My brain finally unlocked enough to let this chunk of fic out. Let's hope it's the first of many.
First commenter on the day's drabble(ish) gets to provide pairing and prompt for the next one. You can choose from Spike/Xander, John/Rodney and Sam/Dean or choose one of them as a solo character. Give me a word, or mood, or something to think on and I'll see what I can do. I may expand the possible selection if this works and I actually get my mojo firing on all cylinders. (Nobody gets two drabbles in a row. If you get one today, you don't get to have one tomorrow, even if your comment is up first.)
Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Rating: PG-13 for brief nudity
Spoilers: Non-spoilery mention of 'The Game', but knowing what 'The Game' is will help.
Concrit: darkhavens @ slashverse.com. If you spot a typo, please feel free to tell me in comments. I want you to!
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Summary: Elizabeth thinks she knows what John and Rodney's 'Game' is.
Notes: Written for alizarin_nyc's prompt of 'John/Rodney, decoding or deconstructing'.
The first time Elizabeth heard them whispering about a game, she experienced that quite specific frisson of paranoia that only occurs when Rodney McKay and John Sheppard discover a new way of getting into trouble.
She waited expectantly for a tinny voice in her ear to call for medical aid or rescue or a total system lockdown, and by the end of the week, she was completely stressed out.
Every knock on her door made her look up and blink at whoever had come calling, half expecting to see the troublesome two shuffling in to confess their latest nefarious deed or colossal screw-up. It was exhausting.
When a month went by without them getting into anything more than the usual troubles that had nothing, as far as she knew, to do with anything like a game, she relaxed. A little.
She couldn't completely rid herself of a feeling of vague unease, like waiting for the other shoe to drop. And then she overheard another sotto voce conversation, standing on a balcony in the dark, taking a well-earned break.
"Lorne lost the coin toss again, so he's stuck with the paperwork for Wilson's little trip to P3X-185. That means I should be able to get free about six this evening. What about you?"
The hushed tone reminded Elizabeth of romantic tête-à-têtes arranged discreetly while trying to defuse political time bombs. She'd barely begun to wonder who the lucky woman was when her train of thought was totally derailed by Rodney's quiet reply.
"I've told Radek I'm running some tests in lab B3 and that I'm not to be disturbed for anything less than a Wraith invasion. He'll handle anything that comes up and I'll seal the door so nobody can get in and find me missing."
"You… Is that really necessary, Rodney? You couldn't just say you're taking the evening off?"
"Oh, yes, because that worked so well last week, didn't it? It was just getting interesting and then Cassidy interrupted with the idiotic notion that he'd figured out how to stop the power drain on Pier Four. By the time I'd disabused him of that notion, your Idiot Marine of the Week - Jerkoff? Jerkison? Jenkinson! - managed to totally shut down the environmental controls in Subsection D.
"No, if they think I'm off relaxing somewhere, they'll screw something up and make me fix it. If they believe I'm running critical experiments behind locked doors, they'll think twice before poking the dragon. And stop smirking!"
He sounded like a long-suffering spouse; Elizabeth had to bite her lip to stifle her laughter.
"So, I'll see you in the game room after six? Don't forget, it's your turn to bring supplies."
"I... What? No, really? My turn again already? I'm not sure I…"
"Don't even try it, McKay. You think I don't know exactly what you had smuggled in on the last Daedalus run? That's a lot of contraband for one mouthy Canadian."
"If your country's rules and regulations weren't quite so narrow-minded, I wouldn't need to make alternative arrangements."
"Share the goods or I'll be forced to get tough on crime. I can make you walk the plank, you know."
Elizabeth could hear John's grin in his voice.
"Oh, yes, of course you're a Jack Sparrow fan. It's the eyeliner, isn't it? And the frilly shirts? I suppose you're not going to let me watch 'Dead Man's Chest' without the rest of the team draped all over my room, either."
Rodney's teasing was punctuated by the unmistakeable sound of John's hand clipping the back of his head, and Elizabeth listened to them wander off, bickering as usual.
She laughed softly at herself for thinking that John was arranging a date, until it occurred to her that that was exactly what he'd done.
Oh, sure, they'd couched the conversation in terms of arranging to play a game, but then they were both very clever men who had known they might be overheard.
Snippets of the conversation bounced around inside her head - 'it was just getting interesting,' 'your turn to bring the supplies,' 'rules and regulations,' 'narrow-minded,' 'eyeliner' - and belatedly it occurred to her just how much off-duty time Atlantis's Chief Science Officer and Military Commander spent together.
After that, no matter how many times she tried to convince herself that she was imagining things, she'd see Rodney eating from John's plate, or John dragging Rodney along by the front of his tac vest, or the two of them talking quietly in a corner. She'd see one of them sitting vigil at the bedside of the other in the infirmary, and she'd know she was right. Occasionally, she'd hear them mention the game, and she'd smile softly, knowing she was possibly the only one who had broken their 'code'.
It became one of her favorite secrets, and if she thought about it more than she probably should, well, there was nobody to take her to task for it, and the knowledge that at least two of her friends had someone to care for them kept her warm at night.
And then came the fateful day when they shuffled and nudged their way into her office and confessed to her just what 'The Game' really was.
Rodney stumbled out of the bathroom, pink skinned, damp and completely naked and flopped onto his side of the bed, neatly pinning John down with an arm and a leg.
"Was it me or did Elizabeth look like we'd killed her kitten when we told her about the game?"