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Fic: Sheppard's Rib (McKay/Sheppard, Teen)

Title: Sheppard's Rib
Author: -- that_which
Recipient: -- scarlettandblue
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: Teen and up, for non-explicit discussion of sex
Author's Notes: -- This is for scarlettandblue, who requested hurt/comfort and Rodney+John=lurve. It's not a Harlequin, but it is a McKay/Sheppard take on the surprisingly combative classic Tracy and Hepburn movie Adam's Rib, where a married couple of lawyers find themselves on opposite sides of a battle of the sexes in (and out of) court. Because John and Rodney married would still be John and Rodney. I truly hope it's something like what you were looking for.
Summary: Sometimes, John and Rodney forget whose side they're on.


--


For just a moment, John basked in the warm glow of a job well done, sitting at the breakfast table in their quarters with the sun shining through the window and happy food porn noises coming from Rodney, who was plowing through a huge plate of french toast and bacon with a smudge of powdered sugar, unnoticed, on his nose.

That was a good moment. And then Rodney started talking.

"I don't know how you managed this, but right at this moment I am even more glad I married you than usual."

"I'll be sure to take your gratitude out in trade."

Rodney beamed. "I'll take that deal."

Like shooting fish in a barrel, John thought smugly.

"As long as it involves sexual favors, or possibly intimate massage. If this is about Dr. Doors, then I'm afraid my answer is still no, or possibly unequivocally no, hell no, or not in this lifetime."

Not for the first time, it occurred to John how very much easier it would be to be married to someone wasn't a genius. He sighed, also not for the first time.

"Rodney, I can't press charges against Doors because he's a civilian, and Woolsey isn't willing to press charges against Doors because he works for you. I need you to sign off on this so I can get the process started."

"Oddly enough, Colonel, that was actually clear to me. And since I haven't been able to convince you to let this thing drop, I'm exercising my veto. Not happening."

"Unfortunately, Doctor, your scientist assaulted my marine. Lt. Attinger spent the night in the infirmary under observation for a concussion because her head hit the ground when Doors tackled her."

"That was clear to me as well. The part which seems to have escaped you is that Doors is on that team representing the scientists, and when one of the scientists tells you not to touch the Ancient device, you don't touch the Ancient device. The same Ancient device, might I add, which energy readings indicated might be unstable, and which could have done significant damage to the team if it had exploded."

"Which your report said there were no signs it was likely to do. There was no imminent danger, Rodney, There were other ways Doors could have handled the situation."

"I'm not going to second guess one of my scientists if he felt that was the only way he could protect his team from the marine with the black belt and the gun who was refusing to listen to his entirely correct warning about the very, very stupid thing she was trying to do."

By this time, they were both standing and glaring at each other, breathing heavily, fists clenched.

"You're sure you're on the high ground here, McKay? Let's let Woolsey decide who's right."

"Woolsey has decided. He decided to let me make the decision."

"No, Woolsey decided not to subject the military population of this base to cold showers and malfunctioning transporters for the foreseeable future by doing the right thing. He doesn't think you're right. He thinks you've got hostages. Which is what you're counting on."

And there it was, the full-force wounded pride of the challenged McKay.

"Right. Fine. We'll each make our case to Woolsey and let him decide which he values more, the lives of brilliant scientists or the pride of poorly-trained junior officers."

Round one: internal bleeding all around. There were definitely victories in his life that had made John feel more like he won.

--

For the sake of damage control, Woolsey insisted on a private meeting. Not long after it started he stopped trying to get a word in edgewise. Not for the first time with McKay and Sheppard involved, he was extremely grateful for ancient soundproofing.

"I can't have my officers being assaulted because someone on their team disagrees with a judgment call."

"The phrase "judgment call" suggests to me that there was some judgment used. Attinger had no reason to believe that what she was trying to do was safe, and she had a trained scientist telling her it wasn't. I'm not going to ask my scientists to be put at risk because some grunt with an undergraduate degree decides not to listen to their informed opinions."

John froze, and then switched to his Colonel voice.

"The grunt has been scheduled for refresher training in Pegasus procedures with Lorne as soon as she recovers from her concussion. She's still around to do that because the wraith or the Genii or predatory Pegasus wildlife didn't show up to attack the team she's there to protect with her life while she was suffering from a concussion."

Rodney's face was turning a very unhealthy color.

"She's also still around to do that because she wasn't blown up by an Ancient device, taking her team with her."

"You're assuming that the only way Doors could have stopped her was to put her in the infirmary. He could have pulled her away, or stepped between her and the device."

"My people are taught to use reason. Excuse me if they aren't able to calibrate their options for physical force if your marines aren't willing to listen to reason."

"Funny. I seem to recall a solar system that isn't there any more because a scientist wasn't willing to listen to his grunt team leader when he tried to use reason. I don't remember anyone getting concussed."

This time it was Rodney who went rigid.

"Not really all that funny, Colonel. And you know what else isn't funny? I don't recall the scientists being consulted when Col. Everett wasted the nuclear weapons that could have kept the wraith from taking Ford on a useless minefield, or when that asshole Ellis attacked the Replicators and started the war that killed Elizabeth and the population of a lot of human worlds."

"That will be enough, gentlemen." Woolsey's raised voice startled both of them into silence.

"I had really hoped that this could be settled without my intervention, but you've made this my call. Colonel, I sympathize with your position, but since Lt. Attinger's misguided actions caused Dr. Doors to feel that he was protecting his team from physical injury, I don't see the intent here which would allow me to charge him with assault. I'm sorry. I have to back Dr. McKay's decision."

"I truly hope that the two of you find some way to work your way past your extreme stances in this case. What's more, I expect it. This is the last I expect to hear of this matter."

Flee is a strong word. Woolsey left quickly

--

It was John who broke the silence.

"Happy, Rodney? You win. I have to ask my marines to protect your scientists on missions. Now I have to ask them to do it while they're watching their backs in case one of your scientists decides that they're making the wrong decision. I'm sure any dangers they face out there will be glad to hold off and give them time to explain the situation and achieve consensus in the group based on your scientists' encyclopedic grasp of military training."

"I..."

"No," John snapped. "I really think I've heard enough about the respect you have for the work I've given twenty years of my life to, Rodney. I only hope you can bring yourself not to share your thoughts with your scientists. I'd really prefer it if the men and women under my command didn't hear how much respect my husband has for me, and for them."

"John, I..."

Ancient doors didn't slam. This one closed in a very definite way.

--

John didn't look up when he heard the footsteps behind him on the pier.

"Teyla agreed with me that some training in meditation and self-defense would help Doors with his impulse control issues," Rodney said. "I'm thinking six months. I thought I'd schedule it for right after one of the marines' training sessions. I'm calling it personal development, but I can't control what your marines assume."

Some of the stiffness went out of Sheppard's shoulders. "Thanks, McKay. That'll work."

"Mind if I join you?" Rodney sat without waiting for an answer. The silence stretched out until he broke it.

"Here's the thing. I can't stand to think about losing any more of my scientists, but I don't trust anyone as much as I do you. I have never known anyone so determined to bring his people, and my people, back alive, and I know your marines have learned that from you."

"They're not your people and my people, Rodney. They're our people. My marines have seen you go the extra mile to save them. They may not all like you, or understand your scientists, but they know we're all on the same side."

"Are we on the same side? Because I don't get the feeling you like me very much right now."

John's shoulders slumped.

"I've been happier. But you know, I've been married before. I know nobody knows where to stick the knife like the person closest to you. And I seem to recall getting in a few cheap shots myself."

They sat together, silent, watching the stars, until Rodney's back complained and John really had to get to a bathroom and they were both chilled to the bone.

"So," Rodney said, quietly. "Are you coming home?"

"Is it still my home?"

For the first time, Rodney smiled, tentative but real.

"That, Colonel, was kind of a stupid question."

"Well, you know us grunts. We keep you scientists around to give us the really important information."

"Well, it isn't my home without your grunt ass hogging the mirror every morning while you artfully tousle your hair."

"Funny, I was just thinking that I wouldn't know what to do without a laptop on every flat surface in my quarters."

"And besides," Rodney bumped John's shoulder, "I seem to recall that I owe you some sexual favors in return for breakfast."

--

"Remind me," John said, when he regained the power of speech after Rodney gentled him through the aftershocks of some very thorough sexual favors, "never to question your genius."

"I, for my part," Rodney said, limp from his own share of the favors, "should remember not to discount the inestimable value of the strategic thinking the military brings to the table."

"Sounds like we make a pretty good team."

"Best one I know."

--

And they fought again, but never for the last time.

--

The End
Tags: genre: slash, pairing: mckay/sheppard
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