February 13th, 2007


Love and Leadership

Title: Love and Leadership
Author: ComputerGoddess47
Author URL: http://goddess47.livejournal.com/
Date: February 13, 2007
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: PG
Warning: Adult Themes
Summary: In Pegasus, being a leader meant holding the souls of those that reported to you in the palm of your hands. Coping requires help.
Archive: Area 52, anyone else, ask

It took Rodney a while, but he finally realized that on good days, ones where both he and John were relaxed, stress free and when there had been no crises, that the sex was mind blowingly wonderful. So good that he suspected that more than a couple of brain cells melted down. He generally didn’t mind since the sex really was amazing, and he didn’t worry too much about losing too many brain cells since it didn’t happen all that often.

The times that they had a bad day at the same time – days that scared the shit out of both of them, or they both lost people, or they were scared for each other – the sex had an edge of desperation to it. It confirmed they were still alive, they were still there and that they had made it through one more bad day. The sex was usually ragged, too quick, but it left them exhausted enough to sleep. While this happened more than Rodney would have liked, it happened less often than the really good sex.

It was the in between times, though, that was the best. For it was those times that allowed them to help each other. They took turns helping each other since something always went wrong.

There was the day that Rodney almost lost a couple of the botanists. Rodney wasn’t normally fond of the botany crew, since plants weren’t real science in his mind, but he was responsible for them since he was the Chief Science Office.

When the botanists started dropping in the lab, Carson Beckett was at a loss to explain what was happening to them. It wasn’t until Atlantis activated its own quarantine system that anyone realized that there was something in the lab causing the problem.

"Rodney," asked Elizabeth Weir, "what can you find?"

Rodney rolled his eyes. "I don’t know anything about plants and don’t want to. So your guess is as good as mine," he retorted.

"What’s in that lab that isn’t anyplace else?" Weir demanded over the communicator, being isolated in her office from the others.

"I don’t know. Plants, maybe?" Rodney protested sarcastically. "I can’t tell any of these damn plants apart." He was using a security feed to see what he could in the lab. It gave only limited viewing of the botany lab.

John looked over his shoulder. "Call Teyla and see if any of her people know anything about plants," he suggested.

"Anyone who knows anything we don’t can help." He put a hand on Rodney’s shoulder to say I’m here if you need anything. It was brief and anyone who might have noticed would only have thought of it as Colonel Sheppard steadying himself for a closer look at the monitor. They would have had to look closely to see the slight squeeze.

Elizabeth said, "Good idea. And, let’s go back through the mission reports for the last few weeks and see what we can find about what’s been brought back." Not everything made it into the mission reports, but it was worth looking.

It took a combination of the two to figure out that one of the botanists had brought back a plant from his last off world mission that gave off pollen which was a sleeping drug. One of the Athosians recognized the plant in a corner of the lab, and the botanist who had brought it back had at least logged the plant in.

"In the open air," the Athosian explained, "the effect is muted. One usually only becomes sleepy. The pollen is sometimes collected to use as a sleep aid, but it very powerful and addicting. We sometimes collect it for trade since the plant only blooms at night and is a rare commodity. In your lab, the closed space allowed your people to breathe more pollen than is safe."

Once Carson had a sample of the pollen he was able to construct an antidote. The botanists suffered from some nasty withdrawal symptoms over the next month and were more careful about bringing back samples for a long time.

But that first night, Rodney needed John. He needed John to bring him back to ground, to help him get the sight of the bodies on the lab floor out of his head, and to deal with the guilt he felt about not knowing their names until Zelenka had reminded him. They were his responsibility and he had almost failed them. The fact that they were alive was small consolation.

John coaxed Rodney to leave the infirmary and get some sleep. Rodney let John lead him to the suite they shared – no one ever commented that only one of the two bedrooms actually ever looked lived in – and practically undressed him. It was gentle and slow and John murmured softly about nothing in Rodney’s ear. John’s hands were everywhere, touching Rodney. John’s hands never left Rodney as they made love. John wrapped his arms around Rodney and held him until they both slept.

Another time, it Rodney’s turn to take care of John. A call came in from a team that was off world, "We’re coming in hot!" and John was in the gateroom in a flash. Rodney watched the team stumble into Atlantis… one came through… another came through, helping a teammate through the gate and the fourth…. The fourth fell through the gate and landed in a heap, not moving.

"Shut down the gate," John yelled, as bullets whined through the gate into the room and suddenly there was silence. The gate team called for medical assistance as he went to that too still form. John knelt down to reach out and gently rolled the man over to find the back of his head missing. As Beckett came running up, John looked up and shook his head and said, "Check them out," pointing to the two that were assisting each other.

The soldier under his hands, Sergeant Mark Dickins, was recently arrived in Atlantis. This had been his second off world mission. John had taken the man on his first mission and he had told Rodney he been pleased with how Dickins had coped. Dickens was observant, smart, thoughtful and funny. Rodney sensed that John had looked forward to working with him, maybe making a friend. Now he was dead.

Rodney followed John to the infirmary. Somehow, they always ended up there. Carson nodded as Rodney took John by the elbow off to their rooms. Rodney helped John into the shower to clean the blood off of him before he took him to bed. There was nothing gentle about the sex in the shower. Rodney knew that John needed to work the emotions out and by absorbing the rawness Rodney helped John cope. Bringing it out into the open helped it dissipate – it never really went away.

In bed, the sex was less harsh but no less forceful until John finally worked through the anger and the frustration that filled him. In the end, it was Rodney who put his arms around John and who soothed John as the dreams woke him in the night.

For Rodney understood the awful responsibility they held. Fate had put them in charge of other people’s lives and held them accountable. Flyboy and geek evolved on their own to soldier and scientist. Pegasus further evolved them to warrior and wizard and forced them into leadership that they never sought. The least injury to others, the littlest hurt, each only added to the debt they owed, for somehow, they survived, and lived on, while others did not. In Pegasus, being a leader meant holding the souls of those that reported to you in the palm of your hands. And it was like holding sand – hold too tight and the soul would slip away, not hold tight enough and the merest breeze would take the soul away.

Even more humbling was the knowledge that those they led never blamed them. For anything. Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay had answers, and plans, and solutions – to every problem. The faith those they led had in John and Rodney was humbling and terrifying.

So it was no surprise that the two leaders of the disparate groups would understand what the other experienced. What ate away at the soul, what compromises they made in their own character to buy another day in Pegasus and in Atlantis. For each day was precious, as were each of the souls they held in their hands.

It was only when they were alone together that they could be just John and Rodney and not Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay. When it was just them, they could let go, they were no longer in charge and no one looked to them for answers. One could let the other take care of him, make decisions, and make demands.

It was then that the sex was more. It was love. It was sharing and understanding and warmth and comfort. The physical act affirmed the bond.

On any random morning, Rodney would wake up to see John watching him from inches away, entwined together in the bed.

"Hey," John said and leaned in for a slow kiss. "Thanks."

Rodney knew it was for everything and for nothing, he just said, "Welcome." And kissed him back.