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Ch014 - Story 08 - Everything John Never Wanted to Know about the Wraith, and Rodney [...] 
11/08/08 - 17:23
merlin - of the sky
Title: Everything John Never Wanted to Know about the Wraith, and Rodney Should have been Afraid to Ask
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: R/NC17
Spoilers: Mention of events in Outcast.
Plot: Naked Wraith World is nothing whatsoever like Rigel 4. And John is not Kirk.

Authors: oxoniensis, propinquitine, and hyperfocused.
Artists: nightingaledies, le_mot_mo, clear_as_blood and unamaga.

Everything John Never Wanted to Know about the Wraith, and Rodney Should have been Afraid to Ask

"It's all in my report." Even Rodney – and yes, he freely admits he's not always the most observant when it comes to people – recognizes that as Sheppard speak for I don't want to talk about it.

"I have nothing to add, Mr. Woolsey," Teyla says. She sounds as calm as ever, but Rodney saw her on the planet, barely able to look.

"Me neither." A typical Ronon contribution.

"Rodney?" Woolsey tries. He sounds exasperated. "Have you anything to add to your team's lack of communication?"

Rodney shakes his head, because he really doesn't want to talk about it, but the words start pouring out anyway. "It was horrible. Just horrible. So many of them, all so very—" He shudders, and takes a large gulp of coffee. Coffee won't make him forget – nothing is going to make him forget – but at least it's normal, a homely tie with earth and a life when he'd never even heard of the Wraith.

Woolsey sighs and looks around the table. "Perhaps we can at least discuss the pertinent points. Are they an immediate threat? Did they see you, and is there any chance they might have followed you?"

"No, no, they definitely didn't see us." Sheppard is emphatic, and Rodney can see Woolsey relax a little, shoulders less tense.

"I don't perceive our visit there to have been likely to cause any problems. As Colonel Sheppard said, we weren't seen, so there is no possibility that they could have followed us back to Atlantis." Teyla shifts in her chair – she looks as eager as Rodney to leave the room.

But. Rodney can't get an idea out of his head. That they could learn something. Maybe even something huge. If he's right – and he almost always is –their accidental discovery could be used to create something powerful enough to destroy the Wraith.

He steels himself to say it. "We need to go back." He winces even as he says the words.

"Go back?" Woolsey sounds confused.

"Rodney." Sheppard's tone is a clear warning. "We discussed this, remember."

Rodney dismisses him with a wave of his hands – he'll apologize later, in bed. If Sheppard's speaking to him by then. "I think we could learn something. More than just how truly hideous the Wraith are naked." He closes his eyes a moment, which is absurd because nothing is ever going to remove the image of a planet full of naked, sunbathing Wraith, but even geniuses are allowed to be a little irrational under stress. "Clearly they don't go there just for fun. It isn't in their nature. So it isn't some kind of Wraith pleasure planet minus the cocktails and waitresses, but more of a hospital planet for high-ranking Wraith. That's my working theory anyway - we all saw the way injured Wraith healed there, almost as fast as if they had just fed. So obviously there's something in the atmosphere of that planet that has some sort of healing powers, or actually," and now he's just thinking out loud, "it's more likely to be in the sun's radiation as my scanner didn't pick up anything unusual in the atmosphere, and I'm always most particular about the safety of the atmosphere if we're going to be breathing it so I have my scanner set to detect even the most insignificant concentrations of—"

"You have a point, Doctor McKay?" Woolsey interrupts.

"Of course I have a point," Rodney says indignantly. "If we learn exactly what it is that's so beneficial for them, there's a good chance I can work out how to reverse the effect. A very good chance, seeing as it's me working on it. And then we'll have a new Wraith weapon. I think you'd have to agree that's a pretty good point."

There's a sharp pain in his calf. Ronon kicked him. Rodney looks around the table – even Teyla is looking less than happy, and Ronon and Sheppard are downright glaring at him.

"Oh, come on. I know we didn't like it, but we have to. Right?" Silence. "I mean, it isn't like I want to go back there ever again. But. We have to," he ends miserably.

Eventually, they're forced to table the discussion when Rodney gets called away to deal with a meltdown in the labs. One of the new idiot marine biologists had insisted on bringing along a nuclear-powered miniature research sub, but of course the moron doesn't understand how to maintain it properly. It's the fourth time in a month that Rodney's had to drop whatever he was doing to go avert certain doom, but this time he's happy for the escape vector -- the rest of the team is still somewhat resistant to his suggestion that they return to the Wraith hospital planet.

"We'll work out the details later," he yells over his shoulder as he races off to the labs. Ronon narrows his eyes, Teyla frowns, and an increasingly belligerent Sheppard just glares at him. He’s sure they’ll come around eventually.

* * * * * * *

Six hours, three whiteboard markers, two faulty containment vessels, and one sacrificial school of space-jellyfish later, Rodney stumbles back to his quarters in something of a daze. He's stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers before he even realizes Sheppard's in the room, watching him silently from his perch on Rodney's desk. "Um, hello?" Rodney tries, tossing his trousers on his laundry pile. That jellyfish plasma was going to be a bitch to get out.

"This was not what we talked about, Rodney." Sheppard's glaring again.

"What? This? No, no, I know, your room tonight, but I needed to wash the fish guts out of my hair, I know how un-sexy you find that, and believe me, I agree, and--"

"The Wraith planet, Rodney." Sheppard springs up off of the desk and advances on him. Rodney can't decide if he's using his intimidating military man prowl, or his sexy bedroom slinking, but either way, he appreciates it, and goes after the buttons on John's shirt as soon as he's within reach. "We talked about this," John continues, bringing his hands up around Rodney's wrists, but not actually doing anything to interfere.

"Hmmm, what?" Rodney's distracted by the swell of John's biceps as he pushes the uniform shirt off of his shoulders.

John sighs. "In the jumper, on the way back from the . . . planet." John's close enough that Rodney can feel him shiver. "We discussed it, and we agreed that we wouldn't go back. So what's with turning on me in front of Woolsey?"

"I never said we shouldn't go back! And I don't remember any sort of discussion. You're making things up," he counters. John's also helping him unbuckle his thigh holster, fingers tangling in the webbing as Rodney takes the opportunity to scratch lightly up the inside of John's thigh, so he doesn't put as much heat in the accusation as he could. John's clearly contrite, after all.

"No, I'm not." John toes off his boots while Rodney unbuttons his BDUs, gripping Rodney's shoulders lightly for balance. "Remember? We'd cleared the planet's atmosphere, we're headed toward the space gate, and I look over at you and go, 'Wow.'" John shimmies a little and his trousers fall to the floor.

"To which I replied, 'That was . . . .' and then you nodded a lot."

John nods again, just once, decisively. "Yup." He steps out of his puddled trousers and over to the bed, bouncing down onto it lightly and leaning back on his hands. "And since the only words that could possibly follow 'that was . . .' in this situation are ones like 'disturbing' or 'horrifying' or 'indescribably awful', I figured, y'know -- we're agreed. No going back." He smiles winsomely and spreads his knees further apart, tilting his boxer-clad hips up invitingly.

"Oh, don't give me that, I know exactly what you're trying to do," Rodney grumbles as he slides his palms up John's hairy legs, kneeling between them and crowding John backward and up the bed, until they can both stretch out properly. "That wasn't a discussion of any kind, and you know it. You can be as lush and seductive as you want -- I highly encourage it, in fact -- but you know that we have to return to that planet." Rodney drops his head to suck a few sloppy kisses along John's jaw and up to his mouth. He can't help it; he thinks it’s cute when John tries to use his wiles to get his way.

After a few moments, John pulls back with an audible smack. He's frowning a little, which isn't the right face for foreplay at all. "I can't go back there, Rodney. I mean it."

Rodney huffs a sigh. This, still? "But why? I mean, yes, it is disturbing, but just think of everything we could learn! If the Wraith are extra-sensitive to certain types of radiation, we need to know that, and to figure out what kind of radiation it is. This might explain why they sometimes seem to heal incredibly quickly, and I really think we can exploit this as a vulnerability. If we can figure out some kind of counter-effective radiation that weakens them instead, or at least inhibits this healing-whatever that they're doing, that'll only make it easier to kill them. More dead Wraith is our goal, isn't it?"

"Of course." But John still doesn't look convinced.

"Hey, and if there is a kind of radiation that'll have the opposite effect, we'll figure out a way to weaponize it. I mean, the hive ships are partially organic, they grow from the same kind of cellular base material as the Wraith, so they'll probably have the same kinds of reactions to the radiation. So we'll figure out how to direct this hypothetical anti-healing radiation at the hives, weaken their entire infrastructure, make them that much easier to destroy." Rodney noses at the frown lines between John's eyebrows. "You like that? I'll make you a big shiny bomb that goes boom?"

This earns him a little grin that John quickly masks with a scowl. "See? You get a new toy, the Wraith get destroyed, I get to stop explaining this and have sex -- everybody wins. But we need to go back and study what exactly is happening on that planet before any of that can happen. Well, not the sex part. That should happen soon." He nudges John optimistically with his hips.

John's still tense underneath him, though he does run his hands up and down Rodney's back. He looks pensive, and Rodney knows enough about the two of them, together, by now to keep quiet and wait for John to explain (haltingly and cryptically, to be sure) what's going on in his head. It won't take long -- John's gotten a bit better about this talking thing over the years. (That, and Rodney's pretty sure he's crushing the air out of John, so there's an added incentive to get this out of the way and move on to more kinetic activities.)

The seconds slip by, and John opens his mouth a few times, but doesn't say anything. "John?" Rodney prompts, quietly. "Why can't we go back?"

* * * * * * *

Not for the first time, John Sheppard wishes he had Rodney's mouth. Usually, he wishes it was engaged with his, or even somewhere more private, which thankfully Rodney seems to enjoy as much as John. But right now, what he needs is Rodney's ability to speak carelessly, heedless of the reaction he might get. If he had Rodney's way of rushing past the barricades of his own insecurities, or indeed even admitting aloud that he had them, then he could just tell Rodney why he never wants to see naked Wraith again. Not just because they were Wraith, and they were naked, reason enough for most people, damn it, but the whole sordid story.

Since distracting Rodney with sex doesn't seem to be doing the trick, John is just going to have to bite the bullet and answer his question.

"Did I ever tell you about the summer I turned twelve?"

Immediately John is back at Camp Oceana in his monogrammed shorts - he wasn't allowed to wear O.P's like the other kids - falling into the mass of spiny, stinging Sea Urchins. Or if he's honest, he was pushed. He hadn't yet learned to turn on the Sheppard charm, and to pretend to turn off his brain. John thinks he was probably more like a young Rodney than Rodney realizes.

"No, John. You haven't told me much about your childhood at all. I just have to assume you had one, and didn't hatch fully formed and waiting for me. Not that I wouldn't deserve it. I've totally earned you and your crazy hotness. Or is it hot craziness?" John can see Rodney's nearly dormant inner censor catch up with his mouth, and leans up to kiss him. Rodney complies, thankfully, but it's question time again when John pulls back to breathe. "That's not going to work again. What happened when you were twelve, and what does it have to do with the Wraith?"

"My mother left my father the winter I turned eleven. She took me to San Francisco with her. I loved it."

"Was that where you learned to surf?"

"Well, it was the first time I tried it. Took me a little longer to get it right."

"What about your brother?"

"Dave doesn't surf."

Rodney looks at him exasperatedly. "No, I mean did he like California?"

"Dave didn't go. My father wouldn't let her take him. Me, he didn't much care about."

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You were a terrific kid. You had to be. Look how you turned out." Rodney's reassuring, but he doesn't know anything, not about this.

"It's true, though. I was never what he wanted. I bet he was sorry my mother brought me back when she got sick." John didn't find out until after she died that she'd known about the cancer all along. She just didn't know it would run through her that quickly.

"Then your father was a cretin. Not that this is news, judging from how often you talked about him. That still doesn't explain the whole naked Wraith freakout."

"Yeah, I know. I'm getting to that. It's kind of a long story." A long and stupid story. But Rodney's giving him that look. "We didn't stay in San Francisco very long. We couldn't. By the time summer ended she was too sick to take care of me. I thought she'd had bronchitis. She didn't tell me it was cancer. My dad insisted she come home. Set up the guest room for her."

She hadn't wanted to go back. John could still remember overhearing the argument. "I'd rather die free and happy then come back to your prison rules, Patrick." His mother always was a bit melodramatic. Kind of like Rodney, now that he thought of it. "Don't worry, honey," she'd told him, when John asked what was really wrong. "You just promise me you're going to do whatever you want to with your life. It isn't anyone else's to live. Not your father's, no matter what plans he says he has for you."

"That's a pretty profound thing to say to an eleven year old kid." Rodney pulls John in closer, big hands smoothing John's back, but it's not about the sex now, not a distraction.

"So, anyway. things went from bad to worse very quickly. My dad decided we shouldn't be here to watch her die. It was the first of many times I wasn't there for the people I loved."

"He sent you away, then? Jesus. But that wasn't your fault, John. You were just a kid."

"He sent us both to camp. Dave went to North Carolina, to golf camp. I went to Santa Cruz, to Camp Oceana."

"So he sent you right back to where you'd been happiest? Only your mother was dying, ruining the memories, right?" Rodney always understands, and knows the right thing to say. "That had to suck."

John laughs. It isn't funny, except that it is."Yeah, it did. I was angry and depressed and I didn't fit in at all. I vowed then and there that I was never going to get myself in a situation where I was living with a bunch of guys like that."

"And this is why you joined the military?"

"No, then I decided I wouldn't let assholes get the best of me. I was better than that, or at least I could pretend I was."

"You are better than that. You're the best person I know."

"I wasn't always the way I am now. Hell, I'm not the person you think I am. I'm not cool, Rodney. Not really. I just put on a good show." John tells Rodney about the sea urchins, how much it hurt to be scraped by their spines, and how incredibly creepy it is that Wraith genitalia so resemble them. He still shudders to think about them.

"John, I don't think you're cool because of the way you look, or your hair, or your smoothness. I see past all that. Genius, here, remember?"

"Then why?"

"You're smart, and hot, and funny and interesting - and you have impeccable taste in boyfriends."

"I don't know about all that, but I do know a good thing when I see it, it's true." John has to kiss Rodney's wry grin.

"See? Also, nobody is as brave as you, not when it really counts. You have everyone's back. Nobody dives in the way you do, and gets the job done, even the nasty ones."

"Like dealing with naked Wraith?" Already John is ashamed of himself. If Rodney's opinion of him is this high, how can John even think of wussing out over something so stupid? He's fought against impossible odds and won. Why should even extremely off-putting naked Wraith stymie him?

"Like dealing with naked Wraith," Rodney confirms. "Besides, if my research keeps going the way it's been going, we may not have to deal with them directly. We might take care of the problem from orbit."

"I like it when you put that genius brain to good use."

"Hey, you protect me from being sucked by the Wraith, and I'll look out for any sea urchins for you."

"Sounds like a plan," John says, reaching for the lube so they can get down to business.

Click on thumb

  • Round 1 - oxoniensis : "It's all in my report [...] We have to,' he ends miserably."
  • Round 2 - propinquitine : "Eventually, they're forced to table [...] 'Why can't we go back?'"
  • Round 3 - No round 3 --miscellanny had to opt out.
  • Round 4 - hyperfocused : "Not for the first time, John Sheppard [...] so they can get down to business."

Beta: Thank you to miscellanny!


R1: nightingaledies

R2: le_mot_mo

R3: clear_as_blood

R4: unamaga
11/08/08 - 16:54 (UTC)
Oh, wow, I am so in love with that artwork - I love it at all stages, and the finished piece is just seamless. So fantastic to see what you came up with for this story!
11/10/08 - 00:34 (UTC)
Since we're pimping, I am not sure where all the sga communities are. But I posted on [Bad username: Atlantis_slash"], mcshep_otp, sheppard_hc, mckay_sheppard, and atlantean_art

I hope that is okay--?

If you know any other sga art communities, let me know. *sheepish smile*
11/10/08 - 00:41 (UTC)
Wow, that's fantastic.

I meant to get in touch with you, but I got tied up in closing up a different challenge, and then didn't get around to it. I don't really know many SGA communities, so I just linked it on sga_noticeboard. But if you know of another fic community it should go on, I can do that as well.

And congrats on the art - I love what you did with the wraith, and the mood of the piece.
11/10/08 - 01:39 (UTC)
Oh good, I didn't want to take all the communities from you.

Well, I've been busy (work sucks). atlantisfic is another community, I (semi)know.

Thanks! When I read about naked wraith--it just TOOK OVER MY MIND! I glad you liked it. Squee, I loved how you wrote round 1--and I want your brain because WHO THINKS NAKED WRAITH PLANET! You are my hero. ;)
11/10/08 - 12:38 (UTC)
Whee, thank you so much! I got this half cracky half serious idea in my head, and thought it might be really fun to play with in the round robin format.

I shall join atlantisfic later, and post there - thanks for the suggestion. I didn't want to slack and leave you to do all the pimping!
11/10/08 - 22:41 (UTC)
I was going to post to atlantisfic, but I think maybe we've pimped it out enough. Or is that just me being very British and uncomfortable at crossposting? Hee, I'm the worst person ever at pimping!
11/10/08 - 23:40 (UTC)
Yeah, if you think we did it enough, then we stop. Aww *huggles* No, you're not. Not wrong with feeling uncomfortable with cross posting, people hate it-I guess. (but I can't since I do it all the time)
11/08/08 - 17:19 (UTC)
I love the way John tries to distract Rodney with sex before he actually communicates and the artwork is beautifully done, I especially like the colours of the finished piece.
11/08/08 - 22:42 (UTC)
That's great! A story that skims the edge of both crack and angst, John-backstory that makes me ache fo him as a child, and gorgeous, evolving artwork that tells the story so well -- I'm really impressed! Fantastic work, all of you!
11/09/08 - 13:44 (UTC)
I'm so happy that I finally got to read how the story turns out. I was so curious about John's reason why he couldn't go back to the planet of the naked Wraith, but the reason wasn't revealed yet in the second part of the story. What a wonderful read!

I simply adore the way the artwork turned out in the end. When I received nightingaledies's artwork from round 1, I fell in love with the naked wraith. It was so beautifully done. And the final product is simply gorgeous. It was a pleasure working with you guys. :o)
11/10/08 - 01:40 (UTC)
Awe, thanks! I'm glad my art inspired and made you love naked wraith *snickers*. Oh, I agree, the final is nothing like I thought it would be--it is beyond beautiful!
11/10/08 - 09:05 (UTC)
God yes-- you totally turned me on to naked wraith. Thanks a lot. :oD *g*
11/10/08 - 23:45 (UTC)
Mwhahahaha! That makes me so happy. I'm not the only one anymore. You are welcome--I love what you did. the blue bg is pretty.

*more evil laugh* NAKED WRAIIIIITH!
11/10/08 - 01:49 (UTC)
I admit, I lost some sleep worrying about the naked Wraith, and trying to make what should have been four parts work with three. But judging from the finished product (oh my god, the art is gorgeous!) I needn't have. Thanks, everyone!
11/10/08 - 02:25 (UTC)
The story was great. From the idea of the naked Wraith planet (a really neat idea!) to the characterization to the banter to the John backstory -- all very cool . And I was super amused by John's recollection of their "discussion" where they agreed not to go back to the planet.

And the art is just so gorgeous. The wraith is amazing, with that almost unearthly glow. The whole piece is just lovely.
11/10/08 - 12:35 (UTC)
I'm so relieved you liked the idea of the naked Wraith planet - it was this cracky picture I got in my head after seeing an image of the Wraith hunting Ronon on Sateda, wearing what looked just like sun goggles!

The wraith is amazing, with that almost unearthly glow.

That really is fantastic!
11/10/08 - 15:49 (UTC)
I'm so relieved you liked the idea of the naked Wraith planet

Yeah, it really worked for me, doesn't even seem that cracky.

Though I was kind of picturing it like the old world spa towns for the European elite. That's probably not where you were going with it, but that's where my brain went, at least for the imagery of the place. :) (and I suppose the Wraith wouldn't really be into going places on holiday!) :)
11/10/08 - 02:28 (UTC)
Great work on both the fic and art.

I like the personal sides to the characters that we get to see here. Plus, now we know what Wraith genitalia looks like. I wouldn't exactly want to go back either. lol.
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