"I don't like it. I'm not going to lie to you... it's ugly."
Rodney opened the bathroom door, stuck his nose in and sniffed. He thought it smelled like feet. His nose wrinkled. Shooting a sour look at his escort, who remained inscrutably silent, he gave the bare walls and low ceiling a dismissive wave and added a snort for good measure.
Crossing to the balcony, he opened the glass door and stepped out. He sighed, glad to have some privacy, at least for a short while. He propped his butt up on a balcony rail for support, rubbed at his sternum and winced at the niggle of pain in his chest. Alright, he'd been overdoing it slightly. But he was fed up of being on the sick list, and desperately wanted to leave the infirmary.
Even Sheppard had now left to convalesce fully in his quarters. Desperate, Rodney had asked if he would mind a room mate for a short while; John just looked horrified and replied with a firm, 'No'.
His own room had been totalled, of course, and after it was cleaned up and his stuff put in storage, it was now being used more or less as a closet, or dumping ground for any trivial rubbish that didn't have a home; it really wasn't all that secure since it's door had been surgically removed.
Rodney looked out over the calm Lantean sea... at least this one had a balcony. The previous 'property' on offer, had no balcony and was so close to the firing range, it's fixtures vibrated in time to the pistol shots.
Abruptly, Corporal Brent's round face appeared at the balcony door.
With a long-suffering sigh - or was it a yawn? - he asked, "Ready for the next one, Sir?"
Rodney dragged his sorry behind off the railing and followed the soldier out with a nod.
"How's the house hunting going?"
Sheppard was lounging on his bed, flicking slowly through a golf magazine.
Rodney had seen five rooms, none of which were at all suitable, in his opinion. He had ended up at Sheppard's door mostly because he didn't want to go back to the infirmary and the fussy clutches of Carson Beckett.
"It's not. I give up. I'll sleep in my lab, take baths in the sink, you know... live wild."
Rodney was expecting some kind of response from Sheppard, after that statement, but there was just the soft scuffle of pages turning.
McKay stuck on his most appealing, little-boy-lost expression, "Look, why can't I just... you know, crash here?"
Another awkward silence...
"I told you already, there's no room. Plus you might... cramp my style."
With a shudder at the last comment, Rodney flopped down on the edge of the bed. John eyed him over his book, warily. Rodney caught his look.
"Oh, get over it... we shared a bed already. I'm not gonna snuggle, okay?"
McKay's shoulders slumped, and he rubbed at his neck tiredly. His eyes wandered around John's room. The colonel's possessions, few though they were, were scattered around. Rodney wanted his own things around him. Enough was enough.
"Where is my stuff anyway? I hope it's safely locked away." Then he added in a whisper, "Marines, you know..." and he winked, having a quick scan around as if he expected to see one or two of them lurking nearby.
John yawned, and flipped the page of his magazine.
"I think Radek has it", he said idly.
Rodney froze, a kind of choking sound coming from him as he slapped both hands down on the bed and twisted to face the colonel.
"What?! Radek has my stuff, my personal stuff?"
"Mm-hm... so I heard.."
Was that an amused tone?
"Why on earth does he... wait a minute, what have you heard?", he replied, his eyes narrowing minutely.
But John had laid down his magazine, and obviously moved on. He was watching Rodney and wearing a sheepish look.
"What?", demanded McKay, slightly spooked.
"I'm sorry about what started all this."
"What do you mean?"
"You've never called me on it, Rodney, how I treated you, that day... You've been... understanding... - which is creepy, by the way- and anyhow, I don't deserve it."
Rodney fiddled with the seam of the bed cover, and muttered something inaudible.
"I... was a fool. I didn't see that you were sick.. and the reason I didn't see, was that I wasn't looking... paying attention."
John sighed, folding his arms.
"I should have been paying attention, and I'm sorry, it won't happen again."
"Oh... okay.", he replied, because it really was okay and nothing else needed to be said.
In a flurry of arms, legs and the printed word, Sheppard leapt from the bed. Taken aback, Rodney just gawked open-mouthed.
"Where are we going?"
He followed Sheppard from the room and into a transporter. John stabbed his fingers at the pad, the doors closed and they were gone.
It was perfect... It was a lab really. But it also had full 'facilities', two stunning balconies, kitchen area and, being a lab, enhanced power and mainframe access: he could run the whole city from here, if he wanted to.
Woah there...! Not that he wanted to... even a tiny bit. But it certainly was the best room in the house as far as Rodney was concerned. The main hub of the city was close enough to be convenient, but it was far enough away for this to be a haven of peace. Some of the expedition had ventured further afield in the city, and John had mentally tagged this room when he provided security for a maintenance job.
His furniture and possessions were already moved in and Rodney noticed a new bed in the centre of the room.
"Just remember... no funny locks. I've already spoken to the marines and they agreed to cease and desist all hostilities, if you will."
"Yes, yes...", answered Rodney with a little wave. He was too captivated by the view from the high windows, to be paying any mind to what Sheppard was saying.
Rodney breathed a very quiet, "Thankyou.", and John allowed himself a satisfied grin.
Soon he would have to give up. Ask for help at least - possibly start looking for new accommodations.
He voiced an inner whine, but I love this room, I don't want to leave...
Now the rusty water was running down to the back of his neck... yuck!
Another shirt ruined.
He gave the wrench a twist, still pretending to know what he was doing. It really didn't fit - this tool he was using - he'd found it in one of the workshops. It was a monkey wrench... designed of course for earth plumbing. Wouldn't you know it... Lantean pipes just had to be different.
Something was woefully wrong with the plumbing in his perfect quarters. Rusty brown water dripped from the tap, and no amount of 'thinking' it clean made any difference. Now and again there would be clunking and knocking in the pipes further into the walls - McKay had no idea if that was supposed to happen or if it was probably a bad sign.
Somewhere along the line Rodney had decided it would be useful to dismantle all the fittings under the sink, investigate and modify them if needed, and then put it all back together. Which was, of course, what went on in the science labs pretty much all the time. Only he was having real trouble with the last part, and was laying on his back under the sink being dripped upon by a steady flow of rusty water, surrounded by metal rings and pieces of dismembered pipe.
Rodney tapped his ear with an orange finger.
"Hey, Zelenka... know anything about plumbing?"
There was a pause, and then a definite, "No."
"But I could get someone down to take look?", went on Radek.
"No, no... not yet...I'll manage for now. Oh, and Radek? Thanks for looking after my stuff..."
"Not mention it Rodney. I very much enjoyed seeing... new movies.", and there was the unmistakable sound of sniggering.
Rodney's blood ran cold. Not his well-hidden, classic collection of porn..? Unrivalled in two galaxies, if the marines knew about it, they would soon lose their interest in Oh Henrys...
"Y -You watched my videos...?"
"Yes, we knew you would not mind... But was bit confusing, some have wrong title...and, Rodney, some are... little scratched, you know... rewind, play, rewind, play, rew..."
Then McKay heard huge guffaws of laughter, that must have meant the whole of Atlantis was listening.
He thought it best to say nothing more, and flicked off his radio, with a sigh.
"What are you doing here?"
"Heard you had a problem. Maybe I can help."
"How? By knocking a freaking great hole in the wall? No thanks.. I'd rather suffer, if it's all the same to you."
"Well, if you should change your mind..."
"Still... just give me a knock... I'll bring the sledge hammer!" and Arnold winked his beady eye.
Was that...a joke?
"A knock? What do you..?"
"Oh... did I not say? I'm just next door... found my little place a month ago, while I was doing some work on the condenser unit ..."
He turned to go, but quickly glanced back at McKay, his face a picture of angelic joy.
"Welcome to the neighbourhood, doctor..."
There you go that's it... the not very exciting wrap-up chapter!
Thanks to all you who stuck with me, especially Exie, Valexie, Trishkafibble and many more - xxx.
Watch for the continuation of Perf Sk and thanks for being patient with me.