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11 January 2009 @ 11:30 pm
Freedom of Choice, SGA, John/Rod (PG)  
Title: Freedom of Choice
Author: valderys
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Rating: PG
Pairing: John/Rod
Word Count: 1,000
Notes: Written for picfor1000. Set in my Fascist Mensaverse AU. An episode tag for ‘McKay and Mrs Miller’.
Summary: This crisis may have ruined years of careful planning, but John is dammned if he’s going to let Rod waste his chance.

Everything is cold, and everything is still, at the point of decision. It’s an illusion, John knows – the environmental controls of Atlantis are working to their usual peak efficiency, but it sums up his feelings. There’s a hush across the control room, and people are quieter than usual. This particular fearful silence has an extra-special edge, he decides, mockingly, far beyond any normal terror. Or maybe that’s just him?

It doesn’t help, of course, that there’s no enemy they can see or fight. The problem is at the sub-atomic level, out on the edges of the solar system, an invisible tear in the fabric of sub-space, only being made worse by the exotic particles being created constantly by the energy-bridge they’ve detected. It crosses John’s mind that he, Rod, and Radek should be fighting for the credit of the discovery, but the mere fact that their entire universe could be snuffed out like a candle at any second, means they can’t even put together the illusion of division. It’s a game they play constantly, with careful rules. Teamwork is encouraged, of course, but only up to a certain point. If their masters knew they weren’t jealous of each other in the slightest, that they weren’t willing to backstab the opposition for tenure, or notice, or the chance to get ahead, then they’d be watched even more carefully. In case they belonged instead to a movement promoting sedition, or revolution, or some such. As if they would.

It’s secession that they’re after. The ability to break from Earth. The careful planning of not months, but years, has been put into jeopardy by a natural disaster that takes precedence over everything. John could kill something, he really could. After all, he is a crack shot. John closes his eyes for a moment, the image of Colonel Caldwell’s arrogant face exploding into a bright scarlet smear is almost too tempting. He opens them again quickly and stares blindly down at his sensor readings.

They’d drawn straws. Radek, and Rod, and himself. Which one of them should go. Not without a wince on Rod’s part, remembering the last time, remembering poor Peter Grodin, John decides. But they’d done it nonetheless, in a quiet corner of the lab. No other way, because they were the only scientists who could do the job at the other end, and Caldwell would choose Radek, as the most expendable, if they didn’t pre-empt him with their own decision. Because it hadn’t taken long, minutes even, to realise it wasn’t a natural disaster, but a created one, other scientists in another universe dumping their garbage into this one. Rod had shaken his head, John remembers, then mentioned Doranda, his fingers snapping with sudden enlightenment, before he’d looked down, suppressing his enthusiasm, in case it was misconstrued.

There’d been fear then, John remembers, amongst the three of them, breaths coming fast, a certain glassiness in the eye, but there’d been excitement as well. The chosen one might die, they all knew that, but… It was also a one-way ticket. A whole new universe, with intelligent life in it, leaving a commendation behind in this one. No reprisals taken against your family. What’s a small personal risk worth in that grand scheme?

John tries not to think of his several almost-escapes. For example, turning into an iratus bug had only given the illusion of freedom, really, as Rod had pointed out once he was well on the road to recovery. The feeling of limitless power, of animal senses and hungers, had been dangerously addictive. But he would have been shot down like a dog, if Rod hadn’t got there first. And therefore John tries not to listen to the whispers left in his blood that tell him he’s faster and stronger than them, that he can kill them all, tear them apart and then feast on their very bones. He loves bugs.

He still got a commendation though. Beckett was very happy with the test data on the effects of his retrovirus, and John wants to shudder, knowing it could all have been so much worse. When the Political Officer is happy, after all, even Colonel Caldwell smiles. And doesn’t ask what other tests need doing, who else is ‘helping’ Beckett in his labs.

John looks down at the sensor data, calculating how long it’s been. Hours now since Rod left, with a wave and a smile. John misses him more than he can say, even though this is Rod’s chance. His escape. His sense memory of the last time they sparred together – the last time they touched, and kissed, and rubbed against each other, just enough, just enough to keep John going until the next time – feels like years ago, not days. His heart aches, and his teeth clench.

The fear rises up into his throat once more, as he mechanically moves his hands to do what has to be done. As soon as Kavanagh had made Caldwell aware of the possibility, John had known what would happen. Apparently, they can reverse the effect. John is no Rod, but he can see what Kavanagh is getting at, that the exotic particles can be flushed, all at once, into the other universe, thereby instantly destroying it. They’re going to do it, John knows that, it’s only a question of when. Rod must shut down the energy-bridge, or he’ll be killed. Everything over there will be instantly annihilated, the whole universe.

John will be dammed if he lets that happen. Rod has a chance now, on the other side. He’s found his refuge, and however much John misses him, he’s not going to let Rod down. John shivers. There’ll be no plausible reason for his unauthorised action. He’ll likely be helping Becket with his experiments again, in short order. And yet, it’s all worth it, for Rod, for his deliverance. His safety.

John sends his warning message, and thinks of Rod’s crooked smile. Then he sits back and waits for them to come.

Trobadora: Mensa AU - Rod by thegrrrl2002trobadora on January 12th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
Wow. You know I love your version of the Mensaverse, and this is true to form - absolutely fascinating and absolutely chilling. A wonderful episode tag.
Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on January 12th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I haven't written in it for ages - but that's what the picture inspired. A cold, chill, waiting Atlantis. Somehow. Got to go with the muses! :)
dossierdossier on January 12th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Man, I love this verse, and this is a fantastic addition. John's fear is palpable, and the tiny bit of glee for Rod is a beautiful counterpoint.

Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on January 12th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah - it's quite a lot angsty, this universe :) It's nice that the boys have never given up, or given in. This actually had to be cut short a bit, because of the word limit, or there might have been more glee!
badwolf36badwolf36 on January 12th, 2009 04:09 am (UTC)
Damn. Interesting view into the Mensa verse and its politics. A creepy view, but an interesting one nonetheless. Thanks for sharing!
Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on January 12th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
My original thought was that it had to be some serious pressure to get Rodney to turn into Rod. And this was what I came up with - a universe in which Rod's people skills are actually survival skills :)
tzzzz: Anal probetzzzz on January 12th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Creepy. I love your take on the mensaverse.
Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on January 13th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
A different take, but it always bothered me that people write Mensaverse as though nothing will have changed over there - and yet it produces Rod? This was my answer :)
lilyfarfalla: sga john sheppardlilyfarfalla on January 13th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Mmm, I love your mensa-verse, and this is a great addition to it. I love how the act of drawing straws and the bickering we see in our own verse means such different things here.
Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on January 13th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
And I keep finding that the opposites of things fit so well too! :) I hope I'll write some more, but it's taken me more than a year to get back to it, so who knows...
MariaTV101: sgabeautybecks on January 14th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
Poor John, just waiting, hoping, trusting. This is an alternate universe in many ways, lol, bugs, but the bond between John and McKay that is still there. This is a fabulous piece.
Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on January 15th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's a bit of an angsty universe, but that seems to suit my writing :) And John and Rod certainly always seem to scrape by, just like our John and Rodney, even if the disasters they escape tend to be more home-grown!
Perfica: sga arrowheartperfica on January 15th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
Creepy and brilliant. I hope we get to see how John saves himself!
Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on January 16th, 2009 08:32 am (UTC)
Well, I can't guarantee, but this is the only universe to which I've returned more than once, so it's certainly not impossible! :)
never underestimate a Celtvanitashaze on April 22nd, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
But he would have been shot down like a dog, if Rod hadn’t got there first. And therefore John tries not to listen to the whispers left in his blood that tell him he’s faster and stronger than them, that he can kill them all, tear them apart and then feast on their very bones. He loves bugs.

Chills. Up my spine. This is such a wonderfully crafted universe, so brutal and frightening just under that shallow, shallow veneer, and of course strangely plausible, which makes it not only a fascinating piece of work but really, really fucking scary. The mention of Beckett's experiments was especially unsettling though, I'll admit, intriguing. And, as always, I love this version of John.
Valderys: Rod - cooler than the Tardisvalderys on April 29th, 2009 08:01 am (UTC)
At some point, I must write the fic in which they finally do manage to break away from Earth - I have an idea or two about that. I hesitate to think it (since the idea is still so silly) but what if the exploding tumours were deliberate? It's something the authorities would never expect! :)