Disclaimer: I own nothing, really. It's all for fun.
Author's Notes: For skitz_phenom, who mentioned a liking for Oblivious!John/Rodney -- and to whom I owe a large debt, because I've been wanting to write this story for a long, long time, and this prompt made it finally happen. I hope you enjoy it - Happy holidays!! :)
Summary: Looking up, John noticed the fake mistletoe -- now glowing a cheerful, radiant red -- at the same time Rodney did.
John loved the holidays, always had -- turkey, football, presents; who doesn't love presents? - but it occurred to him that there might be such a thing as taking the spirit a little too far.
The city was trussed up like a Vegas stripper, adorned from top to bottom with glittery, dangly things. They'd come up with a tree and had stationed it in the corner of the mess, strung it with all kinds of stock clip-art ornaments and topped it off with something that John figured was supposed to be garland, but looked suspiciously like a feather boa. And in the center of it all, someone had hung a not-quite-mistletoe on the frame above the door.
That thing that was creeping John out. First of all, it didn't even look like a mistletoe - it was pink, and kind of sparkly, and rumor had it that sometimes, without warning, it started to glow.
It didn't take long before he discovered the truth of that for himself, almost colliding with McKay at the door to the mess as he was heading to lunch. Rodney was coming out with a slab of what looked like roast beef in one hand and a mug in the other, his cheeks swollen with food, and he nodded in greeting, offering a short, muffled "Colonel" as he passed by. John winced a half-hearted smile back at him, but instead of the familiar combination of amusement and mild disgust he usually experienced when he saw McKay eat, suddenly nothing felt familiar at all. Because John was, presumably, still walking - but suddenly he wasn't moving anymore.
He struggled, purely out of instinct, but the invisible obstruction was solid and strong and surrounding him in all directions. John could tell the moment Rodney realized this too, because suddenly Rodney was looking directly at him, cheeks still puffed with food but his jaw no longer moving, as together they glanced around for some indication of what the hell was going on.
Looking up, John noticed the fake mistletoe -- now glowing a cheerful, radiant red -- at the same time Rodney did.
Ten minutes later, after they'd both done their best mime-in-a-box impressions - the only thing left they could think of to try, since their radios didn't seem to be working and nobody seemed to notice them just standing there - Rodney suddenly shrugged, leaned forward, and kissed John right on the mouth. A moment later the force field was gone, as quickly and abruptly as it had appeared, and he and Rodney were once again free to move.
"What the hell was that?" John sputtered, gaping at Rodney.
"Um," Rodney said, looking as stunned as John felt. "No idea? Some kind of force field, I suppose-"
"And you thought you'd just kiss me and break the spell? Do I look like a Disney princess to you, McKay?"
Rodney crossed his arms over his chest defensively. "It worked, didn't it?"
"Yeah, it worked, but I would have thought you'd try something a little more scientific--"
Rodney rolled his eyes. "It's a mistletoe." He pointed up at the device. "To the lab?"
Theoretically, bringing the device to the lab should have been the best course of action, but things got complicated by the fact that every time John and Rodney got near the device, it re-activated. John was generally fine with the idea of taking one for the team now and then, but after the fourth formation of the force field - and, subsequently, the fourth kiss required to shut the damn thing off - he was starting to feel a little ridiculous, not to mention a little used. Rodney kissed like a total slut, and John was pretty sure there'd been tongue involved in that last one.
"Hm. Maybe we should ask someone else to get it down for us," Rodney suggested, finally.
John scowled. "Gee, you think?"
"There's really no need to be churlish, Colonel," Rodney said. "After all, I'm not the one who suggested that we take an as-yet-unknown Ancient technological device and hang it from the ceiling."
John tapped his radio, while Rodney, perhaps wisely, moved off to the side. "Zelenka, I need you in the mess. Now."
"Huh," Rodney said thoughtfully, as a trio of Marines walked by.
John turned back to him. "What?"
"It's just that - correct me if I'm wrong," Rodney said, "but this situation doesn't seem to be affecting anyone else."
"How do you -" John glanced back at the doorway, watching for a moment as several more people walked through the doorway undisturbed. "Wait, what exactly does that mean, McKay?"
"I can't be entirely sure," Rodney said vaguely, "but I do have at least three working hypotheses, so would you mind going away now?"
John glared at him, then glared up at the thing hanging in the doorway, and then glared back at Rodney again. Rodney was rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, muttering something about the possible ramifications -- not to mention the practical applications! -- of an utterly undetectable method of suspending space and time, but John pretty much tuned him out because none of the words sounded anything like "Eureka! I know just what to do!"
"Fine," John said, sighing. Another day in the freaking Pegasus Galaxy. "But find a way to get that thing down, would you? And then get it to the lab and figure out what the hell it is."
Later that night John was lying in bed, steadfastly not thinking about Rodney's mouth, when someone knocked on the door to his quarters. John thought the door open and Rodney strode in already talking, as if they'd been in the middle of a conversation.
"So it seems that not only is the force-field invisible, but anything that occurs inside it is also invisible."
John didn't even bother asking how McKay had gotten the mistletoe down. He was reasonably sure he didn't want to know. "Which means - what, exactly?"
"It means," Rodney said, "that no one outside the field can see what's happening inside the field. In fact, there's absolutely no external indication whatsoever that the anomaly even exists."
"Great," John drawled, without enthusiasm. "So, it's just a really good place to hide."
"No, no, you're not getting it," Rodney said. "Look, from outside, it appears that everyone is walking directly through the doorway, without hesitation, no matter how long they get trapped in the field." He looked at John expectantly, excitement flushing his cheeks. It was, John admitted uncomfortably, a really, really good look for him. "In other words, it seems that the field is completely independent of all normal space-time restrictions."
"So the ten minutes we spent inside that thing-"
"... was ten minutes to us, yes, but in real time, it was no more than the few seconds it normally takes to cross the threshold," Rodney told him.
John ran a hand through his hair and blew out a breath. "Whoa."
"Yes, exactly. Whoa!"
"And - what, it just randomly selects people to trap in there together?"
"I -- no, I don't believe it's entirely random," Rodney said. "In fact, I had Radek run trials all evening, and out of the twenty-four pairs who walked through the doorway, only five reported getting trapped by the field. Three of those admitted to having a mutual - shall we say, elevated level of affection?, while the other two pairings were as surprised by the device's response as you and I were." He paused, looking thoughtful. "I admit, it's nowhere near my usual level of scientific experimentation, but one does what one can with what's available, and -- but wait, I haven't even told you the most interesting part."
John still wasn't sure where all this was headed, but he had the sinking feeling that there was something Rodney wasn't telling him. Something he really, really ought to know. "Which is...?"
"As I suspected, the device doesn't respond at all to purely one-sided affections. It seems to be activated only by pairings where both users have...ah, more amorous feelings. Toward each other, that is. Whether they know it or not."
John's jaw went slack. "It's a matchmaker?"
"No, no," Rodney said, with a dismissive wave. "Well, sort of? To be accurate, it's more of a... a mutual-wish-fulfillment-generation device."
John took a deep breath and released it slowly. "McKay, are you trying to say that you and I -" He would not complete that sentence. He would not.
"It would appear so, yes," Rodney said with a grimace. "But if it's any consolation, Colonel, I'm really as surprised by this as you are. I mean, granted, you're not entirely unattractive, despite those unfortunate ears, and of course the hair, but I'm sure my preference for blondes hasn't gone unnoticed, and I really do like my lovers to have br--"
"Rodney," John said warningly.
"Right. Yes. Well, I should be going - can't let something like this get into the wrong hands, especially with all you repressed American soldiers wandering around." Rodney turned to leave, but turned back at the door, eyeing John curiously. "You know, just to put it out there, I wouldn't be completely averse to--"
"Out," John snapped, nudging Rodney out the door, and locking it behind him as loudly as he could manage.
The following morning, at breakfast, John knew right away that something was different. It was nothing he could put his finger on, exactly; just a few distractions he was sure had never been there before -- like the way Cadman and Beckett were smiling at each other, or the way Elizabeth kept glancing nervously at Zelenka. Shaking his head, he filled his tray and headed toward his team, plunking his tray on the table in his usual space next to Rodney. Thankfully, Rodney still seemed to be normal-Rodney, and while John couldn't really imagine any other time when he'd be relieved that was the case, right now it was definitely better than any of the alternatives.
In fact, it turned out that Rodney was acting so completely normal that John was starting to think maybe he should feel a little insulted. After all, they'd practically been making out only hours before, and even if John absolutely didn't want either one of them to ever acknowledge that fact in any way, the truth was, he wasn't used to being so easily dismissed by someone he'd been kissing only hours before. But Rodney was talking and eating and acting as if nothing had occurred between them at all, and by the time John finished his meal, he was feeling more than a little irritated.
"The lights are certainly beautiful," Teyla was saying, gesturing toward the dozens of brightly-lit sconces that had been hung on the wall around the room. "Where did they find them?"
"Would you believe they once asked me to build some?" Rodney said, through a mouthful of food. "Like I don't have anything more important to do."
"Guess they figured it out without you," John said.
"Yes, and it's a miracle they didn't kill someone in the process," Rodney countered. "First they tried to devise a device powered by a control crystal, which obviously was never going to work. Then they tried to re-route the electrical pulse from a taser, and almost destroyed half my lab. Then they asked Radek to try and reverse-engineer a controlled energy burst from Ronon's stun-gun." He snorted. "As if that's even possible."
Ronon grinned at him. "Tried it already, huh?"
"Six months ago," Rodney admitted, sounding glum.
"Could they not have used torches?" asked Teyla.
"Please," Rodney said. "Open flames? Someone could get seriously hurt. And by someone, I mean me."
John leaned back in his chair and nudged Rodney's knee with his own. "I would have suggested capturing some of those glowy space bugs."
Rodney rolled his eyes at him. "Yes, you would, wouldn't you."
"Come on, Rodney. You have to admit they were pretty cool."
"Actually I don't, but I'm not at all surprised you think so," Rodney said curtly, but he smiled before ducking his head and returning his focus to shoveling mass quantities of potatoes into his mouth, and inexplicably, John felt his irritation slip away.
It was wrong, John told himself later, lying awake in his bed long after he should have fallen asleep. No matter what some Ancient device thought it knew, the idea of kissing Rodney McKay hadn't ever occurred to John before. In fact, John thought it pretty safe to say that kissing Rodney McKay had consistently been the furthest possible thing from John's mind.
Well, except maybe that once -- but only that once, and that was just gratitude. Mostly. Probably. John was pretty sure.
And okay, there was also that other time, but that was because Rodney had helped John kill that mostly-invincible Wraith, and damn it, they'd both had a really rough day.
He turned onto his back and stared up at the shadowed ceiling. Okay, so maybe he did have some kind of thing for McKay. It wasn't all that surprising, really - McKay was damn smart, which was always a turn-on, and funny when he let himself go a little, and really, he was a stand-up guy when it came down to the really important things. And there was no point in denying that he was actually kind of cute, in a weird, really-not-cute-at-all kind of way, at least sometimes, like when he was red-faced and practically apoplectic. John smiled. Yeah, especially then.
Groaning inwardly, he rolled onto his stomach and pulled the pillow over his head. It's a crush, he told himself; a stupid crush, that was all, it was nothing to panic about, and he would just ignore it until it went away. Which it would. Eventually. Wouldn't be a problem at all.
And it wasn't -- not until two days later, when John walked into Rodney's lab and found him playing with some other new ancient tech they'd just found; holding it, stroking it, his face flushed with excitement again, and John had to turn around and head right back out of the lab before somebody saw the hard-on tenting his BDU's.
Or the day after that during a routine staff meeting, when John was supposed to be briefing Elizabeth on upcoming off-world missions but instead found himself staring helplessly as Rodney lifted a coffee mug to his lips with one hand and typed notes on his tablet with the other -- and suddenly John couldn't think about anything except getting his mouth on Rodney again.
Or once again two days after that, when they discovered not one but two fully-charged ZPMs hidden away on a planet that was otherwise empty and long-abandoned. The whole way back to Atlantis, Rodney had held the ZPMs on his lap, cooing and purring and smiling dreamily as he caressed them, while John palmed the jumper's controls and nursed a completely irrational anger toward mistletoe, the Ancients, and the Pegasus galaxy in general - not to mention his own cock, which had always been so friendly and predictable before, but now seemed to think that Rodney McKay was the greatest fucking discovery of all time.
As was bound to happen, it came to a head that very same night. John had been steadfastly ignoring Rodney all evening, avoiding eye contact and evading all of Rodney's attempts to draw him into a conversation about his precious ZPMs. He had every intention of excusing himself as early as possible without seeming obvious, and retreating into his quarters to find a way to get his head back on straight. So to speak.
Rodney, however, was having none of it. "Look," he said, following John into his quarters before John had a chance to lock the door against him. "I get that you're a little freaked out by this. Seriously, I do."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Rodney ignored that. "But I've been thinking about this quite a bit, and it's my opinion that we might as well make the best of it. I mean, you've obviously been lusting secretly after my body for quite some time, and I... well, let's just say I wouldn't throw you out of my bed-"
"Rodney," John said warningly, "I am not having this conversation."
"Yes. Yes, you're right," Rodney said, nodding. "You're absolutely right - we shouldn't talk about this anymore. No more talking." And with that, he walked right up to John and kissed him on the mouth.
It wasn't much of a kiss at first; hesitant, chaste, a mere brushing of Rodney's lips against his, but then John's mouth fell open in surprise and Rodney took advantage of that, and all of John's denials flew the proverbial coop the moment Rodney's tongue entered his mouth. For a moment, he was too surprised to do anything but stand there, but then he leaned in toward Rodney and the kiss slanted into something hungrier, as if Rodney had been waiting for John to push him away and had finally realized that he wasn't going to. By the time they finally broke apart for air, they were both panting hard.
"Listen," Rodney said breathlessly. "I just want you to know that I didn't - I mean, if I had, I wouldn't have - really, I had no idea."
"Me neither," John said, staring at Rodney's mouth. "But now-"
Rodney nodded. "Yeah. God, yeah, me too."
"Good," John whispered. He swallowed, hard. "Good." And then they were kissing again, Rodney's hands solid on John's chest, pushing him backwards toward the bed.
Rodney McKay, John thought wildly. Who knew? Then again, he'd seen wormholes and stargates and a thousand unimaginable things in the Pegasus Galaxy, so he closed his eyes and went with it, figuring that kissing McKay was actually not very shocking at all.