Layton Colt (laytoncolt) wrote in nixa_jane,
Layton Colt

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."
Tags: mckay/sheppard, preslash, request fic, sga

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