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Fic: Black Flag (McKay/Sheppard, PG-13)

Title: Black Flag
Author: jade_1459
Recipient: lilyleia78
Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: {Insert hysterical laughter}
Author's Notes: Okay, so here’s the deal. You asked for happy endings and schmoop with minimal angst. I honestly have never written schmoop and my happy endings are all bitterly sweet because they aren’t really happy and heavy angst is what I do best. So I wrote this, and it only two seven or eight tries to get it right.
Summary: “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” -- H.L. Mencken

Being surrounded by people he didn't know, cities filled to over flowing, constant noise pollution and light pollution, and a sky more alien to him than any he'd seen in Pegasus, and John was ready to call it quits.

SGC wasn't about to let him resign his commission however. Replacing him would cause the verbal version of World War Three in a board room somewhere. There were officials and world leaders out there just waiting to fill the void John's resignation would have caused. It was a headache General O'Neill apparently didn't want to have to deal with.

John had actually written and submitted a letter (with all the accompanying forms) of resignation not long after it became obvious that they were never going to be allowed to go back to Pegasus. General O'Neill had actually summoned him to his office. And he'd used that word too. Sent a lackey to Atlantis and said: "I quote, 'Tell Sheppard he's been summoned to my office. Immediately.'"

So John had gone, and stood at parade rest in the General's office while O'Neill explained to him, in exacting detail, just how much trouble replacing him would be. And then O'Neill had slipped each sheet of John's carefully worded "Fuck You" letter through the paper shredder. "Resignation denied. Unless you get medically discharged, you aren't leaving that damn city," O'Neill had informed him. "Got it?"

That had sort of been the beginning of the end for him. Yes, he had the city, the place he felt most at home. But now she was being defiled by the hands of people who had no respect for everything she had sheltered them from. John would watch expressionlessly as Rodney and Radek tore strip after strip from every new scientist that so much as breathed the air touching the city. And then he'd turn and walk down the halls to where the Marines had set up their barracks and listen as Lorne ripped each new military member to pieces, again and again, for their carelessness and callousness when dealing with the city.

When Rodney ended up in the infirmary for an extended stay after once more saving the city from the stupidity of scientist who thought they knew better. John had put his foot down.

John had closed himself off in his office after stopping in to see Rodney. Rodney who had lost nearly twenty pounds, and had dark circles hallowing out his eyes. Rodney who had burns creeping up his left arm and shoulder. Rodney, who hadn't slept more than a few hours a week in the last seven months, had barely caught the three characters of code he was reviewing that had caused a feedback loop in one of the power distribution centers. Rodney who'd once more pulled a miracle out of his ass, and saved them all before they even knew they needed saving.

That was where Rodney found him two days later.

Sitting at his desk, computer open before him in the dimly lit room.

He heard the door open, listened to it close, but never bothered to look up from the computer screen. After so long living in isolation, John knew who was in the room, simply by the way the air currents broke around the invader.

John heard the soft rustling of clothes as Rodney came further into the room, demanding, “Do you have any idea what time it is?”

"It's going on 0300 hours," John answered, but continued typing.

"And you should be in bed," Rodney pointed out. "Woolsey called a meeting for 0700 hours. And being forced to sit next to you when you haven't gotten any sleep is worse than sitting next to Ronon when he gets fidgety."

That did make John glance up, just to catch the slight frown on Rodney’s face. It was an expression John knew well. This wasn't the first time Rodney had woken to find John out of bed and gone searching for him. And it wasn't going to be the last time either.

But this time was different. And Rodney seemed to sense that, because the frown slipped from his face as he came around the desk. "What are you doing?"

"Putting my foot down," John stated.

Rodney stood behind John to read over his shoulder.

The letter was simple, and to the point.

A carefully worded demanded for independence.

John continued to type, putting in the finishing touches and final fuck you of the letter before hitting print.

Rodney got to the printer before John and read through the pages carefully. His expression serious and considering at the same time. When he'd gone through the entire thing, one page at a time, Rodney leaned back against the desk and carefully arranged the pages.

“It wouldn’t be difficult to get everyone separated,” he said. “A well timed alarm or drill should do the trick. And Caldwell still owes us for that thing that should never be mentioned.”

"I need to send out an e-mail first," John added. "Not everyone who belongs to Atlantis is living in the city right now."

Rodney nodded. "I've got a list of my own of people who've contacted me about getting transferred back to the city. Hoping I could put in a request for them. A few of them could help us get some of the supplies we'll need if we're going to make this happen."

"If we're going to make this happen, we're going to need you and Zelenka back up and running. And not constantly chasing after and babysitting new groups of scientist who don't know better," John snapped.

Rodney reached over and squeezed John's shoulder, trying to calm him and sooth him at the same time. Rodney understood, could appreciate, just how frustrated and useless John felt when he was laid up in the infirmary because of someone else’s stupid mistakes.

"Comm'on," Rodney said standing up. "Let’s get some sleep before we put this particular crazy plan into action. We're going to need the rest. Especially when Radek finds out you're scheming behind his back."

"He'll understand," John murmured around a yawn.


They'd gotten in contact with all the people they needed to. Sent out feelers for anyone who might have been forgotten about or left off the lists. And still kept getting bites. People desperate to get back to Atlantis, back to Pegasus, back to where things made sense in the crazy run-for-your-life-and-don't-look-back sort of way.

Bates had remade contact. He'd taken one look at Teyla with her little boy and stood at attention before John. "When we going home, sir?" he'd asked.

John couldn't have been happier to have the Sergeant back. Bates was just the right level of paranoid and cautious that had saved their asses in more than one instance. He followed orders even when he didn't like or agree with them. But more importantly, Bates understood what it meant to be stranded on a planet that was far more alien than any backwoods culture they had stumbled upon in Pegasus. And Bates had kept in contact with everyone who'd been transferred back to Earth and left there.

He had his own list of names. People who would be useful. People who would side with them. Help them, even if they didn't want to go to Pegasus themselves.

Kavanagh's name came up. Which had surprised a lot of people.

But when John, Rodney, and Lorne had met up with Bates and Kavanagh, John began to understand.

They were at a playground filled with kids screaming and running about. And at first John had no idea what they were doing there. Why this particular location had been picked out of every where they could have met up.

Until he caught sight of Kavanagh pushing a dark haired little girl on a swing while shouting at a boy dumping a bucket of sand over a toddler's head.

"He's got kids?" Rodney had asked in shock.

"Five of them," Bates answered. "Ex-wife is threatening to remove even visitation rights because he can't explain to the courts what he does for a living."

"And what does he want us to do about it?" Rodney demanded.

Bates had looked over at them, lifted an eyebrow before turning back to watch the other man wrestle another kid off the top of the monkey bars. "Ex-wife has a drug problem. Her current 'boyfriend' has been suspected of child molestation, but never convicted. The records were buried deeper than the Program. He can get us a ZPM, if you agree to take him and his kids with you."


In the end, they had a plan to get everyone who wanted to go back into the city, and everyone who they were going to leave behind, out of the city. It was simple really.

Rodney was taking a quick tour on the Daedalus, which had been experiencing some problems with their new Asgard technological refitting. He was going to "help them" fix out the bugs, by doing a few little corrections to the coding, and a test run of the beaming technology.

They'd steal the weapons, medical, and food supplies from another orbiting ship, dump them in one of the converted storage warehouses in the city. Then beam in all the people who'd had their transmitters refitted with Rodney's new signal and beam out an entire section of people who'd been relocated in the city because of "an emergency alarm". And then they were going to beam in a few little surprises for the ships that would get in their way.

Nothing too complicated. Even Caldwell was helping out by turning a blind eye to what Rodney was doing... What Novak was helping him do.

They all had their reasons.

John wanted to get back to a place where he wasn't constantly looking over his shoulder when he was more than two feet from his lover. Where when he was woken in the middle of the night for an emergency call, it wasn't because of stupidity, but because something was honestly going to eat them in their sleep. To a place where the sky didn't look or feel so alien to him, and he wasn't limited by the clouds when he flew.

That's what Pegasus was. What Atlantis meant.



It didn't take long.

A little more than three months, less than a year on Earth, and Atlantis was shutting its doors and shutters tight. Turning her back on the greedy hands that would defile the knowledge she held, taint the wonder and awe that had captured the first wave on their arrival.

She rose from the ocean surface and turned her face toward home.


They'd opened Radek wormhole drive and got themselves sucked back into Pegasus.

Leaving no trail behind them that could be followed.

John found Rodney standing on one of the balconies, gazing out at the sea of stars that surrounded the city while they searched for a new place to settle down.

"Just before we left, Jeannie asked me something," Rodney told him. He hadn't bothered to turn around to see who was behind him.

"What she ask?" John replied as he came up next to him.

"If I was happy."

John bit his lip and kept his eye firmly focused on the stars around them.

The last few months hadn't been easy on either of them. The last few years hadn't been much better either. Between the ups and downs and constant threats and the fear of discovery, what they'd shared, what they had, wasn't much of a relationship. But to John, it was the closest he'd come to happy, to content and satisfied and proud of everything he'd gained, everything he'd discovered and he found himself richer for it. Even if there were moments, those downward turns and darker days and weeks, where bloodshed and harsh words were all that lay between them...

John was still... happy.

"I didn't... I lied to her," Rodney hissed out. "I told her... said I was. That I was happy."

John swallowed thickly, but kept his silence. Rodney wasn't finished. There was more bubbling under the surface. And after all this time, John knew when the wait and when to push. And this time he needed to wait, had to wait. Because if he pushed? Rodney's house of cards was going to break around them.

"And it wasn't really a lie, except that it was. Because I couldn't be happy on Earth. We couldn't have been happy on Earth," Rodney corrected. "Always looking over our shoulders, wondering who saw what, who'd was going to speak to who and what kind of pieces they were going to put together and were they going to say anything... was someone going to come marching into the city and kick in our doors and toss us out on our asses and you into a jail cell...

"And all I could think was, just four more days. Four more days before we left Earth, before we left the paranoia and suspicion and--"

John didn't find out what else they left behind because he'd leaned over and pressed a hard, hungry kiss to Rodney's mouth. Effectively shutting the other man up.

It took a second, but Rodney kissed him back. Hands landing on John's hips, pulling him forward, drawing him in and pressing him back against the railing until they were pressed tight against each other, burning and melting and breaking and reshaping, all in the span of a kiss.

When they finally drew back, the need for a proper lung full of air forcing them apart, John leaned forward, pressed their foreheads together and said, "I'm happy too."


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
this ROCKS
it's perfect.

I almost expect John's letter to say 'Hi Ho' in it somewhere... as in hoist the colors high.
Dec. 19th, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC)
I'm happy they're happy...

Dec. 20th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
I love "Atlantis rebels" fic and this was a nice, tight story of frustration and disappointment made good on by a little pirate action. I really liked the small highlights like Oneill's demand that John stay (probably knowing what would happen), Kavenaugh's difficulties, and that Caldwell was helping because of The Thing. LOL!

And just the perfect happy ending -- not too schmoopy, but solid and hopeful!
Dec. 20th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
Oh, Santa! Thank you so much. This is just beautiful and perfect. I LOVE it. I don't need fluffy schmoop with such a wonderful hopeful ending. Gorgeous work. Thank you so, so much.
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
Santa loves me
User lilyleia78 referenced to your post from Santa loves me saying: [...] that I had to rec them right away. I must have been a very good girl this year. SGA - Black Flag [...]
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
This hits one of my Stargate soft spots...the "we can take our city back" spot. More people need to write this kind of fic! Thanks for leading the charge!
Dec. 20th, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
I've always enjoyed independent!Atlantis fics, and this one was fun. I especially liked the mentions of Bates and Kavanagh.
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
Independent Atlantis is one of my favorite tropes and this was a great lead-in! :-D
Dec. 20th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Ohh, love a good escape from Earth story! Love the surprising touches, like Bates and Kavanagh. Perfect ending!
Dec. 20th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
So glad they rebelled and left Earth far behind :) Lovely story :)
Dec. 20th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
Love it! And don't worry - the notion that Kavanaugh could spawn not one child, but five, is sufficiently dark. ;-)
Dec. 20th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
Fantastic fic...a perfect reaction from John to what was happening and I loved that so many people were behind them in their plan.
Dec. 20th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
Avast, me hearties! ::g:: That was great. :D I loved the inclusion of Bates and Kavanagh, and I completely agree with an earlier comment that O'Neill knew exactly what John would do if he was forced to keep his command.
Dec. 21st, 2011 11:32 am (UTC)
It's great to read John, Rodney, and all the Atlantis loyals making a unified front for their city. It was really lovely, seeing them get to go home.
Dec. 21st, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)

Gorgeous!! Loved how all of Atlantis' people, first wave and those thereafter, came together to secede from Earth. :)
Dec. 21st, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
Getting home by hook or by crook — excellent!
Dec. 25th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
Fantastic! I'm so glad they managed to reach happiness ♥
Dec. 25th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)

Hee! I love these kinds of stories. Woot! Awesome!
Jan. 1st, 2012 08:17 am (UTC)
I love the bit at the end, where Rodney talks about what he said to Jeannie.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 1st, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
Most excellent!
You seemed worried about this being too melancholy in your notes, but you have absolutely no worry. This was brilliant. I really, really enjoyed it. It felt 'real' - like what would happen with all the beaurocratic nonsense with Atlantis stuck on Earth. Just brilliant.
Jan. 2nd, 2012 08:47 pm (UTC)
I adore it when they declare independence and take charge of their own future...

Nicely done!
Jan. 19th, 2012 05:19 am (UTC)
This is truly one of the best things I've ever read. I read a lot of the epic, expansive stories and in my heart, I would have loved to see this drawn out a bit. But the 'shortness' and sparse pacing gives it a tightness and desperation that works very well. I'm with the others, the tiny insights to the other characters is fulfilling (yay for Bates!) and the difficult, but loving relationship between John and Rodney is quite realistic. This story really made me
feel that if given the chance, I'd go to Pegasus in a heart beat. Well, I'd go to Middle Earth and not look back if I had that chance to ; )
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


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