Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay friendship/pre-slash
Warnings/Content notes: (skip) None that I'm aware of
Spoilers: through season 5
Word count: 1479
Summary: "Sheppard's government didn't manage to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Note: Many thanks to neevebrody for the beta! I was still rather pessimistic when I wrote this, so this is (thankfully) an AU where Congress didn't manage to repeal DADT.
The Laws in Sheppard's Country
"I can't believe this! What does the elected government of your country need? A written endorsement by the pope?" Rodney sat down, slamming the food tray on the table.
Teyla, Ronon, and John all turned to him.
"What are you so upset about?" Teyla asked.
"Sheppard's government didn't manage to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
"It's not like I voted for all of them personally," John interjected.
"That's a huge relief," Rodney said sarcastically.
"What's Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" Ronon asked.
"It's the military policy—US military policy—forbidding gays to serve in the military," Rodney said.
"Openly," John corrected.
"Huh?" Rodney asked.
"They can serve, just not openly," John clarified.
"Right. They can serve. They just need to lie about it. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that this policy is inhumane, not to mention completely stupid," Rodney said.
"What's the problem?" Ronon asked.
"The problem is that there are men and women out there willing to serve their country—give their life for it—who can't because some higher-ups can't get over their homophobia," Rodney said.
"I think Ronon meant why would it be okay for gay people to serve, but not to do it openly," Teyla said.
Ronon pointed at Teyla, implying that she'd gotten it right.
"Oh," Rodney said. "Well, I don't really know, because I have yet to hear any sane arguments. I guess they're afraid that when a gay person comes out it makes it impossible for them not to jump anyone of the same sex and assault them."
"That makes no sense," Ronon said.
"I know!" Rodney said, visibly agitated. "How did your military handle gay people?"
"There were no gay people on Sateda," Ronon said.
Rodney looked at him. So did John. "I sincerely doubt that," Rodney said. "You had no guys in relationship with or attracted to other guys? Ever in the history of your planet?"
"Some guys lived together," Ronon said, shrugging. "They didn't call themselves gay."
"Well, okay, then maybe they had a different word for that. Or no word at all. But did you let such guys serve in the military?"
"Only if they were good fighters," Ronon said.
"Which I assume was the criterion for straight people as well," Rodney said.
"Yeah," Ronon confirmed.
"There you go. You didn't discriminate against gay people. Congratulations for being more progressive than Sheppard's country."
"You could just call it the United States," John said.
Teyla smirked. "How is it in your country then, Rodney?"
"He does know his own country's name," John interjected.
"—we allow gay people to serve openly, adopt, and get married."
"If they manage to get married," John said. "Though that might not be a Canadian problem," he added innocently.
Rodney glared at him. "That was low even for you."
"That's the way we are in Sheppard's Country," John said pleasantly.
"At least I realized my mistake before stepping in front of the altar. How's your ex-wife doing?" Rodney asked.
"She's doing great. Thanks for asking," John said easily.
"Aren't you at least a bit annoyed by this?" Rodney asked.
"There's not really anything I can do about it. I'm not sending anyone home just because they're gay, but that's it. I guess I could have called my Senator, but I hear you're put on hold for a while, and I'm not sure Woolsey would have left the gate to another galaxy open for so long."
"I can't believe that you're so blasé about this," Rodney said.
"Blasé?" John asked.
"Why are so angry about it?" Ronon asked Rodney.
"Stupidity angers me. Especially if it affects innocent bystanders. I really would have thought they'd have progressed past the Dark Ages and finally repealed the damn thing," Rodney said.
"You're pissed off because you were wrong?" Ronon asked. Rodney glared at him.
John cut in, "I do care about it."
"Yeah, I see that," Rodney said, rolling his eyes.
John sat up straighter. "I do, McKay. Just because I'm not up in arms about it doesn't mean it doesn't matter to me."
"Yeah, yeah. I guess you're right. It's not as if we can do anything about it," Rodney said, deflating.
"Will there not be another chance to change this law?" Teyla asked.
"Not in the next two years. Unless a court strikes it down. Again."
"Maybe they will," she said encouragingly.
"Yeah, maybe," Rodney said, not sounding very hopeful.
"I do care," John said, entering Rodney's lab a few hours later.
"What?" Rodney asked, turning around in his chair.
"About Don't Ask, Don't Tell," John clarified.
Rodney thought about it for a moment. "And I believe you. You're far too lazy to be homophobic. So much stupidity takes an effort."
John smiled. Then his expression got serious. "It's going to happen some day."
"Yes, I guess it will. But in the meantime, good men and women will not be allowed to be honest about their lives without having to fear that they'll be kicked out. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like," Rodney said.
"That's because you cannot keep your mouth shut about your private life," John pointed out.
"Hey! I can be discreet," Rodney protested.
"You mean like the kiss that got you Mono, or the girl you stalked in college?" John asked.
"No, I meant the guys that I slept with," Rodney said, looking John straight in the eye.
"So not just stupidity after all," John commented.
"It is mostly about the stupidity. It's not as if I would be directly and personally affected. I'm not dating a member of the military. And I could come out if I wanted to."
John gave him a long look. Then he shrugged. "You get used to it."
Rodney frowned at him.
"But then I never liked to talk about my private life," John conceded.
Rodney took his words in. "It's a real shame," Rodney said.
"Uhuh," John agreed.
"No, I meant, it's a shame that because of that law and the environment it creates, two people who work so closely together, two friends, didn't know this about each other."
"What difference would it have made?" John asked.
"Well, I could have called you on your flirting with guys too for one," Rodney said.
John snorted. "You noticed?"
"It's hard to tell with you. I mean, you make Atlantis light up for you."
John grinned. "For what it's worth, I always thought you were straight."
"I know. Guys keep telling me that. I seem to have that vibe."
"Maybe it's the way you talk about women," John suggested.
"Even I have enough survival instinct not to talk like that about guys. Straight guys who are armed, specifically, and chose to work in a homophobic institution."
"Point taken. But I don't think it's that bad," John said.
"No, I guess it isn't." Rodney looked thoughtful for a moment. "Are you in a relationship?"
"No," John said.
"That's good to hear," Rodney said, sighing relieved.
John raised an eyebrow.
"I meant because it would have been...it would have been wrong for you to have to hide something like this from your friends."
"You're not in a relationship either, I guess. Were you ever? With a guy? On Atlantis?" John asked.
"No. What you saw was what I got," Rodney said.
John snorted. "And you can't even blame it on having to hide."
"I tried and it didn't work out. I have no regrets," Rodney said. "Okay, that's a lie. Of course, I regret it, but it's not like you'll ever know in advance that this is the person that will be different than all the others. This is the person with whom you'll...stick."
"You're such a romantic, McKay."
"That's what Jennifer said when I proposed to her," Rodney said.
"Sarcastically?" John asked.
"Nope. Which tells you all about why it wouldn't have worked out in the end."
"Hey. You'll find the right girl. Or guy," John said, putting his hand on Rodney's arm for a moment.
"We'll see," Rodney said. "And if I botch up another engagement, you'll at least have your fun."
"That's the spirit," John said.
"And if it's a guy, I could get a dig in at your country at the same time."
"Sheppard's Country will change in time. Just wait and see," John said with a grin.
Rodney laughed. "Land of the free," he said.
"Yes. And someday not just free, but honestly so."
"You were honest today," Rodney pointed out.
"I never lied to you, Rodney."
"Well, no, because if you don't tell, you can't lie. I hope you know that from now on you can tell me."
John nodded. "I will. Though I think I've said enough for today."
"There's more?" Rodney asked.
"I should leave you to your work," John said, smiling. "You could ask me again tomorrow."