Rodney stood at the railing, watching people go about the business of reclaiming the city. His head felt strange: light and dizzy with exhaustion and less than optimal blood sugar levels. He ought to go to bed--he'd been awake for going on thirty hours, after all, what with the catastrophic hurricane and the fanatical alien terrorists and saving the entire city... But there were a thousand things that had to be done before they could declare the crisis officially over. And Weir and Sheppard were still up and about. And there was a niggling little feeling in the bottom of Rodney's stomach which, if he looked too closely at it, threatened to turn into the worst kind of shame about how easily he'd given in to Kolya's demands.

So he sighed and pushed himself away from the railing. Coffee. Coffee and a couple of those peanut-butter flavoured power bars, maybe a quick shower and a change of clothes. He could sleep later; there was no way in hell he was going to trust Zelenka to re-sequence the U-modules on his own.


"You do that one already."

"What are you talking about? Just...hand me that scanner, would you?"


"What? Why?"

"Because that one is finished. You do it one time already." Zelenka was just standing there, smiling at him. He didn't seem phased by Rodney's best don't-fuck-with-me glare--just pushed his glasses a little further up on his nose and shook his head. "You have been awake for thirty-seven hours, McKay. You are not effective now. Go to bed."

Rodney opened his mouth to argue, but it seemed Zelenka had got himself some back-up this time. "He's right, my friend," Sheppard said, before Rodney could speak. "Upsadaisy. Consider yourself relieved of duty until 0800 tomorrow."

He was standing over the console Rodney was working under, looking well-rested and fresh, one hand stretched out to help Rodney to his feet. He was like some kind of monument to patronising macho assholes everywhere. Rodney snorted. "I don't think so," he said, and turned his attention back to the console.

But Sheppard didn't go away. He crouched down next to Rodney, still wearing that smug half-grin. "Come on, McKay. Don't be difficult. Orders came from Elizabeth."

Rodney squinted at him. Sheppard's grin got wider. "She said I could use force if I had to," he said, and waggled his eyebrows.

"Oh, for Christ's sake. I'm fine." He got to his feet, though, ignoring Sheppard's outstretched hand. The room wavered and tilted for a moment. He sighed, scrubbing at his face with his hands. His eyes burned behind his closed lids, too; he supposed it couldn't hurt to get a little sleep. "Okay, okay. But if we end up with a massive systems overload and all die, it's you I'm going to be looking at, Zelenka."

"A pleasant night to you also, McKay."

It seemed vastly unjust that he wasn't allowed to wipe the smile off Zelenka's idiotic face. He turned and swept out of the room instead. Unfortunately, the dramatic effect of the sweeping was spoiled somewhat by his need to hang onto the wall as he walked. Things were not untilting. Maybe there was something wrong with the city's ballast systems.

He heard Sheppard's boots in the corridor behind him, jogging easily to catch up. "Want a hand?"

Rodney didn't even look at him. "Thank you, no. As I believe I might have mentioned already, I am, in fact, fine." They had reached the transporter. Rodney stepped inside without waiting to see if Sheppard would follow. The slightly sickening sensation of relocation certainly didn't help with anything.

His rooms were cool and quiet, though, and the wind blowing in through the open window somehow seemed to smell like sleep. He stopped just inside and turned to look at Sheppard. "Well, I'm here. Duty done. You can go and tell Elizabeth you earned yourself another gold star."


Sheppard looked a little hurt, but that was just too bad, Rodney thought. He didn't have any resources left for tact. He turned away and deliberately toed off his shoes, removed his uniform's jacket.

"Beckett look at that yet?"

Sheppard rolled his eyes at Rodney's questioning look, pointing at the bandage on Rodney's forearm--which was visible now that he was only wearing his t-shirt.

Oh, right. Trust Sheppard to remind him of the wound just when he'd managed to distract himself from the pain. "No, but..."

Sheppard hadn't even waited for his answer--just crossed the room and taken Rodney's arm in his hands. He frowned down at the bandage Rodney had improvised for himself, then began to unwind it. "This is in a bad spot; you're pretty lucky, actually. Could have got tendons, arteries... No trouble moving your fingers, right?"

Rodney blinked. For some reason, he seemed to be having difficulty with his breathing. "No. Well, maybe a little numbness in my fingertips, actually."

The bandage was gone. Sheppard's cool fingers brushed the skin at the edges of the wound. "Yeah? Make a fist."

Rodney swallowed. When he looked up, Sheppard's face was right there, looking back at him, concerned. He blinked again, lowered his gaze. He could make a fist just fine, though it was a little painful. He'd already ascertained that they hadn't damaged anything vital. So why, he thought now, wasn't he telling Sheppard that? Because he still wasn't; he was biting his lip instead, squeezing Sheppard's fingers obediently.

"Hm." Sheppard lowered his hands. "I think it's okay. You should get Beckett to take a look, though. Tomorrow, maybe. He ought to be feeling better by then."

Rodney nodded, rewrapping his bandage. Sheppard wasn't touching him now, but he hadn't stepped away and Rodney wasn't sure what he was doing here. "Okay, then," he said.

Sheppard nodded. "Good. Okay." They stood there for a moment longer, and the silence stretched and swelled and became something palpable. The lights had dimmed at some point--when had he asked them to do that?

Sheppard took a breath. "Look. You did what you could, McKay."

"I know that."

"Everybody has a line. Nobody would have expected..."

"Thank you. Very much. But can we just save that particular pep talk for somebody who cares about being a hero? Because that would not be me. I have no lingering guilt. I just want to go to bed."

"Okay, jeeze." Sheppard was grinning again. "So...goodnight, then."

Rodney sighed. "Goodnight."

But Sheppard still wasn't moving. That grin had dimmed a little, but it hadn't gone away. He shifted closer, raised a hand. Rodney narrowed his eyes, poised to duck. God only knew what weird, macho gestures of affection Sheppard had in his repertoire. Rodney was betting on a nugie or something--maybe a rough cuff to the side of the head.

Sheppard's hand was quite gentle, though, smoothing Rodney's hair away from his forehead. "I'm really glad you're okay," Sheppard said. And then he bent his head a little and pressed his lips to Rodney's.

"Huh," Rodney said, when Sheppard moved his mouth away.

Sheppard smiled uncertainly. "Huh like 'cool, yes, let's do that again'?"

"Nooo...more like 'holy fuck, have I stepped through a portal into an alternate universe.' Can we back up a bit here? You're gay?"

Sheppard's callused fingertips traced a line up Rodney's arm, pushing beneath the short sleeve of his t-shirt. "You know technically, I could put you up on charge for asking me that question," he said. And then he kissed Rodney again, and this one lasted longer, and there were tongues involved, and Rodney's hands were in that thick dark hair, somehow, and Sheppard had him crowded against the wall.

"So...maybe we can talk about definitions a little later," Rodney suggested, his lips pressed against the curl of Sheppard's ear.

Sheppard laughed, breathless. Kissed his way down Rodney's neck. "See, I knew we'd find a practical application for all those I.Q. points eventually." And Rodney had a really snappy come-back for that, but Sheppard's tongue was licking its way into his mouth again, so he never did get to use it.

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