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Too Much Caffeine in Your Bloodstream ~ SGA (McShep)

Title: Too Much Caffeine in Your Bloodstream
Author: icantfollow
Rating: PG13
Fandoms: SGA/SG1/ER/Grey's Anatomy/Lost/Eureka
Summary: John thinks that the best thing about Eureka is that the food is free.
A/N: Third in the Life Less Ordinary universe, follows Polaris. I keep forgetting to thank my beta, littlebuttercup, who has fortunately not told me to stop.


Even though there's plenty of time while they're packing and moving and unpacking and eating and having sex, somehow Rodney never mentions that John, as a junior member of Eureka's newly formed medical team, will, in fact, have a lot of time to sit around twiddling his thumbs.

It's not that people don't get injured in The Smartest Place on Earth; the injuries, though less frequent, actually tend to be quite impressive. It's simply that with their advanced level of technology, there are fewer occasions for what John considers down-and-dirty medicine. Not to mention that since he is low man on the totem pole, he spends more time putting band-aids on Eureka's brainy scientists than going off-world - which had, of course, been one of the major selling points of the move.

This results in a lot of free time for John.

So after a night spent in the bar with Sheriff Jack Carter, debating the merits of various sports teams and whether or not aliens really do exist, John decides to moonlight in law enforcement.

*

Jack Carter, handsome and charming and funny, is one of those men it's almost impossible to dislike - unless you're attempting to compete with him, in which case you probably hate him.

John, who finds competition fairly pointless, likes Jack a lot.

'You would think,' Jack says as he wrestles a scientist gone wrong to the ground, 'that I really wouldn't have a lot to do.'

'No,' says John, reaching down to inspect the massive bug bite on the man's neck, jamming a syringe into his trachea, 'I wouldn't think that at all.'

*

John thinks that the best thing about Eureka is that the food is free.

Because, otherwise, he's not sure he'd ever see Rodney.

'I'm working on a way to charge up the ZPMs,' Rodney says through a mouthful of Vincent the chef's special omelette. 'Atlantis is incredible. You should come see it, I'll talk to Sam. You know, it's really nice to be able to talk about my work now.'

'Mm hm,' says John. 'You know, I kind of thought when I joined your Stargate program that I'd actually be working with you.'

Rodney swallows. 'Oh. Well, I'm working on it. You've got to start somewhere, right?'

John sighs; he doesn't know how to articulate his feelings. What he wants to say is, I picked up and moved again because this is supposed to be the big gesture, but I probably see you about as often as I did before, and in the mean time I have almost nothing to do, but his throat closes up and then his pager goes off. 'Oh, hey, Jack needs my help. Are you going to be around for awhile?'

'Another day,' says Rodney, looking hurt. 'Do you really have to rush off? I've ordered French toast.'

John does passive-agressive really well; since it's something he's trying to train himself *not* to do, he manages to say, 'Look, this was your idea.'

Then he loses the rest because it's not like he has a lot of people in his life, and he doesn't want to drive Rodney away. Instead he gives Rodney a manly slap on the back, whispers a promise in his ear, grabs his jacket, and jogs out the door.

*

'You still see a lot of that Dr. McKay?' Jack asks as they scour the woods for the dog amusingly named LoJack, who has apparently run off with something top-secret as he apparently does quite often. A large Aussie passed them by half an hour ago with a tranq gun. 'Sam said he got you the job here.'

'Yeah,' John says with a shrug, like it's no big deal.

'God, after that Christmas Eve dinner - I was glad to never see him again.'

'Oh?' John flinches slightly. 'Why's that?'

'Guy just seemed like a pain in the ass.' Jack takes a dive into the bushes. 'Taking pot shots at J.C. like that. Ah, gotcha. I work with super geniuses every day, and except for Nathan Stark, they're all actually decent people. I don't think intelligence is an excuse to be a jerk.'

John doesn't know what to say to that, so he keeps his mouth shut. A part of him knows he really ought to come to Rodney's defense, but another part of him can't help agreeing.

*

John and Rodney have their first real fight about three months after John moves to Eureka.

'You're mad because I made a friend?' John repeats, bewildered. 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. What are you, four?'

'It just seems like every time I come to see you, you're running off to see him,' spits Rodney, folding his arms. 'What am I supposed to think?'

'Maybe if you came by more than every once in a blue moon,' John points out, 'you'd see more of me. You can't possibly get mad at me for liking it here, this was your idea in the first place! It's not my fault if you're never around and Carter is. We have a lot in common, we're friends.'

Rodney looks disgusted. 'You just don't get it. I don't know why I'm surprised. You're - you're a doctor.'

'And you're an egomaniac,' spits John. 'An egomaniac who's never around, who's too busy with his precious Atlantis to give any thought to anyone else.'

'What, are you jealous of a city? This was such a mistake. I never should have gotten involved with someone who thinks at such a base level.'

John opens the door and shows him out. 'Fine. Leave. Again. Maybe next time, just don't bother coming back.'

He doesn't mean it, of course, he's only angry and lonely and sad and scared, but when Rodney actually does walk out, John convinces himself that it's for the best.

He then proceeds to smash every plate in his apartment.

*

When John is 'working', he spends half his time in Global Dynamics, generally testing blood samples of whatever it is the off-world explorers have dragged back through the gate.

Occasionally it's human, and as part of GD's protocols, it has to be run through CODIS - something to do with alien outlaws and the occasional criminal visitor. It's all a little too Men In Black for John's tastes, but he's not in any position to protest.

Usually nothing happens, so John's faintly surprised when the computer kicks out a name.

He's even more surprised when he sees that name is Jack Sheppard.

*

'I have to go through the Stargate!' John yells as armed security personnel hold him back.

Nathan Stark, head of Global Dynamics and an enormous prick, looks at John like he's protoplasm.

'Could anyone tell me why Dr. Sheppard's suddenly lost his mind?'

'He thinks his cousin is on one of the planets explored by Major Collins' team,' says a nameless scientist.

Stark pauses. 'He thinks his cousin is an alien?'

'No,' says John through gritted teeth, no longer struggling. 'My cousin's plane disappeared over the Pacific a few months back - we thought they'd all died. One of the blood samples I just tested came back as his. Call Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, she'll vouch for me.'

'Well, Dr. Sheppard,' says Stark in his most condescending tone, 'I can assure you that were one of our teams to stumble across a plane-load of Earth's citizens, they wouldn't just leave them. Though you are technically in the US Air Force's employ, you are still in my town. This is a Level 5 matter, and you don't have the proper clearance.'

Jack's right, Stark is an ass. And John's not the type to take orders from pack animals.

*

When Jack says there's nothing he can do, he's just the sheriff, to John it's like finding out Superman is really just Clark Kent.

'I want to help, Shep,' says Jack. 'I really do. But Stark's king of his own domain. If you don't have Level 5 clearance, you're not getting through that Stargate thing. You're better off, if you ask me. I don't trust half the things that come out of Global.'

'Can't you at least ask around, find out where that particular sample came from?'

Jack shrugs. 'I can try. Alison might tell me something if I get her in the right mood.'

'Okay, thanks.' It's not much, but after months of nothing, it's still something.

*

Someone bangs on John's door at two in the morning, and John gropes his way towards the door, opening it to reveal a flushed Rodney dressed entirely in black.

'Well,' says Rodney irritably. 'Hurry up, we haven't got much time.'

John rubs his eyes and runs a hand through his hair as he yawns. 'Rodney? What? Didn't we have an arrangement about appropriate hours?'

'If you want to go through the Stargate to rescue your cousin,' says Rodney, barging in and rummaging through John's clothes, 'then get dressed, and close your mouth, you look like a goldfish.'

*

When John asks him how he found out about all this, Rodney turns red and mumbles something about wanting to keep tabs on him.

'I've made sure to keep in touch with Fargo,' mutters Rodney as they prepare to break into Global Dynamics. 'You know, the scrawny, weasely one.'

'You've been checking up on me?' John can't keep himself from grinning. He should be annoyed, even angry, but instead he's elated.

'A red flag went through the entire SGC system when that blood sample was identified as your cousin's,' Rodney continues, completely red around the ears. 'I thought you could use a hand.'

Getting to Level 5 is easier than John thinks it will be. Rodney just keeps cracking codes, like some kind of angry magician, and soon John is staring at the Stargate.

'Whoa,' he says.

'Yeah, I know.' Rodney spares a second for a proud smile, like he's single-handedly responsible, then it's back to business. 'I have to dial the gate, but first I have to figure out which gate address it is.'

After a few minutes rifling through the computers, Rodney says, 'Aha! Okay, brace yourself.'

It's like nothing John could have ever imagined; it takes his breath away. There's something so alien about it, but at the same time he feels almost as if he's seen it before. Dreamed about it, even. It calls to him.

'I want one of these,' he says to Rodney, who snorts.

'Okay, let's go.'

'Don't we need, like, a space suit or something?'

Rodney only laughs. 'You're so cute when you're ignorant.'

'Weapons. Weapons would be good.'

'And Mr. Medical Degree is proficient at firearms? I don't know about you, but I prefer to talk my way out of dangerous situations.'

'Gee, what a surprise.' John's adrenaline is rushing too fast to summon enough sarcasm. He practically hops from one foot to the other in anticipation. His heart skips a beat when Rodney grabs his hand and, without warning, pulls him through.

*

They return hours later, bruised, exhausted, dirty, and even a little bloody. They stumble out of the Stargate and onto the floor.

'I'm sorry,' Rodney says, quickly, as if to get the taste out of his mouth. John's too busy choking back a sob.

'It doesn't mean...' Rodney trails off, and grabs John's face, forcing him to meet his eyes.

'I know he's alive,' John pants. 'Just because we didn't find him...he's alive, Rodney. I will find him.'

'Of course,' says Rodney, getting to his feet, dragging John behind him. 'Stranger things have happened. Look at where we work. Look, not that I doubt you, but someone has to put this out there: if your cousin did end up somewhere there's a Stargate, his chances for survival...just don't kill yourself if we can't save him.'

'He's alive,' John repeats.

'I know.'

They limp out of the building without setting off any alarms, and the full weight of what they just did, of what Rodney risked, hits John.

'Rodney...' Thanks doesn't seem good enough. 'I've missed you.'

Rodney kicks at the dirt, embarrassed. 'Well, providing we don't get busted for what we just did, you'll be seeing a lot more of me.'

John stops suddenly, causing Rodney to stumble into him.

'What do you mean?'

'It's not easy to transfer from one galaxy to another, you know,' says Rodney, still not looking at John. 'Especially when you're Chief Science Officer. There were a lot of loose ends to tie up. I had to make sure there was someone who could even come close to filling my shoes. I'm still not sure Zelenka's up to it, but, well, I had to work with what I had.'

John grabs him. 'Are you saying you put in for a transfer to Eureka?'

Rodney sighs, and cups John's face in his hands. 'When I said "big gesture" I meant it, you idiot. I can't believe you thought I dragged you to Oregon without a plan in mind. This was always the plan. It's not Atlantis, of course, but there have been some impressive breakthroughs in terms of travel, so I can still visit if I want -'

'Rodney. Get to the point.'

'I'm moving to head up Eureka's Stargate program. There are a number of other interesting projects here as well, I don't know if you've met Henry yet, but some of his theories are just fascinating, so there's plenty to do. And then there's you.'

John thinks that finally, this is what he's been waiting for.

'Of course, all this was put into motion before you got so buddy-buddy with Carter,' sniffs Rodney.

'Rodney, Jack's straight.'

John kisses Rodney, and despite the dirt and the blood and the sweat, it's the best kiss they've ever had.
Tags: life less ordinary, mcshep, pg13, sga
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