Not Christmasy so much as *chatty*. Okay, first off, it was an AIM convo and one in the morning. So honestly, it was already crack. I just--expanded it.
This is not fic. Well, it's fic, but it's not good fic. It's more trashy crack fic. It's the trailer park cousin of crack fic, the one with two heads that always calls you darlin and never takes baths.
To clarify; chat came first. The rest is--again, *four in the morning*. Freaking John/Wraith seems like an awesome idea at four in the morning.
With input, additions, and mocking by eleveninches, amireal and everagaby.
If I Were Writing a Mensa AU, I'd Totally Do This (But I'm Not)
by jenn, eleveninches, amireal, and everagaby
It starts like this:
John wakes up with a weird feeling of vertigo, vaguely aware there's cool metal pressed into his back and a familiar but not familiar face hovering above him. It takes a few seconds to resolve, and boy, that's the last time he ever touches *anything* in McKay's lab.
Hazel eyes narrow, taking him in like a substandard machine, flickering back and forth before dismissing him with a shrug of his shoulders. John pushes himself up on his elbows, seeing Rod staring at him with wide blue eyes. "Huh."
"You didn't tell me he was a grunt," Sheppard says, sounding like someone had shoved a stick deep into his ass and never pulled it out again. It's weird, that it only takes five seconds for John to want his gun like he wants air.
John smiles. "You must be Sheppard. Nice to meet you."
That's when everything goes dark.
Seperis: I really want the one where John hates Mensa!Sheppard.
Seperis: And starts being really really unimaginably dumb around him just to irritate him more.
Eleveninches: you could do John going to the MENSA au, with a flashback?
Seperis: I actually started writing it where John and Rod and Sumner are all drinking.
Seperis: And hiding from Sheppard.
Seperis: who like, figured out how to build ZPMs.
Seperis: And is so insufferable John wants to choke him to death.
"Let me get this straight," John says, feeling like he might need to have this repeated a few hundred more times before it begins to make sense. "He's *psychotic*? You did not tell me that. You *never said crazy, Rod*!"
Rod soothes him with Rodney's quick gestures, but keeps looking behind him, like the clumsy guy that looked at John with such disdain is following them or something. "He's--a little antisocial."
"That's why we're running away from him?" John twists around to see Sheppard working on two laptops as the lab doors slide shut. People they pass in the hall flinch when they see him before doing a double take, slowing in wonder, and John doesn't want to know what that means. "Rod. You said MENSA. You did not say *scary*."
"Scary is such a relative term," Rod says, hustling him into an open door, which turns out to be a neat, scarily Rodney-like room where Rod shoves him down on the bed, looking at him hungrily--and whoa, okay, somehow, John missed this during the entire ZPM drama. John had sometimes wondered what it would be like to have Rodney's undivided attention, and wow, it's just like he would have thought, except Rodney's never looked at him like this. "Sheppard's very--focused."
John can't even put that sentence in context. "He called me a monkey!"
Rod waves it aside. "He calls everyone a monkey." Sitting down on the bed beside him, Rod sighs. "Okay, I might have not been entirely--forthcoming. Dr. Sheppard--"
"Oh my God," John moans, lying back, covering his eyes. If he's lucky, he'll wake up in the infirmary and be told he had a horrible, horrible concussion and not that, you know, *moved universes*.
"He's always been kind of--abrasive," Rod says fondly.
John opens his eyes. No infirmary. "By abrasive, you mean asshole."
"And by kind of, I mean, a lot," Rod says sadly, and John picks up a pillow and burrows in with a tiny moan, because life officially sucks and oh my God, Rodney's better be working on this or John will Ascend, learn how to cross dimensions, and *kick his ass*.
Eleveninches: MENSA SHEPPARD SHOULD BE SMARTER THAN RODNEY
Seperis: Like, every time they see each other.
Seperis: And he's all sad for Rod and Sumner.
Seperis: Who are BFF and who hide in Rod's room.
Seperis: Mensa!Sheppard totally is
Seperis: If this is going to reverse?
Seperis: OH HELL YES HE IS.
John: *sick horror* Do his shirts ever match his pants?
Rod: He wears yellow and orange together.
The real horror is that Sheppard seems *totally unaware of how he dresses*.
John can't figure out how on earth anyone, even this guy, can possibly make that many fashion disaster choices on *accident*.
Rod sighs as they sneak past the lab to the messhall before Sheppard sees them. No one wants Sheppard's attention if they can help it. "He's--like that. One day he didn't even bother with shoes. One day, he forgot *pants*."
Rod sighs wistfully. John so does not want to know.
Seperis: John: Again. Why has no one shot him?
Eleveninches: his hair would be longish and heavy and in his face
Eleveninches: like, the flan circa 1992
Seperis: He's always pushing it behind his ears. YES
Seperis: And he's always getting up in the middle of conversations and saying "You're boring and stupid."
John: Has he ever had sex?
Rod: *depressed* He's saving himself for someone Ascended.
John: Chaya? Teer?
Rod: *depressed more* He said they were sub par.
John stares. "He--he's *told* people he's a virgin?" Dear God, he thinks. Dear, dear God.
Rod sighs heavily as they duck out of the messhall. Sheppard is always in right at six. It's probably the creepiest thing about Dr. John Sheppard--he's *always on time*. Everywhere. "He's saving himself for Ascension. Or a superior being. He's*proud* of it."
John totally gets why Rod seems to have a drinking problem. "No, seriously. He *tells people*?"
Eleveninches: Rod: Daniel Jackson. :(
Eleveninches: GOD HOW HILARIOUS WOULD THAT BE
Eleveninches: MENSA John would be like, he ascended TWICE.
Seperis: OH MY GOD YOU WANT SHEPPARD TO HAVE A HOPELESS CRUSH ON DANIEL?
Seperis: THAT IS SICK AND WRONG AND AWESOME
Seperis: THERE IS A BIG PICTURE OF A GLOWING DANIEL IN HIS ROOM!
Eleveninches: real John would be like, nooooooooooooooooooooooo
John: This is the most disturbing thing I have ever seen.
Rod: *drinking heavily* He says they are soulmates.
By dint of getting a terrified Kavanagh to blow up something--God knows what, John doesn't care--they get Sheppard on the other side of the city, and John is staring up at the altar set up in the corner of Sheppard's room.
It's so much worse than Rod had said.
"Is that--a piece of his hair?" John whispers, feeling dead inside. Right there hanging on the wall, a lock of hair. Like this is normal. Oh God, what if it is normal? What if people here go snipping their terrifying crush's *hair*? John forces himself not to touch his own hair in reassurance "How did he--"
Rod shakes his head. "None of us know. Trust me, no one *wants to know*."
John nods in blank horror. "I can see why."
Eleveninches: meanwhile, Daniel took out a restraining order
Eleveninches: IT CAN PARALLEL RODNEY HAVING A CRUSH ON SAM
Eleveninches: MENSA JOHN CAN HAVE A CRUSH ON DANIEL
Seperis: OH MY GOD YES
Seperis: YES YES YES
Eleveninches: IT IS BRILLIANT
Seperis: YES IT TOTALLY IS.
Eleveninches: now you HAVE to write this
John: *sick* What does the General think of that?
Rod: There is a reason he's in the Pegasus galaxy. Want more vodka?
John: Jesus, yes.
From his spot in the middle of the bed, Rod on one side, Sumner on the other, John, more drunk than he's ever been in his life, considers how very much he hates this world.
"So let me get this straight. Sheppard *followed him around*?"
"Everywhere," Rod confirms gloomily. "Daniel and the General--though he was the Colonel then--used to hide when they heard him coming. Hide. From. Him."
"And he *founded a religion*? On Daniel Jackson?" Taking the bottle, John doesn't even bother to sit up. Laying around in a bed soaked with alcohol seems fairly reasonable.
"High priest," Rod says sadly, taking the bottle back. "Or reverend. On the internet. Weirdly, a lot of women joined the congregation."
"I really want to believe you're making this up," John says blearily.
Rod passes the bottle to Sumner. "I only wish."
Eleveninches: it'll be a work of ART
When they first met, John had his ninetieth moment of cognitive dissonance in the last hour.
"Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, *sir*" he says, snapping to attention.
Sumner stares at him for an endless minute, hard eyes flickering over the uniform, pausing at the gun for an endless moment before coming back up to John's face. The dark eyes widen, growing soft and--oh God, John thinks, oh my *God*--filling with tears.
"Colonel," Sumner says, with a catch in his voice that makes Elizabeth look at him in wonder. Stepping forward, Sumner engulfs him in a hug.
John wonders if he can die right now.
His shoulder, John realizes in terror, is getting damp. "When Rod said--but I couldn't believe it. It's so good to meet you, Colonel. So. Good."
John forces himself to gently pat the man on the shoulder. "Likewise, sir."
Sumner: I like you, Colonel.
John: I killed you, you know.
Sumner: Where can I find Wraith anyway? *hopeful*
Eleveninches: Sumner: kill me now. please.
John: Have more vodka.
Sumner: It only dulls the pain.
John starts wondering whether the only way to deweld Sumner from his hip is to casually mention the whole shot-you-took-your-job thing, and maybe leave out the whole humanitarian aspect of it entirely
He's kind of worried that that'll only endear the man to him more
"You shot me?"
"Yes sir," Sheppard says, trying to keep the hopeful grin off his face.
"You shot me?"
Sheppard nods again, debating pulling out the "You were a dick" card as well. It's only when Sumner sobbingly pulls him into another hug before handing him the entire bottle of whiskey that John wishes he had.
Sheppard: Drinking is the crutch of a weak mind.
John: ....seriously. Why aren't you dead yet?
Sheppard's always in motion, like someone gave him amphetamines and set him loose like a wind-up toy. John finds himself weirdly fascinated watching his hands blur over the keyboard, watching in awe as Sheppard recreates the laws of physics before his eyes.
He's clumsy and cruel and lacks the most rudimentary sense of empathy with his fellow human beings, but he's smart, so *smart*, and there's an ache in John that he can't quite ignore when he thinks of all that Sheppard's done in his life, that John hasn't even begun to approach.
Rodney had moped for days, and John had tried to understand, but not until now, faced with his smarter, more accomplished, more brilliant self that John really gets it. But for the grace of the Air Force goes what John Sheppard could have been, short listed for the Nobel and smartest man in the galaxy.
Rod, hanging back behind him, leans into a lab table, watching Sheppard thoughtfully.
"Are you still here?" Sheppard says, not looking up, and John controls the urge to do something incredibly stupid, like trot out credentials that don't come close to what this man achieved before his twenty-fifth birthday. "Some people have actual work to do. Rod can show you where you can improve your tan." Sheppard's lip curls contemptuously. "Or grunt. If you require practice."
The edge in his voice when he refers to Rod makes him wonder, though, and John moves a little closer to Rod, just enough for their shoulders to brush. Even though Sheppard doesn't turn around, John can see his eyes narrow. Interesting.
"S'okay. Rod and I are going to the shooting range," John says breezily, clapping a hand down on Rod's shoulder before he can say something stupid, like 'what'? Sheppard twitches on cue. Huh. *Interesting*. "And maybe grunt."
Sheppard actually stops typing to look at them. "Rod's head of the science department," Sheppard says coolly. "I'm sure he has more important work to do than escort you around."
Rod, who isn't stupid, just crazy, jumps in. "No, I think you have things well in hand, Dr. Sheppard." Turning to John, the blue eyes are confused but game. "Ready?"
John drapes a casual arm across his shoulders and swears he can *hear* Sheppard's teeth begin to grind. In this world, his parents apparently never got him a retainer. "Whenever you are, Rod."
Eleveninches: they call him saint John around Atlantis
Seperis: John will challenge Sheppard to chess.
Seperis: Or something.
Seperis: And is like, Rod, how can you have a crush on him? HOW IS THAT HUMNALY POSSIBLE? YOU LIKE PAIN?
Seperis: Rod: kind of, yeah.
"I don't believe you're crazy," John says, feeling more and more that he actually slipped into not an alternate universe, but a terrible nightmare from which he will never, ever awaken. "So why--"
"Three o'clock," Simpson says suddenly, and John watches in disbelief as the lab grinds to a halt, everyone gathering close to a monitor and opening up what looks like--security feeds?
Curious, John leans over Rod's shoulder, and watches as Sheppard goes into what in his world was Teyla's practice room. Calmly, Sheppard lights three candles, then begins to undress.
"Oh my God," John says, closing his eyes as boxers hit the floor. Oh my God, not a nightmare. This is *hell*. "Tell me you're not--"
"He's an asshole," Rod says contentedly, while across the room, Simpson makes a sound like a kitten being squeezed. It's kind of creepy. Oh hell, this entire thing is creepy. "But he's a hot asshole."
Seperis: It's all very tragic.
Seperis: I will call it the Alcoholic AU.
Eleveninches: asdfasdgash gashsdfhsfdhsj
Seperis: Elizabeth sometimes joins them
Eleveninches: and when John gets back he's like, SO I DRANK A LOT...
Seperis: After Sheppard corrects her Ancient.
Elizabeth: I finally understand why Jack was shoving us through the Stargate.
Elizabeth: I think they put a block on our address.
Elizabeth: *crying softly*
John: *gives her alcohol*
Rod and Sumner are both staring at John in a way that makes him very, very nervous.
Turning to Elizabeth, Sumner pulls gently at the end of her shirt. "Can we keep him?"
Elizabeth, setting the bottle aside, struggles to focus. "What?"
"John. Did you know he can do math too?"
"Shoot any gun in the armory," Sumner says heartily, looking so pathetically hopeful that John would have been charmed if they weren't scaring him to death.
"Guys," John says nervously, trying to sit up, but Rod's pinning his legs and Sumner's hand slams down over his mouth.
"He's very smart," Rod says persuasively, in that smooth voice that drove Rodney absolutely batshit. John is totally seeing his point. "He likes people. He has had sex in his life. *We want to keep him*."
"Oh my God," Elizabeth says, looking horrified, then pauses, looking disturbingly interestd. "Do you think the other Atlantis would agree to a trade?"
Eleveninches: laughing so hard
John: Seriously? You want to sleep with that? *as Sheppard walks by wearing a plaid shirt and striped pants*
Rod: Trust me, I know. I *know* .
It's a total accident, and John wakes up knowing that oh God, Rodney is going to *kill him*.
Rod, snoring peacefully beside him, looks more like Rodney now, hair a mess from John's fingers. Two bottles of rotgut and John's suddenly forgetting what universe he's in and the fact he's very heterosexual.
Or maybe not so much, if the truly amazing sex is anything to go by.
At least, what he can remember of it, anyway.
Rod stirs slightly, coming up on one elbow to rub absently at his face before freezing. One glance from clear blue eyes and John sees his own shock reflected back at him. "I did not have sex again while drunk," Rod tells the wall firmly. "I didn't. I *didn't*."
John drops back onto the pillow and wonders when this hallucination will end. "You do this a lot?" he asks.
"There's a reason Katie Brown isn't speaking to me," Rod says, collapsing beside John. "Or Ronon."
John blinks, turning it over in his head. One, hot. Two--no, go back to one. "You slept with Ronon?"
"More handjobs and never speaking of it again," Rod says from deep inside the pillow. "It was--" He waves a hand. "A thing. An adrenaline thing."
John thinks it over, rolling on his side. "Huh."
"And Elizabeth," Rod continues, not seeing John's look of utter horror. "Teyla. Simpson. Zelenka. Kavanagh. Ford. Sumner, a few times. And--"
"Okay, stop now." John takes a deep breath. "Would the list be shorter if you listed who you haven't had drunken sex with?"
Rod pauses, like he's trying to *count*, and John grabs his pillow, pulling it over his own face.
"…and it's not my fault. You saw the--with the room. And candles--"
"You get drunk and have sex with people because Sheppard gets *naked*?" And here John thought the horror could not grow greater, but oh God he was wrong, so wrong, so very, very wrong.
Rod jerks his pillow away, staring at him with embarrassed resentment. "You try having a crush on a *virgin mathematician* who thinks sex is *primitive* and worships *Daniel Jackson*."
"I'd rather eat my gun," John says sincerely, but Rod looks so miserable he hates himself. Shifting closer, John touches one bare shoulder. "Okay. Right. Sorry." Rubbing soothing circles, John considers the fact he's in bed with an alternate universe version of his best friend who he does not, does *not* have any kind of crush on at all, they just like spending time together, and--
"Rod," John says slowly, "couldn't you--I don't know. Get him drunk and seduce him?" Which sounds disturbingly like date rape, John thinks morosely as Rod sniffles into his shoulder, and God, what is it with these people and the *crying*?
"He doesn't drink."
Yeah, of course not. Sighing, John pats Rod's shoulder, trying to work out how many ways Rodney will kill him for this. Patting, however, reminds him of the smooth skin of Rod's shoulder, the length of his back, the way he smells up close, and oh God, John's not drunk anymore, but that apparently doesn’t matter.
Rod's hand slides up his thigh with slow deliberation, easy experience in every touch, and John opens his mouth to object just as a warm hand closes over his cock.
"I'm not the one you want," John says breathlessly when Rod's mouth brushes against his jaw, working slowly down his neck, and he can't help tilting his head back, reaching for more skin as Rod settles warm and heavy between his thighs.
"Then that makes two of us," Rod murmurs, brushing his lips against John's, slow and warm and so good that John can't quite remember what he's supposed to be objecting to.
Rod's good at this, great at this, smooth and slow, easing John into a lazy rhythm as his tongue slides into John's mouth, and John can't help reaching for him, soft hair curling between his fingers, his cock pressed to Rod's stomach, warm and safe. Even knowing this is a sophisticated fantasy for them both doesn't change the want tingling in every nerve end.
Rodney would never touch him like this, like he's precious and needed, like he's something to be treasured and kept and *owned*. Thoughtful, gentle touches that learn his body in ways John's never known it, teaching with every brush of their bodies, murmuring instructions and reassurances and promises in his ear.
Rodney would never do this for him, offer himself up for John to explore, broad shoulder and chest and hips, let John learn his way around a different kind of body, harder than a woman, the shape of his biceps and the feel of his cock, solid thighs for his mouth to taste.
Rod's careful with him, rolling him on his back, pushing his legs apart so naturally that John can't remember why this is a bad idea, Rod's mouth on his cock so perfect he's shuddering through it, barely caring that Rod's slicking his fingers, one slowly working its way into his ass, moving into it when Rod adds a second one.
"I just--" Rod licks down his cock and John loses his train of thought. "Rod--"
"Shh." A slow lick, chased by teeth, and John shudders at the sharp bite to his hip, knowing it will bruise, be bruised for days, evidence later that could be used against him, but God. He just doesn't *care*. "You'll like this. Promise."
John believes him, as Rod twists a third finger inside him, molten pleasure dripping down John's spine. He's panting for it, arching into every touch, feeling Rod watch him and knowing he's looking for Sheppard in his face--longer hair, tighter mouth, a different man entirely from the one he has in his bed.
When Rod eases inside of him, huge and steady and mindblowingly good, John stares into the blue eyes and wonders who Rod is seeing now.
Eleveninches: John can just be like ARE YOU FOR REAL the whole time
Seperis: Poor John.
Seperis: He'll be all depressed.
John: I swear, I have no idea how this happened. I mean--wow.
Rod: Not your fault
Eleveninches: JOHN CAN DISCOVER SHEPPARD IS REALLLY INSECURE
Seperis: Rod: *watching Sheppard doing something with math* God that's hot.
Eleveninches: AND HE'S ALL HORRIFIED
Seperis: John: You are so sick.
Sumner: *continues to drink*
John: Do you do anything else?
Sumner: *sad* no.
John gives up trying to sneak out of Rod's room after the second night, because it's not like most of Atlantis didn't notice the hickey or the fact that Rod's level of goodwill with the universe has reached levels only seen among those on heavy narcotics. Rod sits too close and watches too much and is always, always touching, like John's something he can't live without.
And John admits, that's addictive stuff.
Sumner, apparently under the impression that John is somehow the most awesome military guy ever, and possibly still hoping for an even trade of John Sheppards, gives him paternal looks and creepy pats on the back whenever he sees them together.
Like sex with Rod would be enough to change his mind. John hates to think it, but all things equal, it very well might have been. And while Rodney's most of the reason it's not equal, the other part….
The other part is coming out the first morning, bruised and sticky and feeling high, yesterday's clothes rumpled on his body. John had looked up to see Sheppard leaning awkwardly into the wall across from him, and for a second, there'd been an expression on his face that John knew he'd never forget.
"So you get this, too," Sheppard says bitterly, and John feels the contempt like a slap in the face before Sheppard turns away.
John's done a lot of things, and Sheppard's a fucking *asshole*, but he never wants to be the kind of person who can make anyone look quite like that.
Seperis: It's a beautiful and tragic story.
Seperis: Oh man.
Eleveninches: it really is
Seperis: John should tell Rod about the ascension machine.
Eleveninches: Rod: DO NOT TELL SHEPPARD.
John: *horrified* God. He could...
Rod: I KNOW
Seperis: John would seriously kill him
Seperis: Like, have to be restrained.
Rod; We tried that.
John: Yet he lives.
Rod: *depressed more* Atlantis likes him too much.
John: OH MY GOD WHY?
Rod: HE CROONS TO HER
Rod: TURNS ON HER SYSTEMS WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING
John: OH MY GOD HE IS HAVING SEX WITH THE CITY?
Rod: We try never to say that.
Rod: It scares us all.
ROD: WE PAY THE PERSON WHO CLEANS UP AFTER HIM WELL
Rod: AND WITH LOTS OF ALCHOL
After all of this:
Eventually, Rodney figures out how to get John back, and they're counting down the hours.
John slams into Rod's room, pulling the bottle of vodka out of Sumner's hands. "I can't even describe how much editing I'm going to have to do on my mission report for anyone to ever believe this. Because seriously, you're all *nuts*. Sit down." Staring at Rod listing to port, John sighs. "Okay, sit up. Both of you."
Two sets of bleary eyes stare at him accusatorily as John sets the bottle on the far desk. Ducking underneath, John pulls out a chess board. "I need your clothes," John says, feeling reckless as he sorts through the drawers, pulling out Rod's 'I'm With Genius' t-shirt and a pair of comfortable sweats he knows Rod's worn in public before. Jerking off his uniform, he pulls them on, ignoring the way Rod watches him, because they just don't have the time.
"Look, there are two things that are constant," John says, jerking the sweats over his hips and trying not to panic. This had seemed like such a good idea when Sheppard was staring at him like something noxious that he'd stepped him by accident, but now… "There is no John Sheppard in any universe who can turn down a challenge And there is no John Sheppard anywhere who can stand to lose." Especially with Rod watching, that John knows.
Rod blinks. "He always wins. He was playing while he was in diapers--or so his autobiography states."
John drops the pieces on the bed grimly. "I'm going to beat him."
Sheppard wanders in precisely at six pm, which is so terrifying that John can feel himself begin to sweat. The color combination of plum and orange isn't quite as bad as it could be, but John still has to look away before his blood pressure makes him stroke out, and that'll suck so much, when it's only two hours until he's home.
"Okay," John says, taking a deep breath. Reaching out, he picks up a pawn thoughtfully, then leaning back, looks past Rod in time to see Sheppard pause, with that look of constipated annoyance that Sheppard turns on anyone in his immediate vicinity. With a special eyebrow lift aimed at John personally, a flickering--something, something raw and painful and even now, John hates to see it, filling the hazel eyes as he takes in what John's wearing. "Wanna play?"
Sheppard smirks, and John feels Rod's hand drop to his wrist to keep his hand from going for his gun.
"You have got to be kidding." But Sheppard comes over, one perfectly manicured hand resting on the table. "I've never lost."
John has never hated anyone more in his life. "Welcome to a whole new world, Sheppard."
When John was fourteen, he'd discovered chess.
He's never played in competition, never wanted to, but he knew every move in the book. Watching Sheppard settle with casual awkwardness in the chair across from him, John leans back, watching sharp hazel eyes study him with the same low-grade contempt that Sheppard turns on everyone in this world.
It pisses him off.
He waits two moves in before leaning casually on one elbow. "You know I never graduated high school."
And watches in satisfaction as Sheppard knocks over a pawn. Oh yeah. This is going to be *fun*.
Fourteen moves in, Sheppard's sharp, blind to everything but the board with the kind of focus that John's used to feeling only when he flies. Sheppard's oblivious to the crowd that's grown around them, but John's not, and Rod's quivering beside him. All of Atlantis seems to be riding on whether or not John Sheppard, the less improved, less brilliant, less utterly *annoying* version, can beat the pants out of his better self.
It's kind of like flying into a Wraith ship, but with the added bonus that sadly, John can't just die to get away from it. It's depressing.
"I hate math," John says, and Sheppard's eyes flicker up briefly. The next move isn't the best possible, and John takes advantage of it, taking out a bishop before slouching into his chair and watching Sheppard's tight mouth curve in a small frown.
The thing about Sheppards are...
They're all different--dear God are they different--but they're all the same, too. To be the best at what they do, to win at almost any cost, and John may have nosedived in Afghanistan, but that doesn't change the fact he *knows* this guy. He knows because he felt him on his worst days, the guy that couldn't stand to be ignored, pushed aside, the guy who had to be in control. The guy John had left behind after college and never looked back, that peers out every so often when he slips, and he knows how Rodney had felt faced with Rod.
When you see what you could be and wonder, just a little....
He could have been a mathematician, a physicist, discovered how to build ZPMs, been Rodney's rival and his colleague and his nemesis, could have stood as this man did and know he was the best. He could have been a man who had to win, always had to win, who never learned to bend and how to break and how to let go, never learned the lessons John had. He could have been the man sitting across from him, contemptuous and vicious, careless and brilliant.
"But here's the thing," John says as Sheppard makes another thoughtful move--a good one, one that could bring the fastest win to a chess game of any John's ever played. "I could have been you."
He carries a gun, walks beneath alien skies, has a job he loves and people he would die for. He has Elizabeth and Ronon, Teyla and Carson, and he has Rodney. He has a life he never imagined he could have.
Sheppard's eyes narrow. John makes his move, watching as Sheppard studies the board, the hazel eyes fixing and widening.
"I could have done been this. But I don't want to be. Oh, right." John grins. "I forgot. Checkmate."
Sheppard's sulking somewhere in his lab when John feels the first tingle of--something. Something that means time's up, game's over, and Rod seems to feel it too, pulling back from the gentle kiss with a startled look. "John--"
"Yeah." Licking his lips, John sits up, suddenly realizing he hasn't changed out of Rod's clothes, that he hadn't showered this morning, and that there's a fading hickey high on one side of his neck. But honestly, he really doesn't care.
A warm hand closes over his wrist. "Stay."
John licks his lips. "Rod--"
"Atlantis can block it. One command." And John remembers Rod leaving for a little while last night, brushing a kiss against John's hair as he murmured he had something he had to finish. "Just one. That's all I have to do."
There are a thousand reasons this is insane, not least of which the fact that Sheppard might be chastised but John doesn't want him broken, and that would do it. These people are nuts, terrorized by a mathematician who'd been conditioned into believing his only value was the power of an extraordinary mind, but they're not John's, they're *Sheppard's*, and a dimension away, there are people waiting for him to come home.
There are his responsibilities and his promises and his family and his city. And there's Rodney, and John shakes his head. "I can't."
"I could make you," Rod says slowly, like he's testing the idea, and of course *now* Rod would get a backbone, *now* he'd start to think. John shivers when Rod kisses him, slow and addictive, and John's body's already conditioned to this, responds without thinking. "You'll like it here. No Wraith. No--no black mark," and John's head comes up sharply. "It's a whole new world. You could stay. With us. With me."
The tingle spreads to his fingertips, slipping down his spine by slow degrees, and John shivers as Rod's hand curves around the back of his neck, pressing their foreheads together. "You don't really want me to," John says, and he sees Rod open his mouth. "And I don't want to either."
John grins, pulling away with a quick kiss, untangling their fingers, the room fading, Rod staring at him with wide, wounded eyes. John can almost hear Rodney's voice. "Seriously. Get him drunk."
When he opens his eyes, Rodney, in clothes that look three days worn, crumpled and coffee stainned, looking exhausted and homicidal, is staring at him. The floor is warm, the ceiling is familiar, and no, not a bottle of vodka in sight. "Drunk, Colonel?"
John can't help it; he starts to laugh.