John can see his father in his dreams; sitting in the tub on that afternoon twenty years ago, his cigar floating in the red water and his mother dead on the kitchen floor. Uncle Acastus had taken him in like a son and John simply returns the hospitality with his work.
He tells himself that.
Rodney is the other side, John's only proof, the only thing that makes him exist.
It's spring again and the sky is as bright as Rodney's eyes on the nights John's with him. It's beautiful and frightening at the same time, he doesn't ask questions about it, just doesn't.
He does his job again and again, he still knows the name of every single one, but with Rodney he can pretend to forget.
Rodney is in bed beside him - it's a more than dirty little hotel room, but they don't ask questions here, so they don't tell – and he wants to talk, he tends to do that afterwards.
"Nobody…" John buries his eyes under his arm, hoping that's it.
"You talk about him when you sleep…"
"He killed my parents."
John has no clue why he tells Rodney, why he doesn't lie. Well, too late now.
Yeah, oh. John groans inwardly, he doesn't want to talk and, thank God for Rodney, he doesn't want to either and snuggles up to his lover once more.
It's one of the worst jobs ever and John needs three weeks and the surgery skills of a doubtfully skilled pathologist working for the Family. His side hurts like hell and he barely survived the bullet but is back in the bar on the first night he can walk again.
Caldwell is there too.
He sits at the bar and watches Rodney play. It's a faster piece this time; John can feel the rhythm in his wounds as he sits down in a darker corner of the bar. Teyla isn't there tonight either.
Caldwell talks with Carson and finally with Rodney.
Rodney doesn't believe one word, then Caldwell shows him pictures and John can see how the blue eyes dim.
It's summer again and John has not seen Rodney for almost two months, not even visits to the bar. Kolya has told him he should keep it down, not do any jobs for a while and relax, Caldwell is too close – and John really doesn't need the Scar Face to remind him of that fact, thank you very much.
"I gave you the ability to kill the murderer of your parents, I gave you the skills for your revenge and you owe me for it," he always says and John listens.
John kills a diplomat and his wife as the trees turn to gold again - he's the best one, nobody can do it better - and adds Weir to his list.
He hopes that someone will add Sheppard to their list soon.
He's too tired for all of it.
Rodney stands in front of his door, pretty much one year after their first time. His blue eyes look tired and he's visibly fighting with his fears as he stands there. John can see him through the spyhole in the door, his gun ready - he has a lot of people against him nowadays.
"How the hell have you found me?!" He wants to scream at the top of his lungs, wants to tell Rodney how unbelievably stupid it is to seek him out, especially since he never told him where to be found. Hell, the whole thing about being a killer for the Family is not to be found!
"Brilliant observation, John." Rodney looks around, fidgeting. "Will you let me in?"
"It would really be better if you did…" He fidgets again and John steps to the side and lets him in, well, not as if he has much of a choice.
"I know who you are and what you do," Rodney tells him, standing in the middle of John's living room and John sits down on his couch, laying his gun carefully on the table before him. Rodney follows John with his eyes and snaps his mouth shut fast.
"I doubt that Rodney…"
"Caldwell, you know, from the police, he showed me pictures and it all makes sense now…" Rodney gestures, a bit slower than normal. "You came to the bar every time you…"
John leans back in his couch, head tilted back and staring at the ceiling. Chaya flashes before his eyes, sweet smile and bloody hands, dead on the sidewalk. She had jumped as it had gotten out about him, about the Family, of her own free will or not.
"Leave Rodney… and never come back," he drawls.
"You shouldn't have come here, how did you get my address anyway?"
"Friends," Rodney snaps and raises his chin, arms crossed over his chest. "You don't work in a bar without making friends who know people that know things…"
"I get it," John holds up one hand to stop Rodney. "And now what?"
"I sort of thought, well, you don't do this because you like it." Rodney paces up and down now, shaky. "I think I know you that much…"
"You don't know me at all."
"Oh, I do." Rodney stops pacing and points a finger at John. "You said Sumner killed your parents and than Caldwell came and I just did the math. "
"You should just go back to your life Rodney…"
"And let you suffer in peace? Ah, no. You're not a killer."
"How do you think I earn my money?"
Rodney glares and it's probably pointless to argue now.
"Fuck off!" John gets up and growls. "Just fuck off…"
John stomps to the door. Throwing Rodney out is the only way to save him. John doesn't care about himself, but if Kolya were to know about this, about Rodney and Caldwell, then… He doesn't want to add McKay to Lorne's list.
"Look… My sister's husband Caleb, he works for a big firm which exports all kinds of things. He can get us on a ship to Sweden, he has relatives in Umea..."
John blinks and blinks again. "Sweden?"
"Yeah…" Rodney nods. "We would have to work for our living, but you know, not your kind of work…"
"Sweden?" John repeats. The last thing he had ever counted on was going to Sweden – of all places.
Rodney nods and grins broadly, eyes sparkling, and John groans. He drags his hands through his spiky black hair; this is insane, totally insane. Here he is, with Rodney pacing up and down in his badly lit living room, babbling about Sweden and escape, and John is sure that McKay hasn't even a clue with whom he would get himself in trouble if they even thought about it.
"Look Rodney, we can't go to Sweden…"
"Oh we can, the ship goes tomorrow evening…"
You don't understand, he wants to yell, but when he thinks about it, Rodney must have looked under so many stones to find the one John is hiding under, that Kolya probably already knows about him. It's pointless now; Sweden then.
Sweden, at least for Rodney.
Normally the end of a romance story, in books and movies at least, is a happy one. John knows he won't get that, he just knows. He had a few lucky days, beautiful hours in his existence, and that's more than he could have expected… A few nice months, yeah.
He parks his car at the warehouse not far from the piers. It's a matter of a few meters to reach Rodney now, to freedom.
He'd never really counted on making it to the ship.
"Lorne…" He sighs and doesn't even turn around to the source of the voice. He hoped to be the name on a list someday, just so he no longer had to add names to his own.
"The Boss heard you wanted to leave…" Lorne is leaning against the wall of the warehouse, the gun barely hidden below his long black coat. "And he isn't very happy about it."
"I thought so," Sheppard drawls and looks down. He can almost see the ship, Rodney nervously pacing up and down at the gangway.
"You know, I never thought I would be the one to get you," Lorne says and John can see why, knows what kind of boost this must be for Lorne. He thinks well of him in the end.
The sun goes down beyond the horizon, the ship will probably leave soon. John won't be there, and anyway, Sweden was a stupid place to hide. Whoever heard of someone escaping to Sweden? Mexico, yes, but not a place where it would be dark half the year.
Destiny is a sarcastic bitch, really.
He never feels the bullet pierce his heart but knows when it stops beating.
He rests somewhere soft and piano music is drifting over him again, soft and sad. He feels no pain except for a slight stabbing, poking him in the ribs again and again. Not a bullet.
"Rodney, I would leave him alone, Colonel Sheppard seems to be very tired…" Someone is laughing softly, warm and soothing.
"Yeah, and that's why he falls asleep in my lap? Really Colonel, I know the movie wasn't that great but my legs are cramping already and your head is goddamn heavy…" And the something pokes into his ribs again, pushes at his shoulder. "Which is surprising given my theory that there's not much more to you than your ridiculously spiky hair and hot air."
"R'ney?" John opens his eyes slowly, looking up into blue ones.
"Yes, exactly, now up with you Colonel I-am-not-sleeping…" Rodney snaps and pushes, John loses his balance and falls face first off the couch, lying there for long seconds with his eyes staring at the last scenes of the movie they watched together.
Team night, he remembers, team night. "Ouch…"
He groans and pushes himself up, rubbing his brow. He's sitting in the middle of his team, the piano music drifting from the beamer before them. Road to Perdition, he remembers, a Tom Hanks movie about gangsters in the 1930s – Ronon's choice.
No bar, no killing, no Sweden... a dream. God, a dream.
Rodney is sprawled all over the sofa now, taking up too much space, no wonder he ended up sleeping all over him. He can't help but stare, which doesn't go unnoticed by the others.
"I think it is time to leave now," Teyla says finally and he can barely turn his head as she stands up. "Sleep well Colonel Sheppard…"
Ronon leaves as well, only Rodney stays a bit longer.
"Good night guys…" John waves tiredly and pulls himself up. Rodney is ready to leave too, with most of the equipment under his arm.
"So, I'm going now Colonel Sleepy; or do you need me to tuck you in?" Rodney snaps before marching over to the door.
John wishes he could say yes.
"I think not…" John yawns but smiles, a bit artificial but anyway... He walks over to the door himself. "Good night Rodney…"
Rodney mumbles his goodbyes and leaves, then the door closes and John asks himself – remembering the few good moments from his dream – whether it had tried to tell him something.