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Title: When I Sorrow Most
Author: the_cephalopod
Recipient: sheafrotherdon
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: ~55,000 words
Warnings: Angst, but I can guarantee a happy ending.
Spoilers: Set early in season 3, so nothing for anything recent.
Author's notes: Happy Christmas Cate! Thank you for your lovely multi-optioned prompt; I tried to encompass as much as possible - I hope you enjoy! Many thanks to my amazing betas - you know who you are - and to moonlettuce and alyse for organising such a wonderful fic exchange!

Summary: "Hey," John said, trying to lighten the tone a little. "The IOA are getting better," he said, reaching across the bed to flick the little Canadian flag on Rodney's jacket before nodding his head towards Ronon and Teyla.

"Yes, well, I suppose so," Rodney sniffed. "It's not as if they could do without me, anyway."

"Or indeed any of us," Teyla added with a smile.

"Well, I hope you all realise that our success is entirely down to the exceptional talent and expertise of your team leader," John said.

"Oh, yes, of course," Rodney replied sarcastically. "We'd be nothing without you."


When I Sorrow Most

Please note, due to the size of this story, it is being hosted offsite.

Comments

( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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sheafrotherdon
Dec. 19th, 2008 06:49 am (UTC)
Goodness, gracious, that was EPIC. It's taken me most of the day, between everything else, and a good hour here at the day's end to read this through, and I feel like I'll be turning this over in my mind for a long time!

First of all - when I asked for John and Rodney dumbface in love, and angst with a happy ending, and world-building, I never imagined someone would roll them all together like this! I'm truly amazed at how many things you wove into this story, and so happy about it!! I love the Team-ness of it, love that there's so much interaction between Rodney and Teyla and Ronon, and that the shorter appearances by Lorne and Radek are so wonderfully fleshed out. The world-building was amazing - and I love that the Catarans have cars! All hail a world where everyone's progressed beyond medieval sets! The attention to detail made me gleeful - it sticks in my mind that the buildings on Catara were built with mortar, and that the team would notice because that's such an unusual thing. It's little details like that that make it feel real, and solid, and a world I could visit (with the right sort of means ;D )!

The science here is a thing of beauty, and you used the Team to such great effect to show Rodney operating on one level and yet able to explain it to others (most especially the reader!) in comprehensible terms. I appreciated, so much, all the thought that had to have gone into putting the plot and the science together, because you plugged every hole - explaining why the Wraith weren't anywhere near; explaining how the orbiting vessel was invisible to them for so long; explaining a division between the workings of state and the workings of private industry that would lead to a breakdown, or a manipulation of the Cataran system. Oh, and speaking of Catarans - Trin was wonderfully realized. The passage where John ruminates on the difference between Rodney's intelligence and Trin's is just so astutely done, and it fleshes out John as a military commander as well as someone who's invested in Rodney's general well-being.

I dug the fact that the tenses changed with the switch between past and present in the story's timeline, and that the POV switch matched each section break. It served the purpose of allowing you to tell so much more of the story than with a single POV (which I noticed as a writer) but it also just added to the depth and richness of the tale (which I relished as a reader!)

There's just so much here - from Rodney's atypically messy room (complete with discarded clothes at the end), to the Earth politics that intrude upon Atlantis, to the multiple ways John constantly scans for exits and points of defense, drawing on lessons learned. I can't imagine how much time this took you, and I am grateful for every minute - and now I'm off to my journal to tell everyone else to come over here and read this beauty!

THANK YOU! ♥
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you liked the story. I was really pleased to get your lovely prompt and realise all the potential you'd given me. Stories with strong plots and lots of team interaction are amongst my favourites, so it was wonderful to be able to create something intricate and detailed for you.

As you could probably tell, I'm drawn to writing sci-fi in particular because I can incorporate lots of science into the plot. I'd wanted to write a story about a particle accelerator ever since CERN hit the headlines and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. All the physics used, insofar as Rodney explains it, it is correct. In particular, the idea about nuclear matter being only meta-stable is something hypothesised by physicists such as Witten and others. Although, of course, there is no experimental evidence to suggest that this is something that occurs in nature as then goes on to happen in this story, but, then again, it hasn't been ruled out either...!

The dual timeline came about because I wanted John to have a real presence throughout. I have a weakness for first-time stories, so it also meant I could detail the developing relationship between the boys. I also felt the need to contrast the angst from the 'present' by having a 'past' that was much lighter and happier.

Creating Catara was also a lot of fun, especially as it would have to be nearing our level of scientific advancement for them to be able to at least partially understand to the accelerator itself and to have discovered something of the nature of the pulsar and the make-up of matter itself. I also have to confess to taking particular delight in partially modelling Trin on a physicist I actually know...

There were moments when I wasn't certain I was going to finish on time. I was also worried that I'd rush the ending or that everything would get too bogged down in the science to hold people's interest. I started getting really nervous about it being posted and I just have to say how grateful I was to get your wonderful comment and recommendation, both of which had me beaming for days afterwards.

*hugs*

cep xxx

PS Oh yes, you're right - I am English and I'm afraid that I can't quite bring myself to americanise my spelling... *g*
seekergeek
Dec. 19th, 2008 07:26 am (UTC)
Man, this is absolutely crazy awesome! I applaud you!
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you - I'm so pleased you enjoyed it! cep xxx
zinfic
Dec. 19th, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
*hearts so much*
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
♥ cep xxx
ampliflyer
Dec. 19th, 2008 09:24 am (UTC)
This was good. I enjoyed reading this really much, thank you!
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. cep xxx
dossier
Dec. 19th, 2008 10:57 am (UTC)
the structure really worked; seeing Rodney in distress at the beginning, and then as an utter wreck at the end is almost a straight line, with only the tenor of the distress changing. His dilemma at the end is real, feels real, great Rodney voice! Also, the shift to John's POV in the 'before' and the slow reveal is very clever; leading very naturally to the conclusion/rescue, and provides the the emotional peaks upward to contrast with the Rodney story line. This would have not worked (or been an entirely different story) if it had been a straightforward narrative. Also interesting is the that the true antagonist is the state of Rodney's emotions; not Fadar Trin, whose role is reduced to causality. He's barely a villain, we sense his intent, and only see the result.

the world building and science is fantastic. the way the other characters see Rodney, inferred by their actions and the way that Rodney perceives those actions, he's not an entirely reliable narrator, just skewed a few degrees by his emotions, and his normal world view. thanks, I really enjoyed reading this!
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really pleased you felt that Rodney's experiences rang true. I love strong emotional storylines and so the emotional journey Rodney goes through was, for me, the main one of the story. Of course, I also love my science, so there had to be a lot of that in there too! *g* I incorporated the 'past' timeline, which is much happier and lighter, because I wanted a direct counter-point to the angst-ridden 'present' and also so that I could make John just as much a part of the story as Rodney. I'm glad you felt it worked well and that the switches between the too added to, rather than detracted from, the plot's impact. Thank you once again! cep xxx
busaikko
Dec. 19th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
This is glorious! You've done yourself proud *throws confetti*
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! cep xxx
cedara
Dec. 19th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
Wow. Impressive.
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! cep xxx
(Deleted comment)
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I love incorporating science into my plots, so I'm really pleased that it worked for you. I'm also glad to hear you enjoyed the emotional journey - I felt like I was really putting poor Rodney through an awful lot at times, but consoled myself with the knowledge that he'd be happy in the end! *g* Thank you so much for your lovely comment. cep xxx
sgamadison
Dec. 19th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
I simply *adored* this story. I loved the fact that you used Science and the Team to such great effect and that we got to see how other members of the expedition contributed in their own ways as well. The changing tenses and POV were also highly effective in pulling us into the story and keeping the reader perched on the edge of the seat to find out what happened next. And what an epic! I don't think this story could have been told in such depth without being this long, and I'm so glad that you took the time to tell it in such rich detail.

I particularly loved the scenes between Rodney and John where John realizes that though *everything* has changed, nothing has changed as well, and they can still snark and function as a team. And I loved the part where they're dragging rescued!John out the door and he's demanding to be given a gun, that he's just fine...too, too perfect!

What a terrific story!
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
You already know how much I appreciated your support throughout writing this; thank you! *hugs* cep xxx
ratcreature
Dec. 19th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
This was a great story, I liked it a lot.
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! cep xxx
fanficfan
Dec. 20th, 2008 07:30 am (UTC)
This story blossoms through its deep roots--set into the many layers of relationships on Atlantis; the special connections of team members; life on Cantara; John and Rodney's relationships as friends, team leader and member, lovers. I'll second the praise of others here, and add further that is was great to see how John was able to balance some sly caresses and teasing of Rodney during their initial stay on Catara, all without ever overwhelming Rodney's composure, overstepping decorum, or losing sight of their professional goals for being on the planet. A credit to the character we admire and your skills depicting him and his interactions. Rodney rocked, too!
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really pleased you enjoyed this and that my characterisation worked for you. The wonderful relationship between John and Rodney and also between them and the rest of the Atlantis team really appeal to me, so I'm really glad you enjoyed that aspect of the story. cep xxx
bluespirit_star
Dec. 20th, 2008 09:12 am (UTC)
What a fabulous story!
This is such a wonderful love story & also a great team story (which isn't that easy to pull off!)
I loved it - thank you!
*hugs*
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for all your help. *hugs* cep xxx
djinanna
Dec. 22nd, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
It may just be my imagination after that quick course in particle physics, and I haven't yet finished the story (I'm at the point where Rodney figures out how to reverse the effects of the Big Ancient Artifact of Doom), but I am seeing little glimmerings of the story structure as, um, duplicating the actions of a particle reactor, slamming two different particles/story timelines together to create a new particle/story timeline ... and then my fuzzy understanding of particle physics breaks down as I see additional glimmerings of in-jokes involving meta-plots and strange timelines - or maybe meta-timelines and strange plots - and a new quantum stability.

Uh, maybe I'm just imagining it. Probably just imagining it. I'll go be quiet now and finish reading.
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Your comment really made me laugh as I have to say I had never thought about it quite like that! *g* I hope you enjoyed the rest of the story! cep xxx
xela_fic
Dec. 22nd, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
Holy epic fic batman! This is wow! I'm impressed with what you've done here. Great world building! I love the Cataran homeworld. Wonderful.
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you - I'm so glad you enjoyed it! cep xxx
margec01
Dec. 25th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
This is a fantastic story. Long and plotty. Often I don't like the separated-and-they're-searching-for-a-teammate story, because that means the team isn't together. But telling the story both in the present and in the past keeps John with us and his team throughout most of the story. And Rodney, Teyla, and Ronon are a wonderful team as they won't give up the fight to save John.

I really liked showing that Teyla and Ronon have their own useful tasks when they return to Catara, especially Ronon. All we have seen of Ronon on the show is grunting, eating, and fighting, and I was happy to see him working with the sensor sweeps here--a damn fine team they make, indeed!

The love story between John and Rodney was also excellent, especially the angst where they are so happy to then John being torn away from Rodney. But it makes the ending, where they get back together all the more special. Great hurt/comfort at the rescue as well--from all the team, too.

Extra points for reminding me of all the various particles which have been discovered/postulated since I last took a physics class. And it all made sense, too!

Great story as always. Er, yes, that means I did figure out who wrote this one. (g) And that just let me settle in, knowing it was going to be a great read. (Though Cate's rec had pretty much convinced me of that before I started.)

Edited at 2008-12-25 12:43 am (UTC)
the_cephalopod
Jan. 2nd, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Hee! I did think it would be pretty obvious who'd written this for anyone who'd read my stuff before - I can't seem to help myself getting immersed in physics! *g* Glad you enjoyed the science too & that it made a certain amount of sense!

I know what you mean about 'missing team mate' stories & that's why I felt that I had to do the dual-timeline structure. I really wanted John to have a real presence throughout and also felt like I needed a happier 'past' storyline to counter-act the angst-ridden 'present'. I'm so glad the team aspect of it also worked for you, as that's something I love reading about in stories as well.

Thank you for your lovely comments!

cep xxx
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