Atlantis slash


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Minimum Safe Distance

Title: Minimum Safe Distance

Author: kageygirl

E-mail: kageygirl@gmail.com

URL: http://www.kageygirl.com

Feedback: LiveJournal

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Rating: PG

Season/spoilers: Season 1, 1.14 "Sanctuary," 1.15 "Before I Sleep"

Pairing: McKay/Sheppard

Honestly, it was his own damn fault.

It had started because he'd been so relieved when Rodney had stopped being truly angry at him over the mess with Chaya. Not that Rodney hadn't been kind of pissy about it from the beginning, mind you—but that was just Rodney. And he'd been right about her, after all, that she'd been hiding things from them—big things—and maybe John should have listened to him a little more. So he'd fumbled his way through an apology and let Rodney's coldly articulate and multisyllabic "I told you so" go uncontested.

Rodney hadn't stopped making cutting remarks about it, of course—because that was Rodney, too. But they became less like surgical incisions and more like taunting jabs, and John knew that things were okay between them.

More importantly, Rodney had stopped shying away from him when John entered the room.

Oh, Rodney had always had a good pretext: moving from console to console in the control room, ducking around John to pick up one piece of lab equipment or other. It was never anything John could really pin down, but Rodney had been so much less…around for a while there. John couldn't really blame him—while their confrontation in the hallway hadn't actually gotten physical, John had had some very uncharitable thoughts about it. And as much as he sometimes seemed oblivious to social nuances, Rodney was pretty damn perceptive when he wanted to be.

So, the first time Rodney parked himself next to John again, gushing over some-the-hell computer schematic, well, John had been kind of happy. Maybe a lot happy. Possibly even giddy.

That's when John had started this little game.

"Stalking the Wild McKay" had begun merely as a way for John to reassure himself that yes, Rodney had stopped avoiding being near him.

John took a seat at the workstation closest to the monitor where Rodney gave Elizabeth his typically emphatic state-of-the-city update, listening with mock solemnity and nodding in completely inappropriate places.

John dropped by Rodney's lab just to amble around the room and get a little verbal abuse and a densely worded admonishment not to touch anything.

John sat himself next to Rodney in the mess hall and smiled into his mug as Rodney delineated exactly where the cook had gone wrong with each item on the menu.

Somewhere along the way—John wasn't quite sure when—he'd gone from observing a minimum safe Rodney distance to being Rodney-adjacent as often as possible. He was sure it never would have happened if Rodney had seemed uncomfortable at any point, but Rodney was apparently oblivious to John's newly discovered ability to hover without an aircraft.

He'd completely done this to himself.

After all, he was the one invading Rodney's personal space. It wasn't like he could blame Rodney for not freaking out and sending John away when it happened, because John was the one making the incursions, wasn't he? Like now, when Rodney was innocently sitting in his lab working on some kind of power-consumption analysis of the naquada generators, and John was—

—pretty much just standing over his shoulder for no good reason.

"I'm assuming that if there were some emergency that required my presence, you would have told me, right?"

John jumped a little. Fortunately, Rodney hadn't taken his eyes off his laptop, so John could pretend that his veneer of cool was unblemished. And that he hadn't been sort of staring at Rodney's left ear. "As if we could possibly get by without you, McKay."

"True enough. Good point."

Rodney went back to typing, and John contented himself with watching Rodney's hands. He was a little disappointed when they stopped suddenly, accompanied by an exasperated sigh. "Was there something else you required, Major?"

"Not so much, no."

Rodney swiveled in his seat with deliberate slowness, and John admired the drama inherent in that. Surprisingly enough, Rodney didn't look annoyed, only curious. "Then—forgive my bluntness, but—why are you here?"

Crap. That would have been a good question to have prepared an answer for. John shrugged. "Seemed like the place to be."

Okay, yeah, prepared answer would have been really good, because clearly, he still couldn't extemporize worth a damn. Rodney narrowed his eyes at him in a way that made John very nervous. "Really. My lab…'seemed like the place to be'?"

"Well, yeah." John crossed his arms casually, because casual meant slow, and slow bought him time. "I just wanted to make sure you were…" He spread the fingers of one hand, then dropped them back against his biceps. "Going to be finished in time for the briefing," he said, nodding convincingly.

"The briefing…tomorrow?"

Crap. Not so convincingly. "That briefing. Yes."

Rodney was staring at him with even more incredulity than he'd shown the mess hall's latest attempt at powdered Eggs Benedict. Finally, he turned back to his laptop. John rubbed a hand fiercely over his forehead while Rodney couldn't see him.

Rodney entered a few keystrokes, then closed the laptop and turned back to John. The look in his eyes was dangerously…analytical. "All right, Major. What's really going on?"

"Nothing." And now would be a very good time for John to back away and leave Rodney alone. But he didn't seem to be doing that.

"'Nothing' has been going on for the past two weeks." Rodney tilted his head, and John kept his face as neutral as possible. So much for Rodney's obliviousness, then.

Rodney pushed his seat back and stood up, still giving John that level look. John felt his face flush. "I'm sorry, Rodney. I—can't explain it."

"Can't as in you have no explanation, or can't as in you're not willing to give it to me?" Rodney was still studying him, as if he could figure out what the hell was wrong with John that way. John wanted to tell him not to waste his time, because he was clearly a few fruits short of a salad. It was possible he was nothing but cantaloupe.

"Pretty much…both?" John grimaced and closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. When he opened them, Rodney was looking at him with concern.

"Are you all right?"

Yes, no, damned if he knew. "Fine. I'm fine." He forced a smile onto his face. What a silly question. Just because John was acting incredibly weird…and still not moving off, which just showed that his sense of self-preservation had gone right out the window, too. Probably headlong over a balcony and headfirst into the ocean.

Rodney opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it. He frowned a little. "Right, yes, you're fine. That's why you've hardly let me out of your sight since we found Elizabeth's alternate reality double."

Was that the point when he'd really lost all self-control? He'd been doing his best not to think about that, about the history the other Weir had relayed to them, because it was done. Gone. Over with. From her frame of reference, they'd all died—Rodney had died—ten thousand years before John had even heard of the Stargate. There was nothing for John, for any of them, to do now but investigate the gate addresses she'd given them.

So there was no point in dwelling on it. None at all.

John shrugged, trying to deflect Rodney's question. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You don't." Rodney folded his arms, too, and just kept…concentrating on John, in a way that was really unnerving. It gave him a weird little shiver in the pit of his stomach. "So, the fact that you're there every time I turn around doesn't mean anything to you. Lurking around with this little worry line between your eyebrows—that's not ringing any bells."

John was not going to touch his forehead and feel for the alleged worry line. Because he really did have self-control. Even if he'd dismally failed to demonstrate said self-control recently. "I haven't been lurking anywhere. You're on my team, we work together, we see a lot of each other. You're just being paranoid."

Oh, that was mature. But, damn it, he and his legs were still having a failure to communicate. And maybe if he pissed Rodney off, Rodney would stop being so fascinating, and John could get the hell out of there and catalog his idiocy in private.

But of course it didn't work, just like the ground never opens up and swallows you when you really want it to. Rodney just sort of tipped his head, as if mulling it over. "No, actually, paranoia I recognize. Paranoia also fails to explain what you're doing here now, evasive answers notwithstanding."

John sighed and tried to look put-upon, instead of "totally busted" and "completely lacking a reasonable excuse." "I just felt like dropping by. I didn't realize it would be an issue."

Rodney smirked at that, but it was a compassionate smirk. John hadn't even known that those two things could go together, but that was Rodney all the way—a bundle of contradictions, who made a habit of doing the opposite of what John expected. And that thought made him even more nervous, because if Rodney was feeling sympathetic about anything John-related, it should be the mental breakdown he was currently demonstrating. But somehow, John suspected that wasn't the case. Which left him wondering what Rodney knew about him that he didn't.

"You just felt like dropping by." Rodney's voice was laced with good humor.

"Yes." He said it firmly, so that Rodney would believe him and stop smirking and let him go away.

"For no particular reason." The smirk became a gentle smile, and whoa, that was even more disturbing. Not that he didn't like it when Rodney was happy—he just felt a lot safer when he knew why.

John tried to keep his discomfort off his face, though, instead nodding at Rodney. "No particular reason." That was good. He was selling it.

Rodney nodded back at him, still smiling. "I don't think that's even remotely true."

Okay, not so much selling it.

Well, he'd always been the guy to bring a gun to a knife fight. (Or a stick fight, even, and that reminded him that he still had to show Teyla Raiders of the Lost Ark, since he wasn't sure if anyone had actually brought The Untouchables.) John went on the offensive. "Really. Okay, Rodney, you tell me what I'm doing here."

"I don't think I should." All right, now Rodney's smile was a little insufferable.

He had to be screwing with John, but John couldn't let it pass. "Why not?"

Rodney took a step closer, which put him really close—not that John minded, since, okay, yeah, he had been trailing Rodney like a bloodhound lately. Rodney lifted his chin and raised his eyebrows smugly. "I'm not sure you're ready to know."

Oh, yeah. Completely screwing with him—Rodney had nothing. John narrowed his eyes and leaned in a little. "I think I should be the judge of that."

Rodney lowered his head and rubbed the back of his neck, then looked back at John again. He'd lost his air of smugness, and now seemed wary and hopeful and resigned all at once. "Don't say I didn't warn you."

That weird little shiver he'd felt before came rushing right back, and he just had time to realize he'd fucked up, to remember that Rodney really was a genius, and perceptive when he wanted to be, and maybe he really did know something John didn't…

…just before Rodney leaned in and kissed him.


Rodney's lips glided carefully over his, sucking, nibbling, teasing, and John felt everything else around him go still, except for the suddenly urgent beating of his heart. He was sharply aware of the rasp of stubble against his skin, the weight of Rodney's hand as he rested it on John's forearm for balance, the ache in his lungs as he held his breath. With a last nuzzling lick, Rodney ended the kiss and leaned back, watching John's face.

John was pretty sure his veneer of cool had packed it in and left town.

His pulse was pounding under his skin and his breathing was too loud in his ears. He wasn't panting, damn it, just breathing heavily. And unsteadily. But he wasn't panting. He just…hadn't been prepared.

Rodney licked his lips, and John wasn't prepared for that, either. "So. There you have it."

John fought the urge to shake his head, but he blinked hard a couple of times. What the hell had they been talking about?

Oh, yeah. Why, according to Rodney, John had decided Rodney's personal space was his new favorite place to be.

Kind of hard to disagree with such a compelling argument.

Rodney was still looking at him cautiously. John swallowed before he spoke, and was glad that his voice sounded almost normal. "So, that's your theory, huh?" He tried to keep a straight face, but he felt a smile curving his lips upward. Damn it, he wasn't going to get the upper hand for even a minute here, was he?

He promptly stopped caring, though, because Rodney broke into a delighted grin. "I'd say it's a promising one."

"But it should be tested again, right? For repeatability?" Wow, that sounded desperate. And not even close to cool.

Cool was clearly overrated, though, because Rodney didn't look cool at all, he looked thrilled as he chuckled and leaned in for another kiss. John realized then that there was a world of difference between expecting something and being prepared for it, because he was still—Not prepared. At all.

Rodney cradled John's head between his hands and kissed John thoroughly, very thoroughly, oh-god-he-was-really-holding-back-the-first-time thoroughly. John heard himself moan as Rodney's tongue slid alongside his own, and his mouth was warm and moist and his lips were agile and god, he should have guessed Rodney would be good at this, because he was so articulate it was scary, but John hadn't thought about it, hadn't had a clue, hadn't had a clue about a lot of things, apparently, but Rodney wasn't holding it against him, Rodney had backed him up and was holding him against a lab counter and kissing him like he planned to melt John's brain using the power of his mouth, and he was halfway there already. John slid his hands around Rodney's back and held him close, kissing him back, nowhere near competing with Rodney but just trying to keep up. Rodney's mouth tasted faintly of something salty, and John was struck by just how good Rodney felt, solid and warm and responsive and alive, moving under John's hands, humming faintly in the back of his throat, kissing John with a skill and an enthusiasm that were rapidly becoming addictive.

Being this close to Rodney, having Rodney not just around, or there, but here, with him, just brought it home to John, the thing that he hadn't been dwelling on. How he was so damn glad that Rodney was here—alive-here, kissing-here, bitching-at-John-here, amazing-John-at-every-turn-here. He leaned into Rodney, enjoying the solid presence of him, really enjoying the way Rodney's erection pressed against his own.

He had to break it off, finally, for air, and because it felt so good, too good, and he didn't want to end up doing something hasty and messy and rushed in the middle of Rodney's lab. He leaned his forehead against Rodney's, and they were both flushed and sweaty and, yes, panting, breathing one another's breath.

"So," John said, and he gave a breathless laugh, shaking his head at himself. "I think I've been following you."

Rodney moved back far enough that John could focus on his face, though he left his hands clasped behind John's neck. "Really? I hadn't noticed." John was oddly glad that Rodney still sounded sardonic, even after some incredible kissing. Rodney had a satisfied smirk and a vaguely unfocused look in his eyes.

"Yeah." John shifted against the counter, not letting go of Rodney. "I think I might have a thing for you."

"Huh. Do tell." Rodney stroked his thumbs along the sides of John's neck, and John closed his eyes under the gentle pressure.

"I kind of think we should discuss it elsewhere." He looked back at Rodney again, a little hesitant. "In private?"

"Possibly." Rodney gave him another assessing stare, though John could easily see the humor under it when he was this close. "Are you going to keep following me around?"

John nodded, grinning. "Pretty much."

"Good." Rodney looked smug again as he backed away, drawing his hands down John's arms and giving his wrists a tug. John let himself be pulled away from the counter before Rodney let him go and turned towards the door.

At the doorway, Rodney stopped, looking at John a little shyly. "Good," he said again, and John watched him duck his head briefly. He was charmed and relieved that Rodney was kind of flustered, too. Nice to not be the only one. "To tell you the truth, I think I've gotten used to it."

"Cool." John gave him what was probably an idiot grin, decided he didn't care. Rodney rolled his eyes, shaking his head fondly before heading out into the hallway.

True to form, John followed him.