Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Word Count: 500
A/N: Follows Earth in the Balance,
The Water is Wide, Con Air,
And through the Fire,
If you prefer, this can be read with all five parts as one fic: Shapes of Things
There was a time Rodney's fondest wish -- beyond all the prizes he was destined to win, and therefore needn't wish for -- was to Ascend. To reach a plane of existence where the physical doesn't matter. Where eating the wrong snack can't kill you, where the sins of the flesh don't matter, because there is no flesh with which you can sin.
Of course he hadn't known the term "ascended", at least not as one that described a form as real as his human one. It was just a science fiction trope, Asimov, or Bova or Clarke. Hell, all the greats probably had their own version.
But now that he's seen evidence of the real thing, he realizes it's the last thing he wants.
Millions of light years from the place he once called home, as far from "safe" as possible, and Rodney has never felt more at home in his own skin. Never known how capable he could be, that people who were stronger, and faster, and more skilled in the use of their own muscles, could still count on him. He never knew before how much he would like it, despite the fear that he won't measure up.
There are other reasons, of course. For one thing, the Ascended (even the half-Ascended) seem to have covered the market on sanctimoniousness. They're perfect beings who can't be bothered to help those they've risen above. Even those just like the humans they used to be.
Rodney knows he's a genius, that he's as close to the mental ideal as is possible for one man to be. But with that intellect comes the need to put it to good use. Noble use, even. If ascension means being unable to act, he'll take life, warts and all.
But the biggest reason Rodney is content to be corporeal is lying next to him right now. Bony knees and stinky feet and crazy hair and all, John is beautiful. And John seems to think Rodney is beautiful too. Despite Rodney's own foibles and imperfections, John touches him like he wants every part of Rodney. It's why Rodney still insists he wasn't jealous of Chaya, at least not the way everyone thinks he was.
"It wasn't real sex," John told him. "Nothing like we have." Then he kissed Rodney, and moved to suck a mark onto the juncture of shoulder and neck. It was a move Rodney would normally have called needlessly teenage, but now he relishes every sign of their relationship, every minor scratch and finger shaped bruise that marks him. Every sign that shows he's strong because he's fragile. Not that he's weak, not at all. Rodney has discovered there's a difference.
There's power in knowing you could die at any minute, but choosing to go on anyway, to do what one must to survive, and take whatever joy one can find.
Rodney no longer wishes to escape his body, or deny what it can give him. He prefers his spirit connected to his flesh, and both of them connected to John.