- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Explicit Sex
- Hate Crimes
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
- First Time
- Science Fiction
It hit John like a wall when the infirmary’s doors slid open.
First, it was the smell. Bloodfire spice, but with a strange warmth associated that spread through his body, with notes of coffee and chocolate salted with clean sweat. Yet there was also a sharp undertone, one that he knew he’d smelled before and that had felt wrong down to his bones.
His senses zeroed in immediately on Rodney, laying on an infirmary bed. Rodney’s increased heartbeat reverberated in his ears in counterpoint to the pants of his irregular breathing, and John could almost taste the sweat on his tongue. His eyes zeroed in on the pain showing in Rodney’s blue eyes until Rodney yelled in pain.
John was at his side in a blur. He brusquely pulled a nurse away from Rodney, sending her reeling backwards onto Evan’s arms. He grabbed Rodney’s hand and brought it to his chest as he bent over him protectively. Something snapped suddenly in place, Rodney’s pain flowing over him for a few interminable seconds.
“John? What are you—?” Carson took a step back when John growled at him, motioning his people to stay away. “John?”
John pulled Rodney against him. “Mine,” he growled. “He’s mine!”
“Shit!” someone cursed.
“John,” Carson called, throwing a nasty look at the swearer. John looked at him without moving from his position. “You have to allow us to help Rodney.” John growled. “He’s your mate, I understand.” He took a careful step towards John. “But he has a neutralizin’ implant in his brain, John, ‘n’ I need to take it out.” Carson turned around his tablet, showing him the result of Rodney’s scan.
“A neutralizing implant?” John frowned at the screen, while trying to shield himself from Rodney’s pain. “He got it?”
“I pretty much doubt it was voluntary. Rodney would never do anythin’ to endanger his brain.”
“Who put it in then?”
“It’s not in his medical file. I won’t know until I take it out.” He took another step forward. “You need to let me take him to surgery. He’s sufferin’, John.”
“The implant fighting the Firin’ process. Please, John.”
“I don’t… let him go… I can’t!” John growled. He closed his eyes, holding Rodney tight. “His pain… in my head…” He gulped and looked back at Carson with a pain-filled gaze. “Help him. Do whatever you have to do, Carson. You have my permission.”
“I will, Alpha, I promise.”
John flinched when he felt a hand on the back of his neck. With his senses concentrated in Rodney, he hadn’t noticed the approach. Immediately, he felt lassitude take him over, his body relaxing, his eyes closing against his will.
“Sleep, Alpha. We’ll take care of you both,” TC whispered.
It was the last thing John heard before he lost consciousness.
The first thing John noticed when he woke up was the warm body in his arms. He pressed his nose at the juncture between neck and shoulder. Coffee, antiseptic, chocolate, sweat, antibiotic cream, and a hint of Bloodfire spice under it all. None of that wrong smell anymore.
Rodney’s breathing was regular and his heart beat strongly under John’s hand, a bit faster than normal. His skin was soft and warm against John’s own, covered by a thin layer of fresh sweat. 37ºC, John estimated. Still a way to go.
He opened his eyes. Three neat suture points were closing a clean wound on the left side of Rodney’s nape, no more than a couple of centimeters wide. Rodney looked a bit pale and still had bags under his eyes, but the haggard look from before was gone. He was wearing only his boxers, as was John, a soft white cotton sheet covering them both from the waist down.
John softly caressed Rodney’s scruffy cheek. His mate. Rodney was his True Mate. Rodney was Firing up for him.
It was a surprise and yet not. He’d liked the scientist since the moment he’d met him. Only Rodney’s status as a mundane had kept his attraction at bay and, after a fortnight since they met, he’d given up any hope of Rodney Firing up.
But it seemed the Goddess had other ideas. Thankfully.
John tensed when the door slid open and pulled Rodney closer to him as he turned towards his visitors.
Carson and Evan stood just inside the still open door. The doctor clutched a tablet in his hands, while John’s Beta was carrying a food tray. John relaxed slightly against the pillows and they walked in. Evan moved to leave the tray at the small table besides the bed, with John’s unwavering gaze following him. Evan’s heartbeat was a little elevated, but he moved with assurance. He bowed his head at John, deposited the tray silently and retreated to the foot of the bed besides Carson. John could smell turkey sandwiches, bananas and water on the tray and felt his stomach rumble a bit.
The Healer cleared his throat and John shifted his attention to him, though still keeping Evan in his field of vision.
“How are you feeling, Alpha?”
“Fine,” he spat, and Carson flinched. John took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. They were his Pridemates. He trusted them. But with his mate firing in his arms, his instincts were screaming at him to get the hell away from them. “Surprised, nervous, elated, but fine,” he elaborated. “Rodney?”
“We took out the neutralizing implant without any problems. His brain is not damaged, ‘n’ he should recover completely,” Carson explained, and John felt himself relaxing a bit more. “But he’s tired, so I’ve sent him into a deep sleep. He should sleep a’ night.”
“Good,” John nodded. “Any idea who did this to him?”
Carson shoot Evan a quick look before answering. “The serial number belongs to the set issued to the First Expedition for emergency medical purposes.”
John’s eyes narrowed. “When?”
“The set was issued on June 22th. Both Dr. Cole and Dr. Keller signed the delivery form.” Carson turned his tablet around to show the record to John. “Rodney got the news about his sister on the 26th and left on the 28th. But before that, on the 24th, he was on a mission with SG-7 where he had an accident, a wee one!” he quickly added as John’s look hardened. “But he required a few suture points on the back of his head. Dr. Keller took care of it herself, according to Rodney’s medical file.” He clicked his tablet off. “As CMO, Keller had access to the implants. If I were to guess, I’d say that was when she implanted it.”
“Which means she knew what Rodney is.”
“So it seems. But I don’t know how. There’s no record of anybody in his family Firing in the last three centuries.”
“Like there’s no record of Stackhouse,” John commented. Carson nodded, a bit dejected. “Evan,” John looked at his Beta and XO. “The high-compression data burst program Rodney was working on? Tell Porter it’s now on top of the priority list. ”
“Yes, Sir,” Evan acknowledged.
“Carson, Rodney’s files—”
“I’ve encoded them for Bloodfire-only reading. Nobody but the Pride knows. We’ve made up a story about a delayed reaction to you due to his allergy medication for the rest of the expedition.”
“OK.” John returned his attention to his Beta. “Evan, I entrust the Pride and the expedition to your care. I want them back in pristine condition, OK?”
“On my honor, Alpha,” he bowed.
“Lania!” John called, and the AI projected herself on the screen besides the door.
“Lorne is going to be in charge for the time being.”
“Understood. Temporary Praefectus authority assigned.” She looked towards Lorne. “Legatus, I’ll be waiting for you at the cathedra at your earliest convenience.”
“Give me half an hour and I’ll be here.”
“Understood. Praetor, do I have to assume that Legatus Evan will be handling Ms. Teyla’s visit tomorrow as well?”
“You assume correctly, Lania,” John smirked at Evan’s shocked look.
“Understood, Praetor,” she saluted before blinking off.
“Can’t we postpone the visit until you come out of Nesting?” Lorne pleaded.
“I’m sorry, Evan, but after what Weir has done I believe we need all the friends we can make as soon as possible.”
Lorne sighed. “Understood, Alpha. I’ll do my best.”
“I’ve no doubt about that.” John settled back on the bed. “Now go away. You’re making my instincts scream and I need to rest a bit before he wakes up.”
It was the sudden movement in his arms that woke him. John startled awake to find Rodney in the middle of a seizure. His limbs were twitching uncontrollably, and he was gulping air quickly. The twitching subsided about 10 seconds later, but to John the time felt longer. Rodney’s body relaxed bonelessly afterwards, without waking up. John gently combed a stray lock of hair away from Rodney’s clammy forehead and cuddled closer, burying his face in his mate’s shoulder. The warm, slightly spicy smell called to him and it took him a moment to realize what was wrong.
Rodney was warm.
Warm, not fever hot.
John sprung up, automatically calculating Rodney’s temperature through his own Sentinel touch. It was just 37ºC, not even a tenth more.
“Lania!” he called. “Tell Carson to haul ass here! Now!”
“He’s on his way, Praetor,” she informed him almost immediately.
He used his senses to check on Rodney’s vitals, until Carson dashed into the room a couple of minutes later.
“He’s still only 37ºC!” John told him. “And it’s already been three hours!”
Carson knelt beside the bed. “Lania, medscreen!” he ordered. The thin crystal screen over the bed illuminated with a human silhouette and rows of data. “Shite!” He swore, before putting his hands on Rodney’s skin for a bioscan. John’s eyes roved over Rodney and Carson quickly, his claws ripping the sheets under his hands and digging into the mattress.
“Carson?” he asked. “What’s happening to him?”
It took the Healer a few moments to react. “Lania!” he called. “Do you have any kind of haemodialysis machine?”
“I do not have a haemodialysis machine like those described in the files from Terra, though I do have other technologies that can emulate such processes. What exactly do you wish to do, Magister?
Carson took a calming breath. The linguists had made it their special project to teach Lania English to communicate with mundanes, but not everything correlated directly to the information on Lania’s databanks.
“I need to filter the neutralizin’ drug out of Rodney’s system,” he explained.
Lania’s image fizzled for a moment. “Do you have the molecular model of this drug?”
“Then the treatment pod should work, Magister.”
“Where it is?”
A map of the infirmary appeared besides Lania, with a room highlighted. “Main pod treatment room is located in the V-5 unit, Magister. Should I initialize a pod?”
“Treatment pod 01 initializing. It’ll be ready in 2 minutes and 29 seconds.”
“Thank you, Lania.” Carson clicked his radio. “Beckett to McKenzie.”
“I thought you were sleeping, Carson,” Siobhán replied.
“I was, but Rodney’s not evolvin’ as expected,” he explained. “I need you to find the molecular model for the Gift Neutralizer, Siobhán. Lania will tell you exactly what she needs. I’ll explain later.”
“Understood, Carson,” she replied, in a much serious tone, before clicking off.
John seized Carson’s arm, his unsheathed claws pricking dangerously on the Healer’s skin. “Carson,” he growled. “Tell me what’s wrong with him!”
Carson sat on the bed, looking directly at him. “The neutralizin’ drug from the implant isn’t breakin’ down as expected, John.”
“You said he’d be fine!”
“He should!” Carson sighed. “John, the neutralizin’ implant is designed to be used on fully Fired individuals. Its effects on Unfireds are not documented. Whatever Keller intended… it’s unknown territory. I’m clutching at straws, here.”
Carson’s sleeve ripped under John’s claws. “You have to save him, Carson, please. I can’t lose him… I can’t….” John pleaded.
“I understand, John, I really do,” he sighed, looking down to the silver ring on his left hand. “If it were Kate…” He shook his head at looked back at John. “I’ll do everything I can. I promise, Alpha. My word on it.”
John just nodded, his lips in a tight line, eyes shining.
Carson turned his head from the medscreen when the door hissed open and he immediately zeroed in on the extra coffee cup Evan carried. The Pride’s Beta smirked as he extended the cup to him. Carson took it with both hands and brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply before taking a careful sip. Evan leaned against the doorframe of the treatment unit, amused by his Pridemate’s antics.
“That’s a real coffee and nae that bloody tar from the mess,” Carson sighed. “Did I tell you that I love our Alpha?”
“Well, he certainly knows how to buy his way into his people’s hearts,” Evan chuckled, sipping his own coffee. He took a moment to examine John, sitting on a low stool and sleeping on his crossed arms over McKay’s treatment pod. His hair was in even more disarray than usual, sticking up in all directions. His black T-shirt was crumpled and untucked and he hadn’t even bothered with shoes. Under John’s arms, the treatment pod shone with a soft azure light, with muted white lights sliding through the metallic lattice work, crisscrossing the cover in a repeating pattern that only allowed him to see glimpses of McKay’s pale legs.
“You do know that when Rodney learns that the Pride has a private stash of specialty-bought coffee he’s going to lay siege to it, don’t you?” Evan smirked, signaling the pod with his cup.
“Don’t remind me,” Carson sighed. “There’s going to be World War III.”
Evan smirked. “I didn’t expect John would be able sleep with zero sense contact with Rodney.”
“I knocked him out.” Carson blushed slightly. “He needs it.”
“Good idea,” Evan smiled, taking a long gulp of his coffee. “Is McKay as bad as he looks or are the blue lights playing tricks on me?” he asked in a sober tone.
“Both, I’m afraid,” the doctor sighed, walking to stand at Evan’s side. “The blue lights do make him look paler, but the neutralizer has made more damage than I previously believed.”
“How bad is it?”
Carson took a moment to answer. “The Gift Neutralizer is, in the broadest sense, the opposite of the Caller gene. If the Caller gene wakes up the Activator gene, the neutralizer puts it to sleep. By doing so, it inhibits the production of several chemicals necessary for Gift expression and control. In non-self-activating Nascents like Rodney, the mates’ pheromones do the job of the Caller.” Carson took a sip of his coffee. “So, right now, John’s pheromones are tellin’ Rodney’s Activator gene to start the Firin’, but Rodney’s blood is saturated with the neutralizer that keeps repressin’ the gene as soon as it activates.” Carson sighed and looked at the pod. “The never-ending cycle is puttin’ a tremendous strain on Rodney’s body, ‘n’ his body tissues are suffering for it.”
“Will he be able to bear the Firing?” Evan looked back at Carson.
“That’s the million-dollar question, my friend.”
“Will he go into spontaneous Halting?” Evan asked, lowering his voice.
“That’s… certainly a possibility.” Carson admitted, in the same tone. “It’ll depend on how much damage the Neutralizer has done. Neural damage, specially. ‘n’ how much the pod can heal him.”
“Shit!” Evan swore. “Carson, if he doesn’t survive or Halts, John…”
“I know, Evan, I know…”
“Treatment finished,” Lania announced. The pod slid open with a soft hiss as soon as the lights switched off. John knelt at the pod’s side, cradling Rodney’s hand between his as he felt the tenuous, primary bond re-establish itself. On the other side, Carson laid his hands flat on Rodney to do a bioscan.
“Carson?” John asked.
The doctor straightened but took a moment to check the readings on the medscreen before answering. “The neutralizer is out his system ‘n’ most tissues are healed,” he turned to look at John. “These are the good news. However, there’s still a wee bit of neural damage ‘n’ the healed tissues are tender. I don’t know how they’ll behave with the Firin’.”
John laid a soft kiss to Rodney’s fingers. “Spontaneous Halting?”
“Still a possibility, I’m sorry.”
John swallowed audibly. “What now?”
“We get you both back to the room ‘n’ see if…” An alarm sounded as the medscreen started flashing red. “Lania?”
“Hypertensive crisis, Magister,” Lania informed. “Blood pressure is 170/100.”
“Damn!” Carson immediately knelt by the pod, positioning his hands on both sides of Rodney’s rib cage and closing his eyes. Moments later, he pressed his hands harder and frowned. “I can’t decrease it! Somethin’ in Rodney is fighting me!”
“Rapid increase of testosterone levels in blood detected,” Lania informed.
“Testosterone?” Carson inhaled sharply and quickly turned at John. “You need to leave, John!”
John growled. “No!”
“Increased testosterone levels means your pheromones are affectin’ him!”
“That’s what they’re supposed to do!”
“Nae like this! Right now, what they’re doin’ is puttin’ his body under stress! You need to leave, John! Now!”
“I can’t!” John growled again, squeezing Rodney’s hand harder, his heartbeat pulsating against John’s enhanced touch. “Could you leave if it was Kate? On your own free will?” He challenged him, looking him straight in the eyes.
Carson was the first to look away and clicked on his radio. “Security to Pod Treatment Room!”
Two marines arrived moments later. “Dr. Beckett?”
“You need to remove Colonel Sheppard from the room! Immediately!” The two mundane soldiers looked at the doctor puzzledly “His judgement is biologically impaired right now.” They still looked unsure. “It’s a Bloodfire issue!” He added. That explanation usually worked.
Not this time, it seemed.
Sheppard growled, his hands clutching the sides of the pod like he was trying to push himself away and pull closer at the same time. The marines looked from the doctor to their CO and back, trying to decide what to do.
“Move away!” Lorne ordered, entering the room at a run, with Callahan and Reese on his heels. Lorne tackled Sheppard, using the surprise and momentum to force him away from the pod while immobilizing his arms. The Colonel turned on him with a snarl, kicking him hard. Lorne grimaced and bit his lip, but withstood the hit, and a moment later Reese had Sheppard’s legs immobilized under his weight. Sheppard tried to bite him, but Callahan stopped him, forcefully capturing Sheppard’s head and pulling it back.
“Callahan! Now will be a good time” Lorne shouted, while he and Reese had to use all their enhanced Warrior strength to contain their commanding officer.
“I’m trying!” The lieutenant shouted, eyes shut in concentration as Sheppard tried to wriggle out of his hold. He pressed his fingers down harder on Sheppard’s face and suddenly, Sheppard arched off the floor for a second, before falling back unconscious.
John sat cross-legged on the floor of the observation room, his forehead resting against the cold dividing crystal screen. A sheen of fever sweat covered Rodney’s sleeping form in the isolation room below, the only external sign that the Firing had finally started.
Rodney was the only thing he could really see. His eyes hadn’t moved away from him since he’d arrived. They couldn’t. Sight was his only real sense contact with his mate. Touch was out of question, smell made impossible by the isolation room’s protocols. He could hear Rodney’s heartbeat through Atlantis’ sensors, but it felt hollow, wrong. And with Rodney asleep, their fledgling bond was silent.
The Sentinel in him was screaming.
The Warrior in him wanted to tear the crystal down, take Rodney and run as far away from everything as possible.
The Alpha in him felt ashamed by just thinking of letting his Pride down and by all the things he’d pushed them through. He owed Evan one for that kick.
The man in him just wanted to take his mate in his arms and never let him go.
He’d never felt so out of control in his life. His instincts and mind hijacked by the hormones running rampant in his blood. Instincts and logic at war, betrayed by his own body.
And he had not even kissed Rodney yet.
Like any Bloodfire born in a Clan, he grew up learning about the effects of mattings and the havoc they broke in body and mind. He’d listened to the love stories of legendary True Matings, and the heart-breaking tragedies even normal matings could cause. He’d seen his grandparents, mated for over 50 years and still going strong. He’d also seen his uncle James completely wrecked after his mating imploded.
And he’d seen his father push through life day after day by sheer force of will after losing his True Mate, John’s mother.
He’d seen, and he’d learnt, but he had never really understood.
The door hissed open and John tensed when he recognized the unique mix of smells that identified Carson. Though his mind knew the Healer had done the right thing, the instinctive part of him still resented Carson for it. Carson approached the dividing crystal but, seeming to sense John’s mood, stayed a few feet away.
“How’s it going?” he asked, without taking his eyes away from Rodney.
“The treatment pod lowered the pheromones to a level not-threatenin’ for Rodney’s health. The Activator gene is doing its job and he’s stable. The fever is risin’ at a normal pace. If he stays like this, I’ll allow you both back to the private room in a couple of hours.”
“Not now, Carson, please. I need more time, OK?”
“I’ll leave you alone, Alpha.”
The door hissed shut and, once again, Rodney’s electronically-distorted heartbeat was the only sound in John’s ears.
John replaced the cold compress on Rodney’s forehead with a fresh one. While it wouldn’t help lower the Firing fever, it refreshed the skin and made Rodney more comfortable. They’ve been back in the room for three hours and the last russet rays of sunset filtered through the windows. With a thought, John opened them, allowing the soft sea breeze into the room.
“Nice,” Rodney muttered.
“Thought so,” John smiled while he cleaned the sweat off Rodney’s flushed skin with a fresh towel. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I’ve been run over by a truck,” Rodney groaned, eyes sliding open. He looked down at his chest and back at John. He looked down again and squirmed sluggishly under the blanket. “I’m naked.” He looked at John. “Why am I naked? And why…” He palmed his face with his right hand. John grabbed it gently and pulled it away when he tried to dislodge the cold compress. “I’m burning,” he stated, a puzzled look on his face.
“You’re Firing, Rodney, as my True Mate.”
“You’re going to be one of us, Rodney. Hey, maybe you’ll even get the Thales Gift you wanted,” John winked.
“Oh…” His lips traced a slight smile. “That’s good, right?”
“Yes, Rodney, that’s very, very good,” John chuckled.
Rodney’s smile became a grin. “Harris won’t have more access to Atlantis than me anymore.”
John laughed heartily. “Nobody will but me, Rodney, I promise.”
“Good,” Rodney tried to nod, but it became a grimace. “Though, right now, it sucks galactically.”
“Yep, I remember,” John nodded sagely while trying to suppress a grin. Rodney glared at him and he chuckled. “Are you up for a drink?”
“Think so,” Rodney answered. John twisted open a water bottle, took the cold compress off and helped him to sit up. Rodney drank slowly but steadily. “Thanks,” he said, letting himself relax against John’s side. They stayed like this for a few moments, before John gently lowered him to the bed, replacing the cold compress.
“Try to sleep a bit more.” Rodney nodded. John straightened the bed before sliding under the blanket beside his mate. He gently combed Rodney’s hair through his fingers, making Rodney sigh and press against his hand. “You’re like a cat,” he chuckled. Rodney just hummed in agreement.
With the soft sea breeze caressing his skin, Rodney fell asleep minutes later and John settled to watch over him, while allowing Lania to silently send the latest city updates to him.
In the following hours, John stayed close to his mate, nodding off here and there as the Firing stretched into the night and the next morning.
Rodney seized three times, arms and legs twitching uncontrollably, while the rest of his body was stiff as a board. The seizures lasted only one or two minutes each, and his body relaxed boneless afterwards, but each of them brought the ghost of a spontaneous Halting to the forefront of John’s mind. It kept him awake for hours, his senses monitoring Rodney’s vitals, especially his temperature, almost obsessively.
By his orders, Lania called him every time Rodney woke up, so he could make him drink and keep dehydration at bay. He ate whatever Evan or TC brought, without paying much attention to what it was, and tried to kept Rodney as sweat-free and comfortable as possible as his temperature stayed in the high side of 43ºC for the long hours of the Firing.
Carson didn’t come.
Rodney’s fever broke around mid-morning of their 8th day in Atlantis, signaling the end of the Firing proper. TC appeared soon later, alerted by Lania, and did a full bioscan under John’s steady glare.
“So?” John asked.
“Congratulations,” TC smirked. “It’s a boy!”
“Callahan!” John snarled as the laughing doctor took a step away from his Alpha’s claws.
“Everything seems fine, Alpha,” he explained as he sat on the bed. “The Firing has ended neatly, and his body is processing the leftovers as it should. The Healing is already starting the activation process and should hit fully as soon as the remaining Firing hormones are neutralized. Forty minutes to an hour, tops. ”
“Apart from the usual, I can only see the neural damage we already knew. The stress he’s been under, however, has been much more than usual. Until Healing finishes its job, he’s gotta ache all over, at least double that we did, maybe more.” They both grimaced. “And he’s gotta have the headache from hell. Also, his reserves are totally depleted. I’m gonna start an IV for fluids and I’ll put a special order from the mess.” TC laid a hand on John’s chest, the tingling feeling of the bioscan running fast through the Alpha’s body. “One for you, too,” he added after finishing the scan. “Doctor’s orders,” he admonished when he saw John was going to protest. John sighed and nodded. “Good, I’m going to get the IV.”
TC got up and walked to the door. As it slid open, John called him. “TC?”
“Tell Carson he can come back,” he asked, his eyes closed.
TC smiled. “I will, Alpha.”
It wasn’t until two hours later that Rodney awoke.
“Welcome back to the land of the living,” John smiled, his mate’s presence lighting up in his mind.
“Uhh…” Rodney rubbed his eyes. John took a water bottle, twisted it open and passed it to Rodney, who drank it all up. “John…” He looked at John’s bare chest and then his own with a puzzled look.
“Do you remember what I told you the first time you woke up?”
Rodney frowned. “Something about Firing? I’m going to be one of yours? Your True Mate?”
“You already are, Rodney. The Firing’s over.”
“Oh!” Rodney tried to sit up but aborted the movement with a grimace. “That’s why I’m feeling like I’ve been chomped alive?” He stretched his arms slowly. “Ouch! Even my eyelids hurt!”
John smirked. “Unfortunately, yes. Here, let me…” He helped Rodney move to a seated position, his back supported by pillows. “I’m afraid it’s going to suck until your new Healing finishes fixing the damage…”
“Damage? What damage?” Rodney glowered at him.
“Rodney, calm down. Your body has gone through a lot of changes in a very short time and it needs a… tune-up.”
“I’m not a car,” Rodney muttered.
“That’s why Healing activates first. You just need to let it do its job,” John continued, overlooking the comment and deciding to leave the rest of the story for later. “Which means you need to give it what it needs: WOE!”
“Woe?!” Rodney looked at John like he was doubting his sanity. John ignored the look and jumped out the bed, clothed only in a pair of boxers.
“Yep! Water, Oxygen, Energy,” John explained as he took a large tray from a side table and returned to the bed. “It’s what Healing needs to work.”
John sat at his left, the tray’s legs extending automatically as he lowered it onto the bed. As John waved his hand over it, the energy field covering the tray disappeared and the blue light of the base switched off.
“What are those?”
“Stasis trays,” John explained. “Lania broke them out specially for you.”
“Oh!” Rodney ran his finger over the metallic latticework of the tray. “They seem like a miniature version of the stasis pod in Antarctica, though this is more similar to the Control Chair… What power source do they use?” he asked, trying to lift the tray. “Do they—?”
“Rodney,” John interrupted him, taking his hand away from the tray and pushing a fork into it. “Food first. Quizzing Lania can wait.”
Rodney’s stomach rumbled as he finally noticed the mouth-watering smells coming from the tray. He glared at John’s smirk and took up his fork with clear intent, but John used his to sweep away the hash brown Rodney was aiming for. “Protein first, Rodney. It’s what your Healing needs most.” Rodney glared at him as John happily munched the potato treat. He decisively speared a crisp strip of bacon, his eyes daring John to take it away. John just smiled as he finished the hash brown and took a juicy piece of sausage.
After helping himself to another bacon strip, Rodney took a bread slice and immediately glared at John, pointing his fork to it as he chewed. “Yes, Rodney, it’s whole grain.” Rodney glared harder. “Sorry, buddy, better get used to it. Healers will chew your head off if they see you anywhere near processed flour, rice or sugar.” Rodney’s face fell comically, and John fought to keep the smile off his face. “It has something to do with nutrients and absorption rates. You better ask Carson about it.” Rodney looked at the bread slice as it it has personally slighted him before using it to stab a fried egg with prejudice. John shifted a hash brown onto Rodney’s plate, which he appropriated quickly.
John polished off the scrambled eggs, a plate of sausage and a turkey sandwich, leaving Rodney the stuffed omelet, two cream cheese and ham bagels and the rest of the eggs and bacon. He chose the bowl of yogurt and nuts, pushing the one with berries and chunks of dark chocolate towards Rodney, which finally earned him a real smile from his new mate.
Food finished, Rodney leaned back on the pillows as John took care of the remains of their dinner.
“What happens now?” he asked as John climbed back on the bed and sat cross-legged besides him.
“Now the Healing fixes up your body, then the Aegis activates and finally your personal Gifts start to appear.”
“As long it’s not Healer,” Rodney muttered, “or, worse, Empath!” He shuddered.
John laughed. “Don’t worry. Empath is the only Gift that activates before Healing. You’re safe.”
“What about the… other thing? The…” Rodney coughed, a flush spreading over his face. ”Mating thing? Are you sure about that?”
John shifted closer, taking Rodney’s hand between his and looking directly at his mate’s eyes. “I’ve never been surer of anything in my life, Rodney.” He pressed a kiss to Rodney’s knuckles. “You know… as an unmated Bloodfire, there’s a sort of… hole inside you. Well, turns out mine was Rodney-shaped and you slot into it perfectly.” He smiled, enjoying the blush spreading through Rodney’s face.
“Well, I suppose that explains…” Rodney’s blushing intensified and he looked away.
John put a finger under his jaw and gently turned his head back to him. “Explains what, Rodney?”
“I… I…” Rodney cleared his throat. “I… I’d never looked at a man before… that way, you know?” He explained, playing absently with a loose thread of the sheet. “In fact, I had a very definitive type: blonde, smart, female. Carter probably told you…” Rodney shook his head. “And then you came around and I find myself thinking excuses to see you instead of her. That’s the true mating thing?”
“In a way,” John smiled. “Being True Mates means we’re perfectly compatible, down to the biological level.”
Rodney’s eyes narrowed. “You mean that pheromones bullshit?”
John chuckled. “Yes, that.” He suddenly turned serious. “Is it going to be a problem for you, Rodney?”
It took Rodney a moment to answer. John could feel his heartbeat going faster, adding an undercurrent of sharp excitement to Rodney’s changed scent. “No, I don’t think so. This… this feels good,” he said, turning his hand to intertwine his fingers with John’s, unconsciously sending a wave of affection and embarrassment though their nascent bond. “Plus, I know Stanford doesn’t give out math doctorates to morons, so you’re reasonably smart even if you have the gall to defend that travesty called Back to the Future!”
John laughed, eyes shining with merriment. “Come on! Time travel’s cool!”
“Not with a flux capacitor!” Rodney grumbled, but calmed down quickly. “What about you?”
“Rodney, if you’d been a Bloodfire, I’d have tried to seduce you the day we met,” John smiled as Rodney’s mouth fell open, an unexpected wave of lust crashing over him. “As it was, you were really testing my resolve to not get involved with mundanes. So, yeah, I’m totally on board with the idea.”
“Oh!” Rodney blushed again. “That’s… that’s good,” John smirked and Rodney cleared his throat. “So… what’s going to happen now with this bonding thing? We need to… complete it now?” Rodney looked down to his fingers intertwined with John’s in his lap.
John paused to assess his mate. Rodney’s right leg twitched under the blanket and he was going to make his lower lip bleed if he kept worrying at it like that. A fluttery feeling was leaking through their bond, a mix of quivering nervousness and vibrating elation.
“Rodney, we already have a primary, instinctual bond,” Rodney gave him a puzzled look, opening his mouth to ask. Carefully, John send a pulse of love through the bond that made Rodney gasp. “This is it. That’s going to hold us for a while. We can wait to complete it until you feel ready for it.”
John could feel Rodney prodding the bond on his side, a strong feeling of curiosity travelling across it.
“You… you’ll wait? I thought… that wasn’t possible?”
“Without a primary bond, it’d be impossible and, well, not everyone can create one. Only Empaths, Healers…” John looked away, rubbing the back of his neck. “Primes…”
Rodney’s eyes widened in surprise. “Prime? You’re an Alpha Prime?” John nodded. “You’re blood heir of a Clan Master?”
“Northwest,” John admitted.
Rodney’s smile became a grin. “Well, seems I got myself bonded into royalty! Though, if you think about it, it’s logical, for the smartest man in two galaxies—”
The rest of the sentence was swallowed by John’s lips upon his. John took advantage of the situation to explore his mate’s mouth thoroughly, extracting a low moan from Rodney, before retreating slowly, with small nips to Rodney’s lower lip.
“Rodney McKay speechless,” John chuckled. “That’s a sight to behold.”
Rodney narrowed his eyes. “Wait until I’m healed. Let’s see who leaves who speechless then!”