Word count: 1478
Summary: John Sheppard to the rescue. For real.
Notes: Written for my cliche_bingo card prompt "hallucinations/visions". Special thanks to chellefic for the read-through.
John trotted down the corridor, past empty holding cell after empty holding cell, key clutched in his hand. He peered past the iron bars of each cell until he found Rodney huddled in the corner of one, eyes closed, arms wrapped around his body.
One side of Rodney's face was bruised a dark purple, stark against pale skin and John felt his anger rise. He twisted his fingers around the key. “Rodney,” he called softly. “Hey buddy, you okay?”
Rodney opened his eyes, blinked once, then frowned as his eyes focused on John. “Oh. You again.”
“I'll have you out of here in just one--wait,” John looked up, surprised. “What do you mean, again?”
“Not that I don't appreciate the hallucinatory visit, but I was trying to get some sleep.” Rodney pulled his knees up and hunched his shoulders, looking as miserable as could be.
“Rodney, I'm not a hallucination.” Worried, John searched the door for a keyhole.
“I will admit you were very helpful while they were questioning me. I mean, one minute I'm wondering 'what would Sheppard do' and then poof,” Rodney wiggled his fingers. “There you were. I truly appreciated the assistance.”
“Really?” John puffed his chest, proud that Rodney would look to him for help, even when he wasn't there.
“Of course, they still wouldn't believe I wasn't working for the Genii. But you were a comforting presence, nonetheless.”
“Trust me, they believe it now,” John growled. “Ronon is up there explaining it to them in no uncertain terms.” He spotted the keyhole, just below waist level, and slipped the key in.
“If they weren't going to believe a damn thing I said, why did they bother asking questions in the first place? They just kept hitting me, over and over.” Rodney touched his fingers to his bruised cheek. “Ow. I think they fractured my cheekbone. I probably have a concussion. No, no, make that 'definitely a concussion, considering,” he pointed to John, “you.”
John shook his head. “Listen to me, Rodney, you're going to be okay. I'm going to get you out of here.” John tried to turn the key, but it wouldn't move. Maybe he had it in upside down? “As soon I figure this lock out.”
“Very endearing, even as a hallucination you are bound and determined to save me. How thoroughly Sheppard of you.”
John jiggled the key and tried to turn it again. Nothing. “Rodney, like I said, I'm not a hallucination.” He tried to pull the key out, but it was stuck. “Damn it.” John kicked the door.
“I'm going to die in here, aren't I?” Rodney sighed mournfully. “All my genius, gone to waste in a dank, dark prison cell. With only a figment of my imagination to keep me company.”
John rolled his eyes and jiggled the key harder. This time the key came out. He held it up, examining it carefully. Maybe he had it in backwards? “Do you know how this thing works?”
Rodney spread his hands. “It's a key. How do you think it works? Thing is, you're not real. Face it. You are never going to get it open.”
John sighed. Crouching down, he tried inserting the key the opposite way, but it wouldn't fit.
“It's funny,” Rodney mused. “Two years ago I was in a similarly dire situation and who do I hallucinate? Samantha. This time it's you. John Sheppard. Not once, but twice.”
“Maybe because unlike Sam Carter, I'm actually rescuing you,” John said. The key turned a quarter of the way, then stopped. “At least I will be as soon as I unlock this god damn door.”
“Oh god. You know what this means?”
John glanced up from the lock, concerned by Rodney's panicked tone of voice. “What?”
“My crush on you has gotten completely out of hand. You've actually displaced Samantha in my heart.” Rodney placed a hand over his chest.
John's heart beat faster. “Really? I have?”
“Which is entirely your fault.” Rodney scowled at John. “I would have gotten over it in time, if you weren't always hanging around with the tight black tee-shirt, wanting to play games, bringing me movies, making me learn how to play golf.”
John's face grew warm. His tee-shirt wasn't that tight, was it? “Hey--maybe I, you know, like hanging around with you.”
“Plus, all the times you've saved my life. And the way that you trust me with yours. No wonder I've fallen a little bit in love with you.”
Love? Rodney was in love with him?
“Why do I always fall for the unobtainable? The handsome dashing hero.“ Rodney sighed. “No that it matters. Since, tragically, I'm going to die here and you'll never know my true feelings for you.”
“That's it.” John stood and slapped a hand against the bars. “Rodney. Listen to me. You are not going to die here. I'm real, and even if it takes all the C4 in my pack, I'm going to get this damn door open and rescue you.”
Me, John thought. Not Sam Carter.
“I got it, Sheppard. Never say die.” Rodney waved a hand at John, then leaned his head back against the stone wall. “It was a totally pointless crush, anyway. You are the epitome of heterosexuality. Always with the women.”
“I wouldn't be so sure about that,” John admitted. He twisted the key, hard, and it turned three quarters of the way around. The tumblers clicked into place. “Hah.”
“Of course you would say that. You're my hallucination. My very hot hallucination, I might add, with the black leather jacket.” Rodney gazed longingly at him. “I love that jacket.”
“You do?” Pleased that Rodney noticed, John tugged at the hem, smoothing out the front of it. “I thought it looked kind of nice, too.”
John grinned, then wrapped his hands around the bars and pulled the door, hard.
It didn't move.
“When I hallucinated Samantha she was wearing this blue bra, with the lace.” Rodney said in a dreamy voice, eyes going unfocused. “Then she kissed me.”
John wrinkled his nose. “You know what, Rodney? I don't need to hear that.”
Rodney crossed his arms over his chest. “If you were a decent hallucination, you'd kiss me too.”
“Trust me, I'm going to. As soon as I get you out of here.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“Hey, If I were a hallucination, wouldn't you conjure me up inside of your cell, instead of the outside?” John pointed out.
“Oh,” Rodney said, furrowing his brow. “Good point. Why are you on the other side?”
John pushed the door, hard. It moved at last, swinging open with a low, grinding noise as it scraped against the floor.
Rodney's jaw dropped.
With a triumphant smile, John stepped inside the cell. “Come on. It's time to go.” He offered Rodney a hand. “Upsey daisy.”
Still speechless, Rodney slowly reached up and took John's hand.
John held Rodney's hand tight as he pulled Rodney to his feet, then guided him out of the cell, one unsteady step at a time. Once they were in the corridor, Rodney swayed dizzily. “Oh my god. I'm--you're--”
“Yup.” John slid an arm around Rodney's waist, holding him up.“I'm for real.”
“Oh, god.” Rodney's voice was weak. “Um, that stuff I said? Concussion. I was babbling. Had no idea what I was saying.” He tried to pull away from John, but John wouldn't let go.
“One more thing.” John leaned forward and gently pressed his lips to Rodney's crooked, perplexed mouth.
“Oh.” Rodney's voice sounded sweet and breathy, in a way John had never heard before.
He wanted to hear a lot more of it.
“You mean, you--” Rodney wrapped a hand around John's arm, holding tight as he leaned, warm and heavy, against John.
“Uh huh.” John nodded happily, then kissed Rodney again, lingering this time.
When he pulled back Rodney grinned at him, a big dopey grin. “Ow,” he said, bringing a hand to his cheek, his grin fading rapidly.
“Okay, okay, let's get you out of here.” John frowned at Rodney's bruised face. “Get you back to Atlantis and into the infirmary.”
“You're really for real, aren't you?” Rodney asked as John helped him down the corridor.
“Really,” John assured him with a squeeze. “For real.”
And later, when Rodney was feeling better, he'd show Rodney just how real he could be.