Characters: Rodney McKay/John Sheppard
Prompt: #021 Friends
Spoilers: for Sunday
Word Count: 606
Summary: Rodney wishes he could summon the energy to care about anything anymore. John helps.
A/N: Wrote this pretty much right after Sunday and then forgot about it. I haven't posted anything in almost a month, so I thought I'd share.
'You've been avoiding me.'
Rodney glances over his shoulder, sees Sheppard approach, and turns his attention back to the ocean.
'Yeah, well, you haven't exactly been Colonel Social lately either.'
Sheppard sits down on the edge and sighs so deeply his body shudders, like a great chill. All Rodney wants to say is go away, I don't want to talk to anyone, don't treat me like a child, it's all my fault. He stays quiet.
'That was a nice speech you gave,' says Sheppard, forcing a smile. 'You called him your best friend. And here I thought I was your best friend.'
'I've known him longer. Knew him longer.'
Rodney turns to go back inside. 'The position's open now, better get in at the ground floor if that's what you want.'
There's something familiar in that tone, so Rodney stops, even though he doesn't want to.
'I didn't mean it like that.' Sheppard's climbed to his feet, and shifts uncomfortably. 'It was a joke. I'm sorry, you know how I am with feelings. Humor's my defense mechanism.'
They just stare; Sheppard at his feet, Rodney at the wall.
'It's not your fault.'
Rodney tenses, and has the sudden urge to hit something - preferably Sheppard's face.
'Everyone keeps saying that. Amazingly, it doesn't make me feel better.'
'It's not about making you feel better,' John tells him. 'It's about getting you to realize that Carson made his choice because of who he is - not because you wouldn't go fishing with him.'
'So snap out of it! We need you!'
That does it. One of Rodney's fists flies out and lands on Sheppard's shoulder. The colonel doesn't even have the decency to flinch.
'Feel better?' he asks.
'No. And now my hand hurts. Are your bones made of granite or something?'
Sheppard takes a step forward. 'Look, Rodney, I -'
'Shut up.' Rodney's face crumples. 'Just shut up.'
To his anger and disgust, he's starting to cry. He falls to his knees and gasps and chokes, trying to get air to his lungs. Of all the times to break down, it has to be in front of Sheppard. To his surprise, instead of running off, Sheppard rushes to his side, bracing him, and Rodney sobs into his chest until his entire body feels like Jello.
'Why the hell did he like me anyway?' Rodney asks in scattered breaths. Sheppard's hand is still rubbing circles on his back, and it helps calm him. 'I was always so mean to him, belittling his profession, refusing his help, calling medicine voodoo...'
'Face it, Rodney,' Sheppard murmurs, and sounds as if he's fighting off a laugh, 'that's how you show you like someone.'
'It is not!'
'It is. It's okay, we're all used to it by now. We'd be worried if you didn't act that way.'
'I have never belittled Katie.'
'Rodney, I've heard your views on botany. We don't really mind, because we know you don't really mean it.'
Rodney's still struggling to get his breathing under control. 'By we, you mean -'
'Carson knew it, too. The man was your best friend, Rodney. He knew it.'
Sheppard cradles Rodney's tear-stained face in his rough hands; there's a strange look in his eye, as if he's having an epiphany. Then he closes his eyes and presses his lips to Rodney's.
Rodney is too startled to react, but when he opens his own eyes, he sees an echo of what he feels in Sheppard. In John. And he feels...not better, but comforted. As if someone really does understand.
'John? I miss him.'