Callous Disregard

Title: Callous Disregard
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Characters: John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Jennifer Keller
Genre: pre-slash
Prompt: Fury
Word Count: 1,000
Summary: John finds out how serious Rodney’s allergies are, and marvels at the callousness of the person who’s supposed to love him most.
Warnings: No beta
Author Note: I’m pretty sure one of the items in here didn’t exist back when the show was on, but… eh. Who cares?

– – – –

John was in hell. Complete and utter hell.

They were back on Earth and meeting with the IOA. After, John had agreed to dinner with Rodney, not knowing it meant Keller, too. He desperately wanted to be happy for his friend, but he just couldn’t understand how that could happen with her. And, in truth, what he really wished was that Rodney could be happy with him.

They placed their orders and Keller excused herself to go to the ladies’ room.

Obviously having something to say, Rodney cleared his throat, but then made a little coughing sound and reached for the water.

Part of John’s brain observed that Rodney grabbed the wrong glass. He only noted it because Keller was always putting “flavor enhancers” in hers. But even though he half-noticed, it didn’t occur to him to say anything.

Rodney took a drink of the water and immediately sputtered, eyes wide with alarm. “Lemon,” he gasped.

John’s brows shot up. He’d never been sure of the severity of Rodney’s allergy, but it was more than a little odd that Keller would use lemon in her water. She was dating the man.

Then Rodney started to choke, and John was so shocked, he didn’t react for a few precious seconds that he was certain he’d be reliving for the rest of his life.

Fear flooded him when Rodney began gasping for air while trying to get something out of his pocket. He fell to the floor just as he managed to pull out a yellow and white cylindrical thing.

John wasn’t aware of moving, but he was there on the floor beside Rodney who was fumbling with his epinephrine. His hands were shaking too badly to manage it, and his face was a lurid shade of purple. John quickly took it, but he had no idea what to do with the injector and was losing precious seconds to figuring out how to make a work.

A feminine hand appeared in his vision and grabbed the injector, pulling off a plastic piece, then slamming it with force into Rodney’s outer thigh. He realized it was the woman from the next table.

Rodney was still struggling to breathe, face beginning to pale and lips taking a blueish tinge.

“Help prop him up,” the woman directed. “It’s harder to breathe lying down. We’ve already called 9-1-1.”

Rodney wound up leaning against John’s chest, but his breathing didn’t seem to be getting much better.

“How long is it supposed to take?” he asked desperately, not liking the feel of Rodney’s nearly-limp body in his arms. Rodney was awake, but it was like every iota of energy was diverted to forcing the next breath.

“It should have helped more by now,” she replied as she reached into her own purse and pulled out her own injector. “Two is the max without a doctor,” she said as he slammed it into his thigh again.

John felt like his brain finally kicked into gear. “His girlfriend… she went to the bathroom. She’s a doctor.”

“I’ll go get her. I passed her in the hallway when I returned. She was on the phone.”

The Good Samaritan swiftly moved away, and John was left with Rodney and literally nothing he could do.

“Don’t you dare give up, Rodney,” John whispered in his ear. “Just keep fighting.”

Rodney’s breathing was easing enough that John was no longer worried about imminent death. Keller turned up looking alarmed. He just couldn’t quite ascertain why she was alarmed.

She began assessing Rodney, and the paramedics arrived a few minutes later.

– – – –

John forced himself to be calm as he closed the door to Rodney’s small room in the ER department. As soon as they got Rodney stable and settled, Rodney had asked to talk to him privately. Now John had shit to deal with.

He walked up to where Keller was arguing with the ER attending about whether Rodney was going to stay overnight. She wanted him discharged, but the ER doc disagreed.

“Excuse me,” he interjected as he looked at the other physician. “Rodney agreed to stay and he’d like to speak with you.”

Keller started to follow, but John blocked her path. “I need to talk to you first. Privately.”

She huffed but led him to an empty doctor’s lounge. “Well?” Her demeanor was defensive and uncaring.

He forced himself to keep his anger controlled, but he’d never wanted to punch a woman quite so badly. “Did you know his citrus allergy was that severe?” Her jaw set mulishly, and John gave it about three seconds before he barked, “Answer the question!”

She gave a start of surprise and glared at him. “Of course I knew! This was an accident. It’s unfortunate, but that’s all.”

“That’s all,” he repeated incredulously. “Rodney almost died, and you can callously label that unfortunate. I’ll admit I’ve never taken his allergies as seriously as I should have, but I’ve never deliberately brought anything citrus around him, and I didn’t even know how severe the problem was.”

“This is none of your business,” she snapped.

“Rodney made it my business,” he shot back. “He said you’ve never had lemon in your water before. Why now?”

She glared, but he didn’t relent, so she finally said, “I hate plain water. The last time I was on Earth, they only had berry. I saw the lemon today and grabbed it. I wasn’t… thinking.”

The rage was so intense, John’s brain almost whited out. “You weren’t thinking?!” He had to force himself to breathe. “Do you care about him at all?”

“How dare you!” she snapped.

“I think the daring is all on your side, lady. But here’s the deal. Rodney doesn’t want to see you. And he won’t ever have to if I get my way.”

“You can’t do that!”

“Just watch me! I never bought that you really cared about him. But that you would even touch citrus and go anywhere near him is all the proof I need.”

– – – –

Author Note:

The Big Short is a short-story challenge on Rough Trade based on thematic or character prompts. The maximum word count for themes is 1k, for characters it’s 2k. They are not beta’d. I re-read them looking for errors but that is all.

Each short story is complete as is. They will not be expanded on, there will be no sequels, they are probably not connected to anything else, and they are not intended to prompt other writers. If you find inspiration in them, that’s lovely, but please write your own thing. My works are not up for adoption.


  1. I want to gut her, gosh – amazing story that made me really angry – thank you nonetheless for sharing

  2. And that just shows how much more mature and unselfish John is than Keller.
    Great story.

  3. You go,John! I hate Keller. Like Jewel but the character pissed me off to no end.

  4. As someone with severe, life-threatening food allergies I have never liked how casual the writers were with Rodney’s citrus allergy. Even the *smell* of berries (my allergen) can cause me to develop breathing problems and a rash. Even when I’m totally unaware there are berries nearby. My father gave up drinking root beer because my mother is violently allergic to it and he deemed kissing her after having had root beer too big of a risk to take. Thank you for writing the risks of exposure to food allergens in such a realistic manner!

  5. She’s just… ARGH!!! So glad that Rodney has John because FFS you daft twit! A most excellent fic. John in all his righteous fury is a thing of beauty.

  6. greywolfthewanderer

    I love this soooo much!! love the actor, hate the Keller character. so not right for the show at all.

  7. I’ve never watched the TV series so I don’t know what she was like in canon, but you and Keira do a great job of making me hate her.

  8. You made me wonder if Keller had taken a life insurance policy out on Rodney…

    You go, John!

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