unadrift: (really)
[personal profile] unadrift
This is a PG-rated tag for Infection with one reference to Brain Storm, written for the Season 5 Tagathon on [livejournal.com profile] sga_episodefic.

780 words of one-sided McKay/Sheppard, with mention of McKay/Keller. Needless to say, this is not a happy story. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] trystings for the beta!

Remember when John said to Woolsey that yes, Todd might go to all sorts of trouble just to kill John, but maybe this was a bit much? And remember the way Rodney glared at John then?

"Do we need to have a talk?" Rodney asked briskly, hovering over John and his coffee and chocolate cake, arms crossed.

John just raised an eyebrow and saved his breath. Inquiring about the nature of the remark was entirely unnecessary. This was Rodney. He would go on anyway, in three, two, one--

"About who is Todd's least favorite?" Rodney clarified. Or rather, he probably intended to clarify. John had gotten kind of used to the twisted pathways Rodney's thoughts were prone to taking, but even previous experience was of no help to John here.

"Killing you?" Rodney muttered dismissively. He pulled up a chair and sat down opposite John. "How did you ever reach the conclusion that Todd might go to any trouble just so he can kill you? Me, now that makes a lot more sense. With my expert knowledge on Wraith technology, the numerous plans I designed and executed that cost countless Wraith lives. Yes, Todd might go to any lengths to kill the MVP on our side. But you?"

If John had been swallowing a sip of coffee just then, he would have choked on it. He stared, disbelieving, long enough for Rodney to take notice.

"What?" Rodney asked, sounding genuinely puzzled.

"I don't even know where to start," John said, shaking his head. "You-- Every time I think you can't get any more--" He gestured at Rodney. The expression to adequately put the essence of ill-adjusted Rodney-esque behavior into words hadn't been invented yet. "--you go along and top it," John finished.

"Top what?"

John set his cup down.

"One," he ticked off on his fingers. "The numerous plans you designed? Two: Which you executed all on your own? Would you like to rephrase those statements before I go into detail about all the ways in which they are just wrong? And three: Did you really just lay out for me all the reasons why you deserve the top position on Todd's death list? I suggest you send an application with credentials, since my word doesn't carry much weight with him," John said crossly.

It was Rodney's turn to stare then, wide-eyed and surprised.

Okay, so John usually took Rodney's chronically insane behavior in stride. He even liked and occasionally nursed Rodney's competitive streak, because it was fun to banter and argue with him, to push him further, to drive him to new heights of productivity. Truthfully, it had always been entirely too much fun for John. Plus, more often than not a little prodding had proved to be the key to the success of a mission or, at worst, even their survival.

But there was a line. John had suspected that they were going to encounter it at some point, though he had never been able to even make a guess where that might be.

Tonight, for some reason, Rodney had reached that line and crossed it.

"Some days I can't believe they call you a genius," John continued. When Rodney was actually speechless, the moment had to be seized. "For all that intellect of yours, you sure have a limited understanding of what's going on around you, of what other people contribute to ensure Atlantis' safety."

Rodney's mouth opened, then closed again. His face was flushed, his eyes narrowed, but instead of the sarcastic, snappy retort John expected – the very Rodney thing to do – Rodney looked down at the table, then at John again. "Well. Um. I suppose I should-- Jennifer suggested that I try to act more, er, humble."

"Of course she did," John said, not bothering to keep the sarcasm out of his voice for once. He waited for the pang of jealousy to hit him, like it usually did when Rodney mentioned Keller in her capacity as his new girlfriend.

Only it didn't hit. Not this time.

There was nothing but that familiar frustration with Rodney's selective obliviousness, which had suddenly lost its cutting edge of missed opportunities, of 'should-have's and 'not-meant-to-be's.

The realization was followed by an intense feeling of relief. Five years' worth of self-denial, tentative hope, and deceptive certainty so strong that John had thought he could almost taste it at times--

Lifted. Just like that.

Rodney studied John with a piercing stare, the one that usually meant he was this close to figuring something out. If Rodney did, now, if he chose this moment to finally buy a clue, to get his head out of his ass, to realize-- John was going to have to punch him in the face.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Rodney asked instead, almost defensively.

"Nothing," John answered. "Forget it."

For a moment it looked like Rodney wouldn't let it go. But then he just pointed at the abandoned cake on the table. "If you're not going to--"

"Go ahead," John said, aiming an easy smile at Rodney. "I'm finished."

Rodney pulled the plate towards him.

John stood and left, not looking back.

- end -

Now with sequel: Alight

The Pleasure of Your Company (AU for 5x16) // Wrong (tag for 5x18)

Date: 2009-01-02 04:07 pm (UTC)
ext_3572: (sga mcshep confront)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Awww. Dangit! That is not happy! *flails depressedly*

(Would I be out of line to demand a sequel? else I might end up writing one myself...

...yeah, I know you warned it wasn't happy. I suck at stopping myself from reading things that'll depress me ^^;)
Edited Date: 2009-01-02 04:08 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-01-03 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
I *like* happy endings. I hardly ever write sad stuff. And this wasn't the story I set out to write either. It just-- happened. I guess my frustration with Rodney is starting to show. It's the feeling I got during this season. In season four it was the almost constant 'They're so together already' McShep vibe, but it turned into 'John is pining and Rodney is being an oblivious idiot' in season five. Especially during the last four or five episodes I even started to dislike Rodney, which was a very Huh? What?! kind of development for me.
So, I guess this is me, trying to fix things for John?

Would I be out of line to demand a sequel? else I might end up writing one myself...
Oooh, you do that! Want to read!
A sequel from me can't be expected anytime soon, unfortunately. I've got one Identity tag to write (*no* inspiration for that so far) and a Brainstorm AU and a Vegas tag to finish. Although, with the holidays over and me back at home and with time on my hands again... Maybe I'll get *real* creative...?

I suck at stopping myself from reading things that'll depress me
Er, yeah. Don't I know that. *sigh* Happened to me the last time with this (http://www.wraithbait.com/viewstory.php?sid=14168). I was thoroughly warned, read it anyway (it really was an amazing read), and the feeling of sadness it created kept haunting me at random moments for days.

Date: 2009-01-03 06:18 pm (UTC)
ext_3572: (sga mcshep pier)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Ahhahah yeah...death-fic I usually just avoid outright, because they break me. I only read ones like "Freedom's Just Another Word..." because there's no escaping them, but then I get haunted and sad and generally mopey - I don't like sad-fic!

But this wasn't a death-fic, so there's still hope. I can totally understand where you're coming from - Rodney's my favorite character, but even I've been getting annoyed with him this season (actually, reading your fic I couldn't help but think, "Hey, this is Gero's s5 Rodney! Yuck!" You get him too close to the recently canonical Rodney, who is missing most of what I love in him...)

That being said, in a scenario like this I find myself getting just as annoyed with John - he's got no reason to be so perturbed by Rodney not understanding his feelings when he's never stated them, when Rodney has no way of knowing that his seemingly straight friend feels anything for him - Rodney sucks at interpersonal relationships and John knows this. So if John's pining, it's his own damn fault that his love's unrequited, he could've said something. And then I just feel sad for both of them, because they're losing a chance for great happiness because they're both such emotional retards. XP

--Just so you're clear, none of this is criticism of your fic; I think the story's to be commended for inspiring such strong feeling! Also, I gotta say that I liked that John felt freed when Rodney reeled off Keller's thing about being humble - to me it read that John wasn't giving up his love of Rodney, but rather realizing that this man wasn't the Rodney he loved anyone, that this was someone with all of Rodney's faults but had lost the strength of character that John loved in him. But this is Rodney - Keller's got him cowed with sex for now, but it can't last! Hah!

...Um, yes, strong feeling indeed! Sorry...please do consider it a compliment!

Date: 2009-01-03 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
please do consider it a compliment!
I do! I suspected beforehand that this might induce some discussion, because it paints especially Rodney in a not-so-flattering light. But if something induces discussion, then it's worth discussing, which makes it easy for me to take this as a compliment *g*

Yes, yes, and yes to the Rodney thing! Although getting close to the annoying s5 Rodney is actually a compliment for me here :-) because I drew from my take on canon and tried to stay close to it for the purpose of writing this tag. Sadly, it seems that I'm past believing in canon-based McShep after Brain Storm.

The question you raise about John's role in this is interesting. Thinking about it, John really acts as much like an idiot here as Rodney does, only in different ways.
In John's defense, maybe he waited until it was suddenly too late? On the other hand, Rodney's relationship with Keller was a train wreck in the making. Er, so to speak. (Not that I'm biased or anything.) John even had alternate universe insider knowledge about where they were going to end up, so this argument is pretty much invalid.

I'm thinking there should be a companion piece for this fic from Rodney's POV in which it is revealed that Rodney decided to jump into the relationship with Keller because he thought that John wasn't interested. Now, *that* would be depressing. And proving their status as emotional retards without doubt. (Er, I might even be making myself uneasy here with sad ideas...)

Oh, and concerning deathfic: I even managed to avoid "Freedom's just another word..." so far. I know, it's totally uncommon not to have read that. By now, I guess I'm mainly trying to be contrary?

Date: 2009-01-03 07:38 pm (UTC)
ext_3572: (sga mcshep side by side)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Heh - I have to admit, I've gone the reverse; the canon McKeller has convinced me of a canonically gay Rodney more than anything before. I've usually seen him as mostly straight, but with slight bisexual tendencies to explain the McShep. But he failed with Katie, and now he's failing so hard with Keller - he can't be himself with her, it so seems like he has to force himself to enjoy being around her, he's so unnatural with her, even after they've both professed love - it's easier than it ever was for me to believe that Rodney is gay and/or in love with John and doesn't even realize it!

If the show had any skill in writing romance, I could believe in McKeller, maybe, even if I didn't want to. But as it's presented, I can't see their relationship as at all functional; they might call it love but that's not what real love looks like, and I can't imagine their relationship will last without both of them being miserable in it. If we'd gotten a s6 with getting married or whatever - yeah, that might've wrecked my McShep. But as it stands, John's just got to hang in there a little longer. Or else take a stand and save his friend from himself (and heck, save Keller from him, because I don't think she's going to be any happier in this relationship than Rodney...)

ETA: Also, Rodney jumping in with Keller because he thinks John's not interested - owwww but I could see it. Except then it would just have to end with the two dunderheads figuring it out, because it's just not fair to them otherwise! XP
Edited Date: 2009-01-03 07:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-01-03 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Oh, yes, please, I want that back! I want to have fun writing McShep again. I want to believe in it. Even though "my" show happens almost entirely in my headspace, I'm surprised how much it still depends on the current canon, and that I'm apparently not capable of blocking out the things I don't like completely.
Currently, it's-- Hm. Weird is the best description I can come up with. The bad weird.
Maybe if I stare at your take on McShep long enough, I can adopt it as my own. Because it sounds entirely reasonable.

*stares intently*

PS: Now I'm seriously considering writing that sequel/fix-it. *g*

Date: 2009-01-03 08:09 pm (UTC)
ext_3572: (sga mcshep)
From: [identity profile] xparrot.livejournal.com
Heh - I've been planning to write a little essay about my current take on the McShep - I really should just do it as a fic but I'm not sure I want to give the McKeller that much time XP But, yeah - I'm really a canon-whore myself, and I have a hard time enjoying a pairing that I see as counter-canon (as opposed to, hmm, alternate future, I guess I think of McShep as?) So, yeah, I'm spinning the McKeller like this because otherwise I lose my OTP and with it my reason to write - and I like ficcing for SGA! Fortunately, the badly written romance has made it surprisingly easy...for a show written by heterosexual men, they sure suck at writing convincing het relationships! XP

(Basically, the end of this season - either Rodney's gay, or a bit of that brain parasite's still around, screwing with his head. Either way, needs fixing! And I'd love your fix-it so very much - the end of the show's depressing enough, we all need pick-me-ups! *tosses plot-bunny feed your way*)

Date: 2009-01-02 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gaffsie.livejournal.com
Good for you, John!

Honestly, I'd much rather have him get over Rodney rather than pine pathetically after him. He deserves so much better than that.

Date: 2009-01-03 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Honestly, I'd much rather have him get over Rodney rather than pine pathetically after him
Yep, that was the sentiment. *g* I've started to, kind of, dislike Rodney a little during the last couple of episodes? It's starting to show.

Date: 2009-01-03 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gaffsie.livejournal.com
Personally, I lost all respect for him during Brainstorm. :/

Date: 2009-01-02 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elkebaby.livejournal.com
You warned it wasn't a happy story--but I loved that John is finally over Rodney--because if Rodney can't see what's right in front of his face, then he doesn't deserve it.

So it might not be happy---but I actually smiled and felt uplifted for John.

Sadly, now I see how it could work if John found someone else--and Rodney finally realized that his best friend wasn't at his beck and call anymore...poor short-sighted Rodney.

Date: 2009-01-03 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
So it might not be happy---but I actually smiled and felt uplifted for John
I'm glad you did. This was supposed to be hopeful, too. It isn't what I intended to write, I kind of drifted into fixing the canon (as I see it) for John. He deserves some happiness, after all.

Date: 2009-01-02 06:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ex-kisa-haw.livejournal.com
I like this - I am feeling so sorry for John these days, I'm about ready for him to get over his pining! Not exactly happy, no, but an opening for John to move on. Nicely done.

Date: 2009-01-03 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Thank you!

I am feeling so sorry for John these days, I'm about ready for him to get over his pining
Er, yes. What you said. *g*

Date: 2009-01-02 08:49 pm (UTC)
ext_3251: (Default)
From: [identity profile] facetofcathy.livejournal.com
I rather liked this a lot. I wish more people would write things a little less happy-happy sometimes.

This is exactly what happens when your perspective on someone changes and their tolerable faults become deal-breakers. I think I might go post my bitter Infection tag too.

Date: 2009-01-03 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
I wish more people would write things a little less happy-happy sometimes
I usually like happy stories. Not sugar-sweet, tooth ache-inducing happy, but the believable kind.
I guess I've gotten past believing in canon-based McShep after a certain point in season five. *sigh*

Date: 2009-01-02 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] d_odyssey.livejournal.com
Even though it is not happy, I'm glad to see a story where John is not the doormat, waiting and pining for Rodney. Let Rodney live with his choice, because it is going to bite him in the backside. I want John to be happy. He deserves it! So I like that he is through moping and waiting. Hopefully in the future, if John still wants him, the two can be happy together.

Date: 2009-01-03 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
I'm glad you that found hopeful undertones in this, that it wasn't *only* sad.

Date: 2009-01-02 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trystings.livejournal.com
You broke my heart in tiny pieces with this, but I am glad for John that his unrequited love for Rodney has lost its sharp edge and that he's ready to move on. And it is hard to get angry at Rodney for being oblivious - he is so convinced they are both into women, he simply can't see what is in front of him.

I haven't given up hope though. I can still see them getting together at one point in the future. :D

Date: 2009-01-03 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
It's good to hear that the hopeful tone is really there, even despite general unhappiness.

And it is hard to get angry at Rodney for being oblivious - he is so convinced they are both into women, he simply can't see what is in front of him.
Actually, [livejournal.com profile] xparrot raised an interesting point here (http://deltacephei.livejournal.com/20877.html?thread=285069#t285069) about how you could get angry with John in this situation, too. It's not something I considered while writing this, and it's really a valid point.

Date: 2009-01-04 01:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trystings.livejournal.com
about how you could get angry with John in this situation, too.

My sentiments exactly actually. If John thinks that the most clueless person on Atlantis can tell the love from the slump of his shoulders (as half of fandom can apparently, but that's an entirely different matter), then he is as much to blame as Rodney. Methinks it's time we set them both down and bring out the flow charts.

Date: 2009-01-03 12:03 am (UTC)
ext_1246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] dossier.livejournal.com
Wow, now I'm kinda glad I fell asleep through the last 30 minutes of Infection...

I like it. I like that John finally buys a clue, and how fantastic that feels.

Date: 2009-01-03 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2009-01-03 01:30 am (UTC)
ext_1117: (Default)
From: [identity profile] emeraldteal.livejournal.com
Ouch. But you go, John.

Thanks for sharing.

Date: 2009-01-03 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
you go, John
Thank you!

Date: 2009-03-03 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] esteefee.livejournal.com
Wow. This was tremendously satisfying to read, I have to say, because even though it's not happy, there's relief there. And I'm still so damned angry about the Keller thing, and the whole "change Rodney for the better" thread that TPTB went tripping down.

I would think that, considering that Todd has already sucked almost all the life out of John *once*, John is definitely on the top of the list.

Date: 2009-03-15 12:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Very belatedly: Thank you!

I'm still so damned angry about the Keller thing, and the whole "change Rodney for the better" thread that TPTB went tripping down
Yes. Exactly. I was so frustrated after Brain Storm, I couldn't bring myself to write funny or happy stuff. I very much like writing humor, and I managed to do that for almost every other S5 episode before, even the really bad ones. In a way, that was my means to fix things, to keep my happy place. It stopped working after Brain Storm-- except with the AUs.
So, John had to be set free. (I've been working on a sequel, though, inspired by the discussion with [livejournal.com profile] xparrot above.)

Date: 2009-03-15 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] esteefee.livejournal.com
I do hope you get your McShep back. It took me a looong time, and I had to write an entire series of John being freed and falling for Ronon in order to get my hurt out of my system. But it worked.

The way they portrayed Rodney in the last half of the final season really caused a lot of damage.

Date: 2009-03-04 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_inbetween_/
Good on John. I've been waiting for that weight to lift off me. I'm not sure if it can leave without a trace, but a friend just linked me here, knowing my feelings.

Date: 2009-03-15 12:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
Belatedly: Thank you!

I've been waiting for that weight to lift off me
Dito. That's exactly where this fic came from.

Date: 2009-07-31 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] secondsilk.livejournal.com
Oh, holy.
Yes. I love stories like this, the relief and loss and it hurts so much!
Reading sequel now.

Date: 2009-08-13 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unadrift.livejournal.com
I blame canon, which sucked like a giant sucking thing at the time I wrote this. It took me a while to get my McShep mojo back. And then, because this hurt so much, like you said, I had to write a sequel, of course.
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