Warning: This is a slash fic. That means there are two guys in a sexual relationship (although there's no sex in this story...or even kissing for that matter). So, if you don't want to read about two guys, click that little back button on your browser. You have been warned. No flames.
A/N: Okay, now that that's out of the way: This is a story about Rodney and John that takes place after The Tower. It was inspired by "Cold" by Matchbox Twenty. You can find the lyrics and the song at matchboxtwenty(dot)com.
Rodney steeled himself as the meeting came to an end. What he planned to do next was not going to be easy, nor pretty. But Rodney realized he needed to let go. Sheppard wasn't for him. He was sick to death of the space between them. Rodney wasn't really the touchy, feely type, but every once in a while he just wanted to hold John, know he was real.
Sheppard, he corrected himself.
But Sheppard didn't allow anything physical. They couldn't let on, couldn't let anyone know. He had to maintain his imagine, although Rodney couldn't see the point anymore. Sheppard often told him he couldn't understand, although that was impossible because he was a genius.
Maybe he didn't understand.
It didn't matter any more. His mind was made up and there was no turning back. He didn't need the pain that came from dealing with Colonel Sheppard. He had enough problems with the Wraith, the Genii, and all the general problems of keeping a ten thousand year-old city running. Adding one John Sheppard into the mix was proving to be too much. Especially the space between them.
"Colonel, do you have a moment?" he asked as everyone stood. Sheppard had that little smile on his lips, the one that first caught Rodney. He turned away.
"What's up, McKay? Another jumper that needs to be tested?" Sheppard asked hopefully. Rodney grimaced. The jumpers had been one of his favorite toys in Atlantis. Now they serviced as a reminder of what he had with Sheppard. It would never be the same.
"No, actually," he responded. He could see Sheppard frown, but he ignored it. "Just follow me."
"What's this about, McKay?" Sheppard asked as he followed Rodney from the briefing room to the labs. Rodney continued to ignore him. It would not do to break up in the halls. Wouldn't want to ruin Sheppard's precious reputation. When they reached the labs, Rodney went straight to his office, pushing off any questions to Radek. When they were settled in the office, Rodney mentally locked the door.
"Rodney?' Sheppard asked as he took a seat on the edge of the desk. "What's this all about? I thought we were going to go on a little trip to the mainland?"
"Has it ever occurred to you that maybe I don't want to?" Rodney burst out.
"No, I guess not."
"What the hell are we doing here, Sheppard? Because, really, I want to know what you think."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh for crying out loud! I found out about that alien girl," Rodney blurted out. "So I want to know exactly what you think we're doing here."
"Look, McKay," the other man replied in his dangerously low voice. Rodney knew that voice well, but today he didn't care for the warning sign.
"No, you look, Colonel. I'm done with this, all right." Saying it hurt much more that Rodney thought it would. Truth be told, he needed Sheppard like he needed coffee. It kept him going, was the reason he still got up in the morning, still went through that gate. But Sheppard lied to him and cheated on him. True, they never really discussed exclusivity, but never the less, it still hurt. And Rodney was done with that kind of hurt.
"If that's how you feel, McKay," was the only response he received. It was a crushing response. How could Sheppard be that cold? It just proved it would never work out in the long run.
"I guess I'll see you at the next team briefing," Sheppard said coldly as he turned to leave.
"I'm taking myself off your team," Rodney replied. He wasn't going to let Sheppard get the best part of him. No. He was going to lock himself in his lab, steel himself, and work on everything that needed his attention. The city was huge so he would never be out of projects.
"What are you talking about, McKay?"
"I'm too valuable to be in the field. I'll assign another scientist to take my place. I'm not going through the gate unless it's an emergency from now on. Elizabeth already agreed to it," Rodney replied with more arrogance that he felt. He was sure Sheppard got the message. If they couldn't be this, they couldn't be friends. Rodney couldn't be content with just friendship anymore now that he knew a different side of Sheppard.
Sheppard glared at him for a second. "I'm talking to Elizabeth about this," he informed Rodney before he stormed out of Rodney's office. The scientist just sighed and collapsed into his chair. He buried his head in his hands and just sat there for a long time as a million thoughts when though his mind.
He worried about Sheppard. He knew the man could not hide who he was forever. The military would find out one day. Rodney just hoped that by then, it wouldn't be much of an issue in Atlantis. But he knew no matter what that he couldn't be there for John when that day happened. Sheppard. He couldn't be with Sheppard.
He needed to be with Sheppard.
Damn it! He just couldn't believe in the man any more. He couldn't know it this was real or some release. He didn't want to be just some release.
He really hadn't wanted Sheppard to leave.
Rodney tried to forget by busying himself in his work. He did as promised and assigned another scientist to Sheppard's team. Teyla and Ronon didn't like the guy. He never heard about it from Sheppard. That was just as well for Rodney. He was feeling to low about the whole thing and he really didn't want to see how Sheppard was moving on. Even when they weren't seeing each, Sheppard still managed to affect him. The man didn't even know what kind of effect he had on Rodney.
It was a few weeks later when one of the Puddle jumpers broke down. Radek could fix the thing all right, but he hated being in them. That left Rodney to test them. He was almost to Sheppard's door when he realized his mistake. He was just about to turn when Sheppard exited his room.
"McKay," he said impersonally.
"Colonel," Rodney replied, trying to keep any emotion out of his voice.
"Where are you off to?"
All right, Rodney could make polite conversation. "I was looking for Stackhouse."
Sheppard's eyes seemed to widen. "Why?"
"Because I need a pilot, Colonel. Why else would I go to an enlisted man?" He hoped that one stung at Sheppard a little.
"Of course," Sheppard responded. "Stackhouse is out on a mission. I could do it for you."
That one stopped Rodney cold. He hadn't expected Sheppard to volunteer. He hesitated for a moment, not really sure if he wanted to be in such a small space with his ex-lover. But the jumper needed to be tested today and there were few people that Rodney trusted to fly the jumpers after his accident.
"Fine," he reluctantly agreed.
They made their way to the jumper bay in complete, uncomfortable silence. The silence continued until they were circling over the mainland, where Sheppard finally spoke.
"I've been thinking," he started.
"Is that a new development?" Rodney shot back.
Sheppard rolled his eyes and continued, "We worked well together, Rodney. And this new guy you stuck us with, Pierce, he just doesn't cut it. Why don't you come back to the team?"
"I'm happy with what I'm doing," Rodney replied as he checked his computer read outs.
"You've got to miss gate travel, though."
"Oh, yes. I miss being shot at, chased, and hunted. I especially miss those forced marches and the running," Rodney snarked back.
"I miss you Rodney," Sheppard admitted. That took Rodney by surprise.
"Don't you miss me just a little?"
"No," Rodney lied. "I don't miss the lying, the cheating, the stupid rules, the deceiving, the lows, or the crashes. I don't miss any of it. This jumper's fine. Let's take it back to Atlantis." Most of it was true, anyway. He did not miss the baggage of Sheppard. He did miss the jokes, the wit, and the smile, though.
The ride back to Atlantis was even more awkward than the trip out. Neither man spoke, and Rodney could feel the tension that was building. He just hoped they got back to Atlantis before the flood gates broke. They almost made it, had settled in the jumper bay when Sheppard spoke again.
"I was an idiot, okay? I'm sorry. Just, come back."
"To the team or to you?"
"Tell me something about you."
"Tell me something about you," Rodney repeated.
"I like to surf."
"That's not what I meant and you know it. Tell me something I don't know. Tell me something no one knows," Rodney demanded. Sheppard just stared at him for a long while until Rodney's patience ran out.
"If you can't even do that, than no." He stormed out of the jumper bay and told himself to forget Sheppard. All the time his heart cried to him that he should go back and forgive Sheppard. But Rodney couldn't.