- Character Bashing
- Explicit Sex
- Alternate Universe
- Established Relationship
- Ménage or More
The original story Close Timelike Curve can be found here.
Weir’s Office – CTC +90 days
Elizabeth admired the young marine sitting opposite her as he told his story. He was gorgeous, with sparkling blue eyes and a head of wavy hair that just skirted the rules. It wasn’t like John Sheppard could complain, his own hair was unruly even for the Air Force. Still, the Colonel worked it well and had an innate sexiness that put him head and shoulders above the rest of the troops. The other members of the Hexad were pin-ups in their own right, but Elizabeth found she couldn’t connect with any of them – they were too involved in each other, even John, which was a real shame as far as she was concerned.
“That is really troubling, Lieutenant Mulrooney. It is important that you bring this information to the Colonel as soon as possible. He will no doubt want to investigate it himself, especially as it involves someone he thinks of as a friend. I must admit to being quite shocked at the lengths the Doctor would go to in order to fulfil his need for domination. You’d think he was already receiving all the adulation he wanted in his new circumstances.”
He gave her a smirk, which she returned. “I agree, Ma’am. I have already made an appointment with Colonel Sheppard, via his XO and have a slot at 13.30 hours. Given the nature of my complaint, I would expect that any investigation will take quite a while to complete, but I would imagine we will see some fallout quite quickly.”
Elizabeth nodded and tapped her stylus on the desk absentmindedly. “Colonel Sheppard is thorough, especially concerning complaints about civilians. Please do not hesitate to come back and see me, Callum, especially if you feel you are not being taken seriously, or if you feel the investigation is not stringent enough. I want you especially to return if you are subjected to these behaviours again.”
“Oh, I’ll be back, Elizabeth,” his eyes smouldering as the sexiest grin crossed his face. “You can count on it.”
Weir barely held back the shiver of anticipation his words gave her, but she nodded and looked up through her lashes at him, making sure he knew he would be very welcome.
Atlantis – CTC +93 Days
It should have been weird; walking along the corridors of a semi-sentient city floating in an ocean, covering half of a planet in another galaxy.
It should have been disorientating; working with an eclectic mix of brains and brawn, and being called ‘Gunny’ and not ‘Boss’.
It should have been uncomfortable; sharing a bed with five other guys, who could make him come harder, longer, and more often than he ever had before.
But the only difficulty Gibbs was having, was keeping in the giddy whoop of joy that kept welling up in his throat at odd times during the day.
The ripples in the tide of Atlantis’ fortunes that had begun when they set foot on her, had spread out into a tsunami of experiences, some of which he was still processing, including the fact that, just by being on the city and joining hands, the Hexad – or ‘The Atlantis Sex’ as the Marines had dubbed them – had charged the three almost empty ZPM’s that were in situ in the power room, while zapping enough energy into the Recharging Unit Buffers to fill five more. They were still exploring the new rooms Atlantis had opened only a few hours after their arrival, and Gibbs’ gut was giving him a good feeling that they would find some kind of storage area containing depleted modules any day.
Right now, the city was safe from the Wraith, which meant they had some breathing space to plan a terminal action that would wipe out the ugly, creepy, energy-sucking bastards.
He came to the door of their rooms – which was more like a loft apartment – and paused for a moment to savour the feeling of calm contentment that always seemed to hit him when he came ‘home’. That was something he hadn’t had for a very long time.
Without having to say or do anything the door slid silently open, and he sent a mental ‘thank you’ to Atlantis. Their link with her seemed to be getting stronger by the day and she often pre-empted their needs, as far as their interactions with her structure went. Rodney thought they would have a voice interface with her in the next few weeks, the only hold-up being the fact that Miko needed to write the programs and his favourite scientist was having to invent some of the hardware at a level of complexity that was unknown on Earth. It blew Jethro’s mind that his new lover was an intellectual superstar, who seemed to pluck unbelievably complex concepts from the ether and shape them into useable and understandable technology.
His almost instant connection with the snarky Canadian had shocked everyone, including their other lovers. Gibbs could calm Rodney’s hissy fits with merely a soft touch, while McKay, with just a couple of dry comments, had Jethro laughing out loud. Strangely, having the two prickliest members of their group click so easily, had seemed to make the initial transition into the bedroom much simpler for all of them.
He was arriving home later than planned, having volunteered to help Ronan torture a few of the Marines on punishment detail. He’d managed to grab a shower in the locker room, after a very thorough, and gratifying exercise session in the gym, but now he wanted some food and a beer, in that order.
Jethro hung his jacket on a hook and after unlacing his boots with economic movements, placed them in their designated cubby by the door. He relaxed as he shed everything to do with his job outside the door while a small, content smile hovered on his lips as he contemplated some downtime.
He didn’t have to call out to know that everyone was home.
There was a growing connection between the six of them too. For right now it seemed only situational – a vague awareness of where the others were, and that they were well. Daniel felt certain it would continue to grow as they interacted more. He even went so far as to speculate that there might be an element of telepathy. That had made Jethro wince a little. Some of the thoughts that went through his mind at any given time were not fit for general consumption, and the idea of being immersed in the intense intellectual complexity that was Daniel or Rodney’s mind, made his head ache in anticipation.
Gibbs padded into the main living area of the apartment in his socked feet but found the room was deserted, so he carried on down the small hallway towards the bedrooms. Atlantis had opened up this place for them mere hours after they arrived; directing them with flashing lights and opening doors to the top of the tower off the South pier. As well as bedrooms, it had a living and cooking/eating area, and a huge decadent bathroom. The bath was more of a hot tub, and there was a shower big enough for a whole platoon of Marines. They’d yet to get in there together, but Jethro was pretty sure it would afford them ample room for whatever fun they decided to have.
She’d also given them four bedrooms. The Master was obviously meant for the six of them. The platform bed in the centre was almost fifteen feet square, with a deep soft mattress. The other three rooms were still luxurious, but the beds were more akin to a large California Queen-size. It seemed the city recognised that they might need somewhere more intimate to sleep, either as couples or even alone. They hadn’t argued… yet… but as Tony had observed, they were still in the honeymoon phase.
As he neared the end of the darkened hallway, he saw the recognisable figure of McKay standing in the doorway of the Master, looking in. From the sounds drifting towards Gibbs, the other four were doing some serious making out inside. On quiet feet, he padded up behind Rodney and looked over his shoulder.
Sure enough, John and Jack were engaged in some heavy petting, while a grinning Tony and an obviously aroused Daniel looked on. They were all still pretty much clothed, although John’s shirt was hanging open, and Tony was stroking delicate fingers across the bare skin of his belly.
“Beautiful,” Jethro breathed, his interest already making itself known, as he quickly went to semi-hard, making a bulge in the front of his pants. He’d always loved to watch, and the four of them together made a delicious scene for any voyeur.
Rodney jumped slightly and flicked a glance behind him, before looking down at his feet. Jethro realised he’d been too engrossed to notice his arrival.
“Yeah, they are.” Rodney turned and made to leave, still looking at the floor, seemingly embarrassed at being caught watching.
Jethro stopped him with a gentle hand to his broad shoulder. “They don’t mind, you know that. It turns them on to know they’re being watched.”
Emotions too quick and complex for Gibbs to interpret flitted across the Canadian’s face. “I have work to do. I’ll be in my lab.”
Something about McKay’s tone put Jethro on edge. He didn’t sound turned on at all, in fact he sounded almost despondent.
“Hey, you OK?”
“Yeah, just tired,” Rodney mumbled as he shrugged his shoulder away from Jethro’s hand and strode down the hallway away from him.
Gibbs followed him, having an inkling that there was something more to this than tiredness. He caught him up in the kitchen, where McKay was stuffing a couple of energy bars in his trouser pockets.
“Oh no, my dear Doctor, you’re not skipping dinner and replacing it with that crap,” Jethro scolded gently. “You’ve already had one hypoglycaemic incident this week. I don’t want to go through that again in a hurry.” The sight of Rodney parchment-pale and completely disorientated had made Jethro’s gut churn. No one as vibrant as Rodney should suffer like that, and Gibbs had determined to make sure it didn’t happen again.
McKay frowned and stuck out his chin belligerently. “Won’t be your problem for long will it, Gunny?” It was a statement more than a question.
“And why is that?” Jethro asked carefully, noting that Rodney seemed to be on the defensive, which was a shame, as he had seemed to be relaxing as the six of them found their way with each other. There had been nothing in their interactions either that evening or earlier in the day that should have caused any friction between them, but of course, Jethro had been busy all afternoon.
Rodney glanced at Jethro seeming to search for something, but it seemed he didn’t find what he was looking for as he jerkily shook his head and moved toward the doorway. Before he could get halfway across the room, Jethro had caught him up and reached out to stop him, his hand on the bulge of his upper arm. There was real muscle there, firm and strong, and as Jethro had found to his excitement, covered in the softest and most sensitive skin. It was one of the many things about the man that made him very attractive to Gibbs.
Dr. Meredith Rodney McKay, Ph.D. Ph.D Ph.D., was a real dichotomy. Soft skin over firm muscle and solid bone structure; an insanely brilliant mind alongside an almost childlike enjoyment of games and joking about; a compassionate sweetness underneath a belligerent stubbornness; a self-proclaimed cowardice cloaking a deep well of bravery; an almost endless vocabulary that could describe the workings of the Universe with ease, but that degenerated into the most gorgeous, inarticulate moans of pleasure when he was in the throes of passion.
But right now, none of those attributes were obvious. In fact, he was being uncharacteristically silent and it make Gibbs feel antsy.
“Come on, Meredith. I think we need to talk.” Jethro jibed, hoping to get a rise from his lover, but there wasn’t even a flinch from McKay at the hated name.
A look of complete despair crowded onto McKay’s expression before it was wiped away by a blankness that was such an alien expression for the scientist, that Gibbs was at a loss as to what had said to put it there.
“Ahh…OK, right, I see…I thought…well that is, I hoped, John might do it himself. But…well… I suppose as they’re all busy at the moment it falls to you. It’s alright, I won’t make it difficult. I haven’t moved all my stuff from mine and Joh…from my old room yet. It’ll only take a few minutes to gather the things that have ended up here. I’ll come back tomorrow when you’re all on duty…I can leave the lab to my minions for a while…”
Gibbs frowned in bewilderment. “What the fuck are you prattling on about? You’re not going anywhere, Rodney,” he snapped as he gently shook the scientist.
Grasping Rodney’s wrist, Jethro pulled him towards the balcony. He felt the other man resist a little but Jethro didn’t let up the pressure. Eventually, he won the minor tug-of-war and they were out in the warm night air. This balcony overlooked the centre of the city and was at least two hundred feet higher than the central tower. The view was spectacular, but right now all Jethro’s attention was focussed on the pale face of the man next to him.
McKay stumbled gracelessly over to the railing and grasped it tightly, his fingers white with tension. Jethro said nothing. He had nowhere to be; he could wait all night for McKay to let him know what the matter was, and knowing Rodney he wouldn’t be able to stand the silence for long. He leaned against the doorway and waited for McKay to start. As he’d guessed, it was barely a minute before the other man gave a shaky sigh and dragged a trembling hand through his thinning hair.
“So…aren’t you going to say it?” The words were bitten out, but there was something Jethro couldn’t identify underlying the tension.
“What is it you think I have to say, Rodney?” Jethro asked gently, not wanting the scientist to feel he was being interrogated.
“Well…now the ZedPM’s are charged…” He shrugged as he trailed off, obviously thinking he’d made his point. He kept his gaze out over the city, but his arms were shaking with tension as he clasped the metal barrier.
As he watched Rodney, Jethro realised that what he was seeing was not angry McKay, but that he was upset…really distressed.
“What do you think is going to happen, now that’s done?” he asked gently, not really sure what was hurting his new lover, but wanting desperately to know so he could fix it. In the back of his mind, he was surprised at how much the wellbeing of this man meant to him. He could easily fall for this complicated enigma… If he was honest, he probably already had.
“Oh, so I have to be the one to say it. It figures, why should any of you want to be cast as the bad cop.” Rodney jerked around and turned wide, desolate eyes on Jethro. “I thought you were the great Gunny Gibbs who knows no fear. It looks like you really are the functional mute Tony always accuses you of being. Far be it from me to make you use up any of your small allotment of words to talk to me.”
Rodney fisted his hands at his sides, but Jethro was well aware it was not aggressive.
“So here it is. I know I’m a third…or should I say a sixth wheel. All those years ago, when John said he wanted me, I was scared that this would eventually happen, but after ten years of being together, I sort of let myself believe perhaps it was my turn… you know?” Rodney bit his lip as his voice broke on his last two words.
Gibbs didn’t really know, but he had a bad feeling that he and the others, possibly most especially John, had messed up… a lot.
Now he’d started though, Rodney was on a roll.
“There was a point when we found Ronan, that I thought things might get difficult … but he’s straight and I was happy and relieved when they became friends and nothing more. I went through it again when Lorne became John’s XO… He flirted and John would do it right back, and every night I wondered if it was the last time, if this would be the time when…”
Rodney’s blue eyes met Jethro’s, and there was nothing but pain in them. As he began to understand where this was going, only his experience allowed Gibbs to keep quiet. Rodney needed to get this out if they were ever going to rebuild his confidence and convince him he was wrong.
“Then Evan got his own geek, and I relaxed again. But I was an idiot to think I could have someone like John and keep him. It was a lesson I learned in all too well in College…Guys like Sheppard don’t choose guys like me.”
The sorrow in Rodney’s expression cut Jethro like a knife and he could no longer resist the pull to comfort him. He stepped across the balcony and placed gentle hands on Rodney’s shoulders, pushing and pulling until Rodney peeled his white-knuckled fingers from the rail and turned to face him. Gibbs kept a hold of him, shaking him slightly to get his attention.
“But he did choose you, Rodney. Years ago. Just because the rest of us are here now doesn’t mean he doesn’t want you anymore. You’re part of us. I don’t know what’s happened to make you feel this way, but we’re still finding our way in this, so it’s going to be a bit of… a balancing act for a while.”
McKay shook his head. “No, things have changed between me and John.” His gaze flicked to meet Jethro’s and then away again. “And I know, OK… I can understand why. You’re all so… fucking gorgeous. And I’m… I’m just an arrogant geek with a bald spot, a soft belly, crooked mouth and a foul temper. Even with the obvious benefits of my big brain, there is really no way I could beat the kind of competition the rest of you pose.”
Rodney’s eyes were swimming with unshed tears as he looked everywhere but at Jethro, jerkily turning his head away to look back out over the city.
Gibbs knew that outside the lab Rodney lacked self-esteem, but this was far more deeply ingrained. It hurt him to see his lover hating himself so thoroughly. He grabbed Rodney’s chin, turning him so they were once again face to face.
“I don’t happen to agree, but even if it was true, you and John have been together for ten years. Yes, this is new and exciting for everyone… yes, there are another four people in the mix. But we all have things to bring to this relationship we are building, both in and out of the bedroom.”
Jethro shook him again, not really knowing what else to do to chivvy him out of the self-loathing.
“You don’t understand. The way he was just smiling at Tony… like he hung the moon… Well, John never smiles at me like that…. You and Jack… You’re just like him. Soldiers. You understand that side of him. You’re strong, beautiful tops, and I could never compete with you. And then there’s Tony and Daniel… Even though I know I’m a leader in my field, they are both hyper-intelligent in their own way, and so beautiful, likable and cool… Damn it, Jethro, they’re all the things I’m not and never can be. Even if you’re right, and it’s not tonight, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later, LJ. It’s time to make a considered retreat so I don’t get in too deep and then find myself having to deal with the humiliation later.”
Rodney was babbling, caught up in his misery, the corners of his pretty, crooked mouth turned down in sadness. Gibbs wanted to kiss it back to a smile, but he knew it would be a temporary fix at best.
He couldn’t deny that part of what he was saying was true. The three J’s, as Danny had dubbed them, had bonded over their experiences in the military, while both Daniel and Tony had no problems integrating into any group. They’d been so involved in their own individual bonding connections that they’d missed how much Rodney’s relationship with John had been pushed out onto the sidelines.
Thinking back over the last few weeks Jethro couldn’t think of one occasion when Rodney had instigated anything even vaguely sexual. John, on the other hand, had been central to much of their play.
“How often have you and Tony had some time, just the two of you?”
The non sequitur caught Jethro on the back foot, and he let himself think it through. “Probably three, maybe four times. Why?”
“Because there hasn’t been a single time for me and John. When I ask him he just looks at me like I’m stupid, and if there’s something I’m not, it’s stupid. It’s obvious that time alone with me will never compete with time with you four.”
“John loves you, Rodney. He’s been with you for 10 years, and some of those years were under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. John loves his job. He wouldn’t have risked it for nothing.”
“Then why hasn’t he spoken to me except to slap me down for the last three days? Not a word or a smile that would give me any hope, LJ. I have to accept that it’s finally ended. My only fear is that his change of heart will affect our ability to charge the Zed’s, but I’ll still make myself available of course.”
Rodney lifted his chin, but Jethro didn’t see defiance there, rather it was an attempt to put up walls of protection.
It was becoming obvious that this issue wasn’t something Gibbs could smooth over on his own. They needed to hash this out as a group before it festered into something nastier. Well, Gibbs wasn’t going to let that happen. While Tony was the other part of his soul, the other four men were becoming increasingly important to him, Rodney no less so than the others. Having made up his mind what had to happen, Jethro was already moving back into the apartment.
“We’re going to sort this out, Rodney. Go and sit in the living area… don’t you go anywhere. We’re going to talk this through.”
“No!” Rodney looked panicked, as he called him back. “I don’t need to talk it through. I know what the end game is, Jethro. I’ve been here before… too many times. Please, just let me do it my way. I know you probably think I’m a coward, but I can’t face them all when they tell me, especially John…”
Hating the pain he could hear in his lover’s voice, Jethro pulled him back in, wrapping his arms around him and kissing his temple. Rodney held himself rigid for a few moments and then melted into the strong embrace. Gibbs was concerned at the fine tremors he could feel in Rodney’s muscles.
“No matter what you’ve convinced yourself of, Rodney, we want you here with us, and you need to hear it so you can allow yourself to believe it.” He took another look at Rodney’s face and was worried at the paleness of his skin, and the dark smudges under his eyes. He obviously hadn’t been sleeping well – and to their shame, none of them had noticed, in fact, Jethro realised that McKay hadn’t been sleeping with them for several days.
Jethro’s earlier fear about McKay’s physical health, combined with the emotional stress he was obviously feeling, could find them back in the Infirmary before the night was out. He didn’t ever want to see Rodney so weak and ill again, especially when there was no good reason. He needed to get this clusterfuck fixed, stat.
As far as the other five of them were concerned, John would have to accept a little more culpability, after all, he’d been McKay’s lover for nearly ten years. It was becoming clear the Colonel had got as caught up in the excitement of their new circumstances as everyone else, and his relationship had suffered, with Rodney getting left behind. In McKay’s mind that had devolved down into him being completely rejected, and something about that scene in the bedroom had been the final straw, convincing Rodney that the writing was on the wall as far as his involvement in the group was concerned.
“I promise you it’ll be OK. I want you here, Rodney. I am proud to have you next to me – in the field, on the city, and in our bed. Fuck, when it comes to tech, there is no one I would trust more to get my ass out of the fire than you. So go and sit, I’ll be right back, OK?”
He waited until Rodney gave a shy, sad nod of agreement and then left him on the balcony to go and find the others.
By the time he got to the bedroom, things had moved on, and the other four men were in various states of undress. Gibbs knew stopping the proceedings at this stage would make him highly unpopular, but Rodney’s fear was something that couldn’t wait for them to finish playing.
“At last LJ, I thought you were never coming to join us.” John’s voice was thick with arousal.
“No… actually you are all coming out here to join me and Rodney.”
Tony almost pouted as he ran his hand down his bare chest. His pants were doing nothing to hide just how aroused he was. “Awww, but Jet, we’ve missed you so much. Come on, lover, get your gorgeous ass undressed. This big bed is too roomy without you in it.”
Jethro winced that Rodney hadn’t been mentioned as missing. He hoped McKay hadn’t heard and misunderstood the comment, however innocently Tony had made it.
However, Jack, ever the observant one, obviously noticed the twitch and leaned up on his elbows.
“What’s up, LJ?”
Jack’s voice was sexily rough, his lips kiss swollen and his skin flushed, and Jethro couldn’t deny he was a major temptation. But, right now there were more important things – namely his other lover out on the balcony. He may not be the Universe’s most emotionally open man, but Gibbs knew they had to sort this out now, or they risked losing Rodney permanently.
And that, for Jethro, was unacceptable.
“Rodney is pretty upset out there. We’ve fucked up badly when it comes to him and we need to get it sorted out. I stopped him as he was about to leave the apartment and move back into his old room.”
With an angry growl, John jumped up off the bed and grabbed his robe, scowling deeply. Gibbs knew that kind of angry response would only make things worse, so he reached out and caught his arm before he could leave the room.
“He’s feeling more than a little fragile, so no one is going to yell or tell him he’s being an idiot. I happen to think we’ve lost sight of him while we’ve been having fun, you more than any of us, Sheppard.”
Gibbs tried not to be angry at his lover, but the expression John wore smacked a little too much of blame. He needed John to think before he lay into Rodney.
“You’ve known him for a lot longer than I have, but even I realise he’s not the massive ego he pretends to be. He’s got some deep insecurities, and recently we’ve been playing right into them.”
He nodded over his shoulder. “I’ll be in there with him. Get washed up and dressed. I’ve a feeling this isn’t going to be quick – or easy.”
By that point, Daniel was already dressed. He’d been sitting on the edge of the bed when Jethro came in, with only his shirt unbuttoned, so redressing had been the work of seconds. He looked concerned as he walked past Jethro and John. “I’ll go and start some coffee brewing.”
Gibbs nodded gratefully. That was the best idea he’d heard for ages. He turned to leave the Master bedroom but was stopped by John.
“So, what exactly is it that Rodney is accusing me of doing?” John grumbled. He strode over to the dresser and pulled out the drawer a little too viciously, almost pulling it off the runners.
“Other than realising that you smiled at Tony in a way you’ve stopped smiling at him, Rodney hasn’t accused you of anything, but your attitude makes me think he deserves better than what you’re giving, especially after ten years together. You’ve refused to spend time with him one on one when the rest of us have made an effort to connect as couples. We’re all guilty of letting things run away with us. All of us are strong characters and can hold our own, but unfortunately, it’s played into Rodney’s demons. You’ve hardly spoken to him over the last three days, Shep, and he’s seen that as the writing on the wall. Apparently, Rodney has been waiting to be told he’s surplus to requirements in your life, now you’ve got the four of us. Is that what you think? Because if it is, John, then he deserves to know.”
John’s expression grew grim and hard. “You don’t understand. There are things you don’t.. can’t know. I can only say there is an open investigation going on, and Rodney is in the centre of it.”
Jethro was shocked and looked over at Tony, who was frowning. “You really shouldn’t be the investigating officer if that’s the case, John, you know that.”
“Up until now, there hasn’t been anyone to do it but me. I have a responsibility to my men to make sure that any complaints they make are taken seriously. It’s my duty to at least look at them initially, and this isn’t the first time…” Sheppard jerked a t-shirt over his head and then pushed his arms into his black uniform jacket. “Five years ago, Rodney proved himself untrustworthy in a major way and I forgave him. If he has done what he was accused of then … I’m not sure that can happen this time.”
Jack grimaced at Jethro as he patted John on the shoulder. “We understand about duty, John, but personal relationships take work, especially when you’ve lost trust. We know the initial investigation needs to be confidential, but this is McKay – he mouths off all the time and is brilliant at getting peoples backs up, especially military. You must have dealt with hundreds of complaints about him over the years, most of them baloney.” Jack slung an arm around Sheppard’s shoulder. “Come on. I think this bullshit will all go a lot faster if we all talk about it in the same room, huh?”
John gave a jerky nod and Jack followed Tony and Daniel out of the room.
Gibbs couldn’t help feeling more than a little aggrieved at Sheppard. The attitude he was giving and the fact he was willing to consider a complaint to be justified against Rodney, based on something he’d done years before, smacked of dissatisfaction with his partner, and if that was the case, then they were going to have some serious fallout to deal with. He tried to tamp down his own temper, realising that this scenario was feeding into his own feelings of shame about the way he’d treated Tony after his Mexican Siesta. Jack too, was pissing him off. Out of all of them, Jack was the one who found Rodney the most difficult to understand. And although he’d said it jokingly, O’Neill’s attitude to a grievance about Rodney that was serious enough to make John react in this way, was more than a little derisory.
However, right now, it was Rodney who needed his support. With one last look at John, who was pulling on his pants with shaking hands, Jethro walked back into the main room.
Tony, Daniel, and Jack were all in the kitchen area, futzing with the coffee maker and a few plates and bowls of snacks, while Rodney was sitting alone on the large couch, gazing at his hands as if they held the secrets of the Universe. Gibbs was getting more and more irritated by the way everyone was treating McKay as if he was a bomb about to go off. The man needed their support, not their distance.
He glared over at the three of them, and was shocked when Tony looked over at Rodney, and then rolled his eyes at Jethro, a look that was greeted by smirks from Jack and Daniel.
What? Did they think this was a joke? That because Rodney could be spiky and difficult, that he didn’t deserve to be reassured. The four of them had had time to come to terms with the idea of being together, and none of them had the self-esteem issues that Rodney did. If they were going to be all that they could be – the Hexad that Atlantis needed – then there had to be six of them in this relationship.
Jethro was beginning to wonder if Rodney was right. Were these men he trusted and had begun to love actually that shallow?
“This had better be quick, McKay. I was about to get laid in there. You should know that cock-blocking me when I’ve got three gorgeous guys in my bed is not the best way to endear yourself. Besides, I could do with being relaxed before I have to fly a cloaked jumper into Wraith space in four hours.”
The words were harsh and the delivery sneering. It was all Gibbs could do not to stride over to Sheppard and punch him in the face.
“That mission wasn’t supposed to be until tomorrow,” Rodney said, his expression concerned. “I haven’t had my medical check-up. Carson said he wouldn’t certify me until my sugars were stable. We can reschedule it for tomorrow, can’t we?”
“Why? Am I supposed to put off important missions just because you were too ‘busy’ to make sure you ate properly?” John spat, and Jethro saw the light dim in Rodney’s eyes.
It seemed though that he wasn’t quite ready to give up. “I thought we’d decided at the briefing that it was too risky for you to be the one to fly that mission? After all, you are the company CO and the six of us are pretty necessary around here. Can’t that new guy…” Rodney snapped his fingers as he groped for a name. “…Mulgrew from AG 5 fly it. Dr. Ghadia is eminently capable of taking the readings I need.”
Jethro couldn’t name the emotion he saw in John’s eyes, but it was ugly and mean. He wanted to reach out and stop what John was no doubt about to say, but he was too late.
“So you expect me to send LCpl. Mulrooney on a dangerous mission just so you can make sure the ZPMs are charged. What’s wrong, McKay. Scared your big brain might be at some risk? You fucking coward! Why don’t you just shove the Lieutenant through a Space Gate, if you want rid of him.” John glared at McKay as if he expected to see some reaction to his jibes, but the scientist just looked completely confused.
“Sounds like you should watch yourself, Tony, otherwise he might be suggesting you fly the mission,” John jeered, never taking his hard gaze from Rodney.
Whatever he was looking for, he obviously didn’t get, and with an ‘arrgh’ of disgust, John grabbed his boots and he jogged out of the apartment in his socked feet.
The room was silent as they all looked at one another in surprise at John’s outburst. Gibbs couldn’t help feeling that he’d missed something important in Sheppard’s rant, but he wasn’t sure what it was. He looked over at Rodney and wasn’t surprised to see him pressing his hands together to stop them from shaking. Eventually, McKay stood slowly and gave a jerky nod towards Gibbs, although his gaze stayed firmly on his feet.
“Well, that was conclusive, and I think everyone knows where I stand now. Thank you for trying, LJ, but I’m seldom wrong. As I said, I’ll be back to collect my things when you are all on duty tomorrow. If you could try to prevent Sheppard from flying a nuke into the Wraith I would appreciate it. I’ve got used to him as Military CO and I’d find it difficult to break in another. Strangely, few military men seemed to appreciate my brilliance.”
The laugh he gave was hollow and spoke more of desolation than humour. Jethro reached towards him, hoping to stop him leaving, but McKay shimmied to the side and almost at a run left through the door.
Jack gave a deep sigh as he walked across the living room. “I’m going to see if I can find Sheppard. He was obviously upset about something.”
Gibbs thought that was a good idea, but once again it seemed McKay’s distress was not being taken seriously. “And Rodney?”
“The man’s a drama queen, LJ,” Jack said, patting Jethro on the shoulder. “We’ve dealt with his hissy fits for years, and this is nothing new. He’s not going anywhere. I mean, who would leave someone as hot as John without a really good reason.”
Jethro frowned. “You know, I love you three, but right now, I don’t like you very much.”
Jack glared at him and there was a gasp from Tony, while Daniel looked completely nonplussed.
“Come on, Jet. You know Rodney gets all hot under the collar. He’ll see he’s making a mountain out of a molehill soon enough and be back to his sunny self.” Tony reached out for his husband, but Jethro wasn’t in the mood to be placated.
“Well, it’s not like you know what it’s like, huh? Having your lover of many years denounce you and treat you with disdain?” He said, his temper overriding his internal wince at the desolation that flitted over Tony’s eyes as he turned to Jack. “And it’s not like you had to watch your lover put himself in situations that could end in his death… again, right.”
“Now come on, LJ, this is nothing like…” Jack growled but Gibbs was angry and wanted to make his point.
“And I know you and Daniel had a very similar situation where he had to work with you while you treated him like shit, isn’t that right, Dr. Jackson?”
Daniel nodded once as his blue eyes dulled with the memory.
“So do not tell me this is all going to blow over. Rodney is a part of us. He’s brave and clever and so fucking sexy, and none of you seem to be able to look past your prejudice and preconceptions. I thought I knew all of you well, but it seems like I was as fucking blind to your faults as you are to Rodney’s good qualities.”
Jack still looked angry, but Tony and Daniel seemed to be reflecting on what he was saying.
Gibbs sighed and gestured towards the door. “I’m going to find Rodney, and if I can’t persuade him to come back here, then I’m going to spend the night wherever he does.”
Not willing to leave his husband without a lifeline – after all, he’d vowed he’d never do that again – Jethro leaned over and gave Tony a soft kiss. “I love you.”
Tony nodded, his eyes suspiciously bright. “I know…”
With a sad smile at Jack and Daniel, Jethro slipped on his boots and left the apartment. He had a scientist to find and knew who would help Gibbs to find him.
“Come on, Princess, let’s find our errant physicist.”
A pulsating line of lights along the centre of the corridor wall led him to the transporter, and as he stepped inside, he patted the wall. “Thanks, girl.”