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Fic: Ashes (SGA)

Title: Ashes
Author: shaddyr
Rating: ANGST! Oh, sorry, uhm... PG13 I guess...
Fandom: SGA
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard, McKay/Brown
Word count: 2263
Even when the dark clouds gather, you will be the light
Never Be the Sun - Dolores Keane
I’d never want to see you unhappy, I thought you’d want the same for me Almost Lover - A Fine Frenzy
(I thought we had to incorporate both sets of lyrics, so I did.)
Summary: Written for skidmo_fic's Song Lyric Challenge. People make hard choices for what seem like good reasons, and still lose everything in the end...

Author note: I *don't* write angst. I just don't. It makes me sad and I usually want to eat a pound of cotton candy fluff fic after reading angst. And yet, these lyrics spoke to me of angst and pain and suffering, whispering in my ear. ::cries:: So I'm sorry if this *sucks* because I don't write angst, but the muse, she wasn't listening to *me*, she was listening to the music...

Thanks to the_cephalopod who looked it over when it was half done and helped me refine my direction.

It was overwhelming in a way that McKay hadn't expected.

The feel of strong, calloused fingers sliding up his back, pulling him closer. The taste of laughter and happiness on John's lips, stealing his breath away as they moved together, chest to chest, hip to hip, so good, so perfect...

Sure, he'd realized when it ended that working with John afterward would be awkward. After all, how do you walk into a staff meeting and sit next to the best friend you have spent the last 6 months (making love with) frantically screwing at every opportunity and act as though nothing has changed? What was the appropriate social etiquette when dealing with a (lover) fuck buddy when circumstances have created a situation that makes it untenable to continue?

"It's too dangerous, Rodney." Sheppard's quiet voice delivered the death blow to what had been growing between them with deceptive gentleness.

McKay nodded mutely, amazed at his own calm demeanour.

John looked at the floor, at the wall - anywhere but at
him. "Caldwell's been around so much lately, ever since the Daedalus started making regular runs. We've got so many new staff - and these new marines?" His voice was tight, angry. "They didn't live it, the not knowing if we could ever go back, the wondering if all we would ever have left of Earth was each other. They aren't as understanding about things that happen in a closed community that's been cut off from home. If we slip up, if someone sees something..."

"What about Don't Ask Don't Tell?" McKay was surprised his voice sounded so normal, as if he were asking about hockey scores or the price of beer.

John shook his head and let out a bitter laugh. "It's great in theory. And in the microcosm of an isolated Atlantis, it worked. Now that we are back in touch with the SGC and have personnel rotating in and out on tours of duty, people take notice. They gossip. They ask. All it would take is one report of inappropriate behaviour for them to haul me back to Earth for an inquiry."

"Typical. Stupidity and paranoia from the American Military machine. Because somehow the actions of two people of the same sex behind closed doors will cause the universe to implode." McKay sighed, shook his head. "Well, as much as I enjoy what we're been doing, I don't want to put you at risk of losing Atlantis for it. We need you here."
(I need you here)

John finally looked up at him. McKay forced a smile he didn't feel. "Hey, still buddies right?" he asked weakly.

John smiled back, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Absolutely."

They'd agreed not to let it change anything (but it did, of course it did). Just because they'd (loved each other) been getting each other off and couldn't anymore - well, that didn't mean they couldn't still be buddies. There would still be team movie nights, they would still eat lunch and play chess. It might be awkward to start, but they both agreed that with some time, they could adjust.

Awkward didn't even begin to cover it. McKay realized in the first 7 excruciating seconds of the first abysmally painful staff meeting after their split, that he couldn't think of a word to adequately describe how horrendously, awfully, incredibly *bad* it was.

"Dr. McKay, are you quite alright?"

McKay jerked in his seat. "What?"

He turned his gaze to Elizabeth. The annoyed look on her face morphed into one of concern. He realized with chagrin that he had been completely oblivious to what had gone on around him almost since he'd entered the room.

"Sorry, sorry, just tired..." He waved off her worry with mumbled excuses about overwork, lack of sleep and not enough coffee before stumbling through his report. As soon as the he fielded the last question about the power distribution grid, he fled the room as if the hounds of hell were after him.

"McKay, wait..."

He pretended not to hear Sheppard call him, literally diving into the transporter to get away. John, however, had the benefit of regularly running with a caveman, and got his hand in before the doors closed.


He looked at the wall. "Something I can help you with Colonel?"

Sheppard winced but McKay refused to let it bother him. (Oh, God John, I'm sorry, I can't do this, it hurts too much please go away, please...)

"Rodney. Come on. We were friends, and I don't want to lose that. Have lunch with me. Please?"

They tried to have lunch. Just the two of them. In less than 10 minutes, McKay was *praying* that the gods of physics would take a day off and let Maxwell's demon come out to play, because if a crisis hadn't given him an excuse to get away, he was quite certain he would have resorted to killing himself and Sheppard just to put the both of them out of their misery. Fortunately, Radek chose that moment to approach him with a query about an anomaly in the city's recycling system. He was out of his seat and dragging Zelenka back to the lab to look into the matter before the startled scientist had even finished explaining.

Somehow, life went on. Life was strange that way, how it could continue, seconds spilling over into minutes that flooded into hours, cascading into days; this great big huge wash of time and life and energy, and how was it possible for life to keep happening when he wasn't even sure if he was alive on the inside anymore?

There were missions. There were crises. There were Wraith. Time and life marched on.

As time passed, there were moments, hours, even days when it seemed like he was getting his life back - and then, sometimes when he looked at John, it felt like cold-hot shards of glass were twisting in his gut, ripping him to nothingness, leaving a bloody twisted wreck. Sometimes he forgot to breathe, the pain leaving him gasping, chest heaving, vision going black around the edges. And John kept *trying*.

"Hey Rodney."

McKay nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

"We haven't played chess in a while. I was wondering if you wanted to get together after dinner tonight..." Sheppard trailed off, leaving the peace offering lying between them.

He was wearing the tentative smile, the lazy smile that held so much promise. Rodney sipped his coffee, but all he tasted was ashes. (Not yet John, I'm still too raw)

"I... thank you for the invitation, Colonel, but I have some work I really must attend to this evening."

Sheppard's face was a study of casual nonchalance, but the pain was clear in his eyes.

"Okay then, Buddy. Some other time."

Despite the pain involved, he could never quite manage to free himself from John's orbit. Even in the bleakest times, the force of nature that was John Sheppard kept pulling him in. Moth and flame, sun behind the clouds, whatever you wanted to call it - that old adage (that he had always hated, still hated) that it was better to have loved and lost took on a personal meaning.

Things settled back into place, a routine of sorts, as much as anything in Pegasus could be considered routine. They went on a mission to barter for much need supplies, and John almost got married to the chieftain's daughter (again! Kirk!) and another mission to a planet where there was supposed to be a ZPM (so SICK of running for their lives!). Several subsequent missions went pear-shaped, ending with John injured after each of them - first strolling through the gate with a bullet in his arm, then coming home with a broken wrist - but the final time, being carried back to Atlantis between him and Ronon (Not the way it should be, John's not the one who's supposed to get carried back by him). It took Carson almost five hours of surgery to repair the damage, and for a while it had been touch and go. (Oh god, John, don't you dare die, God DAMN you, don't you leave me!) When Carson finally announced that Sheppard was out of danger, Rodney collapsed against the wall and slid down the floor, relief so strong it made his knees weak. He couldn't live with things the way they were anymore.

He studied the figure in the infirmary bed for a moment. Sheppard looked like shit - haggard, pale, like the fourth day of a three day binge. He was lucky to be alive.

"Hey, Sheppard." (I miss you)

John's head whipped around and Rodney could see the startled look in his eyes.

"Yeah Rodney?"

"You look like crap." (I wish I was strong enough to kick your ass after that stupid stunt you pulled - you scared me to death)

"Well, thanks Rodney."

"We haven't played chess in a while." (I was so worried, you could have died, and this would have still been hanging between us, unresolved)

The smile he got was blinding; it could have easily lit up the room at midnight.

"No, we haven't."

"Well, I think it's about time that I reacquainted you with the concept of failure then. You're getting a little too cocky about all these scrapes you manage to weasel out of, by sheer luck I might add." (I will take whatever crumbs you are willing to give me)

"Well, you can try. Bring it on, McKay."

And suddenly something shifted back into place, easing the ever present ache into a low grade throb.

Finally, after a long time (not long enough, never long enough) Rodney woke up one morning and brushed his teeth. He got dressed, checked his email, radioed Zelenka and went for coffee. He walked in to the cafeteria and spotted his team (John) across the room. And realized, with a shock that staggered him, he hadn't thought about Sheppard until he actually saw him.

Several weeks later, everything went to shit, and Rodney cursed the Ancients all over again for the stupidity they displayed in creating something as asinine as exploding tumours, and railed against the universe for taking one of his best friends.

Through it, though, he discovered that his mixed up feelings about Katie Brown, rebound girl who gave him something else to think about (not really, but he was trying to believe that) during that initial heartbreaking time when he and Sheppard went back to being just buddies (they would never be just buddies, but he'd take the friendship even if he could never have more) were actually deeper than he'd realized. She was genuinely nice. And competent. And she was really very smart - he'd looked at her file and it was really quite impressive for botany.

Even better, despite the whole Cadman debacle, she actually seemed to like him. He didn't feel like he had to compete with her, they were in totally unrelated fields of expertise, but she still appreciated his work and his dedication to it - and he appreciated hers. She was sweet, and pretty, and she had certainly heard about what a monster/tyrant/slave driver he was as a boss - despite the gossip about him, she still liked him.

He'd taken her down to the south pier, and stealing a page from another man's playbook, laid out a simple picnic for them both. Katie had been pleased. They had talked and laughed, sometimes awkward, sometimes blushing, kind of like two teenagers unsure what the next move was.

It had been like all the best parts of being 17 again for only a few hours.

They'd walked back slowly, quietly, enjoying each other's presence.

"I had a nice time tonight, Rodney."

Katie held his hand (her hands were so tiny, so unlike other hands he'd held) and smiled up at him.

"I'm glad." He really was. He smiled back at her, feeling a little silly and a little drunk. The wine was getting to him.

She stepped in closer, and his arms slipped around her waist (so tiny) as he inhaled her scent, fresh and soft and green. (the musky low note was missing) Her eyes were luminescent in the muted light of the Atlantis evening, her lips soft and moist, mesmerizing. He lowered his mouth to hers for a chaste kiss and felt her lips part before him, an invitation for more than he'd expected. She threaded her fingers up into his hair, pulling him in close, and he was surprised by the passion he felt it stir in him. He deepened the kiss, taking in the sweetness of her response like strawberries on his tongue, enjoying the heat of her body as she melded against him, the soft, breathy gasp she made when he gently pulled her head to one side and trailed kisses down her neck (no hint of stubble, skin so soft, so smooth, creamy perfection).

He heard something and glanced up to see Sheppard in his jogging clothes, frozen in the doorway to the pier. The look of utter devastation on his face shattered McKay's carefully mended heart, and suddenly he couldn't breathe. (I never wanted to see you unhappy, I thought you’d want the same for me)

Sheppard vanished down the hall, and Katie's hand pulled his head back to her neck, whispering murmurs of encouragement as she wrapped herself around him. He returned to suckling on the sweet skin before him, but all he could taste was ashes.


ETA: Omigosh! The wonderful and talented the_cephalopod was chatting with me shortly after I posted the finished ficcy and telling me that it was so sad and could I *please* save the boys from this terrible pain, and somehow, evil sneaky woman that I am, I talked her into fixing it. Cuz I'm lazy that way...

And she did!! You simply MUST go read Rising Again when you are done here. Ceph makes everything better!


( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2007 06:37 am (UTC)
You are so mean to him! In such a pretty way.

Man, I should watch SG:A sometime. I have a feeling your journal would make 125% more sense.
Nov. 12th, 2007 08:45 am (UTC)
You read it. You read it? Wow! I'm so glad you read it!

Yeah, I was totally mean to him. It was awful and terrbile and I hate myself. It's SO not my fault! Did you *SEE* the lyrics they gave me to work with? I mean come ON! *HOW* was I supposed to write anything but angst with that to work with?

I hate angst. I need to go read a gallon of fluffy schmoop now to make up for this.
Nov. 12th, 2007 07:11 am (UTC)

This is so sad, but also really beautiful. My heart breaks for them both... and Katie too... oh, boys!

Nov. 12th, 2007 08:59 am (UTC)
You liked it then? Or, you know, hated it, but you are supposed to hate it, right? But you liked the writing, cuz I made them suffer so pretty?

Okay. Next story will be happier. I think maybe I need to write a snarky Rodney's Journal entry and then dig up "A Road Travelled, More or Less" and get back to work on it.

BTW, I think I will stick with that as a title since it's pretty accurate I think.

And also, I saw my pet physicist tonight, and he promised to come over sometime soon and give me some pointers so my science does not totally suck, so yay!
(no subject) - the_cephalopod - Nov. 12th, 2007 09:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_cephalopod - Nov. 12th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tigerrrl - Nov. 13th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shaddyr - Nov. 13th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 12th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Aww! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you (almost) cry!

Uhm. I'm afriad to *touch* them after this, I might make it worse. It's all just so exquisitely painful right now.

I think there may possibly be something in the works to try and make this better, but I can't swear to it.

Besides, I have this other fic where the boys are trapped in another dimension and I am under strict orders to get back to work on that one...

I'm glad that you enjoyed it, even if I did a number on your heart with the stompy boots. Sorry about that. It was the lyrics, I tells ya!
Nov. 12th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
Oh god, just heart-wrenching. *rubs sternum* It aches.

I don't think you need to worry about not being able to do angst, because this was perfect. That last bit, with John... *deep, shuddering breath* my heart broke for him.

Somehow, life went on. Life was strange that way, how it could continue, seconds spilling over into minutes that flooded into hours, cascading into days

This was just beautiful imagery. Quite amazing.
Nov. 12th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
I do not normally do the "Queen of Angst, Torturer of Souls" thang, so I am gratified to know that it worked.

The hard thing about this story was sticking to the POV - there is so much temptation to switch back from McKay and tell John's story, but I wasn't telling his story, I was telling Rodney's. I was working hard at staying with one single POV, and not popping from character to character, so I'm glad to hear that John's suffering came through, because this was killing him inside, I can promise you that.

This was just beautiful imagery. Quite amazing.

Thank you so much! It's really nice to hear that the stylistic parts of the writing were pleasing as well as the characterization an/or content.
(no subject) - ferret_kitty - Nov. 13th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shaddyr - Nov. 13th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ferret_kitty - Nov. 13th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shaddyr - Nov. 15th, 2007 05:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ferret_kitty - Nov. 15th, 2007 06:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 12th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Oh! Heartbreaking! ;_;
Nov. 12th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry! It was the lyrics!

Thanks for reading and letting me know it worked!
Nov. 12th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Sheppard, you bastard! You so deserved this, for being such a coward!

*puffs in fury*

My poor, broken Rodney.

Good thing there's a sequel... ;-)
Nov. 12th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oh! Rodney is lucky, indeed, to have such an ardent defender!

I know, the John in this story is scared of losing everything, but... gah! It was so hard not to tell his story too. I was trying to stick to telling the story from Rodney's POV and NOT tell you what John was thinking and feeling - trust me, John's not happy even before he spotted them on the pier.

Good thing there's a sequel... ;-)

Uhm. Well. I'll let you know...

Thanks so much for the feedback!

(no subject) - from_the_corner - Nov. 12th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shaddyr - Nov. 12th, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_cephalopod - Nov. 12th, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 12th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
I think my heart shriveled a bit. My dear poor Rodney. The moment with Katie was heart-crushing! I gotta say, for not writing angst, you pulled it off very well.
Nov. 13th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)
Aww! Your poor heart!

I feel like I owe everyone an apology. Sorry for hurting the boys, I promise the next time they will have more fun! *grin*

I am glad that it worked. Upon rereading, I realize that it does work as a story, and I'm glad it evokes the reactions it is supposed to - and I promise not to write something so sad again anytime in the near future.

Thanks for the feedback!
Nov. 13th, 2007 12:49 am (UTC)
::sniffle:: Poor boys.... damned they do and damned if they don't..... for not writing angst, you do it so prettily.
Nov. 13th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
Aww, I didn't mean to make you cry!

::hands you virtual tissues::

Thanks for letting me know that it delivered the impact that was intended, and that you liked. They certainly do suffer so beautifully.
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
Gah, poor John and Rodney, and even (perhaps more so) poor Katie. Breakup fics always make me so sad, because when I watch the show, they're just so happy to be around each other, y'know? You did a great job making me all unhappy and stuff. ;P

Edited at 2007-11-13 09:35 pm (UTC)
Nov. 15th, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)

I am so *glad* that you commented! Yay!

I totally hate Angst and it's *SO* not my fault! The lyrics, it was the bloody lyrics!

::loves you::
Nov. 14th, 2007 05:12 am (UTC)
holy crap! that was HORIBBLE! *meep*

just kidding. *meep*

Nov. 15th, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
Yeah, it was pretty nasty.


Good thing that Ceph fixed it!
Nov. 17th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
Oh! Poor John, but he did break Rodney's heart. The bits in the brackets just broke me. I have to say that I think Rodney and Katey have absolutely NO chemistry, but I actually liked the way you worked them into this story :)
Nov. 20th, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
Oh yes, poor poor John...

The bits in the brackets just broke me.

Oh, I am so glad that it worked! I was worried it might come across and contrived.

(no subject) - kyizi - Jan. 6th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:49 am (UTC)
Wonderful job! You about broke my heart.
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
I am so glad that you enjoyed! Well, if you can call having your heart broken enjoyment...

Thanks for the feedback!
Mar. 2nd, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
Oh man, that was beautiful, really had me cringing at the end as John showed up...but in a good way, y'know? I could just picture the look on his face and how he felt, had me feeling for him and Rodney.

I know I'm commenting on this like 2 months after everyone else but I can't help myself, it's just too amazing not too.

K I'm off to read Cep's fix now to make it all better :)
Mar. 2nd, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment even if you came late to the party! It is much appreciated to hear that someone was affected strongly by something I wrote.

It's been interesting to see the reactions this story has garnered because I don't write angst. Really! It ripped my heart out to do that to them, but that's what the song lyrics said, so that's the story I wrote. *grin* Good thing Cep came along and decided she wasn't going to stand for that ending.

I am happy that you enjoyed!
(no subject) - psio03kx - Mar. 3rd, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shaddyr - Mar. 9th, 2008 07:34 am (UTC) - Expand
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )


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