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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."


"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...
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)


*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!