The world kept turning, of course it did. Most likely, no one even knew something of great importance had happened. But it had. Oh, in the grand scheme of things maybe 'great importance' is a bit of an exaggeration, but still..the way he touched me as if I were the most important
"Rodney, is that a diary?" asked a sleepy and sated John Sheppard. His mild curiosity was peaked further by the sight of a blushing Rodney McKay.
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm a grown man. Why would I keep a diary? I thought you were asleep. Why are you awake?! Is something wrong? Shall I get you an aspirin..a drink?" Rodney tried the old McKay attempt at distraction. His motto: Keep talking until their eyes glaze over.
"I could hear you writing. No, I don't need anything and I don't know why you'd keep a diary. I do assure you though that I won't leave the room until I do know."
Rodney sighed in dismay. If there was anyone in the universe that was more persistent than John.. Rodney sighed again.
"All right, I've kept a journal..not a diary, thank you very much, for the last three years, on and off. It's supposed to be therapeutic. Well, that's what my councilor at the time told me. She was a not entirely unintelligent woman." Rodney glanced out of the corner of his eye to see if that explanation would end the discussion. Didn't look good on that front.
John had sat up in bed and was looking irritatingly alert for someone who had come twice already that night. There was also a gleam in his eye that Rodney recognized all to well from looking in his own mirror. Curiosity! For some people it was just a word. For others, and he and John Sheppard were certainly in this group, curiosity was an almost living entity within them.
Hmm about the only thing that could distract John .."Why don't you let me give you a back rub..maybe a front rub?" Hell, seduction had never been Rodney's strong suit; He was too straightforward for innuendos. It was part of the reason he loved sex with other men. No schmooze, no mush. "wanna screw?" "hell yeah, let's go" Not romantic but it worked for him. Or it had until he'd met John Sheppard.
"Rodney, why were you seeing a therapist? Oh, hell, sorry. I don't mean to be nosy. You don't need to tell me." John heaved a sigh of his own and turned the most pitiful gaze known to man on his lover.
"Oh, turn it off, Major. I'll tell you. Not such a pretty story, though..sure you want to know?" Although they had been lovers for several months, they had kept they emotional level low; just some friendly stress relief between teammates. Rodney might feel more than he let on but he was in no hurry to ruin the status quo.
John looked uncharacteristically serious as he replied. "I'd like to hear, Rodney, if you feel you can tell me. I don't want to bring up a painful subject."
Suddenly Rodney did want to tell John. It was something he'd never discussed outside of therapy. Something he never shared with a lover. No one had ever rocked him through the nightmares that still occasionally plagued him. Maybe John could do that for him. It wouldn't even give him too much power because God knows John had nightmares pretty frequently. He woke up in tears at least once a week. During the dark of night, he'd cling to Rodney like a lifeline. He let Rodney pet and soothe him during those times. But they were never discussed in the light of day. He pretended that he didn't remember and the one time Rodney pressed the issue, John had avoided him for three days. Rodney thought that maybe for the first time he had a lover that was as screwed up as he was!
"Not much to tell, really. When I was younger I had an even more acerbic tongue than I do now. I did not always use my power for good, either. When I started working for the military, I really thought no one would care that I was gay. To be fair most people didn't but I wasn't particularly discreet. When someone made a comment..well, let's just say that I was out of line with my "Your daddy liked it last night" line."
Rodney grinned at the look of horrified admiration on John's face. "Yeah, that was the look I received from the other scientists! Right before I got the holy crap beaten out of me!"
John's look changed immediately to anger. "Who was it? I want names and I want them now! Bastards." John stopped his tirade and took a deep breath. "Sorry, didn't mean to ..anyway how badly were you hurt?" John was holding Rodneys hand and rubbing his arm comfortingly. He seemed so concerned and caring that Rodney almost hated to tell him the truth.
"Actually, it wasn't that bad. I had a few bruised ribs and a loose tooth. Broke my nose with the first punch, though. I had to go to the infirmary but I was released the same day."
"Well, why did you see a therapist then?" asked John logically.
"Well. I was just so damn mad that who I loved was reason enough to hurt me..and that I was basically helpless. I didn't have the training that I do now and even now three on one are not good odds for me."
"Three on one?" John's voice was faint and his eyes were huge.
"Well, two holding me and one...anyway there were enough sensible people there to put a stop to it but it really had an effect on me. I went back and forth from depression to fury. Finally my supervisor told me to see a shrink or leave the program. So off I went."
"God, I hate that. I wish I'd been there. I hope I would have done the right thing." John looked unbearably sad.
John", responded Rodney kindly. "From time to time you and I might have different ideas of what is right but I have never doubted that you are an honorable man who ..John?"
John was pale and Rodney could see that his hands were shaking. "What is it John? What's wrong?"
John jumped up and began pacing "See Rodney, you have to understand..the military, it is a really hard place if you don't fit in. If you're different. I just wanted, for once in my life to be a 'one of the boys'. To fit in. So, I.. ah ..I made a really bad choice and no matter how I wish I hadn't done it, I can't ever, ever take it back."
"John, your kind of scaring me. What are you talking about?" Rodney had a bad feeling about this..a really bad feeling. John was always in control and to see him pacing and wringing his hands unsettled Rodney greatly.
"I don't want to tell you; you'll hate me." Now John wouldn't even look at Rodney. "But I know you won't let it go and I guess you deserve to know what kind of a man you..you're involved with."
"When I was in training, there was a guy in my unit who was a ..well, someone found out he was a..he was gay. The word went out and soon nobody would talk to him. Then his stuff started getting destroyed and he got pushed around a bit. Well, things escalated and he got hurt. Not badly but.. the day he left we had a party. Everyone acted so proud. What a bunch of cowardly bastards we were."
Rodney swallowed hard and after a moments thought slowly replied. " John we all want to fit in when we're young..hell that never really changes. What you were all of 20 when this happened?" At John's vague nod he continued. "I'm sure you couldn't have stopped them even if you had tried. I mean it's not like you actually ..participated ..John? You didn't, did you? Oh my God." Rodney actually felt the color drain from his face.
John fell to his knees next to the bed and looked up at Rodney, desperation in his face. "Rodney, I was just a kid. I was so damn scared that they'd turn on me that I didn't know what to do. My dad already hated me for choosing the Air Force, I was so afraid. Rodney, I was just so afraid."
"So, you knew that you were gay, even then? And you still helped terrorize a helpless kid who was probably as confused as you? My god, that is why we're always so damn careful. You're still ashamed of who and what you are..you're ashamed of me?!" Rodney jumped up, throwing on his clothes. He could barely breathe, couldn't even look at John. "I have to go John. I ah I can't stay here. I'm sorry."
John stayed on his knees and if Rodney had looked back, he'd have seen the tears on John's face. But Rodney didn't look back. The memory of his own beating was too vivid and now all the faces looked like the face of his lover. He all but fled John's quarters, heading toward the safety of his own lonely room.
One day turned into two then three and soon it had been a week since John's painful confession. "How did this get so messed up?" thought Rodney morosely. He had asked to be temporarily removed from off-world activity due to important experiments in his lab. Other than brief glances, he had not even seen John, let alone spoken to him. Rodney admitted to himself that he missed John with an intensity that was alarming to say the least.
He had done nothing but brood about the terrible revelation but after some time passed he had gained a bit of perspective. He remembered the anguish on John's face, the tears in his eyes. "How many of his nightmares traced back to this one incident?" wondered Rodney. The tiniest trace of guilt wormed his way into Rodney's mind as he remembered how he had gone through his own form of fear and self-doubt before accepting his sexuality. A boy raised in a strictly military environment would have been very conflicted. John rarely talked about his childhood and Rodney had been left with an impression of an unhappy family life. Perhaps worse than unhappy?
Deciding that too much time had passed and feeling unaccountably worried, Rodney set out to find John. They really needed to talk.
On his way from his lab he ran into Lt. Ford who was looking decidedly unhappy.
"What's the matter Lt? They run out of chocolate pudding in the mess?"
Ford started as if his mind had been far away. "Oh, hey Dr. McKay. No, just another hard round of training. Major Sheppard has been pushing himself and everyone else. He's really been a bas..ah a bear lately. Everyone is in a bit of a tizzy right now, trying to keep up with him."
"Ah yes, tizzy. The technical military term, right?" The attitude was almost automatic by now which allowed him to hide the surprise he truly felt. That didn't sound like the Sheppard he knew. Without even listening to the rest of the comments he hurried to John's quarters. Not bothering to knock, he used the ATA gene to open the door and raise the lights in the gloomy quarters. What he saw nearly broke his heart.
John sat on his bed, knees pulled up to his chin. He looked thin and pale and his eyes were empty as he gazed up at the intruder to his solitude.
Rodney stood staring for a moment. Comfort and understanding were not his strong suits but he cared deeply for this man and he wanted to ease the suffering he saw in those hazel eyes. He'd pretty much steered clear of this kind of involvement in his previous relationships so rather than using experience he let instinct guide him. Without a word he sat down next to John and pulled him into his arms, holding him tightly. Rodney tried to convey all the things he was afraid to say. Things like: I'm sorry; I'll stand by you. Tell me everything..never leave you. Rodney was thoroughly disgusted with his willpower as he realized that in addition to basically rocking another grown man, he was murmuring all those things aloud. "God what a sap I am!"
He was further horrified as he became aware of the racking sobs shaking the man in his arms. His controlled, unemotional lover was breaking down and Rodney had never felt more helpless.
"Sorry, so sorry, was so scared..just didn't want them to hurt me. Was so damn tired of being hurt because I was different. Just wanted to fit in for once in my life." John's shaky words were interspersed with sobs and Rodney felt his shirt grow wet.
"John, hush, it'll be all right. Hush now." Rodney was seriously worried that John was going to have a full-blown panic attack. He sat back on the bed and pulled John to him so that his arms and legs were wrapped around him. He began to breathe deeply and soon John was matching his breathing. "Now John tell me..tell me everything. I swear I won't walk out on you. Not ever again."
John was shaking almost imperceptibly and Rodney could barely hear him as he started to talk. The tale he told made Rodney's blood grow cold. At that moment he realized that he was completely capable of murder and would gladly have killed those described in John's tale.
It was an ugly story and Rodney could now completely understand the nightmares that plagued his lover. A tale of a cold and domineering father whose answer to a bright and enthusiastic child was to beat him into submission whenever he deemed it necessary.
"When I wa..was 16 or so, I ah had feelings for my best friend..Kyle. One day we ..we kissed..just a kiss. That was the day Dad had come home early, of course. After he beat the crap out of me he..he took me to. Oh God Rodney, why ? Why did he hate me so much?"
Knowing that the source of John's pain was close to the surface now, Rodney gently pressed. "Where did he take you, John? You can tell me. I don't hate you and I swear you're safe with me. I'm here for you, John! I'm sorry I let you down." Rodney was afraid to step into John's nightmare but he couldn't leave him. He might be out of his depth but he wouldn't ever leave him alone again.
"He took me to a little house in the bad part of town. He said if I wanted to.. t.. to be a queer that he'd make sure I'd get a lesson that I'd never forget. Two men lived there. Two gay men who'd been kicked out of the service..dishonorable discharge you know. Lucky they didn't see time in Leavenworth. My dad said they owed him a favor." Now John's voice had gone dead, no inflection, no emotion. As if he relating the story in a factual manner could provide protection from the pain.
"He told them to show me what I could look forward to if I ever did anything like that again. Please, I don't want to talk about it anymore. please, Rodney. I'm sorry."
"Finish," was the only word Rodney could force from his throat. He hope John could hear the love in his voice and feel it in his embrace because he was incapable of saying any more.
"God! He let them..they..they touched me and I was so scared and he didn't care if they hurt me, he just watched and laughed. He asked if I'd ever do anything like that again. I would have said anything to get out of there. He..he made me thank him..thank them. Then we left and neither of us ever talked about it again."
"Did they rape you, John?"
"Not..not with their..God. but they used things and Oh God Rodney..he was supposed to take care of me." John stopped and took a few shaky breaths. He turned out of Rodney's tight embrace and looked into teary blue eyes. "He said anyone who was a..a queer deserved that treatment and if it ever happened again. So when the rest of the gang asked why I didn't want to get rid of Jason..said that maybe I was just like him. I was scared and stupid and for once I didn't want to be hit or humiliated or laughed at. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to forget. I swear that I have regretted my actions every day of my life. Please Rodney, you have to believe me."
Rodney raised his hand to wipe John's tears and was stricken when John actually flinched away. "I believe you John. I understand. What happened to you was horrible. I am so sorry that you went through that. Is that why we're always so careful?" Rodney had long believed that John was a bit too paranoid for their setting. But he had never wanted to risk an end to their time together, so he had never forced the issue.
John raised haunted eyes and whispered, "You could be hurt, Rodney. I think it would kill me if I got you hurt. Most of me knows that no one here would hurt us but that small part that sounds like my father won't stop yelling at me..calling me names. Hating me.I swear, Rodney, I've never been ashamed of you..just of myself." As if the final words had emptied him, John slumped back against Rodney and wrapped his arms around himself. He was the very picture of misery.
But Rodney would not lose this man to his past. Not to his bastard of a father or the perverts that had terrorized a confused and innocent boy. Certainly not to John, himself.
"John, it is in the past and I know that the man you are today would never do anything like that. You are not that scared, traumatized boy. You are an honorable man. One that I trust and respect. A man that I ..that I love. I love you John."
The hope in John's eyes was heart breaking in its intensity. Wordless, he clung now to Rodney as if to be as close as possible. As if Rodney were the best thing that had ever happened to him and he'd never let him go.
Rodney had never been this close to another person before and it frightened him. What the hell did he know about taking care of something more complex than a cat? But John was looking at him with teary-green eyes, filled with hope and fear and maybe love. Rodney knew that he'd do what he always did in a new and frightening situation. (Something, which occurred with depressing regularity since coming to Atlantis) He would do what he thought was best. Fortunately, he was a damn genius so he was usually right. He trusted those instincts once again.
"John, I think you need to tell this story to someone other than myself. I'll support you and love you but I don't know how to help you through this. This is too important to screw up now." To his surprise John just nodded.
"Yeah, I made an appointment with Heightmeyer but I just couldn't go. Maybe now..maybe with you?" John looked up almost shyly through his lashes and Rodney felt an unexpected jolt of love and lust hit him.
Something must have shown in his eyes because he saw John's eyes grow dark in response. Rodney reached out then hesitated.
John lowered his eyes. "I ah I understand if you don't want to touch me. I did a really horrible thing and after what happened to you..well, you must think I'm a real.." Rodney was distressed to hear the quiver in the usually strong voice.
"No, John. Just no! It's that you finally admit to these memories and I don't want to scare you. I meant what I said before; I love you, John."
"Then make love to me Rodney.I need the pleasure to help me forget the pain. Make love to the real me. So many people have just seen the image. You may be the only one who has looked deeper than the surface. I never trusted anyone to see me and then I told you and you left and.."
"Never again, John. Just before you told me what you had done, I was thinking that we are just screwed up enough to be perfect for each other!."
Watery chuckles from both men broke the tension and allowed the passion to return. The kisses started as hesitant, gentle kisses. On the cheeks, lips, neck. Then tongues met, stronger now; a bit darker. Rodney grasped Johns face and battled for control. John followed his lead and gripped Rodney's head as he all but devoured lips already swollen from nips and bites.
Rodney removed John's shirt in record time and completely forgot his initial goal of being sensitive and gentle. Damn the man was hot! He had lost a bit of weight in the past week but that only served to accentuate his muscles. Rodney saw no point in denying himself and lunged for a nipple. Laving it with the flat of his tongue drew a groan from John. Using his teeth on the pert nubs had John crying out in pained pleasure. The sounds had Rodney hard: instantly and completely.
In their past love-making, John had always taken the lead. Now Rodney understood that it was John's way of holding back the fear of the past. Not this time. Rodney had no intention of allowing John to hide or pretend. He took the lead and would not let it go. Keeping his eyes on John's, Rodney removed both his pants then John's. With no finesse, no hesitation he grasped John's erection and pumped it firmly. John's eyes rolled back in his head and he raised his hands above his head, clasping them together. And just like that he gave up control to Rodney.
"John," whispered Rodney. "Oh, God, John!"
"I trust you, Rodney. I trust you and I love you. Please take me..love me! I've wanted so much to have you inside me..watched you when I was inside you. I want to know how it feels. Want it to be you." John was breathing so hard the words were barely understandable.
Rodney grabbed the ever-present lube under the bed and quickly coated his fingers. With no warning he thrust a finger into John's body. The cry that was torn from John was full of surprise and shock and pleasure. Rodney thanked every deity he'd ever heard of that he managed not to come right there and then. He'd been wanting this for so long.
Two fingers, then three, pumping and thrusting, hitting John's prostate over and over again. John was lifting his hips, raising them into the pleasure, the fullness. Rodney had never been so hard. His cock was full and leaking, wanting nothing more than to plunge into the tight warmth of his lover. The moans and cries from John raised Rodney's passion to a fever pitch. Still, he would not rush this, would not risk hurting the trust that was being rebuilt.
When he could fit three fingers easily, he stopped. "Look at me John. Are you ready for this? Do you want this? Do you want me inside of you?"
"Oh dear God yes, Rodney. Please in me! Nownownow! I know it's you; know you won't hurt me. I'm not afraid..not ashamed. Want you! Love you!"
"Yes, it's me. No shame; only love." And Rodney thrust into John's willing body. Keeping his eyes on John's Rodney began to thrust and grind into John. He'd never imagined that loving someone could make such a difference. But watching the incredulous pleasure wash through John, Rodney felt more complete than ever in his life. He rode John fast and hard, continuing the assault on his prostate. Adding a fast and firm pumping of John's erection caused the sounds coming from John to sound almost inhuman.
"Rodney..coming oh dear God, never been like this! GOD, coming now!" John's words turned into a scream of completion.
The pull and contractions of John's orgasm drove Rodney past any sense of rational thought. He drove into John's body, snarling with the need to come: the need to mark this man as his own. The orgasm rolled through him causing every nerve in his body to sing in pleasure. As he filled John with his release he heard as if from a distance the chant, "Mine, mine, mine!" His vision faded before he could figure out whose voice it was.
Later, in the dark of the night, two men held each other tightly. They clung to each other for many reasons. Passion, safety, trust, forgiveness and love. They held tightly to each other because they knew they were with the one person who loved the man beneath the image. There were no easy answers and there was no perfect future but now, at last, there was no doubt that their futures would be linked. They were together and that was more than enough. In fact, it was everything.