Summary: Jealousy can be a monster - or if worked right, your friend
Episode tag for Inferno
This always happened; this too-late-to-do-him-any-good anger. And it always hit him at the most inopportune moments, like now, when the Mess was serving the fried meatloaf with the brown sugar/ketchup substitute topping and he was really enjoying it. What really bothered him, though, was that the anger - when it hit - would do so days, weeks or even months after the incident that triggered it.
In this case, it was weeks - three to be precise.
Where was this justified and righteous anger when he'd needed it, eh? And once it came, why couldn't he let it out? Face the demon in his domain and let it all out? No, he just kept right on eating the fried meatloaf as if nothing was wrong. He couldn't even lose his appetite, which would have given him some satisfaction.
Okay, no, it wouldn't, but he could fool himself into thinking that way - even as he continued to shovel the food into his mouth.
Hey, at least he was neater about it than Ronon.
Rodney finished his dinner and sat back, both happily full and unhappily stuck with his anger. Ronon was polishing off the last of his mashed potatoes and Teyla had excused herself a few minutes earlier, as had Sheppard. This, of course, meant no talking. Grunting, yes, talking, no.
On the other hand, maybe Ronon could help….
He leaned forward, pushed his tray to the side, and said, "Can I…ask you something?"
Ronon stopped chewing to look up expectantly.
"Yes, well, I'll take that as an affirmative." He picked up the spoon he hadn't used and, while fiddling with it, asked, "How do you handle…things…when you're angry with a friend?"
Ronon cocked his head. "Angry?"
"Yes, you know, mad? A friend does something to you and it makes you angry? Hello?"
Ronon shrugged and, even as he went back to his food, answered, "A challenge. Bantos sticks."
"Okay, that's probably not an option for me."
"No, talking is what you do best, or at least the most. You seem to be pretty good at it, but," he shrugged, "I don't usually listen."
"Thanks, Ronon. I can't express how appreciative I am of your help."
"That's sarcasm, right?" Ronon asked, a mischievous gleam in his eyes.
Rodney didn't bother to answer, he just picked up his tray, got up, and walked away - but he heard Ronon's snort of laughter.
Walking back to his lab, Rodney realized that this particular anger wasn't new. Meaning the reason for it wasn't new, therefore, was there a single reason for letting it go this time, for not dealing with it? No. In fact, there were several why he should. His own health, for one. He really couldn't afford ulcers or heart attacks, not at his young age. And keeping it inside, not venting, would most definitely result in one or both. He just knew it. A second reason for dealing with it was, well, pride. Yeah, pride. He had it. In spades. And he needed it. And Sheppard was slowly but surely eroding it. Yeah, erosion. Not good. Very bad for Atlantis. So.
So…he'd confront Sheppard.
All right, yes, it was true, confrontation of this sort wasn't exactly his forte, but with so much at stake…he'd force himself.
And sooner than later, obviously. He could already feel his lunch starting to congeal and that would lead to clogged arteries and too much stomach acid, which would lead to ulcers….
"Ah, Major Lorne. Would you know where the Colonel is? He's not answering his radio."
"I believe he said something about the driving range."
Rodney should have guessed. With longer days, Sheppard was spending more and more time in the early evenings playing with his balls and damaging the planet's environment at the same time. As he thanked Lorne and headed for the nearest transporter, he thought maybe he could come up with a way to save the balls, and thus the ocean, a thought that had absolutely nothing to do with making things better for Sheppard. No way. Besides, he was angry with him. Like he'd do something nice for the man? Not likely.
John took another swing, felt the thrill of the club head connecting with the ball, and followed through.
Nice. At least a two hundred foot drive.
He pulled another ball from his pocket, bent down, set it up on his version of a tee, and got ready for another swing. He was just bringing the club back when….
"Colonel Sheppard - ever the busy leader."
John broke his swing and dropped his arms. Leaning slightly on the driver, he said simply, "Rodney."
"Don't worry, I'm not here to drag you away from your - work. But I thought I should clear up a few things to avoid scenes similar to the ones on Taranis."
Okay, John had to admit it - Rodney had his interest. Scenes? Scenes?
Rodney moved to stand in front of him and, arms crossed over his chest, said, "They're always going to choose you, Sheppard. Any time it's between you or me? It will always be you. That's how life works, so all the posturing, the razor-sharp, snarky remarks - shot with deadly aim at me - and the insults are a total waste of your time and talents." Rodney held up a hand. "Oh, I know, I have quite the ego, but when it comes to women, I know my limitations. Give me a planet to save--"
"You just had to get that in, didn't you?"
John shrugged. "What can I say? You left it wide open. I had to take it."
"Yes, and that's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The way you said it? Not offended. No real intent to hurt, just doing what we always do. Unless there's a woman. Then…then you'd have said it in a whole different way and I'm here to tell you: don't bother. Again, I'm damn good at pulling our collective asses out of the fire, as are you--"
"Gee, thanks, McKay," John said with a faux self-deprecating grin.
"Anyway…my ego is more than justified where my science is concerned. But when it comes to women…all right, not so much. But so what? We all have our strengths and weaknesses, that's to be expected. So what I'm saying is - knock the whole 'look at me, mighty leader' act when there's some alien female in distress, all right? Again, it's totally wasted and, all right, it makes me feel like crap, and yeah, I suppose I just revealed a weakness, and it's not all that manly to admit, but hey, I'm the guy who leaves the woman unprotected and ducks during an earthquake only to tell her later that it was military protocol, remember? A hangnail sends me to the Infirmary, so this should not surprise you."
John thought he might be suffering from neuron-overload. His ears were buzzing and he might even be a bit dizzy. Usually when Rodney started spouting off, he was just kind of…bored. Not disinterested, exactly, and he actually kind of liked Rodney's voice, even when it went up an octave in the face of imminent death. And come on, no one whined quite like him. But this…this was different. This was…odd. Maybe Rodney's talking had finally caused a leaky artery in his brain?
"Sheppard? Did you hear a word I said? Oh, don't bother to answer, I already know what you'd say. Well, fine, then. So fuck you and, from now on, when faced with a beautiful alien, I'll simply make myself scarce or find some homely alien scullery maid who'll truly appreciate me. Goodnight, Colonel."
Well, at least the buzzing was gone. Unfortunately, so was Rodney. And he'd actually said, "Fuck you." John was pretty damn sure he'd never heard Rodney use that word before. Or anything similar.
It was altogether possible that Rodney was actually mad at him. Over a woman. Or rather, the way he'd acted toward Rodney while around a woman.
John looked out over the ocean, at the setting sun and calm water. Someone needed to explain the concept of jealousy to Doctor Rodney McKay.
Funny the amount of things one had to 'explain' to Rodney, the self-proclaimed (and rightly so) genius of Atlantis.
Of course, there was the question of whether he should explain, him being in the military and all. On the other hand, explaining might make Rodney feel better even if the reasoning behind the explanation freaked him out a bit.
Nah, Rodney wouldn't freak. He'd either get all embarrassed and red-faced while waving his hands in the air and saying something like, "Whatever floats your boat but honestly, I thought your boat was floated by beautiful women, but hey, I'm cool, really," or…he'd be really happy about the explanation. Which meant John would be very happy.
Rodney, oddly enough, didn't feel one bit better and he should. He'd gotten the whole anger thing off his chest, cleared it away, dumped it. He'd spoken his mind, said all he'd needed to say - and his stomach was still churning. He walked over to the nightstand, shook out a handful of Rolaids, tossed them into his mouth and, after sitting down on the bed, began to chew thoughtfully.
So why didn't he feel better? Why, in fact, did he feel worse? He went back in his mind, watched himself taking a load off, and seeing Sheppard's face…which, now that he thought about it, looked kind of…blank. Not the way he looked when Rodney started spouting off his science, but just…blank.
Damn it, he really hated Sheppard. How dare the man make him feel bad for telling the truth? For calling him out on his unacceptable behavior? That was just so unfair.
On the other hand, now that the Rolaids had hit his stomach, he was hungry. Ravenous, in fact. He got up and headed for his favorite place.
Damn it. Okay, McKay, where the hell are you?
John stood in front of Rodney's door, the door that wasn't responding, which meant Rodney wasn't inside. He tapped his radio. "McKay, come in."
"McKay, I know you can hear me and you know I can find you easily enough, so just answer, damn it."
He sounded annoyed. Duh.
"Where. Are. You?"
"Two words: chocolate pudding cups."
John rolled his eyes. "That's three words, McKay."
"Oh, shut up."
"Look, just get your ass down here - and by here, I mean your quarters. We need to talk. Oh, and bring extra pudding."
With that, he leaned against the wall to wait.
Rodney walked toward his quarters, pudding cups in hand and, naturally, Sheppard was leaning in that…way…of his, looking so at ease and unconcerned and…and… oh, all right, sexy.
Without a word, he swiped his hand over the control and, when the door slid open, walked in, knowing Sheppard was right behind him. He stepped over to his bed, sat down, and put the extra pudding on the nightstand - right next to the Rolaids.
"Help yourself," he finally said, as Sheppard made himself at home by grabbing a cup and then lounging in the corner chair, long legs spread lightly apart and stretched out in front of him. He had the nerve to look downright pornographic.
John held up the pudding. "Thanks."
"I'm here to serve," Rodney said dryly.
John just grinned.
"Excuse me, but you said we needed to talk and demanded my presence, so maybe it would be nice if you…talked?"
"I just thought you should know that you were right. And I'm sorry. But I think you might have missed a rather important component behind my behavior--"
"Yes, like your stupidity. The very idea that I'd be a threat to you--"
"A lot of women - and men too - like brains over anything else, McKay."
"Oh, please. Don't insult me."
John waved the pudding languidly in the air. "All right, putting that aside for a moment, consider this: there's more than one reason for someone to feel jealous."
"Aren't we bright tonight? Of course there is. So? We're not talking about the other reasons, we're - scratch that - I'm talking about just one reason, one kind of jealousy and I'm telling you it's wasted. Can we just leave it at that?"
"No. Because you're wrong. About my reasons." He sat up. "I was jealous, all right. But not of you--"
"Well, duh. Isn't that what I've been saying?"
"Could you just shut up and let me finish?"
Looking only slightly affronted, Rodney nevertheless shut up.
"I was jealous of…her. Of Norina."
"You're not the quick study I always gave you credit for being, that's for sure. You've got the jealousy thing backwards, Colonel."
He said it with such indignation that it was obvious he hadn't put the pieces together - yet. John sat back and waited.
It didn't take all that long. While John waited, Rodney waited, and when John said nothing in response, Rodney could only do one thing - think - so John actually saw the moment the penny dropped.
Rodney's eyes darkened ever so slightly.
Then, after another few seconds, he reacted in a more Rodney-like way. His eyes did a superb imitation of a saucer, along with his mouth, as one word came out…and it was Rodney's usual….
Satisfied, John opened up the pudding cup and asked, "Did you think to bring spoons?"
Eyes still wide, Rodney reached over, opened the drawer, and pulled out two plastic spoons. He tossed one to John, who caught it neatly. They ate their respective puddings in silence.
Well, not silence, exactly. John thought he and Rodney might be competing to see who could sound the more orgasmic while licking their spoons in the most evocative ways possible. He would have thought he'd be the clear winner - in both - but no, Rodney was going down on his pudding cup and spoon in such a way that if anyone else had been present, they'd have immediately said, "I'll have what he's having."
When they were both done - at almost the same time, John almost regretted having given up smoking years earlier.
"Damn," Rodney said as he tossed the empty container into the nearby wastebasket. "Now I wish I'd never given up smoking."
John got to his feet, tossed his empty cup and said, "The tradition is, I believe, a smoke and then a shared shower."
"God, I knew you'd be the romantic type. I just knew it. Listen, Sheppard, sex in showers is for fools. Certainly not for a man with a bad back, okay? And have you seen the showers? Please. Two men at the same time? Not going to happen."
John rolled his eyes. "Ever the practical one, eh, McKay?"
"I'm just saying--"
"How do you feel about two men in one 'somewhere between a twin and a full' bed?"
"Oh, well, that's non-negotiable. We have no choice if we're going to have sex after pudding."
He glanced up and sideways at John, who could have sworn it was as close to a flirty look as he'd ever see on the man, and added, "We are going to have sex, right?"
Nodding, John said, "I'm thinking…yes. Although we've lost some of the spontaneity."
John jumped Rodney the way Rodney usually jumped the fried meatloaf.