This fic takes place prior to Unexpected, during Season 4 of Stargate Atlantis as a background snippet. There is no violence in this fic, but there is a discussion of past violence perpetrated on a child. I do not own Stargate Atlantis.
Thank You Evelyna, my beta!
Walking along on planet P4X-223’s grassland savannah towards Ancient outpost they could just barely make out in the distance, John’s team, Lorne’s team and Zelenka were mostly quiet. Except for McKay who was, as usual, bitching about something. The outing was not an unusual occurrence, the two teams and Zelenka were all friendly with one another, and often took on larger group missions together. John, Teyla and Ronon had learned to tune McKay out with long practice, as had Zelenka. Lorne, not as used to McKay’s loud complaints, was looking a bit pinched around the eyes, and Flying Officer Reed seemed to be doing a good job of ignoring McKay and instead was muttering to himself under his breath about trying to get away from grasslands like this, and John remembered that the man was from the Ord Victoria Plain, which this planet looked remarkably similar to. Corporal Coughlin, on the other hand, was looking more and more enraged as McKay continued to rant, and John figured he’d better start listening to whatever was pissing the normally easy-going and level-headed man off so badly.
“I mean, my parents were horrible,” McKay was exclaiming vehemently, “They never truly appreciated me, always tried to hold me back, afraid that I’d outshine them! Really my childhood was one nightmare after another…”
John frowned; it was rant #203, “Why I hate my parents, and the rest of my family.” John, admittedly, wasn’t fond of this particular rant either, especially since McKay had no fucking clue what a bad childhood really was. John had pulled Jeanie aside when she had first come to Atlantis to see if there were any specific things he should avoid in McKay’s presence and she had been completely bewildered, and absolutely furious upon realizing what McKay had been telling him about their parents. Apparently the McKay family wasn’t particularly touchy-feely, and there was arguing and competing between the parents which was encouraged among the younger generation, but the children were never mistreated, and always loved and well cared for.
He could understand why Coughlin was so upset; it was in his file that he’d been in foster care in the United Kingdom due to child abuse. John was often pissed at McKay for similar reasons, but he’d always let it roll off of his back before. Coughlin wasn’t, however, and he didn’t seem to be capable of letting McKay rant about shit he had no idea about, and looked like he was about ready to start shouting at McKay (or beating him to a pulp) if his red-purple face was any indication. John knew that shouting at McKay, or physical violence, served no purpose besides riling him further and making him more stubborn than a mule, certain he was “Right, right, right!” and everyone else was “Wrong, wrong, wrong!”
So John decided to step in first, even knowing what he’d be giving away by doing so, “You had a bad childhood Rodney?” He drawled.
Everyone perked up, his team and Zelenka most likely expecting some form of bickering entertainment, Lorne and Reed simply grateful for his distracting the scientist, and Coughlin, still looking angry, waiting to see where this was going.
“Yes!” McKay blustered, “Didn’t you hear me just now-”
John cut him off, keeping his voice emotionless, “So your parents beat you?”
“What? No! They-”
“Beat each other?”
“No! I don’t-” Everyone had come to a halt by this point, loosely circling the two men, in order to watch the show.
“Oh,” John nodded sagely, “Did one of them rape you?”
McKay sputtered for several seconds, before spitting out an angry, “NO!”
“Molest you?” John cut in before McKay could formulate any other words, knowing it was the only way to get through to the man.
“Are you crazy?!?” John could tell McKay was gearing up for another rant and knew he had to cut it off now.
“Did they molest Jeanie in front of you?”
“No!” McKay was scandalized, at a loss for words momentarily.
“Huh,” John pretended to think for a moment, “Oh, I’ve got it. Did they make you strip naked in front of a video camera and dance? Or dress you in costumes and take pictures while you were half dressed?”
“No they did not! They-”
“Sold you to the highest bidder as their play-toy and moneymaker?” John interrupted, pasting on a face of faux sympathy.
“Emotional abuse then? They told you that you were a worthless little sack of shit that was stupider than the dog, and that you’d never be anything? That no one would ever want you and that you ought to die now so you’d stop being such a burden. Did they tell you that they hated you?” John said knowingly.
“No! My parents-” McKay was still trying to argue back, so John pushed on.
“Did they humiliate you Rodney? Make you wear dresses and lock you outside? Dress you in a French maid’s costume and make you do all of the chores?”
“Ah! Got it.” John snapped his fingers, “They used to drug you or give you alcohol so that you’d stop bothering them? Sometimes you’d wake up days later and have no idea what had happened.”
“No!” McKay was still vehement and indignant, but less so than he’d been before, maybe John was getting through to him.
“Neglect? They denied you food, and made you sleep outside in the middle of winter without even a coat or shoes. Or padlock you into a collar connected on a chain to the doghouse and make you live in there, and only feed you dog food?”
“Well I know they didn’t die when you were a kid, since you once said they died while you were in Siberia, and you weren’t in the system. Which means you weren’t shoved from one stranger’s hands to another’s because they didn’t want you, with only a single backpack of things to your name. So let me think,” John counted to three, waiting to see if McKay would interrupt, and spoke over McKay again when the other man opened his mouth, “They made you be their mule, running their drugs and other illegal goods for them, had you help steal cars and other items since no one suspects a kid?”
“No! That sort of stuff doesn’t really happen!” McKay shouted angrily, breathing heavily.
The field went silent, as everyone stared at McKay in disbelief; apparently everyone else had realized that John wasn’t speaking allegorically. John looked at McKay with pity, knowing he was about to break his friend’s delusions.
Without saying a word, John handed Coughlin his P-90, ignoring the man’s understanding eyes. He unzipped his tac vest, and handed it to Ronon, who accepted it solemnly; his BDU shirt was handed to Lorne, and Teyla received his t-shirt, both of them silent and sympathetic.
He wondered momentarily, how McKay had never seen him shirtless, but realized just how adept he’d become at hiding the scars that littered his back over the years. Not because he was ashamed (no, if anything he was proud of them, after all ugly though they were, they meant he’d survived) but because he disliked people asking questions about them that he didn’t want to answer. Not to mention he didn’t feel comfortable undressing in front of others, no matter how well he knew them. Some of his scars weren’t visible.
Standing in front of Rodney McKay, naked from the waist up, John looked the other man in the eye, seeing confusion and anger still burning through the man. He still didn’t get it.
John sighed lightly as he turned his back towards McKay. He heard the intake of breaths from around the circle of people, a muttered “Bloody Hell!” and “Do prdele!” at the same time, followed by a choked sound of distress he knew came from Teyla.
“Doesn’t really happen, huh McKay?” John said flatly, hoping his tone conveyed the fact that he did not want to talk about it. He stood there for several minutes, not turning around, not even when he heard McKay retching.
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