Summary: Jane never sees these things coming.
Notes: Alternate dimensions, genderfuck, humor, angst, hurt/comfort, femslash... Because there aren't enough Jane Sheppard stories out there.
“Don’t touch that, Colonel! Are you trying to get us all killed?”
“I was just looking, McKay. Geez.” Jane stepped back from the shelf filled with ancient devices.
“Sure you were.” He eyed her suspiciously before turning back to this energy monitor. “Now, the energy spikes we saw outside appear to have been coming from here. They aren’t approaching ZPM levels, but--Colonel!”
Jane glanced up from the sparkly ball that had caught her eye. “I wasn’t going to touch it.”
“You. Over there.” He gestured with his tablet. Jane rolled her eyes but made her way to the open door. “Now. As I was saying, some of these objects here could be quite useful. We’ve only seen maybe a thousandth of what’s covered in the catalog in Atlantis and who’s to say that these devices are even in the catalog. This could be an R&D lab...”
Jane found herself tuning him out. She was exhausted and her shoulders were still aching from being held hostage on ZK3-122 not two days ago. Elizabeth had tried to give her a few days on stand-down, but Rodney had been so excited about finding a possible ancient settlement in the database that she’d insisted that she was good to go.
“We’re going to have to take these all back, of course, so we can compare them to the catalog,” Rodney was saying. She stifled a yawn and leaned against the doorframe and suddenly the ground beneath them trembled violently.
“What’d you do?” Rodney snapped and grabbed the table for purchase as he whirled around to face her.
“What did I do?” she yelled back, fully alert now.
The ground shook more violently, knocking Jane to her knees and sending Rodney to the floor. Ancient devices flew off the shelves and tables, crashing to the ground around them.
“Get out of here!” Jane yelled, making her way over to Rodney through the flying technology. There was a blinding flash of light near Rodney and she blinked several times. “McKay!”
“Where are you?” His voice was high and panicked. A falling shelf cracked her in the shoulder and she shoved it off, half-crawling over to Rodney. He was--he looked... But she didn’t have time to process it now. She grabbed his forearm and pulled him up amidst the shaking.
“Come on!” she yelled.
“Colonel, are you all right?” Teyla’s voice came in through her com.
“We’re on our way out. Hold the entrance!” She tugged Rodney forward and they dodged a falling light fixture. “Faster, McKay!” They stumbled out into the hallway and the shaking grew more violent. She could see the light from the entrance at the top of the stairs ahead.
Jane didn’t stop moving when they got outside. “Run!” she yelled at Teyla and Ronon. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this!”
They were maybe twenty feet away from the bunker entrance when she shoved Rodney to the ground and threw herself on top of him. The bunker exploded behind them in a great ball of fire and dirt. After assuring herself that Teyla and Ronon were all right, she pushed off of Rodney and caught her breath.
“What the hell just happened?” Rodney asked after the ground finally stopped trembling. He was looking at the fiery ruins of the bunker, but Jane, Teyla and Ronon were all looking at him. “What? What is it? Do I have--?” he demanded, and looked down at himself. “Oh god.” And he promptly passed out.
“Come on. I don’t think this qualifies as a major injury,” Jane protested as one of the techs erased the ‘2’ in the ‘2 days since major off-world injury’ sign and replaced it with a zero. “I mean, we didn’t get blown up. That’s what counts.”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow from beside her. “I think Rodney might disagree.”
Jane sighed, trying not to think about that. “I just don’t see how it’s good for morale when it always says zero.”
“You know, we did make it to ten days once,” Elizabeth said.
Jane remembered that. That had been the week her team had been grounded. She still had the scar from the mission that had ended that record.
“Briefing at two o’clock,” Elizabeth reminded her.
She nodded. “Right. I’m going to go check up on Rodney. Make sure he’s adjusting all right.”
On the way to his quarters, it occurred to Jane to make a stop at the extra uniform supply. She’d seen how he’d struggled to keep his BDU’s up as Teyla had led him out of the infirmary earlier.
Why did these things always have to happen to her team?
She made it to his quarters fifteen minutes later with an armful of clothing.
“Oh thank god,” he said and grabbed the pile of clothes from her. “You have no idea how much I needed these. I tried on everything in my closet.”
She followed him into his quarters and let the door slide shut behind her. He dumped the clothes on the bed and Jane watched as he examined them. It was fascinating. His face was narrower and his features finer. His hair was still short, but it was thicker and blonde. His shoulders were narrower, his arms thinner, and his waist curved in and then out again into, huh, really nice hips.
“Great. Great, this should work.” He picked up one of the BDU’s she’d picked out and turned back to her. “I’m just going to put these on. Stay here, okay?”
“Yeah,” she said. As he passed her on the way to the bathroom, she reached out and touched his shoulder. It was really weird looking down at him. “Hey, are you all right?”
“You mean besides suddenly having an extra X chromosome?”
“Yeah. Besides that,” she said. His eyes at least were the same bright blue.
“What do you think?” he bit out.
“Look, it’s probably temporary. It’ll wear off in a day or two--or even a few hours.” He looked highly doubtful about that. “And if it doesn’t, you and Zelenka’ll figure it out.”
He didn’t say anything, just stood there with her hand on his shoulder.
“Hey, it’s not so bad being a girl. It’s worked for me for 39 years,” she added lamely.
“Right. I’m sure. Well, will you let me--?” he gestured towards the bathroom and she stepped out of his way.
When he came out, Jane surveyed his clothes. She was terrible at telling sizes, but they seemed to fit better.
“You’re not going to tell me how pretty I look as a girl or anything?” he asked.
“No,” she assured him dryly. “No, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.”
“Really?” he said, actually looking a little disappointed.
“What--do you want me to?”
“No, no. I just--” He sent to the mirror over his dresser and examined himself. “But I am blonde now, and I’m a genius. And I have a really nice chest. If I wasn’t me, I’d totally be my type.”
“Way too much information, McKay,” Jane ground out. She glanced back at him. “But about that really nice chest...”
“Yes?” He smoothed his shirt down, watching the mirror with a strange combination of appreciation and horror.
“You really need a bra.”
“Oh. Oh, right.” He frowned at his reflection and then back at her. “Do you have one I can borrow?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “No, of course that wouldn’t work. We’re probably completely different sizes. Do you think Teyla--does she even wear--”
“Look, I’ll take care of it, okay?” she said and tossed him one of his blue-khaki science jackets. “But until then you need to put this on, unless you really want to get ogled by my marines.”
“But they’re going to know it’s me. They’re not going to look,” he protested.
“McKay. You were checking yourself out.” She hit him on the shoulder. “Now, come on, we’ve got to get to the briefing.”
Rodney’s transformation, unfortunately, didn’t wear off in a few hours or a few days. Jane had scoured the science department for a woman his size and eventually procured him a bra from one of Carson’s assistants.
He seemed to be adjusting relatively well. His acerbity was surprisingly not softened by his feminine features and higher voice; he appeared to be able to berate his scientists (and her marines, and the cafeteria staff) just as effectively. Carson cleared Rodney for duty, shaking his head and saying he couldn’t find anything wrong with him other than the obvious and the usual. The team was scheduled to go off-world on a routine scouting mission the next day, and they quickly found out that Rodney could manage to be just as culturally offensive as a woman, but, luckily, he could also run just as fast.
* * *
“How are you holding up?” Jane asked as she joined her team at lunch later that week. “Any progress?”
Rodney gave her an icy glare in between shoveling mashed potato things into his mouth. “Obviously not, as you can very well see.”
“So no luck finding the device that did this in the ancient database?”
“No, Colonel,” he said, clearly annoyed. “I didn’t get a look at it before it fell on me and even if the database was indexed by gender-changing effects, which it’s not, who knows if this was even the intended effect or if it’s even in the database. If it was an R&D lab, the ancients here might not have even known about all the devices down there. And seeing as you blew up the entire bunker--”
“I did not!” Jane exclaimed.
“Someone did, and it certainly wasn’t me.”
“I didn’t touch anything!”
“Well, I think you’re handling this very well,” Teyla cut in smoothly, resting a calming hand on Rodney’s forearm. He looked startled at the praise.
“Oh. Well. Yes, thank you. I suppose I am.”
Jane rolled her eyes, but actually she didn’t know if it was true or not; she hadn’t seen much of Rodney these past few days.
“I actually wanted to offer to train with you,” Teyla was saying. “I think it would help you to get used to the new balance of your body.”
“Thanks, but I don’t think that’s--”
“You should do it, McKay,” Ronon said, spearing a clump of long spindly vegetables with his fork. “Can’t have you more of a liability than usual on missions.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” Jane added firmly.
“Fine.” Rodney gave her a baleful look. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, some of us actually have real work to do today.”
As Rodney left the mess, Jane noticed he was garnering quite a bit of attention. She was surprised. It had been almost a week now; she’d have figured people would have been used to a female Dr. McKay by now. It was hardly the weirdest thing to ever happen around here.
But then she caught sight of Rodney right before he made it out the doorway and saw that wasn’t it at all. “Oh shit,” she said, getting to her feet. “I’ll be right back.”
She caught up to him in the hallway. “McKay! You need to get changed.”
“What--?” He stared at her like she was crazy.
“What’s wrong with the BDU’s I got you? And where did you even get these?” She gestured.
“Cadman got them for me. They’re perfectly comfortable,” he said.
“Yeah, I can see that.” Jane silently cursed her lieutenant. “Look, even you can’t be this oblivious. I know you have a mirror in your quarters.”
“What? Does the color not match my shirt? Am I supposed to care about this kind of thing now that I have breasts, because--”
“No,” she said, exasperated, and dragged him further into the corridor, out of earshot of the crowd of people leaving the mess. “Look, girls that look like you can’t wear jeans that look like that, okay?”
“Oh.” His mouth pursed into a thin line. “So this is the other thing that women are supposed to care about then? Look, I’m sorry I’m not perfectly skinny like you, but I don’t see why I can’t wear jeans!”
“Jesus, McKay, that’s not--do I have to spell it out for you?” she asked, wishing like hell she’d just left him at it and never come after him in the first place. “Look, by girls like you I meant girls who have... nice asses, all right? I know you like attention, but unless you want every straight male with eyes on this base staring at you when you walk by, you can’t wear those jeans.”
His eyes widened. “Did you just say you think my ass is hot? Oh my god, Sheppard, you are so Captain Kirk!”
The first time Rodney had called her Captain Kirk was during the whole Chaya debacle. He’d come up to her in the hall and hissed something about keeping it in her pants, and then they’d argued for a while until Jane finally said out loud, “Why are we whispering? And why is it any business of yours if I want to date--”
“God, Major, shut up!”
He glanced around the hallway furtively. “Do you want to get kicked off the mission? Last time I checked you were in the U.S. military...”
“Haven’t you ever heard of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”
She stared at him for a long moment and then laughed.
“Where exactly do you think they’re going to kick me off to? And who’s going to do the kicking? We haven’t even heard from Earth in months!”
“Look, I’m just not prepared to lose the one person around here who actually has a good track record of keeping me alive because she can’t keep her BDU’s fastened!”
She just rolled her eyes and said, “Look. I didn’t make it this far by following the rules, all right?”
Rodney didn’t believe her, but she really never saw these things coming. A few months ago, on a visit to one of their more peaceful trading partners, the chieftain's daughter had approached the team with an offering of guar fruits. She’d been young and pretty, with wide eyes and full pink lips. Jane hadn’t realized what was happening until she was being led into a tent and she found those full lips pressed against hers.
After stammering out awkward apologies, and eventually having to let Teyla step in to keep her from irrevocably offending the tribe, she headed back to where her team was seated around the fire. Ronon and Rodney were watching her with amusement and annoyance, respectively.
“Come on,” Rodney complained loudly. “Are all the women in the Pegasus galaxy lesbians? Is this some kind of cosmic joke?”
Teyla pursed her lips disapprovingly. “I think our concepts of sexuality are not as rigid as yours, Rodney. We believe that sexuality is on a continuum...”
“Yes, yes, yes. I am Canadian, you know. I’m not going to argue with that. I’m all for Captain Kirk here getting laid”--which was, given his sometimes outrageous attempts to thwart her, a complete lie--“but, statistically, this is ridiculous! There were two fine specimens of the male half of the species right here and she just ignored us. This happens every single time!”
“Perhaps Colonel Sheppard is simply... charismatic,” Teyla offered.
“Charismatic,” Jane repeated the word with a smirk at Rodney. “I think Teyla’s right.”
Rodney glared back at her and then sighed. “One heterosexual chieftain's daughter. Seriously, that’s all I’m asking for.”
Frankly, it wasn’t like the Kirk reference was all that apt. Despite what Rodney seemed to want to believe, she’d slept with three women in almost as many years; hardly anything to write home about (though she rather enjoyed imagining her father’s reaction to that letter).
* * *
All in all, everything seemed to be getting back to normal, so of course Jane soon found herself locked in a small, dank prison cell with Rodney.
“Oh god, I’m so hungry. I feel like I’m going to pass out,” Rodney complained, collapsing back onto the single cot, which he’d promptly claimed.
“It’s been thirty minutes,” Jane pointed out irritably. She was sitting in the opposite corner, trying to ignore the dampness sinking in through her clothes and get comfortable on the stone floor.
“And who knows how long until they feed us.” Rodney jerked upright. “They will feed us, right? They’re not just going to leave us to starve, are they?”
“They’re letting us out in the morning,” Jane reminded him, and then reminded herself that they were lucky about that. Teyla had gotten the priests to commute the usual seven day sentence for defiling a sacred statue to one night. At least one member of her team knew how to pull her weight.
“Hello? Hypoglycemia here.”
Jane rolled her eyes.
“And could this bed be any more uncomfortable?” he continued complaining. “This counts as cruel and unusual torture. Aren’t there conventions against this?”
“At least you have a bed.”
“And why don’t you? What, did they expect us to share?”
“If they did, they clearly didn’t know you well enough.” She eyed the bed speculatively. “Though, now that you mention it, you are smaller now. We might both fit.”
“I don’t think I’m actually that much smaller, just differently--” Jane raised an eyebrow. “No. Don’t you say one word about my ass.”
She bit back a grin. “I kind of like your ass.”
“Yes, I think we’ve already established that, Kirk.” He threw an arm over his face. “God, I hurt all over. My stomach hurts and my back hurts--even my breasts hurt. Why didn’t anyone warn me that breasts would be so painful?”
“Well, they usually only hurt when--oh.” Jane started in realization and then burst into laughter.
“I’m glad my pain is so amusing.”
“No,” she choked out, still laughing, even though, really, it wasn’t funny, it was just...
“What? At least let me in on the joke.”
“PMS,” she finally managed and wiped her eyes free of tears just in time to catch Rodney’s horrified expression.
“I do not have PMS,” he said stiffly.
“I think you do.” She tried to sound a little more sympathetic. “You’ve been a woman for almost three weeks now. It’s perfectly natural.”
“Natural?!” His eyes widened. “You’re not going to start talking about moon cycles and ocean tides now, are you?”
“You know me so well, McKay.” She snickered.
He suddenly bolted upright. “It’s not starting now, is it?”
“Uh, probably not?” Jane really hoped not. “Usually you get a day or two warning.”
“You better be right,” he warned her and sank back down into the cot. He looked miserable. Jane scrambled for a change in topic.
“So, how’s it going with Katie?” she asked.
“What? Why do you care?”
“Just trying to make conversation, Rodney. People do that sometimes when they’re locked in prison cells together all night long.”
“Oh, well, uh. We kind of put it on hold until I get my body back,” he said. “It was weird enough having Cadman along for our first date. It took us almost a year to go out again. The last thing we needed right now was this.” He gestured down at himself, and Jane actually felt bad for him.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“Yeah. Well. It probably wasn’t entirely your fault,” he admitted.
Jane walked over to the cot and prodded his shoulder. “Sit up,” she said.
“I’m not sharing the bed,” he argued, but he did sit up. She pushed him over a bit and arranged herself behind him.
“Uh, Colonel, what are you doing?”
“I’m giving you a back rub, McKay. It’ll help with the pain.” She started rubbing his shoulders near his neck, but she couldn’t get good contact over his jacket so she made him take it off. His back was surprisingly narrow, compared to his usual body, and it was still strange to be able to make out the edge of shoulder blades and bra straps under his shirt.
“This, uh, feels good,” he said.
“Mmm.” She worked her way up his neck, and then kneaded down his spine. He groaned appreciatively and the sound made her ache a little. When she’d gotten down to his waist and back up, she settled for a while to work on his upper back.
“What do you guys do when you get it on missions?” he asked out of the blue, but she knew what he was talking about. “I mean, you’ve never mentioned anything, and I’ve never noticed--”
“I don’t know what Teyla does,” Jane said, and realized she’d never thought about it before.
“What about you?” He tried to turn to look at her, but she held him in place. She was busy working on a particularly hard knot halfway down his back.
“I don’t get mine,” she said distractedly. There. She almost had it.
“What? Why don’t you get it?” he asked resentfully and she laughed a little.
“I don’t know. I haven’t had it since we got to Atlantis,” she said, working her way down his lower back.
“What are you? Menopausal?” he demanded.
“Jesus, Rodney, I’m not any older than you.” She frowned at his back. “I think it’s just almost dying every week or so. It’s kind of stressful. Here, lean forward.”
“Aren’t there pills or something to stop it? Injections? You think if we get back tomorrow, Carson can give me something before it starts?” he asked hopefully.
“I think it’s too late for that. Sorry,” she said apologetically and gave his back one last stroke. “There. Feel better?”
“Um. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.” He twisted around to face her. “Do you--I mean, I could--”
“Nah, it’s all right.” She grinned. “I’m pretty tired, though. I think I’m going to go to sleep.”
“Oh. Right. Go ahead.” He made to stand up but she grabbed his arm. “You can have the bed,” he said.
“There is room for two, McKay.” She scooted over to the wall and lay down with her back to him. “Lie down.”
Jane stopped by the lab the next day with the last of the contraband chocolate bars she’d smuggled in on the last Daedalus trip for the purpose of bribing Rodney. She’d been saving it for an emergency, but after seeing Rodney made a beeline for Carson as soon as they got back to Atlantis that morning, she supposed this qualified.
She found him at his desk typing furiously.
“Heya, buddy,” she said, and perched on the edge of his desk. “How are you doing?”
He turned slowly towards her. His face was pale and his eyes were very wide and traumatized. “I can’t talk about it,” he said brokenly.
Jane fought back a smile and gave him a sympathetic pat on the back. “Here, maybe this will help,” she said, and pressed the chocolate bar into his hand.
The look he gave her was so grateful she couldn’t help but snicker on the way out.
Jane had known a lot of women in the military who claimed they had to work twice as hard as men to get where they were. She didn’t doubt them. These were women who got up early, slept late, if at all, and did everything by the book so they could beat men at their own game. She figured Elizabeth and Teyla were probably this kind of woman, but Jane was not.
She went with the flow, as long as the flow took her where she wanted to go. And, seeing how she was a damn good pilot and all she really wanted was to fly, this had mostly worked out for her.
She was also a bit of a slacker, an ‘underachiever’, or so the first ten or so years of Air Force performance reviews had informed her. Her commanding officers loved to tell her that she should have been rising much higher and faster through the ranks than she was, but Jane wasn’t so sure about that. This ‘potential’ they spoke of couldn’t be quantified; there was no way to prove its existence.
Of course, the tenor of those reviews changed after Afghanistan. There was less talk of ‘potential’ and more of ‘disciplinary action’ and ‘permanent records’.
* * *
She found herself in the lab one afternoon helping Rodney activate unknown ancient devices. She was trying not to stare too openly at his backside when he turned away to type something into the computer when a thought suddenly occurred to her.
“Why are you still all female?” she asked.
“Well, because obviously it hasn’t worn off yet,” he snapped and pointed to a round metallic ball. “Pick that up.”
She did. “What I meant was, why haven’t you figured out how to change back yet?”
“Human biology is complicated and it’s really not my field. Are you thinking ‘on’?”
“Yes, I’m thinking ‘on’! This isn’t my first time, you know.”
“Well, it’s not working!”
“Duh!” She rolled her eyes and set the ball down. “And that’s bullshit. You’re a genius. I’ve seen your come up with solutions to way more complex problems than this in half the time.”
He typed something into the laptop and then sighed and turned to meet her eyes. “Look, if I could devote all my time to it, I’m sure I would have my body back by now. But I can’t.”
“Why not? You do want to change back, don’t you?”
“Of course I do! Of course I’d like--but it’s not that important, you get that, right? I’m here because of my mind, and it doesn’t really mattered what the vessel is. This one--” he gestured down at himself. “Works just as well as the last one. I mean, we’re fighting wraith here, and genii, and replicators and do you really think I could live with myself if people die in the next attack because I was too busy trying to get my penis back to bother fixing the shield generators?”
Jane stared at him in surprise.
“That was the last of them. You can go now.”
“Right. Hey, don’t forget about movie night tonight,” she said.
“What movie is it?” he asked suspiciously.
“Um... Ronon wanted something with buses.”
“Oh god. Not Speed again?” He looked pained. She nodded apologetically. “What is with that guy?”
Over the past few weeks, Jane had started making sure she was sitting next to him during briefings so she could brush her arm against his when she reached for things (which she found the need to do quite a lot). She kicked him in the shine when she wanted his attention, or to warn him to stop talking, or sometimes just for fun (though she had to moderate herself because he’d started to make complaints about steel-toed boots and bruises). She sat beside him in the mess and stole food from his plate, because he wrinkled his brow when he was irritated and it was kind of cute.
She didn’t know how much more blatant she could be.
* * *
Rodney snagged a seat on the couch and Jane claimed the middle next to him. Teyla sat on her other side and Ronon sprawled out on the floor, hogging the popcorn bowl.
By the end of the elevator scene, Jane had slowly inched closer to Rodney, so their thighs were touching. By the time Keanu Reeves got the ransom call, she was leaning a bit into his shoulder. And when Sandra Bullock took the wheel of the bus, she surreptitiously reached down and stroked a finger down his thigh--which was when he yelped and jumped off the couch.
“Problem, McKay?” she asked, irritated that he’d messed up her seduction attempt so publicly.
“Yes!” he exclaimed, his feminine voice high on the edge of panic. Then he looked at Teyla and Ronon watching him curiously and added in a slightly more controlled voice, “I mean--no. I just remembered I left something on in the lab--I forgot, I need to go finish right now. Very urgent.” He practically ran out of the room.
“What’s his problem?” Ronon asked, grabbing a mouthful of popcorn.
“I don’t know. I, uh, should go help him,” Jane said lamely, getting up. “Carry on.”
She had to jog to catch up to Rodney. “Hey! Wait up!”
“What part of very urgent did you not understand, Colonel?” he demanded.
“The part where it’s not at all true,” she said, and when he tried to turn away, she caught his shoulder.
“Look!” he said. “You keep touching me. All the time. No--don’t deny it! You touch me and you sit too close and give me back rubs--”
“Is that a problem?” she asked evenly.
“Yes!” he exclaimed.
Oh. Shit. She hadn’t even considered the possibility that her advances were unwelcome. She definitely didn’t have a plan for that, and she knew the right thing to do was apologize and try to smooth things over before he went to Weir with a sexual harassment complaint because he would so do that. But instead, she found herself saying angrily, “Look, I’m sorry I’m not buxom or blonde or a genius physicist, but I hadn’t realized that’d be deal breaker for you!”
He stared back at her, slack-jawed. “What?”
She crossed her arms over her chest.
“Were you... hitting on me?”
She just raised her chin in challenge.
“Oh, wow. Jane, you... you realize I’m not actually a woman, right?”
She gave him her best glare of death.
“Uh, of course you do. So it’s just because of...” He looked down at himself and then back up at her. “I mean, I--I know you said I was hot, but you really--you want--”
“Look,” she said, taking a deep breath. “You can either stop talking and walk away and tomorrow we’ll pretend this never happened. Or you can stop talking and let me kiss you now. But either way--”
“Dr. McKay to the labs.” Zelenka’s voice sounded loudly through the coms.
Rodney cursed and pressed his earpiece. “What?”
Jane couldn’t hear the reply, but after a few seconds, Rodney snapped, “And this involves me how?” And then, “And why haven’t you incompetent morons tried--” And, “Dammit, Radek. I’ll be right there.”
When he switched off the com and turned back to her, she said, “Go.”
“Yeah, just. Jane--”
“Don’t worry about it. Go.” He gave her one last look before turning away and rushing down the corridor.
Jane banged her head back against the wall.