Layton Colt (laytoncolt) wrote in nixa_jane,
Layton Colt

SGA: The Kamikazes (R), McKay/Sheppard.

The more Rodney learns about the Ancients the less enlightened they seem.

Note: Written for and from a prompt from shadowserenity.

Ronon and Teyla had been talking on the other side of the clearing when the ring device appeared around them, and pulled them right through the ground.

Rodney had only read about them in reports, and it was a strange feeling; it was like that lurch in the elevator near the end, times about a hundred. He felt a little sick when he appeared somewhere else without warning, but John just snapped the light on his P90 and surveyed the room, like he'd been expecting to appear wherever the hell they were.

"Rodney?" John said, apparently prompting him for some kind of explanation.

"What? Like I know?" Rodney asked, glancing around. "You probably activated them with your stupid super-gene."

"Rodney," John said again, this time with a little exasperation, and that strange undertone of fondness that never failed to stop Rodney's ranting on the spot.

"They're called rings," he said grudgingly. "They were used by the Goa'uld, but it seems safe to assume that like the gates, they were originally created by the Ancients. It's a transportation device, obviously."

"It looks like we're underground," John said.

"Most likely," Rodney agreed. "The rings work vertically. The two grounding points have to be aligned. Most likely Ronon and Teyla are standing somewhere above us right now, wondering what the hell happened."

John nodded and then tapped at his radio. "Teyla? Ronon?"

"Colonel Sheppard," Teyla said. "Where are you? We turned away but for a moment and--"

"Rodney and I are fine," John said quickly. "We've just been a little...displaced. Hold your positions."

"Of course," Teyla said, though she sounded curious.

"Can you get us back?" John asked, but Rodney was barely listening, Rodney had that light in his eyes again, the kind of light he got when he was working on Ancient super weapons or talking about himself. "What is it?"

"This is an Ancient outpost," Rodney said, dusting off a console. It lit up as his touch, and then the lights came on one after another until the entire room was lit.

"Cool," John said. "Think there's any spare ZPMs lying around?"

"It's doubtful it's being powered by one, none of the outposts we've found have been," Rodney said, distractedly, "but why don't you look around?"

John nodded and surveyed the room. He narrowed his eyes as he caught sight of something that looked like the stasis chambers back on Atlantis and walked over. It was empty, which he took as a good sign.

Not that he wouldn't want to talk to an Ancient, they just always seemed about two breaths away from being dead after being in there so long. They really hadn't thought that one through.

He noticed another console beside the chamber, with a glowing hand shaped light in the middle of its surface. John reached out without thinking, and placed his on top.

He didn't even have a chance to shout a warning before the ceiling was crumbling down on top of them.


Rodney was still a little dazed when John's voice finally began filtering through. He opened his eyes and John was kneeling beside him, frowning anxiously. Rodney sat up when he noticed that the side of John's t-shirt was matted with blood. The room spun a little at the sudden movement and he reached out to grab John's arm and hold on until it stilled.

"Are you okay?" he demanded, moving John's jacket to get a look at the source of the blood. "What happened?"

"I'm fine. I touched one of the consoles," John said, pulling his hands away from his side. "I think it overloaded. Are you okay, Rodney?"

"Splitting headache, back pain, the usual fallout from a near brush with death," Rodney said.

"So you're good?" John asked wryly.

Rodney shot him a withering glance. "Yes, I'm fine."

"Do you think you can get that ring device working again?" John asked.

Rodney's eyes strayed back to John's side, because that was a lot of blood for something that was nothing. Still, he knew better than to push John too hard, because John would usually just go in the other direction even faster when he tried. "Help me up," he said.

John grabbed his arms and pulled him slowly to his feet, and Rodney closed his eyes for a moment, before getting his balance. "Maybe you should sit down," Rodney told him.

John looked at him dubiously. "Of the two of us, you look a little more like the one that needs to sit down. Get us back to the surface, and I promise there's a bed in the infirmary with your name on it."

Rodney nodded, which he instantly regretted, because there were headaches and then there were headaches. "Okay," he said. "The controls are right here. You might want to make sure Teyla and Ronon are out of the way."

John tapped his comm. "Ronon? Teyla?" He looked back to Rodney. "It isn't working."

Rodney tried his own. "Hey, answer!" he shouted.

"Dr. McKay?" Teyla said cautiously. "Is something wrong? We thought we might have heard--"

"We're mostly intact," Rodney said. "I need you both to go back over where you were when we disappeared. We should be headed back your way in a second."

"Understood," Teyla said. "You may proceed."

Rodney nodded and then motioned John to come stand next to him. "You ready?" he asked. When John nodded, Rodney slammed his hand down on the control. There was a pathetic little whirring sound, and the lights flickered, and then nothing.

"Rodney?" John said.

"Obviously the overload effected the ring device as well," Rodney said.

"You think?" John snapped.

Rodney glared at him and hit his comm. again. "Slight problem," he said. "No need to worry, though. Yet. Just know, stand by or whatever."

"Understood," Teyla said again, but now she sounded concerned.

Rodney glanced at the pile of rubble that had amassed where John had been at the time of the overload and winced. "Okay, I need you to show me what you touched."

John nodded and started picking his way through the rubble. Rodney was concentrating on his feet so intently as he followed him that when John stopped, he slammed right into him. "What?" he snapped. "Why did we stop?"

Rodney glanced up at John and froze, because he looked a little like he'd seen a ghost.

"Colonel?" Rodney said, softer now.

"I think we have a problem," John said tightly, and Rodney carefully followed his line of sight, not entirely sure he wanted to know what could make John look like that.

There was a bloody hand sticking out from underneath a faded blue beam, and Rodney followed it up until he could see the face it belonged to. John's face. "Jesus," Rodney said. He dropped down beside him, reaching for a pulse before he could even make a scientific guess at why there were suddenly two John Sheppard's. "He's alive," Rodney said.

The other John didn't move, so Rodney glared up at him. "Help me get this off of him," he snapped.

"We don't know what he is," John said, swallowing carefully.

"Don't take this the wrong way," Rodney snapped, "but at the moment, I don't know what either of you are; help me get this off of him so we can all figure it out."

John knelt down beside him with a nod, and lifted the beam up. It was balanced on a large piece of stone, and he was able to simply tip the balance to send it flying up and off of the unconscious man.

Rodney ran his hands over the back of John's head, looking for the injury and finally finding a bump. The blood had leaked down the entire right side of his face, but it had stopped now and caked around the wound, congealing into a sticky mass.

The man opened his eyes, blinking as he tried to focus. "Rodney?" he said.

Rodney pulled slightly away. "Yeah," he said. "That's me, but who are you?"

He closed his eyes again before he could answer.


"Is this really necessary?" John snapped.

Rodney glanced at him and then taped the scrap of paper to his chest. "What are you complaining about?" he asked. "I made you Sheppard One."

"It's degrading," Sheppard One said, glaring down at his chest and his new custom made label.

Rodney shrugged and taped a second piece of paper, this one labeled 'Sheppard Two,' to the unconscious John's chest. He kneeled beside him then. "He's lost a lot of blood. We really have to get out of here."

"Getting out of here would be nice," Sheppard One said. "Why don't you stop worrying about him and find a way?"

Rodney glared at him. "You have no idea what's going on here, for all we know, you could have been...split in two, he could be half of you, or all of you, or--"

"He could be a lot of things," Sheppard One said. "But I can't speak for him. All I know is I'm me, so he's not."

"What is going on down there?"

Ronon's irritated growl startled Rodney, but he admitted that it really shouldn't have, because he had been wondering how long Ronon's legendary short patience would hold out. "There's some unforeseen complications," Rodney snapped. "There's nothing you can do, so just sit tight."

"I want to talk to Sheppard," Ronon demanded.

"Which one?" Rodney muttered.

"What are you talking about?" Ronon asked.

"I'm a little busy," Rodney said. "Please call again later." Rodney ignored Ronon's answering but probably mostly empty threat and kneeled over Sheppard Two again. "Sheppard?" he said.

"Sheppard Two," Sheppard One corrected, rather petulantly.

"Okay, Sheppard Two," Rodney said, rolling his eyes in exasperation and then turning back to him. "Don't you think you should wake up now?"

Sheppard Two stirred, blinking his eyes open again. "Rodney?" he whispered. "You alright?"

"Well, he certainly sounds like you," Rodney said to Sheppard One. "I'm fine. You, however, aren't doing so hot. Stay with me, okay?"

"Okay," Sheppard Two said, but he was drifting already.

"Sheppard," Rodney said, framing his face with his hands and trying to get him to focus on him. "Do you remember what happened?"

Sheppard Two took a deep breath. "I was at the console. I put my hand on it, and I don't remember anything else. Are you sure you're alright?"

"He's fine," Sheppard One said, stepping into view. "Now why don't you tell us the truth about who you are?"

"Rodney," Sheppard Two whispered. "Are you seeing another me, too?"

Rodney nodded. "That's Sheppard One," he said, as if it explained it all.

Sheppard Two blinked. "Excuse me?"

"You're Sheppard Two," Sheppard One told him. "Some kind of copy, probably."

"I'm not a copy," Sheppard Two protested, trying to sit up.

Rodney placed a hand on his chest to keep him down. "Calm down," he said.

"Why does he get to be Sheppard One?" Sheppard Two snapped.

"You were sleeping on the job," Rodney said. "First come first numbered."

Sheppard Two bit his lip to hold in a moan. "Call me John, then, and call him Sheppard."

Rodney continued his examination of the bump on John's head, but nodded. "Okay, John then," he said, and Sheppard glared at him.

"Why are we still here?" John asked.

"I thought it would be fun. We can have a sleepover," Sheppard said.

John shot him a withering glance. "I was asking Rodney."

"The ring device overloaded along with everything else when you touched whatever you touched," Rodney said. "I was coming over here to try and get a look at it when we found you."

"Maybe you should try to access the data logs," John said, wincing again and pressing his eyes shut. "See what the hell's down here that I'm apparently multiplying."

"I would have thought of that," Sheppard said.

"I already did think of it," Rodney said. "I just wanted to make sure we could get out of here first."

"One or both of us could be compromised or dangerous," John said, and his voice was strained, but he was staying awake. "You better check this out before you let us out into the big wide universe."

"Okay," Rodney said. "Sheppard, stay with him."

Sheppard looked at John resentfully, but kneeled down beside him to start quizzing on him on his own past. Rodney would have protested, but at least it would keep John awake, and both of them occupied while he tried to figure out what was going on.

He was able to get the console to respond to him, but at least seventy percent of the data storage had been scrambled by the overload.

The thirty percent left was still more than he ever wanted to know.


"Rodney," John said.

"Rodney," Sheppard said.

Rodney didn't look at them. He glanced at the pod near the back of the room, the glass had all caved in, cracked beyond repair. "It...ah, it isn't good," he said.

Two sets of eyes watched him, the same eyes, really, because he certainly couldn't tell them apart. It really wasn't fair at all; it was hard to let down one John Sheppard, let alone two of them.

"Spit it out, McKay," Sheppard snapped.

Rodney nodded, glanced at his feet, and then finally back to them. It was disconcerting, like double-vision without the blurry edges. "One of you is a copy," he said, because prolonging it wasn't getting him anywhere. "What John, Sheppard, what...what Colonel Sheppard touched was essentially a Xerox machine for people, but the power has been building up in it for so long that it overloaded the minute it was active. Obviously not before it did what it was supposed to."

"What would they have that for?" John asked, both of them look appalled, and Rodney knew the reason would only make things worse.

"Wraith fodder," Rodney said, nearly choking over the words. The more he knew about the Ancients the less enlightened they seemed. "They'd send them in as a stall tactic."

John and Sheppard glanced at each other before quickly looking away, focusing again on Rodney. "How do we know which is the copy?" they asked, in stereo.

Rodney shook his head. "The copy has a lifespan of as little as a week, before it, he will start to deteriorate, but beyond that, they're exact replicas. There's really no way to tell. It could be either of you."

"That's not what I wanted to hear," John said, closing his eyes again. "Keep looking."

"It's not going to get us anywhere," Rodney snapped. "These people were...they weren't concerned with the moral repercussions. It's all blunt statistics. What I need to do is find us a way out of here. We'll deal with the rest later."

Both of them nodded. "Okay," Sheppard said. "Right."

Rodney nodded, too, and slowly made his way back to the console the real Sheppard had touched.

"Dr. McKay?"

Rodney irritably tapped his radio. "Yes, what?"

"Sorry to disturb you," Teyla said, and it was all pleasant tones on top of steel. Rodney really should know better than to piss her off. "But a Wraith cruiser has just entered orbit of this world."

Rodney paled. "What? Are you sure?"

"Yes. Ronon and I have taken refuge in the puddle-jumper and cloaked, but we fear they may be coming for you. They have circled the area and are now hovering above your position."

"Oh, this isn't good," Rodney said, and both John and Sheppard quickly went on alert and glanced over at him. "We must have set off some kind of energy signal, or distress beacon, when we activated this place again."

"What is it?" Sheppard asked, getting to his feet.

"The Wraith," Rodney told him. "They're here."

"We can't let the Wraith get near this place," John said, as he pushed himself into a sitting position. He looked pale, but Rodney knew it wouldn't work if he told him to lie back down.

"Yes, yes, I know," Rodney snapped. "The last thing we need is for the Wraith to start copying themselves."

"I was thinking more along the lines of them making copies of us," John said, "so they wouldn't have to worry about running low on food ever again."

Rodney paled, having not thought about that. The only thing worse than having your life sucked out of you by a Wraith would be to watch it happen to yourself over and over again without ever knowing when you were next. "There's got to be a self-destruct," Rodney said. "They had to have a failsafe against letting this place fall into Wraith hands."

"You want to blow us all up?" Sheppard demanded.

Rodney pushed past him to the console. "There's gotta be another way out of here. We'll ah, you know, put it on a timer, it'll be fine."

"What makes you think there's another way out of here?" John asked.

"Because I'm a scientist," Rodney said. "Whoever worked here would have been down here for days, weeks, years even, at a time, so there's got to be more to this place than we see. A kitchen, a bathroom, something."

Rodney searched through the jumbled data until he finally found a schematic of the lab and was able to pull it up. It appeared mostly in tact, and as he suspected, there was another, larger room, and even a staircase leading up to the surface. "This is going to work," he said, mostly to himself, but Sheppard was at his elbow a second later.

"What did you find?" he asked.

Rodney held up a finger, his favorite 'one moment please, I'm having a genius moment' gesture. He worked at the console a moment more, making his way through layer after layer of broken code, and then the entire wall to their right was shaking and lifting upwards. "A way out," Rodney said, grinning smugly.

"What about the self-destruct?" Sheppard asked.

"Oh, right," Rodney said.

And that's when Rodney's personal theory of the universe was further proven right--for everything that went to plan, there would be something to screw it up.


"The Wraith ship has landed right above you," Teyla told him.

"Just tell me what to do," both Sheppard's said at once.

Rodney tried to remember sitting in Area 51, reading SG-1's reports, correcting their mistakes, completely oblivious to what it was like to be there, be here, with the weight of everything pressing down on him and time quickly running out. Rodney wasn't always as sure as he let on.

Sometimes, like now, he wished someone one else would just come in and take over.

"I just need a little more time," Rodney snapped.

"We don't have it," Sheppard said.

"Yes, I realize that, thank you," he snapped.

John was leaning against the wall on his other side, sweating and pale and breathing strangely. "I'll do it," he said. "I'm not getting out of here anyway."

Rodney glared at him. "We're all getting out of here. Now shut up so I can work!"

"I can't make it up those stairs," John said. "Just tell me what to do, and I'll activate the self destruct manually."

"God, I thought it was bad with one, now I'm stuck with two martyrs. I'll do this, okay? I'll set it up and then we can all get the hell out of here." Rodney tried not to look at either of them, tried to focus on his work, but the walls were still vibrating from the Wraith ship sitting on top of them, and despite his words he had his doubts.

"They know we're down here. If they don't find the tunnels and come through that way, cutting off any hope of escape for us, then they're going to drill a hole straight down," John said. "Either way, we're screwed, unless you get the hell out of here now!"

Rodney turned towards him, ready to yell right back, but John was slipping down the wall, falling fast, so he quickly lunged forward instead and lowered him down. "What is it?" he asked anxiously. "What's wrong?"

"I'm not doing so great," John said, through his labored breathing. "If you don't leave now, I might not even be conscious enough to use the self-destruct when I need to. Rodney, you've got to go, please."

"John," Rodney said; and he used the name like it was a plea, filled with all the things he usually had the presence of mind to hide.

"Please," John said. "They need you."

"They need you too," Rodney said.

John smiled wryly. "Even if that's true, they only need one."

Rodney stood stiffly, and then, mechanically, he brought up the self-destruct schematics again. "All you need to do is hit this key," he said, pointing to it without meeting John's eyes. "Give us five minutes, and then do it."

"Okay," John said, like he was just agreeing to a game of chess, or a picnic, or a mission to another galaxy, and not to blow himself up.

"John--" Rodney started.

"Don't," John said. "Please, let's not...just...give the Wraith hell for me, okay?"

Rodney finally met his eyes--John's eyes, he knew them and he'd seen this same look in them countless times before. "Count on it," he said.

And then he left, without looking back, and walked into the other room. Sheppard, who had been uncharacteristically silent, followed him out without so much as goodbye to his counterpart. "We're going to have to move quickly," Rodney said, looking everywhere but at him, because he'd have John's same eyes too. "You should contact Teyla and--"

Rodney was cut off as Sheppard grabbed him and spun him into the wall. He leaned forward, kissing him desperately. Rodney responded almost without thought, too raw and bruised and tired to do anything else, and even if he'd never admit it, this was the kind of thing he tried not to dream about.

"I'm so sorry," Sheppard whispered, when he pulled back.

Rodney blinked. "What--what are you talking about? We've got to--"

"I didn't want to accept it," Sheppard said softly, watching him with large solemn eyes. He stepped back and wrapped his fingers around the edge of his black t-shirt before lifting it up on the right side.

Rodney felt sick. Half of Sheppard's side had been torn away, and he could see straight through to some of the bone. "I had myself convinced it was just shock, but I can't even feel it, can't feel pain," Sheppard said. "The Ancients weren't that cruel."

"You're the copy," Rodney whispered.

"I can't let him do it," Sheppard said. "But maybe I'm not so like him after all, because I can't do it and not say goodbye the way he would."

"You kissed me," Rodney said, disbelievingly.

"It's what I always want to do and never do," he said.

He looked heart-broken and real, and Rodney had thought it might be easier if he could know for sure, if he could know the one pushing the button was the copy that would die in seven days anyway, but it wasn't easier at all, and when Sheppard kissed him again, quietly and sad, Rodney just let him, even as he could hear a countdown in the back of his mind.

"Go get him," Sheppard said roughly, "and get the hell out of here. I'll give you as long as I can."

Rodney's legs were weak as he walked back into the room, and John's eyes widened when he saw he'd come back. "What are you--"

"We're leaving," Rodney said simply, pulling him to his feet and dragging one of his arms over his shoulders to haul him out.

"Rodney, wait--"

"No time to wait," Rodney said. "Sheppard is staying. We're leaving."

John didn't protest again, but that might have had more to do with the fact that Rodney dragging him across the room had left him only half-conscious than any actual understanding on John's part. Rodney turned back once before starting up the stairs, and met Sheppard's eyes.

Sheppard flashed him a sad smile, said, "so long, Rodney," and then shut the door so Rodney had nowhere to go but up.


The staircase led them up and out into a small cave, one that Rodney remembered seeing when they arrived. John was unconscious by the time they reached the surface, and Rodney was exhausted to the point he could barely hold him up. Adrenaline could only get them both so far, and Rodney commed Teyla and Ronon the moment they made it to the edge of the cave.

They appeared almost instantly, out of the cloaked puddle-jumper like they were coming out of thin air, and Ronon slung John carefully over his shoulders without a word.

They managed to get back to the puddle-jumper without being spotted, and Ronon carefully laid John on the floor in the back, before looking up with a murderous expression. "What about the Wraith?" he asked, and Rodney knew he'd take them all on himself just for this.

Except he wouldn't have to.

"That's taken care of," Rodney said, and behind him, the explosion leapt out from the ground, blowing the Wraith cruiser apart at the seams and sending debris flying like confetti back down on the earth.

Rodney took the helm without looking back, and he didn't share in Ronon's grunt of approval or Teyla's pleased grin. He had other things on his mind, like the man who had set the explosion off.


John was taken to the infirmary the moment they were back, and the others followed more slowly. Teyla helped Rodney, whose headache had reached near unbearable proportions and whose arms and legs were almost numb.

Teyla left him on a gurney and went off with Ronon to get a quick once over. John was wheeled up beside him fifteen minutes later, hooked up to all kinds of machines and very still. Carson came to stand in front of him. "Rodney, were you injured?"

"Concussion, I think," Rodney said, and left it at that.

Carson didn't seem to know what to do with such a succinct response from him, but he started moving after a moment's hesitation, and looked at the wound. "You want to tell me what happened?"

"We were in a cave-in in an Ancient outpost,' Rodney said.

"Aye," Carson said, "and do you want to tell me why Colonel Sheppard has a piece of paper taped to his chest that says 'Sheppard Two'?"

"Because he was the second one," Rodney said. "The first one blew himself up."

"Rodney?" Carson said, watching him carefully.

"It'll be in my report," Rodney said, and then said nothing else.


Carson had called Weir down almost immediately and Rodney hadn't wanted to talk with either of them. He'd downed three painkillers and told them to call him in the morning, then he'd gone and collapsed in the chair beside John's bed.

It took him awhile to realize he was being watched. "He kissed me, you know," Rodney said.

John just continued to watch him.

"It was a better goodbye than I ever got from you," he said.

"Rodney," John said.

"Look, this whole thing is screwed up, let's just...let's not--"

"Let's not what?" John asked. His voice was weak, and he was still far too pale, but Carson said he was stable, out of the woods, another recovery and another two weeks leave and then they could start this all over again.

"If it had been you," Rodney said. "If you had--"


"No," Rodney snapped. "Stop, stop trying to make this all okay. It's not."

"I never said it was," John told him.

"You would have done the same thing, you would have sat there and you would have pushed the button, but you never would have said goodbye," Rodney said.

"Did goodbye make it better?" John asked, and it's a low blow, but it's a valid point.

"It's harder," Rodney said, slowly, "but it's worth it."

He watched him, and he could see Sheppard in there, and Colonel Sheppard, and John. It should be enough, but Rodney was always looking for more. "How can you be sure?" John asked.

"You've left me enough times that I know," Rodney said, reaching out to clasp his hand.

And if he held on a little too tight, John didn't complain.
Tags: mckay/sheppard, request fic, sga, slash

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