Spoilers: Through Trinity
After his conversation with John, Rodney headed back to his room, his room, not theirs, managing to maintain his calm demeanor until the door slid shut behind himself and Rover. Once assured of privacy, however, his shoulders slumped though he managed a half-smile when the cart pressed up against his leg in a show of support.
"Well, I suppose I should be glad it lasted this long without me fucking it up," he commented, wincing at the sharpness of his own voice in the stillness of the room. "At least when I do something, I do it big."
Rover had no answer for that, not that Rodney expected one, and he walked over to the floor-to-ceiling windows, sitting and pulling his jacket off before leaning against the cartís side, staring out at the ocean and reliving the events that had led to the mess his life had become.
The moment heíd left Rodney, John had wanted to take back his words, knowing the reaction they would provoke. The only problem was that they were true. As mistakes went, this one had been colossal, but theyíd all made those. The problem with this one was that both Elizabeth and Radek had tried to tell Rodney that he was making a mistake, and heíd refused to listen. And so had John, despite his own niggling doubts.
It wasnít just his trust in Rodney that had been damaged; it was his trust in his own judgment. But he knew theyíd get past this. It was just that everything seemed to be magnified here: mistakes bigger, consequences grander, rewards shinier. They just needed a little while to deal with it.
The man in question looked up from his laptop, taking a moment to focus. "Carson. Um, arenít you not talking to me as well, considering what I said to Radek?"
"If I had thought ye meant it, I wouldnít be, and while ye were a supreme ass, I believe it was a case of getting caught up in the moment."
Rodney gave a bleak laugh. "Carson, I blew up a solar system and ruined my relationships with a hell of a lot of people. Iíd say that that was more than getting caught up in the moment."
"Aye, well, there is that, but hiding in yer room isnít going to make that go away."
"Maybe not, but itís safer."
"Rodney..." Carson sighed, but the physicist had turned back to his laptop. "Itís not good and it wonít help." He received no answer and finally backed out of the darkened room, shaking his head and wondering about his next course of action.
Elizabeth had seen him go into Rodneyís room, and she waited for him. Seeing Carsonís expression as he exited, she frowned. "How is he?"
"Heís learned heís as fallible as the rest of us, and itís not a pretty sight," Carson said quietly. "I imagine heís feeling quite lost right now, but he wonít admit it. Iíd send him to see Kate, but we both know what he thinks of that." He sighed and shook his head. "Have ye spoken to Col. Sheppard?"
"No, not since they got back. Heís upset with both Rodney and himself, and heís avoiding me since he thinks heís the reason I agreed to let them go back." She sighed. "And he is, of course, but not entirely. Like everyone else, I think Iíd gotten used to Rodney managing to pull off miracles. If only he hadnít asked us to trust him..."
"Aye, that is the problem, isnít it?"
She sighed again. "The ones he really needs to work it out with are John and Radek. Do you think Radek is likely to speak to him again any time soon?"
"I canna say. As much as I wish it were otherwise, thatís between Radek and Rodney, and nothing Iím going to say will change that."
Elizabeth nodded. "I know. I just hope they can work it out. They make a truly extraordinary team. And while the reminder that he too can make mistakes and that his thoughtless remarks have consequences can only do Rodney good, it would hurt him to lose Radek as a co-worker and a friend."
"It would hurt Radek as well; for all their arguing, he really does consider Rodney a friend. I suppose thatís why his comments hurt so much."
"I think Rodney has realized that. Now it remains to be seen if he can do anything about it. Or more to the point, if Radek will let him try to do anything about it." Elizabeth shook her head. "Good night, Carson." She nodded and continued on toward her quarters.
"Aye, well, that is the problem, isnít it?" Carson sighed to himself before heading back to the room he shared with Radek, hoping to see if there was any hope for the situation on that front.
Radek looked up when the door opened, but he remained sitting on the floor, his back propped up against a wall, one hand stroking Reza pensively.
When Carson entered the room, Ciora whirred to life, scooting over to his side and following him as he crossed to sit by Radek, taking his hand and lacing their fingers together. "I wonít ask ye how yer doing, love," he murmured.
Radek sighed heavily. "I had thought Rodney and I were friends, that he respected my abilities, but..." He trailed off into silence again for a moment before continuing, "He is smarter than everyone else, smarter than anyone else Iíve ever known, but he can be so blind sometimes. He gets too involved in a problem to see outside of it, and then he refuses to listen to anyone else. Just because we are not him does not make us idiots!" he growled in frustration. "He had begun improving, begun listening, but lately he is as bad as he ever was." He frowned suddenly. "Lately," he repeated slowly. "When the Daedalus is here and he must hide his relationship with John, when he thought he or Lt. Cadman or both would die, when we have new people in the city so he and John must be careful. Oh, I am an idiot!" he exclaimed as he realized the fear and frustration that had been driving Rodneyís recent reversion to his less attractive habits.
"Radek?" Carson asked questioningly. "Are ye saying Rodneyís been an ass because he was frightened?"
Radek nodded. "We should have realized. He always lashes out when heís scared, and we know he doesnít have a good history with relationships, which is no surprise. Of course he would be afraid that this would cause problems for John or even make him change his mind. And they had to sneak around until he moved rooms, so he was frustrated as well.
"Very well, I understand why. Which means that instead of transferring to a different department, I will simply make him suffer for it. A week of working with Kavanagh while I am busy with the jumpers should do it."
Carson chuckled and squeezed Radekís hand, then leaned in to kiss him. "Thatís why I love ye, Radek; yeíve a devious mindóand I thank ye for warniní me because I fully intend to stay out of the labs for the next week!"
Radek laughed as well as he got to his feet, feeling much better now that he understood the problem and had a plan of retaliation. "I think I will set up a camera." He snickered as he imagined Rodneyís increasing frustration with Kavanaghís presence.
"And be prepared to make quite a few copies of the file; Iím sure it will be in high demand."
It was some time before John returned to their quarters, but when he did, he frowned to find them dark and empty. After their last conversation, he didnít think Rodney would be sulking, so this probably meant that he didnít think heíd be welcome. John was going to disabuse him of that notion right now.
He marched over to the normally invisible connecting door in the wall between this room and the one assigned to Rodney, and it slid open as he neared it.
"What is it with people just walking into private quarters?" Rodney snapped from where he stood in the midst of a pile of his belongings. Heíd decided earlier that moping wasnít going to make anything better and had ended up in a cleaning frenzy that left even Rover covered by spare clothes that had been thrown around.
"Last I heard we live together," John said, walking over to uncover Rover. "It would be pretty weird to knock on my own door."
The cart gave a shudder and leaned against Johnís legs though it was plainly staying out of the way for the moment.
"I canít deal with this tonight." Rodney reached up and massaged the bridge of his nose. "Not tonight."
John stilled for a moment, his hand on Rover, and he kept his eyes on the cart as he asked carefully, "Are you saying that you plan to sleep in here tonight?"
"Are you saying you want to sleep with someone you donít trust?"
"Rodney, we have some things to deal with, but that doesnít mean I stopped loving you."
Rodney let his hand fall and looked over at John, his expression tired and hurting. "I almost got you killed, John, all because I wouldnít listen to any of you. I donít blame you for not trusting me; hell, right now I donít trust myself."
"Thatís all true. But we all had doubts and could have spoken up sooner. No oneís entirely blameless in this. And in the end, weíre all still here. Youíre alive, Iím alive, and next time weíll be more careful about checking the Ancientsí results before trying unfinished technology."
"You know, this is what I would have liked to have heard earlier," Rodney murmured, giving a sad laugh.
"I know. But you had to push it before I was ready to deal with it rationally. Iím no saint, Rodney. We both almost died, and I was reacting. I made a huge mistake too; I let my feelings for you get in the way of my judgment, and it almost got us both killed."
"It did get Collins killedóI got him killed." Rodney turned and walked over to the windows, looking out over the dark ocean below.
John followed, standing close behind him but not touching him yet. "At that point no one knew what would happen. It was an accident, Rodney, a tragic accident and one that we all wish had never happened, but thatís all it was. At that point we all thought the weapon was safe."
"Why are you being so logical about this?"
"I donít really have a choice." John shrugged. "Anything else would only lead to us fighting, and Iím not willing to lose you over a mistake, no matter how big." He sighed. "Besides, itís the truth."
Rodney gave a breathless laugh. "Well, they donít get much bigger than this, so I guess Iím safe from now on."
John finally raised his hands to rest them on Rodneyís shoulders. "I donít want us to sleep apart."
Johnís touch did nothing to lessen the tension coursing through Rodneyís body, and he leaned forward to rest his forehead against the window. "I donít want that either," he whispered.
"Then you need to come back to our bed. We can only work through this together."
Rodney turned around and lifted his gaze to meet Johnís. "Okay."
"Good." John brushed a gentle kiss over Rodneyís lips, neither of them ready for more. "So letís go to bed. This has been a very long day."
"Understatement of the year, Colonel," Rodney sighed as they walked into the other room, Rover following after them.
"We seem to get more than our fair share of those."
"Arenít we lucky?" Rodney rubbed his forehead and looked around, seeing the room as if for the first time. "I shouldóIím going to go take a shower."
John nodded, not saying anything as he moved toward the bed. Only when he heard the door shut between the main room and the bathroom did he slump down onto it, his head in his hands. The mere fact that Rodney had shut a door between them, not feeling comfortable with it open when they normally shared their showers, said volumes about the current situation. But John didnít know what else he could have said or done. The trust between them had been damaged, and it was going to take some time to get back to where theyíd been. But he was equally sure that they would. It was just going to be painful for both of them in the interim.
He stood up to get undressed, hesitating over the boxers until he finally pushed them off and slid into bed naked. A thought dimmed the lights, and he closed his eyes, hoping to fall asleep before Rodney came out.
Rodney stayed in the shower as long as possible, taking his time drying himself before opening the door and peering out into the darkened room. Rover was pressed up against the bed instead of in his usual corner, and he hoped the cartís presence had been of some comfort to John.
Moving quietly, he crossed to the bed and sat down, waiting to see if John moved, before giving a sigh of relief when he didnít and sliding under the blanket, lying stiffly on his back and trying to find a way to shut off his mind for the night.
Even asleep, John automatically gravitated toward Rodney, and he curled around him, his head settling on Rodneyís shoulder and an arm and a leg possessively draped over the scientist. He snuffled slightly and let out a sigh of contentment as he settled again.
Rodney took a shaky breath before carefully raising an arm to rest his hand on top of Johnís, wanting to burrow closer but not feeling as if he had the right any longer. He lay there a long while before he could finally sleep, but when it came, there were no dreams.
John woke just after dawn, and a small smile curved his lips when he realized that he and Rodney were in their usual tangle. No wonder heíd slept well. Sometime during the night theyíd rolled so that he was sprawled almost completely on top of Rodney, and the scientistís arms were wrapped around him almost too tightly for comfort. John turned his head slightly and pressed a kiss to the warm chest beneath him.
"Mmm, what got you up..." Rodney came more awake, and his yawned out words stuttered away to nothingness. "Ióumóitís morning."
"Yup. The sunís a bit of a giveaway." John didnít move, not wanting to leave their cozy bed and deal with all the issues yet, and it was early enough that he didnít have to.
"I really shouldóumólab, lots of data to go over."
"Not just yet. As long as weíre here, itís just us, but once we get up..." John sighed, nuzzling into Rodneyís shoulder.
"So weíre playing pretend right now? I can do that."
"Naw, just ignoring everything outside of the two of us. And Rover, of course. Everythingís good here."
"I like that," Rodney sighed, craning his neck to kiss the top of Johnís head.
John smiled again and, after a moment, tilted his head back, clearly wanting a kiss.
Rodneyís smile grew pained for a moment before he forced recent events away and leaned in to brush their lips together, knowing that for the moment, only the present mattered. John twisted to make the kiss easier, pressing closer, trying to let Rodney know that they would make it through this.
They lay there on the bed, curled together until Rodney sighed. "As much as I donít want to do this, I need to get going."
John nodded and reluctantly began to disentangle himself. "At least the Daedalus is leaving."
"One less thing to worry about anyway."
"Yeah. And itíll make Elizabeth less irritable. Caldwell really rubs her the wrong way. Something must have happened on Earth since she seemed okay with him before we went back." John sat up and stretched.
"Maybe itís her own version of Ďdonít ask, donít tellí."
"Huh? You mean sheís protecting us?"
"Could be; she had a lot of closed-door meetings with the head honchos that we werenít privy to. Maybe something happened in one of them, and you know Elizabethóif she doesnít want you to know something, you donít know it."
John nodded. "And sheís a pit bull when she wants to be. Itís no wonder sheís so successful in negotiating treaties. If the Ancients had had her, they might have managed that treaty with the Wraith." He hesitated. "I keep wondering if he didnít expect to get Atlantis. He is senior to me."
Rodney shuddered. "Thereís a lovely thing to contemplate."
John bit off a comment before he could say anything about Caldwell encouraging Rodney to run amok with Ancient technology. That wound was still too fresh to prod. "So Iím better than Caldwell, huh?"
"Yes, John, youíre much, much better than Col. Caldwell," Rodney said seriously.
John smiled quickly at that. "Well, Iíd better go have my meeting with him." He hesitated. "Want me to meet you for lunch?"
"Iíd like that." Rodney glanced down and gave a soft laugh. "And youíd better get dressed before your meeting with him, or he might think youíre coming on to him."
John shuddered. "Well, I donít need to keep time to eat now. Thanks for that lovely mental image. Maybe a shower will wash it away." He stood up and looked down at Rodney. "Care to join me?"
Rodney nodded, grasping on to the offering and clinging tightly to it.
John offered him a hand up. "Itíll be okay, Rodney," he said softly. "Just... give it some time."
"At least thatís one thing weíve got."
"Youíve still got me. And Rover. Weíve all made some fairly catastrophic mistakes since weíve been here; you just had to do it with your usual charm and poise. Weíll all get past it... though Iím willing to bet you have to do some major groveling with Radek."
Rodney groaned. "Iím going to have to offer Carson my blood to keep begging him to forgive me."
"Very likely," John agreed with a chuckle. He drew Rodney toward the bathroom, knowing that a shower would make them both feel better.
"So, are you going to wait until my blood pressure causes my brain to explode because of having to deal with Kavanagh before you talk to me again?" Rodney jumped back when Reza spun, flailing an arm at him, and he stepped back out of the jumperís hatchway. "Hiding behind your cart is unmanly, Radek!"
Rover zipped forward to prevent Rodney from falling over a crate, and he waved an arm menacingly at Reza when she didnít move away from Rodney. Watching them, Radek had to chuckle.
"And sitting on your cart is manly?"
"When youíre being menaced by the grim reaper of carts, of course it is!"
Radek snickered. "Sheís a sweet girl." Reza darted back to press against his legs happily.
"Sheís as psychotic as her owner."
Radek looked from Rodney to Rover, his eyebrows rising. "There is an expression about glass houses..."
"Fine, so Roverís an obsessive, brilliant ego-maniac who has trouble listening to other people."
Radekís mouth twisted. "I am not entirely certain, but I believe that was meant to be apology." He finally got to his feet, however, and came out of the jumper, waving Reza back.
Rodney rolled his eyes and scowled. "Of course it was meant to be an apology; now will you please come back to the lab before I kill Kavanagh and Bates has to lock me up?"
Unable to hold back his laughter this time, Radek shook his head. "I am not sure... killing him could be considered a community service," he mused.
"And then John would have to have me locked up, and I really donít want to cause him any more pain, so can you please come back?"
Radek hesitated another moment just to torment Rodney but finally nodded. "Very well. In the interests of saving Col. Sheppard, of course."
The very brevity of the reply underlined Rodneyís desperation, and Radek chuckled. "What has he done?"
"You know, to get the full effect, itís better that I show you rather than tell you."
"Oh heaven help us," Radek groaned fervently. "At least weíre still male, so it canít be that again."
"If heíd done that, he wouldnít be alive to deal with."
Radek chuckled. "You just donít like the bra."
"You do realize that if he does it again, youíll be a woman also..."
"Not unless he changes the crystal again. It normally only affects one or two people, whoeverís touching it when activated."
"So, not even a hint as to what heís done?" Radek frowned. "The city isnít sinking, is it?"
"Actually, it involves your MP3 player..."
"WHAT?!? Where is your gun?!"
"Now, now, if John canít shoot him neither can you, and you did leave it in the lab; is it my fault he got rid of your Dvorak and replaced it with Titney Spears?"
"HE DID WHAT?!?!" Radek was even wilder looking than the night Rodneyíd painted Reza.
"Go see for yourself!"
Radek stormed down the hallway, all who saw him scattering fearfully out of his path, a trail of Czech invective, Reza, Rodney and Rover in his wake.
Rodney grinned, breathing a sigh of relief as he followed, both relieved that Radek was talking to him again and interested in seeing just what the other man had in mind for Kavanagh.
Bates and John were notified of the apparent homicide about to happen, and they fell in next to Rodney before the little procession had gone much farther. "Heard about the MP3s, huh?" John asked.
"A word of advice, Lieutenant," Rodney laughed, "never make a Czech listen to bubblegum pop."
Bates looked at the still raving Zelenka and nodded. "I can see that. But we really canít let him kill anyone..."
"Itís Kavanagh heís after."
"Maybe we should walk slower."
John chuckled. "Weíll stop him before he actually kills the idiot. We need Radek here, not in prison."
"If for no other reason than because Carson would kill us," Rodney called.
That called forth another stream of virulent Czech, and even though he didnít understand it, John was still impressed. "I think heís really pissed."
Bates sped up, catching up with Radek. "Dr. Zelenka, if you attack Dr. Kavanagh, Iím going to have to arrest you."
"Heís such a party pooper," Rodney grumbled.
"Britney Spears!" Radek gritted out, glaring at Bates.
"Is it worth a night in a cell?" Bates asked, trying to keep a straight face.
Radek growled and began cursing in Czech again.
"I guess thatís a no," John said sadly. "Why canít anyone ever kill Kavanagh?"
"The better question is who does he know in your government that keeps vetoing my requests to ship him back to Earth," Rodney grumbled.
"I think itís parity," John sighed. "They get cockroaches; we get Kavanagh."
"Iíd rather have the cockroaches, sir," Bates murmured.
"Me too actually. At least they let you kill those."
"And there is that Ancient pest killer," Rodney mused.
"Maybe Dr. Weir could broker a trade," Bates suggested.
Rodney nodded enthusiastically. "A dozen roaches would about equal the IQóand look, there he is; heel, Radek."
"Canít I hit him just once?" Radek snarled, glaring at the approaching scientist.
"I bet John and Lt. Bates would hold him if you wanted Reza to cut his hair," Rodney offered. "Iíd look the other way."
"Bah, I would have to decontaminate her!" Suddenly Radek began to smile, and Bates and Sheppard exchanged nervous glances. "We havenít yet had a chance to inspect the sewers, have we?"
Rodney chuckled and stopped walking, Rover halting beside him. "Dr. Zelenka, the floor is yours."
Radek stalked up to Kavanagh, his hair almost as wild as Johnís after his near sprint through the halls, his face still red, his eyes narrowed, and a wide smile on his lips. At first sneering, Kavanagh had the sense to look uneasy as Zelenka drew closer, and he darted a glance at Bates. "Youíre supposed to protect all the personnel on this base!"
Bates looked around. "I donít see a threat. Do you see a threat, sir?"
John shook his head. "Nope, no threat."
Radek snatched the pad out of Kavanaghís hands and thrust it at the nearest scientist, not bothering to see who it was. "You have a new assignment," he said, his voice dangerously calm.
"What... You donít have the authority to reassign me!"
"I assigned Radek the authority," Rodney called cheerily from where he stood by John, Bates, and Rover.
Radekís smile grew wider, and Kavanagh paled. "Why are you doing what he wants? I thought you were mad at him," he desperately tried to deflect Radek.
"He made a mistake because he is smarter than the rest of us and sometimes forgets that doesnít mean heís the only one with a brain. You, however, make mistakes because youíre an idiot! And you are now going to go inspect the city sewer system, every inch of it," Radek enunciated each word carefully, savoring them.
"What?!" Kavanagh sputtered, looking past Radek to stare at Rodney, who shrugged. "What he said."
"We will expect report on conditions," Radek added. He waved a hand. "Go, go. And take your Britney Spears with you!"
"Excuse me?" Seeing the expression on Radekís face, Kavanagh didnít wait for an answer and fled the area.
In the stunned silence that followed, Rodney began applauding.
Bates looked at John. "Remind me never to get on the little guyís bad side."
John chuckled. "You only just figured it out? He handles Rodney on a daily basis."
"And I never thought Iíd be glad he was terrorizing me again," Rodney murmured.
"I told you you just had to give him some time." John smiled smugly, making Radek eye him warily as he rejoined the group, his color returning to normal.
"That should keep him out of trouble for some time to come," he said with satisfaction.
"Just so long as he doesnít back the sewer system back up and flood the city," Rodney mused.
"On the plus side, if he did, Elizabeth might order me to shoot him," John chuckled.
"Iím not sure Iíd want to get even within shooting range after heís been in the sewers," Bates muttered.
"I donít suppose you could convince the city to lock him in down there?" Radek asked John, making him laugh.
"Even if the city would, Elizabeth would make us let him out."
"Maybe we can have Paul keep her busy..."
John shook his head. "Youíre just incredibly smug that they actually like each other after you determined to push them together."
Bates groaned. "Please, sir, Iím not sure that the image of Dr. McKay as a yenta is one I can live with!"
"Watch it, Bates, or Iíll work on you next," Rodney growled.
Bates gave him a look of sheer horror and left hastily while John laughed.
"Hrmmm..." Rodney murmured, watching him scuttle away. "Interesting."
"Leave him alone," John laughed. "I already have an idea about that."
"Yeah, you remember her, gorgeous blonde with attitude who wouldnít back down from him when heís in one of those moods. And sheís lonely, and they spend time together patrolling sometimes, Iíve noticed."
"I know who she is," Rodney snarled. "But with Bates? Heís just... un Peter-like."
"Exactly. She lost Peter. She wonít want to try to replace him. And Batesíll challenge her in different ways." John shrugged. "Or they might end up as good friends, which would do them both some good anyways."
Rodney turned to look at Radek, whoíd been listening to the conversation, his eyes wide. "What do you think, Radek?"
"I hear nothing, nothing!" Radek backed away rapidly, then turned and fled in search of Carson. Heaven help them all if Rodney and John took it upon themselves to become the cityís matchmakers.
Rodney glanced at John, his eyebrows raised. "Did you ever watch ĎHoganís Heroesí?"
"Kinda small to be Schultz, but he does have an accent, and heís got the line down..."
"Of course, Iím not going to do anything to piss him offófor a while."
"That would probably be best," John agreed, knowing that Radek and Rodney would be back to their usual acerbic banter very soon.
"Because, you know, Kavanagh and the sewage system? Classic." Rodney grinned.
John grinned as well. "It is fitting, isnít it?"
"Now if only we could keep him down there..."
"Elizabeth would find out and send us down there."
"Iíd be riding Rover!"
"And where exactly would I be? I donít think heís big enough for both of us!"
"We could cuddle on himóweíre good with that, right?" Rodney looked uncertain for a split-second.
John pulled him into arms and kissed him. "Yeah, weíre good with that."
Rodney sighed and leaned against Johnís chest, resting his head on his shoulder. "This is good."
"Yeah, it is." John tightened his arms around Rodney and rested his cheek against the dark hair. "Itís very good."
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