Title: Tell Me Lies - posted November 29, 2005
Author:  Lacey McBain
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Rating: G.  McKay/Sheppard
Summary:  Rodney sucks at lying - even to himself.
Spoilers:  Coda to "The Hive."


Tell Me Lies

Rodney contemplates his escape while Sheppard’s still chatting with Carson. He can’t stay here and listen to the Colonel’s casual report on their heroics, can’t stand the almost-hungry looks from Ronon and Teyla, and he knows, he knows what that feels like because he’s been there, and it hasn’t been that long. He can’t deal with the reminder while the last shadows of the enzyme are still chasing each other through his veins.

Elizabeth’s hovering like everyone’s mother, pleased and still somehow faintly disapproving, and she’s close enough that John’s in imminent danger of being hugged at any moment, although Rodney can’t really blame her. If he’s honest, Rodney knows Elizabeth would’ve hugged him too if he hadn’t been insane when he’d come through the gate. Frankly, Rodney’s shocked she’s showing this level of restraint, that she hasn’t wrapped herself around Sheppard already. If Rodney was in her position, he would have.

Knowing that doesn’t help. He has to get out. Now.

Caldwell’s broad back provides enough of a screen that Rodney thinks he’s made a clean getaway. Halfway down the hall and then the sound of boots is closing behind him, and he doesn’t want to deal with John while he feels like this. Not now. Not ever, if he can avoid it, but he knows the chances of that are about on par with Cadman never again bringing up his failures with women.

His heart’s already trying to climb out of his chest via his throat and every cliché about sweaty palms is written on his grey BDUs where he’s nervously rubbed his hands and yet they’re still damp and hot. He tells himself he can’t run—running will look suspicious, and despite the hair and the occasional vacant look, John’s not stupid. Running away will be a clear sign that John should catch up to him and smirk at him until he spills all his secrets. It will take exactly one look from those focused hazel eyes, exactly one drawled “Rodney” with the right measure of concern and chastisement, and Rodney will be an incoherent puddle of goo in the hallway. This much is clear to him, so he subtly picks up his pace—not running—and heads for the nearest transporter.

Rodney’s not even sure his body could handle the strain if he tries running. The last thing he wants is to collapse into Sheppard’s arms like some Victorian heroine and be put back into Carson’s tender loving care. He’s not sure he’ll survive if he has to be the object of one more sickeningly-heartfelt sympathetic glance from Carson. He’d prefer the man stick a needle in him and be done with it. Killing him with kindness by degrees is crueler than Rodney could’ve ever imagined.

“Rodney. Wait up. McKay!”

And he’s too far to fling himself towards the transporter and Sheppard’s too close behind. Rodney accepts he’s going to have to do this sometime and with the resolve of the condemned man, he slows down and stops, wipes his sweaty palms again, and turns around as if this is any other conversation, any other day, and maybe it can be. If he’s careful. He stays just out of reach, firms up the line of his chin, and faces Sheppard like he’s got nothing to be worried about. Nothing to hide.

“Yes, Colonel?”

“We made it back. I told you we would.” Sheppard’s grinning like he’s won some kind of inane bet with the universe, and Rodney rolls his eyes and crosses his arms. Sheppard’s got more lives than Schroedinger’s cat, and Rodney’s not above being helplessly grateful for that particular talent, even though he wishes the man would stop deliberately flying into hive ships that immediately blow themselves up. While Rodney’s watching. He can feel something tightening in the back of his throat, and he takes a small step backwards, hoping Sheppard doesn’t notice.

“Yes, Colonel. You were right,” Rodney says, not bothering to fight the fact that he really is grateful to be proven wrong sometimes. Especially when being wrong means everybody’s still alive and mostly in one piece.

Rodney’s concession takes Sheppard off-guard, and he’s moved another foot towards the transporter before John seems to realize it.

“Hey, you—you made it back okay. By yourself,” John says, as if it’s just occurring to him that Rodney shouldn’t be here, and Rodney tries not to resent that in Sheppard’s mind he should’ve still been trapped with his two hulking goons, waiting patiently for rescue while Sheppard defied all the odds. Again.

“I managed to get away.”

“Outwitted your guards, huh?” Sheppard leans against the wall, and Rodney can see in his eyes that John’s already constructed the events of what happened. The goons got tired or drunk, or more likely Rodney talked them to death and under cover of darkness he stole the gate crystals and slipped away. Simple and easy. Rodney has no intention of correcting his erroneous assumptions. It’s so much easier this way—for both of them.

“Of course,” Rodney smirks. “Brain the size of a planet. What chance did they have?”

Sheppard nods and his attention’s drawn back to the infirmary that’s still not far enough away. It sounds like laughter and Rodney swears he hears bagpipe music and the faint pop of something that might be champagne, but is more likely that hideous Athosian wine everyone drinks because it’s better than nothing. He can’t bring himself to feel badly—God knows they’ve got reason to celebrate, but somehow he doesn’t feel like being part of it. They didn’t need him, and there’s no way they need to know how wasted his efforts turned out to be. He just needs a little time.

“I’ve got to …” Rodney makes a vague gesture towards the transporter and he knows Sheppard will fill in the blanks. Rodney’s always needed somewhere for something. He’s invaluable—everywhere—and the city’s been running too long without his intervention. Of course he’s got to go. It only makes sense. It doesn’t matter that Sheppard doesn’t need him—the city does, and Rodney’s the only one who knows that the labs are empty, Zelenka’s been doing everything perfectly, and really, he never had any doubts that everything would be fine without him. It should be comforting, but it leaves him feeling stricken and empty. It’s another one of those things he can’t afford to think about right now.

“Sure.” Sheppard’s already turning away, but then he seems to remember something and starts up again, although Rodney’s managed to put another few feet between them, and with every step it’s getting easier to breathe, easier to not think about how desperately close he came to losing everything. “Hey. The enzyme—”

Rodney doesn’t miss a beat, and he wonders when lying became easier. “No problems. I was never taking as much as Ronon and Teyla. You should go back and check on them. See how they’re doing. I’ve—”

“Got to go. Yeah, you said that.”

For a second, Rodney thinks he’s blown it. Sheppard’s gaze is thoughtful, and he’s looking at Rodney as if he’s one of those puzzles where there’s something hidden, but you’re not sure what it is. Rodney doesn’t want to give him time to figure it out. He needs to have some distance before that happens, and as many times as John’s told him he sucks at lying, apparently he’s getting better.

“Rodney.” Sheppard’s voice is tired and distracted. It’s probably the only thing that saves Rodney from a full interrogation, and he knows on any other day, he wouldn’t be getting away with answers like this. Another step towards the transporter. Another.

“Get some rest, Colonel. Starting a Wraith turf war is tiring, I’ve heard. Let the rest of us do some work for a change.”

Rodney’s got his hand on the transporter panel, safety’s just a few feet away, and he knows better than to risk a glimpse back—knows what happened to Lot’s wife and Orpheus and everyone who was ever told not to look back—but he does it anyway, and wishes he hadn’t.

There’s Sheppard’s exhausted face staring at him, unguarded for the first time since he’s gotten back, and everything neither of them is saying is written there in fine lines. John’s hands hang empty at his sides, long fingers clenching and unclenching and maybe Rodney isn’t the only one with sweaty palms and an urge to run like hell. When those hazel eyes meet his, Rodney knows this conversation isn’t over. He’s pretty sure it hasn’t even started.

He slaps his hand quickly on the lighted dot nearest his quarters, lets the doors cut off his view of Sheppard’s searching eyes, and it’s only a matter of time before Carson or Elizabeth slips, before someone tells Sheppard what he did, and then he’ll have to deal with everything he can’t deal with now.

But maybe by then he’ll have a little distance. Maybe it won’t be as hard. He almost believes that for a fraction of a second. Then he’s sitting in the darkness of his quarters, shaking with need and anger and a hundred things he doesn’t have the strength to name, and he hates that Sheppard’s right.

He really does suck at lying. Even to himself.


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