A/n: I know this was supposed to be a Valentine's Day piece, but it's a little late. I blame that it took on a life of its own This is unbeta-ed so all errors are mine. Please leave a review.
True Love's Course
"You MOOve me? What kind of joke is this?" Rodney ranted as he held up the small card with a picture of a cow with tiny pink hearts instead of normal spots. The kicker was the signature: A secret admirer. The cranky scientist was not in the mood for childish pranks. "Is this your idea of a prank?" Radek was a victim of proximity.
"No," Radek tried to contain his laughter. The card looked like something a child would give. "You don't move me to anything, except to insanity." Maybe a little humor would diffuse the anger of the pissy Rodney McKay.
Rodney rolled his eyes and let out an annoyed sigh. "We are not children anymore. There is no need to lower ourselves to childlike levels and hand out this drivel."
"McKay, just relax. Maybe someone wanted to cheer you up. You've been in a fouler mood than normal since Katie left," Zelenka dared to bring up the sore subject, wondering if it was more than just the break up that effected Rodney's mood.
The grumpy Canadian fired off the first insult that came to mind. "Anyone who knows me knows what a stupid, idiotic, asinine, moronic...Of course it makes perfect sense." There was only one person who would do something like this just to get under Rodney's skin.
In a blink of an eye, he was gone from the lab, leaving Radek to question the man's sanity. There was no reason to stick around and Zelenka left for his second job.
"Did you think this was funny?" Rodney let himself into John's room using his override, any sense of boundaries clearly were tossed away. He knew John would try to hide from the confrontation and the only way to get to him was barging in unannounced.
"What the heck, McKay?" An embarrassed Sheppard covered himself and his companion up with the sheet. "You ever hear of knocking?"
The blonde hair spread across the pillow was enough to make it feel like a knife hand been plunged into his gut with one jammed into his back for good measure. Rodney tried to think of something to express the sense of betrayal he felt at the hands of his best friend. His face was red and flustered as the astrophysicist was at a loss for words. "How could you? We're done!" Rodney yelled as he left the room, mumbling a litany of insults directed at John.
"What was that about?" Sam emerged from the covers after she heard the door slide close. She could only pray that Rodney did not see her face. An angry McKay was a liability.
John shrugged and reached for his shirt, "A case of mistaken identity...I hope." With a huge emphasis on the I hope part. The reason for the ranting of Rodney was a mystery and he tried to piece together the nonsensical ramblings of a mad scientist. Sheppard thought he heard the words backstabbing man slut. "He's been a little testy since Katie left and since being stuck in that mine did not help."
"This shouldn't have happen," Sam voiced what they both knew. A weak moment reminiscing about lost loves, she Martouf and he Nancy, and before they knew it they had passed the point of no return and then came the rambling McKay. The day set aside for the day of love sometimes held great surprises and not all good.
John nodded in agreement, "This never happened. We never talk about this." There were countless regrets to be had about this one time coupling.
"What about McKay? I couldn't make out half of what he was saying." The only clear message was that Rodney thought John had betrayed him in the worst way.
"I don't think he knew it was you." John ran his hand through his hair, a tightness settling in his chest. About a week ago Rodney came babbling to him about something about drinks followed by awkwardness that John could not even understand what Rodney was trying to say.
"How can you be sure?" The years in the military taught Sam not to be embarrassed over this indiscretion. It was the same training that taught her to not allow this to happen, but it still did.
"You didn't have drinks with Rodney after being trapped in that mine?"
Sam was confused by the questions and wondered what relevance it had on everything. "No. Why?"
"I wasn't sure who he was talking about. He mentioned beers and then a lot of things that did not make much sense. I'm not even sure what happened. So if it wasn't you he was with..." John started to snicker at the realization. "Oh, he's going to have half the base after him if anything happened, you know that right?" It began to dawn on him that the cranky mood might not completely be about Katie leaving.
"I don't think it's anyone's business if anything happened. As long as it doesn't affect either of their jobs." Sam knew the two men's affinity for ragging on each other.
"Just like this never happened. Maybe I should go find Rodney and try to smooth things over."
The base commander shook her head, "Just leave him alone for tonight. Give McKay time to cool down." Truth be told, she did not want to risk a public confrontation between the men tonight and there be a chance their secret tryst revealed especially since there was a party to that the majority of the city would be attending. There was still a possibility that Rodney still carried a torch for her and it could lead to an ugly blowup. Sam quickly gathered her clothes and hastily put them on. She was unable to look at John in the eyes, the awkwardness would need to be put aside and quickly if they were to work together, not to mention the consequences if higher ups found out about this.
John was not sure if letting Rodney stew was the best course of action, but if Rodney went to sulk at the party then leaving him alone might be a wise choice.
Rodney had no intention of going to the party because the concept of it made him want to pop every red and pink balloon in sight. Fakeness heaped upon more fakeness. He wondered how many drunken regrets there would be in the morning. At least Rodney had the control to stop himself a week ago. The thought of what almost happened and what did happen made the always present knot in the scientist's gut tighter. He knew he was better than that and thought she was better than that too...or so he thought until a few moments ago. The nauseating celebration had what Rodney needed most now, something to dull the pain and make him forget at least temporarily.
The music pulsed in his ear and all thoughts were drowned out except how any would listen to this unearthly racket. Rodney cringed as he watched people bump and grind against each other. To him it was sex with clothes on. Not something to be done in public. Jealous that he would never have anyone dance like that with him? Maybe only a little. No, Rodney was better than that and he shook the revolting ideas from his brain.
"Looks like you could use the strongest we have." A small glass of a clear, strong smelling liquid was placed in front of the cantankerous man. The smell was enough to burn ones nostrils ever so slightly.
Rodney offered a weak smile that did nothing to temper his dismal mood. He did not even bother to question Radek on his quick transformation into bartender. The contents of the glass were quickly down. The reflex wincing indicated how much the liquor burned going down. "Fill it up again," the glass slammed on the makeshift bar.
The glass was quickly refilled and Rodney was about the chug the contents when someone slid into the stool next to him. His eyes first noticed the shapely legs and then slowly journeyed up to a hot pink form fitting dress, blonde hair kissing one bare shoulder, showing just enough curves to get the physicist's heart racing. His anger fueled the next comment. "That's false advertising." McKay pointed to the padding enhanced cleavage.
"How would you know?" The reply was marked with anger and embarrassment. Her cheeks almost the same shade as the dress that enhanced every curve.
"Figures. You've already forgotten. Of course, he would make you forget about me. What was he not man enough to come and talk to me himself? Did he send you to make the blow less crushing?"
"How many of those have you had?" The blonde pointed to the full glass. She had not forgotten what had happened the previous, but the woman was shocked and a little hurt that he bought it up in such a derogatory manner.
"One. I'm not drunk if that's what you're hinting at." Rodney eyes shone with the betrayal that was tearing his insides to shreds. He knew it was not in his right to get mad. They were not an item. It was one night after a drink too many and the emotional aftermath of the mining facility. It was something that should not have happened. John had broken the brotherhood code of not making a move on the woman a friend was interested in.
"Then, what the hell are you talking about? No one sent me here."
"Oh please," his blue eyes rolled dramatically. "I saw you in his bed just now. Don't even try to deny it. I know what I saw."
"Whose bed? I haven't been in any bed, let alone my own since this morning. I finished my shift in the infirmary, went to change and came here," Jennifer confusion grew by the second. "And for someone claiming false advertising you can't keep your eyes off them," she lifted Rodney's chin so he could look at something other than her cleavage. There was a dull throbbing behind the doctor's eyes as she tried to make sense of the nonsensical ramblings. "How about you start from the beginning?"
"I was not looking at them. I was just wondering if those things could stop bullet?" Rodney's mouth filter was in the off position as he said the first thing that popped into his mind.
One drink. I don't think so. Jennifer pushed the glass away from the man she sure was inebriated. "No. I meant why are you acting like a total ass and a half." Annoyance was laced into every word. There would be no sympathy until Jennifer had an idea of what was going on. She knew the difference of Rodney acting like an ass because he was hurt and him acting like an ass just to be an ass.
Rodney sighed and showed his displeasure at having to recount what she already knew. "He broke the sacred code. Sheppard violated the very sanctity of our friendship. He sent me this childish card with a cow on it. Does he not think I knew what he was trying to do? That he was calling me a cow."
"You are mad at him for sending you a Valentine?" Jennifer knew Rodney could be petty at times but not to this extent. "As for the card..."
"Yes, but that is not why I'm mad. The card was stupid and childish on his part, but when I went to...Why am I explaining this? You know what happened next."
"Umm, I don't know. I haven't seen Sheppard since the senior staff meeting yesterday. So why don't you fill me in on what you think I did." Now, the young physician was clearly annoyed at being falsely accused of whatever Rodney thought she and John did.
Rodney shook his head, not wanting to hear the words, "No. That's not right. I saw you. I saw the hair on the pillow."
"You saw blonde hair on a pillow?" Jennifer slapped Rodney's arm hard when he nodded. "I'm not the only blonde on the base. Why would you assume it was me?"
The confused man shrugged. He did not have a good answer and he was not entirely sure why he thought it was her.
"Not good enough," Jennifer challenged.
"I don't know. Everything in my head has been one crazy jumble lately. After last week I just don't know," he sighed dejectedly. It was hard to make sense of all the craziness. "This kind of stuff always happens to me." Rodney had many friends, more like acquaintances, steal women he had expressed interest in before he could do anything. This was just another one of those times.
"Two and half hours of..." Jennifer knew she did not need to finish the thought. Her cheeks flushed when she thought about that night. Much went on between them and she had a chance to explore his body more thoroughly than any medical exam had allowed. Once the fog of the beer cleared from their minds, both put a halt to any further activities.
"I'm sorry about that night. I shouldn't have let it go as far as it did. We were drunk and then there were all those weird emotions stirred up by the mine. I was dealing with Katie leaving. I wasn't in a good place. It was not fair to use you like that. I'm not good at these apologies. Then we've been acting like nothing happened. I mean is that the right way to go, right? It's not like we are ever going to go down that road again. It didn't mean anything, right? No need to dwell on it. We are both adults and can put this behind this behind us. Still friends? It's totally up to you. It would suck if this ruined our friendship. Not that you ever want a repeat performance or that you would have it done it had we been sober." Rodney let the words flow without any filtering. "If you want to be with John then who am I to stop you?" Saying those words hurt more than expected. Rodney knew they shouldn't, but they did. This was not the time to have growing feelings for the woman seated next to him. His recently failed relationship was a prime example of how this was one thing Rodney McKay did not excel at. The heart had the worst timing. The pain and heartache of failure was not something the scared man was ready to take a chance on. He was about to make a hasty exit when Jennifer laid a hand on his knee, stopping him dead in his tracks. "What?" Rodney saw something in her eyes that he didn't expect to see.
"Don't go," Jennifer said softly, her words barely above a whisper and drowned out by the music playing. However, her body language and facial expression got the important message across. She was close to slapping him for letting his fear to making him sound like an arrogant SOB. "We might have been drunk, but I knew exactly what I was doing and who I was with."
"I...I...um." Rodney's mouth ran dry and he choked on what little salvia was in his mouth.
"I know you just got out of a relationship and this is completely the wrong time to be bringing this up, but I just thought you should know the truth." Her voice faltered slightly, fearful that she would send him running away to never be heard from again.
"What truth is that?" Rodney was grateful for the music so that their conversation could not be overheard except by a sneaky Czech bartender.
Jennifer moved her hand from his knew to his cheek. A chill ran down her spine as she smiled. "I like you, McKay. And not just in the way one friend likes another." For a split second she saw the doubt in his eyes, like he thought someone put her up, to this. "I'm the one who left you the Valentine's Day card."
Rodney was quiet for several moments as he tried to process the information. It was everything he wanted to hear, but his face froze in horror as the scientist knew he could not do this. All a sudden the card did not seem so childish when it was not part of a prank. "I can't." His face grew red with embarrassment. "I'm not ready. I can't right now. I'm sorry."
Jennifer was upset, but she somewhat understood where Rodney was coming from. She respected him for it. "Okay. Whenever...if ever you are," the smallest hint of tears shone at the corner of her eyes. "I'll be waiting." The blonde woman kicked herself for being too forward...too soon with a card like that. Hopefully Rodney was not totally scared off. "I'll leave you alone now." The tightness in her chest made Jennifer nauseous. "Enjoy the rest of your evening."
She turned and walked several steps before turning back and planting a kiss on the unsuspecting physicist's lips that turned several heads and made others stare with their mouths agape. If that was going to be their last kiss, might as well make it memorable. Jennifer did not wait for a reaction and made a quick exit.
The kiss made several areas of Rodney's body wake up. It also left him speechless and unable to think. "Damn't," he cursed to himself and quickly downed the glass that been ignored. "Don't even say anything," he grumbled, feeling Radek's eyes looking at him. "If you see Sheppard ask how his blonde is doing," the grumpy scientist waved as he made a not so graceful exit. He no longer cared about the identity of John's latest conquest. There were other pressing issues occupying his mind. Like how was he going to put that kiss to the far corner of his massive mind.
One Year Later
Months passed without any move on Rodney's part and Jennifer wondered if he was ever going to make one. She had a sneaking suspicion that part of the reason was that people kept saying the kiss she gave him at the party was because she lost a bet. The truth was nobodies' business but her and Rodney's. Jennifer thought Rodney started to believe the rumors, but he never gave any indication that they did.
Then when Rodney got sick and professed his love, it broke the physician's heart because she thought at the time the end was near. Her heart was further crushed when Rodney recovered and remembered nothing of his declaration of love. However, his brush with death seemed to put the duo on the track becoming a couple. They started spending most of their free time with each other, almost as if they were a couple. Then there were the two nights they fell asleep together in Rodney room. The first night was after Teyla recovered from being a Wraith Queen and she spent several days after trying to cover up the mark on her neck and the second night was after Rodney's team was falsely accused by the collation and she returned the favor and he had to cover up a mark. They still had no consummated the complex relationship they seemed to be having.
It was a month after their last nighttime encounter and Jennifer and Rodney were enjoying lunch laughing when Rodney's expression went very serious. His hands started to shake and he hid them under the table to conceal that fact.
"See, one of my old ... this guy who was doing his doctorate the same time as me, he's giving a big secret presentation about some new thing that he's working on, and everyone and anyone in the physics community's gonna be there and ... well ... see the thing is, there's this perception out there that, uh, I'm, um ... ... like a washout recluse." Rodney eyes said I'm ready.
End A/N: Not the ending you expected? Thanks to Crye4Me for some of the evil ideas used here. Also hifield's latest story inspired the ending of this. The last quote is from GateWorld transcripts.