Warnings/Spoilers: Minor casting spoiler for season 5
Length: 1500 words
Summary: For the McSheplets Challenge #24: Little Things -- Someone is leaving coffee for Rodney in his lab.
A/N: This isn't what I started out to write and how it came to 1500 words, I dunno.... Oh, I suppose there should be a sap warning here, too..... *g*
Picking up the coffee cup to take a drink as the computer ran his simulation, Rodney almost didn't give it a second thought until after he had taken a sip that it was hot. At best, it should have been stone cold. Looking at the hot coffee in his hand, he thought back and remembered finishing the previous cup. In fact, the pot had been empty and he had made a almost-forgotten mental note to get more grounds from storage.
Rodney looked around the empty lab. The dinging from the computer of the simulation finishing up drew Rodney's attention away from the mystery of the coffee and he finished the cup absentmindedly. By morning he had forgotten about it entirely.
He remembered it a couple of weeks later when the same thing happened. Reaching for his coffee cup, it was again hot. When it should have been empty.
"Huh," he said to himself. "What the hell..." Not that he was ungrateful, but Rodney's curiosity was now piqued. He moved to another computer and brought up the security feed for the lab area.
"Okay, that's not right," he muttered a few minutes later when the security feed showed a gap in the recording for the lab and the immediate corridor outside the lab. Rodney sat back and tapped his fingers on the tabletop. Zelenka could do this in his sleep but would have done a more elegant job of it. Only a small handful of his staff and a couple of Sheppard's Marines had access to the security feeds because -- hello? -- security feeds.
He should have been paranoid about someone leaving him coffee but the last cup hadn't hurt him and he took a cautious sip. Mmmm.... the good stuff.... he'd have to find whoever this was just for their stash of coffee.
The next morning, Rodney cornered John at breakfast. "Someone's been messing with the security feed in my lab," he announced.
John stopped eating his -- Rodney looked, was that Fruit Loops? -- cereal and looked at Rodney with an odd look on his face. "Are you sure?" he asked.
Rodney gave him patented are-you-that-stupid look number fourteen. John took it well and had the grace to shrug, "Okay, you're sure. What happened?"
"There's two incidents in the last couple of weeks. I was working alone in the lab and suddenly there's a hot cup of coffee for me in the lab!" Rodney announced.
John sat back in his chair and looked at Rodney in amazement. "Wait. You're worried because someone brought you coffee?"
"Well, now that you put it that way....." Rodney hesitated. "But, the lab security..."
"You're right," John replied easily. "Can't have something happening to you, now, can we?" At Rodney's enthusiastic nod, John went on, "Because they might leave you tea next time!" He grinned.
Rodney shuddered. "Ew-w-w... well, you have to stop that from happening," Rodney countered with a laugh. Then sobered, "We have enough problems without a security hole in the labs, Colonel. We need to find out who has been doing this."
John looked down at his now-soggy cereal. "Ummm... let me look into it quietly?" he offered hesitantly. "We don't want to scare someone off with a witch hunt."
Rodney huffed, "If you're sure that's the way you want to approach this?"
"Well, if it's someone with access already, they'll be aware of what we're doing," John expanded. "If it's someone without access already, then we certainly don't want to spook whoever it is into hiding. And heaven only knows what Woolsey will do if he finds out." They both shuddered at that thought. Woolsey wasn't bad, but.... well, he was Woolsey.
Rodney was reluctant to let John do this but he had several projects going in the lab and they had a mission in two days. Normally he'd argue to have Zelenka do the work but he was already working on a major 'Jumper project that was taking all of his time. Since the only real damage was scoring some good coffee, Rodney was willing to leave this to John for the moment. "Okay, but keep me in the loop?" Rodney asked.
"Sure," John replied. "Listen, I gotta..." He waved a hand in the direction of his office.
"Go, practice your Tiger Woods Golf," Rodney teased.
That night, John called ahead on the radio as Rodney worked in his lab, "Rodney? Coming your way."
Mystified, Rodney answered, "Sure." He was further mystified when John brought hot coffee.
Shrugging, John offered, "Well, thought maybe if I brought you coffee it would keep your mystery person away."
Rodney could see him trying to be casual about it but there was a layer of ... something ... underneath the usual care-free air John normally projected. Tilting his head in thought, Rodney suddenly snapped his fingers, "Wait! Maybe... nah..." He stopped.
"Maybe what, Rodney?" John quizzed.
Rodney looked down at the coffee in his hands. "Maybe it was someone looking to get my attention..." he trailed off.
John shuffled his feet before answering, "Why would they do it anonymously, then?"
"I don't know," Rodney sighed, deflated.
"Well, don't stay too late," John told him as he left the lab.
A couple of weeks later, Rodney was still confused. When they weren't out on a mission or it wasn't a team movie night, John would bring him coffee and there were no more missing security footage. John wouldn't stay long, just long enough to give Rodney the coffee, always with an admonishment not to stay too late.
In the general chaos of life in Pegasus, the coffee mystery became a small part and Rodney soon had bigger mysteries on his plate.
Working one night on some delicate electrical equipment and crystals, Rodney had taken off and turned off his headset to prevent interference. He had some suspicions on how this piece of equipment worked and if he was right..... He froze. There next to the computer was a hot cup of coffee.
"Got you!" he snarled. He opened the video recorder he had set up on the laptop weeks ago. Being only on the laptop and not on the network, no one else would even know the recording was happening. He opened the file and his eyes opened wide in amazement.
"You!" he stormed. "You bastard! What the hell were you doing?" Rodney stormed into John's room, panting slightly from his rush to get to the residential area of the city. "You... Looking into the missing security footage, my ass."
Sitting on his bed, John swung his feet to the floor but stayed where he was. "I.... well," John stuttered, rubbing one hand on the back of his neck. "Sorry." The last was so soft Rodney barely heard it.
Taking a deep breath to steady himself, Rodney stopped long enough to take a good look at his friend. Rodney had seen that defensive posture too many times in his own mirror -- something else was going on here.
"John?" Rodney softened his voice. "Talk to me?"
About the time Rodney was going to give up and bully the other man, John said in the direction of the floor, "Well, maybe.... maybe someone was looking to get your attention...." John sighed. "Sorry. I didn't mean to...." He waved a hand in a vague gesture that could have meant almost anything but Rodney interpreted it as something resembling didn't want to annoy you.
"Okay, now I have to sit down," Rodney decided. Taking advantage of the situation, Rodney sat next to John on the bed. "You?" Rodney asked with a hint of skepticism in his voice.
John nodded, not looking up.
"Really?" This time Rodney couldn't hide the happiness.
Rodney could see John taking a sideways glance at him. "Yes?" John answered softly.
It came out more hesitantly than Rodney would have liked. Being Rodney, he pressed, "You? And me? Really?" He bumped against John's shoulder.
This time Rodney could see John roll his eyes, "Rodney!" It was the stop it and behave tone John occasionally used when they were on missions and Rodney was doing something stupid in front of the natives.
Taking that for a "Yes," Rodney turned his shoulders to face John, reached around to bring John to face him and leaned in for a kiss -- only to find John leaning in, too. Rodney tilted his head and then there were lips, smooth and almost sweet... the taste of John.....
"Mmmprhh," Rodney mumbled. "What time is it?"
"Early," John answered. Rodney focused enough to see that John was dressed in sweats. "I'm going running with Ronon. Go back to sleep." A soft kiss.
Rodney wanted to reach out and drag John back to bed but sleep was dragging him back down. "M'kay..." he mumbled as he felt sleep reclaim him.
He could feel John's smile, "I'll bring you coffee."