Disclaimer: Written for entertainment purposes only. No money, no sue.
Summary:John Sheppard doesn't do confrontation. Luckily, Rodney McKay does.
“Why have I been transferred to Lorne’s team?”
Elizabeth looked up and then her eyes quickly skipped away. Rodney caught the way they kept straying to the weird little pot Sheppard gave her for her birthday and he huffed in annoyance. “Oh my god, never mind,” he grated and stomped back out of her office the very same way he’d stomped in.
John had been acting decidedly odd for the past few weeks and Rodney was at a loss as to what was going on. Their easy friendship, probably the best in his life Rodney would never admit to anyone else, had seemed to evaporate overnight and he was left with this weird, awkward, jiggy person whenever he and Sheppard were in each other’s proximity.
The late night research sessions had stopped, the gorging on popcorn and movies had stopped… everything had stopped. Rodney couldn’t pinpoint exactly when he’d ceased regarding John Sheppard as the aloof military commander of Atlantis and had started thinking, okay if he had to be honest, caring about him as a friend, but he certainly could nail down exactly when it had all… well.
Three weeks, four days and going on seven hours and eleven minutes now.
What was worse was that Rodney couldn’t seem to locate John whenever they weren’t involved in anything official. Missions they really didn’t get time to chat and meetings John had suddenly become Houdini, mysteriously materialising right when they were due to start and vanishing the moment they finished.
And now this.
Rodney stormed his way to John’s quarters and finding them empty, stormed to his office. This was also John-free and now Rodney ambled, because he was getting tired, towards the gym. Lorne was inside one of the sparring rooms, hunkered over and doing up his boots when Rodney arrived.
“Did he tell you why?” Rodney demanded and Lorne raised his head, an eyebrow going up in confusion.
“Did who tell me why what?” he asked with a smirk and Rodney flung up his hands.
“You’re useless!” he exclaimed and barrelled back out of the room, ignoring Lorne’s, “Hey!” of protest behind him. Rodney next tried the cafeteria but it was empty save some of his own people that should have been working rather than scarfing pudding and after he’d yelled at them for a few minutes and chased them back to the labs, he was tapped.
John wasn’t a hard guy to figure out and besides eating, sleeping and exercising, there wasn’t much else he did.
Rodney made the jumper bays in record time, slowing when he noticed John’s favourite, although how anyone could tell the difference between them Rodney would never know, was hooked up to the maintenance cables and had wiring and panels strewn all about it. Rodney was about to visit some righteous fury on whoever thought it was okay to just start disassembling such a delicate piece of equipment when he recognised the boots sticking out from under the main body. One of the weapon bays was propped open and there was the heavy bass sound of something decidedly rock-country pouring out from a portable stereo perched atop the jumper.
Rodney crossed to it, flicked the music off and heard a loud bang followed by a curse.
“Turn it back on!” John snapped from somewhere inside the underbelly of the jumper and when Rodney just kicked his boot in response, John scrambled out looking mussed and annoyed, right up until he noticed who it was. “Oh, hey.”
“Don’t oh hey me!” Rodney screeched, jabbing fingers into the place where John’s neck met his collar bone and John flinched backwards. “You can’t just transfer me like I mean nothing!”
“What?” John blinked, looking confused. “Calm down. I can’t understand when you’re all flappy.”
“And don’t tell me to calm down,” Rodney said, jabbing John again and again until he’d backed him into the side of the jumper. “I’m not sure what’s going on in that head of yours but obviously the roots of your hair have finally taken over. You’re not going to get away with just deciding you don’t like me anymore and getting rid of me.”
“I…” Rodney was slowing down because John was looking a strange mix of embarrassed, mortified and befuddled. He was jabbing less hard at least and when he finally stopped, John brought a hand up and rubbed the place Rodney’s fingers had been almost absently. “I didn’t transfer you.”
“What?” Rodney blinked. He was starting to feel the faint stirrings of embarrassment. If the whole thing had just been in his mind… but no. He’d definitely gotten a redirection from their normal place for their pre-briefing, Sheppard’s office, to Major Lorne’s.
“I transferred me,” John said, and he was looking so glum that Rodney was at a loss. “Well, actually, technically Major Lorne and I just swapped. I’m taking his team from now on.”
“What?” Rodney spluttered. “Why?”
Mortification was back on John’s face and Rodney found it ultimately fascinating and endearing. He had known John quite a while now and he knew it took a lot to fluster him. John, at the moment, was well and truly flustered.
“It’s just better this way.”
“Did you have a fight with Ronon?” Rodney asked, snapping his fingers. “Or Teyla? It was Teyla wasn’t it? The whole non-use of contractions finally got to you or the fact that she can kick your ass?”
“No, it was definitely you,” John said, looking up finally, his eyes narrowed, almost challenging. Rodney suddenly realised what he was doing. Make me tell you, John was practically begging.
A clang somewhere off the left had both Rodney and John turning their heads and Rodney hadn’t realised how close they were until he felt the brush of John’s hair on his forehead when they swung their faces. He was only too aware of it when they faced each other again. He could smell mint and the underlying tang of sweat.
“It’s just not a good idea for us to be on a team together right now and I wouldn’t… I didn’t want to split you, Teyla and Ronon up.” John said, eyes still locked on Rodney’s. “I recently realised something that means I can’t be objective in the field.”
“And what would that be?” Rodney asked, but John had inched closer and Rodney realised he had too. Another centimetre and he and John would bump noses.
“The very idea of you getting hurt… I get so… it just…” John’s eyes skipped down and Rodney felt more than saw the clenching of his muscles. “It scares me how much…” Again John’s words disappeared and he opened and closed his mouth like if he could articulate he would but he just didn’t have the words.
“Oh my god, you’re an idiot,” Rodney huffed and was pleased to see John’s eyes snap up, automatic defiance in them. Rodney closed the distance between them, which hadn’t really existed in any true sense for quite some time now.
When their lips met, it wasn’t automatically fantastic like any of the romance novels of his sister’s Rodney might have peeked at, but the awkward touch of their noses, the realignment and the shared laughter between them was so much better.
Mostly because it was so much more them.
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