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11 December 2005 @ 10:46 pm
comment fic #7: Family  
For elfgirl: Families.



"You never talk about your family," Rodney said.

"You never talk about yours," John countered.

"My parents like public television and earnest theater productions. My sister is married to a lout and has two spawn. My own childhood was the usual combination of psychological damage, colds, and the inflicted cruelties of my peers, if you can call them that. It's only by genius and hard work that I managed to elevate myself above such humble origins." He seemed to reflect on this happy thought for a moment with a self-satisfied smile, then said, "Your turn."

John tipped his head back against the post and worked his wrists against his bonds some more. They'd started to chafe in a maddening way, but he thought they were loosening. "My dad was a bigamist who molested neighborhood children," he said in a distracted tone. "My mom was an alcoholic who killed herself."

"Seriously?" Rodney looked horrified, then his expression cleared and he twisted his mouth in a grousing way. "Fine. Be the stereotype of flinty American manhood. See if I share my innermost hopes and dreams with you again."

"I must have missed the sharing part." Giving up on his ropes, John slumped and thought about water. Icy cold water. And hot dogs with mustard.

"I was working up to it."

"You said 'again'."

"I've shared before. I'm certain of it." He frowned. "I told you I wanted to be a pianist, right?"

"I think I'd remember that."

"Oh. Well, I did. And when I was eleven, I ran away from home. I convinced a family to take me across the border by telling them my elderly aunt was expecting me and had forgotten to send the plane ticket, and then I took the bus to Princeton. I figured that if I just started auditing seminars, the professors would be so impressed they'd have to accept me into their graduate program."

"What happened?"

"They accepted me, of course--"

"Of course," John murmured, though secretly impressed himself.

"--but wouldn't take me until I was fourteen." Even now, John could see the blow of this failure imprinted on Rodney's face.

"That must have been disappointing." He wasn't entirely sure whether to empathize or mock, but military training allowed him to keep his tone and expression neutral.

"It was. I decided to go to Northeastern instead."

"Just to show them." John felt a smile surface.

"More or less," Rodney admitted, and released one of his own smiles, the tiny quirky one that bordered on cute and made John think about licking the left corner of it, to see what else Rodney's lips might offer.

They sat in silence. Conversation had diverted Rodney from complaining about the heat and the flies and the smell, and with that in mind John only let a few minutes pass before saying, "My father and I don't talk. My mother allies with my father. It makes sense. She has to live with him. We've talked maybe half a dozen times on the phone in the last ten years. Mostly she writes letters--polite, passive-aggressive, full of news about my brother. He's a lawyer, with the approved wife and quota of grandkids." He paused. Rodney was quiet for a change, listening. "They don't expect any grandkids from me. I've been written off as a loss."

"They think you're a loss?" There was a clipped bite to Rodney's voice and an ugly cast to his mouth, the one expression you really didn't want to see there, as the science department had learned to its collective misfortune.

"Well," John said, drawing out the word. Tightness coiled in his chest and his throat, something in him rising to get loose that he couldn't keep in any longer. "The queer son isn't expected to contribute much to family reunions."

Rodney's expression didn't change, and John was watching with the sharpness of absolute tension, despite the casual way he held his head, obscuring his eyes behind lashes.

"Some people don't deserve to reproduce," Rodney said shortly. "Then again, you wouldn't be here if it weren't for them." John could tell he hated the paradox and wanted to resolve it.

"I've learned to live with that."

"How long have you known you were gay?"

John blinked, caught off guard despite thinking he was prepared. "Fourth grade."

"Hmm."

"You don't sound too surprised." Sudden coldness spiked through John's gut. "I'm not--it's not obvious, is it?"

"No, of course not. Well, yes, but only to me. Probably only to me." Rodney made it sound matter-of-fact.

"And that's because...?"

"Because I'm not an idiot?" he shot back in that brute racquetball way of his, as if amazed and impatient that he needed to remind John of this when he'd proved his mental superiority so many times already.

John studied him steadily. "You're not, then?"

"An idiot? What did I just say?" But Rodney obviously got the real question. He shifted in place, looking uncomfortable. "You know, you might not think it, but it's just as fatal to be a gay scientist as a gay serviceman. Careerwise, anyway."

"No Nobels, I take it."

"It's not a chance I'm willing to take." Rodney's mouth was set and he was meeting John's eyes now.

"I get that." It still didn't quite fit, but he didn't want to say that. Rodney was so supremely sure of himself, so apparently indifferent to what people thought of him, at least on a personal level--if anyone could carry off being out while working with the military, it was him. Rodney expressed his many and varied fears almost without shame, but this wasn't one John would have expected him to have.

Rodney seemed to have lapsed into brooding, and John didn't disturb him. He could tell that what he'd confided to Rodney wasn't going to raise problems, wouldn't be one of those things Rodney couldn't keep to himself. They understood each other, at least in this. He knew already that Rodney would back him up in the simple effortless way family did, reinforcing the façade they both had to maintain. He'd get in digs about John's way with women while making sure his men overheard. He'd know what not to say and when not to say it, and he'd keep a strict professional distance in public, so that no one would ever have the slightest reason to speculate.

It was the kind of understanding you could build a friendship on, John thought. And maybe more. His mood rose, and he cracked easy jokes when their rescue finally came, impressing his people with how unflappable and cool he kept it in the face of capture.

Rodney complained loudly during his own release. He was the perfect distraction.
 
 
 
aweszomerth: goddammit it's colonel sheppardsinsense on December 12th, 2005 06:57 am (UTC)
You are horrible, I am supposed to be writing a paper about Djuna Barnes, and instead I am thinking about John and Rodney's Adorable Closeted Love and leaving mean comments in your LJ. Why?

And why does fandom make closeted love Adorable?

"You know, you might not think it, but it's just as fatal to be a gay scientist as a gay serviceman. Careerwise, anyway."
That felt spot-on, to me. Something that doesn't get discussed in fic that often - academia can be just as homophobic as the military, it's just not official.

Anyway, in spite of randomly telling you you're horrible, this was lovely, and I'm very happy about all the fic you've been posting.
abbyleeabbylee on December 12th, 2005 07:29 am (UTC)
So fucking sad and hopeful. How do you manage to break my heart and put it back together so many times?

I love the way that John sees Rodney here, the combination of his strengths and weaknesses.

namastenancynamastenancy on December 12th, 2005 07:40 am (UTC)
You are simply amazing. Every time I log on to your page, you have another perfect piece up. You've broken my heart a half a dozen times this evening alone.
Alizarin_NYC: mcshep wealizarin_nyc on December 12th, 2005 07:58 am (UTC)
I award the Nobel Prize for consecutive home-run fics to you. Lovely, again.
(Deleted comment)
timian on December 12th, 2005 10:58 am (UTC)
I've absolutely loved reading these, despite the fact that I've never seen the show and have only the vaguest idea of who these people are. Or rather, I had only the vaguest idea. I feel like I'm really starting to get to know them through you. Gorgeous writing.
Luthienluthien on December 12th, 2005 11:50 am (UTC)
This is really good. I think it's my favourite of all those you've posted. I just liked the whole tone of it, how it progressed, and where it ended up. Thanks.
SPACE GANDALF: field - slodwicktrinityofone on December 12th, 2005 12:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was fantastic. I love the idea of tying them up and making them just talk to each other, and I believed the progression of your conversation every step of the way. Your John backstory is almost exactly what I have in my head, and while I usually read Rodney's attraction to women as genuine, you sold this version completely. And I love the ending.
tabaquitabaqui on December 12th, 2005 01:28 pm (UTC)
Ah, i like. Sweet. Contemplating friendship, both the boys 'getting' it...
Nice.
:)
chelle: Rodney lovelymmmchelle on December 12th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC)
I like this immensely--friendship and trust and understanding. I could just picture them having this conversation.
the_shoshannathe_shoshanna on December 12th, 2005 01:57 pm (UTC)
I adore your John, and I love your Rodney to pieces. And I admire the heck out of your writing. In all these tidbits, even though I'm only posting this once. Ooooh.
What the hell is up with the mummy?!: john's just hot clearlyserialkarma on December 12th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
He knew already that Rodney would back him up in the simple effortless way family did

Oh, I love this.
Resonant: Huzzah!resonant8 on December 12th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. You know the great thing about this? It gives me a framework for anything the guys do in canon. You've successfully subverted! Congratulations!
Anna S.: dino-sex-faneliade on December 12th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
*woo hoo!* *fist pump*
Basingstokebasingstoke on December 12th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
DUDE.

MEAN.

*loves on eliade*
Anna S.: dino-rodneyeliade on December 12th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
I am mean? How am I mean? Tell me so I can do it again! Er, I mean...yes. *g*
lyrstzha: McShep: blimey_iconslyrstzha on December 12th, 2005 03:48 pm (UTC)
What a fascinating rendering of Rodney and John's dynamic! It's intriguingly complex, oddly sweet, and I love that mention of 'Rodney would back him up in the simple effortless way family did'. Lovely!
"She Who Procrastinates": SGA - Rodney - close your eyeslogovo on December 12th, 2005 04:01 pm (UTC)
"My parents like public television and earnest theater productions. My sister is married to a lout and has two spawn. My own childhood was the usual combination of psychological damage, colds, and the inflicted cruelties of my peers, if you can call them that. It's only by genius and hard work that I managed to elevate myself above such humble origins." He seemed to reflect on this happy thought for a moment with a self-satisfied smile, then said, "Your turn."

This stuff, priceless. Much love to your Rodney.
Loligololigo on December 12th, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC)
This whole comment fic series has just been so understated and lovely.
the straight bassist.: no doubt which side I was onsloganeer on December 12th, 2005 04:13 pm (UTC)
John could tell he hated the paradox and wanted to resolve it.

that's the part i loved, and it just got better from there.
deaverdeaver on December 12th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the wonderful story. You always write the best Rodney voice. Thanks!
revelininsanityrevelininsanity on December 12th, 2005 05:55 pm (UTC)
*cries*

*re-reads*

*cries some more*
a little specificity: john and rodneysinensiss on December 12th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
I'm catching up and reading all of your excellent comment fics. I love this one fiercely--it builds so well, and wow, the end, where you take things that are so constantly observable about John and Rodney in the canon and use them to cap the story in a perfect way. ::kissing fingertips in your direction:: brava!
grand_sophygrand_sophy on December 12th, 2005 07:29 pm (UTC)
What is so intriguing about your comment fic is how it hints at so much more than is explicitly stated. You have the gift of establishing a mood and detailing a particular incident or interchange that allows the reader to build up an entire back story (and side story and forward story, if they're so inclined) to go with what you've written. Your stories linger in the mind. Thanks once again.
An Apple-Green Lambthe_green_sheep on December 12th, 2005 07:51 pm (UTC)
Rodney complained loudly during his own release. He was the perfect distraction.

Awwww. How lovely.
superheroes failing at oatmeal: dick and tim approve! [by te]some_stars on December 12th, 2005 09:28 pm (UTC)
so lovely. *sniffle*
shoemaster on December 13th, 2005 02:47 am (UTC)
Oooh, that was intersting, and I loved how John knew he could count on Rodney. Because he so can. Though I am confused about John's mom, first she killed herself then she writes him letters? Or was he making up that first bit? Still, really awesome piece.
Zoë Rayne: sgaz_rayne on December 13th, 2005 02:52 am (UTC)
He'd know what not to say and when not to say it, and he'd keep a strict professional distance in public, so that no one would ever have the slightest reason to speculate.

I love this. Just because Rodney doesn't choose to follow the usual social niceties doesn't mean he can't, for a good enough reason.
Tonia Barone: Have you looked in a mirror?toniabarone on December 13th, 2005 02:53 am (UTC)
*G* Awesome. Good. Lovely. Great. Thanks for this!
misspamelamisspamela on December 13th, 2005 02:58 am (UTC)
Mmm, this is lovely! John is so fricking smart.
Never store shuriken in your underwearporntestpilot on December 13th, 2005 04:33 am (UTC)
Oh man, I love the idea of the two of them working together to fuck with people. You just made my night. John's the charming one and Rodney's the loud one and omg, the damage they could do. *joy*

That said, man, I do not miss being in the closet. Damn. Seriously, I hated all that shit so much. This was an excellent fic, thank you.
j00jj00j on December 13th, 2005 05:03 am (UTC)
Well, that's a take on things we don't usually see in this fandom. Refreshing! In that sad, closet-ful way.
And I love the dialogue, and the understanding you show that John and Rodney have of each other.
FairestCat: Perfect Togetherfairestcat on December 13th, 2005 05:13 am (UTC)
They understood each other, at least in this. He knew already that Rodney would back him up in the simple effortless way family did, reinforcing the façade they both had to maintain.

Oh yes. I love how John thinks of Rodney as family and how that's a perfect possible beginning for something else.
Ennameenname on December 13th, 2005 07:32 am (UTC)
Eh, you've gone and sucked me into another fandom yet again. Another one that I haven't seen at all and really have no hopes of seeing anytime soon.

Drat.
Moony McMoonsome: John Specialthe_moonmoth on December 13th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC)
"Well," John said, drawing out the word. Tightness coiled in his chest and his throat, something in him rising to get loose that he couldn't keep in any longer. "The queer son isn't expected to contribute much to family reunions."

Yes! This is the exact family back-story I have for John in my head :) Thanks for putting it into words, and so eloquently, too.
Not so much Fallen as Sauntering Vaguely Downwards: sga_wheel of fortune (orchidicons)elfgirl on December 13th, 2005 03:56 pm (UTC)
A second attempt at a comment that actually, ya know, comments. ;)

::loves::

The SGA canon is so open when it comes to the guys' backgrounds that it allows for all kinds of interesting things, which is why I suggested this prompt. I have to say that it produced something that wasn't like anything I'd imagined, and it's really kinda fabulous.

I see John's pragmatism as one of his defining characteristics, so this just clicked for me. Even though I tend toward more romantic fic, this scene rings true to me in the purest "canon" sense.

Thank you!
Kaesaria: SGA: Rodney (trinity - discovery)kaesaria on December 13th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)
Lovely and perfect. ;)
Devil Dolldevildoll on December 13th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC)
Everything about this, from the dynamic to the characterization to the backstories, was so spot-on. Bravo.
cupidsbowcupidsbow on December 14th, 2005 11:23 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. Thank you.
Alex the Eccentric: Pretty Radek by jeepnyeccentric_alex on December 16th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC)
I feel like I shouldn't comment on your stuff sometimes because it always comes out dumb and less than you deserve. So I'll just have to get better at it :)

I liked this. A lot. And the last sentence is perfect for this piece.
Buckaroowhatdanidigs on January 1st, 2006 04:29 am (UTC)
Stumbled across this again and realised I didn't comment on it the first time to say how much I liked it.

So....*loves*
palebluebellpalebluebell on January 3rd, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
I liked, very much, how you twisted the usual scenario around; usually one of them wishing to remain closeted is used as a point of conflict, or colours the story melancholy and desperate, because you know they'll never be allowed to be who they are.

This story used their shared need to keep things quiet as a common bond, and left me feeling uplifted and happy. While very firmly making me think very bad things about the 'Don't ask don't tell' policy, and people who don't accept their own children for who they are.

I thought this was clever and sweet in a lovely subtle way. Thank you.
downloadableindifferencedownloadable08 on March 9th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC)
Sad but beautiful. I love that this is where the prompt took you.
slashpuppyslashpuppy on January 1st, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
I'm just starting to read your comment fics.

I've gotta say, I *loved* the way that Rodney summed up his own history and the way that John eventually related his own. I kinda wonder if John would actually *prefer* the awful version of his childhood he made (child molester dad/suicide mom) to the actual (they hate me because I'm gay).

Given his family, I find it touching that John still has such a fabulously *positive* view of family ... "He knew already that Rodney would back him up in the simple effortless way family did, reinforcing the facade they both had to maintain."

I'm off to read all your other comment fics. :-)
V. Wishes: sheppard cutieviciouswishes on February 22nd, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)
Wonderful look at who they are.