Title: Day One
Characters: John and Rodney and a tiny bit of Keller
Word count: ~ 5,700
Spoilers: anything up through season 5
Author Notes: This fic was written as a prompt from shortnudel as part of the Chimera release celebration. She requested a fic in which Rodney comes to the realization that Keller is not the one for him and turns to John. This what I came up with and I hope it fits the bill. Thanks to Koschka for the read through.
Summary: Conventional wisdom holds that everything has a beginning, a place where the story starts to unfold, a date on the calendar that can be circled and declared as day one. Unfortunately, that point in time had never been clear cut for John.
John Sheppard had fallen out of time once, skipped from his timeline to another and back again. It had been disorienting to say the least, tying the concept of cause and effect into an indecipherable knot. By vanishing from one timeline, he had caused Rodney to spend the latter part of his life finding a way to send John back to start over and try again, and the effects of his success had saved, not only Teyla and her son, but an entire Galaxy. The thing that had boggled John the most was that he could never figure out if that trip through time had been a beginning or an end, a starting point or the finish line. It felt like both, a Mobius strip that twisted the chicken and egg into one hell of a metaphysical omelet. In a way, it fit John’s life perfectly.
Conventional wisdom holds that everything has a beginning, a place where the story starts to unfold, a date on the calendar that can be circled and declared as day one. Unfortunately, that point in time had never been clear cut for John. Was it the date of his birth? The day he had that final fallout with his father? The day he joined the Air Force or stepped through the stargate into Atlantis? How could a person tell when a particular day was the true beginning and not just one of many thousands of days leading up to that point? When did the Mobius strip straighten into the path he was meant to take? All John knew was that regardless of all the many things he’d been through, all the people he’d met along the way, he felt like he was still waiting on day one in his life to arrive.
Maybe that explained why he hadn’t been happy settling into the life his father had chosen for him, why he refused to follow his orders in Afghanistan, why he’d been willing to leave Earth and travel to an entirely different galaxy, why he’d risked his life dozens of different way since coming to Pegasus. And while his time travel experience, disorienting as it had been, had felt close to what he was waiting for, it still wasn’t the defining moment he knew was out there. He’d always felt restless, like whatever he was supposed to do with his life was still waiting for him to take the step and just do it. John knew it was there, somewhere, the leap into the unknown that would change everything. He simply never expected it to be less of a leap and more of a simple walk down the hall on his way to lunch.
John came across McKay and Keller talking in the hallway outside the cafeteria. Rodney was shifting uncomfortably as he spoke.
"It’s just… a month is a long time to be away, especially when we just got back to Pegasus a few month ago−"
"This is my dad, Rodney," Jennifer stressed. "My dad."
Jennifer’s voice cracked as she crossed her arms and looked skyward to control the threatening tears. When Rodney pulled her into a hug and rubbed her back, John took that as his clue to hang back. It wasn’t that he wanted to eavesdrop on the two, but it was obvious they didn’t want to be interrupted, yet it was kind of hard to just walk past them and into the cafeteria as if he didn’t know them either.
"I know," McKay spoke into her hair. "And I know how much he means to you. I’m just not even sure they’ll let me go. I mean, when Sheppard’s dad died I couldn’t go back with−"
Jennifer straightened and she stepped back out of the circle of Rodney’s arms. "My dad isn’t dead."
John could hear "yet" lingering unspoken at the end of the sentence.
"And I’m not John," Jennifer stressed.
Sheppard honestly wasn’t sure if he should be insulted or flattered by the tone. Regardless, Rodney immediately went on the defensive.
"No, of course you aren’t. I didn’t mean it like that… Look, I know you’re stressed and upset, so maybe we should just eat some lunch and talk about this afterwards."
"Rodney," Jennifer stated with thinning patience that she would need to explain this to him. "My father has had a stroke. He needs me back on Earth, and I need you to be there for me. You asked me to tell you when I thought you were screwing up in this relationship. This is one of those times."
McKay took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay, you’re right. You’re absolutely right. You’re my girlfriend and you’re having a family crisis, my place is by your side."
Rodney rubbed his hands together in that way John recognized as saying, ‘I may not like what I have to do, but by God, I’m going to do it.’ The less than pleased expression on Jennifer’s face showed she was all too familiar with the gesture as well, but when she leaned forward and kissed Rodney, it also showed she understood that sometimes McKay needed a push to come to the right decision.
"That’s exactly where you should be. Thank you."
McKay seemed a little uncomfortable with not only the PDA but the thanks and hitched his thumb over his shoulder. "So I should probably go pack."
Keller nodded. "I’ll meet you at the gate in an hour. That will give both of us time to settle a few things before we have to leave."
Rodney watched her go before turning and heading toward his quarters and into a near collision with Sheppard, who was still standing just out of sight around the first corner of the corridor.
"Whoa, hey," John’s hand landed flat against Rodney’s chest to keep them from slamming headlong into each other. McKay’s heart raced wildly beneath his fingertips causing John to frown. "You okay?"
"Yeah, sorry." Rodney ran a hand across his face. "I have to go back to Earth."
"I know," Sheppard admitted a little sheepishly with a wave of his hand to where Rodney and Jennifer had been talking. "I didn’t want to interrupt."
McKay didn’t seem to mind the fact that John had overheard their conversation. "Jennifer needs me. Going back with her is the right thing to do."
John nodded in studious agreement but didn’t comment. Sure, it was the right thing. After all, that’s one of the reasons people went into a relationship, to be there when the other needed them just as they knew that person would be there for them when the tables were turned. Knowing it was the right thing, however, was a far cry from wanting Rodney to leave.
"And I suppose Radek is more than capable of handling the issue with recalibrating all the sensors that were damaged during the Wraith attack on Earth." Rodney shrugged with a disappointed sigh. "So nothing really to keep me here."
John changed the subject to keep from coming up with a dozen excuses off the top of his head. "How bad is Jennifer’s dad?"
"She’s not really sure. You know how the personal data comes in from the SGC−very vague and sketchy."
"Right," Sheppard agreed before asking, "So you could be gone a while?" When Rodney blinked in surprise at the questions, John explained. "You know, with a stroke and all, it could involve a lot of long term care."
"Crap, I hadn’t thought of that," McKay grumbled before quickly adding, "I mean, if that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it. It’s just…" Rodney sighed again. "We just got back a few months ago, and now I’m going off to Earth again for who knows how the hell long."
John shrugged. "Welcome to the grown up world of relationships."
"Says the man with the ex-wife," McKay retorted.
"True," John conceded. "What do I know? Tell her to stuff it and stay here. Then I can have an ex-wife and you can have an ex-girlfriend. Is that what you want?"
Sheppard secretly hoped the answer was yes, because it sure the hell was what he wanted. Not that he wanted Rodney miserable and alone, but at least a miserable, lonely Rodney wanted to spend time with him so that he didn’t feel so miserable and alone. The thing was, with Rodney and Jennifer as a couple, Teyla having a family of her own, and now Ronon dating Amelia, John was starting to feel very much on the outside as the lone bachelor of the group…and actually like a bit of a loser. Not to mention that the late night video games and RC car races were more of a rarity than a typical night in the city.
Rodney grumbled what sounded like a no.
"Look, we’ll still be here when you come back," John promised. "Or at least that’s the plan for now." The way things changed in Pegasus, anything could and usually did happen. If it came across as a bit of a veiled threat that Rodney might be left out of one of these unexpected events while he was gone, then so be it.
The frown on McKay’s face showed he hadn’t missed it. "Be sure to leave a forwarding address if you skip out on this solar system."
"I’ll email you our new location if it comes to that." John forced a grin. "But only if you promise to bring back some new DVDs."
A month later when McKay beamed down from the Daedalus, Atlantis was still floating happily in the same ocean where he had left it. And Rodney did come back with a suitcase full of new DVDs to add to the expedition’s community collection. What he didn’t return with was Jennifer.
"She brought up kids," Rodney lamented later that night as he and Sheppard sat out on the dock already halfway through the case of beer McKay had hauled back from Earth, specifically for this reason it seemed considering how fast he was dusting these babies off.
"I thought you wanted kids," John pointed out popping open another beer for Rodney as he beckoned drunkenly.
"I do." He swallowed deeply from the can. "At least I thought I did. Maybe I’m not fit to be a father seeing as I thought Atlantis was a perfectly fine place to raise children. I mean, Teyla’s doing it, why not us? Apparently, I was wrong." He took another long gulp from his beer. "Very, very wrong."
Sometimes getting the whole story out of McKay was like putting together an elaborate jigsaw puzzle without the box to show you what your final outcome should look like. What John had gathered from the pieces McKay was doling out was that Jennifer’s father was in for a long convalescence. There was no way he would fully recover, no way for him to care for himself given the extent of the damage caused by the stroke, and Jennifer refused to put him in a facility. As an only child, that meant she intended to be his primary care giver, and that meant Rodney had been given an ultimatum. It appeared it was one Rodney wasn’t prepared to face. John seriously doubted Keller had intended to ever back McKay into a corner. If they had remained in Atlantis, eventually, Rodney would have proposed, she would have said yes, and they would have gone on to live happily ever after… or at least until the subject of where to raise their kids became an issue.
"You know, maybe it’s for the best that it turned out the way it did," John tried to reason.
Rodney swayed where he sat. "It’s for the best that I got dumped?"
Technically, John would lay money that Jennifer felt McKay had dumped her since he’d chosen to return to Atlantis over staying with her to care for her dad, but now was not the time to quibble over those sorts of details.
"It’s for the best that you found out now how your plans for the future were incompatible," Sheppard corrected. "What would have happened if you’d never had this conversation and then Jennifer ended up pregnant and you had no choice but to go back to Earth?"
"I always assumed she wanted to stay here." McKay threw his arms wide and was tipped precariously forward by the momentum of his motions. "I thought this was our home. Ends up she always planned to go back to be with her dad when he got older. The stroke just accelerated that timeline."
John reached out and fisted a handful of Rodney’s shirt to keep him from toppling headfirst over the edge of the dock and into the ocean. "Assumptions are dangerous things, Rodney."
When Sheppard tugged back on his shirt, McKay tipped over to lean heavily against John. "But you want to stay here, don’t you?"
Rodney’s words rang in John’s head… this was our home. And it was. No place had ever felt more like home to John than Atlantis.
"Yeah," John confirmed with a small smile at the thought of he and McKay being the crotchety old men who shuffled through the City of the Ancients telling the new comers how easy they had it compared to the old days. "I do."
McKay’s head flopped to rest on Sheppard’s shoulder. "What’s wrong with us?’
"I have no fucking clue," John confessed with another drink of his own beer.
Of course, he did have a pretty good idea it had a lot to do with the fact that Earth had very little to tie them down emotionally, not compared to what they had here in Atlantis. Sure, Rodney had Jeannie and her family, and John had slowly been working on rebuilding some sort of relationship with Dave. But neither sibling was so close that anything more than regular emails and the occasional visit once a year or so was expected. On Atlantis, they’d found a common bond with friends that neither had allowed themselves to form before coming here. When you finally found something like that, finally allowed yourself to be vulnerable to those sorts of emotional attachments, it wasn’t easy to up and walk away from them. There were those in the expedition, like Jennifer, who still considered Earth home and Atlantis a job. Then there were others like John and Rodney who had come to consider Earth the alien planet and Atlantis the only place where they felt they belonged.
McKay tumbled further sideways until his head was resting on John’s leg. He shifted as if he was trying to get comfortable on an unruly mattress instead of Sheppard’s thigh. "We’re two of a kind. Aren’t we, Sheppard?"
Strangely, John didn’t mind Rodney using him as a pillow. He just kept drinking his beer and echoed. "Two of kind, that’s us."
McKay finally settled on his back, beer can nestled between his hands that rested on his chest, and stared up at the stars above them. "We should date."
John snorted, almost choking on his beer. "Date? Us?"
"Well, we’re obviously the most compatible people for each other in the entire Pegasus galaxy," Rodney reasoned in a slurred voice as he twirled his hand between the two of them. "I’m single again, and Larrin sure isn’t returning your calls, so I’d have to say you’re still single. So, why not?"
"For one thing, Rodney, one really big thing, you’re a guy."
McKay dismissed his concerns with a sloppy pftt noise. "Mechanics. Those sorts of things are easy to work around. A hand’s a hand. A mouth’s a mouth. I seriously doubt your dick will care if one belongs to a woman or a man as long as the results are the same."
Rodney was obviously drunk, and by the way John’s dick did twitch at the sudden image of McKay’s big hands wrapped around it instead of the beer can on his chest, Sheppard was starting to think he was a hell of a lot drunker than he thought he was.
"And what about yours?" John asked with raised eyebrows.
Rodney was still staring off into the night sky above them. "I believe in sexual Darwinism− adapt or die. Or do without which is almost as bad. Women obviously aren’t working out for me, and as I’d prefer to stay within my same species, that eliminates the Wraith and pretty much leaves men. Seeing as we seem to get along fairly well and enjoy each other’s company, not to mention your skills attracting women have fallen off considerably−"
"They haven’t fallen off," Sheppard insisted irritably. "I just haven’t found anyone I like recently."
"You like me, don’t you?" This time Rodney did look at him with those big blue eyes, pupils open wide, pleading for him to say he did like Rodney, he liked him a lot, had for a while now but was just too chickenshit to admit it.
Drunk, John reminded himself. McKay was drunk and he was drunk, had to be to even consider what Rodney was saying. Not to mention Rodney was on the rebound and feeling lower than shit, and everyone knew decisions made during a drunken rebound were bad news for all parties involved. One amazing night of hot, sweaty, desperation sex, no matter how spectacular, was a sure way to ruin a friendship. But, damn, it had been a long time, a long time, and Rodney was staring at him with that expression that said he’d do anything, anything, not to be rejected tonight.
Christ, John decided he needed to sober up and get the hell out there before he made a huge mistake.
Instead he pried his eyes away from McKay’s and downed his beer with a shake of his head. "You’re just missing Jennifer, questioning your decision to come back to Atlantis. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll wish you’d never started this conversation, if you even remember it."
"I wish you’d never told me about how Jennifer and I got together in that alternate timeline you were sent to," Rodney grumped, but didn’t move from his spot in John’s lap.
In a lot of ways, John wished he hadn’t said anything either. It was after he had that McKay really started pursuing Keller. When they got together, Sheppard just figured it was fate or destiny or some shit like that.
"You asked," John defended, hearing how lame it sounded even to himself.
"I asked you to sleep with me tonight and you refused to do that," McKay countered. "Fine time to decide I can’t always have what I ask for."
Sheppard sighed and gave Rodney a gentle whack on his forehead. "In the other timeline that old you had spent his entire life finding a way to return the timeline back to where it should have been so things could go back to the way they should have been." John started counting things off on his fingers. "Teyla didn’t die, Michael didn’t win, millions weren’t infected in Pegasus, and you could have another chance at a long, happy life with Jennifer. I kind of felt like I owed the old guy a chance at happiness considering he’d sacrificed pretty much everything to send me back to fix it all."
McKay rubbed at his forehead and glared. "Well, apparently that plan went to shit. So there’s no reason to feel guilty about taking me up on my offer now."
John shook his head again. "It doesn’t matter, some things just shouldn’t happen."
"Are you worried about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Because it’s probably going to be repealed by the end of the year−"
Of course, that had crossed his mind. How could it not? But there was more to it than that. "Rodney, I don’t take advantage of drunken propositions."
"But what if I want you to take advantage of it?" McKay pouted.
Sheppard snorted at the fucked up reasoning and rolled his eyes. "Proposition me when you’re sober and I’ll consider it."
"Seriously?" Rodney seemed to perk up at the suggestion.
Sheppard pointedly didn’t answer, just shrugged noncommittally and drank some more beer. He could feel Rodney’s eyes on him, waiting for an answer, but he stared out at the waves, refusing to look at McKay.
Finally, Rodney spoke. "You know, there’s another reason I would have done anything to set the timeline right, a more likely reason and a really good one− just to get you back."
John’s chest tightened at the suggestion. It didn’t matter anyway, because Rodney was drunk enough that he’d forget this entire conversation took place tomorrow, and that was for the best. If he was lucky, and kept drinking, maybe he’d forget it, too…forget the look on Rodney’s face, the warmth of his body so close, the weight of his head on his leg. He’d forget how right it felt to spend time with McKay, and how much he desperately wanted Rodney’s explanation to be the real one, and how he felt that old restless urge to leap into the unknown. Yeah, he knew McKay was so drunk he’d never remember this in the morning and neither would John, and a nice cold shower when he was back in his room would erase all the inappropriate thoughts he was having about that mouth smiling up at him crookedly. So what could it hurt to throw the guy a bone now?
John cleared away the hoarseness in his throat and nodded his head affirmatively. "You ask me out when you’re stone cold sober and I’ll go."
Sheppard, however, was wrong on both accounts. Even the icy water of his shower couldn’t keep John from imagining his own hand was Rodney’s or falling asleep still buzzed wishing it had been. Then when McKay showed up at eight o’clock the next night, still looking a little worse for wear after his previous night of drinking, John knew he was screwed.
As usual, Rodney didn’t ring the bell or knock, he simply walked in to John’s room since the door was unlocked. He plopped down in the chair near the bed where Sheppard was reading one of the comic books McKay had brought back from Earth.
"So, where do you want to go on our date?" he demanded. His eyes were still bloodshot and the creases formed by his scowl spoke to the headache he was still, no doubt, nursing.
Sheppard looked at him warily over the top of the comic book. "Date?"
"Yes, date," Rodney snapped irritably. "I’m here, I’m sober, I’m asking, now you say yes. That was the deal, wasn’t it?"
"Well, hell, with a romantic request like that, how can I say no?" John quipped back, pretending to go back to reading his comic while his mind was racing with thoughts of, Holy shit! He remembered. Then again, for all he knew, McKay was just yanking his chain as payback for even suggesting he’d go out on a date with the man.
Rodney threw his arms wide in frustration. "Christ, if I’d known you were going to be this way about it, I would have stuck to taking my chances with women."
Sheppard’s eyes narrowed over the top of the comic. "Let me smell your breath."
"Excuse me?" McKay demanded.
"I want to make sure you really are sober."
Rodney sighed dramatically but leaned forward. "Fine."
The breath he exhaled was warm and heavy with the scent of coffee…lots of coffee…and the lingering remnants of the two six packs he’d put away last night. But there was no hint of any fresh alcohol, so he had to be sober− hung over, but sober.
"Okay," John told him as he sat up and put the comic aside. If Rodney wanted to play out this farce he’d dreamed up, then who was John to stop him? "Grab a laptop and a new movie and take me someplace nice to watch it."
Rodney grimaced at the thought of having to either think of somewhere for the date or having to walk any further than he already had. "What’s wrong with watching it here?"
"Because it’s a date," John stressed. "Not a hookup in my place."
"I’m well aware it’s a date." Rodney stood with a wince. "And don’t flatter yourself that you’re going to get any on the first one." He snatched John’s laptop off his desk.
"With the breath you’re sporting? You have nothing to worry about," Sheppard scoffed but pulled a DVD from the stack McKay had brought back from Earth. "Suck on a damn tic-tac for Christ’s sake."
"Trust me, that will be the only thing I’m sucking on tonight."
"You’re loss, then." John found himself fighting the urge to grin at how much fun he was already having on this supposed ‘date’ and it hadn’t even really begun. "So where are you taking me? It better be good, and it better not be a rehash of somewhere you’ve taken other dates in the past."
Rodney seemed taken aback by the last, which just had Sheppard wanting to grin even more. McKay needed a challenge now and again, and it always cheered John to no end when he gave one to the genius son of a bitch. Besides, he had no desire to be wooed in the same location as Katie Brown or Jennifer Keller.
It didn’t take long for Rodney to brighten with an idea, though. "Okay, I know just the spot. But you have to drive."
At first John thought McKay was going to have him fly them off-world to some exotic locale, or to the beach on the mainland. However, a spot somewhere between the planet and the larger of the two moons was his destination of choice.
"So? What do you think?" Rodney asked smugly. "Did I do good or did I do good?"
McKay had fired the thrusters on the Jumper nudging the small craft into a lazy rotation. With the inertial dampeners on, the motion inside the ship was unnoticeable, but outside the scene rolled languidly between the large blue and green orb of the planet on one side to the orange and pink clouds of gases swirling around the moon on the other.
"You did good," John agreed with a soft smile as he took in the spectacular view outside their ship.
Whatever he was up to, Rodney was content to just sit in the copilot’s seat with John in the pilot’s and spend the next several minutes watching the scene through the cockpit window as it spun by. Finally, he straightened from his slump.
"So, you ready to watch the movie?"
When John agreed, Rodney retrieved one of the blankets from the overhead bins in the back of the Jumper and spread it on the floor.
Sheppard’s raised eyebrows had Rodney asking, "What? You’d rather just sit on the cold, hard floor?"
"No, no, the blanket’s a good idea." John, however, didn’t sit down. Because sitting on blankets led to lying on blankets, and lying on blankets led to kissing on blankets, and kissing on blankets almost always led to using the blanket to cover your naked bodies when it was all said and done. And while John had been thinking about McKay naked just the night before, it was a far cry from actually being naked with him.
McKay frowned at Sheppard’s hesitancy. "I’m not asking you to sleep with me tonight, Sheppard, just watch a movie with me."
"On a blanket," John noted.
"Yes, on a blanket," Rodney reiterated. "Is that a problem?"
"No, not a problem." But he still didn’t sit.
Last night had been… fuck, John didn’t know what it had been but part of it had been nice, really nice, and that scared the shit out of him. He really wanted to blame it on the booze, and not just Rodney’s proposition, but his own insane urge to take McKay up on his offer. Because it was insane, wasn’t it? This was Rodney, after all, and McKay was his best friend, not to mention a guy, and that combo had never jumped out at Sheppard as a description of someone he wanted to date. But if it was crazy, why the hell was he so nervous about sitting on a blanket with Rodney? If he was honest with himself, he wasn’t worried so much about what McKay might do, but what he might do in return.
Rodney exhaled. "Maybe we should just kiss and get it over with."
"Kiss?" John hadn’t meant to sound so alarmed by the idea, but he hadn’t thought it would come up this early in the game. He was still wondering how he’d agreed to this whole date thing in the first place and now McKay was suggesting a make out session?
"Look, you’re obviously thinking about whether or not we’re going to kiss. I know I am. When should we do it? During the movie? After? What will it be like? Will it be awkward? Will it lead to more? So we might as well just do it and get it over with and not have to worry about it during the movie."
There was a certain logic to Rodney’s reasoning, because all those thoughts had been going through John’s head since they left his room. He’d just been thinking they were days down the line, not minutes. Then again, maybe McKay was right and they should just get it out of the way. Besides, if it was a crappy kiss, maybe they’d both come to their senses and realize this whole idea was nuts and they should really limit their alcohol consumption.
Drawing in a deep breath, John nodded his head. "Okay, let’s kiss."
Now it was McKay’s turn to look a little panicked, but he mimicked John’s actions with a brisk nod of his own. "Okay, we’ll kiss." Neither man moved. "How do we do it?"
"What? Kiss?" John asked in disbelief. "You’re asking me how to kiss?"
"No, I know how to kiss." Rodney rolled his eyes then waved a hand between the two of them. "I just meant us, here, now. How do you want to…?"
John shook his head in exasperation, eager to just get it over with now that they’d both committed to the idea. "Oh, hell, we just…"
Giving up on trying to explain it, John stepped in close to McKay, so close his chest brushed against Rodney’s, so close he could feel the heat coming off of Rodney’s body. So close his brain had evidently shut down because John found himself unable to think of anything other than how nice it felt to be this close to McKay. John realized he didn’t want to just hurry up and get this kiss over with; he wanted to get it right.
"We…uhm… just…" Sheppard mumbled helplessly.
Rodney leaned in a little closer, lifted a hand to rest in the small of John’s back. "Like this?"
Rodney was staring at him with an expression that wavered between hope and fear, anticipation and dread. John felt the exact same way, knowing if he did this, if he really kissed Rodney and Rodney really kissed him back, nothing between them would ever be the same again. The rational part of his brain was screaming for him to back away, laugh this off as the joke McKay must be playing on him.
"Yeah, just like that."
But that part of his brain obviously wasn’t seeing what John was seeing in Rodney’s eyes, feeling in Rodney’s palm pressing against his back, and it sure as hell wasn’t controlling his own hand as it rose and cupped Rodney’s jaw to run a thumb along the traces of stubble there. Whatever part of him was doing this just wanted to assure Rodney that this was exactly what John wanted, too, and what they should have been doing all along.
Looking back, John would never be able to tell who closed that small distance between their lips. He liked to think it was both of them. Over the coming years, he would eventually convince himself that was the case, although McKay would disagree. As his mouth closed on Rodney’s, John had the dizzying sensation of falling out of time again. Only this time, instead of millennia into the future, it was decades. He thought he could hear Rodney’s voice, teasing him with a smug chuckle, telling their grandchildren for the hundredth time, or maybe some new comers to Atlantis who wanted to hear about the early days in the city, claiming that Sheppard made the first move, couldn’t keep his hands off of him, and who could blame him given the spectacular specimen McKay was in his younger days?
It was to become Rodney’s own version of what happened on day one of their relationship… or was it day nine hundred and seventy-three? Had this all started with the kiss, the drunken night before, when Sheppard returned dust covered from a terrifying future, or when John had first sat down in a control chair in a frozen base in Antarctica nearly six years before? Whenever the potential between them had started, that night was when it became reality, when everything fell together and his life started making sense. In John’s mind, that was as good a point to start as any. It was the day Sheppard stopped thinking in terms of ‘me’ and started thinking of himself as part of a ‘we’. It was day one of many thousand more to come; day one of the story of the life he and Rodney would make together. It was the day the Mobius strip snapped into a straight path.
It wasn’t until day two he’d think of the oddities of that first night together− the foreign feel of coarse whiskers against his own, the firmness of a man’s lips against his, the strength of the hand interlocked with his own when they finally got around to watching the movie, a muscular arm wrapped around his chest as they slept wrapped in the blanket they’d been sitting on.
At the time, all he was aware of was his future laughing cheerfully in his mind.