Title: Fractured Fairy Tales
Spoilers: THE HIVE!! This is Pre and Post Ep fic!
Weee! Thank you! Despite the fact that you secretly wished for me to write this fic even as I refused. And by secretly wished I mean was all "WRITE ME POST-EP FIC NOW, BITCH!!" Curse you. And to seperis
who bitchslapped my commas into submission without even being asked to. You rock!
EDIT: I have added about 3 paragraphs near the end.
Length: 4,300ish words.
Once upon a time, you could sit in a tall tower, stare at the sky, sigh deeply, and wait for the Prince to call your name.
Rodney paces and paces and paces. He's dizzy and scared and shaky and he can't stop thinking about Sheppard's face all wrinkled and pasty, mouth open wide in a scream long dead.
The guards just smirk at him and continue to play their overly simplistic board game and really, if tweedle dee would just move his stupid white rock three spaces up he'd finally win one.
Rodney paces some more.
It's easier to let him come to you, to sleep in a glass box, silent and peaceful.
"Something is definitely wrong!" Rodney yells, his voice cracking. Wrongwrongwrongwrong. His palms itch and it's so hard to think even with the small dose they have him on.
Drug addiction manuals skitter across his brain. He can see the face of a hopeless undergrad too overtaken with the pressure or maybe just really stupid, pale and still as he disappears under a white sheet and is rolled away on a university gurney.
Tweedle dumb just reiterates what his stupid cohort says, and Rodney has to pull back a growl of frustration. He was never very good at waiting.
Modern fantasy changes the face of the story, feminism and the penchant for Hollywood to avoid anything too original reconstitutes the formula. Now the Princess is no longer content to wait peacefully and must struggle between what she knows she's supposed to do and what she knows will actually happen.
The large cabinet mocks Rodney in some silent and undefined way. Like if it could, it would stick its rough wooden tongue out and spit splinters at his face, possibly even develop strange elongated cartoon arms and large, oversized white gloved cartoon hands that will wave at him in an infantile manner at the same time.
His reflection looks a bit deranged, as if he's spent three days awake and high. Possibly because he has, and it's starting to make him just a little bit jumpy. It's an insane plan worthy of Colonel Sheppard, because it has little brains, no finesse, and a whole lot of danger to his life.
Oh god, Colonel Sheppard isn't back yet and the plan is going to hell and Rodney really, really wants to be back on Atlantis asleep in his bed, finally, finally still. His hands shake hard enough to brush annoyingly against his thighs as a painful reminder. He hasn't been still in days, and there's ants crawling under his skin because of it.
He looks at the cabinet again, swallowing roughly. Well, he supposes Colonel Sheppard is a role model to someone somewhere, why not to Rodney right now? The small vials of pink amber solution sit all in a row, a pretend gesture to the rigors of science.
Rodney stops a small, pathetic little laugh from escaping as his hand moves, drawn to the larger bottle like a magnet, his fingers feeling stiff and ungainly as they wrap around it. He can't decide if that's because of the drug already in his system or the adrenaline thrumming through his veins because he's about to do something monumentally stupid, with needles.
He's not a superhero, he's said as much before, and still he gets stuck in these stupid unmanageable situations where in order to win he has to risk life, limb and useable vein.
All the medical training he's ever had flashes too quickly behind his eyes. Mostly it's a couple of first aid courses and the field training he was forced to endure. Still, nothing prepares him for the spark of fear as he pierces his own skin with the barely clean needle and oh god, didn't these kids ever hear of infections? Rodney resists taking it out and pouring the dark bottle of alcohol over his skin. Instead he presses the plunger unsteadily, knowing that's far too dangerous in its own right, and the enzyme burns its way in, spreading an ever widening path of fire through him.
Almost immediately, his heart goes from stuttering fast to jack hammering inside his chest, quick enough for pain to sink in. It only makes him more afraid and the list of the things that can go wrong grows longer and longer in his head. The plunger finally stops moving and Rodney can't do anything more than pull faintly and let it roll out of his unresponsive hand.
Milliseconds or hours later, Rodney can't really tell anymore, he's too caught up in feeling strong and capable in a way he's never felt before. For once, Rodney McKay knows he can win the physical race. Show him to that arm wrestling championship in the dorms he used to avoid; he's ready and willing now. Pumped and sweating and capable of breaking his old slide rule in half, he's ready to save the day.
The Princess is stuck in the untenable position, where she can save herself and act and change and move on from what she is, forever reshaping the landscape of her archetype. Or she can sit safely in her ivory tower, and let the decisions be made for her.
Of course, the decision is obvious, when the Prince can barely comb his own hair, a girl's gotta get a little dirty if she wants to be swept off her feet.
Rodney wants to be Xena, all calm and collected, every move judicious and logical, the minimalist approach, every Karate chop in its place and he wants to look hot doing it. Of course, he ends up being Joxer on steroids and he's really not all that surprised.
He gets his own knocks on the head, the back, the shoulders, it all sort of washes off in a cartoon mallet sort of manner; it's the surprise at the force that hits him more than the pain that gives the tweedles their momentary edge.
Lots of BAMS! And POWS! And large comic book style words appear in ghostly form superimposed over the running movie in his eyes when parts of Rodney's body smash against parts of theirs. Small fractions of his brain still working in a logical progression make a resolution to at least think about approaching Teyla for some advice. Maybe even ask one of the marines, one who doesn't look like he's about to shoot Rodney when he's in his general vicinity, for some dirty tricks.
He thinks about all this after he's done kicking ass and the high from the incredibly insane and stupid plan actually working buzzes out of his system. He continues to think about it as searches through Ford's desk like a strung out computer junky looking for some new circuitry to devour. He gathers the weird animal skin holder in his shaking hand, the crystals clinking delicately, an odd counterpoint the violence of his new world. Rodney's newly acquired Tourettes isn't helping banish the sound, and he has to live with it tapping at his ear drums all the way to the DHD.
The control crystals dance before his eyes after it takes longer than it ever should have for an intelligent twelve year old to open the panel on the DHD, let alone Rodney. He keeps getting distracted by momentary pride over his physical triumph. The big stupid guards never saw it coming.
Oh wow, he's really feeling it now; if he'd waited maybe ten minutes he thinks the big stupid guards wouldn't have even gotten back up for long enough to land the few that they had on Rodney. He can't make the DHD focus enough to look at the whole picture. He has to lean forward and squint a section at a time and it takes two tries per crystal to make them settle into place. Finally, finally he can dial, but he's cold and hot and his hands don't always land where they're supposed to and the first time through he misses the point of origin completely and he has to wait for the whole thing to reset itself. And he keeps hearing footsteps behind him and seeing the two big dumb clichés sneaking up out of the corner of his eye.
Please work. Pleasework. Pleaseworkpleaseworkpleasework. Rodney listens to the sounds of the gate working the way he used to listen to his dialup modem connecting. He can tell a million things from how long it takes one click and buzz to lead into another. Finally, it all sounds like music, one of those perfect, perfect songs that used to play on the radio but he never let himself like because it was so mainstream and commercialized it made his head ache.
The gate shimmers to life, and Rodney for once doesn't think of that inherent Freudian symbolism in being so grateful to fall through a rippling wet circle. Instead, he's already moving onto what happens next; after all, if he can save himself, then everyone else is cake.
Of course, the changing of the infrastructure of the story means that the painful feats once reserved for the Prince, are now delegated to the new hero. A by product of the shifting of traditional gender roles leaves the rest of the characters confused and even unbelieving that these fantastical acts can be accomplished at all if the Prince isn't there.
Life in a realistic fairy kingdom is a real bitch.
Rodney has about three full seconds to enjoy his stillness before he has to move again. Even so, everything about the way he moves feels different, and he's pretty sure it isn't the perpetual hangover rumbling through him that's doing it. Oddly, this time feels nothing like coming off so many uppers he was afraid to ask Carson the actual end dosage. That Rodney remembers having a more familiar feel to it.
He basks in the ability to walk smoothly, to move his arms, or even keep them lightly by his sides, something he's never really done before. His gait slides him across Atlantis, and he feels a slow grace in his movements, or maybe it's just that he's still, so tired, and his entire body chemistry is still a little out of whack.
The whole trip on the Daedelus just feels so familiar, in a gut tightening sort of way, the helplessness and then the utter certainty of failure amidst what can't possibly be called anything other than a success. The twin explosions of the Wraith ship have a certain beauty about them. It goes beyond aesthetics and well into that sharp and satisfied feeling that they're somehow snubbing their noses at the Wraith every time one of those large, technological wonders that could easily take out all of earth not ten years earlier goes up in a large fiery cloud of 'nya nya nya nya'.
The news of Sheppard and Ronon and Teyla's successful return reaches the Daedelus seconds after they send their own version of events back to Atlantis. Immediately Rodney pulls together the two or three most likely scenarios and makes a small side bet with himself; if Sheppard's solution involved someone in a dress with long hair and a lack of penis, he gets to have anything he can pilfer from the bowels of the Daedelus after the next supply run.
Rodney is suddenly very tired. He checks his watch and finds himself thoroughly unsurprised that it's overdue for his next set of pills. Carson had shoved the bottle in his hand with enough force to make his currently weaker than average arm shake slightly. Now he understands why, because his entire body feels like it's just gone on a second bender but skipped the fun parts.
Two horse pills that make him pee neon yellow, a few more that do nice things like stop the aching of his muscles, and one last to stop the shaking and the spinning in his head. Finally Rodney is down for the count. Daedelus can take care of its own repairs; he's pretty sure when he gets back to Atlantis there's going to be lots of large and ugly messes to take care. He was gone for weeks, and while he doesn't actually blame the rest of the galaxy for the fact that they just can't think on Rodney's level, it's too painful to watch. Other people do things so clumsily and slowly, it's even worse to look back and be able to read the mistakes as clearly as a children's book.
The Prince, often times, when he re-enters the story, will not believe all that has transpired himself. In modern retellings, he doesn't ask what happened before until it affects what happens now.
The Prince, as an archetype character, isn't meant for having his role taken away; it leaves him without a foundation for his actions, and thus doesn't think about the parts of his job that he no longer has to fulfill. They are, at most, inconsequential to his own success.
The Princess is, of course, bitter about her own lack of recognition, or possibly just feeling really, really stupid.
Rodney doesn't expect Sheppard to come barging into his room in the middle of the night, possibly in the middle of his best chunk of sleep in over a year. Everything feels better now that he's had the jittery drugged up half sleep for comparison.
"Are you *insane*?"
He blinks into the lights that suddenly come up around them; Sheppard is overriding the systems with his brain again and it's really agitating.
"Possibly." Rodney grumbles, running a hand over his face. "Are you?"
Despite Sheppard's attempt at his usual on base attire, long sleeve shirt fashionably accessorized with his sidearm, he still looks more unslept than normal, looking oddly vulnerable without his jacket or vest. "Well, I apparently have this thing about clowns, which I choose to blame on the Wraith. That doesn't answer my question." He stalks towards Rodney with singular intention. "Do you know how much of that stuff you actually took?"
Oh, so someone spilled. Rodney supposes that's not too surprising, he saw the footage from the gateroom security feeds and is fairly sure bootlegged copies were probably a hot commodity before he even made it to the infirmary. A small bit of Rodney hopes that Sheppard actually *asked* how he managed to get back from the planet of the steroid clichés instead of needing to be told. "I was high, not stupid. Visually estimating mass and volume are the sorts of things I picked up as an undergrad."
"So then, insane it is." Sheppard stops shy of the foot of his bed, arms crossed, staring down at him heavily.
"Yes, insane." Rodney waves him away. "Can I finish sleeping and letting my body float back down to something resembling normal?" He's still really tired, but Carson had warned him that the amount of stress he'd put his body through had been enormous and that was on top of the week or so before his trip into purposeful junkie land. He punctuates everything with an uncontrolled yawn.
Sheppard doesn't move, he just stands there frowning, tapping his foot on the ground.
Rodney twitches violently, throwing himself backwards onto the bed. "Oh my god, what do you want from me?"
"I'm sorry," Sheppard grinds out.
Peeking up from under the arm flung over his face, Rodney squints. "Excuse me?"
"There's a good chance," Sheppard runs a restless hand through his hair, "that I may not have remembered that according to my intell you should have still been stuck on that planet."
"Excuse me?" Rodney asks again, because there's a whole lot of data coming from Sheppard and his brain feels too strained to really put it all together. "You're apologizing to me for what?"
Sheppard fiddles with the edges of his sleeve, eyes downcast. "It didn't occur to me to ask how you got back, or even when and then when Beckett seemed overly familiar with the specific sequence of events involved in Teyla and Ronon's detox, I asked a few questions."
"I'm so proud, you've moved onto interrogative statements," Rodney sighs. "You want a cookie?"
"I want to apologize!" Sheppard snaps. "You're part of my team, I should have thought about it sooner. I should have asked as soon as I stepped through the gate."
Something shivery and pleasant starts at Rodney's chest when Sheppard utters the words 'My Team', capital letters of importantness booming inside of his ears. "Well, it's the thought that counts." Rodney says trying to be comforting.
"Yeah well, the thought died a quick death when I found out you purposefully took enough to take down an elephant." Sheppard's arms go back to being crossed in front of his chest and Rodney thinks really hard about going to sleep with his eyes open. "So I ask once again, what are you, insane?"
"Once again I answer, possibly." Rodney gives up and pushes up onto his elbows, hoping the pretense of paying attention will actually jump start him into *actually* paying attention enough to follow Sheppard's usual brand of arm chair logic. "Anything else, or do you just want to be creepy and stand there and watch me sleep?"
Sheppard's angry posture immediately disappears in one long whoosh of air. "Asside from the completely lunatic way of going about it, you did good McKay."
Rodney thinks this is perhaps Sheppard's version of positive reinforcement. "Well, now you know how it feels. At least you weren't dragged along kicking and screaming." He stands because leaning on his elbows hurts more than it used to. Will he never outlive the consequences of being a drug addict?"
"Nice to know that in a crunch you can take care of yourself." Sheppard reaches out and squeezes Rodney's shoulder once, hard and fast, each digit burning into the thin shirt like a brand.
The room's lights are still too harsh on his eyes, which feel red rimmed and dry, and he blinks quickly, five or six times in succession, attempting to taunt some moisture back into them. He also takes time to get his breath back; Sheppard's hand has an unerring knack to steal of stealing it away with the most innocuous gestures. "Yes, as long as there's a nice large dose of methamphetamines or Wraith enzyme, I'm a self sufficient super genius."
Sheppard gives him a genuine smile and wraps his fingers around Rodney's arm this time, squeezing again. "Nah, I think you could save your own ass while sober, too."
Rodney swallows, because instantly it clarifies in his own head. The motivation that fed his need to escape wasn't fueled by his own urge to save himself. That alone is enough to tilt reality on its axis. It was all about Sheppard; every useless life endangering move was borne out of fear for another man's life. "Right," Rodney whispers, "all about me."
Weariness pervades every cell of his body, and Rodney just wants to lay back down again. "Now that we've established that I'll do anything to save my own life, a quality that I personally find attractive in another human being," he looks pointedly at Sheppard, "can I go back to sleep now and wallow in my own selfishness?"
Sheppard doesn't answer, he just stares at Rodney for long enough for it to move from intimate to creepy. That's when Rodney realizes that they've floated into each other's personal space, and the front of him feels the heat radiating from Sheppard while his back shivers with the loss of the covers from his bed.
"You were on the Daedelus." Sheppard announces like its news to Rodney as well. "You were on the Daedelus when she came to find us."
"Yes," Rodney nods, "I was there, it's not an unusual occurrence. I've even got a usual bunk assignment." He wants to shuffle backwards, away from John Sheppard genius magnet, but he can't, he's stuck, his bare feet warming the floor beneath him, his arm brushing against Sheppard's arm.
The conversation pauses meaningfully, and Rodney watches a half dozen emotions crawl across Sheppard's face. "Thank you," he says, fear settling somewhere between his lips and his nose, a hard press of lips that thins them out completely, pushing the blood away from the surface, leaving lines of white behind them. Sheppard's head tilts forward, bending further into Rodney's aura, an intrusion of heat caressing over his skin.
"I..." Rodney trails off, eyes locking on Sheppard's, swallowing hard. "You..." He sighs deeply and shrugs, fighting the gravitational pull that Sheppard seems to exude.
Something in Sheppard seems to crumble and he opens his mouth to speak, but he only manages to flap his jaw a bit and force out a single word. "I..." his voice breaks, cracking at the end of the short pronoun into oddly dissonant qualities that make Rodney stop and really look at Sheppard's face. His hand blindly reaches out to Rodney, tracing a slow path from his cheekbone, down his neck and shoulder and ending with their clammy hands touching, Sheppard's clamped solidly over the back of Rodney's.
In its wake, small little sparks of heat and pleasure leave Rodney breathless. "Yeah, well," he rasps, "ditto." Sheppard has reduced Rodney stupid surfer talk and right at that moment, Rodney doesn't actually care. Okay he cares a little, but the 'oh wow, touching me' is taking up most of his active thought processes.
"Can we," Sheppard leans in, his entire side finally pressing completely into Rodney, "skip the rest of the conversation about how we pull incredibly stupid stunts for each other," he stops, dragging his eyes across Rodney, as if reassuring himself he's really there, standing on his own, "and be kissing already?" He presses their hands closer together, fingers pushing hard against Rodney's.
Rodney makes a surprised noise, eyes closing automatically, spreading his fingers wide and threading their hands together. "Oh god, yes."
They press together carefully, movements slow and deliberate. Rodney already aches to be closer, his lips tingle with anticipation and Sheppard's warm breath ghosts across his face making him shudder. The first touch is a compression of sensitive skin, slightly chapped lips come together, and it's perfect and breathless and possibly enough to make up for Rodney's probable three day hangover.
The post modern fairy tale hardly ever ends with a happy ending; instead the audience finds themselves introduced to the 'Happy Enough' ending. The Princess must live with her new-found freedom and all the consequences that come with it, and the Prince must find a new place that allows for a functional existence within the context of the world they inhabit.
The concept of something more, that the story never ends, just the chapter that the audience is aware of, leaves the story with a far more complex weaving than the original conception of the genre allowed for.
Soft fluttering kisses down Rodney's neck, down that tendon Rodney knows sticks out because he's seen in the mirror each morning. Lips perfect and soft and just a hint of wetness trace past his collar bone and into the shallow hollow in the center.
"Oh." Rodney gasps, John licks him quickly, one rapid and deadly swipe that leaves him breathless and shaking, and Rodney imagines John's tongue just sweeping through his body, touching everywhere.
"Rodney," John says into his skin, slow and dirty. His hands run up and down Rodney's arms, almost fondling.
This is some special, strange place Rodney's never been before. It's all slow and silk and smooth and quiet and Rodney's not quiet. He's loud and constant and scared and excited and everything all rolled into one. But John makes him quiet and muted even as everything inside him wants to burst.
He clings to John tightly, desperation in his movements, each kiss a silent plea to stay alive, to stop running and jumping and flying straight into danger no normal human should be able escape from.
They push and pull, Rodney pressing heavily into John, feeling every scrape of skin as they wind together tightly. They're a Gordian knot, tangled and weaved so tightly together Rodney looses track of where he ends and John begins. Legs shift and Rodney's aching cock finds itself a home in the sweat crease of John's leg and hip. John's cock is hot beside his, hips pushing upward to a desperate beat.
Long, pleasure-filled minutes later, Rodney comes so hard his fingers tingle all the way through John's sharp intake of breath and shuddery cling around Rodney's shoulders. In the quiet darkness of the room, Rodney learns about fear in a whole new way. The possibility of loss flicks at the edges of his brain, laughing, mocking him, and his new found post-coital relaxation. He didn't think he could ever have more to lose than his life.
Sheppard-- John, he reminds himself, holds him tightly, lips mouthing nonsense against Rodney's skin. He runs a hand down John's sweat soaked skin.
"Don't do that again." John whispers, voice strained.
"Make you come like a freight train?" Rodney asks, flustered that he actually doesn't understand what John is talking about.
"Almost die trying to save me." John whispers again, eyes looking up, still wide and dilated with endorphins running through him.
"You first," Rodney whispers back, suddenly less alone than he was three seconds earlier.
The Prince and Princess learn to live, that is the new moral to the story. Evil comes and goes, but it's really not about that. The shifting landscape, changes the characters, and once removed from their archetypal roles, they no longer stay round and smooth and resilient, but instead form a more imperfect union that holds their worlds together.
The End is really The Beginning of the rest of the story, because the lack of perfection implies a continued struggle.
"Rodney! Do you ever shut up?"
"Not when I'm right!"