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30 October 2007 @ 12:33 pm
Better Ways to Die, SGA RPS, R, Joe/David  
Title: Better Ways to Die
Author: valderys
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis RPS
Pairing: Joe/David
Rating: R
Word Count: 2,804
Notes: Written for the 2lineschallenge. A fic that deals with some of my issues with the 4th season, I think :) Casting spoilers and minor spoilers for Doppelganger and Lifeline.

their captain walk the plank
destroy them, rank by rank

-senses fail, rum is for drinking, not for burning

“Dammit, this sucks!”

Joe is through the mellow stage of drunk, is out on the other side, well on his way to belligerence, although David hopes it won’t last long. Joe is normally a happy drunk, but it’s not really a happy occasion, and David doesn’t blame him. Can’t when he wishes he could be in a similarly demonstrative mood, and it’s only the two pages of dialogue he’s yet to learn for tomorrow that’s stopping him. He’s this close to forgetting about it all too. But David knows he’s an expressive drunk – Jane would say loud-mouthed – and he doesn’t really dare. He’d say – or do – something he’d regret. And that would not be good. Jane would kill him.

Instead, David pats Joe understandingly on the arm, which is furnace-warm through the thin material of his shirt.

“Hey, at least it’s not exploding tumours,” Torri offers with a bright smile, almost ghoulish, David thinks, given the relish with which they are discussing Weir’s imminent departure, but he does happen to agree. Hell, he could have written a more plausible plot than godamn exploding tumours. Paul deserved better. But then – the end result is still going to be the same. Torri going, like Paul, back to LA, back to endless auditions and pilot season and ramen noodles and… Hell, maybe he has had one too many – he’s getting maudlin.

Joe has shut up, mumbling into David’s shoulder. Torri tosses back another vodka shot and David doesn’t wince. He knows she’s got a harder head than almost anyone he knows, but still…

“Hey, you take care of yourself,” he says suddenly, leaning over the table and grabbing Torri’s hand. Joe mutters something and slides a little sideways, a pleasant heat against David’s back. She looks at them both for a long second, her head a little on one side.

“You getting sentimental on me, Hewlett?” Torri asks, and David laughs, and shrugs it off, and lets go. But it’s a moment that stays with him, even after they part company outside the bar, ready to head their separate ways home, possibly for the last time. Torri hugs him, her hair a lovely scented cloud, her lips brushing his cheek farewell, and he still remembers how small her hand is in his own.

“Don’t worry,” Torri whispers into his ear, “There are always better deaths.”

And it makes him laugh, with surprise, because it reminds him that she’s hardly a fragile flower, that she tells dirtier jokes than he ever could, that she’ll be fine.

She’ll be fine. In this business you have to be.


Jane. Jane is beautiful, and wonderful, and lovely. Jane is also seven months pregnant, irritable, and… his writing partner.

“No, no, NO,” Jane says and throws the latest draft across the room. Mars looks up with the slightly bored, yet hopeful expression of a dog who’s seen it all before but still hopes that he’ll be thrown something interesting, like food, or a bone, or even bits of his supposed master, possibly dripping blood. Or maybe David’s projecting. They are supposed to be writing a zombie movie, after all.

“Sorry,” says Jane, “Sorry…” And buries her face in her hands. David rubs soothing circles into her shoulders – he knows his place in this scene as well as Mars.

She leans into him then for a second or two, and David feels as manly and protective as he can, before she pushes him away. “Sorry…” Jane sighs, and waves at him in mute apology, “I’m going to have a bath. Why don’t you… find something to do. I just can’t… Go play. Go find some boys with their toys. Or something.”

“Are you sure?” She’s sure. David gets up and Mars does too, his tail lashing. This too is beginning to get to be a routine. Jane will ring her mother after her bath, and David won’t be wanted, not for hours.

David grabs Mars’ lead. He supposes the exercise is good for both of them. At the last minute, as a change to the script, he grabs the latest movie draft and stuffs it in a pocket. He tells himself it means nothing. It probably doesn’t.


It’s Vancouver, so of course it rains. David’s hair is plastered to his head by the time he’s ringing the doorbell, and he knows that slicking it down makes it look thinner, and he hates that he knows that, and he hates that it bothers him, all at the same time. He wishes he’d remembered a hat.

Mars sneezes just as the door opens, so Joe is looking down as it swings wide, and David shuffles his feet. It could be that he’s feeling awkward.

“Hey,” says Joe.

“I was walking the dog,” says David.

Joe gives him a towel, and a cup of coffee, and a shot of bourbon, not necessarily in that order. They sit down in Joe’s study, on comfortable leather sofas, that are miles away from the slightly shabby chic of his own rented place. David doesn’t really want to know prices. He can’t believe he’s even thinking about prices.

“So,” says Joe, “You can’t actually walk to my place from yours. Can you?”

David shrugs and thinks about telling him all about the lift he hitched from the guy with the brown cap and plaid shirt, and the way he kept chewing on those little candies from the tin, and how for a truck’s cab, it was weirdly minty fresh.

He thinks about saying all that but instead he hands Joe the script. The zombie script. ‘Design of the Dead’ it says on the cover, or it nearly does, since the cover is damp and translucent, and you can almost read the dialogue on the first page too.

Wordlessly, Joe takes it and puts it in the oven.

“Hey!” says David, and Joe raises an eyebrow. David subsides after he’s checked the oven (which is on low) and they drink some more bourbon. David pulls a face when he thinks Joe isn’t looking. His lips are going numb.

“Jane…” David tries finally, but he can’t finish the sentence. He doesn’t know what he can say that won’t come out as whiny, or self-centred, or desperate. He feels whiny, and self-centred, and desperate. Fuck. They’re having a baby. A baby. In two months. Joe has three, he must know how it feels.

David’s scalp itches as it dries, and he rubs his hands through his hair frantically, knowing it’ll stand up in weirder ways than Joe’s. “I want some help.” There’s a pause. “With the script,” says David, somehow knowing that he’s just lost a bet he hasn’t even made.

“Sure,” says Joe, and wanders back to the kitchen.

The script comes back with him; dry, crackling, and strangely brittle. The smell of baked paper reminds David of autumn; logs in a grate, leaves on a bonfire, newspaper twists to start it all off. He’s almost expecting the phantom smell of smoke, the taste of potatoes cooked in the ashes. It’s the scent of season’s end. Of the end of something anyway.


“No, no, NO…” Joe says, and leans forward, prodding at his laptop on David’s knees, reaching for the script, almost poking David in the eye. “Here in the fourth scene…”

“But,” says David, his heart beating faster.

“But,” says Joe, jabbing again.

David grabs the point of his pen. They stop and look at each other. “It’s not working,” says David, his hands still. He feels flushed like he’s just been running.

“It is,” Joe insists, “We just need to care about them. We don’t care enough.”

“They’re zombies,” says David, “We’re killing them. We’re killing them in funny ways. Why does it matter if we don’t care? They’re zombies.”

“You know why.” Joe pulls his pen out of David’s grasp, the pen top scratching his fingers slightly. They tingle. “If the audience engages, it’ll be funnier – and more poignant – when they die.”

“And I’m all about the poignancy,” says David, rolling his eyes.

“Hey. Not everyone’s up for slapstick, and no-one needs to know how many times a movie you can run around naked!”

David’s got a comeback for that, he’s got a thousand, until suddenly it’s been too long, and he hasn’t come back with anything at all. Joe’s looking at him strangely, and David ducks his head back towards his laptop. The tips of his ears are burning, and he doesn’t know why. Hell, everyone knows he runs around naked. The world knows he runs around naked. There’s nothing odd about that.

David begins with, “Jane says…” And stops. Somehow that feels defensive and he doesn’t even know why.

“How is Jane?” asks Joe, gently, and David wants to throw something.

“Big.” He pauses. “Huge. Enormous. All-encompassing.”

Joe snorts his stupid excuse for a laugh. “Yeah, that’ll help.”

David ignores that with the respect it deserves. Instead, he taps the recalcitrant script once more. “They need better deaths. The zombies.” He wonders where he’s heard that phrase before.

“Something with impact, you know – beyond the actual… impact,” Joe says.

Like an imprint in the air, like an impression in scent, David remembers saying goodbye to Torri, remembers her whispering in his ear.

“Exploding tumours!” he says, like it’s a miracle, like it’s the Holy Grail. Joe doesn’t even look at him strangely this time, just flicks his ear, as though he’s an annoying insect. David bats at his hand, excitement starting to fizz.

“Ow,” says David, “Look, we need to engage ourselves first, before we can engage the audience. Right? And the zombies have got to die, right? So I want to give them deaths I care about. Like… the death Paul should have had – something less stupid than exploding tumours. And Torri should have had some kind of proper action sequence at last. And Claire shouldn’t have fallen off a godamn balcony like a piece of limp lettuce – there’s got to be a better way to die!”

“And the zombies are people that the characters care about,” says Joe, slowly, “So that makes a certain twisted kind of sense.”

“Of course it does!” says David, and that’s when he leans forward and kisses Joe.

Which also makes a certain twisted kind of sense.


“Oh my god!” says David.

He stares at his hands, at his shoe, at the laptop – anywhere but Joe. The leather of the sofa creaks as Joe shifts, the brown smell of it warm from their body heat. From their body heat. His lips are tingling. David wonders if he’s freaking out.

Joe gets up and grabs their mugs, to make more coffee. David thinks that must be his answer to everything. Make more coffee. Drink more bourbon. David wonders if it’s anything like his mother making tea in a crisis. He wonders, is this a crisis? Is this what a crisis feels like? He feels worse than when he ate too much pineapple in his first apartment, and his lips and throat swelled up. He called his dad to bail him out of that, but this? This is not something you can call people about. This is a disaster. This is something you fucking bury. This is…

The mugs clink together when Joe brings them back. The steam rises, hot and fragrant, David watches it curl into the air. Joe sits back down, still close, not freaking out, not bothered, at all, not…

Blindly, David turns towards him and Joe meets him halfway. He tastes bitter like coffee, and sweet like alcohol. He’s lean, all angles and bones, nothing like the round softness of… David doesn’t think about that, because everything’s got faster suddenly, break-neck, and he’s too hot, in Joe’s carefully climate controlled apartment, he’s stifling, he’s dying.

It’s nothing like anything he’s used to – it’s almost like fighting. They push and pull at each other, rough moves designed to be felt, to test the other, to sting. Joe’s stubble rubs at him, grating like sandpaper, it shouldn’t be hot, but David hears a groan, and knows that it’s his own. They aren’t trying for finesse, just the fastest way to get off, but David can’t help but bite down a little when Joe gets his pants open, when he grasps David’s cock. Joe hisses then, and grabs David’s own hand and pushes it into his crotch, where his dick is outlined in his pants, hot and heavy, and jumping a little as David squeezes.

The laptop thumps to the floor, but it’s the last thing David’s thinking about – he’s not thinking at all. Joe has button flies, that slip open easily, and then he’s inside, and Joe’s cock is velvet smooth in his hand, and hard, and leaking just a little. Joe makes breathy noises that get more demanding as David begins to stroke in earnest, and this is it, this is all there is, this is all David’s ever wanted, right here, right now, not having to worry, not having to think...

The urgency builds until there are little sparks at the corner of his vision, and Joe’s panting like he’s running a race, but his hand’s still moving on David’s cock, and basically that’s all that really matters. At the last, David turns instinctively, looking for a kiss, but he finds only Joe’s sharp, scratchy cheek, and the scrape of it, the shock, is enough to tumble him over. Joe follows a moment later with a groan, as David clutches hard, uneven in his movements, but still willing, not giving up, he’s never given up in his life.

He’s never had any complaints either, David thinks, some time later. He’s always done the decent thing, never fallen asleep too soon. He knows the moves, the etiquette – who says what, who cuddles, who doesn’t. He reads people very well.

He doesn’t know what to do.

Joe is a heavy weight along his side, half leaning on David, as his heartbeat stutters closer to normal. Little muscles are still twitching in his thighs. Then Joe gets up and goes to the kitchen. Comes back tidier, with a wet cloth. It’s all so prosaic. David wishes there could be earthquakes. Storms. Appropriate accompaniment for a world-shattering moment. Not for the first time, he wishes life could have its own soundtrack.

Instead, there’s a cloth thrown to him, an impersonal rub down, and then coffee handed over – which is still steaming, so little time has past. Joe picks up the laptop, checks and closes it.

“It’s ok,” says Joe.

It isn’t, David thinks. How can anything be ok?

“There’s no data loss.”

Joe’s playing it cool. Of course, there isn’t. Nothing’s lost, nothing real, except…

Joe sits back down, hands David the script. The pages are weirdly stiff, uneven from their drying. Joe turns to the first zombie scene, his long fingers as he flips the pages causing little flashbacks. David clenches his hands, conscious he still wants to lick Joe’s throat. He wonders what’s wrong with him.

“Look,” says Joe, “You don’t really need much help from me. The… script is fine.”

David turns a little, looks into Joe’s eyes – he’s smiling very slightly. He’s got interesting eyes, they’re gold and green and brown. Flecked. How come David’s never noticed that before?

“It’s just a huge thing, what you guys are doing. And everything got away from you for a moment. That’s all. You just needed someone else to pep you up. Set you back on track. Reassure you. Yeah?”

“Really?” says David, after a few seconds to parse his way through this conversation, “A huge thing, is it?”

They’re not talking about the script any more are they?

“Enormous. All-encompassing,” says Joe, and laughs. “But you guys will get it right.”

David wonders how Joe can be so sure. But he does have three of the little terrors, so he has way more experience than David. Maybe that’s the problem – David hates to feel out of control.

“Huh. Well, maybe the... script will be better for it in the long run.”

“Sure,” says Joe. “Bound to be.”

Yeah, right, thinks David. But it’s strange, he does feel more relaxed, calmer even. It’s not just the orgasm, although that was just as good as it should be. No, it’s more that indulging in one unknown terrifying thing seems to have prepared him for another. Somehow. Bizarrely.

“So – if I say thank you, you won’t think it’s weird?”

“Nope,” says Joe, and smiles.

“Right then,” says David.

“Right then,” says Joe.

Then their shoulders bump, as they both reach for the script again, and Joe’s right, it’s not weird at all, although David is almost sure it ought to be. They stare at one another, and David quirks a smile. It’s not even forced.

“So,” says David, “About scene 10…?”
[will fuck for sex]: domestica africa antartica atlantica eroanatsuno on October 30th, 2007 02:31 pm (UTC)
I like!
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on October 30th, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
Indybaggins: Sheppard/McKay gazeindybaggins on October 30th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)
Just the perfect mix of realism and hotness. I'm especially fond of the ending, how it all shifted back into perspective. This is one of the best Joe/David fics I've ever read, well done!
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on October 30th, 2007 06:38 pm (UTC)
*happy* I'm glad, because the tone was tricky, and I think it possibly shifted around a bit too much, at least for my tastes. But then - when is the author ever satisfied? :)
Gaffsiegaffsie on October 30th, 2007 03:08 pm (UTC)
I really like the way you write the boys, and Jane.
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on October 30th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Oh good, because I was hoping that I didn't make Jane too unbearable. I wanted her stressed but not too much - I didn't want this to turn into a character bashing fic! I don't think it does. I hope not, certainly.
Gaffsiegaffsie on October 30th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
It didn't come across as character bashing, I think. She was just stressed, and understandably so.
Fandom: karass or granfalloon. Discuss.sherrold on October 30th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)
This is fab! This is perfect job on that moment, when one of your friends is half-insane, and you're trying to help, but stay outside the insanity, and everything looks hopeless to them, but to you, not so much...

Great job!
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on October 30th, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
And it's a bit of comfort that you're offering, not some complicated romantic tragedy! Yeah. That was definitely the point :)
adafrogadafrog on October 30th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
huh. Cool.
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on November 3rd, 2007 02:39 am (UTC)
Thank you!
in the woods with the werewolves: SGA whatever.emeraldsword on October 31st, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
I really liked this - it felt realistic to me, sympathetic to all the characters and neither too angsty nor too sappy. Good job.
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on November 3rd, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
Oh, that's good! Always a worry, I think, especially if the fic doesn't ignore real life partners - thank you!
(Deleted comment)
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on November 3rd, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
Excellent! People keep using the word realistic. That makes me very happy! Thank you!
Velocitygrass: Joe/Davidvelocitygrass on October 31st, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)
This was very enjoyable. Thank you very much!
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on November 3rd, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
Cheers, m'dear! So glad you liked it!
Lacey McBain: SGA Partners in Crimelaceymcbain on November 2nd, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
better ways to die
Oh, yes, I'm totally with you on the better ways to die thing. And I really liked the story. It flowed nicely, and I liked the lack of awkwardness ... it felt like it could be that way.

This might be a stupid question, but I haven't read much real-life news about the actors lately ... is Jane really pregnant, or was that poetic license? Just curious.
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on November 3rd, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
Re: better ways to die
Not only pregnant, but given birth to the kid which is a boy and called Sebastian Flynn, to be known as Baz! Interestingly, Flynn as a name comes from the same root as Flanigan ie. the River Flann(sp?) in Ireland. So, in actual fact David named his son after Joe - awww :)

And thank you!
Lacey McBainlaceymcbain on November 4th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
Re: better ways to die
Thanks for the info! Very cool. I had no idea - apparently, I'd better pay closer attention to what my actors are getting up to! *G*
cristinaterribilita on November 6th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
Ohh, this is very nice; I liked the return to normalcy at the end...well, as normal as they can get I suppose. I enjoyed this very much so thanks for sharing.
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on November 8th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked the normality - I suppose that's what I like in fic. Some angst, some romance and a healthy dose of realism :) Thank you!
Obsessor of Sci-Fi: Shep - woobiekibou_sueshijuu on November 27th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
this is me: :D
this is me on this story: [[[puddle]]][of hot, sweet, goo]
Valderys: Sheppard - major interestsvalderys on November 28th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
Awww. Thank you, hon!