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Title: Shielded by the Hands of Love
Author: starbuckssue
Recipient: taste_is_sweet
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or any of the characters; I just play with them once in a while...they haven't complained yet.
Summary: They never knew what to expect when they stepped through the Stargate, but this was something Rodney McKay could never have imagined.

( Shielded by the Hands of Love - Part 1 of 2 )


Rodney spent the next hour or so split between keeping an eye on John and working on the door panel, attaching the tablet for further diagnostics. The door didn't release easily the way the doors on Atlantis would open when they were simply stuck so he guessed that it had been a safety feature similar to the one which triggered on Atlantis when there was a biological or viral threat to the City.

It was shortly after he'd woken John for a concussion check that the door finally released. Rodney observed the room, seeing immediately that the far corner where console in which the ZPM was housed was well away from the destruction, as was the main console where his laptop was hooked up.

He glanced back at John, who had only just fallen asleep again, debating whether or not to retrieve the laptop or wait until John was at least awake and aware of what he was doing.

Rodney retreated with a sigh, unhooking the tablet from the door panel and deciding to brew another cup of coffee and have a power bar while he waited for John to wake up.

He sat down on the bench by John's head, careful not to disturb the sleeping man, hands curled around his coffee sipping the drink slowly. He'd eaten the power bar while he was waiting for the water to heat and knew he was getting tired but as rescue could potentially arrive within the next hour or so he didn't want to risk falling asleep. He picked up his tablet and started on a game of Solitaire.

"Hey, you awake again?" Rodney asked softly, hearing John's breathing change.

"Yeah," John croaked out. "Wish I wasn't though." He started coughing and Rodney put the tablet down and shifted beside him so he could lift John into a sitting position.

"Here, have some water. Just sip it though; you don't look in any condition to enjoy throwing up at the moment." He held the cup to John's lips with one hand while the other supported his back. When John finished drinking he slumped forward so he was leaning against Rodney's chest, his face planted in Rodney's neck. Rodney placed cup on the table before wrapping his other arm around John's shoulders as well, holding the other man to him. It felt strangely intimate and he felt John relax against him, tentative arms reaching out to wrap in his t-shirt.

"My Mom used to do this when I was sick or injured," he confessed quietly, burrowing into Rodney's warmth. "My Dad wasn't a warm person, never gave hugs or anything," he stopped and swallowed rapidly for a few moments. "I missed my Mom when she died." He broke off with a sigh.

John Sheppard was, emotionally, one of the strongest people Rodney had ever known, but everyone has their limits and it looked like John had reached his. Having never had to deal with such an uncharacteristically vulnerable Sheppard before, he simply held him tighter, rubbing one hand up and down John's back.

"Of course you missed her, you were just a kid," Rodney reassured him. "What was your Dad like before she died?" He asked quietly, John had never volunteered much information about his parents before and Rodney had never pushed but he sensed that this time John was ready to talk.

"He was a good Dad, although he spent more time with Dave, they had the same interests, history, books, puzzles, that kind of thing. I was more like Mom, we both loved the outdoors and the horses," John replied eventually. "The business kept him busy though, he was often home really late and he travelled a lot, but he'd let Mom know when he was taking days to spend with us and she'd always arrange things for us to do as a family, either days out or holidays, skiing or at the cabin or the coast." He drifted into memories for a few minutes. "He changed completely when she died, spent a lot of his time with the business and didn't really have much time for us, he'd make time with Dave when he could as they always had things in common but it was like he didn't know how to connect with me. In the end he sent us to boarding school. I didn't want to go; I missed Mom and I missed the horses." He fell silent, lost in the memories of the sadness and loss he'd felt at being wrenched away from everything familiar. He was still and silent for so long that Rodney grew worried.

"John?" Rodney questioned gently, his voice full of compassion; John looked quickly away from him but not before Rodney saw tears glistening in his eyes.

"Hey, no, come here," Rodney pulled him gently back toward him, cradling the back of his head, being careful of the injury. "John, it's okay, you're human you're allowed to have feelings."

He felt John take a deep breath and allow himself a few moments of much needed comfort before drawing back and running the back of his hand over his eyes a little self-consciously. Rodney hoped his face relayed how much John was loved.

To break the heaviness of the moment, Rodney shifted gears abruptly and gave John an assessing look. "So how's the pain, out of ten." he asked, scrutinizing John carefully.

"About a seven," John replied honestly. "The ankle's bad but at the moment it's the head which feels worse."

"Do you feel up to eating anything? It's about time to take some more pain meds and I'd rather you took them with food than on an empty stomach."

"I'm not really hungry but I think I could manage a power bar."

"Right," Rodney grabbed one of John's favorites from the stack of supplies on the coffee table in front of him. "Here, you'd better drink plenty of water too, you haven't had much in the past twelve hours and getting dehydrated won't help your head either." He placed the canteen within John's reach and dug around in the first aid kit for the Tylenol.

"While you're awake I want to retrieve the laptop from the lab." He explained. "I've got the door open and nothing seems to have moved since the last disturbance so I think it's safe enough."

John stopped eating, looking worried.

"Are you sure, the last thing we need is to get separated."

"Yeah, I've found the program which controls the door so I can open and close it whenever we need to. It's just a safety feature, like on Atlantis. I don't know how anyone was supposed to be rescued in a situation like this; it was very shortsighted only having one entrance." He mused as he stood up. "It won't take me more than a second to disconnect the laptop." He tried to reassure John.

"As long as you're sure, I..." John broke off looking away suddenly as he swallowed hard. "I couldn't deal with it if something happened to you now." He finished his voice tight.

"Hey, hey," Rodney dropped back beside him, brushing a hand through John's hair. "I'll be fine, nothing's going happen to me, I'll be in and out before you've had chance to miss me." He dropped a light kiss on John's forehead and, as good as his promise, was in and out of the lab in the blink of an eye, shutting the connecting door again on his way back in.

Rodney yawned and looked up from the tablet, disturbed by a crackle of static over the radio. John had fallen asleep about half an hour before and, despite being awake all night, Rodney was too keyed up to fall asleep himself. It had been over three hours since their missed check in with Weller's team and Rodney was getting anxious. Despite wanting to make contact with the outside world again he was concerned about the dangers of anyone entering the complex, unsure of how structurally sound the building was.

Rodney was just about to take a mouthful of coffee when interference buzzed over the radio again, this time followed by broken words.

Rodney leaped to his feet, regardless of the fact that there was nowhere to go, reaching for his radio.

"This is Dr McKay, do you read?" He asked urgently.

"Dr. McKay? Are you and the Colonel safe?" Lorne's familiar voice came back over the radio.

"Yes, yes, we're in a lab at the rear of the complex, to the left of the main passage. Be careful though, there was an explosion and cave in so I don't know how safe the building is, or how much of the passageway came down." He explained quickly. "We're in a small room behind the lab itself, but there's no other exit. It's been around three hours since the last collapse but it's been stable since then."

There was silence on the other end and Rodney guessed that Lorne was discussing the situation with whoever else was on the rescue team.

"Dr. McKay, are you or Colonel Sheppard injured?" Trust Lorne to be the practical one, but the Major's training meant that he would assess the situation and the injuries first before making any decisions on how to proceed.

"I'm not hurt but the Colonel's got a concussion from hitting his head on the floor and a badly sprained ankle."

"Okay, we're coming in. Keep me posted if you hear any more movement."

"Yes, yes, right, I can do that," Rodney agreed.

The radio lapsed into silence again and Rodney mentally followed their progress through the complex, waiting with impatience for Lorne to report in again.

"Dr, McKay, what happened here?" Lorne swore softly a few minutes later. "It must've been one hell of an explosion, the ceiling's down from just past the intersection at the far end where the passageway splits. How far down is the lab?"

"About twenty five yards," Rodney replied. "Sounds like it's done more damage in the passage than to the lab itself."

"Right, it's going to be difficult to get through to you this way, but I have another idea. I need to go back outside and speak to Colonel Carter. Are you okay for now?"

"Yes, yes, we're fine." Rodney reassured him, his mind buzzing from the revelation of just how much rubble the rescuers would have to dig through to get to them.

"I'll be in touch shortly. Lorne out."

The silence suddenly sounded much louder to Rodney after the all too brief interaction with the outside world and looking over at John, who had slept soundly throughout the conversation, he decided it was high time to wake him once more. Plus, he knew John would want to know that their predicament had been discovered.

He squeezed John's arm gently. "John? Wake up."

"What now?" John grumbled blinking his eyes open slowly. "I still know who I am."

"Good, good. I am glad. Lorne arrived a few minutes ago. He got as far as the intersection but the ceiling's down from there onwards so there's not going to be any quick rescue. Even if the structure is sound enough they're going to need specialist equipment to shift the debris and support the remaining structure, so it could be days before they get to us."

John sighed and Rodney could see that he was getting agitated, the whole reason John had wanted to get back on the mission roster was so that it would take his mind off the recent trip back to Earth and Rodney could see that the forced inactivity was having the opposite effect, giving John too much time to think. Suddenly John turned away, screwing his face up as if in pain.

"Hey," Rodney's voice was suddenly gentle and his large hand warm on John's shoulder. "Do you need some more Tylenol?"

John shook his head, unable to speak for a moment.

"Won't do any good," he finally whispered and Rodney didn't miss the catch in his voice.

"Not a physical pain." Rodney murmured, instinct leading him to draw John into his arms without a second thought. At first John stiffened in his arms but just as quickly melted into the embrace, slumping so that all his weight was on Rodney.

They sat like that for some time, neither saying anything, content to give and receive comfort. Eventually, the radio crackled again, signaling life within the complex.

"Dr. McKay?" Lorne's voice was somehow loud in the silence.

"Sheppard here, Lorne. What's the situation out there?"

"Good to hear your voice, Sir." To John's ears, Lorne sounded almost too cheerful for a moment. "I have good news and bad news."

"Okay, just get on with it," John groaned.

"The good news is that this planet is fairly close to the edge of the Pegasus Galaxy and the Daedalus has just arrived in Pegasus. The bad news is that she's two days away but she has changed course and is heading straight for us." Lorne chuckled. "It seems that Colonel Caldwell is beginning to think that rescuing you must be somewhere in his job description, Sir."

"Son of a bitch," John grumbled. "Thanks for the update, Major, we'll be okay for a couple of days, as long as McKay can make the coffee last." He grinned at Rodney, who simply rolled his eyes, not rising to the teasing.

"Well don't let him beam us out without prior notice," Rodney warned. "There's a perfectly good ZedPM powering the facility and, luckily, it's undamaged. I really don't want to leave it behind."

"I'll give you plenty of warning. In the meantime, I'm heading back to the gate but I'm leaving SGA-8 here, they're staying camped outside the complex and will check in with you at regular intervals. We're not leaving you alone, Sir."

"Thanks, Lorne. At least we know help's on its way. Sheppard out."

John slept for most of the first day and night while Rodney read through some of the data downloaded from the database and dozed on and off. By the second day of their incarceration John was more aware, the headache having faded enough for him to pay more attention to his surroundings and it gave him too much time to think. Rodney did his best to distract him with computer games and movies but John couldn't concentrate for long before his headache increased and he became irritable, moody and listless. In the end, Rodney could think of only one thing to take John's mind of things. Squashing himself on the bench beside John, he pulled John into his arms and gently started exploring his body.

They'd removed their tac vests early on and the warmth of the break room with the door closed had led to the removal of their jackets, leaving them both in t-shirts. Leaning on one arm, Rodney slid his free hand under John's shirt, gently stroking over smooth skin and wiry chest hair.

John's eyes rolled up and he groaned when Rodney found his nipples and started to play with them. He cupped John's face gently, starting with barely-there kisses which became more passionate as their arousal increased. John dropped his head back down as they broke apart and...

"Ouch." John shouted as his sore head hit the cushion.

"Shit, shit, shit. We can't..." Rodney gasped. "How am I going to explain any more injuries?" He flipped onto his back, pulling John to him and breathing hard, feeling John's chest rising and falling rapidly in return.

They lay together in silence, willing their bodies to calm down. Eventually John fell asleep curled half on top of Rodney with his head on Rodney's shoulder and after a while, exhausted by two nights of little or no sleep, Rodney joined him in slumber.

They were both awake early the following morning, eagerly anticipating their rescue. John was a little more animated; he actually dug into his food with some enthusiasm and although he didn't finish the meal, it was more than he'd eaten the previous day. Rodney saw it as a good sign.

By mid-morning, both were restless with anticipation. Rodney started work on opening the connecting door to the lab, ready for when the time came to retrieve the ZPM.

"Weller to Colonel Sheppard," the disjointed voice came over the radio.

"Sheppard here, Sergeant," John replied, checking his watch and seeing that it was close to mid day.

"The Daedalus is in orbit, Sir. Colonel Caldwell is standing by to beam you up as soon as you have the ZPM."

"Tell him he'll need to beam us directly to the infirmary," Rodney interrupted as he packed up the last of their equipment and handed both backpacks to John. "Sheppard can't walk on his ankle."

"Will do, Dr McKay. Standing by for your signal."

"Okay, here's your P90. As soon as I remove the ZedPM the power will go off so it will be very dark, if you can shine the light at the doorway I'll be able to see the way back out to you." Rodney was all business as he bustled away before John even had time to answer.

True to his word, the facility was shortly plunged into complete darkness and John quickly switched on the light. He soon heard the sound of Rodney's footsteps and within a few seconds he appeared in the doorway and was soon beside John.

"Okay, are we ready to go?" He asked softly, helping John to his feet.

"Yeah, I've got hold of everything," John replied keying his radio. "Sheppard to Weller, tell Colonel Caldwell we're ready to be beamed up."

"Will do, Sir." Weller fell silent and within a few seconds they felt a familiar sensation and found themselves in the Daedalus' infirmary, with Rodney clutching the ZPM with one arm and John with the other.

The medical team immediately rushed forward and lifted the incapacitated Sheppard onto a gurney while Rodney was reluctantly relieved of his burden, quickly checked over and released to an impatient Colonel Caldwell for debriefing.


The Christmas party had been in full swing for over two hours, with Atlantis and Daedalus personnel mixing and circulating companionably. An unused hanger on the South East Pier had been decorated and lit up for the occasion and an area near the end of the Pier roped off where fireworks would be set off later.

John had been kept in the infirmary on the Daedalus for two days due to the concussion but had been released into Rodney's care for the remainder of the six day trip back to Atlantis. Apart from the still healing ankle and some fading bruises on his ribs John had recovered physically from his ordeal but emotionally Rodney knew he was still processing. It hadn't helped that along with the usual supplies and the ham, turkey and fireworks sent especially for the holiday the Daedalus mail run had included a thick letter from John's brother and the last time Rodney had seen the letter it was sitting unopened on the desk in John's room.

John and Rodney had mingled at the party for a while but John had made his apologies and, feigning a residual tiredness, had escaped from the crowds. Not wanting him to be alone Rodney had followed and they'd retreated to a tenth floor balcony in one of the disused towers overlooking the Pier so they could enjoy the fireworks in private.

As they sat down at the edge of the balcony John pulled the still-unopened envelope out of his pocket.

"I don't know whether to open this," he confessed quietly with a sigh. "There's a second envelope inside this one and I don't know whether I want to know what's in it or not."

Rodney bit his lip and scrutinized him carefully.

"It's your choice, but think about it, you already have regrets about your family you don't want to add another," Rodney replied softly.

"What would you do?"

Rodney reflected for a moment.

"I'd open it. If I was in your position I'd be curious to see whether it was just something from Jeannie or maybe something of my father's; after all, you didn't hang around to go through any of your father's things, maybe Dave found something he thought you should have."

John looked back down at the letter in his hands, turning it over and over before handing it to Rodney.

"You want me to open it?" Rodney asked in surprise.

John nodded silently, a look of mute appeal making him look lost and vulnerable in the dim lighting spilling out from the room behind.

Rodney took the letter and hesitated, looking at John for confirmation. John just looked back at him anxiously.

Rodney took a deep breath and slit the envelope carefully, drawing out a short letter and another envelope addressed to John in completely different handwriting. He tilted it towards John, raising an eyebrow in question.

"That's my Dad's handwriting." John replied tightly in a voice that was almost a whisper as Rodney unfolded the first letter.


I was told this would reach you by Christmas so I hope you have a good one, wherever you are. It was good to see you again and I'm glad we talked. We can't turn back the clock and do things differently, but you and I have a chance to repair the damage and I'd like to stay in touch. Please know you're always welcome here.

I found the enclosed envelope when I was going through the paperwork in Dad's bureau. John, I don't know what the letter contains. I just hope that Dad was able to put into writing what he always found so difficult to say to you directly and I hope you're able to find some resolution from it.


While Rodney had been reading John had drawn his knees up and was hugging them to his chest tightly and Rodney could feel fine tremors running through his body from where they were sitting pressed closely together. John didn't say anything so Rodney sat in silent support, running his hand in gentle circles on John's back.

Finally John relaxed and let out a soft sigh.

"I guess we should open it and see what he had to say," John commented with a weak smile.

"You ready?" Rodney held the letter up carefully, anxiety clear on his face.

John could only manage a nod, shifting even closer to Rodney. Rodney pulled his hand back long enough to open the envelope and carefully remove the folded page inside, as he did so he noticed that his hand was shaking slightly and he realized how much he wanted some kind of resolution for John.


If you're reading this then it means I died without ever managing to overcome my doubts and reach out to you. I've lost count of the times I've tried to write to you over the years but every time those doubts have stopped me, too much time has elapsed and too much damage has been done to our relationship over the years and I've been afraid you'd reject any overtures I made towards you.

John, you were always your mother's child. I fell in love with her the moment I met her and she really was the love of my life. She was a wonderful person, selfless and generous to a fault and you're so much like her, both in character and looks. When she died a part of me died with her. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you as a child; it was just so hard to look at you and see so much of her in you.

I know we never really connected and that was my fault, I should have done more after your mother's death to try and get to know you better. I should have supported and encouraged your choice of career. I know how much it means to you.

Know that I am, and always have been, proud of you Son, and I'm sorry I never told you when it would have meant something to you. I have had many regrets during my lifetime but not getting to know you and not giving you the love, support and encouragement you deserved has always been my biggest one.

I did make some enquiries recently and found out that you had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and were stationed overseas. Belated congratulations on your promotion, I do wish you well with your career and I am glad that the events of Afghanistan haven't gone against you.

I love you Son, I'm sorry that I made you doubt that and made you feel that you couldn't turn to your family or come home after Afghanistan, I wish I'd had the courage to reach out and let you know that I was there for you.

With all my love

Rodney's voice cracked as he got to the end; it had been hard reading the letter out loud, the regret of the father too afraid to reach out to a son desperate for some sign that he was loved and wanted. Rodney could feel John shaking and it was almost too much but he had to be the strong one now, John needed him.

Rodney carefully folded the letters with his free hand and slipped both into his pocket for safety before drawing John into his arms. John resisted for a brief moment but soon sank into the embrace, laying his head on Rodney's shoulder and wrapping his arms tentatively around Rodney's waist.

They sat like that for some time, with Rodney holding tightly to John and stroking soothing circles on his back. Patrick Sheppard may have had regrets, but it was John who had to live with them.

Come tomorrow he knew John would shrug it off and in the coming days and weeks he would process and put it behind him. The one good thing to come out of it was the promise of forging a relationship with his brother, it wouldn't be easy, Rodney knew that from his experience with Jeannie, but it would be worth it. But right now, John was hurting and needed Rodney's strength, support and love.

It took a while for John to calm and by the time he lay relaxed in Rodney's arms the crowds had started streaming out onto the Pier. John stirred as he heard the distant voices gathered below and shortly afterwards the engineering team from the Daedalus started letting off the fireworks, the showers of stars falling from the sky in a rain of color and light.

John sighed and wriggled slightly so he could watch the display while still curled up in Rodney's arms and Rodney held on tight.

Rockets, alternating with giant Catherine wheels and showers of golden rain, illuminated the sky and were reflected majestically in the dark waters of the ocean below. Gradually, Rodney felt John relax in his arms until all his weight was on Rodney. As the display finished, Rodney glanced down, expecting to see John asleep in his arms and was surprised to see John's eyes open and watching him.

Cupping the back of John's neck, Rodney leant down and kissed him gently, just a chaste kiss on the lips as John didn't look up to much more. John smiled back at him lazily, the sadness and exhaustion were apparent but the tension that had been there had eased.

Before the crowds below dispersed, Rodney stood and pulled John to his feet, keeping one arm around him for support as he guided him back to the transporter. With the crowds still out on the Pier they made it safely back to the living quarters without meeting anyone. By tacit agreement they headed for Rodney's quarters where they had spent each night since their return.

Once the doors had closed behind them Rodney reached for John, slowly peeling off his clothes before removing his own. John stood there, his eyes dark with need and desire and Rodney could feel the weight of John's stare as he undressed.

He reached forward, cupping John's chin and stroking along his jaw. John suddenly took control reaching in for a kiss that was angry and almost desperate before gentling. John broke away, dropping his head on Rodney's shoulder and breathing hard.

Rodney held him tight for a moment before tugging John towards the bed. He pushed John onto his back and leaned over him, mapping his body with both hands and lips, paying close attention to every bruise, mark and scar. Even after a week it still seemed unreal that John was really his. As he moved back up to kiss John he could feel his arousal and when their bodies came together it felt so right that Rodney wondered how he had ever survived without it.

As they lay together afterwards Rodney reflected on the past four years. They'd faced many losses over the years but their unshakeable faith in one another had drawn them inexorably closer and as John fell asleep in his arms Rodney realized that couldn't imagine life in Atlantis without John Sheppard.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 17th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
So glad that John gained some closure with his dad through the letter. Lovely story.
Dec. 17th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for going to the effort of writing a story for me! That was very sweet. I'm glad that John got some closure and that Rodney was able (and allowed) to be the support John needed.
Dec. 17th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
wow so much angst but thankfully John had Rodney to help him get through it and the letters from Dave and their father at the end was a nice touch, a some kind of closure for John.

Dec. 18th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
sga_newsletter: 17Dec2012
User dossier referenced to your post from sga_newsletter: 17Dec2012 saying: [...] [PG] : Shielded by the Hands of Love (2/2) [...]
Dec. 18th, 2012 05:05 am (UTC)
That was lovely and poignant
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 19th, 2012 10:36 am (UTC)
Lovely lo1vely story Santa
very nice
Dec. 22nd, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
Wonderful mix of hurt, both physical and emotional, and comfort. Loved that Rodney was the strong one for John. So poignant at the end. Enjoyed it!
Dec. 25th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC)
I'm glad John got some closure with his Dad - finally. And yay, ZPM! Very sweet story.
Dec. 26th, 2012 12:39 pm (UTC)
I loved Rodney comforting John when he most needed it ♥ It's good that John had someone there when the emotions became too much to hold inside any longer. This was such a sweet fic :)
Dec. 28th, 2012 04:15 am (UTC)
Rodney's so tender with John. It's nice seeing this softer side of him.
Dec. 31st, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that Rodney persuaded John he needed to read the letters, or have them read to him; and that he knows the his father loved him. Nice story.
Jan. 1st, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
I really like that Rodney got everything he wanted (a romantic relationship with John and a ZPM) and he put both of them aside to make sure John got what he needed. Your Rodney is a mensch.
Jan. 2nd, 2013 01:36 am (UTC)
A lovely story - Rodney is wonderful in this! :-D
Jan. 3rd, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
My dad died in November, so this story was very poignant for me. I love that Rodney is there for John and that John lets him in. Very moving story.
Jan. 5th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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