26 March 2006 @ 11:54 pm
SGA: Water (PG-13), McKay/Sheppard.  
They say you know you're in trouble when you don't even feel cold anymore.



Note: Written for and from a prompt from snarkyart.
Warning: Vague spoilers for Grace Under Pressure.


"Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink," Rodney says. "What's that even from? Everyone says it and no one even knows."

"Coleridge," John says.

Rodney looks at him. "What?"

"Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," he says. "Samuel Coleridge."

Rodney looks back to his hands, because that's just like John, always proving him wrong before he even finishes making his point. "And you know that how?"

"I don't know," he says. "I just always liked it."

-----

When Rodney was four he almost drowned. His parents had been watching Jeannie, and he had wanted to know why he couldn't walk across the pool, when a water strider could.

-----

"I don't know why I continue to let you talk me into things," Rodney says. "I'm far too valuable to risk myself like this."

"And you're far too stubborn to let someone take your place," John tells him. "Besides, this was your idea."

"As if someone could take my place," Rodney says.

"You're not going to die, you know," John says. "Not today."

"You always say that," Rodney snaps.

"I haven't been wrong about it yet," John says, and it's true enough.

-----

His father took him fishing when he was eight. He had begged him not to make him go, but that never worked, and they ended up standing on the edge of the river.

Rodney caught the first fish, but threw it back when his father looked away. He told him it jumped back in.

-----

"I never thought it would be like this," Rodney says.

"Be like what?" John asks.

Rodney is shivering and his fingers slip, but John is holding him up the moment he feels himself fall, like he had known what would happen a moment before it did. John was always like that. "I thought I would die in a lab somewhere, at one hundred and two, sitting at a desk with some donuts and pictures of my cats and a Nobel Prize, and my secretary, a sexy blonde, obviously, would walk in and find me and start crying, and everyone would say I'd led such a brilliant life--"

"Is that what you wanted?" John interrupts. His voice is still lazy, stuck on slow, and Rodney's always found it strange that the faster he talks the more time it takes John to say anything at all.

"It's just what I was expecting," Rodney says. He knows better by now.

-----

His first steady girlfriend made him take her on a cruise. She wasn't nearly as brilliant as he was, but she was pretty, and she always had her blonde hair pulled into a messy ponytail on the top of her head. He spent his savings on the tickets, but the movement in the cabin made him nauseous.

He was sick for days.

-----

"We've got time," John says at his ear. His arms are wrapped around his chest now, his hands wrapped in his shirt. John doesn't seem to be shaking at all.

"We never have time," Rodney says. Atlantis seems to be on it's own schedule. He's been here two years, and it feels like five minutes, it feels like fifty years.

"I can hear them," John says. "Just keep talking."

"You don't hear them," Rodney says. "You're a good liar, but I'm onto you."

"Trust me, Rodney," he says. "They're there."

-----

Rodney leaves Russia for the Atlantis outpost site. He doesn't think about where he is, really, because this is the kind of work he's been dreaming of.

Still, he doesn't go outside much. Antarctica is made of frozen water, and it would be just his luck to fall through a crack.

-----

"You're not supposed to be here," Rodney says.

John still isn't shivering, and Rodney starts to worry. They say you know you're in trouble when you don't even feel cold anymore. "Why not?" he asks.

"I'm going to die alone," Rodney says. "And you're going to die quick."

"Got it all figured out, have you?" John asks, and he sounds strangely unconcerned.

Rodney's never understood John's type, even though he knows death is an eventuality, he's never understood accepting it. He swallows and closes his eyes. "Don't I always?"

"Well you're wrong about this," John whispers. "This is exactly where I'm supposed to be."

-----

The Weir they found on Atlantis told him that his alternate died trying to save the rest of them. It's a little reassuring to know he has that in him, and a little terrifying.

She said the Control Room was flooded within seconds, but it would have taken him longer to die than that.

-----

Sparks light the water orange and yellow, and it's a little like watching fireworks bounce off the ocean; not that Rodney had ever been close enough to really get a good look at any of the oceans on Earth.

"Just a little longer," John says. "They'll be here."

Rodney knows this feeling well, this quiet point that means he's just three minutes from the end. He keeps his eyes open, though, because he's cut it closer before. "What took them so long?"

John just laughs, a bit hysterically. "Wait and ask them yourself," he says. "I'm sure they'll appreciate it."

A piece of the wall shudders and falls, slamming onto the surface of the water and then sinking, caught in a hail of sparks. Radek leans out through the opening and calls their names.

-----

Rodney thinks he has to save himself. He's been down this road before, and it's that or let the water swallow him whole. He has entire conversations with himself as the red numbers count down the rest of his life.

He almost doesn't open the door.

-----

They go up together, the harness gets wrapped around them both because neither would go first. John holds him tighter as they start to get pulled up, tugged along the wall, sopping wet. He catches a glimpse of Ronon dragging the rope through a pulley.

He can hear Radek muttering at them the closer they get, about exploring dangerous areas of the city, about looking for trouble, and it's a little funny because Radek is right. Gaul was right. He's not the same as he used to be.

He wasn't going to die in some lab, hands covered in chalk and smeared equations. He gets claustrophobic these days when he's stuck too long at a desk, and sometimes he thinks it's all worth it, all the scars and the death and the pain; because he's watched three suns set in a row on a different world, and it was better than anything he could ever think up.

"I told you that you weren't going to die," John says, as hands reach out to grab them and pull them through.

"Yeah," Rodney says. Some of the water follows him out, little rivers trailing out across the floor like fingers, just waiting to pull him back. "Not today."
 
 
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not_sally on March 27th, 2006 - 08:47 am
Oh my god. Too good. And if writers keep doing this to Rodney he's going to get scared of showers.
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Layton Colt: gay chickenlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:05 am
Thank you! :-)
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Fraulein: Rodney - Pensive/Frauleinfraulein on March 27th, 2006 - 10:21 am
That was really good. You definitely caught Rodney's and John's voices and the details you added to Rodney's story has really good insight into his character. Thanks for sharing.
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Layton Colt: don't mess with rononlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:07 am
Thank you! :-)
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grey853: SGA_ani_argh_zoetropegrey853 on March 27th, 2006 - 12:48 pm
I like the idea that they hang in there together and that we see the progression of Rodney's attitude toward adventure/death changing.
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Layton Colt: pretty mckaylaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:10 am
Thank you! :-)
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linaerys on March 27th, 2006 - 02:11 pm
This was great--excellent character notes for Rodney and John.

"Is that what you wanted?" John interrupts. His voice is still lazy, stuck on slow, and Rodney's always found it strange that the faster he talks the more time it takes John to say anything at all.

I love that line especially--says so much about both of them.
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Layton Colt: mcshep adoringlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:11 am
Thank you so much! :-)
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LadyCatladycat777 on March 27th, 2006 - 02:29 pm
Oh, this was really nice. I love how unconcerned John is -- and isn't -- through this whole thing.
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Layton Colt: brendanlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:13 am
Thank you! :-)
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spacedmonkeyspacedmonkey on March 27th, 2006 - 06:08 pm
I love this very much.
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Layton Colt: john sheppardlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:14 am
Thank you! :-)
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adafrog: JackSparrow-FunnyOleWorldadafrog on March 27th, 2006 - 07:16 pm
Beautiful story. Very well done. Thanks.
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Layton Colt: home sheplaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:16 am
Thank you! :-)
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dossierdossier on March 27th, 2006 - 07:21 pm
Very subtle, and sneaky, had to read it twice! I love the voices, they are so very John & Rodney. thanks!
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Layton Colt: daniel wonderlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:19 am
Thank you! :-)
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Bettina: david hewlett thinking_bettina_ on March 27th, 2006 - 07:22 pm
This is really nice. John is good in calming down Rodney. They are a good team. I liked the little pieces in between of Rodney's life.
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Layton Colt: david hewlettlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:20 am
Thank you! :-)
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Tora: SGA McShep Friends severusslavetorakowalski on March 27th, 2006 - 10:02 pm
Oh I love this. Beautiful writing and excellent characterisations.
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Layton Colt: aerynlaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:22 am
Thank you! :-)
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What, does he wanna date me or kill me?: Joss & Martin on crackkrysalys on March 27th, 2006 - 10:27 pm
Wow
Friggin cool.
You gotta wonder at how much more claustrophobic Rodney is now, hrm?
Wonderfully written, as always.
----}-@
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Layton Colt: shep hotnesslaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:24 am
Re: Wow
Thank you so much! :-)
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shoemaster on March 28th, 2006 - 01:15 am
The Weir they found on Atlantis told him that his alternate died trying to save the rest of them. It's a little reassuring to know he has that in him, and a little terrifying.

She said the Control Room was flooded within seconds, but it would have taken him longer to die than that.
Ok, using that was brilliant. Like, if this was a persuasive essay on why water is out to get Rodney, that would've done it for me right there.

And He wasn't going to die in some lab, hands covered in chalk and smeared equations. He gets claustrophobic these days when he's stuck too long at a desk, and sometimes he thinks it's all worth it, all the scars and the death and the pain; because he's watched three suns set in a row on a different world, and it was better than anything he could ever think up. Is waaaaaay gorgeous. Rodney getting claustraphobic in what was once his primary habitat...
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Layton Colt: shep whitelaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:26 am
Aw, thank you, hun! I'm glad you liked it. :-)
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(Anonymous) on March 28th, 2006 - 02:49 am
I liked John's calm matter of fact attitude in this one. Nice.
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Layton Colt: daniellaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 04:28 am
Thank you! :-)
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justhuman on March 28th, 2006 - 01:10 pm
Water
Very nice glimpse inside Rodney :-)
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Layton Colt: pretty mckaylaytoncolt on March 28th, 2006 - 09:54 pm
Re: Water
Thank you! :-)
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cetpar on March 29th, 2006 - 06:03 am
I liked this. I liked the parallels between this and 'Grace Under Pressure'. And actually until the end, I thought John was going to be a hallucination; mainly because of the parallels I saw to GUP and the mention of John not shivering. (ie He wasn't shivering because he wasn't real.) Interesting. Thanks.
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Layton Colt: girl kissing rodneylaytoncolt on March 30th, 2006 - 05:29 am
Thank you! :-)
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