Chapter 14

To Love the World Again

And John…well John woke up surrounded by his very much alive team…

Three weeks ago.

Beckett finally let him loose on the city with stipulations- no secluded anywheres and daily check-ups. He saluted and mentally skipped out of the infirmary straight to an outside venue. He had not seen the outdoors since their pell-mell run to the Gate and his subsequent impersonation of gum on the underside of Bama's boot.

He stretched his legs out in front of him towards the railing of the balcony right outside the control room. Seemed like everyone had the same idea on such a gorgeous day. He watched conversations going on around him. Some were casual. Some were intense. Some…a girlish, sorority giggle would be appropriate.

He was feeling James Dean today in his white T-shirt and jeans. Being on medical leave made him a true rebel without a cause. He was still having a few shooting pains now and again but they kept lessening with each day. Light duty would be granted in about a week. He was also breaking in a new pair of Milky Way Galaxy, shoe laced boots.

Gosh, too bad Rodney didn't think to get all our gear. I really liked all my stu-uff. I guess I won't really miss anything except those boots. Nothing else, well maybe that watch but not anything el…just my 9 mil.

He smiled at his internal witty repartee.

"Col. Sheppard. You have to do something."

A very nasal, irritating voice interrupted his joke.

"Ever since his release, Dr. McKay has been a totalitarian, militant despot in the labs."

Sheppard looked up at the pony-tailed delight that was, is and ever shall be Kavanagh. He tried to keep his face a disinterested neutral. "Sorry? Who shot who in the what now?"

With an exaggerated eye roll, Kavanagh clarified, "He's insufferable, more so than before…"

Hello pot…thought Sheppard. As a matter of fact, what in the hell are you still doing here? He thought Kavanagh had left after the siege. He really had not seen him around much. He figured the man would take the first chance to run from the incompetent leadership around this place. Oh wait a minute; I'm part of the incompetent leadership.

"You have to set him straight, he's not military. Just because you were unable to do your job, he thinks…"

Dr. Zelenka blew in like a tornado, "Dr. Kavanagh! Dr. Dupree needs you to supervise installation of the…"

"He's not trying that by himself is he?" Kavanagh squeaked worriedly and took off running before Zelenka had finished.

Radek looked down at the seated Sheppard. He wore a conspiratorial smirk.

"Col. Sheppard, it's good to see you up and enjoying a little air," he said cheerfully. "Please ignore Dr. Kavanagh's last tactless comment. He has the manners of a turnip and the social skills of a rock."

"Once his mouth opened, I turned on my filter Dr. Z," said Sheppard not having to look up very far."So McKay's become even more of a tyrant, hunh?"

Radek grinned, "Rodney is…well he's trying to utilize his new found leadership confidence. If he can rescue both of you from certain doom, then running a lab and all the scientific interests of Atlantis are child's play. You know Rodney, his ego knows no bounds." Radek clucked his tongue. "It'll all even out. I'll make sure. And Kavanagh won't bother you again."

Sheppard let a smile return. "It's all right Dr. Z. I lived through what happened on our vacation to Tara. I chalk it up to being a good teacher. You change those things you can and accept those you can't."

"Quite right," replied Zelenka nodding thoughtfully. "It really is good to see you up and around. See you later Colonel."

Sheppard went back to his internal musings; Rodney must have Zelenka tailing Kavanagh, poor guy. He was not a glass beaker, he knew what his capabilities were and they had all been nullified except for his ability to piss off people in charge. He had used that exceptionally well.

He smiled to himself because he was fine and Rodney was a genius. Fine as in a standing appointment with Heightmeyer for a little while but he could do that standing on his head. Also, fine as in the next time he needed to use the control chair; he was going to be a little hesitant . He would definitely look before sitting.

Another ego-filled voice interrupted him. This one he was waiting for.

"I have a bone to pick with you."

His smile evaporated into the stratosphere.

McKay sat down next to him. "But before that- I see great minds think alike." He lifted up his brand, spankin' new, Milky Way Galaxy, shoe laced boots.

The smile descended back down onto his face briefly. It left when he started. "I did something wrong."

"Oh yeah? That could be any number of things," said McKay. "But I know there are a few things in particular."

"I woke you up."

"I know."

"You do?" Figures, thought Sheppard. "What I did wrong was take away your freewill. Something that I was afraid was going to happen to us. I even lied. That darkness, it wasn't her. That was all me."

A little shock registered on McKay's face. "Now that's just disturbing."

"Tell me about it. I think that it is in all of us but the cube brought it out even more. I was flying high over the coockoo's nest. Even with that, when you're trained for combat, it's waiting just under the surface." Sheppard pursed his lips before continuing, "You were running away. I was afraid you wanted to stay like that. I…"

"Couldn't trust me to make the right decision," finished McKay.


"That's not the sticking point for me." Rodney waited for the inevitable reaction.

Sheppard looked at him bewildered.

"You kept your self-righteous tirade going and didn't tell me about your little cube induced intervention for- how long?" McKay kept a steady expression as he tapped at his new watch. "Yes you were a crazed program in that cube but afterwards…"

"I was a coward."

"That is last word I would ever use to describe you. Especially after seeing what you went through. I would use: stupid, idiotic, moronic, selfish, asinine…"

"I get it."


"OK McKay."


"Thank you, M…"


"Enough!" He said with a high-pitched voice. He looked around the balcony as he actually flashed red in his cheeks. "That we shall never speak of again." He hissed as low as possible. Bad enough it was in a report. Hardest report he ever had to write--and he had been dead, twice. He never thought there would be anything harder to write about than your own mortality. Boy was he wrong.

On another level, the bastard got away with it. Ixion was not in the database and Rodney never found the address. Therefore, they couldn't even block it out. Now that really stuck in his craw.

"No argument here." McKay stretched his legs out and twisted a little to keep off his bu…hip injury. "I was going to let you twist and twist and twist, but the thing is…I would have been sucking my thumb in the corner and drooling without your self-interested intervention. I may have had a few theories running around but they would've clanked into any oozing, puss-filled doubts I harbored and that could've gotten us killed or worse, not. You see, he wasn't going to kill you. He was going to keep you around just to remind me who was the master and who was the servant. There would've been nothing left of you. And to me…it's better to have a self-righteous asshole as a friend than none at all."

Sheppard smirked, "Sucking your thumb?"

"It's a metaphor Colonel."

"Self righteous asshole?"

"Hell yeah."


"The best."

"Back at ya there Wiley." Sheppard did not look at him but knew there was a big smile on McKay's face. "You did good Rodney. I kept it together because you kept it together. That impresses the hell out of me. It's easy to slay the dragon. It takes a hero to wake up and love the world the next morning."

Now it was McKay's turn to blush. "The only thing I want to know is- why did you purposely piss off Orson? You should always trust, no matter what else, in the self-preservation instincts that I hold. They get extended to friends and teammates when necessary." Rodney looked at him waiting for his answer.

"Because McKay, I'm really good at it." He paused, "And it seemed like a good idea at the time. Painful, not much foresight, but good.

Rodney shifted again. "I should add faulty reasoning to the list. Well this seat is just about as uncomfortable as it can get." He stood up and stretched. "Colonel, we start here with a clean bill of health and friendship. Let's try to wait a couple of days before we screw it up."

Sheppard laughed and really could not stop. Once it abated enough for him to speak, he waved a finger at McKay. "Don't worry McKay, something will come along to challenge us. Know one thing- next time, you get to be the shish kabob."

"Careful Colonel, I have some Illudium Phosdex left and know how to use it." McKay limped off and for good measure added, "Hairy!"

Sheppard stopped laughing. Just to be safe, he was going to have the supply officer hide all the razors.

The End (for real)

A/N: Well hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think of it as a whole. Like to thank all of you who reviewed on any and all chapters. I had fun writing it. The voracious bunnies are already plotting and scheming. January! Oh January come to momma.