Rodney McKay knew things. A lot of things. In fact, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that he was the smartest man in two galaxies and several alternate universes, at least those that didn't have a Rodney McKay of their own.
He knew how stargates worked. Okay, not well enough to build one, not from scratch, but well enough.
He knew how Zero Point Modules worked. Still not well enough to build one, but he'd gotten to name them, back before Sheppard had shown up and taken over the naming of all alien objects.
He knew how to fix alien spaceships, and build bridges made out of stargates. He could write compression algorithms, make alien power sources do all sorts of things they hadn't been meant to, and generally save the day.
Rodney McKay was a very smart man.
Unfortunately, he had encountered a problem the solution to which was eluding even him. There was a legal-sized notepad on his desk, across which was written
Rodney McKay does not love John Sheppard.
It was the theorem he was now going to prove.
On the second line he wrote:
RM prefers women. JS is not a woman. Therefore RM does not prefer JS.
Normally, Rodney considered syllogisms the basest form of logic, but in this instance it seemed sound enough. He wrote a second one.
RM prefers blondes. JS is not blonde. Therefore RM does not prefer JS.
He tapped his pen against his chin. There had to be more reasons. He was up to his thirtieth tap when the door slid open.
"Hey," John said, walking into the room as though it was his lab and not Rodney's. "You're not supposed to be working. It's Sunday. Essential personnel only. Remember?"
"As if there's anyone more essential than me," Rodney answered, trying to cover the notepad without being too obvious about it.
"What are you working on?" John asked, coming up to Rodney's side and looking over his shoulder.
"Nothing." Rodney rested both arms on the page, spreading his hands flat against it.
John's curiosity was clearly piqued. Rodney tried to think of a way to divert it, but he was a terrible liar. If he tried he'd just make John more curious. "It's, um, not work. I was just scribbling a few notes to myself."
"Notes to yourself?"
"Is there an echo in here?"
"What kind of notes?" John asked.
"Private notes. Weren't you listening?"
John's lips drooped at the edges, the lower one protruding slightly. "You're making private notes that you can't share with me?"
Rodney was not going to give in to the pout. "Yes, I am."
Now he had another thing to write on his list. JS is irritating. RM is not attracted to irritating. Therefore RM is not attracted to JS. "It's none of your business."
"Okay." John held up his hands in surrender. "None of my business. I'll stop asking."
"I just came by to see if you wanted to play X-Box."
"X-Box? How did you get your hands on an X-Box?"
"I have my ways."
"Uh-huh." Opening his desk drawer, Rodney shoved the notepad inside. Then he locked it. "Let's go."
Covers pulled up to his chin, staring at the ceiling, Rodney ran his proof through his head. There had to be more things he could add. Not that it was a proper proof anyway.
JS has a hairy chest. RM doesn't like hairy chests. Therefore RM doesn't like JS's chest.
That worked. Except for that time he'd been sitting with John in the infirmary while Carson had bandaged his shoulder and Rodney had wondered if John's chest hair was soft. It had looked soft.
JS has a penis. RM doesn't like--
Except that one was pretty much covered by the man thing, and Rodney did like penises, at least his own. Maybe if he tried something other than syllogisms.
Trying to find a way to use second order logic to prove his theorem, he drifted off.
Normally they reviewed possible mission sites in the mess with both their laptops and large cups of coffee. But today John had shown up at Rodney's lab just before they were scheduled to meet and plunked himself down at Rodney's desk, leaving Rodney to pull up a chair.
It was nowhere near as comfortable as the mess, both of them trying to get close enough to see the screen of John's laptop. John smelled really good, sort of subtly outdoorsy. Apparently, he'd moved on from Aqua Velva. Rodney tried to ignore it.
"We should go there," John said, tapping the screen with the end of his pencil. He began to make a note on the pad, but the tip of his pencil snapped. "Got a pencil I can borrow?"
His eyes on the section of the database entry describing the planet's mineral resources, Rodney opened his desk drawer. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too late.
He glanced at John to find John looking at him, a fresh pencil in his hand and a hard expression on his face. "Your logic sucks," John said.
"You set me up. That's why we're meeting here. Hell, you probably broke the end of that pencil on purpose, just so I'd open the drawer." Rodney couldn't believe that John of all people had done this to him, had set out to violate his privacy.
"It was an accident." There was an edge in John's voice. Rodney didn't care.
"Like hell it was."
"It's not like I didn't know it was about me."
"Oh, right, because everything in the Pegasus Galaxy revolves around you."
"No, because you tell me everything, even the stuff I don't want to know."
"You can always stop listening," Rodney pointed out, but John ignored him.
"I know the name of every woman you've ever dated. I know about the time you kissed Tom Stevens in the lab after school."
"That was in junior high." Rodney crossed his arms over his chest. "And he kissed me."
"My point," John paused to glare at him, "is that if this private thing you were worrying about had involved anyone but me, you'd have told me about it."
"Maybe I would have, but that doesn't give you any right to set me up."
"I did not set you up. I just decided it would be nice to work here for a change." John softened his expression, clearly caught and trying to cover it.
"Where you could maybe get a look at something you knew I didn't want you to see."
"And it's a good thing I did, because your logic sucks."
"My logic does not suck."
John pulled the notepad from the drawer. "Look at this statement. First of all, you are using different categories for your theorem and your axioms. Your theorem says 'love' and your axiom says 'prefers.' Those aren't the same thing. Plus, prefers isn't an absolute. You prefer chocolate pudding, but you still eat butterscotch."
"Sexual preference is hardly the same thing as pudding preference."
"Here." John pointed at where Rodney had written RM prefers blondes. "For this statement to disqualify me it would have to read RM loves only blondes. JS is not blonde. Therefore RM does not love JS. I know for a fact you love people who aren't blonde."
Rodney crossed his arms. "Such as?"
"She's a friend." Rodney hadn't meant to sound so heated, but John was pissing him off. He had no business taking apart Rodney's feelings like this.
"Last time I checked so was I."
"This isn't about that kind of love."
"Yeah, I got that."
"So why are you trying to poke holes? You should be--" John looked away just as everything clicked in Rodney's head. "You?" Rodney asked. "Really?"
John shrugged. "I haven't tried to prove it."
"Oh, well…" Rodney was pretty sure it was the first time in his life he hadn't had anything to say, at least since the whole Tom Stevens incident, which this kind of resembled.
"There are certain things you can't prove with logic." John looked at Rodney, but it was out of the corner of his eye.
Rodney frowned at that. He didn't like the idea, even if it was true. "So how would we prove it?"
"I think some things you just have to act on, and if they work out then you can consider them proven," John said.
Of course it was possible to love someone even if it didn't work out, but Rodney didn't mention that.
"And some things," John continued, "you just have to take on faith."
"Now, see," Rodney pointed at him, "I really don't like that."
John closed his hand around Rodney's finger. "I know." Then he leaned closer, giving Rodney plenty of time to pull away, but Rodney didn't. He just sat there, letting John get closer and closer, until John's lips brushed his.
Rodney's heart was pounding so hard he thought he might pass out. If he did, John would never, ever let him live it down. So he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then another.
"Rodney?" He could hear the concern in John's voice. It was kind of nice.
"I'm fine." He cleared his throat. "That's, um, an interesting axiom."
"Did you like it?" John sounded uncertain, which was an odd sound for him.
"Maybe. It was kind of short."
"I didn't want you to freak out," John said, his voice oddly soft.
"A kiss is not going to make me freak out."
"You freaked out on Tom Stevens."
"I was 13." John really needed to let that go. "Look. Why don't I…?" Placing a hand on the side of John's neck, Rodney leaned forward, guiding him into another kiss. This one was longer. It still made Rodney's heart pound. "If I have a heart attack, it's going to be your fault," Rodney said, drawing back.
One corner of John's mouth quirked up, followed by the other corner. "I excite you that much, huh?"
"It's more like you make me that anxious."
"Uh-huh." Pulling Rodney's notepad from the drawer, John tore off the top page and crushed it into a ball. Then he wrote across the top of the new page:
Rodney McKay loves John Sheppard.
Beneath that he added:
Kissing someone he loves makes RM's heart pound. RM's heart pounds when he kisses JS. Therefore RM loves JS.
At the end, he wrote Q.E.D. in big letters.
"It's not much of a proof."
"There aren't any holes in it."
"Sure there are. Eventually kissing you will become old hat, and will cease to be almost heart attack inducing. According to this I will then cease to love you."
John shook his head. "No, you won't. That's just one proof. I plan on writing a whole bunch."
"Are you sure your skills as a logician are up to it?"
"Those aren't the skills I'll be using."
Rodney swallowed. "Oh."
Smiling in a way that was entirely too self-satisfied, John pointed at the laptop screen. "We should get back to work."
If Rodney's hand brushed John's unnecessarily and his knee pressed against John's, that wasn't really proof of anything.
Neither was the way John's smile made him want to smile back.
But the kissing might possibly have been proof.
They'd have to try it again just to be sure.