Rating: Adult, violence, McKay and Sheppard emo-whump!
Pairing: McKay/OMC. Not McShepp but slightly McSheppie-ish.
Summary: Rodney's bisexuality is "outed" in a most malicious way, putting his career on the line.
This was the unexpected pleasure. Not the delightfully wicked physical ministrations and delights brought to bear upon his naked flesh, although those were far and away one of the marvelous benefits about this, and not even the mind-blowing climax soon to come, but the closeness, the sharing of souls and minds, being this tightly connected to another human being; something he had not experienced...ever in his memory.
Doctor Rodney McKay, so used to the mental aspect of living and interacting with colleagues, not so often had he felt the physical side of human relationships, or even the heart-felt. One or two close encounters at McGill, one more at MIT and, since coming to Atlantis, nothing.
After they were spent and had cleaned themselves off, his younger loved rolled off him and lay on his side, draping one naturally muscled arm over his own not-quite-as-naturally-toned chest. Rodney tucked one hand behind his head. "What do you see in someone like me anyway? I'm almost old enough to be your dad."
His lover chuckled. "This again? You're only old enough to be my dad if you'd knocked up at girl at fourteen. Did you knock up a girl at fourteen?"
"Of course not, but -"
"Then we're good. What the hell difference does a few years make anyway? I love fucking you, Rodney, so stop complaining."
But Rodney needed to know. It was a fault or a blessing, depending on the urgency of the situation. "I'm not complaining, I just wondered." He knew he wasn't a handsome romantic figure, unless numbers and ancient tech' was somehow handsome and romantic, and he recognised that he didn't have refined looks or an Adonis-like body. He used to lie to himself about both but then John Sheppard had stepped into his life and dashed all previously held illusions. That day he had seen the near perfect physical male specimen, and it was not the man in the mirror looking back. "I mean, you're twenty-two. I'm thirty-seven. There are plenty of younger, better looking men around, Alec, why me?"
His lover tilted his head back to look up at him with exasperation and Rodney once again admired the soft brown eyes, the buzzed brunette hair and the fallow-coloured skin of someone whose origins suggested the South Pacific. "None of those other men are Rodney McKay."
He began laying tiny kisses on Rodney's pale chest. "Look, sex isn't just about two bodies rubbing together, as fun and hot and dirty as that is, it's about me doing the Great Rodney McKay – I find it extremely kinky to fuck you cross-eyed every night. Anybody can fuck a horny young stud, they can't get enough and they suck at sex - and not the good kind of sucking, but banging the head of the Science Department of Atlantis? – That's a rare opportunity. You're... special, Rodney, you know? Call me a sucker for brains but I like brains and cock, especially your swollen, respectably sized cock that likes me back. Is that clear enough? Satisfied?"
Rodney heard the words but his heart felt its habitual misgivings. Lessons learned over half a life-time said he was not special, at least not to either sex and he was finding it difficult to shed that self perception, no matter how warped. Too many years of reinforcement had shored it up by relationships on the verge of showing signs of getting off the ground just to see potential lovers change their minds and walk away.
For friends and lovers most of the time he was too much trouble and he knew it. The problem was he could not change no matter how hard he tried. And people were confusing. Apparently truth in relationships was not as appreciated as the magazines would have you believe. People seemed often to prefer lies said in the heat of nightly passion over loving honesty spoken in the daylight.
Rodney preferred honesty. It was respectful and, in the long run, easier on his conscience.
Sheppard caught up with Ronan and Teyla in the gymnasium. "You here to spar?" Ronan asked, always ready for a good session of kicking his commander's ass all over the gym.
"Uh, no, not right now, I've been looking for Rodney. He's not in his quarters or his lab or the mess."
"Hm." Ronan nodded to Teyla who took up her fighting stance, her hard as iron sticks raised in preparation to defend herself. Teyla, despite being half Ronan's size and weight, was equal to him in skill and the bruises that showed up on Ronan on a regular basis proved it. "It's a fair bet he'd be in one of those places." Ronan remarked and then turned his attention to the match, dismissing any more thought of McKay to focus his attention on not getting thoroughly whipped.
Teyla paused before taking her first strike and said to Sheppard "I have heard he is spending quite some time exploring the city with his new science student. Perhaps Rodney is with him?"
"New student?" Sheppard hadn't noticed. A long line of science department faces came and went on a regular basis, the SGC rotating them in and out every six months or so, all sent to learn under Rodney and Zelenka. He had stopped trying to remember their names a long time ago because there was no point in getting to know someone with whom you hardly ever had an occasion to talk, and because there was just too damn many of them. "It's that time again huh?"
Teyla nodded. "I believe so. They have been spending much time together."
Sheppard was almost bowled over. "They have?" Could Rodney have actually managed to temporarily overcome his hostility to all humans and in fact made a new friend?
"Yes." Teyla nodded to Ronan and the match began in earnest.
Sheppard left the two to their clacking sticks and called Rodney over his comm.-link. "Rodney, where are you? We were supposed to meet to go over tomorrow's mission." Not exactly true but if the scientist was avoiding him, or had a new friend that he didn't know about, as his commander he needed to know these things. Truthfully the news that Rodney might have a new friend that he didn't know about was...unsettling, and a little weird. Barring a new laptop with the latest hard-drive in his memory since knowing the guy Rodney didn't make new friends.
After a moment Rodney answered "Um, Sheppard...right." He sounded slightly out of breath. Had he taken up jogging too? "We were? I thought that was later today?"
It was but Sheppard's curiosity was peaked now. Did Rodney have a new jogging friend? On the whole it was good news, the guy was a social hermit, and a new friend was a very good thing, especially if said new friend was getting the genius moving his body once in a while instead of only his mind. On the other hand, why had Ronan and Teyla knew about this and not him? "Uh can we meet? Where are you anyway?"
Sheppard swore he heard someone giggle as Rodney answered "Well, I'm kind of busy right now. Can't this wait until this afternoon? We've just discovered a new storage room and it has some storage bins in it we'd like to open."
Another chortle sounded in the background and Sheppard frowned. What the hell was going on? "McKay you know you're supposed to have a team of least two soldiers as protection during one of these Atlantis explorations of yours. You know you have a habit of stumbling upon things that almost get you killed, remember?"
Rodney sounded annoyed now. "We're fine, and we're almost done anyway. I'll talk to you later - Rodney out."
Sheppard tried calling him again, this time getting nothing but static.
Alec pushed him up against one of the large, empty crates and devoured his mouth with his own, laughing as Rodney tried to talk to his commanding officer through the string of wet, hungry kisses. "Your Sheppard is one uptight dude."
Rodney removed the comm.-link from his ear and tucked it away in his pocket. "Sheppard's all right, he just worries too much."
"Oh? Is he all worried for you, you think? Doesn't like sharing you? Wants your gorgeous ass all to himself?"
"Don't be stupid, Sheppard's hetero all the way. If he knew about this, he'd-"
Alec pulled his head back a little and stared into his lover's bright eyes. "He'd what? Is he a total homophobe or something?"
"No, he would be okay with it, probably, but the outfit he works for, and that I work for, you know the U.S. military, those people terrified of anything different, would not be okay with it." Rodney stared back. "So this has to stay between us, okay? I mean we can't let anyone find out."
Alec smiled and closed the gap between their lips again. "No problem, boss, just so long as I get to "open your storage box" as much as I want while I'm here." He took Rodney's mouth once more with his own, slipping his hands up beneath his shirt and tickling his rib cage, making Rodney jump. Alec asked "Is that door locked?"
Rodney shook his head. "Just a second..." With his artificial ancient gene he thought the door locked and after a few seconds they both heard it activate. "There," he said. "We're good."
Alec smiled. "That is so fucking cool. Now, take all of your clothes off, Doctor McKay."
Sheppard found Weir and Teyla seated with Ronan, enjoying lunch. Sheppard put his own tray down and took a chair. Today's lunch was a weekly special – steak sandwich, a meal that as long as he was not off-world on a mission he never missed. One Rodney never missed either. It was his favorite. "Where's McKay?"
Teyla shook her head. "I have not seen Doctor McKay." Weir cut off another succulent piece of Grade-A beef and chewed it with satisfaction, just shaking her head.
Ronan did the same, already chow-ing down on a substantially larger piece and not wanting to open his mouth to speak while chewing because the humans frowned on it. Sheppard noticed a second steak sandwich on the Satedan's tray.
Teyla volunteered "I did see Doctor McKay with his young assistant Alec Burgess this morning." She exchanged glances with Elizabeth Weir, who merely smiled mysteriously back and continued her meal.
Sheppard was certain he had missed something in the silent exchange between the two women. "What?"
Teyla raised her eyebrows as though at a mystery. "Nothing."
Weir shrugged and spread her hands, though she did pass another tiny smile over to Teyla.
Now Sheppard knew something was up. "Okay, what's going on? What's with the conspiracy of grins happening here?"
Teyla wiped her mouth. "It's nothing, John, but I believe Rodney has made himself a new friend."
Ah ha! Sheppard almost let the mental slip make it onto his features. He cleared his throat. "Oh? Well, that's...a good thing I guess."
Weir asked "You guess?"
"It's good," He said for emphasis. "It's good. A new friend is good."
Ronan stopped chewing for a moment and then said to the two women "He's jealous."
Ignoring the accusation for the moment, Sheppard frowned at him. "You knew?"
Ronan shook his head and went back to his food. "First I've heard of it, but it makes sense, you being jealous I mean. You sort of treat McKay like you own the rights to 'im or something."
With more force than he intended Sheppard snapped "I do not." Then he gathered his thoughts into a more coherent pattern and asked with as much casual inflection as possible "Is this new find of the female variety?"
Weir asked "And if it were, that would surprise you?"
"No, no," Sheppard said, the food sticking in his throat. "But it would be a bit, you know, unusual. I mean Rodney doesn't exactly attract, um, uh...anybody."
Weir seemed a bit put out. "Is that a fact?" She put down her fork. "And why do you think no one might be attracted to Rodney?"
Sheppard looked over to Ronan for support, knowing he'd put his foot in it, but Ronan was still chewing, waiting to hear the answer too.
"Well, Rodney's a nice enough guy and all, hell, he's my best friend, but he's a little...not so much...I mean not really...the attracting type." It was weak and he knew it.
"Is that so?" Weir asked. "Well I happen to disagree."
She sounded like she was spoiling for a good verbal spar and Sheppard's vein of thought ground to a halt. "You do?" He winced, realising how incredulous he had sounded.
Weir nodded. "Yes, I do. Rodney may not be to everyone's taste, but he has..." she paused and then said, sounding very decided on her choice "very nice eyes." She took up her coffee cup. "Really, very nice and very kind eyes. Rodney wouldn't hurt a fly."
Sheppard had to agree. "Well, no, I agree, no h-he wouldn't..."
Teyla jumped in. "I agree with Elizabeth. Rodney may not be as physically fit as some but he has very good thighs."
Sheppard almost gagged on his piece of steak while Teyla merely continued her observations, not noticing his choking sounds. "Yes, over-all quite admirable legs and apparently, as I have heard some other women comment – how did they put it? – he possesses a backside that will not quit." She took up her tea cup and finished with "I believe that was the phrase I overheard."
John asked. "Really?"
Weir nodded in agreement. "Yes John - really." She seemed annoyed with him. "I must admit I agree with Teyla. Rodney's best side is while he's walking away."
At his disbelieving expression Teyla's watchful eyes widened. "You seemed shocked by this opinion, colonel Sheppard."
Sheppard fidgeted. "I'm not shocked, exactly; I've just never heard either of you talk this way before about...Rodney." Nor had anyone else for that matter he thought but very wisely did not say.
Teyla offered more news "And I believe Rodney has dropped some weight. He is looking more fit than usual."
Weir asked accusingly "Surely you've noticed that, John? He is on your team."
Sheppard nodded quickly lest he get into more trouble, but no, he had not noticed that either. "Well, I don't really pay attention to looks."
Teyla raised her eyebrows as though catching her commander in a lie. "Oh? Then why do you spray your hair very morning?"
Sheppard looked like a rat caught in a cage. "I don't spray my hair."
Ronan said "Yeah, ya' do. I smell it on you when we spar. It's a bit feminine."
Weir pointedly asked Ronan "And the beads you put in your long, flowing locks, are not?"
"They're Satedan memory beads, not jewelry." He said defensively. "They're part of my culture."
Teyla and Weir nodded, the ladies acceding to his explanation and then Teyla added "The point is that we all want look our best and I think Rodney wishes it as well for his new beau. It seems cruel that you two are making fun of him for doing so." Then she added "And, yes, John we can all smell the hairspray."
Silently vowing to change his brand from Consort to something significantly less fragrant, Sheppard hurried on "Well I have to use a little or it stands up - can we get back to the topic at hand please? Are you sure Rodney's met someone?"
Teyla admitted "We are not positive but Rodney does appear to be showing all the signs of being in love."
Rodney was showing signs? Sheppard frowned that he could somehow have missed all of this.
Ronan said. "Well, if its making him exercise more - good, he needs to fix himself up a bit."
Weir asked "Fix himself? Tell me, Ronan, in between missions how do you stay so fit?"
He rattled off the reasons as though they should be obvious. "In between missions I work out, I spar, I train others..."
Weir then rattled off her own point, underlining it for him. "Well, when ever Rodney comes back from a mission, he goes to his lab and works. He's busy every day devising new ways for us to fight our enemies, effecting repairs to the city, and working on keeping the tech' around here running at top efficiency. He runs an entire department, and Rodney is directly responsible for the work of the other scientists in that department. He's the first to arrive every morning and the last to leave at night and he's on Sheppard's team, so it should not surprise us that he doesn't have the time to always be muscling up...he's busy twenty-four-seven."
Ronan sighed and turned his attention back to his food. "Yeah...whatever, it's none of our business anyway." Truthfully he had not considered that whenever he was busy in the gym toning up, Rodney was sitting in front of his computer, busy doing the work he had been hired, and was required, to do.
Grateful that Ronan was drawing his share of the women's ire now, and trying to put two and two together, Sheppard asked "Well, who is it he's seeing?"
Teyla blinked at him rapidly. "Colonel Sheppard, perhaps you ought to go and ask him yourself."
Sheppard forgot all about his food, sliding it to the center of the table. Ronan speared his steak, dropping it on his own tray while Weir and Teyla excused themselves.
After they were out of ear-shot Ronan said "You shouldn't have asked, Sheppard. Those two have a soft spot for McKay."
"Yeah, well..." Sheppard slapped Ronan on the shoulder "We both walked into that one, pal. Look, I'm gonna' go find Rodney. I'll see you later."
Sheppard knocked on Rodney's door. "Rodney. Come on, open up. I'm tired of you avoiding me." He had spent the better part of the afternoon trying to track the physicist down with no luck. Whatever Rodney was doing, he was keeping it well to himself.
Sheppard wondered if he should just barge in but then he risked catching Rodney in a compromising position with his new girlfriend, if there really was one. But Rodney wasn't answering the door so, using his inherited ancient gene, with a small pang of conscience Sheppard willed the door to slide open and stepped into the room.
Immediately he heard the shower running and understood why Rodney had not answered his knock. Sheppard decided to wait and sat on the end of the bed while Rodney finished cleaning up. To wile away the minutes, Sheppard lay back, sinking into the soft mattress piled with quilts and rumpled clothing. Linking his hands behind his head looked around at what he could see from such a sunken vantage point.
What he could see was slightly neater than usual and it was another clue in the mystery surrounding Rodney's unusual behavior. The normally untidy scientist appeared to be taking at least some time straightening up a bit here and there. Another new change Sheppard had not known about until this minute. Rodney's excuse had always been that he was too busy, but Sheppard suspected the truth had simple been Rodney was a genius slob or didn't ever have any visitors of the female persuasion back to his quarters anyway and so saw no need to keep the place neat.
The water stopped and Sheppard could hear Rodney humming to himself. That was also a bit weird.
Sheppard almost said his name when Rodney stepped from the bathroom but the man wasn't wearing a towel around his waist and Sheppard quickly looked away, realising with some embarrassment that the scientist had not only not noticed he had a visitor but that he had no reason to suspect he did. Rodney had naturally assumed he was still alone in his own quarters.
Well, moron, Sheppard thought. Of course he wouldn't think there would be someone lounging on his bed while he air-dried himself. It was after all, Rodney's place.
Sheppard felt like a dirty voyeur by looking back but he was just curious enough to find out whether Teyla and Weir were correct in that Rodney has lost weight and was looking sharper.
He was, Sheppard decided. A cursory glance told him that. Rodney was trimmer and more toned. And damnit if the bastard didn't have good legs just as Teyla said; really good, shapely man-legs that he had hid away all this time, refusing to ever wear shorts in the gym.
But to preserve his sense of hetero-self Sheppard refused for even a minute to mentally consider whether or not it was as fine an ass as the other women had, according to Teyla, observed. He did decide, however, it was high time to make his presence known or it really would seem like he was secretly ogling his best friend. "Rodney."
Rodney jumped about two feet and spun like a top. "Je-zus!" He said, staring at Sheppard like he'd been stunned by a Wraith weapon. Reaching for a discarded shirt Rodney swiftly wrapped it around his waist to hide his nakedness. "Sheppard, what the-" Rodney licked his lips and swallowed to settle the sudden hammering in his chest. "You nearly gave me a heart attack! What the hell are you doing sneaking around my quarters?"
"I wasn't sneaking. I'm here because I've been looking for you all day."
Rodney lifted his chin and set to opening drawers one after another, then slamming them shut, trying to find some clean underwear and other clothes, directly avoiding looking at his best friend. "Well, I was busy."
"Doing what? It doesn't take all afternoon to scout out one storage locker, and before you tell me you found some interesting device-or-other, I had Bates check it out for me, and it was empty. The dust had hardly been disturbed, except for the top of one crate, so don't try inventing excuses to explain why you spent the afternoon avoiding me."
Rodney dropped the dirty shirt that was hiding his nether-regions to slip on a pair of underwear and Sheppard averted his eyes. No man should see his best friend naked, or wearing clingy cotton boxers that showed everything. A thing he ought to have remembered before barging in, he supposed.
As Rodney pulled on a pair of less clingy blue sweats, he answered. "I wasn't avoiding you. Can't I have a free afternoon without checking in with you every ten minutes? You may be my commander when I'm on duty but once in a while I get a few hours off, too, and I'm not required to file a report on my activities - or did you forget that Colonel?"
Sheppard heard the indignity inherent in Rodney's tone as though he were being viewed as a man not with his own agenda but Sheppard's personal lap-dog. Suddenly Sheppard felt like a nosey Nelly for all but stalking his best friend, and making demands on his time and where-a-bout's as though he wasn't supposed to have fun without his commanding officer there to approve it. "Sorry, Rodney, I was just, uh, sorry." He stood up to leave.
Before he got to the door, Rodney said "I've met someone, okay? And I want to keep it private this time."
That he admitted it to him was a sign that Rodney had not intentionally tried to block his best friend out of his life. That he admitted it also showed that Rodney wanted his best friend's support as well and Sheppard deeply appreciated the gesture. He also exactly understood Rodney's meaning about privacy. Once any of the fellows on the various teams found out that Rodney had enjoyed even one date with anyone that fellow would quickly spread it to all the others and the never-ending jokes would begin. The cat-calls would erupt whenever he was around as though Rodney having sex was some sort of rare, circus side-show, and Sheppard knew even though Rodney shrugged off such talk, it hurt him none-the-less.
So Sheppard got the privacy part. What he didn't so much get was the secrecy. "I understand that Rodney, but we're supposed to be best friends." When no more information was forthcoming, and going over every new female name he could think of produced no likely candidates, Sheppard asked with a little less patience than before "Well, aren't you going to tell your best friend who the lucky girl is?"
"Not right now, no." Rodney was still not looking at him however, and that was just not like the physicist at all. If Rodney was frightened of anything, it sure as hell was not a shouting match. Rodney could string together a battalion of insults and fire them off as fast a P-90 with a slammed firing pin. There was hardly a soul alive better at verbally mowing down an asshole than Rodney McKay.
Now Sheppard felt a little hurt. "Why not?"
"Because it's none of your damn business."
This time there was no mistaking the dismissal in his tone and Sheppard knew that for some reason not yet evident he had this time somehow stepped over the line. Rodney was fairly tolerant of his friend's interference on his life but something was eating at the guy and right now pushing Rodney's buttons was clearly not a good idea. Not tonight. "Yeah, I understand. Sure. Uh, sorry I barged in." Sheppard turned to leave.
Behind him he heard Rodney suck in a huge breath as though readying himself to jump into the unknown. "It's a man."
Sheppard had heard Rodney say the impossible word and he stopped. Then he turned around. He wasn't sure however that he had heard him correctly. Better to be sure. "Sorry?"
Rodney was standing sideways, not directly looking at him anymore. "Yes, John, I said a man. That's why I don't want anyone to know." Softer "That's why I don't want any of the team members to know." Rodney finally slipped on a shirt, not one of his military issue but a looser white cotton button-up casual. "Dealing with their bullshit is bad enough when it's a coffee date, imagine..." He left the sentence to dangle, using small circular motions of his right hand to finish it.
Rodney was now looking at him with fear nestled in his eyes. Sheppard swallowed once. As news went, it was pretty unexpected, in a spectacularly world-shifting, expectations-shattering kind of way. "I see, uh, well, um, I see."
Rodney let his fingers drop from buttoning up the shirt. "There it is," he said, "That awkwardness that always comes. I knew I shouldn't have said anything."
Sheppard didn't feel awkward. Stunned was more like it. "Look, Rodney, I didn't know, okay? I only today began to suspect you were seeing anyone let alone a - I mean how long, um, when...?"
"When do you think? Since always." Rodney tossed the shirt aside and put his hands on his hips. John noted the lack of love handles. "Orientation's not al-a-carte, you know, it's not like it's a choice."
"Bi-sexual." He sounded disappointed in his friend. "You can say the word - you're safe you know. It's not like sexual orientation rubs off."
"I know that." Sheppard guessed it had been a stupid kind of assumption that Rodney being with a guy necessarily meant that he was gay. He had seen him with women. "Look, I didn't mean to pry, I really didn't. It's none of my business." Sheppard said, though he knew he had just spent an entire afternoon doing his best to make it his business. This was a huge step for Rodney, not only actually being in a relationship that lasted more than two coffee dates but a relationship with a man that had clearly developed way passed the coffee date phase. Now he had reason to be genuinely concerned and to make it his business, if just a little bit. They were best friends after all. "Why in the hell didn't you ever talk to me about this?"
Rodney's expression was barely tolerant. "Do you often feel the need to talk to me about your heterosexuality?"
Sheppard got the point. "No, I...guess not." Reprimand received Doctor. "But are you...okay? Do you need to talk about, I mean not it, but...?"
Rodney shook his head. "No, I'm okay. It's not an illness, John; I don't have the Satedan clap or anything."
"Okay, okay...just thought I'd ask..." Secretly Sheppard was glad Rodney did not want to discuss his personal life with him because Sheppard himself was to-hell-and-gone not at all ready to discuss Rodney's new bisexuality with him. What he especially did not want to know right then was whether Rodney had ever imagined them together in any physical fashion other than back-slapping buddies on a mission. "Um, look, sorry about all this, but are you...I mean...can I ask you just one thing – are you...happy?"
Rodney finally looked up at him, meeting his gaze and instantly the sky-blue eyes were softer, warmer than when he had first come in. Of course he was actually showing his elusive friend some concern now - About time Sheppard! But he had never been good at this touchy-feely stuff.
Rodney nodded. "I...maybe...I think so."
It suddenly struck Sheppard that happiness was not something Rodney had a lot of experience with. Job satisfaction perhaps and certainly immense pride in his own stupidly-high intelligence - but happiness? Maybe this was the first time in a long time. If so, neither he nor anyone else had any right to question it. He nodded. "Good, that's good." Sheppard said. He really was glad for his friend, and the weirdest part is, it felt good to feel that, and to see Rodney looking so...content. "Good. I'm happy for you Rodney. I am, I'm...I'm really happy for you."
Now Sheppard needed a good sparring session with Ronan, Teyla or anyone willing to try and kick his ass.
Sweating was good. Beating the crap out of someone, or conversely, getting the crap beat out of you was a sweating, stress relieving and testosterone building good time.
Bates and two other among the young recruits were the only ones hanging around the locker room. Two of the new guys – Sheppard searched for the names – Hanson and McCormack – were changing into sweats and trading jokes. Sheppard knew better than to ask one of the new guys if he'd be willing to spar with their Colonel because the idea of not holding back against their commander always terrified new guys. Beating up your commander was thought to be a taboo. So Sheppard asked Bates who had been serving with him long enough to know that Sheppard really didn't want his opponent to hold back. If you always knew what was coming, it was impossible to hone your field skills.
Bates finished dressing and went to warm up while Sheppard slipped into the row behind the newbie's to change.
"Any missions this week?" He heard one ask his friend.
"None so far. I think Sheppard's waiting for something that isn't too risky. He's got to feel me out I guess, but I am ready to seriously kick some ugly Wraith ass."
"Speaking of feeling things out – how can you tell you're in McKay's lab? All the stools are upside-down."
A soft chortle of appreciation sounded from the second recruit and Sheppard, finished changing out of his clothes, walked swiftly away toward to gym. There was no point in chastising them for the inappropriate humor, such talk was unfortunately part and parcel of the American military institution. Besides he couldn't be sure the joke was based on a rumor they had actually heard regarding McKay or if it was simply a generic all-science-geeks-are-faggots joke.
Either way, though, it was probably not a good sign. Soldiers had a sixth sense about these things, able to size up someone's sexual aura in about three seconds. Sheppard had a feeling Rodney's secret was not going to remain a secret for long.
Rodney turned to see Alec approaching him, tablet in hand.
"Finished?" Rodney asked. "That was fast."
Alec handed him the tablet containing his final mathematical thesis, looked around to be sure no one else was in the lab, and then leaned over, kissing his lover/teacher on the lips. "Yes, and I know you'll love it, lover."
Rodney had to catch his breath after the lingering kiss and stammered "S-sure, sure, I'll read it after my shift." These public displays of affection, even when there was no one around, that Alec every-so-often surprised him with still made him nervous.
"And you'll love it." Alec kissed him again, this time tweaking Rodney's nipple through his thin science department-issue shirt.
Rodney watched him go, looked at the tablet, reading the title of his student's master thesis, and then set it aside.
Rodney caught up with his favorite student later than evening in the mess hall, taking a seat opposite him. Despite the public venue, it was safe. No one would question why Doctor McKay was speaking to one of his science flackies.
Rodney handed the tablet back to Alec, who took it with a smile on his face. "So, you loved it, didn't you? I knew you would."
Rodney bit his lip. He was falling in love with this young man and he knew it and as much as that thrilled and scared him, this was business, this was science, and in science establishing truth was the crown jewel of any endeavor, whether chemistry, biology or mathematics. "Um, no. No, I didn't love it, Alec. In fact, I'm-I'm surprised you even turned it into me with that many errors."
The young man's face fell. "What do you mean? There's nothing wrong with it, I went over it a dozen times – it's correct."
Rodney was suddenly not sure if this was the right place to discuss it. "Look, go through it again and bring it to the lab tomorrow morning. We can go over it then."
"No, I want to go over it now."
Rodney looked around but everyone else appeared intent on their own business. "This isn't the time or place."
"I think it is." Alec said, not budging from his chair.
Rodney frowned at his lover's sudden turn of anger. "Look, Alec, I'm not singling you out here. If it was Zelenka, I'd toss it back too. I don't play favorites. It's wrong, do yourself a favour and accept that. Then go back over it and give it back to me tomorrow."
Alec leaned back and crossed his arms. "I can't believe you're treating me like I'm just anybody. I am not just one of your other loser students; I'm the student you've been fucking. How can you do this to me?"
Rodney looked around. "Keep your voice down, and I'm not doing anything to you, I'm telling you that some of your calculations are incorrect. If you want a chance at this position, then you need to rework your data." Hoping to soothe the younger man's bruised ego he said gently "This is nothing personal Alec, your proofs are wrong. You simply have to go over them again and fix all the errors."
Alec stood up, his chair scraping back noisily across the floor, attracting the attention of a few nearby patrons. "I don't have to go over anything, Rodney, but you're dead-wrong if you think this isn't personal. I can't believe you would do something like this. I gave you everything and this is how you repay me? By casually dismissing something I've worked on for months? What – my body isn't enough for you – you want my soul, too?" He then stunned the older scientist by picking up the tablet and throwing it back on the table. "There! There is your goddamn formula's. If you want them corrected lover-boy, then you correct them."
There was no way that at least some people had not overheard the entire exchange. Rodney, abandoning his snack, picked up the tablet and turned it over. Its face plate was cracked making the words beneath appear warped, split in half. He gathered up his frayed nerves and, hands shaking pushed his chair in, retreating to his lab as quickly as possible. He switched on his laptop and began surfing.
After about an hour, Alec sheepishly peered round the corner and said "Sorry I lost my temper back there. It's just you have no idea how hard I worked on that."
Rodney, voice as sad as he had ever heard, said. "I know exactly how hard you worked on it." Rodney swivelled the laptop's screen so he could see it. Rodney nodded to the screens content. "This is a proof that Doctor Gerald Brown-Jones wrote in nine-teen-twenty-seven. It's an almost exact copy of the thesis you showed me in the mess hall." Downcast, Rodney looked up at him. "You plagiarised practically the whole thing. Except of course you made changes here and there, hence the errors I found in yours." Rodney shook his head. "Why would you do this?"
Instead of answering Alec asked a question of his own. "How did you know?"
"It seemed familiar so I looked it up. Turns out I read it when I was a graduate student." With his right index finger Rodney pointed to his head. "Eidetic memory, at least when it comes to math. And you didn't answer my question."
Alec shrugged. "I wanted to work under you," He stepped closer and took Rodney's chin in his hand, stroking his jaw, "I mean in a position other than the very special positions where I have been under you."
Rodney slapped his hand away. "Stop it, Alec. This is serious. This could get you expelled from the whole program. Do you want that?"
"What I want is my cock inside you." Without warning Alec took Rodney's face in his hands again and kissed him hard on the lips and Rodney allowed it until better sense returned. He pushed him away. "What the hell, Alec? Why aren't you taking this seriously? This could ruin your entire career in astrophysics, and you sure as hell won't get assigned to Atlantis now." To Rodney none of it made sense. "What the hell is going on with you?"
"Make the corrections then." Alec said.
Rodney stared up at him, his face a stew of confusion. "What?"
Alec stuck his hand beneath Rodney's shirt and stroked his right nipple. "Change it, disguise it, make the corrections, do whatever you want with it - make it look good, then I'll sign it and we can get back to fucking each other like rabbits."
Rodney stood, moving his nipple and the rest of his body away from the younger mans' insistent fingers. "What? Are you nuts? I'd lose my career. Absolutely not! No, if you're going to do this, you're going to do this right." Rodney was shaking his head at what he saw as a touch of temporary insanity in his young friend. "This is what you're going to do – you're going to start over with a completely new idea and write it up. I'll make sure the over-time gets approved and then we'll go from there, but that" he pointed to the tablet, "that is not acceptable in any science department, least of all mine."
"I thought you loved me?" Alec said, leaning his lithe body against the edge of Rodney's work table.
Rodney, confronted for the first time with the word actually spoke by either of them, tried swallowing with a throat that had suddenly gone dry. "What?"
"I said I thought you loved me?" Alec repeated. "I know I love you, but apparently the feeling is not mutual."
Rodney struggled to make sense of everything that had happened in the last five minutes and almost none of it did. "What...what are you talking about? O-of course I love you. But this has nothing to do with...us...this has to do with your career – trust me if I didn't love you, I wouldn't give a crap – and that's why I don't understand that you seem to be willing to flush everything you've worked for straight down the proverbial toilet before it even gets off the ground."
"It doesn't have to go down the toilet. All you have to do is fix this for me - this one lousy proof. You claim you love me, so then help me. Fix the damn proof and things can go back to normal." Alec explained. "We can go back to normal."
Rodney closed his mouth, staring at the other man for a few seconds. "What are you talking about?"
"I mean if you want to continue this relationship, and I can only assume you do because I'd like to as well, then help me. Fix the proof – or write me a new one. I'm obviously not capable of the math required, so help me, Rodney. You're the genius – prove it! Prove you love me and help me."
Rodney searched his lover's eyes but could find no window into his soul. The magazines were wrong about that, too. Quietly, he said "You know I can't do that, Alec."
"Won't, you mean." Alec retorted. He straightened his posture and walked away from McKay. "See ya' around, Doc'."
Rodney McKay found himself in Elizabeth Weir's office two days later. When he entered Sheppard was already seated before her desk. There was one other empty chair in place for him.
"Doctor McKay, thank you for coming."
Rodney looked back and forth from Sheppard to Elizabeth, and then giving Sheppard a questioning glance. Sheppard shrugged. Apparently he didn't know the reason for the impromptu meeting either.
Rodney took his seat.
"Rodney, something very...something has come to my attention." She scratched her nose. "This...is..." She seemed unable to articulate whatever it was. Then she squared her shoulders and plunged ahead. "Doctor McKay, someone has made certain very serious accusations against you, and as leader of this expedition I am forced to make inquiries into it." She indicated Sheppard with a short wave of her hand. "I have asked Colonel Sheppard to be here as well since you are also under his command and this could very well affect him, and your place on his team."
In a flash of insight Rodney suddenly knew exactly why he had been called in. "What did he say?"
Weir looked grateful that she would not have to continue in such a formal vein. "Alec Burgess claims that you have made inappropriate sexual advances toward him, with which for a time he went along with. He claims you agreed to bolster his career in exchange for discreet...trysts. He now wishes to lay charge against you for sexual harassment and malicious sexual manipulation."
Rodney closed his eyes, feeling all of his blood drain to his feet. He opened them and, pointedly not looking over to see Sheppard's stunned expression, asked Weir "And do you believe him, Elizabeth?"
On the desk Weir clasped her hands together in a tight ball. "Of course not. I've known you for years Rodney, these charges are totally bogus."
Nodding "But..." Rodney prompted.
"Yes, but..." she agreed. "The charges are too serious to ignore. And so as leader of this expedition it is my duty to begin an inquiry into them to determine if this should go any further than my office. I'm sorry, Rodney I have no choice. This must be looked into." She licked her lips. "So it is my unfortunate duty to revoke, temporarily, your duties and privileges as Chief Scientific Advisor of the Atlantis Expedition and as well, you must be taken off all active duties under Colonel Sheppard until such a time as these charges can be dealt with."
Rodney could hardly breathe. To his left Sheppard was leaning over resting his elbows on his sharp knees, rubbed his palms together uselessly. "Son-of-a...Jesus-H-Christ..." Sheppard whispered.
Rodney stood up, swayed and almost fell over but righted himself before anyone took notice. "Is that all?" He asked.
Weir nodded, unable to look at him as Rodney walked out of her office on shuffling feet, his movements about as substantial as a ghost's.
Once Rodney had left Sheppard lifted his head up and stared at Weir. She did not miss his level-eyed meaning. "I know, John, I know but there's nothing I can do. Rodney is going to have to defend himself on this one. I'm sure the charges will be dropped as soon as it's determined how ridiculous they are. This Alec burgess has no case."
"But maybe he could make it look like he has one. This could destroy Rodney's career, Elizabeth – and Rodney. The scandal alone..."
"-I know." She said her face as grim as his. "So let's get to work so that doesn't happen."
Sheppard caught up with Rodney in the hallway outside his quarters. Rodney said nothing, he just let him follow him into the room, and the door closed behind them.
It had to be asked. "Rodney, what were you thinking, getting involved with someone in your department?"
Rodney just stood in the middle of his room, as though stuck whether to sit in his chair or slouch on his bed. He chose the chair, resting his aching head in his hands. "Alec isn't actually a member of my department."
Sheppard dismissed the technicality. "You're splitting hairs, Rod'. It was stupid."
At that moment Rodney seemed not to care about any of it. "Then I'm stupid I guess."
Sheppard took the edge of the bed but didn't slouch. He was too full of frustration for that. "Hardly...but you could have at least picked any one from among..."
Rodney raised his head, snapping out sarcasm "Oh, yes, Colonel Screws-Everybody. How silly of me. I must have missed all the other romantic possibilities lined up outside my door."
Trying not to put his foot in it again, Sheppard took a great sigh. "Look, Rodney, what do you know about this guy? He's obviously lying, and we have to prove it."
"We won't need to, I can talk to him, straighten out this whole thing."
"Protocol says you're not allowed to speak to him now, not after he's laid charges, bogus or not."
"I can if you don't tell anyone about it. He'll listen to me, he..."
"He what, Rodney?"
But Rodney had been experiencing tiny revelations all day since his argument with Alec in the lab. As much as his own feelings were still very much alive and well, although currently frozen in a kind of breathless agony, Alec's intentions had not likely been sincere from the beginning. Rodney bit his lip, trying to swallow the hurt and tears. He'd been humiliated enough for one day, he didn't need Sheppard to see him break down crying, too. "Never mind..."
Sheppard sat up straighter. "Oh shit..." He said, and then stood up, slowly pacing in tiny circles, putting the last piece of the mystery together. "Were you...did you...were you in love with him?" When Rodney didn't answer right away, that cinched it as far as Sheppard was concerned. "You were, weren't you? I had no idea this...I'm sorry, I didn't realise you were...did you love him, Rodney? I mean, or...are you..?"
Rodney wiped at his eyes, the tears hanging there, ever threatening to fall but not falling. He would not allow them to show themselves and reveal the vulnerability and the sheer stupidity of his heart. He whispered "Maybe...a little."
Sheppard wanted to throttle the little lying bastard. How dare the son-of-a-bitch use and then abuse his best friend! Sheppard had no idea what to do. He sat back down on the end of Rodney's unmade bed. What could they do? They had to stop this. "We'll figure this out, Rodney, somehow...but you need to stay away from him as of this minute." Not only was it breach of the legal procedures in such matters, Sheppard was worried that the guy might still have some influence over Rodney and feasibly to his friend's detriment. If true then that influence had to be squelched as soon as possible. "I promise."
Part II asap.