Title: Solve for Y - posted
October 25, 2005
Author: Lacey McBain
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Rating: G. Pre-slash. McKay/Sheppard
Summary: A follow-up to Better
in the Long Run; Rodney's POV.
Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis
(including all characters and images) is the property of
Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko
Productions. No copyright infringement is intended.
Solve for Y
Rodney rubs at the sore spot on his arm and
wonders how many days it’s going to take before he doesn’t feel the
outline of fingers pressed into his flesh. Even through the fabric of
his jacket, he felt the nails, the cold tug of the alien hand and it
stopped him, stopped him cold, until Sheppard grabbed him.
Bluish fluid bursting from the thing’s chest, the jerking motion as
Sheppard shot it until it let go, and Rodney counted the bullets
automatically, not even flinching at the sound of metal tearing through
skin—one for every bloodied streak the thing left on his arm. Move,
Sheppard had shouted, and there was a hand on his back pushing him
forward, and somehow his feet obeyed the command even when his brain
was still catching up to the idea that he wasn’t dead. Not even a
The gateroom’s crowded and warm, and McKay just
stands there, grateful for once to be part of the noise and the routine
of the place, the ordinary things that tell him he’s alive. Like
Beckett flashing a penlight in everyone’s face, as if the dilation of
the pupils is the answer to every mystery of the human body. When
Beckett does it to him, Rodney blinks twice and inquires if the ability
to flash tiny white lights in unsuspecting eyes is the extent of the
doctor’s training. Beckett pats him roughly on the shoulder and says, you’re
all right, Rodney,
before he wanders off to bother someone else. Rodney notices the brief
warmth of Beckett’s hand, the lingering absence when it’s gone. He
wonders what’s wrong with him. He didn’t used to notice these things.
is grinning like he does every time they aren’t dead at the end of the
day, and Teyla seems to be offering quiet thanks in her own quiet way,
and then there’s Sheppard, standing in the middle of it like nothing
ever touches him. Like he’s above it all. Rodney wonders if that’s what
being a hero means—never feeling the fear, not noticing the ice cold
fingers reaching for you and leaving you torn and bloody. He wants to
ask him, but he doesn’t think he can. Not yet.
among her people like the Pope, touching and talking, as if the laying
on of hands can change the fact that every day they walk through the
gate the line between killing or getting killed gets a little smaller,
and Rodney remembers when he didn’t know how to shoot a gun or dress a
wound or fly a jumper. The last one he knows isn’t because Sheppard
wants competition flying the Ancient toys, but only because the Major’s
preparing them for the mission when he doesn’t come back and they still
need to get home. It makes Rodney shiver inside.
When he looks
up, Sheppard’s looking at him and there might as well be no one moving
between them because all Rodney sees are Sheppard’s eyes, the
half-grin, and for a moment that Rodney knows can’t be measured in real
time he sees Sheppard’s mask slip. From across the room, Rodney can
feel the yearning, the fragile ache to not be alone in all of
this, and yeah, Rodney gets that. Totally, completely gets that, but he
didn’t think Sheppard did. Until now.
got a pretty good idea the Major only sees him as the geek who got beat
up in high school, and one of these days McKay’s going to educate him
about the first and last time someone shoved him in a locker and what
the combined effects of household chemicals and a pissed-off science
geek can do to a brand-new paint job on an ‘82 Grand Am. He’s always
had brains; he never needed guns before he came to Atlantis.
Rodney’s honest with himself—which he finds is becoming an annoying
habit these days—he needs a lot more than he used to. He was always
fine with his computers and his coffee and people to tell him he’s a
genius, which of course, is true and something he already knows, but
it’s nice to hear anyway. Now, without realizing it, he also seems to
need a Scottish witch doctor who actually considers the bagpipes a
musical instrument, and a Czech scientist who pisses him off more often
than he does anything useful, although Rodney’s got to admit there are
times he’s grateful Zelenka’s back on Atlantis just waiting for them to
screw up. Maybe he even needs Teyla and Weir, and the tea and the
random, female touches they seem to give without even thinking, as if
it’s completely natural to just reach out and touch someone
just because he’s there. And even as Rodney glances up there’s Weir and
Sheppard hugging awkwardly on the platform, and the only truly odd
thing about that is Sheppard’s looking straight at him.
Rodney wants to wink and he wants to say what the fuck?,
so he settles on a lopsided smile somewhere in between and he knows
something’s going on here that he doesn’t quite understand. But he’s a
scientist and a genius—his MENSA creds say so—and he’s sure he’ll
figure out why he’s looking at Sheppard and wishing that a hug were as
simple as building a fusion reactor. He understands the mechanics of
it—two arms plus two arms equal one hug—but how to create the initial
catalyst that results in the hug is still confusing to him, especially
when both parts of the equation are decidedly y.
is, Sheppard touches him more than anyone that he wasn’t having sex
with ever has, and it’s not only when Sheppard’s saving his ass from
certain death. Sometimes it’s just sitting on the couch arguing about
football and hockey, and then Sheppard will say something unexpected
like you did good today and punch his shoulder—lightly—and
Rodney will lose his breath like an asthma attack and nod stupidly,
watching the Major disappear down the hall. He doesn’t know when he
started caring so much what people think of him. What Sheppard thinks.
tears his eyes from Sheppard’s and swallows his thoughts, deciding that
it’s better not to dwell on being alone, or lonely, or wanting to be
friends with the guy who would willingly die to save McKay’s life just
because it’s his job. Sheppard’s like a faithful puppy with
sharp teeth and a big gun, the one you can send for help when you’ve
fallen down a horribly deep well, and you know he’ll find a way to get
you out even if it means leaping into the darkness after you because
faithful puppies aren’t always the smartest creatures.
what it’s like to get attached to something that’s just going to die
one day, and he doesn’t want to think about that as he hurries down the
corridor towards his room. All he wants is a hot shower and a
chocolate-chip power bar, and the touch of something warm against his
skin. He’ll settle for his own hands, a soft shirt, anything warm and
safe, because he knows he can’t ask for anything from anyone else, and
even if he could, tonight’s not the time to try to figure out what’s
going on behind Sheppard’s eyes. Rodney’s got his hypothesis, but there
are too many variables, and he has no desire to have this—whatever’s
going on between them—blow up in his face. He’s too old and too damn
smart for failed experiments.
He hears footsteps in the hall
behind him, the ambling walk of Major Sheppard, and he doesn’t know
whether he should slow down or run for his life, so he just keeps
walking. Sooner or later they’re going to be walking down this path
together and one of them’s going to have to say something, or do
something, but he figures he’s still got time to figure out what y
plus y equals and whether he’s gotten the equation completely
doesn’t really think so, but there’s still time and he doesn’t feel
like taking chances. He opens the door to his room and slips inside.
Ten seconds later, he can hear footsteps slowing down outside. Slowing,
but not stopping, and then they’re gone, and he can breathe.
There’s still time.
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