John doesn’t know what he’s waiting for—he finds McKay annoying at the best of times with his insistent positivity and overwhelming popularity. Still, with McKay gone, the city feels different—a little bigger, a little less bright.
His attraction is inexplicable and irritating. He doesn’t want to like McKay, let alone like the man, but most of the time he can bury his attraction under condescension and an abrasive manner. John knows he’s been successful, and he’d like to keep it that way.
But for some reason, it’s harder to keep up the front with McKay gone, possibly never to return.
When word comes that McKay is back on the city, safe and sound, John lets out a breath he doesn’t know he’s been holding, and then he shoves the relief aside.
He goes back to the problem at hand, constructing a mathematical model that will explain some of the exotic particles that had come out of the rift. As usual, John loses himself in the math—his constant mistress—and forgets about McKay, at least for the moment.
The quiet voice pulls John from his model, and he sighs when he recognizes McKay’s voice. “You’re back,” John says, not looking away from his computer.
“Yeah, I got back a while ago, actually,” McKay replies. “I thought I’d see you.”
“I was busy,” John says, not turning, worried that his concern will show on his face.
“I can see that,” McKay says lightly. “You wouldn’t believe who I met on the other side.”
John shrugs. “Let me guess—you met your double. Maybe you met all our doubles.”
He turns then, soon enough to see McKay’s face fall slightly. “Well, yes.”
John rolls his eyes, pulling that caustic attitude on like a mask. “It was an alternate universe, Rod. I would have been very surprised if you hadn’t met at least one of our alternate selves.”
McKay cleared his throat. “That Sheppard was a lot cooler than you.”
John frowns and pushes his glasses up on his nose. “Had to happen in some universe, I guess. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a simulation to finish.”
He feels his shoulders go tight with tension, waiting for McKay to leave, but he doesn’t hear the sound of the door opening.
John wonders if McKay has any idea how much he resents pretty much everybody on the base, because he’s neither fish nor fowl. He’s the military commander only because of his rank, and therefore the soldiers don’t respect him. He commands respect from the scientists only because of his intelligence, but they still like McKay better.
And no wonder. John knows his attitude irritates a lot of people, but it’s the best defense he has.
“I missed you, though,” McKay says.
John grips the edge of his worktable. “Even if the other Sheppard was cooler?” he asks tightly.
“You’re part of my team,” McKay replies quietly, winningly, and John hates that he has no defense against McKay.
John shrugs. “Yeah, well.”
McKay touches his shoulder, hesitantly at first, and then he grips John’s shoulder more tightly. “It was a close call,” he admits.
John shuts his eyes and wills himself not to respond. “Glad you made it back.”
McKay tightens his grip on John’s shoulder and turns him in his chair. “Come on, look at me,” he cajoles.
John hopes his mask is firmly in place when he rotates his chair. “I’m looking at you,” he replies carefully.
And then McKay’s mouth is on his, and John has no idea what to do with that. He has no idea how to respond.
When McKay pulls back a moment later, his expression is uncharacteristically hesitant. “Sorry,” he says. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have—”
John throws caution to the wind and pulls McKay to him, kissing him fiercely, letting every hesitation go for the moment.
He’s come too close to losing McKay in the last few days to not take every advantage of this opportunity now.
“I take it back,” McKay says when John breaks off the kiss to take a breath.
John frowns. “What?”
“You’re the cool one,” McKay replies, and dives back in.
John’s never been cool in his life, but it’s not like that matters right now. All that matters is feeling McKay’s strong, broad shoulders under his hands, McKay’s mouth on his, and the knowledge that McKay is back where he belongs.