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Title: Power Napping
Author name: Icarus
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub Category: Challenge
Pairing: John, Rodney
Summary: Sheppard's little trick had just been useful for babysitting really, and babysitting McKay, but it had become something that could kill him. Written for the SGA Flashfic superpower challenge.
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. No infringement on their copyright is implied. Copyright © 2006 All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's explicit permission. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually generous.
Author notes: Unbeta'd
The only person John had ever told about it was Teer, back when he was in the Sanctuary, because he figured she'd understand. But she somehow missed the fact that John wanted to keep this private and told all the others. They were way too happy. Even the very serious Alvare had lit up with a grin, his white teeth flashing.
Alvare patted John's shoulder as they returned together from the river. He adjusted the waterbag up a little higher over the edge of the cistern, explaining as he poured out the swirling water, "It's related to the healing gift."
John held the lid of the cistern open and watched the water uncomfortably. "Yeah?"
"It's a sign that you are very close to Ascension." His glance was bright and sharp and a little too steady for John's comfort.
They didn't seem to get that this worried the hell out of him.
John skipped the meditations for a week after that. And, wow, was he glad to leave.
It had been just a useful trick for babysitting really, and babysitting McKay, but now it had become something that could kill him. Or turn him into a ball of glowing light, which to John was pretty much the same thing.
He swore he'd never do it again.
Back in Atlantis, John was on eggshells as he walked the halls, wide-eyed and wary, a hand hovering over his gun. Heightmeyer had said it was natural to feel a bit out of sync after an unintentional extended vacation in la-la-land, advice John repeated to get everyone out his hair. Of course, John hadn't told her that, "oh by the way, I have a superpower that's pretty useless and yet, it turns out, as dangerous as hell." For the first time the fact that everything here felt so welcoming and familiar bothered him. He had a sense of what it meant now, that he could just... leave... at any time.
Not die. Go. And as much he'd wanted to escape as a kid, that wasn't for him. Flying was enough.
John touched one of the columns of water just to make sure his hand didn't pass through it. He sighed and tapped the column, absently, gazing up to the vaulted ceiling. He heard footsteps and quickly started moving before he was caught acting weird again. A pair of Marines passed him on patrol and he gave them an abrupt nod.
Aimless, John wandered down to McKay's lab.
Sure enough, two a.m., and McKay was still awake. If you stretched the definition of "awake" by quite a bit. He crouched in front of his computer, tapping away vigorously, the blue light playing across his face, and no fewer than four coffee cups abandoned on his desk. John always used the count of coffee cups as a benchmark on just how long McKay had actually been up since he'd never kept regular hours: two p.m. could be hour forty-eight for all they knew. But John didn't need the coffee cups now, not with the how McKay's shoulders sagged, the tense way he held his head like his will alone was holding it up, the dark circles under his eyes. His skin was positively grey.
"Hmmm?" Rodney didn't even look up. He was used to John's midnight visits.
"Get some sleep."
"In a minute." Rodney's tapping continued without pause, the sharp rap as he smacked "enter" and then picked up his most recent coffee cup to take a sip, leaning an elbow on the table. The tech-guys hated the violence Rodney did to keyboards but John had seen that from the all the computer nerds from the 80s.
McKay chortled to himself as he set aside his cup and resumed, "Aha, I've got you now...."
John glanced around cautiously, wiping his mouth. The last patrol had passed for at least the next hour and there was no sound except McKay's keyboard and the soft water-murmur that was part of life in Atlantis. He considered leaving. But they had a mission in thirty-six hours and at this rate they were going to have to carry Rodney through the gate.
Ordering Rodney to bed never worked, he just waved a hand and was still there an hour later. Hauling him out of his seat and stuffing him, bitching and moaning, into his room only got him away from this computer. Letting him exhaust himself and fall on his ass, well, Rodney was used to being tired and cranky and didn't get that it was a problem, not even when the natives were shooting at them and Rodney was having more trouble than usual keeping up.
John moved, almost silent.
"Hmm. Still here?" Rodney noted absently as John sidled up beside him.
"Yeah," John said softly. The things he did for his team.
John let himself go completely still, quieter than Atlantis, quieter than the ocean floor beneath them. His heart sped as this scared him a moment, then he deliberately slowed it, pushing aside those thoughts from his mind, letting them drift and scatter. Out of the calm, he pictured sleep filling his arm, as thick as molasses. He'd learned that if he didn't carefully limit it, let it fill only part of his arm, he'd be affected first. He'd also learned that it didn't work if anyone guessed what he was doing. He had to be subtle.
A hand on Rodney's shoulder, he let the thick sleep drain into Rodney like peace. Felt the tension in Rodney's shoulders ease. Rodney's heart-rate slow. Heard and felt his breathing deepen. Off in the periphery, from a distance, John noted Rodney's long lashes flutter and blink, saw his head dip as he struggled against the current. It almost wasn't fair to do this, which was one reason John didn't unless he thought it was absolutely necessary, unless he meant well. He had a fleeting feeling it wouldn't work if that weren't the case, but he didn't know for sure.
He felt Rodney's head loll against his arm and John shut his eyes.
It left John feeling tired, but good, like a thorough workout. It was the fact that it felt so good that worried him most. But Rodney felt as solid as ever under his hand.
John had given him a heavy dose. No stumbling drunkenly to Rodney's room this time, Rodney's arm slung around his shoulder. John settled Rodney comfortably in his chair, rearranging his arms, then sat on the floor, his head leaned back against Rodney's thigh. Enjoying the peace.
Forty minutes later, the Marine patrol checked the labs, peering around the corner. They nodded when they spotted John. "He out again?"
"Again. Guess he pushed it too far." John shrugged as he got to his feet, stretching. "Wanna give me a hand? He's a lot heavier than the kids I used to babysit: can't exactly carry him to his bunkbed."
The Marines grabbed McKay under the shoulders while John got his feet. Rodney sagged between them. The marines could help John get Rodney out of his uniform, too.
"Oh yeah." John grunted, grateful once again that McKay's quarters weren't too far. His weight tripled when he was asleep. "On my watch no one ever stayed up past his bedtime."