Date: January 23, 2007
Summary: Rodney realizes he’s in love with John and needs the help of an unusual matchmaker.
Spoiler: Tag for “Common Ground”
Archive: Area 52, anyone else, ask
As Dr. Rodney McKay watched over Elizabeth Weir’s shoulder, a sense of horror ran through his body. Watching the Wraith feed on John Sheppard at Koyla’s order, Rodney felt a swirl of emotions. Pain, fear, hatred, worry, concern, love, nausea ….
Rodney blinked. Love? What? No. He shook his head to clear it. He closed his eyes. He was tired. And worried. Yes, that was it. He was worried. About John. No. About Colonel Sheppard. Fuck.
Rodney watched in frustration. There was nothing he could do. No gadgets to puzzle out. No computer programs to decipher. No bombs to build. Not even any aliens to fight. That was the worst part of it. All he could do is watch.
As the transmission shut down, Rodney’s brain shut down. He didn’t want to think about what he saw – much less think about what he had thought. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, in tiredness and in frustration. Love? What the hell was he thinking. He must be tired.
At least he could do something when they finally got information from the Genii leader, Ladon Radim, to compare that information against the gate addresses they had from the planet where John – fuck, Colonel Sheppard – had been taken from.
Then on that wild goose chase on that planet, Rodney shot at a rodent. Well, it was a big rodent. Or he thought it was. But the act of shooting brought home how much he had changed in coming to Atlantis. He was a scientist who carried a gun. And – well mostly – knew how to use it. All due to John Sheppard. John had made him more than he was. John believed in Rodney – not in Dr. McKay – in Rodney. And now Rodney was in love with John Sheppard. And he didn’t know what to do about it.
After they got John back from Kolya, Rodney retreated to his lab. Two nights of lying awake trying to think and not to think made Rodney a wreck. Fortunately, Rodney didn’t need to save Atlantis during that time. He was too busy trying to save himself.
Radek Zelenka noticed. “Rodney, stop thinking and think, for heaven’s sake,” he said.
Rodney looked at Zelenka and said, “That’s brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?”
Zelenka looked back, mystified. “Rodney. What are you talking about?”
“I’m brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?” Rodney replied. “I’m a genius!” Rodney waved his hands in the air.
“Yes, Rodney,” Zelenka said patiently. “You tell us that all the time. It’s old news.” He looked closely at Rodney. “Are you okay?” There was serious concern in his voice.
Rodney looked at Zelenka and said, “Yes. I’ll be fine. Now go away and bother someone else.”
Relieved that Rodney was closer to normal, Zelenka left. Once he was alone, Rodney threw himself into a new science project. Himself and John Sheppard. Was he in love with John Sheppard? And, even more importantly, was John Sheppard even faintly interested in being in love with him.
Rodney threw himself into his project. He laid out a plan to gather empirical evidence. He started a project log to track the results. He didn’t want to think of it as a diary. That was too girl-ly.
So he noted what John – not Colonel Sheppard – said. What he did. What they did together. What they did as a team. How John reacted to casual touches. Whether John reacted to casual touches. Whether John touched him. What happened when he sat close to John in Elizabeth’s meetings. What happened when he sat further away from John in Elizabeth’s meetings.
Two weeks later, Rodney realized it was hopeless. Well, he was hopeless. Hopelessly in love. He was happier around John. He was unhappy when John wasn’t around. He was unhappiest when he couldn’t do things John expected him to do. Rodney sat in his room and put his head in his hands. He didn’t know what to do about it. He had no evidence that John more than liked him. His only consolation was that John didn’t dis-like him.
But he was a genius. He needed to think of something. So he thought. And came up with nothing. Wait! He was a genius.
Rodney needed to ask some questions and it would be delicate. He couldn’t just come out and ask “Do you know if John Sheppard is in love with me?” He needed to be both discrete and convincing. He worked for days on the exact phrasing he would use.
He was nervous. This was something he hadn’t done very often. And only reluctantly before this. So he approached it with trepidation. He went to ask his question one afternoon when he knew no one else would be around.
He came back close to dinner time with his answer. Not one he expected, but one that he thought might work. Rodney had been surprised by the response he had gotten to his questions. He was humbled by the experience. It was a feeling Rodney was not familiar with, yet… this time… it was….liberating. And a relief. He went to bed that night and slept soundly, something he had not done in a long time.
Rodney spent two days spent further exploring the answer to his question and then gathering up some things he wanted to have on hand. Then he was ready. The next day after dinner, he stopped John and said, “Colonel, do you have some time this evening? I have something I’d like you to check out with me.” It was casual. Like anything he had asked of John before. There was no indication that what he was asking was anything more or less important than any other discussion they had previously.
“Give me a bit?” Sheppard replied. While he didn’t do a lot of paperwork, there were some things he needed to do before Weir nagged at him again. And Rodney didn’t sound too immediately desperate.
“Not a problem,” replied Rodney. “I’ll be in the lab when you’re free.” Rodney nodded good evening to those around the dinner table and meandered back to the lab. He really did have things he could do. Not that he would do anything. He was too nervous to do anything important. What he was doing required him to focus.
John wandered over to Rodney’s lab when the minimal amount of paperwork to keep Weir happy was done. “What’s up?” he asked Rodney.
“I have something you need to see. You have an hour or so?” Rodney asked.
“For you, Rodney? All the time you need,” John said.
“Okay then. Come with me,” Rodney said. They walked to an area of Atlantis that wasn’t generally used by the expedition.
“Where are we going?” John asked. He was curious. Rodney wasn’t usually this mysterious. Or this quiet.
“Five minutes. Trust me,” Rodney said. And John, being John, trusted Rodney. They walked together in silence through the halls of Atlantis.
“Is this an inhabited section?” John asked, curious. It wasn’t that far from some of the living quarters, but it wasn’t being used for anything currently.
“It’s on the edge of the section we’ve cleared for living space,” Rodney said. But when he didn’t elaborate, John looked at him quizzically. It wasn’t like Rodney to give him less than a full explanation of everything.
Rodney came to a door in a long-ish stretch of corridor. It was quiet and they were the only ones around. Rodney opened the door and said, “Come in. Tell me what you think.”
John followed him. He walked into a medium size room that looked like a pretty standard room. It needed furniture but since it was larger than most of the rooms they were using for living space that did make it different. There were two obvious doors, one on each side, but he could sense a third door. It was an almost-hidden door. It could be anything. “So?” he asked Rodney, with a raised eyebrow. “It’s a room.”
“Ah! But it’s a special room,” replied Rodney. “You see the hidden door, I would hope.”
So there was something behind door number three! “Yes,” John replied cautiously.
“No, it’s not anything dangerous. I’ve been in there. But,” Rodney hesitated, “you go in.” Rodney indicated the hidden door.
“Rodney…… what are you up to?” John asked suspiciously. This wasn’t like Rodney.
“Okay, if you must know, you need to go in first to get the full effect. It’s….. well…. It’s special,” Rodney said with a bit of asperity in his voice.
Okay, that was better, John thought. That was more like Rodney. John moved to the door and reached out to open it. He had only to bring his hand close to the sensor for it to open for him. He grinned at Rodney.
Rodney was too nervous to grin back. “Go on,” he encouraged. He motioned for John to go into the room.
John went through the door and stopped just past the doorframe. “Rodney! How… what…” he turned to look at Rodney. “How did you find this?”
While it was obviously designed by the Ancients to be personal living space, it was larger than what they were using on the other side of the city. It was on an outside wall of a tower with a balcony. And a skylight. The sun was just setting and the view over the ocean was amazing. Rodney could see the light in John’s eyes as he took in the view. The natural light made the room attractive and comfortable at the same time. Rodney let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. So far, so good.
“In… in….” he shoo’d John fully into the room and followed him in. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” Rodney asked quietly. Neither heard the door close behind them.
John walked out to the balcony. “How did you find this?” He turned around to look at Rodney and finally looked at the rest of the room. It was obviously a bedroom. But with something that looked closer to a king size bed… seriously larger than the single beds they had in the living space the expedition was using. John stepped back into the room and turned a full circle, looking over the entire room. He knew there were closets behind couple of panels. And more doors, one on each side of the room -- leading somewhere else.
John stood still and looked closely at Rodney. “Rodney?”
“Well, I had this problem. And despite my best efforts, and I am good, you know, I couldn’t get a reliable answer. I even kept track of evidence but couldn’t get a clear result. So I needed to ask for some help,” Rodney all but babbled.
“Rodney. Stop,” John commanded. “Who did you ask? And what kind of help did you need?” You didn’t come to me….
“I…..” Rodney swallowed. “I asked Atlantis.” In remembering, he almost lost his nerve. He had gone to the control chair with a clearly defined query about discrete living space. Where maybe he and John could live together and not flaunt don’t-ask-don’t-tell too boldly. But, somehow, for some reason, the city had asked questions back. The clear-eyed scientist was lost to the man and Rodney had found himself pouring his soul out to the city. In one brief moment the city had given Rodney this location…. And its blessing. That was totally unexpected and he was humbled by the approval. They both loved John and they both wanted him to be happy. Rodney hoped Atlantis knew something he wasn’t quite so sure of.
John went still. “You asked Atlantis?” he asked surprised.
Rodney nodded. He couldn’t look away and John wasn’t giving him anything. With John’s back to the setting sun, his face was in darkness and John’s body language was giving Rodney no hope. Rodney’s heart was breaking. He had probably just ruined the best friendship he ever had in his life. That.. that almost would have been enough. He looked at the floor and closed his eyes. Rodney said, “I’m not good at this…. I’m sorry. I… I don’t know…. I wasn’t sure….” He trailed off. He waited for John to laugh at him. And if he had to, Rodney would laugh it off and go on. Being near John would have to be enough. Rodney didn’t know he radiated misery in palpable waves.
“Rodney,” came a soft voice from very close. A hand came under his chin to raise his head. Rodney melted into the touch and opened his eyes. To see John inches away. Hope flared. John used the hand under Rodney’s chin to pull him closer and leaned in for a kiss.
That first kiss was warm and sweet. It was slow, almost chaste. John brushed his lips across Rodney’s. He pulled back infinitesimally and Rodney leaned in to continue the contact. John brushed his thumb under Rodney’s lower lip and put his other hand at Rodney’s waist to pull him closer. Rodney moved his hands to John’s shoulders and held on like a drowning man.
The kiss deepened. Rodney opened his mouth to John’s probing tongue. Rodney tasted John… warmth and confidence had a taste all its own. They tasted and touched… John drew back and Rodney almost whimpered at the loss. But John moved to taste more…. the edge of Rodney’s jaw…. the skin behind his ear. Rodney was lost in the sensation.
With a nibble on Rodney’s ear, John breathed, “What did you ask Atlantis? What did she tell you?”
Lost in the sensation, Rodney said, “She approves of us… she’s happy that I love you… she wants us to be happy…..” As John stopped, Rodney brain caught up with his mouth. No-o-o-o……
Rodney forced himself to look at John. He leaned back, without letting go. He was suddenly resolved that he wasn’t going to lose this one easily. He had come too close to lose now. “I asked Atlantis for somewhere we could live… together… in spite of your damned military rules. There are two pretty nice bedrooms off the common room. This room is hidden to everyone but you and me. She set it up that way.” He grinned ruefully. “She really does approve. Of us.” Rodney paused for a beat. “We don’t want to disappoint her now, do we?”
John hadn’t moved. That was good, Rodney thought. Well, he hadn’t left, anyways. And he hadn’t taken his hands off Rodney. That was better. Rodney let him be for a moment.
“You asked Atlantis?” John repeated.
“Well, there weren’t too many others I could ask,” Rodney said, pragmatically. “You were no help and it’s not like I could ask Elizabeth. I was afraid to ask Teyla, you know. She probably would have told me I was an idiot. For not doing this sooner, I suspect.”
John put his forehead on Rodney’s shoulder. Rodney had to take that as a good sign. John still wasn’t moving away, anyways. And he still had his hands on Rodney. That was an excellent sign. Rodney waited.
“You asked Atlantis!” John said, amazed. Rodney breathed a sigh of relief. That was even better. “And she approves?” That was asked with a sense of curiosity.
“Yes, she does,” Rodney said. And leaned in to nibble on John’s neck. “We both love you.”
“Rodney, you’re a genius,” John said raising his head from Rodney’s shoulder, despite the feelings going up and down his spine from what Rodney was doing to him. He kissed Rodney. Only this time it wasn’t chaste, it was demanding. It was giving and taking…. bodies pressed together… melded together as one. Rodney no longer knew where he ended and John started. Tongues dueled as the kiss deepened and hands moved. They touched and shifted together.
“Skin…” Rodney breathed at one point. “I need to…” but he couldn’t finish the thought. But there was no need for more words at that point. John grasped Rodney’s shirt and pulled it over his head as Rodney pulled John’s shirt out of his pants and over his head. The loss of contact was minimal but felt like hours. The kiss came back together. They toed off their shoes while they touched. John reached down and unbuttoned Rodney’s pants as Rodney undid his. The kiss never broke. They pushed the pants and the shorts down and there was then nothing but skin and touching and feeling.
They fell together on to the bed. John mentally thanked the city for the bed and the room and almost lost it altogether when he felt approval back from the city. Rodney’s touch brought him back.
The first time was hard and fast. John reached between them and put his hand on Rodney. It was silk and smoothness and hardness. Rodney arched at the touch. That was enough to drive John over the edge.
Rodney came down slowly. He held on to John as they both came back to awareness. “Oh. God,” Rodney said. He kissed John slowly and sloppily. “You are so…..”
John felt Rodney focus on him. He had seen Rodney focus on problems before. It was an amazing experience to have all that focus be on him. He kissed Rodney back. It was a return to the sweetness. But it was shared. It was comfortable. It was secure. They touched and explored…gently and with more time.
John didn’t know when he fell asleep but he felt Rodney draw up sheets and cover them both. He settled in, with his arms wrapped around Rodney and his head on Rodney’s chest. They slept.
Sunrise was on the other side of the city, but the growing daylight reflected into the room. Rodney became aware of John sprawled across the bed, but not leaving his side. John’s lay face down on the bed with one arm lying across Rodney and his head on Rodney’s shoulder.
“Not a dream,” John said in a sleep drugged voice. He snuggled closer, tightening his grip on Rodney.
“Not a dream,” Rodney affirmed, ghosting a kiss on the top of John’s head.
This time was slow. It was exploration…. “Yes”…. “Oh, yes” … It was touching and feeling and learning and enjoying. John collapsed on top of Rodney and said, “I may never move again.”
All Rodney could manage was “mmmm” – words were beyond his capability at the moment. He didn’t want John to move.
As the sun rose further, John stirred. “We need to go.” But he didn’t really move.
Rodney murmured, “Took care of that.”
That made John move. He propped himself up to look at Rodney. “Rodney, what did you do?” he asked suspiciously.
Rodney grinned. “While I wasn’t sure how last night would go, I…well…I left a program that if I didn’t make it back to my room last night it would send Elizabeth a message from you and Zelenka a message from me that we had spent the night working on an artifact that I had found and would working through the day on it. And since it might be delicate, but we were pretty sure it wasn’t dangerous, to call only in an emergency.”
“You did, did you?” John asked, lazily. “I suppose you hacked my account ages ago.”
“Didn’t have to hack it. That’s a pretty pathetic password, you know,” Rodney smirked.
“There bathrooms in this place?” John asked.
“Oh, yes,” Rodney said. “There are bathrooms. Wait until you see…. Each bedroom has a different style bathroom. I was going to let you pick…”
John gave Rodney a quick kiss. “This I gotta check out,” he said getting out of the bed. He padded to one end of the room. Rodney thought about that bathroom and decided it was worth getting up for. Besides, he did have to piss.
“Did you ask for showers, too?” John asked. The shower was triple the size of the ones in their current living space. It obviously had multiple shower heads.
“No. That was a bonus,” Rodney replied. “The other bathroom has an oversized tub that looks like it has a whirlpool. I didn’t want to try it… umm…. alone.” He had thought about sharing the tub and the shower with John and couldn’t bring himself to use them if things didn’t work out.
“Well, we could try the shower…” John mused. And the grin he gave made Rodney’s heart lurch. “…and then the tub.”
After trying both, they ended up back in the bed. “How long are we good for?” John asked.
“Probably most of the day,” Rodney told him, drawing lazy hieroglyphics on John’s back with his free hand. “Might have to surface for dinner. Unless you’re willing to survive on power bars until tomorrow.”
“Mmmm. Might. But you need to eat more than that,” John said. “Can’t have you falling apart on me now, you know.” Rodney needed regular meals to keep his hypoglycemia under control. John had been paying more attention to Rodney’s eating than Rodney had noticed.
Rodney hesitated but his natural impulsiveness forced him to ask, “I don’t understand, you know. I mean, not that I don’t like what’s happened, but you weren’t surprised. You…you could have anyone. And me… you and me, that is…..” He ran out of words.
“Oh, I don’t know about that. You and me. Seems pretty natural to me,” John grinned. “Been waiting for you for a long time, you know. Figured you’d come around at some point. Haven’t wanted just anyone, just wanted you.”
Rodney just looked. If John had known talking to Rodney about his feelings like this would make him pay attention, he might have given into the temptation and said something long ago. But this was worth the wait. Rodney was worth the wait.
“How long?” Rodney finally asked. John waited for him?
John shifted and looked uncomfortable. “Well, since Chaya,” John said to Rodney’s surprise. He saw Rodney’s eyes narrow. “Sorry. But she’s the one who told me that I really wasn’t interested in her, that I wanted you.” Rodney’s eyes lost that haunted look that John always saw when any reference to Chaya was made. “And she told me that things would work out and to wait.” John moved in closer to Rodney. “Took longer than I thought, is all.”
Rodney snorted. “Couple of odd matchmakers we have here. An ascended Ancient and a city,” he said. “If this was anywhere but the Pegasus galaxy….”
Just then, one of their headsets came to life. Rodney reached blindly to the table beside the bed where they had left their headsets. He identified the one that had chimed and handed it to John, “It’s for you.”
John sighed and put the headset on. They had been lucky to have this much time together. “Yes?”
“Colonel? Just wondering if you and Dr. McKay are alright and if you’ll be joining us any time soon,” came Elizabeth Weir’s voice over the radio. “I didn’t want to disturb anything but when we hadn’t heard anything from you….” She trailed of delicately.
“Sorry, Rodney’s been working on this thing all day and not sure if he’s done with it yet. Me? I still think it’s a toaster but you know Rodney,” John put the right amount of frustration and fondness into that remark that Weir was disarmed.
“Not a problem, but if it’s not desperate, I do have some things that need doing,” she replied. “And you have a mission scheduled tomorrow.”
“Didn’t forget. Getting Rodney to finish up here so I can get a decent night’s sleep tonight,” John told her.
“Fine. Let me know if you need anything,” Weir said. “Stop by and tell me about it when you have a chance.”
“Sure,” John agreed. “Anything else?”
“No. Been quiet so you picked a good time to do this,” Weir said.
“Okay. Sheppard out,” John said. He put the communicator back on the table. Since he had to reach across Rodney to do so, he stopped for a kiss on his way back.
“A toaster?” Rodney said, amused.
John shrugged. “I suspect you have something better ready,” John said. “Or it can be a bust, for all the difference it makes.”
“I was thinking that it would be something we didn’t get to finish and might have to go back for later,” Rodney said speculatively. “I do have something that we can take back, though.” He grinned to himself.
John eyed Rodney and said, “What?” When he got no answer, he said, “Come on. Tell me….” But Rodney firmly refused to tell him. Rodney put his hands and mouth to use to distract John and soon had him panting, “Rodney!”
The sun was coming in the window again when John sighed. “We should go.”
Rodney leaned in and whispered, “But we could use that shower once more….” in a suggestive voice and licked behind John’s ear.
John moaned. “You’re going to be the death of me yet,” he said.
“Ah, but what a way to go,” Rodney breathed. He rolled out of the bed and moved toward the bathroom with the shower. “Which room do you want, by the way? Unless you’re desperately interested otherwise, I’ll take the room with the tub. It’ll be good for my back once in a while to soak in a hot tub,” he said.
John had to repress the thought of what they had done in that tub. Relaxing really hadn’t been part of it. And to have it available all the time….. He cheered up at the thought. “How are we going to justify moving over here?” he asked Rodney.
“Thought I’d sell Elizabeth on some of the other rooms on the hall. These are really the best with this room, but she’ll be more than happy with any of the others since they are larger than what she’s currently using,” Rodney explained. “The single rooms we have can be turned into space for those coming in and out. The Daedalus crew if they want space off the ship or for any short term visitors. Or even just new folk before they decide they want to stay. This section is for those of us who have decided this is home.”
Home. That was a nice thought. “And since you and I seem to spend a lot of time chasing after each other for various tasks, it’s just easier to share a suite,” John put in. “And the common room is like a living room where Teyla and Ronan can stop in to visit.”
Rodney smiled brightly, “Knew you were bright. One of the things I love about you.” It was easier to say now.
For that smile, John would live in a hovel with Rodney. He followed Rodney into the shower.
As they were ready to leave, they stood on the balcony for a moment. John reached out and said, “Come here,” and wrapped his arms around Rodney. They stood that way, enjoying the closeness.
“I’m spoiled you know,” Rodney said. “Having you to myself.” Going back was going to be hard.
“But we get to come back here soon,” John promised. “And someday…” That he did shy away from. He didn’t want to think that far ahead.
“In the meantime, you look much too smug for someone who’s not had much sleep that I’ve been slave-driving all night,” Rodney said. “I hope dinner is almost over when we get there and we don’t run into too many people.” Not until he had time to adjust, anyways.
“Teyla and Ronan will figure it out,” John warned.
“No problem there. Like I said before, Teyla will probably ask us what took so long,” Rodney replied. “And Ronan’s cool.” He shot a glance at John. “But don’t tell him I said that.”
John had to laugh. “No, I don’t think I will.” He looked around, “Ready?”
Rodney opened a panel and handed John a device that was sitting there. “Here. We need something to take back, and this is it.”
John took the device and studied it for a moment. He started to laugh, “It is a toaster!”