Here you go, D. Your finished xmas gift!
Thank you *so* much, Suz. You're my rock. *smooch*
And bonus point to anyone who can spot the shameless line rip-off from Undercover Blues.
As You Wish, Part 2
“You be the good cop and I’ll be the bad cop.”
Teyla gave him that patient look that said ‘I have no idea of what you speak, but I feel confident that you will explain’, or something equally Teylaish.
“I’ll put him under pressure and you’ll be all sympathetic so that he can find an ally in you,” Ford explained.
Teyla looked at him steadily. “Very well.”
“It’ll work, you’ll see,” he said confidently as they entered the reception chamber, the Chancellor walking towards them, smiling nervously.
“That I will,” she mumbled.
“This is bad,” John moaned.
“I haven’t even started yet,” Rodney murmured into the skin above John’s belly button.
“I’m not talking about *that*.”
Rodney lifted his head and stared incredulously at John. “You’re thinking about something *else*?”
“I’m thinking about how much you’ll regret this when you get back to your old self.” John pulled together the last shreds of his self-control only for Rodney to rub his cheek against John’s erection, making him lose it again.
It was official: he had the self-control of a teenager. At least he hadn’t come in his pants.
As Rodney started mouthing him through them, though, he concluded that that would only be a matter of time.
“I am my old self,” Rodney said happily.
“Oh god,” John groaned.
“Now, listen,” Teyla said, deathly calm. “If you do not cooperate, the Atlantians will come. They will come and they will be many, they will be vengeful and they will have no mercy.”
Ford tried not to stare. Teyla was an amazing bad cop.
Judging by the way the Chancellor was paling, he agreed. “You must believe me, we did not know you were from the Great City. We believed you to be Norian.”
*Amazing* bad cop. Time for Ford to do his thing.
“Then explain it to us,” he said, using his friendliest expression. “While there’s still time to prevent a blood bath.”
The Chancellor looked resigned and nodded. “It began some decades ago...”
McKay lifted his head and cursed. “Damn it.”
John moved back, away from that mouth that did things to his brain and other parts of his anatomy that he didn’t seem to have any control over. “Yeah, sucks, doesn’t it?”
“No, that’s just what it’s *not* doing,” Rodney muttered.
“As long as you’re wearing that,” John stabbed his finger in the direction of the bracelet covering McKay’s wrist, so alien and so suiting at the same time, “nothing is going to happen.”
“How very noble of you,” Rodney sulked.
John sighed. “I know.”
“It’s hardly fair,” Rodney said as they walked to the infirmary.
“Of course not,” John said amiably. “Still doesn’t change the fact that we should make sure the bracelet isn’t harming you.”
They entered the infirmary side by side. “I feel fine. Yet, you get the latest news while I get to be poked and prodded by a sadistical Scot.”
Dr. Beckett walked past them, carrying a tray of things. “It’s nice to see you too, Rodney.”
Rodney snorted and John slapped his shoulder, smiling. “Have fun, Rodney. I’ll come pick you up after school.”
Rodney looked unimpressed. “Laugh it up. Next time, I’ll be the gloating one.”
John’s smile only got wider. “Maybe. Next time.”
“So, what you’re saying,” John said slowly, leaning his elbows on the briefing room table, “is that they made the bracelets because they needed to make more babies.”
“It is somewhat more complicated than that, Major,” Teyla said dryly. “The society was heavily segregated. Racism was a considerable problem and inbreeding an imminent threat.”
“Because of their hair colors,” Ford put in. “They couldn’t stand people with other hair colors than their own.”
John’s eyebrows rose. “Did any of these people ever hear of dye?”
Teyla smiled. “I am sure some in the lower layers of the society tried, as the color of your hair signified what clan you were part of and thus your status, but according to the Chancellor, it was extremely difficult to hide ones heritage.”
“So, they made the bracelets,” Dr. Weir stated.
Teyla nodded. “Yes. The people were told that the bracelet was a symbol of their clan. The different clans never knew that their bracelets were identical to the bracelets of the other clans; they did not seek out their company.”
Ford shifted in his chair. “By the time that they could figure that out, they didn’t care anymore, the bracelets overrode any form of negative feeling they might’ve had.”
Dr. Weir nodded. “There’s no fighting Cupid’s arrow.”
“If Cupid’s arrows were drugged,” John pointed out. “This doesn’t explain why they put the bracelet on McKay, or why we were taken prisoners in the first place.”
“The Chancellor told of a new people arriving not too long ago, a people from a different planet, the first people they had ever encountered who were different from them.” Teyla looked sad. “The bracelets had been used for decades at this point; any form of violent behavior in the people had been erased.”
“Make love, not war,” John mumbled.
“As they tried to greet the newcomers on neutral ground, in the wilds outside the villages,” Teyla continued, “they were slaughtered. The event was kept secret, most people never even knew that a threat had arrived and the Chancellor and his peers were desperately trying to think of a way for them to defend themselves.”
Dr. Weir frowned. “I thought these people were technologically advanced.” She looked at John.
“There was some sort of shield technology where they kept me and McKay, and I don’t even know what to call their doors,” John admitted.
“But the common people live very simple lives,” Teyla added, “almost without any form of technology.”
John frowned. “So, what? They were trying to see if the bracelets would work as pacifiers on the enemy?”
Ford nodded. “Yes, sir, that was pretty much their plan.”
“Not a very good plan,” John said critically.
“Desperate times calls for desperate measures, Major,” Dr. Weir said. “Did the Chancellor say how to get the bracelet off?”
Ford shook his head. “He claimed that there’d never been a need. Because the first test subjects responded well and without side effects, they never tried. As far as he knew, he thought they were perfectly removable.”
“Great,” John muttered, “more people running around in the galaxy making things they don’t know how to use.”
Dr Weir pursed her lips. “Perhaps Dr. Torres has been able to come with some new insights about the material of the bracelet.”
“What of the people on the planet?” Teyla asked.
John quirked an eyebrow. “What about them?”
“If they are under threat of an attack, should we not assist them?”
“Teyla, they kidnapped us and put a whammy on McKay. Not exactly friendly people.”
“That was their leaders,” she objected, frowning. “The people knew nothing of these events.”
“You’re right, Teyla,” Dr. Weir said, looking sympathetic, “but other than offer them suggestions of planets to evacuate to, I don’t see what we can do. We can hardly help them to fight.”
“Perhaps we can negotiate,” Teyla suggested. “You are a diplomat.”
“They tried that, remember?” Ford objected. “And that didn’t turn out too good.”
“But with the jumpers we could be at the agreed meeting place, undetected, and make sure that there is no ambush.” She looked imploringly at Dr Weir, who met her eyes, looking thoughtful.
After a few moments of tense silence, she said, “I’ll consider it. But I can’t promise anything, Teyla.”
Teyla inclined her head. “That is all I ask.”
Rodney smiled brightly at him from the infirmary bed he was sitting on. “So, that’s it? You’re going to quit bugging me about the bracelet?”
John snorted. “You wish.”
“Ah, well,” Rodney said, jumping off the bed, “can’t have everything, I suppose.”
“He alright, doctor?” John asked Dr Beckett.
“The preliminaries look fine. I’ve got some tests that’ll need a few days, but as far as I can tell, he’s as healthy as he ever was.”
“Hey!” Rodney snapped.
“Look, does it mean that I can work or not? I’m getting bored.”
Beckett smiled. “Knock yourself out.”
Rodney brightened again. “Great!” Then his expression shifted to worry. “Oh no, I better get to the lab straight away, god knows what those morons have done while I’ve been gone.”
John and Dr Beckett looked at his retreating back as he hurried out of the infirmary.
“It’s almost like he’s back, isn’t it?” Beckett observed.
“Yeah,” John agreed, “save for some details.”
Beckett looked at him curiously, but didn’t ask. John was grateful; he wasn’t sure how he was going to respond to any possible questions anyway.
“Almost like he’s back,” he murmured.
“Come on, John,” he wheedled, hand sliding up John’s thigh before John grabbed it and firmly placed it on Rodney’s knee. Rodney sighed in annoyance.
John closed his eyes and tilted his head back against the back of the sofa. The day after Teyla and Ford’s trip to the planet, Rodney was still very much Rodney, the main difference being that he was insistently trying to get into John’s pants and when that failed, he tried other things to try and make John happy.
John tried not to think of his formerly-white-now-pink boxers and Rodney’s guilty expression as he’d tried to be nice by doing John’s laundry this morning.
“Look,” Rodney said finally, and John opened his eyes in wariness of another hand trying to get to various parts of his body, “Christmas is coming up, can’t you at least let me do something for you for Christmas?”
“You hate Christmas!” John exclaimed in exasperation, giving up on his one syllable replies and glaring at McKay.
“Yes,” Rodney said patiently, “I think it’s a lousy excuse for commercialism to try and lure money out of us. However, I’m willing to look past that for two reasons. One,” he started ticking off on his fingers, “there aren’t that many shops around here to which my money can be lured. Two,” he smiled slowly at John, “you love Christmas.”
John felt his eyebrows climbing his forehead. “Oh yeah? And how do you know that?”
Rodney snorted. “Please. Any chance you can get to pig out *and* get gifts? Don’t insult my intelligence.”
He’d never admit it, of course, but Rodney was right. John did like Christmas, very much. The only regret he had on spending this one on Atlantis was that the climate didn’t seem to change enough for it to start snowing.
Making a mental note to take a Puddle Jumper out for a search of snow tomorrow, he grudgingly admitted the point to Rodney. “Okay, so I don’t hate it.”
“See? So, what do you want me to do for you?” Rodney’s voice softened. “Come on, there’s got to be something you want.”
John’s first impulse was to refuse the offer, but then a thought struck and he looked sharply at McKay. “You’ll do anything I ask for?”
Rodney’s eyebrows rose. “I would have thought that was strikingly obvious by now.”
“Yes or no.”
“Yes! Anything to -“
“Get the bracelet off.”
Rodney stilled and grew silent. For the first time since the Chancellor’s people had put that bracelet on him, John thought he saw hurt in his eyes. “You find the thought of me trying to make you happy so repulsive?”
“You getting the bracelet off will make me happy.”
“So, what?” Rodney looked away. “You find *me* so repulsive?”
John shook his head. “Rodney, no.”
“Because, you know,” Rodney rubbed his hand against his knee, still looking away, “you’re really not approaching this like the opportunity it is.”
John grabbed Rodney’s shoulders and forced him to face John. “McKay, this isn’t *real*! This is an alien device forcing you to act out of character.”
Rodney looked at him, frowning. “What, I can’t make you happy?”
“Without any thought about your own wellbeing, no!” John shook Rodney. “I’m as much for unselfish behavior as the next guy, but this is unnatural.” He let go of Rodney’s shoulders and let his hands drop. “This,” he gestured towards the bracelet, “scares the hell out of me. Because where is the limit? What is there that you wouldn’t do for me?”
Rodney didn’t answer him.
After minutes of tense silence, Rodney spoke, not looking at John. “I think that if you try to take it off, it’ll open.”
John frowned. “Why would it be any different for me than it was for Dr Beckett?”
Rodney shrugged. “It makes sense, doesn’t it? Everything has a fail safe, especially things meant to control. If I can’t get it off, and we assume that Carson represents everyone else, it only makes sense that my…um…partner-to-be should be able to open it.”
John nodded. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
In reply, Rodney stretched out his wrist to him and John studied the bracelet, really studied it, for the first time. It really was quite beautiful. John had never been much of a gold person – although judging by the hardness of the material, it was something other than gold – but he had to admit that this was definitely an attractive piece of jewelry. He found it hard to imagine that an entire population of people wore exact replicas, the exact same exquisite marks covering them, making this one of many. It was equally hard to imagine that something looking so harmless could control people’s free will.
He touched it with his fingertips, intending to run them along the links, looking for an opening, but the instant his skin made contact with the gold-like material, the bracelet opened with a click and fell into John’s lap.
He stared at it for a moment before looking up at Rodney, a shocked expression on his face John suspected was identical to his own.
Rodney nodded dazedly, looking at the bracelet that wasn’t attached to his wrist anymore.
“How do you feel?”
Rodney frowned. “I don’t know. Tell me to do something.”
“Go do my laundry.”
The moment the words left his lips, Rodney stared at John. There was something strange in his expression, something that seemed almost sad, but then as soon as John thought he saw it, it was gone and Rodney’s face was filled with surprise. “It worked.”
“No laundry urges?”
“No laundry urges,” Rodney chuckled, but something about him seemed off to John.
John’s eyes narrowed. “You sure you’re not feeling any side-effects? That thing was pumping drugs through your system for days.”
Rodney rolled his shoulders experimentally. “Well, I’ve got an incredible craving for ice cream with pickles, does that count?”
John blinked, then smiled. “I think we can safely assume you’re back to your old self.” He patted Rodney’s knee.
“Great,” Rodney said, smiling as well, although the smile seemed a bit forced to John, “old Rodney, back in action.” He absently rubbed his wrist.
They sat quietly at side by side at the couch for several minutes, not looking at each other, before getting up to inform everyone of the new turn of events.
“I do not understand,” Teyla said, looking at the red item in her lap. She, Major Sheppard, Dr McKay and Lieutenant Ford were sitting in the recreational room where Major Sheppard had first introduced her to ‘American football’. She had been told that the red thing that one of Dr Zelenka’s scientists had made out of plastic was a garland and that it was significant for an upcoming Earth holiday.
“That’s because McKay is telling it wrong.” Major Sheppard glared at Dr McKay and Dr McKay ignored Major Sheppard.
Teyla’s eyebrows rose. “There is not an overweight-“
“Fat,” Dr McKay corrected.
“-man dressed in red trying to get into one’s home through its heating system?”
Major Sheppard scratched his head. “Well, there is. It’s just…”
“…less cynical than that,” Lieutenant Ford filled in dryly.
Dr McKay snorted. “You say cynical, I say potatah.”
Teyla ignored Dr McKay’s comment as one non-intercultural and thus incomprehensive. “So what does the baby in the manger have to do with the overweight man in red?”
Major Sheppard opened his mouth to answer, then shut it. “Ford, explain to Teyla what Jesus has to do with Santa.”
“Um, well,” Lieutenant Ford scratched his head. “It’s…complicated.”
Dr McKay rolled his eyes. “I think the word you’re looking for is actually ‘absurd’, Ford. Trying to connect a religious event with people spending all the money they made the last year is just that.”
“I don’t know, the three wise men gave him presents,” the Lieutenant argued.
“And I’m sure Jesus was very happy to get a Tamagotchi.”
Before Lieutenant Ford had a chance to reply, a new voice broke in. “Am I interrupting something?” Dr Weir stood in the doorway, looking around questioningly.
“No,” Dr McKay said shortly, “just something distracting me from work. If you’ll excuse me.” He stood and brushed past her as he left the room.
“Dr McKay just…got caught up in the Christmas spirit,” Lieutenant Ford offered, looking uncomfortable.
Teyla noticed that Major Sheppard looked away and didn’t say anything.
“I see,” Dr Weir said carefully, not pushing the issue. “If you have time, I was wondering if you would help me plan some sort of menu for the Christmas party.”
The Lieutenant visibly brightened. “I’ve got some recipes I’ve been itching to try ever since the Athosians managed to grow vegetables.”
Teyla smiled; his enthusiasm was infectious, even if she still wasn’t sure she fully understood what…Christmas…was. “I was not aware you enjoyed cooking, Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Ford smiled fondly. “In my family, you either learn to cook or live in shame.”
“Sounds like you have a lot to contribute,” Dr Weir smiled. “What about you, Major? Any family recipes to share?”
“Nah, not much of a cook. Actually, I have some things I need to do. If you’d all excuse me.”
Not waiting for a response, he walked past Dr Weir, who studied his retreating back. She turned back to Teyla and Lieutenant Ford and smiled again. “Well, then. Let’s plan that menu.”
Teyla nodded as she and Lieutenant Ford followed Dr Weir into the briefing room. She hoped Major Sheppard and Dr McKay resolved whatever issues there were between them.
McKay looked surprised to see him, as if he hadn’t expected him to follow.
“What the hell was that all about?”
“Of course you can come in, I’m so happy that you knocked.”
John reached back without looking and knocked on the closed door. Rodney rolled his eyes.
“Wanna tell me what that was all about?”
“I didn’t know it was mandatory to share your misdirected view of Christmas.”
“That wasn’t about Christmas and we both know it.”
Rodney’s eyebrows rose. “Oh, we do, do we?”
“This isn’t easy for anyone one, but-”
“Oh yes, I see how this is so incredibly difficult for you,” Rodney said with sarcasm.
“It’s not like people blame you for having acted…off.”
Rodney’s jaw clenched together and he stepped close to John, challenging. “People think I like *Shakespeare*.”
John scratched his head. “Well, I can see how that would be the case. Reciting something from memory does seem pretty conspicuous.”
Rodney started pacing in agitation. “It was mandatory college reading! I can’t help it; I read something and it sticks.”
John’s eyebrows climbed his forehead. “My condolences.”
Rodney sighed noisily. “I’m just trying to get on with my life here, I’m sorry if that bothers you.”
John frowned. “Of course not. I just don’t think you should take things you had no control over so hard.”
“Christmas just makes me cranky.”
“And,” John said slowly, “by cranky you mean pissed off.”
Rodney nodded. “And by Christmas I mean you.”
“Hey, how has any of this been my fault?”
“What, I can’t be irrational now? No wonder you piss me off!”
He started to push past John, but John grabbed his arm and managed to make them both lose their balance. He tugged hard at McKay’s arm and managed to get a hold of his shoulders, catching both of their footing as he placed himself in front of Rodney.
He stared at Rodney; well, as well as anyone could stare when they’re standing nose to nose to someone and becoming cross-eyed due to the close proximity. Moving back an inch or two, just enough for McKay to come back into focus, his eyes drifted down to Rodney’s mouth.
Not really thinking – how much good had thinking gotten him in this situation, anyway? – he started to close the distance between their faces, eyes transfixed on Rodney’s mouth.
He wanted to know if Rodney still tasted like coffee, if his lips would feel different against John’s when he wasn’t controlled by an alien drug-bracelet.
Then McKay pushed him away and John stumbled back in surprise, having been totally caught up in studying Rodney’s mouth.
Rodney was swallowing hard and John couldn’t read his eyes at all. “The bracelet’s off now.”
John’s brain never had a chance to start working again before Rodney pushed past him and walked out.
To say that the next few days were awkward was an understatement. They didn’t have as many missions outside of Atlantis as everyone on base was busy preparing things for the Christmas party Dr Weir had announced was being planned.
On missions, he and McKay spoke a lot like they had the first week they’d met, before they’d even been on the same team. He hadn’t realized before how comfortable they’d gotten in each other company, he’d always assumed they still acted like they had from the start (not counting the attempts at sex, but hey, alien bracelet and all that). It wasn’t until McKay started acting like they were back at square one that he realized that they’d actually gotten to be…
So, wasn’t there some point he should have noticed that happening?
It was probably the same point where he should have noticed that he was wondering how to get into McKay’s pants.
They didn’t bump into each other a lot when they were home at Atlantis and it made it easier to pretend that things were normal.
John hated it. He wanted to fix things. It was just that he had a feeling that he was the problem, and he wasn’t sure how to fix himself. In a non-suicidal way.
The few times they did bump into each other were uncomfortable conversations with a lot of mentions of the weather and John calling Rodney ‘Dr McKay’. He came to the conclusion that there had been a point where he’d started calling Rodney Rodney, but he seemed to have missed that one too.
The Christmas party stopped looming at the horizon and finally arrived, and it was really nice, even with the stuff between him and Rodney making his life a mess. It passed quietly, save for a jittery Ford who couldn’t sit still for more than two seconds before running to the kitchens in some foodish errand.
Teyla surprised him by giving him a present. She smiled at his expression that had to be looking pretty bemused. “Is this not customary? To exchange gifts?”
“Well, yes,” John looked down at the package that was wrapped more prettily than he ever managed to wrap anything, “but you really didn’t need to…” Where the hell had she gotten hold of wrapping paper anyway?
“But I have. Now open it.”
Never having been very patient in the opening of gifts, but not wanting to ruin the wrapping, he opened the package very patiently, considering that he was the one opening it. Nevertheless, ten seconds later he was staring down at an open box containing a football.
“How…I mean…Did you make this?”
Teyla actually laughed in delight. “Do you like it? Lieutenant Ford drew me a picture as I could not seem to get a clear image of it from your tape of American football.”
“I…” He shook his head, speechless. “This is…perfect.” He tore his eyes away and smiled at her. “Thank you.”
Teyla was still smiling widely, looking like her day, heck, her *week*, was made by John liking what she’d gotten him. Well, considering the time she must have spent on it, maybe it wasn’t so strange. It was that she had spent time on it that amazed John.
He rubbed his neck self-consciously. “I didn’t make you anything.”
Her smile didn’t falter. “That is fine, I do not need anything. This is not my holiday.”
“No, but I still got you something.” He pulled a small box from his pocket.
Teyla stared at him with wide eyes and there was a certain perverse pleasure in surprising her. “You did not need to.”
“But I did,” he smiled, mimicking her earlier words before growing serious again. “I know this can’t replace the one you lost, but…”
She stared, mesmerized, at the necklace she was pulling out of the box. “It is perfect,” she said in wonder.
She lifted her hair and let him put it around her neck, the close proximity allowing him to smell her hair. She smelled vaguely of cinnamon – she must have spent some time in the kitchen. She smiled at him again. “Thank you.”
It was the first time he’d hugged her, he mentally noted. This was probably an important turning point in their relationship, and he was damned if he was going to miss it.
A loud crash made them part as they both looked towards the source of the noise. Rodney was hastily making his way out of the room and in his hurry he’d accidentally knocked Dr Zelenka’s plate to the floor.
John looked back at Teyla, her face now serious. “Guess he got enough of the Christmas spirit,” he said lightly.
Teyla didn’t reply, but she squeezed his hand once, briefly.
The moment he became aware, he knew something was wrong. At first he couldn’t figure out why it was so dark and when he finally opened his eyes things still seemed rather murky.
Teyla’s concerned face came into his line of vision.
“Hey,” he said, surprised by the hoarseness of his voice. “You okay?”
Her smile didn’t erase the lines of worry around her eyes. “I am fine.”
He tried to nod and managed to wiggle his head slightly. “Good.”
“Do you remember what happened?”
Suddenly, McKay was there as well, looking at John for the first time in forever. John should have done whatever he’d done weeks ago. “How does he seem?”
“Like he can hear every word you’re saying,” John said dryly. “Where’s Ford?”
“Here, sir.” Ford’s blood streaked face joined the others. After a quick scan, John noticed with relief that there was just a small gash next to his hairline, but that Ford’d probably rubbed the blood around, making it seem more serious than it was. “I’ve set the charges.” He looked at Teyla. “Is he okay to be moved?”
“Lieutenant,” John said testily, not appreciating being left out of the loop, “care to tell me what happened?”
“Yes, sir,” Ford said agreeably. Too agreeably.
McKay was the one to speak next, however. “The ceiling caved in and everyone moved out of the way except you,” he said as though John was an idiot for getting in the way of the ceiling.
John frowned. “We’re in a cave?”
Rodney looked at him, then Teyla, sharply.
“We are in Atlantis,” Teyla said gently. “We were exploring part of the Western area and did not expect the condition of the buildings here to be as unstable as they are.”
John blinked and tried to look around. Things were less dark now, but still blurry.
“What do you see, Major?” Rodney asked sharply.
“Not a whole lot,” he confessed.
He did see enough to see the other three exchanging looks, and Ford mumbling something about explosives before standing and hurrying out of John’s line of sight.
“I will assist Lieutenant Ford,” Teyla said, smiling one last time at John before vanishing as well.
“What’s going on, McKay?” John said before Rodney got an idea that he should help the others as well.
“Ford is going to blow our way out,” he replied, looking away but glancing at John through the corner of his eye.
“He’s going to blow up a part of Atlantis?” Somehow the thought seemed sacrilegious.
“It’s a wall, Major,” Rodney said dryly, “I’m sure Atlantis won’t mind.”
“What happened to the door?”
“That would be buried behind the debris that didn’t land on your head.”
John blinked slowly. “Huh.”
Rodney looked at him with narrowed eyes. “How are you feeling?”
“Not so hot,” John admitted, closing his eyes as Rodney started spinning.
“Hang on; I’ll give you some more painkillers.”
“I’m on painkillers?” He resisted the urge to open his eyes and look at Rodney. Instead he felt Rodney’s warm hand press against his forearm before he was stung by the injection needle.
“I think you would be much less happy if you weren’t.”
John wiggled his head in another nod. “Good point.”
They were quiet for a while until the room stopped spinning and John could open his eyes for more than two seconds at the time.
“You want to know something funny?” John asked, staring up at what he supposed was the ceiling.
“Funny ha ha or funny interesting?”
John frowned. ”What?”
”Sorry, I forgot about the painkillers. Yes, Major, tell me something funny.”
“I kind of miss the bracelet.”
Rodney frowned. “That’s funny? It’s locked up in my lab if you want it.”
“No, I don’t miss the bracelet.”
“You just said that you did.”
“Yeah, but that wasn’t what I meant.”
“Then what did you mean?”
“I miss you coming onto me.”
John wiggled his head. “Yeah.”
Rodney was quiet for a long time, and when he spoke, he sounded completely normal, which made John suspicious. “Well, considering the circumstances, I think anyone would have enjoyed that kind of attention.”
John stared at Rodney. “I’m going to die, aren’t I?”
Rodney looked alarmed. “No! Why are you saying that?”
“Because you’re trying to make me feel better.”
Rodney looked hurt. “I can’t make you feel better?”
“I didn’t say that. It’s just not your usual behavior.”
Rodney’s mouth tightened. “Well, you know what? I take it back.”
John frowned. “Trying to make me feel better? You’re taking it back?”
“Yes,” Rodney said frostily. “You miss it because you’re easy.”
“I am not easy!” John exclaimed in outrage, turning his head to glare at Rodney.
“Oh please,” Rodney snorted, “didn’t what you just said prove that?”
“I didn’t enjoy you coming on to me because I’m easy, I enjoyed it because it was you.”
Rodney looked surprised. “Oh.”
“What does ‘oh’ mean?” John asked suspiciously.
“I’m not sure. I’ll get back to you.”
“Okay.” He considered that for a while. “Are you still taking it back? Cause I could use a little reassurance.”
“It bothers you that much?”
John shifted slightly, gritting his teeth as a stab of pain in his leg broke through the mist of painkillers. “No, but right now, any kind of reassurance would be nice.”
“You’re going to be fine, Major,” Rodney said softly. “Because I’m not done with you yet.”
As the following explosion made John’s ears ring, he wondered what that meant.
“Well, Major,” Dr Beckett said, and really, it wasn’t that he didn’t like the guy, but John had seen way too much of him lately, “your leg is fractured and you have a concussion, but other than that I have to say that you’ve been very lucky. I saw the rubble your team pulled you out of. You’re lucky you have a head left for me to treat.”
“Thank you, doctor, that’s comforting,” John said, only a little sarcastic. No use in agitating the one supposed to make you better, after all.
“How’s your vision?” He shone a light in John’s eyes.
“I’m going to keep you here for a couple of days to make sure the swelling goes down and that your sight is working as it should.” He smiled. “You’ll be as good as new in no time at all.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
“Aye, do that.” Beckett turned, about to walk away, when he seemed to remember something. “Oh! I’ve forgotten to tell you, in the rush of Rodney getting the bracelet off and you getting yourself in your usual heap of trouble.”
John ignored the obviously unfair accusation of him being a trouble magnet. “Forgotten to tell me what?”
“Rodney’s readings after he took the bracelet off are completely normal – or what constitutes as normal for Rodney, anyway,” he added as an afterthought.
“Well, that’s good, right?”
“Aye, that’s very good, but that’s not what I forgot to tell you. The tests I ran the day before the removal of the bracelet?”
“Yes?” John said warily, uncertain of where this was heading.
“They were identical to the results after the removal of the bracelet.”
“I’m sorry,” she said as she saw him, the door closing behind her, “I did not think anyone else was here.”
Dr McKay shrugged, not turning away from the view of the ocean. “It’s a free balcony. At least until the Wraith show up and slaughter us all.”
“You are in a good mood today,” she commented.
“I had a good breakfast.”
She nodded at his back and moved to stand beside him. The view was spectacular. The water stretched blue around Atlantis, seemingly without an end, the waves glittering white from the sun. She had never seen so much water in one place before arriving at here. “It is a beautiful day.”
Dr. McKay shrugged again.
“Do you wish me to leave?”
“No no, enjoy the view, but I think I’m going to go-“
She grabbed his arm as he started to turn. “I was not aware that I looked at you like last month’s garbage,” she blurted.
He looked surprised. “I-“
“And I know that I claimed that you did not talk to me, but after these last few days when you really have not, I believe that I was exaggerating. I know you and I have not always agreed on everything, but… I wish for us to become friends. I suppose I simply expected us to become that, with time if not effort. I did not mean to alienate you.”
Dr. McKay looked at her as though he had never seen her before. The expression on his face was unusually open and he almost seemed…vulnerable.
“I, um, well…I just…really?”
“Which part?” she asked in confusion.
“The friend part.”
She nodded. “Really.”
“I thought you hated me.”
“I do not,” she said firmly.
“Well,” he said, clearing his throat uncomfortably, “I don’t hate you either.”
“Really?” she said hopefully.
“Yeah. I mean, I was jealous…”
She frowned. “Jealous?”
“Yeah. You’re a very attractive woman – not that I want to be a woman,” he hastened to add and Teyla hid a smile. “You…just…you know what you want and you go for it. Not matter how impossible it seems.”
She tilted her head. “But you are the same.”
He smiled crookedly, looking away. “No, I’m really not. Trust me.”
She was at a loss at what to say. She had meant her earlier words of wanting friendship, but wanting to be friends and being friends were still not the same. Still, he was obviously troubled by something and if she could help… “I suppose,” she said thoughtfully, looking out over the ocean again, “it depends on how much you want it and what price you are willing to pay.”
He was silent for a moment and she could almost hear him thinking. There was something about McKay, something in the way he held himself, that just gave one the impression that his mind was constantly working. That feeling was even stronger now.
Finally, he spoke. “Yeah, I guess you have a point. You want to go for lunch?”
She accepted the change of subject and smiled at him. “Yes, I would like that.”
Maybe the step between wanting to be and being friends was not so big after all.
It was official. The reason he was the smartest man on Atlantis wasn’t just due to the fact that he was a genius; it was because he was surrounded by people who embraced incompetence as a life-style.
Okay, so Zelenka wasn’t too bad, he had his moments. He wasn’t as smart as Rodney, but then no one was.
But this, this made him long for Siberia. “Who wrote this coding right here? Come on now, don’t be shy, I’m sure there’s an award somewhere for stupidity.”
“I see you’re keeping yourself busy.” Major Sheppard’s slow drawl from right behind him caught him by surprise and he started.
Rodney spun around and stared at the Major’s face, his forehead only slightly marred by healing cuts. “Major! I didn’t know you’d been released from Carson’s clutches.”
The Major nodded thoughtfully. “It’s not easy knowing what’s going on in the infirmary when you’re not around there for a few days.”
Something about the Major’s expression made Rodney nervous. “Ah, yes, I meant to bring you your book, but things-“
“Came up?” The Major only sounded mildly curious as he picked up an energy reader from Rodney’s desk.
Rodney pulled it out of the Major’s hands. “Yes, things came up.”
“I see,” Major Sheppard said calmly and smiled at Rodney, something that only made Rodney more nervous. Something was up.
“Are you okay?” he asked warily.
The Major seemed to consider his question. “Well, I won’t be running anywhere soon,” he gestured down to his cast-incased leg and Rodney only now noticed the crutches propped up against the desk behind Major Sheppard.
Rodney made a face. “I’m sure you’ll be back to your old self in no time at all.”
Something flashed in the Major’s eyes but then he was smiling again, and really, freaking out was usually not the reaction Rodney had from the Major’s smiles. “Yes, getting back to normal does seem pretty easy around here.”
Rodney frowned, not sure what Major Sheppard was talking about, but nodded never the less. “They say a positive attitude is the key.”
“Really?” the Major drawled and warning bells went off in Rodney’s head. The trouble was, warning bells were always going off in Rodney’s head around the Major. He had a feeling these were different, but he had no idea why.
Before Rodney had a chance to reply, Major Sheppard continued. “Listen, I have a problem I could really use your help with. You think you could come to my quarters around five?” He flashed Rodney a smile again. “As I said, moving around isn’t really my best skill right now.”
“Um, sure,” Rodney said, the warning bells still blaring loudly.
“Good,” Major Sheppard said with feeling, slapping Rodney’s shoulder hard. “I’m glad I can count on you, Rodney.”
He gave one final smile then turned a bit awkwardly and picked up his crutches. Rodney watched his retreating back with the feeling that he was somehow in deep shit, but had no idea why.
He burst into the Major’s quarters without stopping to knock. “Sorry I’m late, but someone seemed to think that it was a brilliant idea to reroute the power from the internal sensors to-“
He broke off as his eyes caught sight of something in the Major’s hand. Major Sheppard was sitting on the edge of the bed, twisting and turning the bracelet around in his hands. He looked up, his face set in stone, and the door closed behind Rodney, even though he was still standing too close for it to normally do that.
The Major looked at him hard, and Rodney realized that this was what had seemed off with him in the lab, this was how his eyes had looked; hard and unflinching, even when he was smiling. “How long?”
Rodney swallowed. “How long what?”
Major Sheppard started to stand, slowly due to the cast, and faced Rodney. “Don’t play games with me, Rodney.”
“I’m not, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Rodney assured, although he pretty much did know.
The Major smiled without real emotion. “Okay, let me rephrase. How long did you think that my heart was some kind of toy that you could play around with?”
Rodney’s shoulders slumped. “It wasn’t like that.”
The Major’s eyebrows rose. “Oh, really. You just forgot to mention that little detail. I suppose it’s easy to forget to inform people when the alien bracelet they think is affecting your behavior stops working.”
Rodney looked away, guiltily. “I never meant for it to go that far.”
Sheppard nodded thoughtfully. “You just wanted to see how easy I was.”
Rodney’s eyes widened. “No! God, no!”
“Or make a complete fool of me.” He smiled cheerfully. “Well, congratulations, Rodney. I’d say the experiment was a complete success.”
“It wasn’t an experiment,” Rodney said, shaking his head.
“Then what was it, Rodney?” Finally, the Major’s face didn’t look like a mask anymore; the hurt there made Rodney’s throat tighten.
“I just…I just thought…” Rodney shook his head, eyes burning. “I thought it was the only shot I’d get.”
The Major’s smile was brittle. “Does it make you feel good? How close you came to getting to fuck me?”
Rodney released a shuddering breath. “God. It wasn’t about that.”
Major Sheppard’s eyebrows rose in disbelief.
“It wasn’t only about that,” Rodney rectified. “I mean…I’d be crazy not to want that.” He gestured vaguely towards the Major’s body. “But, it wasn’t just about that.”
“Then what was it about, Rodney?” the Major asked tiredly, hands hanging down at his sides and that beautiful fucking bracelet glinting maliciously at Rodney.
Rodney ran a hand over his head and realized with some surprise that it was shaking. “It was me being in love with you and then all of a sudden, there I was, wanting to please your every whim and desire. And you wouldn’t stop touching me so I thought that, hey, maybe if I pretend for a while longer, maybe he’ll want me as much as I want him. I was going to tell you,” he said suddenly, his mind changing tracks, “when I realized that you and Teyla…I was going to tell you. I just…I guess it was harder to give up than I thought. It was harder to give up the one excuse I had to touch you than I’d thought it would be. And,” he stared at the bracelet and couldn’t seem to let go of it with his eyes, “you were touching me back, and that was even harder to give up.”
The quiet seemed deafening after he stopped rambling and finally shut up. He couldn’t look at Major Sheppard’s face; he just kept his eyes fastened on the bracelet.
“How long?” the Major asked quietly, and this time Rodney didn’t pretend not to understand.
“Since Carson tried to remove it with the saw. It was like I was this different person, and then there was this incredible pain and when I opened my eyes, I was me again.”
“Rodney.” The Major threw the bracelet on the bed and feeling silly that he’d followed it with his eyes, Rodney looked at the Major’s face. He couldn’t read the expression there. “For someone who’s the smartest man on Atlantis, you’re pretty stupid.”
Rodney nodded in agreement. “Yes, I am, and I’m sorry, Major, I really am, I-“
“Rodney,” the Major sighed.
“Yes?” Rodney said fearfully.
“This is the part where you either take your clothes off, or help me off with mine.”
Rodney blinked. “I…what?”
The Major rolled his eyes. “Did it ever occur to you that there was a reason you almost got to fuck me?”
Rodney frowned. “No,” he said truthfully.
Major Sheppard waited patiently.
Rodney’s eyes widened. “Oh. Oh!” He started taking his jacket off.
“That’s the spirit,” the Major said approvingly. “And you can stop calling me ‘major’, you know.”
“Okay, no Major, right,” Rodney said, throwing his jacket on the floor before strong hands grabbed the front of this shirt and tugged him forward.
The hot mouth against his felt even better than he remembered and he moaned as John licked his way into Rodney’s mouth. He broke away for a moment, tugging at the hem of John’s t-shirt. “What about Teyla?”
“What *about* Teyla?”
“I though you and her were…you know.”
John paused in opening Rodney’s pants and Rodney wished he’d just kept his mouth shut. “You have a dirty mind, Rodney.” He said it almost fondly.
“Hey, I wasn’t the one who had my hands all over her at the Christmas party!” Rodney objected indignantly.
“It’s called hugging. Look it up some day, I hear normal people do it on regular basis."
Rodney thought about that. “Did you just insult me or yourself?”
“Who cares, can we get back to the taking off our clothes part?”
“Hmm. Okay.” He tugged John’s t-shirt over John’s head then paused again. “Hey, does this mean that you’re smarter than me?”
John’s smile was lazy and sexy and happy. “Absolutely.”
Rodney snorted. “You wish.”
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