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Title: Keepsakes
Author: taste_is_sweet
Recipient: starbuckssue
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: Approx. 11,500
Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis does not belong to me.
Author's Notes: Ms. Sue of the Stars asked for a McShep in something episode related with lots of angst and hurt/comfort and a happy ending. She also wanted Team Sheppard friendship set in Atlantis/Pegasus. This is also for the 'Theft' prompt for my hc_bingo card (which is here).

This is an AU, but definitely episode related. And I can certainly promise you Teamy friendship, McShep, angst, H/C and a happy ending. I hope it's at least close to what you wanted. :)

Summary: Rodney looked confused, then angry. "It's not a cage," he said, like she'd insulted him. "It's a habitat. They'll be a pond--fresh water--and trees, and--"

"John had very specific wishes about what should happen to him if he couldn't be cured, Rodney," Elizabeth said.

( Keepsakes - Part One of Two )

But he still did the experiment.

John snatched up Teyla's scarf and Ronon's arm cuff as readily as he'd taken Rodney's mug and pillows. He took Zelenka's mug as well after Rodney pilfered it out of the lab, but then left it on the ground next to his rocks, as if it didn't rate the full run-off-and-hide-it treatment. John grabbed but then dropped the water bottle Lorne had forgotten at a staff meeting, but he bounded off with the Sharpie Rodney borrowed out of Elizabeth's desk drawer.

He didn't touch anything of Carson's, no matter how close Rodney placed it to the bars. Rodney wondered if somewhere, deep down, John was still angry. Rodney couldn't blame him.

John took one of the baseball caps that Aiden had left behind. That got hidden, too.

But Rodney didn't tell Elizabeth or Caldwell or Carson about it, because Ronon and Teyla were right: it didn't prove anything more than maybe John preferred certain people's scents. Lots of animals did that.

It didn't stop Rodney from bringing more things for John though. Like his second- and third-favorite mugs or the fork he'd used at lunch or the ugly cream and blue colored expedition jacket he hadn't worn since he was issued the nicer grey one. He liked watching the video feed later, of John taking the little gifts and running off with them. Rodney made sure to put everything right next to the hole in the shield, so John wouldn't get hurt.

He was sure John had no idea that Rodney was deliberately leaving things for him, but John seemed to enjoy it anyway, in whatever manner he could. John was content, and Rodney was happy for him.

Strangely, that was good enough.

And then came the day that Rodney decided they all must've lost their collective minds somewhere in space. Because Major Lorne brought back a stasis pod during a routine surveillance mission that promptly zapped Elizabeth with the brainwaves of a real-life Sleeping Beauty who 'just wanted to kiss her darling husband one last time'. And not only did Rodney buy that load of bullshit hook, line and sinker, but he practically shoved Lorne into the darling husband's brain-zapping beam to let Beauty do it.

Only for everything to go to shit a second after their liplock, when it turned out that they weren't devoted husband and wife but enemy soldiers from a long-forgotten war. Enemy soldiers who loathed each other so much, that they were willing to destroy both their stolen bodies and the entirety of Atlantis, just to wrap their lying hands around each other's lying neck.

And now Thalen--the vindictive fucker who'd taken over Lorne--had gotten into the Power Room and shot up the main generator and the Naqahdah backups and blacked out the whole city.

The dark Power Room felt especially closed-in and oppressive, even with Rodney's flashlight and two Marines guarding the door. It wasn't just the darkness or the two psychopaths gleefully hunting each other, though. It was how very aware Rodney was of their exact level of helplessness until he could fix the control system for the ZPM. They had no lights, no communications, no sensors, and no shields.

No shields. Like the one surrounding John's habitat. And without it he might be strong enough to get out.

Rodney tried not to think about that: John running amok in the city. Who John might hurt. Who might hurt him.

Rodney grimaced at the handful of frayed wires in his hand, mentally counting down the minutes it would take him to reconnect enough of them to bring the city back online. Too long. It always took too long.

Major Evan Lorne was a good choice for a body, though his voiceless screaming was annoyingly loud. Phebus had outdone herself. She'd always been a fantastic liar.

Of course, she wasn't as bright as she liked to think she was, otherwise why cajole someone in such good condition and with such expert tactical knowledge into harboring Thalen's consciousness? It would've been far more expedient to get him put into the screeching coward of a scientist with such lousy aim. She could've killed him before he'd managed to get out of the room.

Thalen grinned to himself. Then again, he could've killed her just as easily, instead of indulging himself in that kiss and then running.

Evan--I can call you that, right, Evan? Since we've become so close?--called what he and Phebus were doing 'playing hide and seek'. It was evidentially an idiotic child's game, but Thalen agreed the name worked well enough.

Olly, olly, oxenfree! Thalen sing-songed in his head, just to hear Evan's furious growl in return. Are you ashamed that I know everything, Evan? Maybe I should turn my radio on and tell Colonel Caldwell about you and Dr. Parrish. Think he'd be interested? That's unbelievably unprofessional, by the way, fucking your subordinate. You would've been shot, if you were under my command.

Thalen's grin widened at Evan's helpless rage, though he didn't let himself get distracted. Phebus was stupid, but she was damn persistent. And if the women whose body she stole knew the city as well as Evan did, then it was likely she would've come down here to find him--

There was a very faint sound, like metal scraping metal.

Thalen whirled, gun up and firing with Evan's excellent reflexes. Only it hadn't been Phebus, standing behind him.

Thalen didn't know what the fuck it was, except that it was silvery-blue in the dark and looked like a cross between a spiny lizard and a man. Evan's brain was a useless mess of shock and revulsion and guilt and sympathy and hatred and anger and fear. Some of it was aimed at Thalen and some of it was aimed at the monster, but none of it made enough sense for Thalen to have the first clue what the hell he'd just shot at.

But it was fast. Thalen had never seen anything twist out of the way of bullets, which ended up grazing streaks across the monster's belly instead of perforating him. Thalen was still firing when it ripped the P90 out of his hands. Then it grabbed him around the neck and lifted him off the floor.

Evan was yelling, Sheppard! Sheppard, no! but he needed oxygen just as much as Thalen did, and Thalen didn't have enough air to speak. He clutched uselessly at the fingers squeezing his throat and he could feel claws stabbing into him, blood dripping down. It itched.

He couldn't breathe. Whatever this Sheppard thing was, it was going to kill him. Wouldn't Phebus be pissed about that?

The thought had barely rolled through his slowing mind when he dimly heard more gunfire, and then a sound like a hissing scream and then suddenly he was on the floor and he could breathe again.

Phebus was standing over his body; protective as a mama...bear? Thank you, Evan. Protective as a mama bear with her cub, chasing the thing away with a stream of bullets. And Thalen wished he had enough air to laugh, because of course Phebus would be so petty that she'd take on a lizard creature right out of a nightmare just to make sure she got to kill Thalen herself.

He'd dropped his gun and his head was swimming so badly from the oxygen deprivation that he could barely move. But Thalen was still able to give Phebus his best 'fuck you' grin with Evan's mouth, just to watch her smug expression blacken to rage.

"You only got me because of Sheppard," he croaked. "And you'll go to your grave knowing that."

"Maybe." Phebus lifted her gun. "But I still got you."

The burst of light crackled over her just as she fired, but her hands jerked so the bullet ricocheted off the floor next to his ear instead of going through his head. Phebus' knees buckled and Thalen watched in grim satisfaction as she crumpled to the floor.

Two Marines thundered up, followed by McKay and Beckett, but Thalen didn't hear what McKay yelled at him because right then the convulsions began.

Thalen died shaking and in terrible pain, but at least that bitch Phebus didn't win. And his legacy would be whatever time she had left to live with that.

"Where's Sheppard? Where is he? What have you done to him?" Rodney demanded, then jerked backwards when Evan began convulsing. "Carson, what's going on?"

"He's having a hypoxic seizure. Give him room!" Carson shouted, and then dropped to his knees to cradle Evan's head as best he could so the poor lad wouldn't bash his brains out against the floor. Carson hit his radio, calling in the medical emergency. Then he looked at Rodney. "Is there anything round here we can use to give him oxygen?"

"Does this look like an emergency room?" Rodney retorted. Carson ignored it. He was well used to how snappy Rodney got when he was anxious, and even as he spoke Rodney was obviously looking for some means to help. "Maybe a window...?"

"I think he's coming around," said one of the Marines. She had her stunner aimed at Elizabeth.

Evan finally went still. Carson immediately tried to roll him into the recovery position, but Evan pushed his hands away and sat up, squinting at the flashlight beam Rodney was aiming at him. "Ow," he said hoarsely, rubbing his throat.

Instantly the boy Marine had his stunner up and aimed at him. "Please back away, doctor. We don't know who he is."

"I'm me, Sergeant," Evan said. He coughed. "Thalen's dead. That's what the convulsions were--him dying." He looked up at Rodney. "I think Sheppard saved my life. If he hadn't found Thalen first, Phebus probably would have." He coughed again and grimaced. "I'm sorry I shot him."

"It wasn't you," Rodney said, but he was distracted by the fat drops of red on the floor, and how they made a trail leading away until they disappeared in the dark.

"With all due respect, Dr. McKay, we don't know that yet," the female Marine said.

Predictably, Rodney ignored the Marine. He tapped his radio. "Caldwell? Yeah, this is McKay. No, the power isn't fixed yet, or the lights would be on. We got a little distracted by Thalen and Phebus attacking each other in the corridor. And we're still waiting on a medical team, by the way. Yes, they're contained. Didn't you just hear that from Carson?"

Carson sighed and went over to Elizabeth to check her pulse, but as he'd assumed she was fine. He helped the Marine guarding her to lay her out more comfortably on the floor, and only winced a little bit when she insisted on cuffing Elizabeth's wrists and ankles. Better safe than sorry, and all that.

Rodney had gone from terse to all-out shouting now. "Sheppard's wounded! And he might be scared, and hurt someone--" Rodney grimaced. "Or, yes. Eat someone. Fine. But the point is, that we need to find him!"

Carson helped Evan sit leaning against the nearest wall, and Evan stoically put up with having his wrists and ankles cuffed as well.

Meanwhile Rodney huffed air furiously through Caldwell's answer before he clearly couldn't contain himself. "Zelenka can do that! Hell, a trained monkey can do that! I know he's trapped in his quarters! Just cut through the damn door!" He barred his teeth at whatever Caldwell replied. "What part of my saying he is wounded did you not get? He could be dying right now! Don't tell me that doesn't make finding him a priority!

"NO!" Rodney roared so loudly that Carson and even the Marine lad jumped. "No, we cannot wait until after the power is restored to start searching for him! And he's NOT MY FUCKING PET, you son of a bitch! Go ahead! We'll see how much General O'Neill thinks of you treating Colonel Sheppard like some disposable lab rat! Well, get this, Colonel--HE'S NOT DISPOSABLE!"

Rodney yanked his radio out of his ear and threw it at the ground hard enough that it bounced before skidding into the wall. He glared at all of them, his hands shaking with anger.

"I'm going to fix the power," Rodney said, with the tight-lipped control of someone who would likely much rather be screaming bloody murder. He stalked away.

"God, what a mess." Evan closed his eyes and tilted his head back until it clunked against the wall. "I--Thalen--only grazed him. It was Phebus who did the real damage."

"He heals incredibly quickly. I'm certain he'll be just fine," Carson said, though he wasn't certain of that in the least. It didn't look like Phebus had hit any arteries, but there was still a great deal of blood.

He dearly hoped Rodney was able to get the power restored soon.

Caldwell actually kept his word and set up a search for John as soon as Rodney had the power back online, which might've meant he had a speck of decency buried somewhere under that rod up his ass, but didn't stop Rodney from regretting every time he'd defended the man for any reason whatsoever.

But they couldn't find John.

Oh, sure, they had no problem spotting his lifesign on the biometric sensor. The problem was that as soon as anyone got near him he vanished; disappearing along the ceiling or down a corridor or through a hole in the wall in one of the more run-down sections of the city. It reminded Rodney of that awful story of the poor cat who got lost at the airport, and how badly that had ended. And John was still bleeding.

This went on for two days.

At first Rodney had hoped John would go back to his habitat if they left the shield off and the door open, but he didn't. Even another one of Ronon's yummy deer-things wasn't enough to lure him back. John didn't hurt anyone--thank God--but that might've just been because he didn't get close enough to anyone to attack them. John only existed as a white dot on a digital map of the city, as intangible and elusive as a ghost.

When Rodney had been searching for 48 hours straight, Jennifer Keller finally gave him the choice of sleeping in his quarters or the infirmary. Rodney chose his quarters.

The most recent information he had on the search was that Ronon and Teyla had almost caught John in one of the cargo bays, but then John had escaped them by scrambling straight up a wall. Ronon told Rodney that they could've still stunned him, but John had climbed so high so quickly that they were worried the fall would kill him.

Rodney, who was sick with worry and exhaustion and had an aching head full of terrified, starving cats, had snapped at them that they should've risked it anyway.

Teyla had calmly told him to go to bed and stay the hell off the radio until the next morning.

He slapped listlessly at his door panel and lurched miserably inside and turned on the lights. Then stopped, blinking at the mess.

The doors that led out to his balcony, which were paneled with extremely hard to break Ancient glass, had been broken. There were shards all over the floor. Everything that had been on his desk was on the floor, too. One tablet seemed to be mostly intact, but the other was lying face up, with the smart glass shattered like it'd been stepped on. His desk chair was on its side, with stuffing leaking forlornly out of rips in the cloth. It looked like almost everything in his closet had been yanked out of the drawers or off the hangers. Most of it was on the floor with all the other debris. Some of it was on top of his expensive prescription mattress, which had been dragged off the bed to lean against the nearest wall like a lopsided A-frame. What was left of his hypoallergenic duvet cover and bed sheets had been stuffed inside and piled up in front of it. Like a den.

Rodney swallowed. "John?" he called tentatively into the quiet room. Other than the sound of the ocean, it was so quiet that Rodney could hear his own rapid breathing. He took two tentative steps further inside, absently making sure the door had shut and locked behind him. "John? Are you in here?"

His only answer was the faint rustling of moving cloth.

There were large splotches and smears of blood all over the place, dried to rusty brown. So many that Rodney kept stepping in them as he walked closer to the bundle of cloth next to his bed.

Rodney tapped his radio as he slowly hunkered down. "Teyla, Ronon, I think I've found Sheppard," he said, keeping his voice as low and calm as possible, considering he wanted to yell and then maybe throw up. "Yeah--he's in my quarters. Please do not come charging in here. I don't want him to run away again. He seems to be hurt pretty badly." A small circle of blood had soaked through the bundled sheets. "Sure, Ronon. You can break in if you hear me screaming. I'll keep in touch. Rodney out."

Rodney was on his knees now, with one hand on the floor. He turned off his radio and crept forward, forcing himself to move as slowly as possible even though all he wanted to do was grab the nearest handful of cloth and yank it away from the filthy black tufts of hair he could see sticking up behind the ramparts of bed linen

"John?" he said again, slowly reaching for the duvet. "It's me, Rodney. I just want to see if you're all right. Please don't kill me." He finally got a hold of the blanket and carefully pulled it away.

John was huddled at the very back of his makeshift shelter, wedged into the corner he'd made where the mattress touched the side and back walls. He was clutching his side with his knees drawn up, so pale blue he was almost white, and shivering violently though the night air was warm. He was wearing Rodney's orange fleece; Rodney hadn't thought John had enough intelligence anymore to even find it, let alone to figure out how to put it on.

John hissed at him. The light of the room reflected in his yellow eyes.

"John." Rodney swallowed. "John, will you let me look at you, please? You're hurt, and we've all been really worried about you."

John he stayed tucked into the corner at the back of his little den, watching Rodney's every move. He had his mouth open, panting in fear.

"It's okay, John," Rodney said. "It's okay. You're safe. No one's going to hurt you again." He slowly reached towards him, wanting to touch John's arm or face, to make some kind of rapport he could use to get John to come to him. "I'm just going to touch you, that's all." Rodney kept talking. "I'm not going to hurt you..."

John snarled.

Rodney snatched his hand back. "Sorry!" he said softly. "Sorry. Okay, I won't do that again."

Rodney had never owned lizards, and John was supposedly more insect-like anyway. But Rodney also knew that John was still genetically very much a mammal, and at a certain point he figured that all warm-blooded animals responded the same. And Rodney had seen cats that acted like this--the ones he'd coaxed out from between dumpsters or out from under cars; the ones who were hurt or sick or dying.

The thought was terrifying, and he almost radioed Colonel Caldwell to beg him for a squad or Marines and their Wraith stunners. But Rodney could imagine the aftermath: John might get his wound repaired, but he'd never trust Rodney again.

"Please, John," Rodney said. "You came here so I would help you, didn't you? So please, let me help you. Please?"

He was sure that on some level, John knew that Rodney wouldn't hurt him, but he was in too much pain to overcome his instinctive fear. He would only stay hunched in the back of his shelter, watching everything Rodney did.

"Damn it," Rodney muttered. He sat back on his haunches, moving slowly so John wouldn't get any more scared than he already was. "This isn't working. And you're definitely too big to grab by the scruff of the neck." He glanced worriedly at the bloodstain on the duvet, but at least it didn't look any larger.

"All right," Rodney said. He bit his lip, thinking furiously. "You won't let me come in there, and I can't force you to come out, so..."

Rodney remembered at the last moment that he probably shouldn't snap his fingers. He climbed to his feet, careful to move slowly and not get too close to the den. He went to his bathroom, walking slowly so he wouldn't break his neck on any of the junk on the floor. On the way he grabbed the tablet John hadn't crushed.

In the bathroom he turned on the overhead light to the dimmest possible setting. He left the door open. Then he turned on the hot water in the bath, keeping the drain open, and let it run. Then he sat down on the floor. And waited.

The room warmed up very quickly as it filled with steam. Rodney could see clouds of it billowing out into his bedroom. His started sweating, his shirt sticking uncomfortably in the damp heat, making it too unpleasant to work on his tablet. And he didn't even want to think about how much power it was costing the city to heat and recycle the water. But he didn't get up and he left the water running.

According to his tablet, twelve minutes passed before John slowly poked his head around the doorway.

Rodney's heart did a painful little convulsion in his chest, but he barely glanced up at John and then pointedly kept his eyes on his tablet, pretending to pay no attention at all as John slowly crept into the room.

Even with the one glance, Rodney could see that John moved awkwardly, obviously favoring his hurt side. Blood had soaked through the fleece, dying it dark red-orange. It was all Rodney could do to stay where he was and not reach for John, but he was worried any movement at all would scare him off. Rodney really didn't think John could survive another two days scrambling through the city.

So Rodney kept his eyes down and his body still, trying to halo himself with an aura of peace and calm, which was ironic enough to have been hilarious in other circumstances. He was trying so hard that when he felt the touch on his thigh he almost hit the ceiling.

John lurched back from him and Rodney froze completely, terrified that John would run. But after a minute of tense stillness, John slowly uncoiled and inched forward again.

This time Rodney barely dared to breathe when John touched him again, or lay down with his head on Rodney's leg. It was hard to tell with John's thick, extremely messy hair in the way, but Rodney thought that maybe John closed his eyes.

Rodney swallowed. "Hey, John," he said, very softly. He carefully eased the tablet onto the floor on his other side, trying very hard not to move too much. John was lying on his right side, so that his wounded left side had no pressure on it. "That looks like it hurts--can I look at it, please? I just want to see how bad it is, that's all." He pretended that John's lack of response meant he didn't mind, and picked up a loose fold of the fleece top.

John hissed.

Rodney jerked his hand away. "Okay, no touching." He put his hand behind his back. "But I don't understand--why didn't you eat anyone to heal yourself? There's a deer-thing in your habitat. Why didn't you go back there? Or were you planning on eating Lorne when Phebus shot you? Is that it?"

John shifted, throwing his arms around Rodney's waist. Rodney goggled. "Are you here to eat me?"

"No," John said.

"Oh, good," Rodney said on a breath. "Because nothing you've done since the shield went down really makes any...Oh my God! Did you just talk to me?"

John did some kind of nuzzling, cat head-butt thing on Rodney's stomach.

"John?" Rodney's voice was so small the word barely escaped his mouth. He hesitated, then steeled himself for disaster and put his hand on John's head.

John sighed. "R'dne."

"Oh my God," Rodney said again. He felt like some plucked string inside him had finally stretched beyond its elastic limit and snapped. He felt like some gigantic weight on him had fallen away, and he was slingshot-ing into space without it. "Oh my God, John!" He curled over John, squeezing his eyes shut and trying to breathe without each exhale becoming an explosive sob. Rodney had never known that relief could hurt, but this was so big, so much at once that it felt like agony.

The palm of John's hand thumped on his leg; one of John's typical sympathy pats, only strong enough to leave bruises. Rodney didn't care. "God, I'm so stupid. I'm so stupid, I'm sorry. You were trying to find me, weren't you? That's why you didn't go back. You wanted my help." He scrubbed at one eye with the ball of his thumb. "I didn't know. I didn't think you..." He gulped. "I didn't think you remembered me."

John took his wrist, pulling Rodney's hand away from his face. He was surprisingly gentle, considering his claws and his strength. He brought Rodney's palm in front of his face, then did his open-mouth sniffing thing. "R'dne," he said again, then licked a slimy line from Rodney's wrist to his fingers.

Rodney snorted a wet, incredulous laugh. "Did you just lick me?"

"Mmm," John said. He tried to sit up, then sucked in a breath and clutched his side.

"Oh, no, no. Don't do that! You're wounded!" Rodney put his hand on John's shoulder, gently holding him down. John let him. "Hang on. I'm radioing for help."

He turned his radio to his team's channel. "Teyla, Ronon--It's okay, you can come in now. Yes, yes, he's hurt. He needs a medical team. But, guys?" Rodney's voice cracked. He had to clear his throat to talk over the sound of the still-running water. "He's here. John spoke to me. He's right here."

John walked into Rodney's quarters with a cardboard box in his arms. Rodney turned in his desk chair to watch as he crossed the room to let the box thump down on top of the bed.

"I think the Goodwill is two corridors down," Rodney said, grinning. He'd been grinning a lot, recently.

John didn't grin. He smiled, but it seemed uncertain. The real tell though was how he absently rubbed at the crook of his right arm, where there was a small, blue-grey scar. He only did that when he was upset or nervous. "I figured I should return your stuff," he said.

Rodney's grin slid right off his face. He got up and came over to the bed. He looked at all the neatly-arranged knickknacks in the box, then at John. "Why?"

John shrugged. He rubbed the back of his neck. "Because it's yours?" He jerked his chin at it. "Go ahead."

Rodney looked at John again, then picked up the box and dumped the contents on the bed. Out tumbled Teyla's scarf and Rodney's mugs and jacket and pillows--those were somewhat worse for wear--and Elizabeth's sharpie and Ronon's cuff and even Zelenka's mug. Rodney wouldn't've been surprised if John had included Evan's half-empty bottle of water.

"You're giving everything back?"

John shrugged, though he kept looking at the objects and avoiding Rodney's eyes. "Well, I only have this stuff because I stole it, right?"

"No," Rodney said slowly. He saw Aiden's cap brim peeking out from underneath his jacket, and for some reason that made him angry. "You have this stuff because we gave it to you." He winced, thinking of Zelenka's mug and the sharpie. "Well, maybe not everything, but--"

John huffed out an annoyed breath. "Teyla and Ronon wouldn't take their things back either." He put his hands on his hips, glaring down at the items like they'd offended him. "I don't get it. I cleaned them!" He turned his glare on Rodney. "I had these things for what? Three weeks? And now they're not good enough for you anymore?"

"Well, why aren't they good enough for you?" Rodney retorted. "What part of we gave them to you don't you understand?"

"You didn't give them to me!" John shouted. "You gave...you put them out for that thing in there to make off with. That wasn't me!"

"Of course that was you," Rodney snapped. "It was you who got sick and basically died on us! And we gave you these stupid gifts because it made you happy and it let us pretend for a few minutes that you weren't completely gone!" Maybe he shouldn't have been yelling, but fuck it. He figured he was entitled. "It was the only thing we could do for you, John! That and the stupid habitat! We missed you so damn much..." He had to stop and clench his jaw until it didn't hurt to talk again. Then he gestured at the objects still scattered on the bed. "So don't be such a selfish prick, and keep the fucking things!"

John blinked. Then he smirked. "Normally it's the other way around."

Rodney crossed his arms, glowering. "Way to miss the point, Sheppard."

"I didn't miss the point. Really," John said. He picked up Aiden's cap, smoothing his fingers over the brim. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," Rodney said. He rolled his eyes. "Only you would need to be convinced to keep a present."

John smirked again, though there wasn't much humor in it. "Yeah, probably." He put Aiden's cap down gently on the bed, then quirked an eyebrow at Rodney. "You really missed me, huh?"

"Of course I did," Rodney picked up his jacket and irritably folded it. "Why else would I spend hours sitting on a cold floor in a dark room just so you could sun yourself and blink at me every two minutes?"

John picked up Teyla's scarf and started folding it as well. "Those rocks were awesome."

Rodney grinned. "I knew you'd like them." He frowned at his jacket, shook it out and started folding it again.

John looked at him, surprised. "You put those rocks in there for me?"

Rodney snorted. "Who do you think designed your habitat?" He gave up on the jacket and left it crumpled on the bed. John could hang it up. "But I thought you said you didn't remember anything."

"I said I barely remember it, not that it's all gone." John folded Ronon's arm cuff and put it in next to the scarf. "You really designed that whole thing for me?"

"No," Rodney said flatly. "I designed it for the other Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard who turned into a lizard bug. Yes, John," he added with exaggerated patience. "I designed the habitat for you."

"Thank you," John said, very seriously. "I remember the rocks, and the pond." He grinned a little. "The pond was great." He put Aiden's hat into the box as carefully as if it were a priceless artifact. "And thanks for...hanging out there. I remember feeling...comfortable, being next to you."

Rodney shrugged to hide how ridiculously happy that made him. "Well, it was a lot quieter than in the lab. It's amazing how much work I could get done with you non-verbal."

John raised his eyebrows. "I thought you just said you missed me."

"I did miss you," Rodney said. "I sat on my very hard bathroom floor letting you crush me and slather me with bug spit while I nearly died of heat prostration--If that's not undying devotion, I don't know what is."

He'd started it as a joke, but by the time he finished what he was saying, he was sure it was painfully obvious how much he'd meant it.

John licked his lips. "Me neither," he said, voice rough.

"Yes, well," Rodney said, uncomfortable with the sudden intensity of John's gaze. "You could probably say the same thing about you scrambling through the city for two days while you were slowly bleeding to death."

"Yeah," John said. "You could." He stepped closer, wrapping his hand around Rodney's.

"John?" Rodney asked. He looked at his hand, held tight but gently in John's, then up at John's face. "What are you doing?"

"I wasn't trying to find you because I needed your help, Rodney," John said. And then he lifted Rodney's hand to his mouth and deliberately placed a chaste kiss on the palm.

Rodney blinked at their joined hands, his eyes wide with shock. "Seriously?"

John nodded, then abruptly dropped Rodney's hand and stepped back. "I'm sorry. That was out of line. I won't--"

"Are you kidding me?" Rodney exclaimed. He closed the distance between them, grabbed John's head and pulled him in to a kiss. John wrapped his arms tight around Rodney, and the sound of relief and want that came out of John's throat took Rodney's breath with it.

When Rodney drew back, John's eyes were bright and he was smiling in a way that Rodney hadn't seen since before John got infected with the retrovirus. "Yeah?"

"Yeah, you idiot." Rodney grinned back at him. "Do you think I'd give my first expedition jacket to just anyone?"

"Cool." John started nuzzling Rodney's neck in a way that was very similar to when he was still lizardy and hugging Rodney in the bathroom. "I should give you mine, then."

Rodney kissed John for that, because there really wasn't any way he could say what he was thinking without horribly embarrassing them both. "But you're giving me my orange fleece back, right?" He asked when they broke apart again. "Because you did actually steal that."

"Yes I did," John said happily. "It smelled like you."

"Oh. Well, that's sweet. I think," Rodney said. "But, you're giving it back, right?"

"Nope," John said, just as happily. "It's mine." He tugged Rodney closer. "I'll keep you warm."

Rodney rolled his eyes and John laughed like that was exactly the answer he wanted.

Rodney couldn't help laughing too, because John's laugh was so loud and ridiculous and Rodney had missed it--Rodney had missed John--so very, very much. And when John, still chuckling, pulled him in for another kiss of course Rodney let him.

And if John really wanted the orange fleece... Well, Rodney decided he could live with that.



( 69 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 20th, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this! A nice take on bug!John, and how Rodney can't say goodbye and convinces Elizabeth. With bonus orange fleece :)
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :D The idea that of course Rodney would want to make John a habitat came to me a few years ago, but I couldn't think of where to take it until recently. I'm really glad you enjoyed the story. And of course I couldn't resist the orange fleece. ;->
Dec. 20th, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
OH wow, that was really great. Lots of angst and a happy ending. Wonderful.
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
Dec. 21st, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
Thank you Santa, I adored this. I loved the way Rodney stuck up for John against Elizabeth and the creation of the habitat was just inspired, of course he would have plenty of volunteers to help build it!
The way Rodney sat down there with John and talked to him was so Rodney and the little gifts were so sweet.
I really enjoyed my story, plenty of angst, hurt and comfort and with the happy ending.
With my little cat seriously ill in hospital this was just what I needed to cheer me up:)
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:43 pm (UTC)
You are very, very welcome, Starbucks. :D I'm so glad that I was able to write something that was what you wanted, and offered a bit of cheer with your poor kitty sick. I really hope that he or she is okay!
Dec. 21st, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Oh, a lovely story for Christmas!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D I'm happy you enjoyed it.
Dec. 21st, 2012 01:59 am (UTC)
This was really touching!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you! What a lovely thing to hear. :D
Dec. 21st, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
A very excellent Bug!John story. I enjoyed it immensely!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D
Dec. 21st, 2012 04:43 am (UTC)
SGA Newsletter - December 20, 2012
User neevebrody referenced to your post from SGA Newsletter - December 20, 2012 saying: [...] : Keepsakes (Part 2 of 2) (McKay/Sheppard, PG13) [...]
Dec. 21st, 2012 06:37 am (UTC)
I have always had a kink for BugJohn and your take on the subject was very enjoyable. Excellent characterizations, and your Rodney was the loyal friend that I believe him to be. Lovely.
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :D I believe that Rodney's exactly the kind of loyal friend that you do; I'm so happy that he and the other characters resonated with you.
Dec. 21st, 2012 08:29 am (UTC)
Wonderful! And it's so great to have such a different take on bug!John. Really enjoyable!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D
Dec. 21st, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
Orange fleece! It made an appearance! :D This was awesome!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
LOL! Thank you. :D It seemed too perfect an addition to leave out.
Dec. 21st, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
Awww! That was so sweet. Lovely story!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! <3
Dec. 21st, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)

Gorgeous! I love this spin on the Bug John trope, like a walk down memory lane to the good old days of SGA. :) And, the addition of John taking the fleece for comfort made me smile like a madwoman. Loved it!
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. :D I actually started this story years ago but somehow couldn't figure out where to go with it until now, but I always loved that episode and I was really happy for the opportunity to explore another way it could have gone. I'm glad you enjoyed it and had fun with the fleece part too. I just had to include that. ;->
Dec. 22nd, 2012 02:54 am (UTC)
OMG, I just adore this story Santa. Loved the teamyness and Rodney who knows all about coaxing wild and wary cats especaily when they've been turned into a bug. Especailly loved how Rodney just knew all the things John would need for his habitat
Santa You're awesome
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:53 pm (UTC)
...Rodney who knows all about coaxing wild and wary cats especaily when they've been turned into a bug.

LOL. That's just perfect, yeah. :D

Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. <3
(no subject) - scarlettandblue - Jan. 7th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 22nd, 2012 11:48 am (UTC)
Oh, this is fantastic. I absolutely love your take on the bug!John trope. Rodney building John a habitat because he refuses to let him die, and then all of the gifts because he still just wants John to be happy kind of hit me in the gut in the best way.

I really enjoyed this.
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. It's interesting, but I hadn't thought about Rodney's habitat as being a form of denial, though in a way it is, isn't it? At least in how Rodney's refusing to let John go.

I'm really glad you enjoyed the story, and I really appreciate your comment. :D
Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:14 am (UTC)
Enjoyed this as character study, team fiction, and romance. It also integrated the original SGA episodes smoothly and cleverly.
Jan. 6th, 2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
(no subject) - fanficfan123 - Jan. 8th, 2013 02:35 am (UTC) - Expand
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( 69 comments — Leave a comment )


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