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Title: Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: sholio
Recipient: argosy
Pairing: McKay/Keller
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 33,000 *koff*
Warning: Contains some relatively mild horror-movie-esque imagery and creepiness
Spoilers: Set post-Enemy at the Gate, potential spoilers for all aired episodes.
Disclaimer: Not mine, do not own.
Author's Notes: Thank you to astridv for the excellent (and fast!) beta.

Summary: John is dealing with his teammates' love lives just like any other emotional issue: by ignoring the situation and hoping it goes away. But when a mission gone wrong traps John, Rodney and Jennifer a thousand feet beneath New Lantea's ocean -- injured and out of touch with Atlantis, with the clock running down and a mysterious enemy in pursuit -- they're either going to have to work out their differences ... or die trying.

( Devil and the Deep Blue Sea )


( 78 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 14th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
What a fun and scary and sweet story!

I loved your Keller-voice. She sounded dead-on, and Sheppard's rationale for freaking out on McKay and Keller made a lot of sense. Great mixture of action and pathos. Nicely done!

And I loved how you brought Teyla and Ronon into the ending. So sweet!

Jan. 25th, 2010 09:51 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)

I'm really happy that the character voices worked; it was a bit of a different story for me and I'm glad that you liked it!
Dec. 14th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
This is friggin AMAZING. So richly characterized, such excellent violence and treatment. And zombies! And undersea labs of doom! And adorable emo getting in the way!

Oh man, I love this story.
Jan. 25th, 2010 09:52 am (UTC)
Thank you for the wonderful response! I'm very happy that you liked it. :D
Dec. 14th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
I was almost going to give this a pass as the pairing is not my cup of tea, but I'm very glad I didn't. Very entertaining, great characterization and fun plot.
Jan. 25th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for taking a chance on it! I was a bit nervous about the reception that this story would get, and I'm very happy that you liked it. :)
Dec. 14th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC)
The best thing about sga_santa: I get a present, even if I'm not the recipient. :) ♥
Jan. 25th, 2010 09:52 am (UTC)
Hee! :D
Dec. 14th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
The best and most likable Jennifer I've read yet and perhaps the first time I've actually bought her caring about Rodney. Not to mention the evil undersea lab of doom and spore-controlled zombies! I think you got Sheppard nailed when it came to his character too.

Thank you for such an enjoyable story and one that let me like a pairing I avoid normally because few authors can convince me it's a good idea.

I recommended this over on my DW account.
Jan. 25th, 2010 09:54 am (UTC)
Oh, look at me here, answering feedback LATE. As I already said, I really appreciated the rec more than words can say, and I'm glad that this story seems to have found an audience despite being a bit of an experiment for me. Thank you again for taking a chance on it!
Dec. 14th, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this a lot. The plot was nicely creepy and you handled the relationships really well.
Jan. 25th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I was nervous about how the relationships would turn out, so I'm delighted that it worked out. :)
Dec. 14th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
I think this is a rare gem that I hope others will read and really appreciate. I thought this was a realistic, plausible, and mature look of what happens when members of a team, who have depended on each other for so much, start to have lives outside that of their unit’s relationship. This is more an exploration of John and Rodney’s relationship than of Rodney and Jennifer’s yet, I felt immersed in the troubles and confusion that comes when families units grow and change.

I loved this look at John and his lack of people skills and inexperience in knowing how to deal with this type of change. I thought it adorable, yet sad when he had no idea how to interact with his best friend when it felt to him that he was losing his family. This story stuck a chord with me as I feel after EATG that John was the only one left alone and made me wonder how he’d react as the rest of his team got domesticated .

Everything spot on, from the miscommunications to the wonderful conversation between John and Jennifer toward the end. I love the ‘understatement of the century’ when it came to John’s confession. Add in the wonderful action, banter, tension and h./c..this hit all my buttons. A plotty action adv fic, underscoring a wonderful exploration of John and his extended family. I plan on reccing this on my LJ.

Thank you so much for this treat!
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
And thank you for reccing it hon cos it led me to read one of the best SGA fics I have read in some time. :)
(no subject) - sholio - Jan. 25th, 2010 10:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
That was a total blast :D I loved the exploration of Sheppard feeling left out and awkward around all the changes. And loved even more that he opened up to Jennifer, and that Jennifer helped to clear things up for him in return. It was realistic as well as sympathetic, I felt, without being overly angsty and also without making light of what he was feeling.

And great action. Loved the brain coral and zombies. I adore stories where people are trapped and have to escape the alien entities out to get them. Very intense stuff :D
Feb. 11th, 2010 07:34 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad that you enjoyed it; I love throwing the characters into mortal peril, and doing so with extra bonus emotional exploration is just the icing on the cake. :D
Dec. 15th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
Eeee! Imagine my delight when I saw the story and word count this morning. :D Thank you so much! This was just lovely, and I adore John here. The action was incredible -- and creepy! Omigosh, Rodney having to cut his hand -- yikes! And you've dealt with mature grownup emotions wonderfully in the frame of a fantastic adventure story. I really wish I was better at leaving comments, but just know that I could not love this more.

The whole concept of zombie coral was brilliant. Who knew I was going to get a zombie story when I made my request? ♥ The writing was absolutely vivid, and every character was fantastic. I'm especially thrilled you acknowledged Jennifer's growth. I suspect I know who wrote this, but whether I'm right or wrong, I am *thrilled* that my story was written by someone with obvious respect and love for *all* the characters (especially certain hard-done-by ones). :D

In conclusion, yay!!
Feb. 11th, 2010 07:38 am (UTC)
So, obviously, I suck at replying to feedback like a big sucking thing. :D

But I'm absolutely delighted that you liked it! I was so happy when I opened up my assignment email and saw that I'd been assigned to you (as well as what your request was), because the story you'd written for me in sticksandsnark last year was SO ABSOLUTELY WHAT I WANTED that I figured this one was going to be a cakewalk! :D Though admittedly I was not expecting to exceed the minimum word count by quite that much. I had a ton of fun writing this, though, and your squeeful rec over at your journal (as well as this comment) really made my day, though of course I couldn't say so at the time! Thanks for the great prompt; I had a blast!

ETA: Though admittedly there were times during the writing process when I found myself thinking "... I am giving argosy zombies for Christmas; I don't know if this is appropriate, somehow." XD

Edited at 2010-02-11 07:39 am (UTC)
(no subject) - argosy - Feb. 13th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)
What a fantastic, original idea: BRAIN coral! Ha! I had images from Pirates of the Caribbean - the crew all turned into coral and barnacles and crabs. And it proves that the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies thing wasn't a fluke: you CAN add zombies to good literature. Which, of course, this was. I have always had a small soft spot for Rodney and Jennifer. It was only Keller's heavy overuse at the loss of other characters that used to pee me off. But you wrote them just as I imagine them- Geek Love. Packaging it all with a loverly ribbon of Sheppard whumpage wrapped around it just made it even more awesome. Kudos!
Feb. 11th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! With the emotional territory I was exploring, I felt like I was taking a bit of a chance writing this, and I'm really delighted that people seemed to like it. (I did find myself wondering as I wrote it whether or not zombies are really appropriate in a Christmas story, but they really wanted to be in there for some reason. *g*)
Dec. 15th, 2009 10:49 am (UTC)
this is the kind of story i wish they had done in the actutal series. It made the rodney/keller realy come alive without being pushy. I also loved the emotions shown by John and the others reaction to it.

I hope there are more stories like this.
Feb. 11th, 2010 07:41 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad you liked it. :)
Dec. 15th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
While I still don't enjoy the pairing, I wanted to say that I read the story because of recs from the flist and really enjoyed it!
Very well done, cool concept with the coral, and like the poster above, I think it would have made a great episode.
Thanks for writing!!!
Feb. 11th, 2010 07:41 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it, especially if the pairing isn't normally your cup of tea. :)
Dec. 15th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
This is a story I would normally skip, being het and all, but I'm glad I did. I came here from a rec and totally loved the story. We need more stories with mature views over the relationship of the characters, being respectful and true to each. Very well done. Jennifer isn't normally done and this is an excellent portrayal of her.
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:14 am (UTC)
Thank you very much; I'm glad you took a chance on the story and enjoyed it! :)
Dec. 15th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
Excellent story! I could read this over and over again. I thought you handled the characterizations of all three really well. It was fascinating to look at how the changing dynamics affected John and his struggle to deal with it was so true to his character. After five years on Atlantis, of course the characters are going to change and their circumstances will shift, they'll get into and out of relationships, and have lives outside of the core team. Everyone's reactions to that situations felt very real. I've never really thought much about McKay and Keller's relationship - it was just kind of there, in the episodes. This story really gave that relationship some depth and I finally clicked on why they are together. They are alike in alot of ways, and them being with each other makes sense here. I wish we could have seen something like this in an actual episode!

The brain coral was great! I love the whole idea of the underwater research station, and the not-really-sentient life pursuing them. Zombies! Freakishly awesome. Thank you for this story!!
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:38 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm especially glad that the story made you see McKay and Keller's relationship in a new light -- one of the things I really love about fanfic is getting to work through the characters and their relationships in my own head, and figure out what makes them tick. Thank you very much for the feedback!
Dec. 16th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! I do so enjoy a well written McKeller (well I tend to enjoy a well written anything). I really loved how none of these three crazy kids have enough social grace to know how to handle life, but they still managed to muddle through and fix their problems anyway. While having adventures even.
And I must say. You're alien lifeform, both freaked me out and amazed me. Great idea.
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:39 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it -- and yeah, they can really be a sad, emotionally stunted bunch of people sometimes, can't they. *g*
Dec. 17th, 2009 03:28 am (UTC)
I loved this! :) All of the characters rang so true to me; this is how I've always seen Jennifer, and Jennifer/Rodney, and I adore that you've written it out so beautifully. I love how difficult the relationships were to begin with and I loved how you showed them changing throughout the adventure, and I really, really loved how no one was a villain. That they all wanted to do the right thing, show the care they had for each other, but just couldn't figure out how. (The insight into John and Nancy's marriage not only made me go, "oh, John" but also, "oh, Nancy". Poor guys.)

All that, plus Brain Coral! :D Lovely, lovely tension and "it's behind you!!!" I very much enjoyed this.
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:40 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm delighted that you liked and sorry I'm such a pile of suck when it comes to answering feedback. *g* I really love getting inside the characters' heads and trying to figure them out emotionally, and I'm glad that my natterings were comprehensible. *g*
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
This was just... awesome!! I've been suffering from a rather depressing bout of apathy of late when it comes to reading fic but this story was just what I needed to revitalise my enthusiasm - well-written, great characterisation, wonderful whump and a fantastic and well-thought out plot. It had me on the edge of my seat more than once! You captured the characters' voices perfectly and the action played out with just the right amount of tension and drama.

Thank you santa on behalf of all the good boys and girls for delivering such a wonderful christmas present! :D
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm delighted that you liked it, especially since this was a somewhat experimental story for me, taking me into territory that I haven't much explored in SGA fic. Thanks for the feedback! :)
Dec. 18th, 2009 04:39 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this! Your character voices were wonderful, and I loved your insights into John - his views of coupledom, his struggle with finding his place amongst teammates who were in relationships, his desire to do the right thing if he just knew what it was. You made McKay and Keller's relationship believable and let it support the story instead of overwhelm it. You also made the h/c part of the plot instead of the crux of the story. Well done!
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
Thank you very much; I'm very happy that so many gen people enjoyed the story. :) I do think that maintaining a balance is key to making a story come alive -- between characters, between relationships, between plot elements and so forth!
Dec. 18th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
Very enjoyable! Hero Rodney, frustrated John, Jennifer angsting over hero Rodney. Wonderful!
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:06 am (UTC)
I do love my little hero Rodney! Thank you very much. :)
Dec. 21st, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
Its great to see McKay in a role that's more than just sidekick and comedy whiner.

I really enjoyed this story.. I found the characterisation to be bang on. the pacing was excellent with a good balance between action, suspense and exposition.

thank you for writing it
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:06 am (UTC)
I love writing Rodney, and I really enjoyed giving all the characters a chance to shine! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
Dec. 27th, 2009 07:37 am (UTC)
This was a cute story. I like that you dealt with the fact that Sheppard is alone with everyone else paired up and how he's having difficulty dealing with it. It would be interesting to have seen what would have happened on the show, though I think they would have ignored it.

I like Keller in this a lot and that you kept her at the skill level she is - that is, she's a good Doctor, but not very skilled in the field b/c of lack of experience. I like the bits and pieces you show of Rodney and her relationship. Though you used Teyla very little, where and how you used her was to great effect. Like the end quite a bit, especially since you brought in a bit of Athosian culture.
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:07 am (UTC)
Thank you very much; I'm glad you enjoyed this! One of my regrets with this story was that I couldn't give Teyla and Ronon much to do; it was long enough as it was. *g* But I really enjoyed playing with the interpersonal dynamics between the characters -- it's much more interesting when everyone is not getting along than when they all are!
Dec. 31st, 2009 09:20 am (UTC)
Great story. Zombie brain coral!, very creepy (not only "relatively mild".) Especially the scene where Rodney has to cut it out of his hand *shudders*, and trapped at the bottom of the ocean! Yay for Zelenka´s big red button and shark repellant. (Which is just one example of the many details why I loved this story. Nautilus and Athosian naming and marble cake.)
The character voices were excellent. I particularly liked that you show that Jennifer can be just as socially awkward as Rodney. I can´t imagine the three of them racing cars together, but at least she´s trying.
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad that you liked it; I was a little worried that the part where Rodney cuts the coral out of his hand would be a little too gory ... especially for a Christmas story. *g*
(no subject) - crashbarrier - Feb. 12th, 2010 10:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 1st, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
I loved this. WOW! I can imagine that that was exactly how John would be feeling at that time. You got the awkwardness and tension down perfectly and bought them together as friends without it being forced or trite.

Really really lovely. Thanks for a great read
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
I'm delighted that you liked it! Thank you very much for the comment. :)
Jan. 2nd, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)
Wonderful story! I hadn't thought about it much until I read your story but, like Rodney and John, Jennifer really isn't that sharp with the people skills. You work John's failed marriage very neatly into his current predicament, and we never do see him comfortable around another couple. He gets along just fine in certain circumstances, and he and Rodney can play race cars until the cows come home, but yes, I think you've really got his number for the moment things get more complicated.

I love what you do with Jennifer most of all. I did like her and hate to see her demonized; she makes mistakes, but her missteps make sense as a very young, smart, bookish person tries to find her feet in a place that calls on physical skills and physical courage she never needed before she left our galaxy. She can read Rodney, but doesn't do very well with Sheppard (which is no surprise, because it's hard to read someone who can't read himself some of the time). Still, of the three of them she's the most stable emotionally, so she has to be the one to try to work things out!

I also love Teyla's cameo (it's not so much all Earth people who are crazy, Teyla, as the ones who would go to Atlantis), the reminders of Zelenka even when he isn't present, and the brain coral. I'll never visit aquariums the same way again!
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I really enjoyed working on the complex interpersonal dynamics in this story; I was nervous about the reception that it would get, knowing that readers would be mapping their own interpretations onto the characters, so I was very happy (and relieved!) that it seemed to go over well.

(it's not so much all Earth people who are crazy, Teyla, as the ones who would go to Atlantis)

LOL! So very true.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Now this was perfect. We have an awesome bad guy (and so very Doctor Who-esque! There needs to be more of these spooky sorts stories in the SG-verse. I didn't realize until I started reading it how few of these sorts of stories there are, while its almost common on Doctor Who. That being said, you really kicked it up a notch -- I love how beautiful your bad guy is, and how it wouldn't have been sentient and so violent but for the minds it took over...that's just so cool), fantastic action, suspense and h/c on top of h/c, and all that good stuff. BUT, what makes this brilliant is that you managed to center it around that horrible time in an adult's life when everything changes -- from single and having fun to everyone getting married and having kids. It's such an unbelievably awkward time, and so hard, especially if, like Sheppard, you feel a little left behind, and you did such a great job of it. I loved Jennifer and John's oh so awkward talk--I could hear every word, as if I were watching it on the screen. Characterization is spot on. And I particularly loved how clueless Rodney was throughout the whole thing--I love that his friends can resolve their differences with no help from him (although he is saving the day, so I suppose it all evens out. LOL). Really, this is one of the best stories I've read this year!

Thank you so much for such a fantastic story!

Edited at 2010-01-02 10:07 pm (UTC)
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:05 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I thought this story might kinda be up your alley. *g* As much as I enjoy everybody getting along, sometimes the most interesting things happen when everybody doesn't get along, and I really enjoyed exploring the interpersonal dynamics in this -- like you said, this is something that everyone goes through, one way or another, and it was fascinating for me to look at that from the characters' point of view.
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