Layton Colt (laytoncolt) wrote in nixa_jane,
Layton Colt

SGA: Ellis (PG-13), McKay/Sheppard.

They lie and say the people told them never to return. They label the planet as hostile and lock the coordinates away with all the other places they'll never visit again.


It's only in the nights.

The rest of the time, Rodney can forget it ever happened. It's like some bad memory or one of John's nightmares, faded and gone the moment the mind focuses on something else, and Rodney has plenty of things to keep his mind occupied and distracted.

Most of the time he does, but not at these times, when it's just the two of them. Weir arranged it for him herself, and he had the connecting door built between the rooms with only Radek for help. Now they can enter separate doors and no one gets suspicious, but they sleep in the same bed.

Elizabeth didn't really have a choice, in the end. It was this or confess.

John wakes, gasping, like clockwork, in the middle of every night. His eyes are hazed and distant, darker, and unfamiliar, and Rodney always surges awake right there with him, alert instantly, because its routine by now, and he's got so much caffeine in his veins he's only ever half asleep anyway.

He holds John's face and forces him to look at him, to look at him, to see. "Hey," he whispers.

"Ame," John whispers, and his voice sounds far off, too deep. "Where--"

"Do you know who you are?" Rodney asks, because it'll all fade again, the very moment he remembers.

John blinks, watches him like he can't look away, and slowly, the confusion disappears. "John," he says eventually, still shaking. "My name is John."

"That's right," Rodney says. "That's right."

In the nights, he can almost understand why Carson still can't look him in the eye.

- 147:31

John rests his hands on his P90 and flashes that charming, somewhat bewildered grin as a small group of people approach them. They're unarmed, but Rodney can tell John is still tense and ready for a fight. Ronon, behind him, doesn't even bother to hide it.

Teyla is the only one of them that appears truly at ease.

"Welcome, welcome," says the oldest of the group, waving his hands wide and smiling. His hair is white and his skin not much darker, eyes a little oddly blue, and Rodney feels a tingle of something that he quickly fights back.

John has already told him to be on his best behavior, and while that's not saying much, he's not going to push his luck.

"I'm Colonel Sheppard," John says. "This is Ronon, Teyla, and Dr. McKay."

"What brings you to Authora?" the man asks, pleasant smile still in place.

John's grin goes a little crooked in response. "We're just looking to make new friends."

- 113:43

"Carson says there's nothing he can do," John tells him, and looks away. "A couple weeks, maybe, and then..."

He's pale and the skin beneath his eyes is dusted with black. He looks fragile, and John Sheppard has always been anything but. Rodney holds onto the foot of the bed and tries to keep his balance, keep his thoughts, because it would be so easy to give into panic the way he always used to.

It would be so easy to start screaming, or to blame John, but if Rodney's learned anything the last two years it's that it does no good.

Instead he just meets John's bloodshot eyes with his own, determination shining through enough that John sighs, because he knows what's coming.

"No," he says. "You're not going to die."

"Don't do this, Rodney," John says. "Don''s not." He presses his eyes closed like he's given up. Like he's dead already. "There's no reason for either of us to go through this. We have to accept it and move on."

"You're not going anywhere," Rodney says; and he means it. He's never been so certain of anything.

- 145:09

The Authora people are generous, technologically advanced, and welcome them all with smiles and a feast.

"We have little crime," Arense, the leader, says when asked. "And we have heard nothing of the Wraith past the children's stories of demons in the sky."

"Do you have some kind of forcefield?" Rodney asks.

"No need," Arense says. "In the event of an invasion we'd just shoot them down."

"My kind of people," John says, smiling. "Mind if I take a look at these weapons of yours?"

Arense smiles slightly. "We have not used them in many years, but you're welcome to look at them, if you'd like."

A young girl arrives with a plate of fruit and offers it to them. Rodney eyes what looks like a lemon suspiciously and refrains.

Obviously, they all wait for the other shoe to drop.

- 27:03

"You're perfectly healthy," Carson says, but he's had trouble meeting John's gaze for a while now.

"See?" Rodney says briskly. "I told you. You're fine."

John watches the two of them. Carson is avoiding Rodney even more than he is him. Thinking back on it, he's pretty sure they haven't talked for days.

John doesn't know what it is, but something has been off since he woke up in the infirmary after their trip to Authora. He remembers them as nothing but nice, but Rodney says they've been taken out of the dialing system for good.

He never gets a good reason why.

John sighs and looks at Carson again. His eyes are on the floor and he's shuffling instruments around on the tray. He arranges them by length and then switches them around from vertical to horizontal, in two neat little side-by-side rows.

"I think I've been having trouble sleeping," John says, but he's not sure. If he dreams, he doesn't remember.

"You sleep fine," Rodney says. "You don't even snore."

Carson stiffens and Rodney bounces anxiously on the balls of his feet. "Well, you know, I don't think you do," he quickly adds.

"If there's nothing else then," Carson says, and leaves without waiting for a response.

- 144:01

Rodney isn't paying attention when it happens. Teyla and Ronon are still back in the dining hall; Teyla talking culture and Ronon having seconds, and so there's no one around to catch John, when he falls.

He's still seizing when Rodney turns around, mouth open, but soundless, as his eyes roll back until all that's left is white, and he goes limp. Rodney drops down beside him, looking around for the source of an attack, but the Authorians look as horrified as him.

When Rodney realizes John's heart isn't beating, his almost stops too.

He calls for Ronon and Teyla when he gets his breath back, and Arense is there as they start to leave. "It was an electrical surge," he's saying. "We don't know what happened, but we can fix it if you just--"

"Stay back," Ronon growls. John is in his arms as Teyla dials the gate. Rodney's fingers are hovering near his holster, and it's a weird first reaction, but Rodney kind of gets John at the moment--he'd love to be able to just shot something, to make this better.

"But wait, you must wait--" Arense says.

They don't wait. Rodney had barely been able to get John's heart started again, and time was the one thing they didn't have to give.

- 112:06

John is having trouble staying awake. The Authorians keep dialing their gate and Weir wants to know what the hell happened, so Rodney finally answers them.

"We believe something in your friend caused an overload," Arense says. "There are stories of a race that could do with their minds what we must do with our hands, but we have changed our technology so much since then, we don't believe them any longer compatible."

"You're talking about the ATA gene," Rodney says. He can't quite muster up an interest. For one of the first times in his life, the how didn't seem to matter near so much as the fix.

"We don't know what it is," Arense says. "The Ancients used to live here, guide us. Their ways are not known to us any longer. They're as much myth as the Wraith."

"That doesn't really help us," Rodney snaps. "He's dying. Carson says it's his heart."

Arense nods. "This is why we asked you to wait. We can heal him."

- 105:45

Weir is reluctant to let them go, but Rodney convinces her that the Authorians aren't dangerous. Arense's explanation fit with Rodney's cursory examination of the equipment--there was a touch of the Ancient about it.

Rodney hadn't made physical contact with any of it, just looked at the readings on his scanner. John had touched something, and somehow overloaded the entire thing.

If the Authorians could fix it, they had to try.

Carson comes in place of John. Ronon is extra vigilant and twitchy, but Teyla just looks concerned, and sad. Rodney is falling apart, but he hides that easily enough by yelling at anyone stupid enough to get too close.

"You said you could heal him," Carson says, the moment they're on the other side of the wormhole, wary of wasting time. "How?"

"Come," Arense says. "I will show you."

"That's what you said to John about the weapon," Ronon says gruffly. "And we all know how that worked out."

Arense ignores him in favor of Carson, and leads the way.

There are two occupied beds behind a glass panel and Arense motions to them. "The one on the right is dying," he says. "Cancer."

"The one on the left?" Carson asks.

"A perfectly healthy donor," Arense says. "Watch."

A buzzing builds on the other side of the glass, and there's a flash before someone starts screaming. After a moment, the one on the right sits up, and the other doesn't move.

"She is cured," Arense says proudly.

"What about the donor?" Carson asks, suspicious.

"He killed someone, and was sentenced to give his life to another more deserving," Arense says. "He has a few more hours left to live. If you ask me, it's more than he deserves."

- 104:39

"Why are we still discussing this?" Carson snaps. "It's barbaric, and I won't be a part of it."

"They're prisoners," Rodney says determinedly. "They've all been sentenced to death. It's nothing we don't do back on Earth, only for them, it isn't for nothing. They get to repent before they die by saving a life."

"Do you really believe that, Rodney?" Teyla asks quietly. "Or do you simply want to?"

"You're damn right I want to," Rodney snaps. "Granted, it's disturbing, but they're just going to keep doing it anyway, and god knows John deserves to live."

"John would never--" Carson starts.

"No," Rodney interrupts. "He wouldn't. And that's why he can't ever know."

"He's right," Ronon says. "I say we do it."

Carson crosses his arms. "It doesn't matter. Weir will never let this happen."

"I'm going to make it happen," Rodney says.

"We can't!" Carson shouts. "You know that!"

Rodney pulls out his radio, spins on his heel, and says, "Ronon, keep him here."

Ronon steps in front of Carson when he tries to follow. Teyla says nothing else.

- 23.57

"I think I'm losing my mind," John says. He's standing on the balcony and Rodney is hovering near the door.

"You're not."

John laughs. "Yeah? Then why haven't I been off world since that last mission? Weir gave my team to Lorne and no one will tell me why."

"We've all told you why," Rodney says.

John turns around to face him. "Then tell me again," he says.

"There was an accident," Rodney says haltingly. "An explosion. You were hurt. Hit your head. Carson wants to keep you around for observation, that's all. It's not forever."

"And why aren't you on the team anymore, then?" John demands.

Rodney smiles wryly. "What, me out there, without you watching my back? I'm not stupid. Lorne's a nice guy, but you're the only one I trust to keep me alive."

John's eyes are narrow. "I could say the same thing about you," he says, and Rodney feels a little sick, wonders how much John really knows.

"I'm not good at keeping you out of trouble," Rodney says eventually. "Our track record shows that."

"But I'm alive," John says, and steps closer. "And for some reason, I get the feeling I really shouldn't be."

Rodney's eyes lower, can't quite hold John's.

"I think it's you I have to thank for that," John continues.

"Are you?" Rodney asks. "Thankful, I mean--to be alive?"

John's smile is bright and unreal. "Of course," he says.

- 104:37

"Send John through," Rodney says, abruptly.

There's a hesitant silence on the other side of the gate, before Weir's voice finally comes over the radio. "They have a way to heal John?" she asks.

"They're extremely advanced," Rodney says. "They can cure anything. Carson's still back there, looking around, like a kid in a candy store. Or, you know, Carson in a candy store."

"Are you okay, Rodney?" Weir asks. "You sound odd."

"Of course I sound odd," Rodney snaps. "My best friend is dying. Now, if it's not too much trouble, could you send him through so we can fix that?"

Lorne brings John through, one of John's arms thrown over his shoulder, though John is stubbornly walking on his own. "Rodney?" he says. "What are we doing?"

"This is the Authorians' fault, only right they fix it," Rodney says, before grabbing John from the other side and casting Lorne a look. "I've got him."

Lorne backs away, arms upraised in surrender, and follows three paces behind.

"I don't like this," John says. "I've got a bad feeling."

"Where was that instinct when you touched something and nearly got yourself killed?" Rodney asks bitterly.

John only laughs weakly, before it turns into a coughing fit. "I don't like this, is all. I didn't before either. I never trust nice people."

"Explains why you like him," Lorne mutters, from behind them.

- 99:07

"Give me one good reason not to have you sent back to Earth and thrown in some dungeon in the lower floors of the SGC!" Weir shouts.

Rodney doesn't know where this strength has come from, but the threat doesn't touch him. "Because Sheppard would be dead if I hadn't done it."

Weir shakes her head. "You lied to me, Rodney. You know very well I never would have let this happen if I'd known how they planned to heal him--and Carson, he's--"

"He'll get over it," Rodney says.

"I'm not sure he will," Weir snaps. "I'm not sure any of us will."

"I already have," Rodney tells her.

Weir looks away, and then drops into her chair. "What's happened to you? This isn't you, Rodney, I'd expect this from--well, I just don't expect it from you."

Rodney looks at the surface of her desk. "I--we can't afford to lose him."

"You're in love with him, aren't you?" she asks softly.

Rodney doesn't even have to answer, she knows. He nods, anyway.

Weir gets back to her feet, restless, and bites absently on a nail. "I'll help you with this, just this once, but there are conditions. You and John are no longer on the team. He'll stay here as head of the military, you'll stay here as head of scientific research--Lorne will lead the team."

"You can't--"

"You've just proven to me you don't think clearly where John is concerned, and as for John, we have no idea how this will affect him. I want him close."

"How are we going to explain it to the SGC?" Rodney asks, after a moment.

Weir smiles grimly. "We don't. We never talk about this again."

So they lie and say the people told them never to return. They label the planet as hostile and lock the coordinates away with all the other places they'll never visit again.

- 104:01

Teyla is trying to calm Carson down, but she doesn't look too happy herself. Ronon is dispassionate and determined, and Rodney finally gets how he can be that way. It's the same for him.

John's already lying on the right bed, asleep from an anesthetic. Better that way, they were told. They drag a man into the room, chains on his wrists, chains on his ankles. He's screaming for all he's worth.

Arense frowns. "They're not always penitent," he says.

"What did he do?" Rodney asks, trying not to look at him too closely.

"His name is Ellis," Arense says dismissively. "He killed his wife."

The attendants drug Ellis into unconsciousness and arrange him on the bed beside John. "It's not too late to call this off, Rodney," Carson says, pleading.

"Do it," Rodney tells Arense.

Arense nods down at the attendants, and they turn the machine on.

- 104:00

He remembers the feel of her neck beneath his fingers, fragile and so thin, doesn't take much pressure at all. It isn't that he didn't love her; so many people make that mistake.

The reason is that he does.

He loved her more than anything. She was his everything, his Ame. He would have died for her. This is just how it ended. She had to die for him instead.

She was so confused, wanting to leave. They made a pact. Until they were dead, they promised. He was just keeping it when she no longer could.

But he misses her, god, he misses her. Still, he feels no regret.

He remembers when he met her, their first date they had dinner in an open field, sitting right on the grass. She was never for anything too sophisticated. She liked it simple. She always dressed casual and kept her hair short, laughed at every opportunity.

Of course he couldn't let her leave. What did they expect?

Now they were killing him, pulling the life straight out of him, and he can only hope that he'll be able to find her again.

But Ellis wakes screaming, and everyone calls him John.

"Please please," someone is saying, grabbing at him, pulling at him, shaking him. "Why the hell didn't you warn me about this?" he shouts, at someone else now, he's turned away.

"It's fine," the someone else was saying. "It'll go away. It's only when they sleep. Just keep telling him his name. Tell him, and he'll be fine. He'll come back."

"John? John? Look at me, please--"

John. That's his name. Not Ellis. Ellis is someone else. Gasping, John opens his eyes, and Rodney smiles down at him, says, "You're fine, okay? You're gonna be fine."

John can't remember what he was dreaming about. Rodney tells him that's for the best.


John stirs restlessly in his sleep. "Ame," he says, broken and terrified.

Rodney is up against the headboard, knees to his chest, head in his hands. It's hard to listen to sometimes, but it's still John's voice, and he's alive. From what Rodney has heard of John's dreams, Ellis deserves what he got.

Rodney knows he should probably feel guilty. He should feel remorse, or something. Weir does. He can tell. He's not sure if it's regret, exactly, but she's not happy about it. She probably would have stopped him if he'd told her first, no matter how much it would have hurt.

Rodney's selfish, always has been, and he couldn't care less. He would have killed that bastard himself it that's what it had taken. He knows he would have. John would do it for him. John has.

"Come back, Ame," John says. "You have to come back..."

Rodney takes a shaking breath. He knows what happens next. He brushes John's hair back and then intertwines their fingers. Arense says that sometimes it goes away completely, but Rodney saw that day, Ellis doesn't go without a fight.

John is strong, though. Rodney almost never has to worry about him, even if he always does.

"Go back to sleep," Rodney whispers. "When you wake up, everything will be fine."

It's always fine in the mornings.
Tags: mckay/sheppard, sga, slash

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