sgasesa_admin (sgasesa_admin) wrote in sga_santa,

Fic: Like a Coin (McKay/Sheppard, R)

Title: Like a Coin
Author: yesj
Recipient: pandorablu
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: R
Summary: They’ve been in Atlantis for a few months when Rodney decides that John Sheppard has made it his personal mission to drive Rodney nuts.


Meredith McKay is five years old, and no one will call him Rodney, even though that’s his name.

“Why don’t you wear a dress, Meredith?” come the taunts. Four boys his age, ganging up to tease the weakling, don’t they have something better to do? Pull the wings off flies or whatever else jerks like to torture in their spare time.

“Because I’m a boy,” he informs them, standing tall, hands on hips. “Boys don’t wear dresses.”

The biggest boy shoves him. Rodney lands in the grass, and he knows it’ll stain. His hands are green. His mom won’t be happy. “You’re not a boy. You’re a girl. And you know what girls like?”

“They like kisses,” one of the other boys sniggers. “And pink dresses and ponies and kittens.”

Rodney does, in fact, like kittens. That’s beside the point, and he’s pretty sure boys like kittens too. (Who wouldn’t? People who don’t have souls or guardian angels, that’s who. He’s heard about those people, and he is not one of them.) He stands back up, hands balled into fists at his sides in defiance.

“Yeah.” The biggest boy shoves him again, but Rodney keeps his balance this time, expecting it. “Want a little kiss?”

He only does it because he thinks it might make them leave him alone. Standing on tiptoe (he’ll get bigger when he’s a whole six years old, not five and one quarter) he kisses all four boys, quickly, on the lips.

The biggest one looks like he might explode. He goes very, very red and spits on the ground. The others are already retreating, spitting every few steps, loud Ewwwwwws going up into the air.

“You’re a girl,” the only one left says, voice quavering. He’s bright red. “This is not over.”

“My baby sister’s a girl,” Rodney replies, standing his ground though all he wants to do is run and hide. “And this is over. Come near me and I’ll kiss you again.”

The boy’s lip curls, he spits on Rodney (it lands on his cheek, oh ew) and then he turns and runs to catch up with the rest of his gang.

Shaking, Rodney sits heavily back on the grass and tries not to cry. It’s a losing battle.


Crunch. “Fag.” Crunch. “Assmuncher.” Crunch. “Fight back.”

Rodney feels like his nose is broken. There’s definitely swelling. “Why?” He tries to break free and run again, with limited success. (i.e. none.) “You’re winning, I don’t think the odds are in my favour.”

Roger Braintree bares his teeth in what is probably supposed to be a grin. He just looks insane. “They’re not.” He raises his fist to punch again.

“Hey!” Roger’s arm moves out of Rodney’s field of vision, and he hears something crack. Roger emits a strangled shout. “Now let go of my brother.”

“Jeannie?” Rodney tries to blink, but he thinks his head might be bleeding. Roger lets go of him, and Rodney falls on his ass.

“You’re crazy,” Roger shouts. Rodney hears his footsteps pound away, and feels a hand on his face.

“Are you okay, Mer?” Jeannie asks, and now he can see her, hovering anxiously over him.

“What did you do?” he mumbles. He thinks his lip must be split.

“I don’t know, maybe broke his wrist.” She touches his face, and Rodney winces. “Come on, you need to come home. Mom’ll take you to the hospital.”

“My nine-year-old sister rescued me from a beating,” Rodney sums up, dazed.

“You’re welcome,” she says, poking at his arm. “Come on, get up.”

“They’re going to eviscerate me,” he moans.

Jeannie just hauls him up by the arm, impatient. “Don’t be stupid. I’ll make them leave you alone.”

Rodney contemplates his own death. He’s thirteen, he hasn’t even invented anything he’s made a working model of yet. He’s so close to perfecting three of his designs, they’d better wait until those are done before they kill him. “I don’t want to die,” he says. Jeannie’s pulling him along, and there’s not really much he can do except walk. His head hurts.

“You won’t die,” Jeannie informs him. “Now move, come on. You’re a mess.”

At that, Rodney figures that if the kids at school don’t get him, his mom will.


The second he graduates from high school, Rodney is out of there. No more calling him Meredith, no more whispers and shouts that he kisses boys, he’s such a girl, and he needs his little sister to protect him. Rodney is going where there is no Meredith, no Jeannie, no rumours that he kisses boys, except those might persist because somewhere along the line he’s worked out that he actually does like kissing boys. Not that he’s kissed many, none since he was five – except that one afternoon with Arnold Smith. They were working on a science project together in grade ten and Arnold kissed him and Rodney kissed back and they didn’t talk about it after. It’s not Arnold he’s always had a crush on, though; that’s Amy and Lucy and Mark and Melinda. He hasn’t kissed any of them. Aside from Arnold (the incident when he was five doesn’t count) there’s only been April, who he almost caught mono from, and Tracy, who he dated for a few months because she wanted him to and she’s pretty, so why not.

He gets to college, and America is loud and bright and Rodney drinks it all in, hungry. He falls in love for the first time when a curvy, gorgeous blonde woman sits at the next table, flicks her eyes over him, and turns away.

Her name is Sara, she turns up in his French class, and he’s never really found anything sexy about the French language until she speaks it. He has to fight not to come right there in front of everyone. She fills his fantasies, mouth curling around vowels, the tip of her tongue flicking out to wet her lips. He breaks seventeen pencils just watching her talk.

Her roomie is pretty hot, but not entirely composed of sex the way Sara is. When she comes over to talk to him – Alice, or is it Alison? – he convinces himself that Sara is just too shy to come over herself. Of course she feels the same way about him, something this strong, this pure, this incredible couldn’t possibly be one-sided, it’s just not logical.

Alison (it’s definitely Alison, or at least, he’s pretty sure) kisses him, and Rodney takes her back to his room, kicks out his roommate – if he wants to study he can go to the library, that’s what they’re for – and has sex with her. It’s his first time, and he thinks of Sara but Alison’s hot anyway, so it doesn’t last all that long. Alison just curls against his side after it, sighing this small contented sigh, and Rodney hopes she’ll tell Sara it felt good, the test run was a success. It’s very noble of Alison, making sure Sara’s new boyfriend is good enough for her. Such obvious devotion is just lovely. He kisses her hair and feels her smile against his shoulder, says “You’re lovely” but it comes out more a mumble than articulated words.

He keeps expecting Sara to approach him after that, but Alison hangs around him a lot and they keep having sex, and really, her devotion is just staggering. It turns out she’s not completely dumb either, so they get into discussions of physics, and Rodney keeps getting these bursts of affection behind his clavicle when he looks at her.

It’s three months before he works out that he doesn’t actually want Sara to approach him – he’s still madly in love with her, but she’s really not all that intelligent, and Alison’s really hot and actually knows what she’s talking about some of the time – so he tells her, it’s really her he wants, not Sara, so he hopes the trial run won’t be over any time soon.

Alison’s face sticks, falls, goes the colour of tomato soup, and she storms out without a word. He calls her and calls her, but she never answers. She just sticks notes under his door telling him in block capitals to leave her the fuck alone, she never wants to see him again, he’s a lying using jerk. Sara finds him in a bar one night, sliding off his stool, and swings her hair over a shoulder, inviting him home. Blearily, he follows, and she stays on top the whole time they have sex. All four minutes, if the clock he ends up staring at is anything to go by, and time is a science, can be measured, so he trusts that it’s right. Clocks can stop, of course, but unless this one is running on some slowing mechanism it’s telling the right time. The seconds keep ticking over. It’s really not as good as he’d imagined it, and she literally kicks him out of bed afterwards; he stumbles around the room grabbing his clothes, and that’s when Alison walks in.

She stops, turns around, and he can hear her crying as she runs down the corridor. “Alison, wait –” he calls after her, but just at that second he realises he needs to find a bathroom, fast.

He sticks to his room after that night, ignoring the books piled on his desk, curled up in bed drinking, stumbling off to pee every now and then. His roommate moves in with his girlfriend, and Rodney only notices when Fred comes over to pick his stuff up and tells Rodney he’s moved out.

“Oh,” Rodney says, swigging back some more beer. He’s pretty sure if he drinks enough of this stuff, he can black out again. He likes blacking out.

Eventually, one of Fred’s friends – a huge guy named Marcus with the biggest smile Rodney’s ever seen – bodily drags Rodney out of bed and marches him to the nearest shower. He stands outside, waiting, until Rodney is actually clean, and then marches him to the cafeteria and makes him eat actual food and drink actual water. Marcus doesn’t leave his side except during class, and Rodney finds himself forced to function, forced to eat regular hot meals, to do actual work for class (which he could have done blind drunk, he just didn’t want to) and most of all, forced to avoid alcohol entirely. It’s hard, and Rodney keeps breaking down in front of him, but Marcus just yanks him closer and hugs him as Rodney sobs, patting his back and murmuring soothing noises.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Rodney asks, after three weeks.

Marcus just smiles. “You’re in need. I’m doing my best to help a fellow human being, and what you’ve needed is someone to make sure you do okay.”

Rodney squints. “You’re not a Christian, are you?”

“Have you seen me go to church?” Marcus asks, rolling his eyes. Rodney, in fact, has not. “I can be a do-gooder without God having anything to do with it, you know. Christians aren’t the only decent people.”

Rodney snorts. “The ones I knew growing up weren’t decent, not when they told me I’m going to Hell for kissing boys.”

Marcus raises his eyebrows.

“Oh I’m not gay,” Rodney snaps. “You do know it’s possible to like both, right?”

“Yeah, I know. My ex-girlfriend’s the same, actually. Just didn’t think you for the type.”

“I wasn’t aware there is a type.”

Marcus looks at him for a long moment. “Huh,” he says at last, “I guess there’s not.” Then he shrugs and says, “Think you’ll be okay now?”

“Yeah, just. Call me and make sure I don’t drink any more, I’m pretty much done with oblivion. Fun while it – actually it wasn’t fun at all, it was just better than …” He turns to Marcus and says, “Sara was a bitch, wasn’t she?”

“Saw you coming a mile away,” Marcus nods.

“And Alison?” Rodney swallows. He’s not sure he wants to know.

Marcus sighs heavily. “Really liked you. Maybe even loved you.”

“Oh God, and now she hates me.” Rodney wants to just sink into a hole in the ground, turn back time somehow, never open his big stupid mouth.

“Yup.” Marcus pats him on the shoulder.

“I blew it.” Rodney suddenly sees everything opening up, suddenly knows – “I love her! I love her, Marcus, and I fucking blew it.”

“You really, really did,” Marcus nods.

“You’re not helping,” Rodney flaps a hand. “I have to win her back, I have to – you have to help me, I just – just need to find some way to make it up to her –”

“For thinking she was test-running you for her roommate and sleeping with her all that time, are you kidding? There’s nothing in the universe you could do, McKay.”

Rodney’s heart sinks. “Fuck, did I really do that? But – but I really did like her, I do, I love her, it wasn’t like – like you’re making it sound.”

“It was exactly like that. Now, I figured you probably didn’t know what you were doing, and I was right, so maybe you’re not the cold-hearted bastard she thinks you are, but you’re still a bastard. Just,” Marcus tilts a shoulder, “a stupid one.”

“Inexperienced,” Rodney corrects. “I have a very high IQ, I’m a genius.”

“That explains a lot.” Marcus looks thoughtful. “Look, if you want to make it up to Alison, you have to leave her alone. Okay?”

No that is not okay, I’m in love with the woman.” Rodney just has to think about this. There has to be some way to make it up to her, some way to get her back.

He tries leaving flowers outside her door, tries catching her on the way out of class. He apologises twice every sentence, spends all his money on a birthday present – an antique edition of her favourite book, because she talked about it once and how her copy was all dog-eared, and Rodney isn’t one for the classics but he’d loved to watch the way her eyes lit up – but she still refuses to speak to him. She keeps the presents, lets him talk when he manages to catch her but only for a minute, and finally threatens a restraining order if he doesn’t leave her the fuck alone. He comes back as a sophomore to find that she’s transferred out of state, and spends that whole year engrossed in his studies, convincing himself that he doesn’t really love her anyway, it’s just an infatuation, he’ll get over it.


He gets his second PhD and his first real boyfriend in the same week. Hurried blowjobs in grad school don’t count, not next to dark eyes and even darker curls and a quick smile that makes Rodney swallow. Their first kiss tastes like champagne; it’s Rodney’s party and everyone from the department is there, his supervisor, fellow students, people he’s been working with for the past three years. And Theo, who’s the brother of another student, tagging along because she has no one else to go with, or maybe because he’s in town visiting her, Rodney never really asks. He just kisses him, up against a wall in the hall outside the room where the party continues without them. “Congratulations,” Theo whispers into Rodney’s chin, trailing lips over the skin, “Dr McKay.”

For the first time since the age of nineteen, Rodney fights not to come instantly. “Nnghhh,” he says instead, and feels Theo smile. They go back to Rodney’s place and Rodney says, “Can I fuck you?” and Theo nods breathlessly and Rodney rocks against him and he can’t help it, he comes, still fully clothed. Theo laughs just as breathlessly.

“I’ll settle for a blowjob,” he says, and Rodney shakes his head.

“No, well, I mean, yes of course, I just, I just,” he presses his nose to Theo’s neck, inhaling hungrily.

“It’s okay,” Theo murmurs, moving his head so he can kiss Rodney, “I can stay the night.”

Rodney nods, vigorous, and goes down on Theo; it’s wetter than he remembers, and Theo makes delicious little noises in his throat. Rodney tries to swallow, but ends up choking. Theo bangs him on the back until his airway clears, then smiles and opens his arms. They make out, and touch, Theo’s hands tracing patterns over every patch of Rodney’s skin as he undresses him. By the time Rodney’s naked, he’s hard, and Theo kneels between his legs, looking up with what could be the beginnings of trust.

Rodney’s heart thumps against his ribcage. He traces the outline of Theo’s ear with a fingertip, watching Theo’s eyes close, and licks his lips. “Can I please,” it comes out a whisper, “fuck you now?”

Theo opens his eyes, pupils already blown, and moans, “Please.”

Rodney gets a job in the city Theo lives in; it’s actually a coincidence, but Rodney knows he says it like it was a plan all along. Theo smiles at him so brightly Rodney swears his heart skips a beat. It’s a half hour ride on the bus to get to his place, and Rodney spends most nights over at Theo’s apartment. Theo is a great cook, really excellent in bed, and knows just how Rodney likes his coffee. He also knows what time in the morning it is not a good idea to try and talk to him before, but Theo’s just as monosyllabic in the early hours, so it actually works out quite well.

Two years in, Rodney gets a job somewhere else, a better job where he’ll get to do more and won’t have to teach physics to any more college students ever. Theo says things between them are winding down anyhow; “You never take me anywhere any more, we just … sit in or you work and I wait up. All we have is sex now, and it’s just not enough, Rodney.” He has no idea what Theo’s talking about, but saying so doesn’t get him anywhere but outside Theo’s apartment, the door slamming in his face.

Rodney starts his new job and thinks that if he says he’s fine enough times he’ll believe it. Everybody stops asking after a while, but they’re all idiots and he spends a good eighty percent of his valuable time berating them for their mistakes. A few months slip by without him noticing, and by the time he moves to an even better job and finds out about the Stargate, he’s stopped bothering to say he’s fine to anyone but himself.


In Antarctica there’s Carson, who has nice eyes and isn’t at all interested in Rodney like that, but they’re friends. Rodney’s interest in him dies out within a few days – sexual interest, that is, because Carson’s a really nice guy and Rodney quite likes him. Carter isn’t here, but there are some pretty sexy scientists, albeit stupid ones who wouldn’t know a wormhole if it smacked them in the face, which is all they deserve some days. (Most days. Rodney can’t help it if he’s the most brilliant scientist around, everyone else should just try to reach a standard.) He still has a thing for dumb blondes. The women in Russia had mostly scared him, so it’s been a while. (Admittedly, the scaring had kind of turned him on, and there had been one Russian scientist who rode him hard one night and wouldn’t let him make a sound, and he’d have said yes if she’d asked about the handcuffs. It was really sexy the way she’d just slapped them on him, though. Not so sexy when she’d taken his clothes and left him there, he might have frozen to death if that soldier hadn’t found him. There had been no need for Dolokov to laugh, go back for his camera and take pictures before he freed him, though.)

Then Carson comes running into the conference room almost yelling, “Come quick, it’s the Major, he’s in the Chair,” and Rodney hurries after him. There’s a man sitting in the Control Chair, feet hanging off the end, looking bewildered.

When the whole space above the Chair lights up and Major John Sheppard of the United States Air Force says, “Did I do that?”, Rodney has to stop himself from bouncing on the spot with glee.

It’s not until they’re in Atlantis that Rodney actually gets a good look at John Sheppard. He’s … well, he’s okay-looking, if you like that sort of thing. Tall, objectionably handsome, and it’s really only when Sheppard demonstrates that he is not, in point of fact, the usual dumb fare that Rodney even looks at him. When he comes back from the rescue mission with most of the people he went for, Rodney is impressed. He honestly hadn’t thought they’d ever see any of them again.


They’ve been in Atlantis for a few months when Rodney decides that John Sheppard has made it his personal mission to drive Rodney nuts. One movie night Sheppard suggests Velvet Goldmine, and Rodney stares at him thinking I don’t think your code is secure; then he wins five rounds of prime/not prime against Zelenka and keeps shooting obscene looks at Rodney whenever he says “Prime” and what’s that all about; and then comes that one mission.

The leader of whoever-it-is bows slightly to them and asks, “Pray, whose wife am I addressing?”

Rodney sees Teyla’s head tilt slightly. “I am … not married.”

A murmur runs through the six people gathered to greet them. Judging by the look on the leader’s face, this society likes women to be married. How archaic.

“Uh, you’re forgetting, Teyla. You are.” Sheppard nudges her with his elbow. It’s almost subtle.

“Is this true?” The leader of the archaic and rather sexist people steps forward, extending a hand. “You are all of age, if you are not married then we cannot possibly permit you within our lands. It is unseemly, improper. We do not allow it.”

“Of course,” Teyla recovers quickly. Rodney is still boggling. “It was only recently – Aiden. Lieutenant Ford, he is my husband.”

“Yes. Yes, that’s right.” Ford steps a little closer to her.

“And – you?” The leader turns to Sheppard.

“Yeah,” Sheppard nods quickly, waving a hand between him and Rodney, “us too.”

The leader tilts his head in obvious confusion. Rodney has never been so stumped in his life; what the hell is he supposed to say in this situation? “You do not travel with your wives?”

It’s the same tone of voice he used for the unmarried parts, so it must be as unseemly to do that; Rodney opens his mouth but Sheppard beats him to it, “No, I mean, we’re married. To each other. Isn’t that right, honey?” He turns to Rodney and shoots him that look that means Cooperate or I will step on your foot so hard you’ll feel it for hours.

“Yes,” Rodney coughs, “yes.” He tilts his chin up. “Sweetheart.”

Sheppard smiles at him sarcastically. Appeased, the strange archaic weirdos lead them towards the village.

“What are you doing?” Rodney hisses at Sheppard, the moment they’re out of earshot behind them. Or, near enough.

“Honey,” Sheppard whispers back, a warning, “it’s okay, these people won’t hurt us.” He glances over his shoulder and calls, “Where we come from, not everybody is okay with our marriage.”

“How awful,” one of the pretty young things comes scampering up, and my, she is lithe.

Sheppard looks at Rodney with mock gooey eyes. “But we love each other so much, it doesn’t matter. Right, Rodney?”

I hate you. “Uh, right. John.” Rodney gives the girl a false smile and keeps tramping through the field. The grass is practically corn here. It itches, right through his clothes.

They’re set up in the same room that night – they got there fairly late and nobody wants to trade before the morning – and the dinner is pretty good, no citrus to be found and the bakers in this town are marvellous. The later it gets, the sleepier Rodney is, until finally he stumbles off to their room. He hears Sheppard come in a little later.

“Just so you know,” he smirks, “I’m a grabby sleeper. Sorry about that.”

“I’m sure the floor’s comfortable,” Rodney says, pointedly. Sheppard just snorts, yanks off his boots, and slides into the bed.

“Scoot over,” he pokes Rodney in the side, the corners of his mouth twitching. Rodney does not make a squeaking sound; he does, however, give Sheppard enough room.

He wakes up the next morning with no pants on, Sheppard’s chest pressed up against his back, one arm flung over him, and Rodney is so hard at the shock of physical contact it’s what wakes him. He licks his lips, trying to shift so he can slide out of Sheppard’s grip, but the movement only makes Sheppard’s hand go far too near very sensitive and very stiff areas, so Rodney settles back. That’s when he feels that Sheppard is hard too, and that’s when something in his brain caves in with a high-pitched whining sound.

He wants Sheppard. He wants him so much he can’t even speak, and right now he can hardly breathe. He thinks Sheppard might be gay, but he has absolutely no basis for a theory of mutual attraction. Really, he’s searching his memory for anything, any…thing. Like maybe the obscene little looks he’s been giving him, except they’re obviously just to annoy him, so that leaves … no, that’s really it. He doesn’t act like he’s attracted to Rodney at all, except when they’re pretending to be married and they’re both hard and Sheppard is the big spoon.

Rodney has no idea what to do. It’s not like there’s a manual for this, if anything his romantic history has taught him that he’s bad at it; relationships, attraction, anything approaching sex. It sort of happens, when it happens to him, and he has no clue

“Oh,” Sheppard says. His voice is scratchy and fuck that’s sexy.

“No, don’t move your –” Rodney stops as Sheppard halts mid-jerking away, fingers brushing against him. “Hand,” Rodney finishes, a whisper. Completely without his permission, Rodney’s cock jumps.

“Dr McKay, I didn’t know you cared.” Sheppard sounds amused, and Rodney would like to fall into a hole now, please.

“Fuck off,” he tries to say, but Sheppard hasn’t moved his hand and Rodney will never tell anyone but a hot guy calling him Dr McKay in that sexy voice has always done it for him. He moans more than speaks, and Rodney feels John’s mouth brush against his shoulder.

“Weren’t you wearing clothes last night?” he asks, very deliberately pressing closer. Rodney breathes through his nose.

“Sometimes I get warm, kick them off in my sleep.” Nearly every time, when someone else is there, he wants to add. He’d actually forgotten, it’s been so long.

Sheppard hums appreciatively. “Anyone ever tell you you have a magnificent ass?” He moves his hand, then, sliding it over Rodney’s hip.

Rodney swallows. “Not – not really.” He can’t remember if anyone ever has, but Sheppard is now open-mouth kissing his shoulder and grinding against his ass through a layer of BDUs, so Rodney is having trouble remembering the last hundred digits of pi, let alone compliments he’s had throughout his lifetime. “What are you,” and Sheppard licks a stripe along Rodney’s back, gripping his hip and grinding, and Rodney just breaks. “Oh God, I don’t care what you’re doing, just don’t fucking stop –” He spins around, faces Sheppard, and immediately can’t breathe because Sheppard is looking at him and he’s beautiful and so turned on and Rodney reaches for him, blindly.

They meet in the middle, Sheppard kissing him like he’s been hungry for weeks, and Rodney grasps for his hips. Sheppard settles over him and Rodney gets the damn BDUs undone and then there’s friction, delicious and not enough but so good. Rodney arches up and comes, Sheppard’s teeth on his neck, and Sheppard comes a minute later, Rodney’s hand on him, squeezing. Sheppard falls on his mouth, after, and groans into it.

“Mmm,” he says, after another few minutes of making out, their hips making tiny movements in tandem. “Good morning.”

“Yeah,” Rodney agrees. “I’d say so.”

The townsfolk shoot them appraising looks when they emerge. Rodney’s fairly sure he looks sheepish, but Sheppard just beams around at everyone and thanks them for their hospitality for the night. The trade negotiations begin, and Ford corners Rodney after a while. He doesn’t say anything, eyebrows raised.

“What?” Rodney snaps, hoping he isn’t going red.

“Did you and the Major …” Ford trails off, eyes going back to where Sheppard is deep in the negotiations, Teyla officiating.

“Did we what?” Rodney lets a flood of sarcasm into it, because he really doesn’t want to be having this conversation, least of all with a Marine.

Ford scowls back at him. “Never mind.” He stalks off, and Rodney sits for a minute, watching Sheppard, wondering if he should call him John now, if they’re going to do this again, if it was just a hey-we’re-pretending-we’re-married-and-I’m-horny-so-let’s-fool-around thing, or even what he wants it to be. He has no idea. Well, no, of course he has an idea, he just doesn’t know what he can hope for.

The negotiations go well, and they’re headed back to the gate within an hour. “So um,” Rodney says as Teyla dials Atlantis, “good – good trip?”

“We didn’t get shot at once,” Sheppard points out, jovial. “I’d say that upgrades it to excellent.”

Right, then. It’s one of those let-us-never-speak-of-it-again deals. Well, Rodney can do that. He squares his shoulders and steps through the gate and by the time his molecules reconvene on the other side, he is resolved to honour the unspoken agreement and not talk about it.

He avoids Sheppard for a week. It’s pretty easy to work out when to grab food; he has some stashed in his room for emergencies anyway, so when he really can’t get away until Sheppard’s bound to be in the mess hall, Rodney just heads to his room for nourishment. The rest of the time is spent in the labs, but then another mission comes up. Rodney doesn’t look Sheppard in the eye, because he knows if he does he’ll say something stupid, like Wonder if we’ll have to pretend to be married again, or Let’s just hope this time the locals are homophobic, or You know, I really didn’t mind, and actually if we were to do that again I’d kind of might explode just a bit, and then again I might explode a lot if we don’t, so what’s it to be, Major? He hasn’t wanted this desperately in years.

“McKay,” Sheppard nods at him in the gate room, and Rodney starts composing a memo to Elizabeth requesting a transfer to someone else’s team, or just to stay in the labs. He makes a non-committal noise and shifts. It’s really not fair how suddenly sexy Sheppard is; he tries to rationalise it, say it’s because of that one lapse in judgement that one morning and now Sheppard’s something he can’t have, so there’s the appeal of the forbidden. It doesn’t even sound convincing in his own head, though, let alone all the times he’s said it to Heightmeyer.

The mission does not call on them to pretend to be in any way together except as teammates; it does, however, involve running for their lives from the Wraith. Rodney is almost relieved that things are so beautifully back to normal, especially when Sheppard has to cover him as he dials, hoping none of the stunner blasts will hit him. He feels a jolt as he’s running to the gate, a half-conscious sense of falling, someone shouting something that might have been Rodney or it might not have been a shout at all.

He comes to in the infirmary. Sheppard is standing at the foot of his bed, talking to Teyla; she notices movement and nods towards Rodney. Sheppard moves up by his head way too fast; must be the after-effects. “How’re you feeling, buddy?”

“Oh, just fine,” Rodney rolls his eyes. “Ford okay?”

“Yeah, he wasn’t hit.” Sheppard smiles at him, and Rodney takes his brain aside and tells it to shut up about how attractive Sheppard’s mouth is.

“Oh good. Another successful mission, then.” Rodney winces as he sits up. Everything’s pretty stiff. He hates Wraith stunners.

“You know, if you still wanted those combat training sessions I offered, now might be a good time.” Sheppard’s smile is sliding into a smirk again. His default expression, Rodney notes vaguely.

“I thought you said you’d have to look at your schedule,” he blurts without thinking.

“I did,” Sheppard nods, head tilting to the side slightly, “and I’m free this week, if you wanna.”

“I would be happy to train you in the use of bantos rods,” Teyla puts in.

“Let’s … start with shooting,” Sheppard says quickly. “Ease you into getting your ass kicked by a woman half your size.”

Rodney snorts. “It’ll be like being back home with my sister.”

Sheppard checks the schedules for the target practice rooms, and it turns out they’re not free until after dinner. Rodney heads for the lab, corrects eighteen mistakes and drinks four cups of coffee, and ends up digging a sandwich from a drawer instead of heading to the mess hall. He’s busy and it’s almost habit by now to eat in his lab.

“Hey.” Rodney blinks and looks up; Sheppard’s standing there, expectant. It can’t be nine. “You ready?”

“What? But –” He looks at the clock. Oh. “Um, just let me –”

Sheppard rolls his eyes. “Now, McKay.”

“– finish what I was –”

Now, McKay.”

Rodney stops. “Fine.” He saves the programs and closes the laptop he’s been working on, then does the same on the other three. He can hear Sheppard tapping his fingertip against the bench. “Okay. I’m ready, let’s go shoot some paper.”

It smells like army in the target practice rooms, all gunshots and testosterone. Sheppard hands him a gun and adjusts his grip. Rodney’s pulse knocks against the heel of Sheppard’s palm for a second when his hands just won’t get it so Sheppard shows him, and Sheppard takes his hands away half a second before he really needs to.

“Okay. Now.” Sheppard points to the piece of paper, consecutive circles and numbers. “See what you can hit.”

Rodney tries. It’s impossibly loud and he can’t stop jumping backwards and his shoulder locks. The bullets hardly graze the edges of the targets.

“Stop, stop. Okay.” Sheppard comes up behind him, inches. Rodney imagines he can feel Sheppard’s body heat on his back. “Stand firm, don’t jump back. Compensate, you know what’s coming.”

“Right.” Rodney already hates this, but he reloads, because he got shot today, because his team get shot at every day, because Sheppard’s going to get himself killed some day. Rodney raises his gun, and tries again.

The reverberations knock him right back against Sheppard. “Woah, woah,” he hears under the gunshots, and the next bullet hits the target three places to his right. He feels hands coming up to steady him, too fast to be anything but automatic. Sheppard drops them almost as fast. “Stand firm, you can do this.”

“I can?” It rings out in the sudden silence, clip emptied.

“You’re a genius, right? So. Of course you can.” He’s really not good at pep talks, but Rodney is oddly pepped. He reloads and takes aim again.

This time, he gets knocked even further into Sheppard’s personal space. He expects him to take a step back, but maybe he’s trying to get it through that Rodney should be still, probably that; Sheppard doesn’t move. It’s like that morning on that planet all over again because Rodney’s out of his element and Sheppard’s hard and Rodney cannot take this any more.

He drops the gun, spins around fast and grasps handfuls of Sheppard’s shirt. He has no idea what he’s doing, if he wants to say something or punch him, but instead of anything else in his head, he crashes his mouth against Sheppard’s. Their teeth hit, and it hurts but Rodney keeps going. Sheppard’s kissing him back and there’s a tug-of-war until Sheppard shoves him backwards, walks alongside, Rodney tripping over his feet, Sheppard grabbing at his shirt and holding him up, until Rodney feels a wall against his back and Sheppard’s momentum presses them into it.

Sheppard creates an arc of air between their bodies, curving to meet at the mouth and the knees, and Rodney strains forward only to be pinned back. He swallows, breaking the contact for a second, breath mixing and hurried and broken. “Shep-”

“Shut up. Now, here’s how this is gonna go.” Sheppard bites Rodney’s lip, and Rodney whimpers into silence. “You are going to shut up. We are going to have sex, I don’t care whose quarters we go back to. Well, it has to be one of ours, but other than that. I don’t care which.”

“And then?” Rodney can never keep his big mouth shut.

“Then,” Sheppard quarter-smiles, breathy, “I’m going to nap. I mean, it’s usual. But I wasn’t finished.”

“Oh. Sorry. Continue.” Rodney tries to make a movement with his hand, but there’s not enough room. The quarter-smile grows.

“You’re going to say my name,” Sheppard says. “My first name.”

“Oh. All right.” Rodney swallows. “John.”

“Good.” Sheppard catches him in a hard, fast kiss. “Come on.”

He grabs Rodney’s hand, and they leave the guns on the floor, Rodney’s target completely intact.
Tags: genre: slash, pairing: mckay/sheppard

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