Summary: John's experiences with the Iratus bug have left him with an unexpected side effect. Rodney is Not Pleased.
Disclaimer: Not mine. As usual…
A/N: I'm working on Here's Looking at You, Kid, I really am. This just…popped up.
Also contains both mild John/Rodney ship and traces of nuts.
Rodney had just brushed his teeth, washed his face, shed the Atlantis science team uniform, and dropped into his waiting bed with a deep sigh. God, his feet hurt. And his back. And his head. And his stomach—hey, he was kinda hungry. But also far more tired than anything else, and not even the vague feeling that he was forgetting something could keep him from dropping off into a deep, sound, well-deserved sleep—
Except, of course, for the loud squawk of the radio still nestled against his ear. Oh. Right.
"What, Colonel," he groaned with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. "I'm kind of busy right now, if you don't mind…"
"Doing what?" was the response—somewhat higher and squeakier than Sheppard normally sounded. Huh. Maybe he was more tired than he thought.
"Sleeping. Are you familiar with the activity? Nice, relaxing, vital to proper functions…"
"Yeah, I'm just surprised you are," the colonel retorted, and Rodney rolled his eyes.
"Did you want something? Besides to annoy me and further make my life miserable?"
"Nice to know you think so highly of me," Sheppard said, his voice returning a little more to normal. "I was wondering—" there was a brief scuffle on the other end, and John's voice was suddenly back to being shrill— "If you would, uh, come over here?"
Rodney blinked. He really was tired. "What?"
"Yeah. Could you come over to my quarters for a second?" A brief pause, and something that sounded like a…shriek? "Right now?"
Oh, for the love of… "May I ask why?"
"Look, Rodney, can you just get over here? Without being a massive pain in the ass?"
"Hey, do you want me to do you a favor or not?"
The sigh on the other end sounded supremely put-upon. "Rodney…"
"Okay, fine, I'm coming." Rodney hauled himself out of bed and reached for his shirt. "Just a second."
"Thanks, Rodney," and there was definitely real gratitude in Sheppard's higher-than-usual voice. Weird.
Rodney made his way to John's room pretty quickly, muttering under his breath, because he was actually kind of worried. For something to rattle Sheppard…
He reached John's door and knocked on it, frowning when there was no answer. He knocked again, and then tapped on his radio. "Colonel? Are you there?"
"Yeah. Just…come on in," John said, and Rodney raised his eyebrows as the door slid open and he stepped inside…and then blinked. And blinked again.
John was perched on top of his bed, looking at the floor warily and keeping all limbs firmly elevated. And on the floor, the object of his abject fear and careful scrutiny—one of the small, spindly spider-like animals that were all over the city. What had he been saying about being worried? Because he took it all back.
"A spider? You got me out of bed and halfway across the city because of a spider?!"
"Look, Rodney…just, get it away from me, okay?"
"I can't believe this. I can't believe you. A spider! A—"
The astrophysicist shook his head and moved towards the tiny creature, grabbing it by a leg and lifting it into the air. He thought about waving it in Sheppard's face, but decided against it—there had to be a reason the big, bad Colonel was so terrified of a tiny spider, and frankly, Rodney wanted to know what it was. Instead he carried it over to the window and dumped the spider unceremoniously out into the night before returning to the bed. "Okay, what the hell was that about?"
John was getting down off the mattress, looking sheepish and scratching the back of his head. "Ah…"
"Okay, jeez, calm down, Rodney."
"Yeah. Calm. Look, I just…don't like those things anymore, okay? And you're…look, I couldn't call Teyla in because of a stupid spider. Elizabeth…no. Just…no. And double that for Ronon. And if I called in a Marine? They would lose all respect for me."
"What, and you think I have any left?"
John sighed. "Rodney…I trust you, okay? And it's not like this is something I feel comfortable discussing."
"What isn't? Your sudden and irrational fear of tiny animals with eight legs?"
"It's not—" John sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I'm not a big bug fan anymore, okay? It's fine most of the time, but…"
But the harmless spider was dark blue and had things that looked almost like wings on the back. Sometimes they even freaked Rodney out, when he woke up in the middle of the night and had one perched next to his head on his pillow. "Okay, fine. Teyla both sleeps closer and would probably be more sympathetic, and since you actually have a good reason…"
"Well…maybe I wanted to see you?"
Rodney snorted. "Try again, Sheppard."
"You could call me John, you know."
"I'm probably physically capable of it, yes." Now he was just being difficult, and Rodney knew it
"Okay, now you're just being difficult."
Vaguely, Rodney wondered if he should find it worrying that John was apparently now reading his thoughts, but he couldn't really be bothered at the moment. Too tired.
"So…" John fidgeted and grinned. "Want to stay here in case it comes back?"
Now who was being difficult? "Good night, colonel."
And then there was that grin. "There we go."
John paused, and then looked at Rodney pleadingly. The scientist could have sworn that Sheppard's eyes got at least three times bigger, and he felt the urge to curse. How did he do that?
"You're really too tired to go all the way back to your room."
"You could injure yourself, even. Couldn't have that. It's my duty to look out for the safety of the team…"
And he was still giving Rodney that damn look. This tired, there was only so much resistance he could muster up. "Fine."
"I won't molest you in your sleep."
"Thanks, I appreciate it."
Rodney flopped onto the bed and closed his eyes. Ah. Sleep. The mattress was far too soft, of course, but the pillow smelled like hair spray and something musky and the sheets were warm. It was…kinda nice.
The mattress sagged a little more, and Rodney felt John's weight settle beside him—far enough away to remain fairly appropriate, close enough that he could feel the colonel's body heat. The lights dimmed and Rodney relaxed, feeling sleep come closer…
And was abruptly opened by the feel of calloused finger pads on his ear. "What the hell?"
"Relax, Rodney," said John's lazy, amused vice through the darkness. "Radio. It's going on the bedside table."
"I'll just pretend that you're thanking me. Night, Rodney."
"Good night, John."
He didn't wake up again until morning.