Jenn: But I can't stop *editing* the fucker.
Jenn: And so the version there is goinng ot end up *so freaking differnet* from the one on my site if this doesn't end.
justabi: It'll be like two for the price of one.
justabi: Or, you could just stop.
Jenn: You say that like I can.
Jenn: well, I did close it.
Jenn: That is something.
Jenn: I just keep seeing comma splices and places Rodney could start his own religion.
You know, there has to be something I could be working on right now that isn't, you know, rekilling the dead horse.
They're halfway down the beach, sand soft beneath Rodney's feet, when he realizes this is all a dream.
"Okay, this sucks."
Beside him, John gives him a sideways smile, pulling his sunglasses down briefly to flash too-green, too-amused eyes. "Right. That took you long enough."
The sun is setting in a spectacular pink-gold that never appears in nature, perfect over dark blue, glass-clear water, stunning and absolutely nothing like the Puerto Vallarta they left in the middle of the night. They never even made it to the beach.. But the smells are the same, the sounds of the surf, the soft, salty air.
"I don't have lucid dreams."
"When you piss off Lorne enough to sedate you after trying to take over the plane--and just let me say, *cool*--"
"The son of a bitch *sedated* me?" Coming to a stop, Rodney frowns up at John. "You are so fucking with me."
"In the pudding, Rodney." Pulling the glasses up, John grins. "Didn't I teach you anything about stealth?"
"Didn't I teach you anything about not getting killed?" Rodney watches the smile fade with fierce satisfaction, not unmixed with pain. "So you just can't fucking judge, can you?"
Rocking back on his heels, John tilts his head to the side. "Okay. Obviously, we're going about this all wrong. Hi, Rodney. I'm your subconscious. We're here to talk before you do something stupid like, say, crash the fucking *plane*. Dead or not, you're alive, and if I'm alive, you wouldn't *believe* how pissed I'll be if that happens."
Oh. Right. Frowning, Rodney crosses his arms. "You have suggestions?"
"Not making Lorne toss you out the airlock would be a good start. He was following orders. And you need him."
I need you, Rodney says, but lets his narrowed eyes speak for themselves. Sighing, John ducks his head, rubbing the back of his neck before dropping to a crouch and picking up a conveniently located stick. "Okay, again. You need Lorne. He's former Air Force, he has no love of the military, and hey, he and I have a history. You're perfectly capable of getting to him psychologically, so cut the physical attacks out, okay?" John draws the stick through the sand, craning his head up to pin Rodney with a raised eyebrow. "You need a plan."
"I need a plan," Rodney echoes. Frowning, he stares at the random lines in the sand, slowly condensing into something that--wait. Wait. "What is that?"
"This? Nothing." John wipes it out, but not before Rodney thinks he recognizes two of the equations. "Why do you think Lorne wanted to stop in Panama?"
Rodney watches John trace another set, entranced. "I--don't know. Is that--"
"Focus." John wipes out the second set. "You worked for the military. What's here?"
"A--Fort Howard." Rodney freezes at the third set. "Those are the ZPM--"
"Yeah. Used to be American until 1999. What are the chances that our boy Lorne was stationed here?"
Rodney blinks and drops to kneel on the sand, watching the equations form. "How the fuck would I know?"
"Common sense. You have the facts. Lorne wanted a safe place to refuel. And he was awfully friendly with the nice man filling up the tanks, wasn't he?" The fourth set is the first power projections. The rudimentary beginnings of the bomb he'd never finished.
Reaching out, Rodney stops his hand at the last line. "I stopped here."
"No, you didn't." John keeps going, faster, too fast, and Rodney closes his eyes against it, but that doesn't change what he sees. "That was only what you showed them."
Sitting flat, Rodney kicks at the neat lines, but nothing erases them, sand falling away to leave every symbol clear. "Stop it."
John ignores him, starting another line, neat, precise block letters spelling out the language of the end of the world. "Stop it!"
John stops, letting the stick drop. "That's what we were both willing to die to protect."
Rodney nods, mouth dry, tasting of sand and salt. "I--"
"Got your attention? Because if you're going to do this, you're going to need help. We both know there's no way in hell you can do it alone. You need Lorne. Cooperation at very least. Active assistance if possible. He's the one that knows the Air Force well enough to get information. Especially if he has retired buddies here with connections."
Huh. Rodney watches John start to erase the equations, line by line. "What--why would they--"
John tilts his head, eyes narrow and bright. "Maybe Lorne wasn't the only one stationed here."
Lorne's sitting up when Rodney comes out of the room, gun obvious on one hip. He took Rodney's, an action Rodney can't quite forgive yet.
"Do you really think I'm going to run away in *Panama City*?" Rodney asks, leaning back against the doorframe. "Hello, no Spanish? I'm going to--"
"Stay in your room," Lorne says easily, shifting on the chair. The night's too warm, sweat already breaking out beneath Rodney's shirt. "Until we leave. Tomorrow."
Fuck. "I thought you said we'd be here a couple of days."
"We were," Lorne says genially. "Then I found out you were fucking *nuts*."
Rodney frowns. "I'm not--"
"You tried to take over my plane. Viva la revolucion, Rodney, so not my thing. Get your ass back to bed. We're leaving as early in the morning as I can get that plane up in the air, and you'll be Weir's responsibility." And thank God, he doesn't say, but he's thinking it. Loudly. Right at Rodney.
"Fine." Think. Think, think, think. "That guy that's doing the refueling? He a friend of yours?"
"Wouldn't be helping a fugitive if he wasn't," Lorne says promptly, but he looks suspicious. "McKay--"
"Just curious if I was going to die a grisly Central American death instead of a grisly Northern American one." Rubbing his sweaty palms against his thighs, Rodney wishes to God he knew how to do casual, trying a visualization of John in various cantinas, which doesn't do much for anything but Rodney's libido. Fuck. "I want--"
"No." Lorne takes out a knife and starts to clean his nails. Rodney rolls his eyes.
"You haven't heard what I'm asking."
"What are you asking?"
"Ask your buddy about unexpected transfers of materials from Colorado."
Lorne's knife stills. "What?"
"I was base security," Lorne says harshly. "The Project--"
"Yeah," Rodney says breathlessly. "Colorado to Antarctica, where they were going to do the testing. A good place to keep a hostage for blackmail, too."
Lorne stares at him. "You think Sheppard's alive."
Rodney breathes out. "Show me a body. Until then, he's alive. Unless this Teyla is the stupidest person ever born, she turned him over for--how much for him, anyway?"
"Five million. Fifty for both of you."
Christ. "She took a five million guarantee. Five million. Do not tell me anyone, even a bitch feeling the need to avenge her boyfriend or whatever, is going to sneeze at that."
Lorne's mouth turns down. "Go to bed, McKay--"
"Go. To. Fucking. Bed." Standing up, he tries looming, but Rodney's not too impressed. "Even if he's alive--"
"--his orders were to get you the fuck out. Not to wait around and--"
"--and he's in the hands of the Air Force--"
"--do something so monumentally stupid as to try to rescue--"
"He knows," Rodney says quietly, and Lorne stops, blinking. "He knows where we're going and who we are going to. He's seen the schematics of the ZPM. I'm pretty sure he can remember enough to give them a pretty good start."
Lorne stares at him for a second. "How do you--"
Rodney closes his eyes. "They'll lock him in a cell. They'll starve him, or freeze him, or--or hurt him. And he'll--he'll try--"
"--try and hold out and he can probably do it for a while. But they trained him, didn't they? They know how to break him. Eventually, he won't remember why it's supposed to be a secret. And he'll tell. Or he'll kill himself somehow, after God only knows how long--"
"McKay, stop it--"
"It could be a while." Rodney opens his eyes. "I can try on my own. And I will, here if I can, Rio if you make it too fucking hard. You can't watch me every second for the rest of your life, and frankly, I'm a lot smarter than you. I can find a way to get the information I need, and I'll go do it myself."
"You'll get yourself killed."
Rodney crosses his arms. "We have a habit of saving each other's lives, me and John. I thought I'd go ahead and catch up now."
Lorne doesn't move, knife forgotten in one hand. "You're crazy." There's honest shock in his voice. Rodney thinks of John in the Mexican sun and smiles a little.
"I'm tired of giving things up."
"I wanted to see the Mayan ruins," Rodney says, trying to keep from sliding on the sand. "You were all, drive, drive, drive, and we could have done some tourist stuff. That wouldn't have been so much to ask. And this beach--I would have liked to actually walk on this beach."
"Easy, McKay," John says, hand closing over his elbow. It feels so real he actually has to stop, catch his breath, and John stops with him, lowering his sunglasses to give him a curious look. "Something up?"
"We're going to see that buddy of Lorne's." It's not real, Rodney's mind says, but John feels right, long, graceful fingers pressing fingerprints into his skin. Tanned from all these dreams in the sun. "We're--Christ, I have no idea what I'm doing."
"Sure you do," John says genially, and Rodney looks down, aching a little to see small bare toes digging into the sand. It's all too vivid. "You need to relax."
"Just incipient insanity," Rodney answers, and John's hand drops away. "I'll relax when I can kick your ass for pulling this shit."
John smirks. "You're hot when you're bitching, McKay."
Oh, for the love of.... "I miss you."
John's head tilts in a slow, teasing smile, hotter than the sun above them, the sand beneath his feet, dark hair a mess. Feeling daring, Rodney reaches to touch it, soft and salt-stiff, bending beneath his fingers. He even smells real, salt and sand and sunscreen and sweat. John leans into the touch, lashes sweeping down, hiding the vivid green of his eyes "I miss you, too."
"When I think--" Think of all the things they'll do to him. John's seen the schematics. He knows where Rodney will go. He-- "I can't--" And a part of him wants John to tell. Whatever will keep him alive.
"Hey." The long, narrow fingers close over his jaw, gently insistent. "Everything's good, okay? We're going to do this. We got away from them once."
Rodney moves closer--here, he can feel the warmth of John's body. If he touches, he'll feel smooth skin, coiled muscle beneath, rough hair, John, with fingers that have memorized that body, knows every bump of spine, the curve of his shoulder, all the places he hides his guns. He *knows*. "I just--"
"The mission," John whispers, breath against Rodney's lips. *John*. "Keep your focus. First, information." John's fingers stoke slowly up his cheek, lingering at his temple. "You know, it's not like there'll be records saying, moved John Sheppard to Antarctica."
"I know *that*, Rodney shoots back, eyes closing under the steady touch, long strokes that turn every nerve alight.
"And there's no guarantees that they won't kill me if they think I don't know anything. After all, they don't know they have a hostage, do they?"
Point. The thought chills him, even in the bright Caribbean sun. "I have to hurry."
"You just have to get it right," John says, covering the space between them until they touch. Rodney's blind reach brings bare skin wherever he touches, soft and slick and real. So fucking *real*. "But you have to get me before they take me to Antarctica."
Rodney opens his eyes, breathing John in. "It's been three days. They can't have moved him out of the country yet." Assuming Teyla dragged him straight to her employer. After--after whatever she would do with him. At least a day or two for that, to get the money. There's a chance he's still with Teyla, if she--extended her negotiations. Rodney shuts his eyes against the thought.
"You can do this," John murmurs against his ear, warm and too-real, too vivid; John's sex and safety, warmth and belonging. Rodney doesn't know how not to respond, even if this is only his head. John taught him to shoot a gun and drive a get-away car, and then he left and left Rodney to learn how not to give up. But he didn't teach him how not to want.
Rodney closes his eyes. "I'm going to find you."
I'm still deciding whether to use this and take off from it, kill it dead and start somewhere else, or use it as a transition. Hmm.