Trophy Husband

by Bernice

"You're succumbing to the fallacy of the unbounded middle!" Rodney shouted at some cringing little man, waving his arms around, and as he was holding John's wrist in his hand, John was forced to hold his arm stiff and pull himself free, lest he end up waving his own arm in silent agreement of Rodney's argument. John concentrated on standing close to Rodney and projecting an aura of 'cool'.

This wasn't exactly how John had expected to be spending his honeymoon. He'd pictured lying on a beach, rum drinks, surfing, or perhaps a tour of Canada, quick visit with Rodney's sister, Niagara Falls, warm hotel fire, room service, or almost anything really, as long as it was followed up by hot sex. What he hadn't really expected was to be dragged bodily around a convention of scientists involved in the Stargate.

It wasn't a real convention - not the kind that gets advertised in The New Scientist and infiltrated by prostitutes - but SG1 had organised a gathering when they'd heard that a few SGA scientists and Colonel Sheppard were making a whistle stop earth trip, which was partly a chance to exchange ideas in person, and partly an excuse for geeks to drink and argue. John was never really surprised by the number of normally mild mannered scientists who turned into Godzilla with a few drinks under their collective belts.

Except Rodney, of course, who didn't need alcohol to fuel his inner bulldozer. The man was currently swirling through the room like a small hurricane, leaving a path of destruction and devastation in his wake.

And at every step of the way, John was dragged along. He'd had his doubts about being so obvious about their relationship, both with the military on Atlantis and pretty much everyone on Earth, and he'd half-heartedly tried explaining the concept of discretion to Rodney, who'd waved him off with: "We're in Canada. What? It's legal! They can't court martial you, I'd walk off the project and they can't live without me, you know that. I'm indispensable. They wouldn't dare!" Not that John had protested, because he knew full well that not only was Rodney truly indispensable, but that those people who did not appreciate John's record considered Rodney McKay a suitable punishment for all of John's past insubordinations. Besides, there was a perverse pleasure to be had from causing certain of his superiors discomfort in ways they could do nothing about. Every time he remembered all the crap they'd given him over the years, he'd take an extra delight in making them squirm. Another bonus to marrying McKay. Also, it just amused General O'Neill, John was sure. No one really cared - as long as Rodney kept Atlantis afloat, and as long as John kept Rodney alive, the military simply didn't ask.

But John tried to draw the line at almost holding hands at geek conventions; just as he'd enjoyed watching Star Trek, but he'd never put on plastic Spock ears. He'd tried explaining that to Rodney, but Rodney pointed out that John came equipped with Spock ears naturally, and had ended up dragging John around the room by his wrist, with a death grip John was sure was going to leave bruises.

Kind of tuning out most of the discussions, John just watched as Rodney engaged yet another hapless scientist in a haranguing match. Rodney always won, of course, no one could harangue quite like Rodney. Rodney could harangue for his country. "Canada takes gold in Olympic haranguing!" John muttered under his breath, ignoring McKay's questioning 'Hmm?'.

"Rodriguez!" Rodney spied someone with whom he needed to pick an argument and dragged John over, muttering under his breath, "and he said I was going to die old and alone! But now I've got a hot air force husband and what has he got? Nothing!" Stability of theoretical white holes and control of alternative exits and something to do with planet crushing gravity - John had some vague idea of what that all meant, no one went through the Stargate without being at least curious as to the mechanics, but as long as it worked he didn't sweat the details. Rodney and Rodriguez did, though, loudly and furiously, and apparently it needed saying, loudly, that Rodriguez was an imbecile, that he'd always been jealous of Rodney's superior intellect (John had long since learned that everyone was jealous of Rodney's superior intellect, though Rodney usually kept this observation between himself and John), and Rodriguez was apparently jealous of some award or other that Rodney had won and Rodriguez was spouting furiously, bits of food spraying the room and Rodney – not that Rodney seemed to mind – there was bad blood here that went back years.

John plastered a hideous fake smile on his face as he thrust his free hand forward to shake with Rodriguez. At least none of the scientists seemed to hold a grudge against him for Rodney's appalling behaviour. Mostly, John suspected, because they engaged in similar pissing matches anyway. And maybe they felt a little sorry for him, too.

"Pleased to meet you," John said, and used his fake smile to cover the real one that threatened to break through. He'd never admit it, but he was having the time of his life. They'd forgive him as long as they thought he was suffering along with them. Camaraderie in the face of the terror that is Rodney McKay. If they figured out that John found this not only highly amusing, but a terrific ego boost as well, they'd tear him apart. Or, at least, they wouldn't think he was so cool anymore, and it seemed pretty important to Rodney that everyone thought John was cool. And smart. And hot.

There was finger pointing and finger wagging and Rodney waved his hands around in ways designed to ostensibly display his gleaming gold wedding band, and more yelling and arm waving until Rodriquez was eventually reduced to babbling in his native language something that sounded suspiciously like a death threat, and Rodney waved him off with a chopping motion, his eyes already scanning for another victim and John was dragged off around the room again. "Hah, he's going to be the one who dies old and alone while I'm having great sex with my hot husband," Rodney whispered to John, and John grinned his agreement.

He couldn't help but be a little proud of the way Rodney could make a grown geek cry, and a little proud of his own ability to not only tolerate the worst of McKay's exuberances, but to even relish them.

There was someone that Rodney didn't bother to introduce by name, who had no hair and needed a lecture in the use of plasma in a Tokamak chamber, because Rodney was apparently also an expert in the nuclear ITER fusion experiments in Japan, and although Rodney's ability to make things go boom in a big way was one of the reasons why the military tolerated him, John wondered how he managed to find the time to stay up-to-date on these things with everything else Rodney had to do. John even managed to get in an intelligent comment on superconducting magnets that were intended to hold the plasma in place, which got him a moment of gaping silence. He gave Rodney an eyebrow twist that said: 'What? You want me to be smart in front of your friends, right?' and Rodney gave him a brilliant open-mouthed smile that said: 'You are so getting a blow job later'.

As the 'conversation' wound up, and the bald nuclear scientist managed to escape, Rodney leaned in and said, "You amaze me, sometimes."

"Because I'm not a complete idiot?"

"Yep. And by the fact you're here."

"I'm here? You mean at the SGC or with you?"

"With me. It shows what amazing intelligence you have in that you realised what a terrific catch I am."

"You have no idea," John said, sotto voce', and Rodney gave him a dirty look as if searching for the sarcasm, and John felt a wave of absolute love for this exasperating, funny, brilliant man, because McKay didn't always know, but John planned to spend the rest of his life letting McKay know just how much of a great catch John thought he was. John didn't, for one minute, ever regret the possible threat of their relationship to his career, not when he could get McKay to look at him like that – like all the scientists and their need of McKay's brilliant insights no longer existed.

Then John's gooey moment broke as Rodney saw someone over John's shoulder.

"Hey," Rodney leaned in to whisper loudly, "That's… you know, what's-his-name."

John didn't know, but turned to look.

"He's in aeronautics. Goodness knows what on earth he actually does, but yeah, flying machines. You should go talk to him," Rodney started dragging John over. "Say clever things, okay? Show him how smart you are!"

"I don't... Rodney, I'm a pilot! He's probably building space ships, I don't-"

"Robertson, isn't it?"

"Peterson," Peterson corrected Rodney, his lips thinning, his face darkening. This guy must have met Rodney before.

"Yes, yes, this is Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. My husband," Rodney put some serious emphasis on the husband part. "He's a pilot, you know. You should tell him about your work, he can probably correct some of your more obvious errors."

It turned out that Peterson was working on the same intergalactic engines that powered the Daedelus and had some fascinating things to say. Rodney let John talk for a short time, but was getting increasingly discontent at John's refusal to embarrass the other scientist or correct his assumptions (as if John really had that level of understanding), and John could feel the hand that clutched his squeezing spasmodically as Rodney made a truly Herculean effort not to interrupt and correct them both. To reward Rodney's patience, John made his own Herculean effort to ask intelligent questions and even offered some advice on incorporating some of the Wraith dart designs into the F-302s.

Peterson was smiling and waving his hands and offering to send designs through to John to get his input, and
John shook the guy's hand, and promised to email him and felt Rodney's hand squeezing his until the point of pain and smirked because making Rodney jealous was kind of fun.

"Colonel Carter," Rodney sounded surprised and pleased at spying his old nemesis and hopeless crush nearby.

Oh, and hey, John realised that jealousy wasn't that good a feeling from the other side.

"Colonel Carter, hey, Sam, it's me, Dr. McKay!" John was hauled over to say hello to Rodney's old infatuation. She gave them both a huge smile, and he was impressed that it didn't look forced or fake at all.

"Dr McKay," she nodded politely.

"Colonel Carter, you know Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard," what was with the full titles, John wondered; he really hadn't thought that Rodney was at all impressed with John's rank, although he guessed Rodney thought others were. "John, you know John, right?"

"I certainly do," she said and extended her hand to John to be shaken. He gave her a conspiratorial wink, hoping she'd be okay with what was inevitably coming and not cut Rodney down too badly, and leaned his shoulder against Rodney's imperceptibly, just enough to make sure she saw and took his meaning that he wouldn't appreciate her hurting Rodney's feelings, or to give Rodney support in case she did. And maybe, just a little bit, to make his claim on Rodney a little more obvious. Just in case she suddenly came to her senses and realised what she'd missed out on. Not that that was likely, or that John was at all insecure, but a little insurance was never wasted.

"We're married now!" Rodney held up his free hand, showing his ring, then forcing John's hand up, too, showing their matching rings off, John making sure the light hit his ring just so. "John and me. Isn't that great? I mean, not for you, of course, anyway, I just wanted to let you know, you know, not to be too disappointed-"

"Oh, I'm not."

"Because, as you know, what with you being brilliant, too, it's hard to be with someone that's not on your own level, and we really were a good match, what with our both being geniuses and all, but well, you were just too slow."

"Yes, that's a shame," she still smiled.

"And John, well, he was there and, maybe it's because he's a man and men are you know, more ambitious and assertive-"

Was her eye starting to twitch? John wasn't sure, but her smile was getting less and less natural looking. In fact it looked like she was showing her teeth preparatory to ripping Rodney's throat out.

"-Anyway, he was pushier and put a lot of effort into the whole 'converting me to the gay' thing, and he asked me to marry him first so yeah, you lost out there, but I'm sure you'll find someone eventually, because you know, you're really hot and all, and I love your hair by the way, is that a new style? So yeah, someone will come along eventually, but you shouldn't leave it too long because you're not getting any younger, how old are you now anyway? Still looking great, but men age better than women don't they, and John's forty something but he doesn't look it, does he, he's still really hot, even though he's not blond which is a shame, but hey, I like his crazy hair anyway, but you shouldn't be too broken hearted over the whole thing, but you see I couldn't wait for you forever."

"No, of course you couldn't. I'm really happy for you both, Rodney."

"That's nice of you to say, but I can see that you're-"

"I'm really happy for all of us, truly," she said, giving John a look of 'please help!'

John smiled even more broadly, because he just loved how McKay was so terrible with people. McKay was unarguably correct in that he and Carter would have made a good match, intellectually and professionally, and John could really only thank McKay's unfailing ability to aggravate the hell out of people that she or someone else hadn't snapped him up before John came along.

"But, hey, I just had an idea, oh, this is brilliant! Because the whole gay thing has kind of put a bit of a crimp into my duty to pass on my obviously superior genes, but it's not still out of the question. I mean, have you had the life change yet? Because I just thought, hey, you could be a surrogate mother for me and John! Isn't that brilliant? My brains, John's looks, your womb… We could-"

Okay, that was it, they were both going to die and very soon.

"Rodney!" John snapped.

"What? John, I'm trying to talk here, I mean, she's missed out on-"

John leaned over and whispered in Rodney's ear, but loud enough for her to hear: "Let her have her dignity, Rodney. Can't you see she's heart broken?"

Rodney looked stricken. "Oh, Sam, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to rub your face in it, honestly, it's just-"

"Let's go, Rodney, let's leave her in peace."

She looked at John, eyes still horrified, but mouth twitching with humour. Not everyone could handle Rodney, John considered it his own special super power that not only could he handle Rodney's more outrageous comments but was truly amused by them as well. In fact, if he was honest with himself, he often went out of his way to encourage and provoke some of the more over the top explosions.

"Oh, yes, yes, sorry Colonel Carter, I didn't mean to, well, yes, but if you just consider my-"

"Rodney, hey, look, let's go check out the buffet table. I'm hungry, aren't you hungry?"

"Yes, yes, it's been hours since lunch, I'm about to have a hypoglycaemic reaction, I just know it. You've saved my life once again." Rodney turned an adoring look on John, as if he couldn't believe his luck to have John by his side, casually saving his life, and John felt his chest tighten in response and thought maybe he grew a couple of inches taller. He strutted just a little bit as Rodney dragged him to the buffet.

At no point did Rodney stop talking while he filled his plate, and his mouth, with whatever was on the buffet, avoiding things that smelled citrusy and getting John to sniff things for confirmation. John was getting quite good at detecting juice and zest in all sorts of things. Rodney picked up a glass of Champagne and downed it in a couple of gulps as if it was water. He devoured food, wine, whatever came his way with a singular enthusiasm that left John feeling vaguely weak in the thighs as he thought about all the other amazing things that Rodney could do with his mouth and his enthusiasm.

"Stand here," Rodney said, parking John against the wall where General O'Neill was standing, rather obviously blocking someone who was hiding behind the curtains. "Hold this," Rodney continued, shoving the plate into John's hands before he turned and headed back out into the room again, whirls of disturbed scientists eddying in his wake.

Am I expected to eat this or just hold it for Rodney, John wondered, but said "Good evening, General O'Neill," as he started eating the cherry tomatoes off the plate.

"McKay, huh," said the general with a look of disbelief.

"McKay," John confirmed.

"McKay?" O'Neill was a master of brevity.

"I like him."

"Oh, you liiike him.

"I like him."

"The way you liked Antarctica?"

"Exactly like that," John gave him a big smile, not at all insolent, because he genuinely liked the general.

O'Neill shook his head in sad disbelief at John's obvious complete and utter mental break down, "Well, aren't you glad I talked you into going to Atlantis?"

"Best coin toss yet," John agreed without giving O'Neill the satisfaction of thinking he was responsible for John's having gone in the first place.

"Beer?" O'Neill offered, snagging a bottle, cold with drops of condensation dripping down the sides, a slice of lime slipped into the top, from a passing waiter.

"No, thanks. Can't drink Corona anymore."

"Why not?" General O'Neill looked at the bottle in confusion.

"Lime," John said. "McKay's allergic to citrus. I've had to give it up."

"He told you to give up Corona?" O'Neill looked like John had said he liked violating corpses at midnight.

"No, I just figured that it's too much trouble to keep saying 'no lime', so I don't drink it anymore."

"How… nice." O'Neill said, with a tone that said anything but, still he snagged a Molson's from another waiter and passed it over with a nod.

They both stood quietly, John wondering if Rodney would care if he ate all of the meatballs on the plate he was holding, O'Neill passing the unwanted Corona behind the curtains.

"So," O'Neill started again. "What's it like being a trophy husband?"

John wondered if O'Neill was trying to get a rise out of him, but he thought 'No one else has ever been proud of me. My family couldn't care less, the air force thought I was a total screw up, but now the smartest man in two galaxy's (self-proclaimed but probably right) thinks that I'm something special, so yeah, it's pretty damned good, actually', but none of that would sound cool and manly, so he settled on a smirk and an eye brow lift that he felt conveyed his feelings adequately.

General O'Neill gave him a twist of the lip that was almost a smile and a slight squint that John interpreted as some kind of baffled but knowing approval and they drank their beers in companionable silence.

Rodney came charging up again, mouth full of food, another plate in his hand, "What, not eating?"

"Er, I…" John started.

"Congratulations, McKay," O'Neill interrupted.

"Hmm?" Rodney was distracted from the food he started picking off John's plate. "Oh yes, the marriage. Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, I mean, he couldn't resist me, and really, who could? A man of my brilliance. The only surprise is that it took so long for it to happen, really, I mean, obviously, it took a person of exceptional intelligence to see that I am superior to just about every-"

John cut him off, thinking it was probably time for him to play hero and save all the poor scientists and perhaps even O'Neill and Carter-behind-the-curtain, "Rodney."


"Let's go up to our room."

"I haven't finished-"

"We could order everything on the room service menu and make out. It's our honeymoon, after all."

"Everything?" Rodney's eyes got really big.

"Everything," John said with finality.

"Oh. Oh yes. Great idea, great idea. See, I was telling Gruber that you were brilliant as well as beautiful, and there you go, proving me right again! Great idea. Everything!"

John handed the plates off to to a waiter and giving the general a smirk that quite clearly said: 'Yeah, you're jealous, you know it, I'm getting hot sex from the smartest man in two galaxies (self-proclaimed but probably right) who thinks I'm wonderful and fucks with the same rabid intensity with which he argues and eats and you're not!' and knew that the General was trying very, very hard not to burst out laughing in his face.

John wondered if their room was near the general’s, whether the mattress squeaked, and how loud he could get Rodney to scream during the night.

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