a hub for the wheel'd universe

Title: a hub for the wheel'd universe
Author: busaikko
Summary: John's trapped under tons of rubble, his only lifeline Rondey's voice on his radio. This can't end well. And yet, any yet….
Warning: deathfic (of a sort)

And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes

"The thing is," Rodney says, and God does John wish he was up there with Rodney, just so he could smack him for that really annoying verbal tick, "you're pretty well stuck, Colonel. I mean — people are digging down. It's just going to take some time. So you need to stay with us. Keep talking."

"Then you need to shut up," John bites out, trying again to reach his radio. It's sort of wedged between his head and the column that collapsed all over him, and it feels as if he'll lose the radio if he so much as sneezes. There's a lot of smoke; every time he opens his eyes, they tear up. He really wants to sneeze. "I swear," he says, coughing as little as he can, feeling panic as the radio slips another milimetre, "if you don't get me out of here in the next five minutes, McKay…."

He can move his right hand, but it's on the other side of a lot of cement, and he can't reach over to his own face or ear for that matter. His lower left arm is pinned rather embarrassingly close to his crotch, and he can't feel his legs. He figures, several tons of dirt and cement and Ancient office furniture just came down on him, something must be broken. He doesn't want to worry about that now.

"Sheppard?" Rodney is saying. "Come on, yell at me some more. Tell me how you're doing."

"I'm fucked," John says, and coughs something up that he has to swallow back down because he doesn't dare spit.

"Tell me about it," Rodney says, as if he could do anything, but John humours him and gives him the inventory. His voice starts to wobble and dry out. He wants a drink; he tells Rodney that, and Rodney hmms at him. "I'm sure there's a six-pack waiting for you in your room," Rodney says. "Or hey, Zelenka got some more of that weird European Kool-Aid, you could crutch your way into his sympathies and he'd give you anything at all."

"I'm glad you got out," John interrupts, because if there's one thing worse than lying parched and broken and dirty at the bottom of an Ancient sub-basement, it's lying there thinking about drinks. With ice. And little umbrellas and fruit on a stick. His fantasy life sucks.

"Yes, well." Rodney coughs uncomfortably. "Can you hear anything yet?"

John listens. "All I hear is more gravel trickling down. I wish you were here," he adds, and Goddamn if his lip doesn't start trembling. He is so fucked.

"No," Rodney says, sounding pensive, "you probably wish you were up. You know. Out of all that. If I were there, I'd be pretty useless. I could hold your hand, I suppose."

John twitches his fingers and tries to imagine Rodney holding his right hand. (Where his left hand is is disgusting and wet. He hopes he just pissed himself. He hopes he's not bleeding.) "I'd kiss you," he decides. "If you were here? I'd totally kiss you."

"Oh hey, that's good." Rodney sounds practically chipper. John grins, and then swears as the radio slips more. "What, what?"

"The radio's… I'm going to lose it. Shit. I'll be all alone." John can't believe that he's whining.

"You're not alone," Rodney says back instantly. "Even if the radio falls, John, I'm still here, I'll still be talking. And, um. I should be able to hear you, even if you can't hear me. I'm right there with you, holding your hand, being kissed — which, by the way, great time to start being romantic — kissing you back. If I were there, I'd so be kissing you back."

"Godfather kiss-of-death kissing?" John asks, because he's not sure. He'd expected more hysteria.

"No no no," Rodney says, and John bites back a grin. "With tongue. And nibbling on your lips. They kind of ask for it, don't they?"

John touches his dry dusty tongue to his dry dusty lips. "My mouth's disgusting."

"You're in rubble, you're not expected to be Mister Clean." Rodney makes a small wet noise into the microphone that sounds like him licking his lips. John can see him licking his lips, a little kiss-swollen, glistening wet, inviting. These are the good hallucinations, he thinks, and goes with the flow.

"I'm kissing you again," he announces. "And… and I'm touching you."

"Dirty touching?" Rodney sounds pleased about this. "Not-on-the-first-date touching?"

"You're easy," John tells him. "I think we're up to third base now." He pauses to admire his mental handiwork: clothes removed or in disarray, kiss marks here and there, Rodney looking stunned and ready to move right on to sex. "God. I love you like this," he says. "Um. I'm kissing you again. And you're touching me."

"Well, that's because I love you back," Rodney says, and it's not the same thing, but it's a perfect thing. "You know that, right? I mean, I hope you do. There's never going to be one moment ever when I don't love you, even though you're just going to have to trust me on this. Will that make a difference? If you can wake up in the morning and think, Rodney McKay loves me — will that keep you warm?"

"Don't talk about warm," John says. He's so fucking cold down here. "I want to grow old with you. What would it mean to you, if I loved you?"

"It'd mean the world," Rodney says, very somber, as if he is forcing the words to mean everything. And then he gives a huffy Rodney laugh and adds, "Crap, I think we just got married."

That makes John laugh, and this time he really does lose the radio, and a bit of his mind, for a while. When he stops screaming and cursing and trying to pull himself free, he starts yelling at Rodney. He yells at him to get his ass down here, now, and he wants a fucking ring, and doesn't Rodney want cake, and where are they going on the honeymoon. He goes hoarse and coughs for a while after that, and then he apologises for yelling, and then he starts telling Rodney about when he might have fallen in love, and what he's been thinking since then, and also about the New England Patriots, because he can't be married to anyone who's ignorant about the important things.

He's still going on in fits and starts about football and love when the rescuers lift the remains of the ceiling up. Suddenly there is light and sound, and John's so happy he could just cry.

Keller shoots him up with drugs even though what he wants is his radio back so he can talk to Rodney while he's being freed. Someone roots around in the dust and comes up with a mess of black plastic and wire. John swears it works just fine despite appearances, and Keller holds the radio to his ear. Probably just to shut him up.

"Rodney?" he says, and suddenly he's remembering that he has to be sneaky. It's Rodney's job to break Keller's heart, not his. "Hey."

"You're going to be okay," Rodney says in his ear, and John grins. "Look, the thing is you have to trust me. You do, right? Trust me?"

"Of course I do," John says, feeling parts of himself float away in a drugged haze. "With my life, buddy."

"Well, good," Rodney says, even though he sounds as if his favourite ZPM just died.

Keller's giving John the strangest look; she pulls the radio away, turns it, and even John can see that the part where the battery goes is not there.

"Give that back," he says — or snaps, or snarls — and then he can hear Rodney even as he's looking at his radio, a good ten inches in front of his face.

This kiss you're getting now, this is a goodbye-for-now kiss Rodney says. You have no idea how annoyed this whole situation makes me. I don't believe in any of this stuff. I fully plan on complaining to the authorities as soon as you're safe, and all. John swears he hears the ghost of a huffy sigh. On the one hand, infinite power and the ability to comprehend the entire universe. On the other hand — I'm going to miss a lot of stuff. Coffee, definitely, and being the smartest person ever, and having you for a best friend. Best friend ever Rodney adds, sounding echo-y and washed-away. And this is a selfish kiss because, damn it, I wish we had. Kissed. Before. Anyway. Remember that I love you Rodney says, and then he's gone.

And John tries hard to remember, but it's not easy, not when the column is lifted away so he can see the torn ragged sleeve of Rodney's uniform, Canada patch ripped right in two, and Keller beside him bursts into rending, heartbroken sobs.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

Walt Whitman

3 thoughts on “a hub for the wheel'd universe”

  1. Thank goodness I know there's a sequel! Wonderful though. Gut wrenching and sweet and wonderful.

    On to the sequel…

    admin reply on October 8th, 2009:

    Thank you for reading! Enjoy the happily-ever-after!

  2. You almost had me crying at the end.
    It was sweet and funny and so damn sad.
    I feel so bad for John now.

    But I love it.

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