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The problem was not that John didn’t trust McKay. John didn’t trust anyone; that was normal operating procedure. The problem was that McKay wouldn’t leave him the fuck alone.

The corollary to that was that John couldn’t exactly outrun the bastard.

The sub-corollary was that John didn’t have anywhere to run.

Which brought him back to his initial realization, the one that crept up on him along with lucidity when he first emerged from the medically-induced coma he didn’t know he was in: McKay had John by the balls.

The money John had tried to run with before being hit by an inexplicable urge to save the world was long gone, probably impounded or whatever the SGC version of that was. No one had mentioned the bag of money John theoretically never saw and did not know anything about, but John didn’t trust McKay, which meant he had to work under the assumption that McKay knew all about the money and was just waiting for the right moment to hold it over his head.

John’s car, which was the sole repository of his net worth, was probably junked. John didn’t have the heart or the strength to ask about it.

John had walked out on his job, and his rent had already been three weeks late before he got shot up and stuck in a nameless Air Force hospital for an indeterminate period of time.

Basically, McKay could name his price, and John tried not to laugh when the phrase “cash, grass or ass” popped into his mind. Mainly because laughing hurt like a motherfucker, what with the long incision down the front his whole damn torso.

The Scottish doctor (and why the Air Force had a Scottish doctor on staff, John could not figure to save his life) gave John the whole story a few days after John woke up from the coma but days before they weaned him off the morphine: only one broken rib, but multiple gunshot wounds to his lungs, spleen, intestines and liver. His left hip bone had been nicked by a bullet that was still somewhere inside his body. In order to fix him they had to slice him open practically stem to stern, straight through his abdominal wall, and even then John died twice on the table. John had looked at the doctor and wondered why the guy bothered to try and save him.

So John waited in recovery, feeling like his guts were trying to make an escape out through the stitches every time he coughed, while McKay stalked him like a cat. A big, smart cat with a lopsided mouth and fierce blue eyes. McKay was not a looker, but like any jungle cat on home turf, he had a ruthless efficiency to his movement that was elegant and scary. The nurses who terrified John with their brutal handling of him were in turn terrified of McKay, and the only person McKay ever showed fear to was the sweet, kindly, soft-spoken Scottish doctor who bustled around the room and reminded John of his favorite nanny.

McKay never tipped his hand, but one day when the abdominal scar was more like scar tissue and less like “gaping wound held together with string”, the Scottish doctor walked in looking frantic. He scanned the room.

“Is Mer here?”


“Mer. Mer? Oh, ah, Dr. McKay?”

Mer. John filed that away, for what purpose he didn’t know. Yet. “Nope. He usually comes in after four.”

“Right.” The doctor spun and flew out of the room. Something about the look he cast John made him uneasy. Something was up, and he didn’t know what, and it bothered him.

McKay stormed in three hours later looking ungodly smug. “I knew it. I can’t believe no one ran the tests. They just assumed, and seriously, you’d think they got their PdDs from mail order.” McKay walked over and grabbed John’s upper arm like he owned it. Which, John figured he did, but usually McKay was quiet and standoffish when he came to stand duty watch, or whatever McKay thought he was doing.

“What tests?” John finally asked when he got tired of McKay’s creepy smile.

“ATA gene.” McKay squeezed his arm until it hurt and leaned over. “You’re mine, Sheppard. All mine.”

McKay was a bastard and had John over a barrel, but for one brief moment before reason kicked in, while John stared into cold blue eyes that sized him up like a piece of meat, John almost didn’t mind.