For all his intelligence, there are a few words that Samantha Carter always assumed Rodney McKay never knew the meaning of. Humility is one, and discretion is another.
As with most Rodney-related things, she's proven wrong about four months after she arrives in the Pegasus galaxy, when she has to track down her chief scientist and, for one reason or another, he's not in his lab and not answering his radio either. Chuck from Stargate Ops tells her, if she really needs to talk to Dr. McKay (and she really does, though she can't for the life of her remember why now, all these years later), that his quarters are on the ninth floor of tower twelve, and that she can probably find him there.
She finds his quarters fairly easily. They're in a more posh section of Atlantis than her own and, if the way the doors are spaced are any indication, the rooms here are larger. But that fits in with everything she expects of Rodney.
Still, she's more than a little surprised when its Colonel Sheppard that opens the door.
"What can I do for you, Colonel?" he asks, and for a moment she's too startled to answer. Sam doesn't think she's ever seen John in casual clothes before – not even when he was posted at the SGC for those six weeks last year, when the Ancients from the Tria took Atlantis over – and she's a little startled to see him in anything other than black. Granted, it's just a red flannel shirt over a black uniform shirt and pair of sweats, but, still, it's sort of perception-shattering.
After a moment, she realizes she hasn't answered, and ducks her head a little, abashed. "Sorry, I was looking for Rodney. Chuck told me his quarters were up here, but I guess I got turned around..." She's ashamed to say that, even after four months, it still happens. But, then again, the Ancients never bothered with numbering their doors or with putting you are here maps anywhere in the city, so its really to be expected.
Sam expects John to shrug and point her in the direction of Rodney's room – it really can't be that far off. What she doesn't expect is for John to say, "He's in the shower now, but, if you really need to talk to him, you're welcome to hang out." He steps back from the door, gesturing towards the couch in the room behind him. There's a thick book with an indecipherable title propped open there, and, yes, now that she's listening for it, she can hear water running from somewhere deeper inside. And, just in case she's any illusions about John just hanging out while waiting for Rodney to be done, there are signs of cohabitation all over the little bit of the room she can see – tablets and months old physics journals on the table, a poster of Johnny Cash on the far wall; a mixed pile of shoes by the door.
"Er, no," she manages after another slightly-too-long delay. "Just make sure he gets this some time today, will you?"
"Sure thing, Colonel," he says, taking the papers she hands him and giving her a causal salute with them before letting the door slide shut between them.
And that was how Sam found out about John Sheppard and Rodney McKay.
* * *
"You could have told me," she hisses to Lieutenant Cadman when the woman comes into her office the next morning with a stack of requisition orders. Somewhere along the line, for reasons that are only clear to the longest-serving members of the Atlantis Expedition, Cadman had become both the official don of the Atlantis gossip network and Colonel Sheppard's unofficial aide-de-camp. Which was to say, while Major Lorne was busy doing John's paperwork, she did Evan's. It was a slightly unusual set up, but, then again, most everything to do with the Stargate Program was.
"Told you what?" Laura asks in such a manner that, if Sam hadn't already sent off the paperwork recommending her for a promotion, she'd have sincerely been reconsidering the matter. "That Doctor Zelenka has a horrible crush on you? That that shade of red makes you look washed out? That there's a pool going in the anthropology department about when you and General O'Neill are finally going to get your acts together and admit you're hopelessly in love?"
"I know," Laura nods sagely. "You wouldn't think a bunch of eggheads would be such avid gamblers, but they are. They've even got one for Colonel Sheppard, on how many days a month he'll have to spend in the infirmary. That's the one that started it, I think, way back in the no way to contact Earth days of the Expedition."
Sam bites her lip for a moment, suddenly getting the feeling that the Lieutenant knows exactly what she's asking about and is doing her best to distract her from it. She has to admire her dedication to her CO, but it actually rather bothers her that Laura thinks she'll actually turn in John – or anyone, really – for violation of such a stupid article of the Uniform Code.
Still, it's another moment's hesitation before she asks, "I meant about John and Rodney."
Laura seems to deflate at this. "Oh," she says, too brightly, too causally. "What about them?"
"Lieutenant," she says warningly.
"Oh, fine. What do you want to know?"
"How long have they been...?"
"Living together? Since the whole thing with the Ancients last year. Together together? I dunno. A while, I think, but, then again, it's not exactly like it's something we talk about, you know. Or ask about, if you catch my drift."
"Don't worry, Lieutenant. I just don't like being blind-sided, especially about this sort of thing." Now that she knows, she can try to protect them from those of her superiors who would take offence to their particular lifestyle choice.
"Good," Laura says before flouncing out of her office in such a manner that Sam's rather inclined to think that, if Sam ever does decide to report John, Laura and her gossip network will ruin her.
It's kind of scary, actually.
* * *
Still, after a few more months go by and Colonel Sheppard is decidedly not court-martialed for anything, Captain Cadman seems to take that as proof Sam's not going to turn John in. And so she starts including little titbits of John-and-Rodney rumours in with the rest of those she chooses to share with the head of the Expedition.
This continues even after Woolsey has replaced her, but it's amusing and, for the most part, rarely ever true. It's all in good fun, though, so she doesn't bother trying to stop it.
But then, about two months after Atlantis' return to the Pegasus Galaxy:
RE: the IT couple
>they're tying the knot
Sam may not be the smartest person in two galaxies, but she's still pretty quick on the uptake and so, as soon as she's figured out who the hell she's talking about, she emails back:
RE: re: the IT couple
which is all she dares put on an email going through military servers, but it's the only way to communicate with anyone in Pegasus, so she trusts Laura to read it as what about DADT? as well as what about the whole matter of gay marriage not being legal in the States?.
It's a week (and a dial-in to Earth) before her email's answered:
RE: place and time
>Canada, after the brass gets their heads out of their collective asses
Sam snorts at this, but tells Jack (in part because she thinks he might be able to help their predicament some by starting the fire underneath the brass' collective asses, but mostly because she thinks he'll get a kick out of it) when she sees him next.
"Really?" is all he says when she tells him, clearly amused. "Huh."
* * *
She finds out later – from Laura, of course – that the next Daedalus run had contained a supply of unusually high-quality coffee, as well as enough ingredients to replace one of the jell-o days in the mess with a chocolate cake day.
The only one with enough bullshit-cutting power to get such a change approved on such short notice is Jack, of course, and she makes sure to tease him mercilessly for it afterwards.
* * *
Still, six years is a long time for anyone to be engaged, and so it is when Sam, now the two-star general in charge of the SGC, gets requests-for-leave from both Atlantis' head of science and the head of the Expedition (a position John, now a full bird colonel, has held for the better part of four years now), she thinks nothing of it. In fact, she's kind of happy, because she's only been after both of them to actually take a break every once and a while for ages now. And if she notices that the paperwork says they're both planning on visiting Rodney's sister in Vancouver? Well, she wouldn't have thought anything unusual in that even before she found out they were together. She knows what gate teams are like, and has spent more time in the last two decades with Jack, Daniel, Teal'c than she's spent with her family in her entire life, even after Dad joined the Tok'ra.
And so it is with some surprise that she opens her email two days after their Earth-leave starts (and a full week after the DADT repeal was implemented) to:
RE: get over it
ATT: invitiation.pdf (558.3 KB), announcement.pdf (124.7 KB)
>Yes, yes, it's short notice, I know, but John and I are getting married next Tuesday now that your backwards government has finally caught up with the rest of the western world. Jeannie's insisting on a church wedding, so prepare yourself accordingly. And be sure to tell Doctor Jackson when he starts whinging that he was intentionally not invited, for very good reasons that he's already familiar with.
Sam bites her lip, sends back a quick RSVP, and starts surfing the internet for the gaudiest wedding present in the history of wedding presents. She ends up settling for a coffee maker of such high quality that Rodney will have to use it, regardless of the fact it's the most lurid shade of pink to be found in two galaxies.
It's not until she's on the phone with Jack, who's in New York for what he's calling the most pointless IOA meeting in the long and, sadly, unvaried history of pointless IOA meetings ever, that she learns the full story. Which is that, not only had all the current and former members of the Atlantis Expedition been sent a copy of the wedding announcement, but so had all the members of the International Advisory Committee and every one-star general and above in the American military, complete with some pointed words about them finally being as socially advanced as South Africa, which could still remember apartheid. It kicks up a storm last lasts in the halls of the Pentagon for days, which has her snickering for even longer after reading the emailed memo-chains.
But it does prove she'd been right all along.