AUTHOR: Gloria Mundi
FANDOM: Stargate: Atlantis
PROMPT: 1223. John figured out he was gay by reading his mother's romance novels--and realizing he wanted to have sex with the pirate, not the damsel-in-distress.
ARCHIVE: Imagin'd Glories only, please.
AUTHOR NOTES: I have an embarrassment of betas to thank -- this fic wouldn't have made it without p0wdermonkey (who made me sign up in the first place), geekmama, fabu and tessabeth. Luckily there was mostly consensus about what needed fixing, and all remaining clumsiness is my own, possibly in the face of good advice. Thank you all!
If Mir Freni hadn't looked exactly like Miss Watson, John might've been able to keep his mind on the situation. The very real and present situation. But no, he goes into the containment unit with a crystal-clear memory of a hot summer's day in sixth grade, of Miss Watson saying, "But what happened to Anna?"
* * *
It's stuffy under the covers but if Mom sees light under the door, she'll come in and tell him to go to sleep. Or she'll talk to him, ask him how he's doing, and John really doesn't want to tell her. He doesn't even want to think about it. So instead he's suffocating under the quilt, flashlight tucked between his neck and the pillow, trying to lose himself in a book.
It's one of Mom's books. They watched Captain Blood on TV this afternoon. John wanted more. He grabbed a book from Mom's bookshelf because it had pirates in the title, but turns out it's a love story. He's skipping ahead, trying to find where pirates come into it.
Okay. The heroine's on a ship, and she's tied up, and the pirate captain is standing right in front of her. He's telling her to take her clothes off: she won't need her pretty dress now.
John can feel his dick getting hard.
It's not the first time it's happened. He knows how this stuff works. It's the thought of the pirates and what they might do to beautiful brave Angelique, who's standing there half-naked, staring down the pirate captain.
Jeez, his mom reads this stuff.
And the thing is, it's pretty sexy. Not like the tatty Hustler that Stevie Watts was passing round in shop class, the one with the spread of the girl with the snake -- it'd torn right across her tits when Mr Heller came back into the room and Stevie stuffed it down behind the bench -- but … yeah.
Words are easier to hide. He'd never guessed what his mom was reading, those hot afternoons by the pool. Hey, anyone could be reading sexy stuff anywhere. He'd never know. No one would know.
John's hand is on his dick. He's done this before, and he won't sleep if he doesn't do it now. He's thinking about Angelique: he figures 'heaving bosom' means she's just as stacked as the girl with the snake. But the swordfight's pretty cool, too. He wants to be there, the sword heavy in his hand, the sweat stinging in his eyes, the sun hot on his skin, fighting for her honour. He wants to be the hero, the guy with the funny French name, even when the Frenchman's disarmed and forced to kneel.
"I've beaten you fair and square," growled Goldbeard. (That's a dumb name for a pirate, thinks John.) "I'll be takin' the lady."
The pirates are closing round Angelique, and she cries out, and John can't help thinking about what they're going to do to her. His hand's moving faster now. It doesn't always work but this time it's going to.
"Take me instead!" cried the Frenchman. "Let the fair Angelique go free!"
The pirate leered down at him. "You must prove your worth," he said, laughing. Turning to his lieutenant, he commanded, "Strip the prisoner!"
And John's eyes are suddenly blurry, there's sweat springing all over his skin, he can't read the next sentence. He shoves the book under the pillow and closes his eyes and lets himself go.
* * *
There's a fly battering itself against the window. John knows how it feels. He'd give anything to be out there in the summer heat, instead of in this airless classroom that smells of chalk and bleach.
Miss Watson's pretty cool for a teacher, and John's going to miss her next year. That doesn't mean he likes the assignments she hands out. Today's exercise is to write a story from the point of view of someone in a book or a movie. "Pretend you're that person," Miss Watson reminds the class, walking slowly down the side of the room, past the bookshelf and the world map on the wall. "Pretend you can see what they're seeing, hear what they're hearing. Imagine what it's like to be them."
What the hell. John's feeling reckless. His grades are pretty good, so it doesn't matter if he screws up this once. And there's one scene that's bright and real in his head, realer than this room.
Angelique was tied to the mast of the pirate ship, he writes. She was very scared but she was trying to be brave. I knew it was up to me to save her from the evil pirates. I stood in front of her so the pirate captain could not get her. "You'll have to kill me first," I growled.
John likes the sound of that, and if he closes his eyes he can see everything.
"That can be arranged," the pirate sneered. He gave me a sword and told me to fight for my life. "If you win, you and the girl will be free."
"What about if you win?" I asked.
"Then you will be my prisoners," he laughed.
We fought and the rest of the pirates stood around shouting their captain's name. I knew I had to win or Angelique would be at their mercy.
"Think about what it's like to be that person," murmurs Miss Watson. "Think about what they can hear, how they feel. Are they frightened? Are they happy?"
John chews the end of his pen and watches the fly bashing against the glass. It's like he's just woken up. What's he doing? He can't own up to reading Angelique and the Pirates: that's a book for grown-ups. A romance. He better pretend it's Captain Blood, but he can't remember the name of the girl in the movie. Amanda? Amelia? Anna?
He goes back and carefully crosses out each 'Angelique', writing 'Anna' in the cramped space between the lines.
I fought bravely but there was a big wave and I dropped my sword. I was wounded but I put on a brave face. "Keep me," I said. "Let her go. I will be your prisoner."
He smears sweat over the back of his neck, notices Miss Watson watching him, and ducks his head. No way is he writing the bit about the pirates making him strip. He's pretty sure Miss Watson won't want to read that.
The pirate captain looked at me and said "Okay, as you are so brave you can stay on the ship."
It's all wrong. Everything's perfectly clear when he thinks about it, but he doesn't have the words to describe what's in his head, what he wants to happen, what he wants.
"Time's up!" calls Miss Watson.
John lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding. Relief tastes hot in his mouth. He scrawls 'A Scene from Captain Blood' at the top of the page, leaves the unfinished story on his desk for Miss Watson to collect, and takes off.
* * *
That's the last time he tries to write any of it down. What if somebody read it? (Okay, Miss Watson'd read it, but all she'd said was "A pity you didn't have time to finish the story or rescue the girl. What happened to Anna?"
"Anna?" thinks John. Oh yeah. Angelique.)
But it's not the last time he thinks about it. In fact, it ends up being one of his most reliable jack-off fantasies.
* * *
His little brother Davy corners him on the last day of summer break that year. He's hiding something behind his back and he's bouncing with excitement. John's really not in the mood. He's busy drawing a swarm of X-wings swarming the Death Star.
"I found your book," says Davy.
"The one under your mattress," says Davy, with a shit-eating grin.
The air's suddenly thicker and hotter than before. John swallows. "There isn't a book under my mattress," he lies. "My books are on the shelf. Anyway, what the hell were you doing looking under my mattress?"
"You were reading Mom's book!" crows Davy. He holds up Angelique and the Pirates. It's kind of worn. Dogeared.
"So what?" says John, trying to play it cool. He rolls his pencil between his sweaty fingers. "It's a good story. Hey, it's got pirates in it!"
"It's got sexy bits," says Davy, smirking.
John can feel himself going red. He ducks his head. "You shouldn't be reading that," he mutters.
"That's where it opened," says Davy. Then, "You like Angelique!" He sounds as if he's just discovered Santa Claus isn't real.
"Shucks," says John. "You got me, Davy." He tries a grin. Davy's eight years old: no way he's gonna know about the kind of thing that gets John off.
"John's got the hots for Angelique!" carols Davy. He's waving the book around, so it's pretty easy for John to grab it.
"Don't tell Mom, okay?" He holds the book up out of reach, scowling at his brother. "It'll just … you know."
"Yeah," says Davy, suddenly solemn. "I know." He brightens. "It can be our secret, okay?"
"Okay," says John. It probably shouldn't feel like defeat.
* * *
He put the book back on Mom's shelf after Davy found it. If he wants to keep secrets, the only safe place is in his head. He doesn't need the book any more, anyway.
A hot, thundery night, and John's sweating even with the window open. He closes his eyes and imagines himself there on the ship's black deck, gulls screaming overhead, the boom and billow of sails, the jeering of the pirate crew.
The fair Angelique is against the mast, bound hand and foot. She's fierce and beautiful, John knows that, but her face is kind of … blurry. And she never says anything.
John's got a sword in his hand. He's a man, as tall as the pirate captain. He fights bravely (of course) and some of the pirates start cheering for him. But at last he's defeated.
"Do you have a final request?" asks the pirate captain, standing over John with his sword held high.
"Yes," says John. "Spare the beautiful Angelique."
"Will you stand in her place?" sneers the pirate.
"I will," says John. "Just let her go."
"Take him to my cabin," the pirate bellows, turning to his crew. "Strip him and chain him."
And okay, John doesn't really have a clue what the pirate captain wants to do with, to, him, but Jesus he's ready for it. God he's ready. God he's …
* * *
What does it say about him that it's the idea of being stripped bare in the captain's cabin that makes him come?
It's not like he wants to be a girl, even if it's Angelique who is brave and beautiful. It's not a sign of weakness or lack of moral fiber (though actually John's not sure about the moral fiber). It's just … just something that gets him hot. Swordfighting. Pirates. It's not real.
By the time he's fifteen he's read some pretty steamy stuff, and he's gotten a better idea of what he wants to happen once he's alone with the captain.
At seventeen, drunk on tequila, he tries it out for real.
Turns out it's better in his head.
* * *
It's just the way the cookie crumbles here in Pegasus, the dumb bloodymindedness of life, that Mir Freni -- the Police Commander on P3X-977 -- is the spitting image of Miss Watson. Auburn hair, check; pursed lips, check; even those little wire-rimmed glasses. Freaky. So, okay, he goes into the VR containment unit remembering those long hot summer mornings in the sixth-grade classroom. Hey, if they're going to be confined for a couple hours -- and they are, Mir Freni is pretty clear on that point -- he guesses it beats staring at a cell wall.
And yeah, it's kind of unsettling to be stuck here in his own head, not to know what's going on outside the capsule, whether Teyla's managed to negotiate their release, if Rodney'd played up his claustrophobia enough to get out of being stuck in a pod. (Ronon's laid up in the infirmary with gastric flu, which John thinks is probably for the best 'cause it'd be a tight fit for the big guy in one of these.) But what the hell. It's sunny here, and the air's salty, and fuck he's suddenly slam-bang in the middle of a fight.
It's comfortably familiar. The sword is heavy in his hand. He blinks away the sweat that stings his eyes. There's a gash in his arm, but he can only feel the tickling trickle of blood from it: there's no pain. Somewhere above him, a gull screams loud and long, shriller than the shouts of the pirate crew who are gathered to watch this fight. John can smell the stink of unwashed pirates -- musk, tar, metal, sun-warm skin -- and the smell of his own blood and sweat, mingling with his opponent's. He fights fast and dirty, and there's a glimmer of respect in the pirate's eyes as he parries what should've been a mortal blow. Then there's the slap of a wave against the bow, and the deck lurches beneath John's feet: the pirate captain hammers John's wrist with the pommel of his blade, making him drop his own weapon, and next moment, oh yeah, there's a heavy hand on his shoulder, hot through his sweaty Navy coat, forcing him to kneel before the pirate. The deck is hot and smooth against his knees.
John knows what comes next. He's ready for it, kneeling there on the deck, baring his teeth at the pirate captain (who's muscular, strong and virile, not to mention -- John's got a great view from down here -- hardening visibly beneath those thin cotton pants). "You've beaten me in a fair fight," John says, licking blood from his split lip. (Okay, that bit's kind of obvious.) "Let the lady go free: I'll be your prisoner 'til we make port."
It's hard not to flinch when, from somewhere behind him, a familiar voice says, "So, okay, I guess there's a reason this guy looks like Harrison Ford circa the first Star Wars?"
Fuck, thinks John. He twists round to see what the pirate captain's scowling at.
There's no busty heroine tied to the mast. (Possibly hasn't been for years: John isn't big on background.) Instead there's Rodney McKay, totally out of place in BDUs and a tac vest, arms folded his chest, mouth slanted down.
"Um," says John. His face feels hot, but hey, the sun's pretty strong here. And he's just been in a swordfight.
"So," says Rodney, with that unfocussed look he gets when he's doing science. "Not that it's not a good look on you." Rodney's face is kind of red, too. "But … Han Solo, eh?"
John looks back at the pirate captain, but he's vanished. Figures. He scratches his neck, snaps, "I was ten, Rodney, okay?"
"You've been gay since you were ten?"
John's about to deny it, but hey, hang on. This is deniable, all right, but this is Rodney. It's …
"Yeah," he says, "I guess I have." And this time it feels like winning.