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Plan D, or How Rodney McKay Went Offworld and Found His Way Home Again

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"You know, Rodney," said Carter, "I really don't think this is going to work out if you accuse me of sexually harassing you every time I turn down one of your project proposals."

Rodney narrowed his eyes at his ex-wife cum evil siren boss. "Well, it can't be a problem with my project," he said darkly, "because clearly it's devastatingly brilliant. Is it petty jealousy, then?"

"Petty jealousy is more your style than mine," Carter sighed, setting down her tablet and rising from her desk chair, coming around her desk to face him. "Look, Rodney, it's not that this sort of thing doesn't have value, it's just that we're working on limited funding and I have to pick and choose how we allocate our resources here."

"Oh my god," said Rodney, stricken. "You've become a bureaucrat. I was fooled by the messy casual ponytail."

Carter seemed to work for a moment to set this (totally fair) observation aside. She perched on the edge of her desk and folded her arms across her chest. "You're not used to living on a budget anymore," she said, "but these are the realities of governmental work. You knew this going in."

Rodney could hardly argue there. He mirrored Carter's posture and glared, hoping to carry the day with the sheer force of his will.

"I don't think we're keeping you busy enough," said Carter thoughtfully.

"Busy enough?" Rodney squawked, offended. "I have over a dozen simulations running right now. I'm managing four separate investigations into hyperspace technology, shielding, cloaking, and ZPM development. And, might I add, I have a very demanding social schedule. Yoshi doesn't feed himself! And John doesn't suck his own"—

"Don't ask, don't tell!" Carter shouted, raising her hands, crazy-eyed.

Rodney pointed at her. "Ha, there's a new president in your White House," he threatened, "you can't hide behind your asinine military policies forever!"

"Regardless," said Carter, rolling her eyes, "what I was trying to say, before all this, was that I think it'd be good for you to do some gate team duties. Sheppard's down a man since Kavanagh left and his team's scheduled to explore some interesting energy readings later this week. Why don't I slot you in?"

Rodney was stunned. "Oh, so now that I won't give in to your demands for sexual gratification, you're going to have me killed?"

"Rodney," said Carter, long-suffering.

Rodney chewed on his lip for a moment while fear and curiosity battled for supremacy. "What kind of energy readings?" he asked. "Also, if I come back dead John's going to kick your ass, I don't care how many pairs of girly sweats you try to bribe him with."

"Why can't you do my weapons training?" Rodney complained, staring at his laptop screen and the email from Major Lorne asking Rodney if 1530 tomorrow would work for him.

"Because I'm not sure it's a good idea, combining you and me with firearms," said John. He was lounging shirtless on Rodney's bed, freshly showered and wearing nothing but his Snoopy boxers. "It would end with a gut wound for one of us." He shoveled another forkful of Athosian stir-fry into his mouth. "Probably both of us."

"Here I was picturing sort of sexy gunplay fun," said Rodney, closing his laptop. "You know, the smoky smell of gunpowder, gun oil, the metal, the sparks, the thigh holsters. You'd stand behind me and show me how to aim, with your crotch all pressed up against my ass."

"You have watched way too much military porn," John said, unmoved, and cleaned out the last of the stir-fry.

"I still think you liked it when I borrowed your dog tags that one time," said Rodney.

"I think you're getting 'you' and 'me' confused again," said John. He dumped the empty plate onto the floor. "Listen, I know you think it's foreplay when we argue about dumb shit but when we're offworld I need you to shut up and listen to me. I'm the ranking officer on this team, don't forget."

"You're the only officer," Rodney pointed out, getting up and unbuttoning his pants. "Hey, do I get one of those vests with all the pockets and straps?"

"Yes," said John. "Do I have to worry about you and Lorne on the firing range tomorrow?"

"Of course not," Rodney sniffed. "I'm more into blondes, anyway."

"This is actually not comforting," said John.

John's team was made up of Rodney, John, and two aliens. Rodney had met both Teyla and Ronon before – they were John's special alien friends, Rodney was given to understand, and therefore Rodney was supposed to be nice to them – but he hadn't seen much of them since then, living most of his life between the lab and his quarters. He honestly hadn't thought too much of them upon first meeting; they were pretty obviously the object of bureaucratic tokenism – let's make sure the natives have a voice in our neo-imperialistic intergalactic colony! – but he gained a whole new appreciation for John's special alien friends when he saw them armed to the teeth and forming a tight protective stance around Rodney as they waited for the gate to finish dialing.

"I'm not sure if this is because I'm his boyfriend or because I'm invaluably linked to the success of the expedition," Rodney stage-whispered to the less-scary one (Ronon) "but I appreciate the show of support nonetheless."

"What do you mean, boyfriend?" said Ronon in a weird growly rumbly voice.

"Please tell me you're not another one of his many exes," Rodney said, rolling his eyes. "John is taken. Hello?"

John turned around, giving Rodney the crazy eyes – he'd learned a lot from Carter. "Don't ask, don't tell," he said between clenched teeth.

"I'm Canadian!" Rodney yelled over the whooshing of the gate. "He's – I don't know! Something non-American! We don't have to live by your ridiculous rules!"

John's shoulders tensed and squared. His tac vest shifted, and suddenly Rodney could see the tiny metal links on his dog tag chain. Rodney's mouth went dry.

"It's just a trial run," John said, looking over at Teyla and then Ronon, completely bypassing Rodney. "It's not a permanent thing."

"Whatever," said Ronon. "I still like him better than Kavanagh."

Teyla cast a cool glance at Rodney. "I as well," she said.

Rodney spent the first two minutes out of the gate completely terrified, starting at every noise and reaching for his sidearm over and over. John did a lot of eye-rolling and Ronon did a lot of smirking and Teyla pressed her lips together like she was trying not to smirk or roll her eyes, and Rodney shouted at them all about how they were just too intellectually inferior to grasp the potential dangers that surrounded them, that at any moment millions of things could go terribly wrong and they could die horribly and – and, ooh. Energy readings!

Rodney ran down the energy readings to a wide-open field and circled a few times while John sighed and adjusted his sunglasses and asked stupid questions. "I don't know what the readings mean!" Rodney yelled. "Might I remind you that Dr. Simpson didn't even get this far, which is why I'm stuck here on Planet Allergens with you and your special alien friends?" Rodney knelt down and pulled at the long grass underfoot. "I think there may be a buried structure under here," he said. "Some kind of Ancient ruins, maybe, or – ahh!"

A huge pedestal not unlike a DHD had suddenly popped out of the earth when John had knelt down beside Rodney. They'd both leaped back just in time to avoid being brained by the thing.

"Cool," said John, getting up and dusting off his pants.

"Oh, yes, very cool," Rodney grouched, and popped open the panel at the base of the pedestal thing, hooking up his tablet's diagnostic leads. "Oh, cool," Rodney said helplessly as the display started scrolling Ancient text.

After the pedestal thing (which turned out to be the gate-keeping device for a very cool puddlejumper manufacturing facility) Rodney somehow became a permanent member of John's gate team. It was, by turns, exhilarating and horrifying, and sometimes it was both at once. Rodney got shot with an arrow (in the ass!) and then he got shot with a stunner (in the leg, but it still hurt like a fucker) and then John got shot with a gun and held hostage and Rodney maybe started to understand John's insane "leave no man behind" ethos because it was abruptly apparent that Rodney would do anything, anything he had to in order to see John safe at home wearing Sam's sweatpants and pigging out on Athosian stir-fry.

"We will get him back," Teyla told Rodney, squeezing his shoulder.

"I'll get him back," said Ronon, much more reassuringly what with the way he was stroking his blaster and scowling at the gate.

In the end, Rodney was the one who got John back, using a life signs detector mated horribly with a transporter. "I rescued you with my brain!" Rodney crowed, when John rematerialized in the back of the jumper, and John clutched at his bloody bandaged shoulder and swore and went pale. "Whatever," said Rodney, "Zelenka will totally be in awe, that's all I'm saying."

"Zelenka isn't cleared for this stuff," John said, sagging onto the metal deck and sweating.

"Of course not," said Rodney briskly, getting a blanket and tucking it under John's head. "Forget I said anything. I've never told him about any of this. Non-disclosure, government secrets, et cetera."

Luckily John went kind of woozy right after that and Rodney was fairly certain he didn't remember it, later.

So they built puddle jumpers and Rodney unlocked the mysteries of space-time and John got shot at quite a lot. Carter seemed to step down her kind-of-embarrassing (for her) campaign to come between John and Rodney. Yoshi mostly stopped trying to leap onto their neighbors' balcony, thank god, because they were twenty stories up and it was terrifying to watch Yoshi's fat ginger ass sail narrowly over the abyss and Rodney thought Carter might kill him if Rodney had to tell her that their stupid joint-custody cat had died in such a moronic way.

Rodney showed Ronon how to play Scrabble, and Ronon carved the Satedan alphabet into the backs of the tiles to make the game more interesting – they each had to use the other person's writing system while spelling words phonetically in their own language. Teyla became obsessed with Doctor Who after one team movie night and that made a lot of her alien princess mystique drop away, especially when she took Rodney's side against John over who was the best Doctor (Tom Baker, of course.)

At some point, John choked out painfully, post-coitus, that he was glad that Rodney and Ronon and Teyla – that Rodney had – that Rodney saw now, how Teyla and Ronon – "They're family," said Rodney, surprised by the lump in his throat. "John. I get it." And John gave him a dark grateful look and kissed Rodney's mouth and his cheeks and his ears, all in a rush, all desperate and fond and sweet.

One day, Rodney put himself in the path of a Wraith to save John's stupid suicidal non-existent ass, and that night John pressed Rodney down into their mattress and said, "Don't you ever do that again, McKay, do you hear me? Not ever, never again, you nearly died, you asshole," and Rodney nodded and said "Yes, sir," and "No, sir," and "Hey, do you think you could wear your tac vest next time we do this?" and John was clearly torn between killing Rodney and laughing hysterically.

"Could you make that chili again?" John asked, later on, calmed back into his usual laziness.

"Wow," said Rodney, "you really are kind of suicidal."