made his Mate squirm.

“Fine…” Rodney sighed out as he slouched back into his pillows, but he reached out with his bad arm for his hand.

Instantly John took it as he got up and moved to sit on the side of Rodney’s gurney, knowing this wasn’t a time to try and play this cool. Whatever it was the future Rodney had put a lot of faith into it and his Rodney was worried about.

Rodney fixed his gaze on their joined hands before he carried on talking. “The other vision… it was like a snap shot, a photo really.” He swallowed hard.

“Of what?” John asked softly, wishing Rodney would just get it out. At least then he could understand his Mates confusion and anxiety.

Rodney moved a little, his other hand fidgeting in his lap. “At first, I thought it might have been Torren… or someone else’s kid…”

John frowned, feeling this wasn’t going to be easy to hear. “Kid?” he asked.

“Baby.” Rodney clarified. “But… even then… I knew it wasn’t anyone else’s… anyway, I’m standing there, with you at my shoulder and in my arms I’m holding a small baby…”

“Oh…” John responded. “And it wasn’t Torren?” after all, Rodney had been the one to help bring him into the world; maybe the vision was just showing Rodney that.

Rodney shook his head adamantly. “It was ‘our’ baby.” He whispered.

John blinked, then just stared at his Mate as his mind went a little blank. He felt himself swallow before he could speak. “Err… But we can’t…” he said, stating the obvious. Rodney wasn’t a Jaguar Shifter, and even if he was, they had both been exposed to so much radiation of varying kinds that he was sure they were both firing blanks.

“No… no we can’t.” Rodney said miserably. “And I don’t feel like I was pregnant or anything…”

John winced at that, he didn’t want to be pregnant either.

“Or you.” Rodney replied witheringly. “But I know I feel like it’s mine…”

“How so?” John asked, still feeling a little stunned.

Rodney shrugged, then winced at the pain in his arm. “I just do… Look, I don’t even know if it’s real or not, I could have made it up or something…”

John nodded. “Well… I guess there’s no use in worrying about it… were we okay?”

“Umm… yes?...” Rodney frowned, thinking. “And the baby was healthy too.”

“Okay.” John smiled. “Then we don’t have to worry… If it happens, it happens. If not. That’s okay too.” He felt Rodney’s relief like a tsunami over his own anxiety from what he had just learned. He had never thought of being a father. Never thought he would make a very good one. But he was happy with his life right now as it was. So what he had said to reassure his Mate was true. “Thanks for telling me.” He said as he grinned a little. “Finally.”

Rodney gave him a crooked half smile as he looked at him through his long lashes. “You’re not mad?”

John shook his head. “I’m mad you didn’t tell me sooner.”

“Sorry.” Rodney uttered softly and John couldn’t take it anymore as he moved forwards and wrapped his arms around his Mate, pulling him into a tight hug as he rested his cheek against the side of Rodney’s head.

“So… there any time frame for this vision?” he asked.

“Not really.” Rodney replied as John felt a hand fist into the back of his shirt.

“Were we still on Atlantis?” John had no idea why that was important. But this was their home.

“I had more pressing things to think about.” Rodney snipped. “I don’t know. Hopefully.”

“Fine.” John smiled as he closed his eyes, just revelling in the feeling of his Mate against his chest. “I’m sure it’s all going to work out fine.” He promised.

“Okay.” Rodney answered.

And that was that, as far as John was concerned. He would worry about it ‘when’ and ‘if’ it happened. Not before.

 

++++++++++

 

TBC…

If you do NOT want to read on.

 

++++++++++

++++++++++

 

!!WARNING!!!

 

This is the PWP (Plot What Plot) section that was voted for by Fans who followed this story on writing.

So, if you do NOT want to read about a Tiger Shifter trying to have sex with its human Bond Mate?

Then please DO NOT read on. This section will contain NO PLOT / SPOILERS. It’s just a bit of furry filthy stuff that some of you might not want to read.

 

Quick summery: Rodney forces John to do him as a Tiger. End of ^_^

 

So…

 

Read at your OWN risk ^_^

 

++++++++++

++++++++++

 

Rodney was feeling a little frisky as he stood in the bathroom, grinning at himself in the mirror.

They had spent their ‘mandatory’ day off with Teyla, Torren, Kanaan, Ronon and Amelia.

Earlier that evening they had all plundered the mess for pizza and taken it back to their apartment with as much beer and moonshine as they could lay their hands on, then watched countless movies.

Eventually, everyone had drifted away, happily drunk as the night drew in.

John had pulled him off the sofa about fifteen minutes ago, given him a sloppy kiss, then disappeared into the bathroom. When he came out he pushed Rodney in, where he was now stood.

He could feel John was tired and happily buzzed, but there were no amorous thoughts coming Rodney’s way, and it was starting to annoy him on some drunken level.

He pouted into the mirror, then giggled at himself. Well, John could sod off if he thought he was going to get away with ‘just’ snuggling up and sleeping tonight.

Rodney had other ideas.

With a thought, he Shifted, then slunk into the bedroom.

He crouched low against the floor and peered over at his Mate, then grinned. John was laid on top of the bed, fully naked… But he was reading one of his infernal golfing magazines.

Rodney wished he was younger as he made his stealthy silent, but awkward, way to the end of the bed, keeping his belly against the floor. Once he was sure he was in the right place he moved his head up. Peeking over the top of the sheets, keeping his ears flat against his head so only his eyes would be visible.

Then stayed there.

He tensed when John suddenly brought his magazine down onto his lap, and stared at him.

Rodney tensed and ducked a little as he couldn’t help but grin some more, but he kept his eyes on his Mate, not blinking.

“Rod-ney…?” John drawled out questioningly, his hazel eyes narrowing a little.

Rodney grinned a little harder as he lowered a fraction of an inch, his tail was the only thing that moved as it swished against the floor excitedly. The urge to pounce was getting stronger, but he couldn’t move yet. The game was only just starting.

So he waited. Not moving a muscle.

John frowned at him some more, then with a sigh of annoyance he was lifting his magazine again.

That was when Rodney knew he could stir and carefully he moved his chin onto the end of the bed. John’s feet were an inch away from his nose. So he scrunched up his face and pursed his top lip, happy when all his whiskers moved forward and tickled the soles of John’s feet.

He watched as John at first tried to ignore it, his feet twitching, trying to move away from the tickling. But Rodney was persistent.

Finally John flinched and sat up with a cry. “For god sake, Rodney!”

Rodney ducked down behind the end of the bed again, making sure his eyes were the most John could see.

Finally John was sporting half a grin. “You know I’m too drunk?” he asked.

Rodney just grinned to himself, and waited.

“We have an early start in the morning.” John stated as he lay back down, picking his magazine up again. “If we don’t both have hangovers. I’ll do you tomorrow night.”

Rodney narrowed his eyes as John once again disappeared behind his trash mag. Quickly Rodney leaned up and ran his tongue up the full length of John’s right foot. But all John did was let out a snort, then cross his legs awkwardly, cutting off that means of torture.

Rodney felt a little cheated. He had never licked John’s foot before, and just like the rest of his Mate, it tasted yummy.

Licking his lips he guessed he had to step up his game. There was no way he was going to wait till after a mission to get laid. One of them would probably end up in the infirmary.

So, standing up he put one paw on the bed, slowly shifting his weight, then lifting his other paw up, watching John the whole time. His Mate just kept reading, ignoring him. Which was good enough for Rodney right now.

Ever so slowly he eased his belly onto the bed and digging his claws into the sheets, began to pull himself forward. It was a little more challenging to get his back legs onto the bed, but he went slowly, and finally he was hunched up at the foot of the bed.

He grinned as he took his eyes off the cover of the magazine, watching for any signs John might lower it again, then looked down.

John’s cock was flaccid, nestled in its thatch of dark hair, but Rodney was sure he could get it to stand to attention soon enough.

He frowned for a moment.

He had given John blowjobs before, but with a tiger’s mouth and teeth, he wasn’t quite sure how that would work. And going to Keller and telling her ‘how’ John’s penis had become punctured, really wasn’t on his bucket list.

With a shrug, he leaned down, sticking out his tongue; he moved it over the sensitive head of John’s cock.

John gave a startled yell.

Rodney saw the magazine go flying over the side of the bed as John went to sit up. But Rodney moved faster as he put a paw on John’s stomach and forced him back down. Then he did the same thing again with his tongue, feeling smug as he watched blood flush John’s cock as it started to get hard.

“Rodney!” John was gasping as Rodney felt one of John’s hands fist into the fur on the back of his paw, the other grabbing at one of Rodney’s fluffy ears. “That… Jesus!”

As John’s cock started to stand proud, Rodney changed his angle, then licked up the underside, from balls to tip, curling his large pink tongue around the shaft as much as he could.

Rodney closed his eyes slightly, as well as his own arousal, he could feel John’s now seeping through to him. And he was a little overcome by the taste of his Mate, John’s scent was attacking all his scenes, and mixed with the alcohol, was making him dizzy with lust.

John made a guttural groan deep in his chest and relaxed back on the bed as Rodney made another swipe with his tongue, then he make little lapping swipes over John’s balls. He could feel John twitching and trembling under his paw, as the humans scent intensified slowly. So much for John not wanting to do anything tonight.

“For god sake!” John suddenly gasped as Rodney felt his ear tugged hard. “Shift so I can fuck you!”

Rodney grinned at the desperation he heard in John’s voice as he carried on licking. But Shifting was one order he chose to dismiss. This was proving to be way too much fun.

He watched as John strained his neck to look down at him, so he purred louder taking another lick as he breathed in the heady scent of John’s musky arousal.

“I… thought you said… this was my choice?” John gasped, a frown forming on his brow.

Rodney didn’t like that look, so he moved forward a little and pressed his throat against the side of John’s cock and purred again. Happy as John’s eyes lost focus a little at the vibration.

“Cheating…” John uttered as his head flopped back on the bed and Rodney purred a little harder as he moved his neck a little, providing more friction against John’s cock. “Just so you know…” John carried on breathily. “I’m not the Fur-Shiftie here!”

Rodney chuckled at that, if the state of John’s erection was anything to go by, he’d just proved that statement a total fib.

But Rodney could feel his own erection straining against his belly. And he knew the alcohol and heady smells were not going to let him last long, his stamina had gone out the window the moment he climbed onto the bed. So he slunk up John’s body, licking his way up John’s belly, swiping a tongue over hard nipples. All the time, rubbing his own cock against John’s over heated skin as he slowly moved his body over John’s. trapping their erections between their bodies.

He purred again as John moved his chin up so Rodney could lick up his neck and under his chin, then he moved his head to lick from John’s shoulder to up under his lovers ear.

John was shivered and gasped as hands came up and Rodney felt them fist into the fur on his shoulders; he could feel his Mate was close to slipping over the edge, so he needed to move fast.

He eased his back leg over John’s then hitched his hips up till his backside was pressed up against John’s cock… then he paused. With a grunt he lifted himself up on his front legs then looked down to where their bodies joined.

A startling realization came creeping into his alcohol, lust, addled mind.

In this form… He was still a virgin!

Also, his fur had dried out all the moisture he had licked over John’s cock… there was no way he could get it in himself now!

He gave a pities whimper. Then John was pushing at his shoulder.

“I… Jesus.” John was saying as Rodney looked back at his face. “I am so gonna make you pay for this!”

Rodney watched as John fumbled under the pillows, then with an effort came out with an almost empty bottle of lube.

Rodney licked at John’s hands as he opened the bottle. At which point John pushed his nose away, then poured some into his palm, then moved his hand to his own cock and slathering the lube over it.

Rodney stood on all fours and watched as John handled himself, he hated to admit it, but it was a huge turn on. And he moved forward a little, crouching over John’s cock he nudged his backside against John’s hand as he slicked himself up, hoping his Mate would get the hint.

“I hate you…” John growled angrily, but Rodney knew he didn’t mean it, well, not too much. But John got the idea and Rodney growled as John moved his hand and a finger pocked at his hole. “Can’t believe I’m doing this!” John all but snarled as Rodney felt a slick finger push its way inside.

It felt tight and strange. It was his first time as a tiger, but it didn’t feel odd at all, not really. But his body was getting with the program as he felt the ring of muscled get loose as John pushed another finger inside.

As John stretched him, he leaned down and began licking his Mates face. He couldn’t kiss him but this was the next best thing as he showed his appreciation. John was spluttering as his other hand tried to bat Rodney away, but soon John was kissing his nose and anything else he could lay his lips against, Rodney felt John’s hand going around to the back of his neck. Then Rodney gave a deep throated purr as he felt John take a handful of fur and skin and squeeze, hard.

Rodney couldn’t take it anymore and he managed to lift his ass up, pulling John’s fingers from inside himself, he hated the lose, but he wasn’t going to remain empty for long as he once again moved himself into position.

It took a few frustrated misses but as soon as he felt the head of John’s cock against his hole. He sat down.

He gave a long drawn out roar as he was suddenly filled to breaking point as he impaled himself to the root of John’s cock.

He panted hard as he tried to relax and slowly he became aware of John doing the same.

“Tight!” John gasped.

Rodney gave a grunt when John shifted his legs, then was pushing up into him.

“Move...!” John ordered breathlessly.

Rodney wasn’t quite sure how he could, his back legs felt like jelly and his front legs shook as he tried to keep himself up, off John. But after a few moment, and another upward thrust from John, he struggled to rise himself, only to fall back down with another yawl of pleasure and pain.

He managed another trembling plunge and his instincts and practise took over as he lost himself in being filled by his Mate, as John moved beneath him, making each thrust a joint effort.

It wasn’t the same inside, and John wasn’t hitting that magical place that would make sparks fly, but, by all that was holy, this was the next best thing as his whole world focused down to John filling and stretching him, each thrust and withdrawal an experience in sensations.

He could feel himself coming closer to the edge, but it wasn’t quite enough as he instinctively lowered his head.

John seemed to know, as always, what he needed. And John’s other hand was taking another handful of fur and skin at the back of his neck, then his hands reflexively squeezed painfully tight.

Rodney saw sparks fly in his vision as he forced John’s cock deep inside his body and came with a long drawn out whine.

It seemed to go on forever as he shivered and shook above his Mate. Finally he collapsed on top of John’s chest. Totally spent.

When the world stopped exploding, with a grunt of surprise he realized John hadn’t come yet, as his Mate began struggling to thrust into him.

“Damn it!” John cried in distress. “Just… a bit…”

Rodney lifted himself just enough so John could get better leverage. It only took a few moments before Rodney found John’s grip tighten once again on his scuff and he was pulling Rodney tight against his chest as he came inside him.

Rodney whined again as John’s orgasm washed through him and he found himself coming again, in an echo of his Mates.

This time he collapsed boneless on his Mate. Their chests heaving together as they tried to catch their breath.

He yelped a little as John pushed him off and to the side and Rodney felt his cock pulling free and he didn’t like the empty feeling. Then John was moving away to get up.

Rodney let out a questioning grumble as he watched John get off the bed.

“Sticky fur.” John replied as he walked around the bed to the bathroom.

Rodney grinned as he rolled onto his back, lifting all four paws into the air as he waited.

A few moments later John was back with a damp towel. Rodney watched as his Mate grinned and shook his head, but he started to rub the towel over his belly and chest, removing the fruits of his labour. Eventually Rodney couldn’t help but squirm at the tickling sensation, and John threw the towel over his shoulder as he then climbed over Rodney to his side of the bed.

Rodney found himself being pushed away and onto his side. He mumbled in annoyance till John’s arms came around him and held him tight.

Rodney guessed he was forgiven as John’s fingers carded through his chest fur. And he sighed happily as his eyes started to close.

“We are not doing this again…” John whispered into his ear.

Rodney frowned, before he started grinning to himself. If he had his way, it wouldn’t be a regular thing, but he was defiantly up for it again at some point, and John hadn’t protested too hard earlier, so anything was possible.

John’s hands tightened in his fur. “You are ‘not’ going to tell anyone about this!” his Mate said more firmly.

Rodney rolled his eyes. You didn’t go around telling people you were a Fur-Shiftie and expected them to respect you. This would be their little secret. So he gave a little snort of understanding as he relaxed again.

John chuckled at his back. “Things I do for you…” But Rodney felt him relax too, and before long he knew John was asleep. And with a happy little purr, he joined him.

 

TBC

Chapter Text

 [EPISODE 14]

++++++++++ [S05E05]

 

Rodney woke up to the sounds of wind and rain lashing against the windows. Beyond the glass the weather was violent and dark as it thrashed around the city, trying to force its damp air through any crack it found, pouring the sea up and over everything it could reach, beating against the building and piers.

Rodney didn’t need to open his eyes to know it was cold and miserable out there. He had seen the storm coming, but none had listened and moved the city to warmer climbs.

John had even joked the city could do with a clean; she was looking a little grubby.

He couldn’t help but smile now though as he snuggled his way deeper under the covers. The cacophony against the window was kind of nice, especially when he was comfortable, warm and dry.

Slowly the sound began to sooth him back to happy dream land.

“Come on sleepy!” John suddenly burst into the bedroom. Sounding far too happy and awake. “You do realise it’s almost lunch time?”

Rodney buried his face totally under the covers as he felt the bed dip as his Mate sat down and then patted his leg, hard. “Ouch!” he grumbled, which amused the stupid chipper idiot.

“Come on.” John insisted, bouncing on the bed.

Rodney was just about to answer when something in his nose tickled and he sneezed hard, and again. Then, at his moment of weakness John managed to yank the covers down, so Rodney sneezed in his general direction.

“Thanks.” John muttered as he wiped the back of his hand on the stolen sheets. “You okay?” he asked, sounding smug.

Rodney still saw the crease of worry on his Mate’s face. “Just a sneeze.” He said, sneezing again. then he groaned as he felt his head begin to throb.

“Getting a cold?” John asked reaching out and putting a hand on Rodney’s forehead. “You do feel a little hot… But you were just buried in sheets.” He ended with a tease.

Rodney batted the hand away. “You said we were on a bit of a stand down today… no need to get up.” He grumbled unhappily.

John hummed. “A bit.” He answered and the tone told Rodney there was more to it, so he glared at his Mate till he cracked and carried on explaining. “We are on emergency duty.”

“What!” Rodney groaned as he put an arm over his eyes. “Great, how the hell did ‘you’ manage that?” he growled, as a first contact team, they were mostly let off being put onto the emergency back up team list.

John sighed, which made Rodney peek at him from under his arm. “Woolsey, ‘suggested’ that it was only fair, and we would make a moral example for the rest of the teams.”

“He emotionally blackmailed you then?” Rodney snorted.

John nodded as he bit his lip. “Pretty much.”

Rodney sighed as he pushed himself up, then sneezed. “I should tell that man he’s not allowed to speak to you without me being present.” He muttered as he wiped his nose with the back of his hand.

“Maybe I should just take you to the infirmary and see about that sneeze.” John said as Rodney caught the worried frown on his Mates face.

Rodney was just about to suggest that was a great idea, and would get them out of emergency duty when John lifted his hand to his ear and listened to him comm..

“Ok, we’ll get geared up.” John said as he pulled a face that usually meant he an unhappy bunny.

“What?” Rodney asked as John got to his feet. He was already throwing the sheets off and getting up.

“Nichols’s team is late for a check in. We need to go check on them.” John answered, then he was talking to Teyla and probably Ronon as Rodney stumbled into the bathroom.

 

++++++++++

 

John sat with Rodney’s head on his lap, slowly stroking the silky fur across the tigers forehead as his Mate slept on.

He hadn’t taken his gaze off Rodney’s closed lids for what seemed like hours.

When they had gotten to M44-5YN and found the whole place flooded, it had been Teyla who noticed that Rodney had a temperature as they waited for the Gate to close and the rescue Jumper to come through. With some manoeuvring, where Teyla had almost fallen into the freezing water, John managed to get to his Mate across the top of the narrow Gate,

Rodney had been burning up as they all waited for the incoming wormhole, shivering as they tried to keep warm.

John had been the one to suggest that Rodney might be warmer if he Shifted, and it had been partially successful. But it had only lasted until Atlantis was able to gate back in. John had pushed Rodney into the back
of the Jumper first. But the big cat got just past the door when he collapsed and hadn’t moved again.

John had tried to keep calm, but his own teeth chattered from the cold, he could feel the dullness coming from his Mate, and it was proving hard to concentrate as he ordered Lorne to go and look for Nichols’s team, even though all his attention wanted to be on Rodney.

It had taken hours before the glacial waters receded enough to let them walk back through the Gate to Atlantis, and it had taken more than John could take when Ronon had picked Rodney’s limp form up and carried it through the Gate as Lorne carried on looking for the lost team.

Once he had put his hands back on his Mate as Ronon laid the tiger on the gurney in the warmth of the gate room, he hadn’t let go since.

Keller had huffed and puffed about it, but John had just ignored her as she tried to do the best she could for Rodney. But as she finally conceded, she wasn’t a Shifter doctor and she didn’t even have the meagre training Carson’s was required to do before going to Atlantis. It also didn’t help that they couldn’t find Carson right now.

Finally Keller had just assured John that Rodney so far seemed like he was just asleep, and that they just had to sit and wait for him to wake up.

So that’s just what John had done, was still doing.

People came and went; Teyla had even brought him a change of clothes and a few towels, then glared at him till he had changed and climbed back on the gurney.

It was getting late, and the general sounds in the infirmary were getting quieter as the day wore down and people drifted away for the evening and John was becoming aware of a slight nagging headache. He wondered if he should ask for some Tylenol and was just about to see if he could catch the eye of the next nurse who passed by, when he felt something brush the back of his hand. Looking down he saw Rodney’s nose twitch and his long white whiskers were brushing the back of his hand. Then a sliver of a blue eye appeared as Rodney began to wake up.

“Hey buddy.” John said, trying to keep his tone low, even though he wanted to shake his Mate awake.

The single eye John could see swivelled to look up at him, then the tiger’s mouth pulled up into a smile.

“Scared me there…” John smiled in return. “How are you feeling?”

For a reply, Rodney did a passing impression of smacking his lips together, then sticking his tongue out as he screwed up his nose.

John chuckled, knowing his Mate was thirsty as he reached out to the pitcher of water on the side table. “It might be easier if you Shift back.” He told Rodney as he filled a plastic beaker. He felt a flash of confusion from Rodney and he turned back hurriedly.

Rodney had lifted himself onto his front legs, but he was still a tiger, and he was looking at John in total confusion.

John felt a cold dread fill his gut.

 

++++++++++

 

For another five hours, they were still sat in the infirmary as Keller concluded that Rodney did, or had, had some kind of viral infection, but it was already making its way out of the tigers system. But she still couldn’t figure out why Rodney seemed to be stuck as a tiger.

John had even gone looking through all the documents in the databases he could lay his hands on, but there had been very little on Shifters, just the basic stuff about health that Carson had brought with him from Earth.

As the rescue team came back with Nichols team, suffering from frost bit and a few broken bones and bruises, but thankfully everyone was still intact, John had finally found what he was looking for.

/In the event of a Shifter becoming stuck in it’s feline form: Contact the nearest Shifter Registry immediately. Utmost urgency!/

With a growl, he read the single sentence out to Rodney, who just snorted as he ground his fury chin into John’s thigh in annoyance.

“I know…” he answered as he scratched the top of Rodney’s head absently as he carried on looking at the tablet in his other hand. “I guess we might have to take a trip back to Earth.”

Rodney huffed.

They both weren’t too happy about the prospect. Mostly because Jeannie and Mary had been plotting something, with dire consequences, the next time they stepped foot on Earth. In all their email’s they had been happy about it. But both he and Rodney just got scary vibes, and neither woman would tell them what it was. Even Dave had been sworn to secrecy.

“We just won’t tell them.” John said firmly, and he felt Rodney agreeing with gusto.

“Colonel?” Keller came up to them, looking harried. “How is it going?” she asked.

John shrugged as he held out the tablet to her. “All I can find is this… So I guess it’s a trip to Earth for us.”

“And you’re sure you’ve tried ordering him back into human form?” Keller asked distractedly as she read the tablet.

John tried very hard to be patient, but the steady low grad headache was not making it easy. “Yup.” He answered as he started shoving at his Mate, so he would get off him as he made to get up. “I’ll go tell Woolsey we need to set off asap.”

“Oh, no!” Keller suddenly said, holding out her arm to block his way. “I can’t allow that.”

He glared at her as Rodney slipped off the bed to stand between him and Keller.

“I’m still not sure what Dr McKay was suffering from.” She said, putting on her firm doctor voice. It would have worked if it still didn’t quiver with uncertainty. “They wont let you go back anyway till we know it’s a local infection or an alien one… I’ll talk to Woolsey, and see if we cant get one of the Shifter Registry members to come to us.”

John nodded at that. It made sense. Even if he wanted this over and done with as soon as possible. He didn’t like the ‘Utmost urgency’ bit. “Thanks. Can we go get something to eat now?”

Keller backed off a step as she actually smiled at him. “Yes, I’ll go see Woolsey now.”

 

++++++++++

 

John was resting his head in his hands when Woolsey politely knocked on the door of John’s office and let himself in.

“Hello.” John said a little sarcastically as he lifted his head, aware that Rodney was doing the same from his place by John’s feet.

“I have news.” Woolsey said as he tentatively sat down in John’s guest chair.

“Good?” John asked as Rodney placed his head on his lap.

Woolsey pulled a face. “Well, the SGC is trying to sort out how to get someone from the Shifter Registry to come here. Apparently their technique for getting a Shifter to... well… Shift, is a very closely guarded secret.”

John chuckled at that. “I bet we still trump them on secrecy.” He said waving his free hand around the office, indicating Atlantis at large.

Woolsey actually smiled. “I don’t doubt.” He answered. “So we are just waiting for another dial in about what’s going to happen. Especially as Doctor Keller has already made it clear that Doctor McKay might still be infectious. And the SGC is on her side about that.”

John shrugged. “Understandable.” He managed as he tugged on one of Rodney’s ears, knowing his Mate was impatient to get back to being a human.

Despite what they had tried in the infirmary, they had had a sparing session with Ronon, trying to burn off some energy, but that hadn’t done anything but left Rodney wheezing with a temperature. Then they tried meditating with Teyla, that just ended up with both of them falling asleep and Teyla being pissy at them.

“So… Any idea on their TOA?” John asked.

Woolsey pulled another face. “I cant say, you know how these things go…”

“Slowly.” John almost growled, feeling Rodney’s annoyance mingle with his own.

“Exactly.” Woolsey answered.

John actually thought that maybe Woolsey was finally being infected by Atlantis’s way of thinking. Think fast and ‘do’ even faster or everyone was gonna die. The only thing that seemed to drag in the city was mandatory off days. Especially if there was nothing to do.

“Doctor Keller say’s you are both bound to base until we get all this sorted.” Woolsey said as he got to his feet. “I’ll contact you once we have a TOA and what will be happening… Good day gentlemen.”

John gave him a vague wave as Rodney grunted a goodbye as Woolsey walked away.

“Well…” John drawled out as he looked down at his Mate. “I guess if we aren’t allowed off base… that technically means down time right?”

Rodney grinned up at him then got to his feet and John followed eagerly. Lorne would pick up his paperwork eventually.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney stared at the toilet in horror.

He had held it in as long as he could, but he was at breaking point, and he needed to go.

“Want me to life the lid?” John was asking as he stood behind him.

Rodney looked up over his shoulder to glare at his ‘so called’ Mate. John was finding this all too amusing and Rodney was giving serious thought to biting his ankles.

John moved past him grinning, then lifted the seat. “Err… I don’t think you can stand up to go…” he gestured in an upward motion at his own belly. “Your anatomy might make it messy.” John grimaced as Rodney rolled his eyes. “Maybe you can try backing up to it?”

Rodney really wasn’t liking the suggestions, and once again he closed his eyes and willed himself to Shift. But nothing happened, he was still stuck, it was like something was blocking the signal in his head. So with a huff he angled his ass up against the rim, then tried to back up, but his back legs just didn’t seem long enough, and the more he tried, the more John couldn’t keep his laughter behind his teeth.

“Sorry, sorry.” John smirked at him. “Keep trying, you almost had it.”

Rodney yipped loudly when his privet part hit cold metal and he flinched away, feeling a slight warm trickle escape. And he was sure if he could blush, he would be a pink and black tiger. With a whine of despair he found himself looking at the shower and without another thought he darted inside.

Then paused.

He had never, ever been to the toilet as a tiger, never even crossed his mind. If he needed to go, he Shifted and took care of business the usual way.

But then there was a strange kind of squirming inside his head that was unbelievably unpleasant and his body took over and he squatted, moving his back legs apart as he began to pee.

The shear release was so orgasmic he couldn’t help the purr that rumbled in his chest as his bladder emptied on the floor of the shower, disappearing down the drain.

“I guess that felt good.” John chuckled behind him and Rodney spun and snarled at his Mate.

John’s eyes widened before Rodney realised what he was doing and stopped. He had never snarled at his Mate and meant it before… not even in a humiliating situation like this. And he didn’t like the connotations, not one bit.

“Sorry.” John answered quickly, then he was gesturing for Rodney to get out as he reached in to turn on the shower to get rid of the smell. “At least we have a solution for the time being.”

Rodney just slunk into the bedroom. He was feeling shameful enough, knowing that if he had to go ‘number 2’, John would have to clean that up. But what was freaking him out more, was the way he had turned on John.

He was sure if his Mate had been any closer, he might have actually tried to swipe at him, if not bite him… and mean it.

The primal urge was a very scary one.

Sure, they had play fought together, hell, he had even attacked Ronon… but the feeling that had surged though him had been like when he had attacked Wraith. When he had let go and instinct had taken over, where tooth and claw where his weapons and he knew how to use them…

Slowly he slunk up onto the bed and lay down, suddenly feeling heavy and light headed. Maybe he was sicker that anyone thought, because something wasn’t right.

He felt the bed dip, then felt John settle down at his side and put his arms around him, holding him tight. Rodney moved into the hold.

“It’s gonna be okay.” John whispered into his ear. “Don’t worry about anything you do in the shower, I’ll deal with it.”

Rodney moved his head so he could push it under John’s chin. Grateful, that for the moment, John was understanding instead of teasing, he wasn’t sure his nerves could take it right now, he was so shaken.

“Let’s get some sleep.” John said as Rodney felt fingers digging into the middle of his shoulder blades and massaging. “The Registry people should be here tomorrow.”

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney was pacing the length of his apartment like the cadged animal he was.

When they had woken up two days ago too the sound of someone banging on their door. Everything had gone to hell. (That’s how it felt for Rodney.)

The people of Terronon were demanding John and Teyla’s presence, or they were going to stop all supplies. Apparently the stuck up bastards would only renew their trade proposal with the original trade makers, and that was John and Teyla. Ronon and Rodney were not requested, but Ronon had gone anyway.

Rodney had wanted to go, but Keller still wouldn’t allow him off base, and John had reluctantly agreed he should stay behind.

He had felt his Mates reluctance, like his own annoyance. But there was still nothing he could do but accept John hugging his head, laying a kiss between his ears in the gate room, then disappearing through the wormhole, with a wave and a command to Amelia not to leave his side.

The girl had been very diligent in carrying out her orders, and she hadn’t left Rodney alone for a moment, following him around like his shadow. She had even cleaned up the mess he had had to leave, twice, in the shower.

Even at night, she hadn’t left him. Disappearing into the bathroom, only to come out Shifted, where she had climbed into the bed and cuddled up against his side.

He had been shocked the first night, but as her very short haired lioness body had lain against his own, he had found some comfort in her warmth. It also helped that he knew she was so smitten with Ronan, there was no sexual tension. Not like there would be anyway, but he stopped the embarrassment.

“I just got a call from Woolsey.” Amelia suddenly said, braking Rodney out of his mindless pacing. He had forgotten about her. “The Health Secretary from the Central Shifter Registry is coming in soon… We need to get to the designated room.” She was heading to the door as Rodney followed.

He growled a little in annoyance. It had taken forever to sort out this damn meeting, and he was still angry John wasn’t back, the trade negotiation dragging out as they were. It also wasn’t helping that Amelia couldn’t seem to help him back into his Shifter uniform. Eventually Rodney had just snapped at her and walked away. He doubted even John could have done it. So it would mean he was going to Shift into human form, totally naked, in front of a stranger.

But then nothing was helping his mood much right now. He found himself being more confused by the most mundane of things. He was never very good at remembering peoples names, not like he needed too right now, but he had forgotten Miko’s name yesterday. It had taken him about half an hour to look up her records on the tablet Amelia had given him, it didn’t help that touch screen technology was resistant to claws, to find out her name. She was part of the original team for heavens sake, he was sure he knew everyone by name now… after all there weren’t many people left from back then.

“I had a blanket put in the room and asked Major Lorne to put your spare gear in the room too.” Amelia was saying as she walked at his side. “I’ve heard the procedure is quick and painless.”

Dr Shwaby had told him much the same thing, but even she wasn’t sure what happened and little Lilia only had hearsay stories that he had heard himself.

Rodney huffed. He just wanted to get it over with.

The room the Shifter person had been led too was just off the Gate room, and apparently they had missed all the kafuffle, because there were guards outside the room already.

Woolsey has said the Shifter representative would be blindfolded to the room and back again. Rodney didn’t know how they winged that, but he really didn’t care. He just wanted his thumbs again. You don’t know how much you missed them till you couldn’t wipe your own ass… literally.

Amelia smiled at the guards and they let them pass without any hassle.

The first thing Rodney was aware of when he entered was a smell, and he wrinkled up his nose and growled low in his throat threateningly as he turned to look at the elderly man sat in the only chair in the room.

The man smelled of Shifter Dormitories.

Rodney couldn’t put his finger on what that smell was, but it always turned his stomach. It reminded him of his first weeks in the Dorms, separated from everyone and everything he knew. It was like a boiling pot of fear, depression and a unique whiff of the canteen, and it’s horrible food.

He wasn’t aware of his hackles rising as he took a snarling step towards the only human in the room.

“Hey!” Amelia snapped as Rodney felt knuckles hit between his ears, har