chelle

Atlantis

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Conduct Unbecoming

chelle

Title: Conduct Unbecoming

Author: chelle

Author's email: chelle@chelle.slashcity.org

Author's URL: http://chelle.slashcity.org/

Fandom: Atlantis

Archive: Ask first

Pairing: John/Rodney

Rating: PG

AN: Written for flordeneu who asked for a coming out story that wasn't all sweetness and light.

Elizabeth kept her arms crossed tightly beneath her breasts, containing her impatience. She just wanted to get this over with. Stephen, of course, was perfectly calm, resting gracefully against the corner of her desk as though he belonged there.

The door slid open. "What's up?" John asked, stepping inside, looking from her to Caldwell and back.

"Have a seat, Colonel," she said.

John frowned and sat.

"There have been accusations." It was easier to say than she'd thought it would be. The advantages of being a diplomat. "They were made to Colonel Caldwell. He has to investigate."

"What kind of accusations?" From the expression on John's face, Elizabeth had the feeling he already knew.

"Conduct unbecoming," Caldwell answered.

John nodded once, his expression grim. "What type of conduct?"

"A homosexual relationship between you and Dr. McKay."

John nodded again, and Elizabeth turned away, walking around her desk, putting it between her and John. "Don’t say anything," she advised. "You're entitled to representation. Wait until you have it."

"No." Straightening his shoulders, John looked directly at Caldwell. "You don't need to investigate. Ask, I'll tell."

"John."

"Are you involved in a homosexual relationship with Dr. McKay?" Caldwell asked.

"Yes."

Elizabeth dropped her gaze, looking down at the top of her desk because she couldn't look at John.

"You'll have to return to Earth with me."

"Yes, sir."

"I'm not going to lock you up, but I am removing you from active duty."

John stood. "I'll inform Lorne that he's in command."

"No. I will."

For a moment Elizabeth thought John would argue, but he simply nodded.

Caldwell glanced at her. She shook her head slightly. "Dismissed," he said to John.

To her surprise, John saluted. Then he was gone. She watched him through the windows. He was all the way to the gateroom before Caldwell spoke. "You didn't know."

"No." She should have. She should have known her people better than that.

"I wondered," he said. "There have been rumors."

"I don't listen to gossip."

"Neither do I, but sometimes the gossip is right."

She had nothing to say to that. Shifting her gaze from his looming presence, she looked back out the window. John was no longer in sight. "What's going to happen to him?"

"Most likely a dishonorable discharge, although with his security clearance they might decide to give him an honorable one."

Considering all of the times John had saved their lives, usually at risk to his own, she should have been hoping for the honorable discharge, or railing against the discrimination. She wasn't.

"I'll keep you informed. General Landry will be in touch with information about his replacement."

Elizabeth nodded and Stephen left.

***

Rodney, predictably, was in her office less than an hour later.

"You can't let them take him. It's wrong and you know it…"

Elizabeth stared up at him from her desk chair, watching him flail about the room, arms waving, voice heated.

"We need him."

That was her breaking point. "He knew the consequences, Rodney. So did you."

Halting mid-flail, he turned to look at her.

"You knew that if you were caught John would be sent back to Earth, discharged, possibly worse, yet you still chose to…" Think with your dick. "Enter into this relationship without any thought about what was best for Atlantis."

His mouth dropped open. "Is that what you think? That we put ourselves, our own fun ahead of Atlantis?"

She didn't know what they'd been thinking, but the fact remained that they'd put their own desires ahead of what was best for Atlantis. She'd expected better of them.

"It wasn't like that," Rodney said, dropping into the chair across from her desk.

"He's an Air Force officer. There's nothing I can do."

Rodney's chin went up. "If he goes, I'm going with him."

Elizabeth suspected it was a bluff. Rodney loved Atlantis as much as she did. "You should do whatever you feel you have to."

Rising, Rodney left without another word.

***

"McKay approached me. He wants to go back."

Elizabeth nodded.

Caldwell sank into the chair on the other side of her desk. "Can you afford to lose both of them?"

"We'll survive."

"Will you? Between the two of them, they've pulled off more last minute, hare-brained ideas than I can count."

"We'll plan ahead."

Leaning back in his chair, Stephen looked at her thoughtfully for a moment. "Sheppard is bad at rules. In some ways it makes him a terrible officer. But it's also what made him perfect for this job. You saw it before I did."

Elizabeth nodded.

He leaned forward in his chair. "You need that ability he has to think outside the box, to see possibilities others miss. And you need McKay's ability to make those possibilities happen."

"No one is irreplaceable."

"That's the anger talking."

Elizabeth didn't answer.

"Why are you so angry, anyway?" he asked. "It isn't because you had feelings for Sheppard, is it?"

Once upon a time, way back in the beginning, she'd noticed John's attractiveness. Who wouldn't? He was handsome, heroic, but then she'd seen the darkside of that heroism, felt it when John's bullet had ripped into Kolya. She had still needed John's darkness, but she had longer romanticized it. "No. They disappointed me, both of them." It sounded almost childish when she said it out loud.

"Some people think that those who risk their lives for others are more deserving of love than everyone else. I've never believed that, but I also don't think they're less deserving."

She looked up at him sharply. Love was the last thing she'd ever expected Caldwell to speak of.

"If I was the military commander of Atlantis, I wouldn’t object to having a civilian, perhaps a former member of the military, to serve as liaison between me and the civilian leadership." He stood. "We've revised our departure time. We leave in 12 hours."

"Understood," Elizabeth said.

The door slid shut and Elizabeth leaned back in her chair. Caldwell was showing more empathy for her people than she was. There was something wrong with that picture.

***

"Do you have a minute?"

Teyla nodded and took a step backward, allowing Elizabeth into her quarters. "Would you like something to drink? I have some of the beer Colonel Sheppard brought back from his last trip to Earth."

Earth, where John would be living now. She wondered how he'd adjust. Last time he'd at least had the SGC. "I'd love a beer."

There was a bucket full of ice on the edge of a table, and Teyla pulled a bottle from it, twisting off the cap before handing it to Elizabeth. Molson, that figured. "You were expecting me."

Teyla smiled and opened a bottle for herself. "I was." She gestured at the bed and Elizabeth sat, one leg folded in front of her, the other on the floor.

When the bottle was half gone, Elizabeth asked, "How do you feel about John and Rodney?"

"Together or separately?" Teyla's position mirrored Elizabeth's, their knees almost touching.

"Together."

"I think that they are good for one another. Such relationships are not common among my people and it was not an easy thing for me to accept. However, I believe that they genuinely care for one another and such a thing is to be valued."

Elizabeth nodded. It was easy to see, the love between them. The love she had assumed was friendship.

"You are angry with them. Disappointed."

It wasn't a question, but Elizabeth answered as though it had been. "Yes. It sounds stupid, but I feel betrayed."

"Feelings are not stupid."

"They're rarely intelligent, either."

Teyla laughed. "That is true."

"They knew what would happen if they got caught. They had to have considered it."

"I am sure they did."

"But they did it anyway."

"Are you angry at them for taking risks? Or at yourself for not doing the same?"

Leave it to Teyla to cut straight to the heart of the matter. "I can't afford to take risks, not those kind."

"The hardest part of being a leader is balancing our responsibilities against our own needs. That balance is different for each of us."

John and Rodney had chosen a different balance point than Elizabeth had. She shouldn't resent them for it.

Feelings rarely did what they should.

***

When John and Rodney entered, she was tempted to continue working, to make them wait. She didn't. "Have a seat."

They sat, John forgoing his usual slouch to sit almost upright on the edge of the chair. "The Daedalus has already left. You're still being discharged, John, honorably, but you have the option of remaining in Atlantis as a liaison between the new military commander and myself."

"I'll take it."

She nodded. "I thought you would." Rodney was smiling broadly and she turned her attention to him. "While I appreciate your skills and your contributions, you are not irreplaceable. Do not ever try to blackmail me again."

"That wasn't…" He stopped. "I won't."

"Good. I'm sure you have work to do. John, I'll send you a job description as soon as I've finished it."

He nodded.

"You're dismissed."

They stood and Elizabeth looked back at her computer, not really seeing the words in front of her. She heard the door slide open.

"Elizabeth," John said, and she looked up. "Thank you."

She smiled slightly. "You're welcome."

The door slid shut behind them, and Elizabeth watched them through the window, walking side by side, heads together as they talked. A good leader looked after her people, even when all she really wanted to do was kick them in the ass. John had taught her that.

Maybe if she watched closely enough, he could teach her about balance too.