The last one...
FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
CHAPTER THIRTY: THE COOLER KINGS
Sheppard sat in the chair next to McKay's bed, playing solitaire on the man's laptop. Apparently, McKay had woken a few more times while Sheppard was out, and one of those times he had asked for his laptop. Then McKay had fallen asleep with it still on. Sheppard had commandeered it to keep him occupied during his vigil, and quickly found the computer games McKay had loaded on it.
His fingers hovered over the mouse, trying to spot any cards he missed.
"Red nine," McKay said softly next to him, "Black ten."
Sheppard looked over at him, saw the tired blue eyes watching him, grinned, and then turned back to the game. Moving the red nine as commanded, he then quickly paused the game and put the laptop down. Swiveling in the chair, he patted McKay's arm.
"Hey," he greeted, "Feeling better?"
McKay gave him a slightly exasperated look. "No. I nearly died. I feel terrible."
"Yes, well," Sheppard leaned forward, resting his good arm on the bed, "I know the feeling. Had a bit of an accident with the speedwheel."
McKay's eyebrows shot up. "It's broken?"
"Yeah, actually," Sheppard tilted his head, "I'm hoping you can fix it, when you're feeling more yourself."
McKay stared at him a moment, then smiled. "Be happy too. Maybe even make a few modifications..." his eyes glossed over a little, considering the possibilities.
Sheppard smiled at that, and looked down. Slowly, his smile fell, and he blew out a deep breath. Right, he thought to himself, time to...
"Colonel," McKay said, interrupting Sheppard's thoughts and drawing the colonel's attention up again. McKay was giving him an odd look. "I just...I'm sorry," he said, "about what happened."
Sheppard immediately sat up straight, ignoring the pain the motion caused in his hurt shoulder, and turned a furious glare on the scientist. "Will you stop that!" he snapped angrily.
McKay frowned a little, confused by the mood change. "Wh...what?"
"That's the third time you've apologized to me, and I don't know what you're apologizing for!" The colonel tried to cross his arms, but couldn't with the left one in a sling. He settled for placing his other one over it. "I don't want to hear that word from your mouth again, McKay, until you do something that really needs apologizing for, you hear me? It doesn't sound right coming from your lips—it's like, like," Sheppard gestured with his good hand, "like hearing Teyla say 'cowabunga.' It's not normal!"
McKay blinked at the onslaught, then looked down. He opened his mouth again, then closed it. Finally, he shrugged, "okay."
Sheppard watched him for a moment, then leaned on the bed again, "Besides," he said, his tone changing dramatically, "I should be apologizing to you."
McKay's eyes widened, and he stared at Sheppard. "To me? Why? For what?"
"For not," the colonel's eyes narrowed slightly, "for not talking about it with you, for not asking for your help." He grimaced a little, "we might've come up with a better plan together."
McKay stared at him for a moment, then looked away at the wall opposite. "But that's just it," the scientist whispered. "You shouldn't have to ask."
Sheppard looked down again, understanding now what McKay was apologizing for.
Suddenly, McKay snorted a laugh, and when Sheppard glanced at him, he found the scientist shaking his head at something.
"Seems to me, what we've got here," McKay offered the colonel a small smile, "is a failure to communicate."
Sheppard stared at him for a moment, then smiled as well. After a moment, he was chuckling.
"Weir told you about my Paul Newman impression."
"Yeah," McKay said, still smiling.
Sheppard nodded again, looking down at his arm resting on the bed.
McKay's mirth faded, until both men were just staring at nothing, considering everything that had happened and why. The silence began to grow uncomfortable.
"We, uh," Sheppard frowned a little, looking up, "we need to fix this."
McKay just nodded. "I know."
Sheppard watched him for a moment, then asked, "Think we can?"
McKay gave a small smile. "If we really want to try," he glanced askance at Sheppard, "I think we can do anything."
Sheppard smiled at that, imitating the same look on his friend's face. "Okay then."
They spent another couple of seconds in silence, before Sheppard pushed himself away from the bed, as if preparing to stand up. "Well, I should probably—"
"Hey, Doctor McKay!" a young, cheerful voice called, the owner bounding over to the end of the bed. Young corporal Dunne grinned at the doc, then saluted the colonel. "Colonel Sheppard, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were here. I didn't mean to interrupt..."
Sheppard acknowledged the salute, settling back down again. "No problem, Dunne. What can we do for you?"
"Oh, actually," he held out his left hand, on which rested a baseball, "Doctor McKay asked me to bring him this."
McKay grinned and held his hand out. Dunne tossed him the baseball, and McKay caught it with both hands, bobbling it a little before it settled. He smiled up at Dunne again.
"Thanks, corporal," he said.
"No problem," Dunne said, waving dismissively. "I have a few." And then he grinned once more at him, "You know, we were thinking of setting up some teams, maybe playing out on the east pier. If you play, you want to join us?"
McKay looked a little surprised at that, then shook his head, ducking it a little, "Ah, no, I'm terrible. Not really my sport. But, maybe..."
"Well, let me know. You can send me another email, and I'll add you to a roster." He smiled once more at the doctor, then nodded at the colonel. "Colonel, Doc, see you later." And with that, the whirlwind of energy that was young corporal Dunne disappeared out of the infirmary.
Sheppard stared after him a moment, then turned a fully puzzled look at McKay. The scientist was rolling the baseball back and forth between his hands, looking very happy about something.
"Baseball?" Sheppard finally said, incredulous. "I thought you liked hockey?"
McKay shrugged, "Sure. But don't forget," McKay glanced up, "I spent several years in Boston, Colonel, Dunne's home town. Sort of hard to avoid baseball in that town. Did you hear the Red Sox won the World Series?"
Sheppard laughed, and nodded, "I heard Dunne nearly had a heart attack when he found out. He and the other folks around here from that area were on cloud nine for days. Called it a miracle. They commandeered the DVD player to watch the playoffs and the series for almost three days. Johnson, the big corporal from New York...?" McKay nodded, knowing the man, and Sheppard continued, "I heard he nearly cried when he saw what happened to the Yankees, then probably would have pile-drived Dunne into the ground if Sergeant Wilmington hadn't intervened." He laughed, and McKay grinned again.
"Well," McKay said, focusing back on the ball in his hands, "86 years is a long time to wait."
"Yeah," Sheppard said, "But they finally did it."
McKay nodded, then held the ball out to Sheppard, "This is for you."
The colonel stared at it a moment, then blinked, "Oh, uh...McKay, you know baseball's not my game either. Football is my—"
"Doesn't matter," McKay said hurriedly. "I just...Will you just take it?"
Sheppard stared at him a moment, then, gingerly, plucked the ball from McKay's hands. He tossed it one handed in his right hand for a moment, then looked at McKay.
The scientist was watching his hand, then looked up to meet Sheppard's eyes when he stopped.
"Be sort of fun," Sheppard said slowly, "playing baseball on the east pier, don't you think?"
"Yeah," McKay agreed, equally slowly.
"Maybe we should try it."
McKay nodded, "Maybe even get...Teyla and Ronon to play?"
"Ha," Sheppard grinned, "with the four of us on a team, we couldn't lose."
McKay grinned at that, "So, what would we call our team?"
"Well, if Dunne's on it with us, it'll probably be the Red Sox."
"Hmm," McKay agreed, "And if Johnson's on it, the Yankees."
"Yup," Sheppard screwed up his face, clearly not liking either idea.
"But I was thinking," McKay shrugged, "maybe we could call it," he glanced at Sheppard, "the Cooler Kings?"
Sheppard was staring at the ball in his hands, and, slowly, a smile grew on his face. He glanced at McKay and gave a single nod.
"Yeah," he said, "I think that'd be cool."
McKay held up his hand, and Sheppard tossed him the ball...which McKay promptly dropped. Both men looked over the other side of the bed, where the baseball was now rolling away towards a different part of the infirmary.
"First, though," Sheppard groaned, standing up to get it and reaching for his crutch, "I gotta teach you how to catch."
McKay gave him a dirty look, that morphed into a genuine smile when Sheppard hobbled away after the ball.
Yeah, the scientist thought to himself...
Hope you liked it! And yeah, I did partake in a little foreshadowing, which I'm sure you noticed. It seemed to work somehow. :) Thank you again so much for everything, guys! Your reviews mean the world to me. You made me very, very happy!