Author: Ami Ven
Word Count: 550
Prompt: mcsheplets challenge 101 “Puddlejumper”
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing(s): John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Summary: “It was a good ship.”
“Well,” said John, his voice suspiciously hoarse. “She was ten thousand years old.”
The remains of Jumper One sat in the Hammond’s otherwise-empty hangar. It seemed like a miracle that the ship had landed at all – the left drive pod had been wrenched off, lost somewhere out in space – jagged holes had been ripped through the main hill, at least one going straight out the other side – a deep crack bloomed across the viewscreen, which had made a heart-stopping whistle as the jumper set down.
Rodney squeezed John’s hand. “It was a good ship,” he offered.
Honestly, he couldn’t tell any of the jumpers apart. Jumper One had always seemed the same to him as any of the others, but John had always shown a marked preference, right from the beginning. Rodney had quickly learned to dread any time John took another jumper – unless One was down for maintenance, it meant John was likely to attempt something heroically suicidal.
Rodney wouldn’t have been able to pick out Jumper One, either by sight or with his Ancient gene, at least not until Lorne had painted numbers on all of them.
John leaned closer to him, now, until their shoulders bumped, joined hands still between them. “Yeah,” he said. “Saved my life more than a few times.”
Including today, Rodney knew. He had gone through the wreckage while John was getting checked out by the Hammond’s doctor – the colonel had only minor cuts and bruises, despite the fact that Jumper One was completely totaled.
“Do you need a few minutes?” Rodney asked.
“Yeah,” John repeated. “I just need to…”
“Take your time,” said Rodney. He pressed a brief kiss to the corner of John’s mouth and released his hand. “Come and find me when you’re done.”
John nodded, still staring at the jumper, and Rodney left.
Once the hangar door had slid shut behind him, he keyed his radio. “Sam? It’s Rodney. I need a favor…”
When they got back to Atlantis, Rodney made sure John had something to eat, then delivered him safely to Ronon in the training room, certain he’d be less safe but ultimately feel better after a few hours working out his feelings with wooden sticks.
Then Rodney headed for Auxiliary Lab Six.
The name was somewhat misleading – there wasn’t anything in Aux Lab Six, not even any equipment, at least not until the Hammond beamed in the remains of Jumper One.
“You are a sap,” said Radek, almost done hanging the thick sheet of plastic that would form the faux-decontamination airlock.
Rodney had marked the lab off-limits in the city computer, accessible only by their two command codes, listing the reason as the use of hazardous materials and specifically forbidden gene-carriers from the area – and sworn Radek to secrecy.
“Shut up,” said Rodney. “If this works, we will have gained invaluable information about repairing and maybe even constructing a puddle jumper.”
But Radek just grinned. “Sap.”
“Hey,” said John, softly, when Rodney got back to their quarters. “Everything okay?”
Rodney paused, halfway out of his uniform jacket. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
John was sitting on their bed, with a pile of old golf magazines. “This is the third night this week you’ve gone back to the lab after dinner,” he said. “Is this something I should know about?”
“It’s just a new project I’m working on,” Rodney told him. “Nothing that’s a danger to the city.”
John frowned. “You’ve got the lab restricted for hazardous materials.”
“Just a precaution. Would I risk myself – not wearing a hazmat suit, I might add – if it was actually hazardous? It’s just some heavy-duty solvents and I don’t want the confederacy of dunces that is my science staff to melt their faces off.”
“And what about your face?”
Rodney crossed to the bed and caught his hand. “I am very careful with my face,” he promised. “I know what my limits are now.”
He didn’t have to say Duranda for them both to hear it, and John surged up to kiss him.
“I trust you, Rodney,” he said. “It’s not about that. I just… tell me someone else knows what you’re doing? Someone else has access to the lab?”
Rodney’s expression softened – he hadn’t meant to make John worry. “Radek has full access, and he knows exactly what I’m doing. It’s just an engineering experiment, but I’m using Ancient materials, and I need to keep your magic gene away until it’s ready.”
John kissed him again. “Okay. Just be careful.”
“Sheppard to McKay.”
Rodney keyed his radio. “Aren’t you supposed to be in a meeting?”
“We’re taking a break for dinner,” said John. “And I’m betting you could use a break, too.”
“I—” Rodney began, but his stomach rumbled loudly.
John laughed. “Good, because I already got you a tray. There’s a little balcony right outside your super-secret lab. Meet me there.”
“Just give me five minutes,” said Rodney. “McKay out.”
The balcony was barely more than a walkway, but that just seemed to be a good excuse for John to sit closer than would have been socially acceptable, their trays balanced carefully in their laps.
“How’s your project going?” asked John.
“Good,” said Rodney, and it was.
The hull and viewscreen of the jumper had been easy enough to repair, but the missing drive pod was an entirely different problem. It would have been tricky enough to just fix, and now Rodney would have to make one. But then, the day before yesterday, he’d let John take him to bed and he’d almost been asleep afterwards when he’d suddenly had a brilliant idea, and headed back to the lab with his shirt buttoned wrong and the echo of John’s self-satisfied chuckle.
“Think it’ll take much longer?” John asked, now.
“Another week or two,” said Rodney, around a large mouthful of chocolate pudding. “How is your meeting?”
“I’ve been to worse,” said John. “I’m beating Lorne four to three in hangman.”
“As long as something important is getting done,” said Rodney, and the colonel laughed.
“Hey,” said John, when he had quieted again. “You know I love you, right? I just… I feel like sometimes you might not know that and I—”
Rodney cut him off with a deep kiss. “I always know that, John,” he said. “It’s a constant of the universe.”
“Yeah?” said John, smiling.
“Yeah. And, um, me, too.”
“Colonel Sheppard, report to Auxiliary Lab Six.”
John stumbled and would have taken a bantos rod to the head if Teyla hadn’t caught herself. He keyed his radio quickly.
“Radek? What happened? Is Rodney okay?”
“I don’t know, colonel,” said Radek. “The lab is locked and my access code is no longer working. Perhaps your gene—”
“I’m on my way,” said John, and headed for the nearest transporter, Teyla right behind him. He could hear her speaking quietly into her radio, but couldn’t spare any attention to listen. He only vaguely heard Radek join them in the hallway outside the lab, and didn’t notice that they didn’t stay with him as he pressed his hand to the lab’s door panel, thinking at Atlantis, Please let me in to him.
The door slid open with a soft whoosh.
“Oh, hey, you got here fast,” said Rodney, then let out a surprised squeak as John seized him in a fierce hug. “Sheppard?”
John pulled back to look at him for a moment, then kissed him, hard. “What happened?” he demanded, urgent hands skimming over Rodney as he checked for injuries.
“I’m fine,” Rodney said, batting ineffectually at his wrists. “Really, colonel, you don’t need to – would you stop – really, I’m – major, I’m fine!”
“Fine?” John repeated. “But Radek said…”
“I don’t know what he told you, Sheppard, but he’s evidently a better actor than I gave him credit for.”
John scowled. “Dammit, McKay, I thought you were hurt!”
“And you came running to my rescue,” said Rodney, smiling.
“Well, hopefully, this will more than make up for it.”
Rodney took his hand and pulled John through the sheet of plastic, into the lab.
“What—?” John began, then broke off, staring.
It was Jumper One, gleaming in the low overhead lighting. John could sense the Ancient tech inside her, humming brightly. He reached out to skim his fingertips over the brand-new drive pod, then turned back to Rodney.
“I fixed it,” said Rodney, like all he’d done was fasten down a loose panel or re-set the clock.
“You…” John began, then stepped back into Rodney’s personal space to kiss him, long and deep.
“I know,” said Rodney, sounding pleased and a little smug. “Now, there’s no way to get the jumper out of this lab under its own power, but Sam is standing by on the Hammond to beam it and you aboard, and you can launch from her three-oh-two bay.”
“You mean ‘us’,” said John.
“Us, Rodney. I can’t go up alone.”
“Oh, well, I thought you might want some alone time.”
“Of course I do,” said John. “With you. Can we go now?”
“Sure,” Rodney grinned. “Sure we can— Hammond, this is McKay. Ready to beam up two people and one puddle jumper.”
And they were still kissing when they rematerialized on the Hammond’s hangar deck.