Title: Plain White Tee (The Three Musketeers' Remix)
author: mayachain (mayachain)
Summary: In their first year in the Pegasus Galaxy, Rodney was one of the few people who wrapped their Christmas gifts.
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Original Story: Plain White Tee by gblvr
Note: Warmest thanks to crysothemis! Without your beta work, the insanity would have been insurmountable.
Plain White Tee (The Three Musketeers' Remix)
Every thread in my fabric told me this was not supposed to happen. I was supposed to be taken back to the closet, or maybe to the laundry to have some unfortunate spots washed away. Being wrapped around a piece of paper and two heavy, bulky... things and jostled around in a box had been bad enough, and now it seemed that the Restless Body didn't even intend to protest as a pair of strange, hairy hands carried me away.
In an attempt to find out what was going on, I tried to get the dress shirt to divulge his body's intentions, but all the black, silky-looking thing did was look pretty, fitting the form of its body exactly right. I held no high hopes for my future if the hairy-handed body didn't even possess enough intelligence for its clothes to give off even the most basic of impressions.
Eventually, the new body entered a room and at long last relieved me of my burden. Hairy hands laid me out on an unfamiliar mattress and put their palms on my front for a moment before stripping the body of the unresponsive black. In the short while it spent under the water, I had time to grow thoroughly alarmed. There was another black draped casually over a chair, and its design made my seams tighten. It was a military shirt, of the kind that got torn all the time or showed up in the laundry covered in blood. What kind of body had the Restless Hands given me to? I was too plush and soft to be torn!
My threads attempted to imitate my former body's panic vibrations, but the hairy hands seemed oblivious. They picked me up and dressed me over an equally hairy and disturbingly slim body. Its knots and bones felt very peculiar, not broad and soft like the body that bought me at all. I hung loose in places I was definitely not supposed to, and the flapping around while the body tried to settle into sleep was very uncomfortable.
However, it turned out to be the only night the body's sleep was calm.
Thankfully, it would always strip me before going outside, which made me hope the chance of getting torn might not be quite as high as I had feared. Neither did the body that had given me away come and retrieve me. The military and casual blacks the new body owned got bloodied left and right, and the ongoing silence from the closet didn't help my unease at all.
During the nights, my fabric was constantly resonating with worry about the Place, fear for the bodies the Hands had given my fellow whites to, and terror for all the other bodies, and, after three nights during which the new body hadn't come to bed at all, so much guilt it almost dissolved me. All that ever seemed to help was my loose hems wrapping around its thin frame and holding on.
Ever since the abducted White's return to the closet, the shelf had been awash with his worry for the shirt-snatching body. How would it sleep now that it didn't have him? I found it hard to believe the experience had been as exhilarating as he made it sound, but I felt envious nonetheless. All I had to share were the Calloused Hands from laundry and a brief encounter with a set of graceful, darker hands. And I longed to meet this black-haired body Recovered White disclosed so much of and that the Restless Body seemed to like a great deal. When Black Hairs had disappeared during the Catastrophe, the body had soaked the attending blue with a sweat of anxiety and grief greater than any of us had felt before.
So when after many laundry cycles the Hands took six of us from our shelf and wrapped us around bulky things like they had once before, Recovered White radiated dismay at being left behind, while my fabric was full of hope for an adventure. And when Black Hairs' palms were reached out towards me, I tried my best to vibrate laughter.
Black-haired hands put me on a table, unfolded me and relieved me of my items. The fingers shook me to get rid of a few cookie crumbs that had landed on me during the gathering, then they took off the fine dress shirt their body was wearing. The body was tired and didn't even go under the water before it dressed in me. The skin smelled different than I was used to – there was some sweat, as was only to be expected after a gathering, but it was overall more spicy.
Like Recovered White had expressed, this body was also much leaner than our Restless Body, but having parts of me swinging free wasn't off-putting at first as he had warned. It tickled, and I thought that Recovered White had utterly failed to communicate the contentment radiating off the body as it wore me.
I got slept in by the black-haired body for many nights. When the hands at long last prepared me for laundry, I was distressed, for I had grown fond of the body, and I didn't want it to sleep alone until the Restless Body decided to hand over another white. On another note, I hadn't finished deciphering the the faint, questioning impressions I was getting from somewhere inside the closet I had never been in. I was not ready for my time here to be over.
Just before they let me fall into the basket, the fingers did something unexpected. They applied something black to my tag, the body attached to them unusually satisfied with itself. All through my dance in the washer, the substance didn't get washed away. When the Calloused Hands sorted me, the Muscled Body behind them radiated faint surprise but shrugged its shoulders. A little while later, I was put inside the black-haired body's closet for the first time, and was greeted by something that maybe resembled a cheer from a black that had some sort of decoration in front.
When the Hands handed me off into expecting palms, I felt hopeful that now I would finally get confirmation as to what had been Prodigal White's fate. During the last year, we'd received faint impressions from him in the laundry twice, but no more. Recovered White had a lot of faith in the body that had once taken him, but seeing as how our own body had sometimes run out of the room in his pajamas, he was half afraid our friend might have been torn to shreds long ago.
He hadn't been exaggerating when he'd indicated this body was different. What he hadn't prepared me for was the way the hands would lift me up to the nose and inhale deeply, seeming happy that I still smelled a bit of the other body. He'd somehow left out the way I would be drenched with pleasure when worn to bed, the way that joy would simultaneously be eclipsed by sadness and longing. Perhaps he had been distracted by the nightmares I often failed to put an end to. Perhaps he had considered it too private.
Shortly after my first washing wearing the black-haired body's mark, I found that Prodigal White hadn't been torn after all. One working hypothesis between Recovered White and me had been that even if he were still alive, he would most certainly have become stupid like all the other military shirts we met in the laundry, but the impressions he sent my way were enthusiastic and powerful. There was also a silky black dress shirt who turned despondent when I didn't recognize him, and a casual black sporting a black and white animal in front that would inquire after the blues. Apart from them, neither of the other shirts were able to communicate a thing.
There was some consultation after I realized this, dragging on over more than one laundry cycle because it became Prodigal White's turn to be worn for bed. Eventually, I hypothesized that the poor blacks and smaller whites simply never got worn long enough before being sullied by blood or torn to shreds, and thus never had the chance to absorb much intelligence from the body. You can imagine my relief when Prodigal White confirmed that he'd never been worn outside, and in all probability, neither would I. I hoped it wouldn't take too many laundry cycles to get the message that we were both fine back to Recovered White.
Life was good. I got slept in by a body I grew constantly closer to, I got washed, I had great company. Still, I was in no way prepared that one day, I would envelop the body's shoulders and sides and chest and know his name. Realizing the other body's name was not so surprising, because the black-haired John-body resonated with it all the time: Rodney.
Things were different this year, we all knew it as soon as Rodney's hands opened the closet. He selected five of us, just as we'd been expecting, but only four of the five got wrapped around the gifts he had prepared for his friends. When he had finished with the others, he left and came back a while later, smelling of soap, picked me up and put me on. He stood in front of the mirror for a long time, nervous, then left the room with me and without any of the others.
He walked for a short while, giving off anticipation and dread that only got worse along the way. When he stopped in front of a familiar door, he took several deep breaths that stretched me all across his belly and chest before he pushed the chime.
As we waited for the body I had dreamed about for three years to open, his fingers twisted my hem until I feared I would not make it through the day without several holes in me. The door slid open, revealing John on the other side, and Rodney's voice resonated through me, not decisive like normal, but frighteningly hesitant.
John's voice vibrated a question, to which – this, this was what the blue had meant about Rodney being brave. His hands were reaching for John, giving me a wave of reckless desperation, and for a short moment, I found myself colliding with a dress shirt. It felt strange and came kind of as a shock, but wasn't unpleasant at all – especially as I recognized the design, the blackness, the silk.
When the body inside the dress shirt didn't respond, Rodney backed away, dismayed. He was talking again, but his voice was going quieter and quieter, until I almost couldn't feel it at all. The dread inside his body seemed to grow and grow, making me float in misery and shame.
A harsh word from John, as Rodney almost made it to the door, and it felt as if Rodney had been torn, like he wanted his body to cease to be.
John came up behind us, speaking in a hurried, insistent voice. It did not sound angry as I half had feared. His final word had Rodney whirl around, the changing emotions making me dizzy.
There was nothing brief about the contact this time when I bumped into the dress shirt. Sudden, intimate contact with a black that had never answered me before, and I didn't mind, not even when I was shoved against a wall, because Rodney was full of bliss now, all the terror replaced by jubilation and lust.
Hey, the dress shirt drawled, as we were getting all rucked up against each other between the bodies of our persons.
Hello, I managed, too delirious to from the pheromones in the air to wonder when clothing outside the science closets had learned the art of meaningful impressions. Then I felt John's fingertips trace alongside my side seams, and it felt like coming home. I wondered if Prodigal and Intrepid White had been this happy, had been wanted this much.
You should stay here, he likes you, the dress shirt commented, and I wasn't sure if he meant me or Rodney. It didn't really matter, and I didn't even mind when hours later, the bodies were being happy together and the dress shirt and I lay abandoned in a heap on the floor.