Title: Voyage Closed and Done
Summary: Rodney needs to rest
Disclaimer: characters property of MGM, Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper
Word Count: 1489
Notes: Title taken from Whitman's O Captain, My Captain!.
It had been three days since the Wraith left Atlantis believing it destroyed. Both McKay and Zelenka had been working non-stop for those entire three days to repair damage done during the siege and invasion. Both men worked under extreme stress and John knew, like no one else on the base except Carson and Elizabeth, that neither man had slept for more than thirty minutes at a time for the last week.
He’d been in with Elizabeth, going over the new roster and security details when Carson had rushed in, frantic with worry over Rodney’s request for more stimulants.
“At this rate, Elizabeth, he’s going to kill himself, and I’m not just talking about from sleep deprivation. I’m concerned about his respiratory health, and he’s still demanding more.” He paused for a breath. “I realize that the city needs to be repaired, but, Elizabeth, Rodney needs to stop. To rest. Or else his work is going to kill him.”
Elizabeth lifted her eyebrow, acknowledging Carson’s fears, then turned to look at John before sighing. She opened her mouth to speak, but John waved her off.
“I’ll see what I can do. But honestly, Elizabeth, you know Rodney as well as I do. If he’s not comfortable leaving the job undone, he won’t.”
“I know, John. The least we can do is try, though.”
“Major,” Carson said, “Just get the man to lie down for while. He definitely needs it.”
John nodded. “Will do, Doc. I let you know what happens either way,” he said and headed out.
Rodney’s lab was bustling with activity when John arrived. He leaned in the doorway for a few minutes watching the scientists, most of whom were new, ones he didn’t know. He watched the way they worked, fingers quick and steady on the keyboards or sure and swift in the control conduits they had open. For a moment he wondered why Rodney demonstrated so little faith in their abilities. They seemed competent from where John was standing.
One of them noticed him on their pass across the room.
“Oh! You must be Major Sheppard?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said, nodding. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know where I could find McKay,
Her face was down, looking into the blue light of her tablet and she nodded absently, pointing in the direction of Rodney’s seldom used office. “He’s been in there for an hour now.”
John smiled, though the effort was wasted on her, and said, “Thanks.” As he moved into the lab toward Rodney’s office, Zelenka spied him.
“Ah, Major Sheppard. Dr. McKay has disappeared into his office, if you’re looking for him.”
“I am. Should I bring him back out?”
“Oh! No. Not back out here at least. We are handling things quite well without him now. I do believe, however, that you should take him to his quarters. He has been working for days with little sleep. Is making it hard for us to work.”
John’s lip turned up at the corner. “Right. Well, don’t worry Radek. I’ll get him out of here. Carson’s worried about him too, and Elizabeth’s sent me to take care of it.”
Zelenka nodded and pushed up his glasses. “Well, if Rodney will listen to anyone, it would be you. Good luck, Major.” And with that, Zelenka returned to his work.
“Okay, then,” John said mostly to himself. He wondered why everyone – Carson, Elizabeth, even Radek – thought he was the one that could reach Rodney. Sure, they were close, but Rodney was on his team. That’s what being on a team was all about.
Taking care of each other.
So this faith the others had in him, especially, to get through to McKay and get him to do what he needed to do was strange to John. It wasn’t as though he and McKay shared any particular bond that was different from John’s friendship with Ford or Teyla. He shrugged and chalked it up to happenstance.
Then he opened Rodney’s office door.
He’d expected to find McKay bent over a laptop, furiously typing away, working out equations and code and studying schematics to better repair the city. He expected to see the frown of concentration on McKay’s brow, his lips curled in on themselves as he worked. He expected to hear the occasional, “Well, that’s not going to work, Rodney. Get it together!”
He did not expect silence. Or darkness.
He did not expect the utter vulnerability of Rodney’s nape, exposed to the cool Atlantis air. Or the soft slack skin of Rodney’s cheek mashed flat against the keyboard. Or long lashes casting spiked shadows on his pale skin.
And he really didn’t expect his body’s reaction to the sight. The knot of something indefinable tightening in his gut, his breath coming in sharp and sudden, then leaving him in a silent whoosh as he took in the picture before him.
John let the door shut quietly behind him as he moved to stand behind Rodney as he slept. He swallowed hard, the thick lump of something he didn’t even know he’d felt sliding down his throat painfully.
Without volition, his hand reached out to touch Rodney’s shoulder, but at the last second stopped, his hand shaking above the soft material of Rodney’s shirt. He balled his hand into a fist and withdrew it, instead cataloging all of Rodney that he could see.
Broad shoulders, well-muscled and smooth under the blue shirt, curved into Rodney’s back – a hard expanse that was always slightly arched after years of being slumped over computers and control panels. A back that tapered to not so narrow hips that could pivot on a whim when an idea of sheer genius struck.
Rodney’s arms were not folded on the desk, but rested limp and oddly comfortable by his side. His hands lay folded, one cupped palm side up in the other, in his lap. It’s as though his body just gave up and forced him to sleep, position open and susceptible to what or whoever caught him.
In the year that John had known Rodney, in the hundreds of off world missions they’d gone on, he’d seen his scientist in several different lights. He’d bunked with the man on several off-world missions, but had never seen him so open, so defenseless.
The sheer vulnerability of his pose now struck John breathless. Fighting past the tightness in his chest, John did what he’d wanted to do since first walking into this darkened office, lit only by the indigo light from the blank screen on the laptop. He leaned forward, and softly laid his lips on the delicate pale skin of Rodney’s neck, just under the fine curls of hair on Rodney’s hairline. John rubbed his nose into the soap scented hair once, twice, then breathed deep, a sharp inhale followed by a long exhale.
“Mmmm,” Rodney murmured in his sleep, shivering a little. John caught the shiver on his lips and smiled into it, before standing again.
“McKay?” he whispered, not wanting to startle the sleeping man. “Hey, McKay. Wake up, buddy.”
He heard the smack of Rodney’s lips as they opened to speak, “Mm, what? What is it?” Rodney sat up and stretched, rolling his shoulders, and wincing in pain as his back straightened. He yawned, wide and deep, and shook himself awake more fully. Then bleary blue eyes were meeting John’s, confusion making them blink. “Major? What are you doing here?”
John stepped closer, and slid his hand under Rodney’s arm, applying gentle pressure to help him stand. “Come on, McKay. Consider me the cavalry. I am sent to make you rest.”
“What are you, deficient? I was resting.” McKay protested.
“I don’t think curled over a laptop with your cheek mashed flat resting. By the way, you have keyboard lines on your face.”
Immediately, Rodney covered his cheek with his hand. “Oh, yes, make fun of the sleep deprived scientist. Very mature, Major. Thanks a lot.” Then he noticed he was being dragged out of his office. “Hey! Where are you taking me?”
“Thought that’d be obvious, McKay. To your quarters. To rest.”
“Oh.” Rodney sighed, and followed easily. “Good. God, I’m so tired.”
“I know, buddy.” John pulled him out of the labs and down the hall.
The walk to Rodney’s quarters was silent, and when they got to the door, John turned to announce their arrival and saw that Rodney was literally asleep on his feet. He smiled. “Rodney?”
“Hmm?” Rodney answered without opening his eyes.
“‘Kay.” Rodney thought his door open then, still without opening his eyes, he turned to John, leaned in and kissed him soft on the cheek. “G’night, John,” he murmured and stumbled into his room.
John watched him fall into bed, just before the door closed on his stunned face.
With the feel of Rodney’s lips still on his cheek, John made his way back to his own quarters.