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The Healing Touch

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Chapter 1 - Deep Wound

 

The door slid open and Rodney took in the room before him with an audible gasp which caused all the eyes in the room to fly towards him as one. There was a flurry of movement and the utterance of a plethora of expletives. He turned sideways as if embarrassed about what he was seeing.

“I...I’m sorry,” Rodney blinked with wide eyes and then turned and all but ran through the still open door.

“Rodney!”

Anger, frustration, confusion, disappointment and heartbreak were all swimming around inside Rodney’s chest as he hurried down the hallway in the direction of anywhere else and away from the voice that was calling to him.

“Rodney!” the voice called again, “Wait!” the word was followed by heavy, rapid bootfalls and a hand around his upper arm halting his forward momentum.

“I can explain.”

Rodney turned slowly until he was face to face with the source of the voice. His eyes, shiny with moisture, rapidly searched Sheppard’s face and he gave the other man an expectant look. He actually found that he hoped that there really was some way to explain away the scene that had just been playing before his eyes; Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, Rodney’s lover, sitting on his bed, no shirt, pants open and pushed down to mid thigh, eyes closed, head tossed back, mouth open in soundless cries of pleasure with a completely naked, glistening blonde riding his hips like a roller coaster at Disneyland. Yes, he found himself very hopeful at the possibility of it all being some kind of horrendous mistake.

They stood in silence for a long moment. John was staring at Rodney while his brain ran through every possible excuse, reasoning and outright lie it could think of. Somehow nothing he came up with seemed even remotely good enough but he had to say something, and quickly, if he wanted to quell the storm that he could see brewing behind McKay’s gleaming blue eyes. He decided to try the truth.

“It just happened Rodney. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry? Oh, well, that changes everything! All is forgiven. Would you like to have the make-up sex here in the hallway or can you wait until we get back to your room?” Rodney couldn’t help the sarcasm that slipped into his voice.

“Keep it down!” John hissed, moving his hand in the intergalacticlly understood motion for lowering your volume.

Rodney was hurt and he was angry. He wasn’t about to give the bastard a centimeter on this. He was the wronged party here, not the wrong party. He also knew, in the back of his mind, that this little verbal sparring match was the only thing holding back the flood waters that were ready to spill over his eyes lids.

“What? Are you worried that everyone will find out not only that you like dick but that you’re also a lying slut who cheats on the man he professes to love?”

Okay, this was not going quite the way John had hoped. Although he had dialed down the volume, the venom in Rodney’s voice was almost palpable. It was time to go another way and break for the Hail Mary.

“I do love you Rodney.”

He received only a disbelieving snort in response.

“It...She didn’t mean anything to me.”

Rodney shook his head and made a strangled sound deep in his throat. “Do you honestly think that makes it better?”

John just looked at him, all his words and excuses gone, and shrugged.

“No, John, it doesn’t. All it means is that what we had meant so little to you that you were willing to throw it away for a meaningless nothing. That is not, by any human definition, love,” Rodney’s lips trembled slightly as he spoke but his eyes did not waiver from John’s.

“Had?” John’s voice squeaked and his eyes widened a little.

Rodney blinked as if he couldn’t quite believe he had heard the question properly and his frown deepened.

“Yes, had.”

“What ‘s that suppose to mean?”

That actually caused a brief small smile to cross McKay’s lips, “It’s a verb, the past tense and past participle of have. It’s a word used when referring to a thing that one used to possess. As in you used to have my heart but you wasted it. Tore it up, threw it to the ground and spit on it like a disposable napkin. As goes my heart so go I.”

Rodney turned and continued to walk away but once more he found Sheppard’s hand stopping him, this time with a strong tug at his wrist. He closed his eyes for a moment but refused to turn around.

“Rodney, come on, be reasonable, let’s talk about this. I know you’re upset and you have every...”

Rodney’s head snapped around, his narrowed eyes locking with John’s. “Upset?” he repeated through gritted teeth as he fought to keep his voice steady and at a discreet volume, “Upset doesn’t begin to cover it.”

“See, there you go, now we’re talking, doesn’t it feel better to let it out?” John flashed his trademark cock-eyed smile.

Rodney’s mouth fell open, the pain of his breaking heart momentarily forgotten in the wave of indignant shock that accompanied John’s nonchalant manner. He searched his brain a million times over but simply could not remember how to form words.

“You know Rodney, talking to me about this will actually need to involve you talking, and I don’t ever remember talking being a problem for you,” he was still wearing that smug Sheppard grin.

“Let go of my arm Colonel.”

The smiled faded on his lips, it had been a very, very long time since Rodney had called him by his official military title and it seemed to finally push home just how very badly he had fucked up, and that he didn’t have the first clue how he was going to fix it. Slowly he opened his hand and released his lover.

“Please, can’t we just...”

“No, Colonel, we can’t just.” Rodney interrupted.

With that the scientist turned and vanished down a side corridor, leaving John standing alone in the middle of the hallway, running an anxious hand through his hair and staring after him.


*************

Rodney had used the hallway to escape to a portion of the city that was currently not in use and began to wander, his mind lost in thoughts of what had just happened between he and Sheppard. Eventually he found himself in one of the many long ago abandoned laboratories, the perfect place to sit and think, and to hide. His eyes moved about the room, vacant and glazed and he blinked slowly with weary lids as his mind once again found purchase in thoughts of John and began to replay the scenes of his betrayal.

It wasn’t long before the heartbreak won out over the anger. He had never been so glad to be alone as he was at that moment when, in a dark, empty and dust laden lab, the tears would be held back no longer and he buried his face in his hands and allowed himself to cry.

*******************

Rodney stirred and lifted his head from the crook of his arm which had found its way to the cool metal surface of a table. He blinked a few times as he took in the room around him, forgetting for a moment where he was. He had cried himself into exhaustion and had actually fallen asleep on a stool, hunched over the lab table. He reached up and wiped at his eyes. The skin around them was still damp and puffy and he had little doubt from the warmth, that his cheeks were flushed red.

He had no way to know how long he had been there, so he slowly gathered himself together and headed back out into the hallway to head back to the main area of the city. Passing a window he looked out to the horizon and noted that the sun was beginning to rise. He had spent the entire night in that lab and it was now almost time to start a new day.

The first day of the rest of his life without John.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 - Festering

 

Rodney passed the next few days in a numb haze. When he wasn’t hiding in his labs, avoiding all possible contact with John, he was in his room hoping that nobody would come knocking to find him wrought with emotion and tears. 

It didn’t take long for Rodney to start trying to solve the problem, to attempt to discover the reason for John’s infidelity. It had to be something he did, or that he didn’t do, after all. Maybe he wasn’t any good in bed or maybe he had gotten boring or too predictable. Maybe he annoyed John by telling him so often how he felt about him. Maybe he was too clingy or wasn’t clingy enough. Maybe he had scared him by using the word love. John had said it back but maybe he’d felt forced into it, cornered. So many maybes and they all left Rodney feeling pitiful and guilty, and that caused him to become angry with himself for feeling guilty and pitiful about something that, he knew deep down, he was not to blame. All the while the heartache and the sick, empty feeling inside continued to grow worse and not better.

He had honestly thought that John cared for him, that he wanted to be with him and that maybe, just maybe, that the brash, smooth, charismatic flyboy with his gravity defying hair and soul melting smile really did love him in return. But he was wrong. He had to be wrong. How could a person do something like this to someone they actually loved? It didn't make sense. The only logical explanation was that John had never truly love him and that lead the way back to pitiful and empty.

Rodney had spent the majority of his adult life alone, but he had never been lonely. No, to be lonely one had to first know what it felt like to be close with someone. He supposed that he could now add that to the list of things that Sheppard had taught him and he would put it right up at the top next to ‘never trust’ and ‘let no one in’. How could something that had seemed so good have broken so irreparably? If it had been a machine there would have been signs of the impending doom; harsh sounds, small malfunctions, bad diagnostic checks, but it wasn’t a machine and he didn’t have the tools one needed to fix it.

He’d never been thought something like this. He’d barely ever been in any real relationships, let alone a long term one. For once in his life Dr. Rodney McKay had no idea what to do or where to turn. He was lost and confused to the point of depression. His emotions were eating away at him from the inside out like some kind of demented Wraith, and he wondered just how long it would be before they devoured him altogether and he would simply cease to be.

 ***********

Rodney’s deteriorating state did not go unnoticed. When a man like McKay lost focus and became distracted he began making mistakes and when a man like McKay made mistakes something was very, very wrong.

“Excuse me, Doctor Beckett. Might I have word with you?” 

“Of course Radek, what is it?” Carson asked looking up from his clipboard to find Zelenka standing before him with a worried expression.

“Is Rodney,” the Czech scientist said as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, “I am worried about him. He looks as if...as if he is not sleeping. He is making mistakes, and I do not believe that he has been eating with any regularity. Most notably, he has not...bellowed?...at single one of us in three days. I am sure there is something wrong but he will not speak to me about it. Keeps telling me not to bother him and to get back to work.”

Carson frowned and put his clipboard aside. As a doctor the possibility that Rodney had not eaten in three days was far more troublesome than him not yelling at anyone, even if he could understand why it would have Radek worried. With Rodney’s hypoglycemia he had to eat at fairly regular intervals or risk serious health consequences.

“I know you and he are friends and I thought perhaps he might talk to you. I cannot believe I am saying this to anyone but...the science team would prefer to have the old Rodney McKay back. At least when he was berating, we knew where we stood. We are used to his outbursts, but his silence scares us,” Radek continued.

“I’ll speak with him Radek. Thank you for coming to me,” Carson cupped the other man’s shoulder and gave him a small, comforting pat on the back.

Zelenka gave a nod and then headed back out of the infirmary.

******************

It wasn’t until very late in the evening that Dr. Beckett finally managed to locate Rodney while the man was alone. It was well after eleven o’clock in the evening, when most of Atlantis had already turned in for the night, that Carson entered the main science lab to find Rodney sitting in front of a laptop staring blankly into a dark screen that had obviously turned itself off long ago.

Rodney didn’t seem to notice Carson as he moved closer and the doctor observed the dark circles under the eyes and the paleness of his skin as sure signs that Radek’s suspicions were correct. Rodney had not been sleeping or eating with any frequency or regularity. Carson actually found himself very alarmed by the sight of Rodney looking so pallid.

“Rodney?” his voice was gentle and deliberate, he wanted to get Rodney’s attention without startling him.

“Hmmmm?” the scientist didn’t even turn his head or look up.

“Is there anything the matter?”

Carson moved closer to the other man, his hip now almost pressing against the work station as he looked down at a him. At this distance he could now see that McKay’s eyes where bloodshot and that the skin of his nasal septum and mid upper lip were raw and chapped as if he had been wiping at them frequently.

“Carson? What?” Carson’s question and close proximity finally caused Rodney to look up. He blinked and for a moment he looked slightly confused before shaking his head, “No. Everything’s fine. I’m just trying to get some work done while there’s no one in the lab to bother me. I’m fine.”

Rodney turned back to his laptop and began to run shaky fingers over the keys.

“Rodney,” Carson reached out to still the hands by placing one of his on top of them, “the computer isn’t even on. Why don’t ye tell me what’s bothering you?”

“Nothing’s bothering me, why don’t you just go back to your voo-doo lounge and leave me alone!” Rodney snapped jerking his hands away from the keyboard and Carson and thrusting them into his lap.

“Fine Rodney. You don't want to talk, I canna force you, but ye look terrible and people are concerned. When have ye last eaten or gotten some sleep?"”

“I...” Rodney’s brow furrowed in thought, he couldn’t answer that question, “I don’t know.”

“Well then, you’re comin’ with me.”

With that Carson moved behind Rodney, placed his hands on the astrophysicist’s shoulders and pushed him up off the stool. Rodney, who was still too lost in his thoughts of when he’d last slept and eaten, complied to Carson’s directions without hesitation. It wasn’t until they were moving toward the door that Rodney even seemed to notice that he was moving.

“Where are we going?” he asked, tentatively attempting to stop their trek to the hallway.

“I'm taking ye to the cafeteria where you will eat something. Then I am taking ye back to your quarters where ye will take a sleep aid and get some rest.” Dr. Beckett answered pushing a little harder.

“But I’m not...”

“If I hafta feed ya and tuck ya in like a wee babe, I will.” Carson cut off Rodney’s protests.

Rodney gave a resigned sigh, slumped his shoulders and walked along with Carson to the cafeteria with no further arguments.

*************************************

As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Rodney found, as he sat across from Carson in the all but empty cafeteria, that he really missed being in the company of his friend and that he truly appreciated the care and concern that the other man was showing to him in his time of need. Rodney found it both odd and comforting that Carson didn’t even have to know why Rodney was in need, he only had to know that the need was there and he would see to it that the need was met.

Maybe it had to do with his being a medical doctor, or maybe it was just his personality and that was why he had become a doctor in the first place, Rodney wasn’t completely sure, though his money was on the later. As he finished up his meal and Carson escorted him back to his quarters, making a quick stop at the infirmary to get the sleep aide that he had mentioned earlier, Rodney found himself wondering why John couldn’t be more like Carson Beckett. Caring, concerned and considerate of others. The things that he’d always likened as the three ‘C’s of Carson. Yes, those three ‘C’s could definitely be useful in John.

Carson stayed with Rodney in his quarters long enough to make sure that he took the sleeping pills and got into his bed. With a simple ‘G’night Rodney’ Beckett turned and left Rodney to his pillow and the deep sleep that was now calling very loudly for him.

Within five minutes Rodney was fast asleep.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3 - Triage

 

Rodney awoke the next morning feeling better and more refreshed than he had in as long as he cared to remember. He stretched out his arms over his head and noted, with a small smile, as he tossed his legs over the side of the bed, that for the first time in about a week he didn’t feel the dread of facing the day pressing in on him.

 

Unfortunately, the feeling wasn’t to last long. Rodney had only been in his labs for about an hour, not even enough time to ream the flunkies, when his comm beeped and the familiar voice of John Sheppard streamed into his ear.

 

McKay,” John paused waiting for a response from the scientist but received none.

 

Rodney’s hands had stilled on his keyboard, the unexpected and very unwanted interruption had caught him off guard and left his brain frazzled and his mouth speechless.

 

Mckay?” John’s voice broke through the comm again, sounding slightly less patient.

 

This time Rodney remained silent on principle, his lips pressing together in a hard set line across his face.

 

RODNEY!” John snapped into his ear, causing Rodney to jump and nearly tumble off his stool to the floor.

 

WHAT?! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT!” Rodney yelled as he stood and roughly shoved the stool away from him.

 

The stool tipped over and fell to the floor with a harsh metal clanging that rang through the open space of the labs, bouncing off of the walls before fading into nothing. His entire staff was now turned in his direction, staring at him with wide eyes.

 

There was hesitation before John’s clipped response, “We’re waiting for you in the briefing room.”

 

Rodney’s brow furrowed, “What? Why?”

 

We have a mission briefing today. Actually it started fifteen minutes ago. We were just wondering if you were going to grace us with your presence at some point.” Rodney could tell, even with the sarcasm, that John was speaking to him through a clenched jaw.

 

Good. The bastard.

 

Well?”

 

Yes, yes, right, fine. I’ll be there in a minute,” Rodney rambled distractedly.

 

We’ll alert the media. Sheppard out.”

 

Rodney fumed at the open air for a moment, his face pulling unhappy lines and turning a slightly alarming shade of red. Giving himself a ten count he turned toward the door and marched out, ignoring the way that everyone rushed to move out of his way. This was just what he needed, John turning him into an unstable, unpredictable and tyrannical monster.

 

***************

 

It took Rodney about five minutes to get to the briefing room and by that time the anger had worn off and only the itch of anticipation remained. This would be the first time since the incident in John’s quarters that Rodney had laid eyes on the Colonel, and he was not looking forward to it.

 

The door to the room slid open and Rodney hesitated before he entered, long enough for everyone in the room to look up at him. Elizabeth, Teyla and Ronon’s eyes fell from him as soon as he moved into the room but he could feel John’s stare. Rodney forsook his normal chair next to Sheppard in favor of the one next to Teyla, the chair situated the farthest from John.

 

He sat down silently, his eyes intently interested in his laptop as he set it up on the table before him, he didn’t have it in him to look up and meet John’s gaze, which he could still feel burning a hole in his face. He was afraid of what his reaction would be, more to the point he was afraid because he didn’t know what his reaction would be. The options were that he would dive across the table and pummel the other man, dive across the table and take him in a fiery, passionate kiss, or turn and run from the room in a fit of weeping hysterics. Rodney really wasn’t very fond of any of those options so he continued to keep his eyes fixed firmly on the screen.

 

After a moment more, which found Rodney fiddling with his equipment, Elizabeth began to talk about PXJ-5309, the planet that they would be visiting on the upcoming mission. The voices faded into a blurred murmur as Rodney’s mind drifted farther away from the meeting and back to that day in John’s quarters.

 

Rodney risked a glance at John and immediately regretted it. John was still watching him, an unreadable look on his face. Their eyes met for a moment and Rodney was so transfixed that he didn’t hear Elizabeth speaking to him until she was about halfway through her description of the important scientific information about the planet. Tearing his eyes away from John with a jerk of his head he tried to focus on what Elizabeth was saying but found that it all seemed to be a string of unrelated words and nothing made sense in his brain.

 

Mercifully, the briefing was short. When it was over Rodney discovered himself frozen to his chair, unable to move. It took him several long moments to get to his feet. There was nothing keeping him there, his laptop was folded and tucked under his arm and he had work waiting for him back in the lab, but he couldn’t seem to get his legs to moved toward the door. He watched as Teyla and Ronon left together, talking about what weapons would and wouldn’t be appropriate to bring with them this time, and then as Elizabeth nodded a final word to John and headed for her office. Leaving the two ex-lovers alone together for the first time in a week.

 

Rodney gulped, his throat suddenly seeming very dry as he looked up to see John’s eyes on him again as the other man moved in his direction. When John was within arms reach of the scientist he stopped and just watched Rodney for a minute, his eyes searching for something.

 

Rodney,” the sound of John’s voice saying his name in that familiar way seemed to be all the motivation that Rodney’s muscles need.

 

The word had barely fallen from his lips when Rodney turned and bolted, almost at a run, from the room, leaving Sheppard to watch his retreating form once more.

 

*********************************

 

Carson, I want to talk to you in your office,” Carson heard Rodney’s voice as it rushed past him, along with Rodney himself, as the other man made his way into his office at the back of the infirmary.

 

Carson looked down at the patient in the bed before him and smiled. “I’ll be back in a moment.”

 

He gave one of his staff some brief instructions and then he made his way into his office. When he entered he found Rodney pacing before his desk, wringing his hands together and shaking his head. When the door clicked as Carson closed it behind him Rodney stopped moving and looked up at the doctor, his eyes wide and panic-stricken.

 

Can you take me off the off-world mission duty roster?” he asked his voice nearly pleading.

 

What?” Carson was confused.

 

Off-world missions, I don’t want to go on them, can you make it so that happens, say I’m sick or medically unfit or something. I don’t know, whatever it takes, I don’t care,” Rodney rambled, his hands moving around in front of him almost as fast as his words, “just get me off the team!”

 

Carson blinked slowly, his brow furrowed over his blue eyes. “Why would you want me ta do that? I thought you liked going off world.”

 

Rodney waved his hands frantically in front of his face, looking very much like he was attempting to ward off an anger bee.

 

That’s not important. Can you do it or not?”

 

Aye, Rodney I can, if that’s what you want,” Rodney breathed a visible sigh of relief and his hands stilled, “but I really wish ya’d talk to me about whatever it is that’s bothering you.”

 

Carson stepped closer to his friend and reached out a hand, placing it over the other man’s shoulder and giving it a firm squeeze. Carson dipped his head a little so that he could look into Rodney’s down-turned eyes.

 

That is what friends are for after all.”

 

Rodney looked up to meet the gaze and his eyes flickered with something that Carson’s couldn’t identify. He watched as the scientist’s mouth opened as if to say something and then closed again, setting itself in a melancholy line. Carson allowed his hand to fall away and he waited patiently for Rodney to speak.

 

Rodney’s eyes had turned inward and were rapidly searching for something in the man’s own mind, as they often did. The longer the silence lingered the more dejected Rodney looked until finally his bottom lip gave a slight tremble and his eyes shot back up to Carson.

 

I... I ummm, have to go. You’ll get that done for me today?” he was already moving for the door.

 

Aye,” and then Rodney was out the door, moving quickly through the throng of the infirmary toward the hallway.

 

Carson, still very confused and worried, glanced back at his desk before following, taking note of the laptop that now occupied the paper scattered surface. Reaching over, he picked it up.

 

Rodney, you forgot your,” he called as he turned, holding the offending object up in the air before him.

 

He didn’t bother to finish the sentence because the agitated genius had already vanished from sight. Sighing he put the computer back down on his desk and reached up to key his comm.

 

Rodney,” there was no answer.

 

Rodney,” he tried again, and again got no answer, “Rodney, you left your laptop in my office. It’s on my desk if you want to come by and pick it up.”

 

With that the doctor, closed the door to his office and went back to work.

 

********************************

 

Carson was sitting behind his desk, typing up the paperwork that would be needed to fulfill Rodney’s request when the door to his office opened and he found John Sheppard standing before him looking a cross between worried and aggravated.

 

Colonel,” he said in simple greeting, his fingers stilling over the keys, “What can I do for ye?” he prompted when John said nothing.

 

I want to know what’s wrong with Rodney.”

 

The straight forwardness and oddity of the Colonel’s statement caught Carson off-guard and the doctor stared at the solider for a moment.

 

What makes ye think that there is something wrong with Rodney?”

 

He was in your office this afternoon, I heard your call over the radio,” he said in answer to the unasked question, “I know Rodney, and as much as he likes to bitch and moan, he doesn’t come in here of his own free will and he certainly doesn’t leave his precious computer laying forgotten anywhere. That leads me to think there’s something very wrong with him. I want to know what it is.”

 

Carson studied John’s face for a few moments. There was something strange in his expression, it was the type of concern that he saw on the faces of spouses and significant others but that didn’t make any sense, that would mean that John and Rodney were...suddenly a few things seemed to click into place in the doctor’s mind. He just hoped that his face didn’t give it all away.

 

I’m sorry Colonel, but you know I can’t tell you that.” he said with a shake of his head.

 

John crossed his arms over his chest looking very much like he intended to stand there until Carson had out with it.

 

He’s on my team. I think I have the right to know if there’s something that could hamper him in the field.” Carson couldn’t really argue the logic there.

 

Aye, that you do, but I can assure you that he won’t be hampered in the field, as he won’t be in the field, at least not for now.”

 

John looked confused, “What?”

 

I’m removing him from the Off-world duty list. Indefinitely,” he answered the question before it could be asked, “I’m afraid you’re going to need to find a temporary replacement science officer.”

 

John’s brow knitted together even tighter and he unfolded his arms. He leaned in over Carson, his palms flat on the surface of the desk. Carson turned his face up toward the uniformed man, suddenly feeling a bit intimidated and more than slightly uncomfortable.

 

I want to know what’s wrong with him Carson.” he could hear the tint of pleading hiding in the demand.

 

Carson shook his head again and stood up from his chair, “I’m sorry John, but ye won’t get it from me.”

 

Beckett moved around the front of the desk and toward the door, opening it. After a moment Sheppard straightened and turned around to face him again and after a moments hesitation he gave the medical officer a stiff nod and left.

 

Carson closed the door again and moved back to his chair. He glanced at the paperwork on the screen and thought about the event that had just taken place before him. Beside his own laptop was the one the Rodney had left earlier and his hand slid over it’s smooth lid. He was going to have to get it back to Rodney and that seemed as good a reason as any to make a stop at the man’s quarters later. If he managed to get an invitation inside and managed to have a little chat, so much the better.

 

With this plan firmly in mind Carson quietly went back to typing up the paperwork.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 - Diagnosis

 

Rodney hadn’t returned to the lab after the mission briefing and his impromptu meeting with Carson. Instead, he had retreated to his quarters to hide. He’d spent most of the rest of the day alternately pacing in front of his wall of windows and staring with unseeing eyes out over the ocean.

 

He hated asking Carson to take him off the team. He loved going off-world, being in the thick of it. It made him feel useful, integral and important to the expedition. Not that he really wasn’t already all of those things before getting on Sheppard’s team but, that wasn’t the point. The point was he liked going on the missions and he hated that he couldn’t do it anymore, at least not until he got his emotions under control anyway.

 

He had to keep his distance from John. Out of sight out of mind, or at least that was the theory. He had to admit that the theory didn’t really seem to be sound, seeing as how all he could think about was John, but at the moment, it was all he had. Besides, being around John only proved to distract him to the point of idiocy and he couldn’t have that. No, better just to stay away from him until it was safe again. If. If it was ever safe again. At this point Rodney wasn’t really sure that it ever would be.

 

Rodney was jolted from his silent despair by a loud knock at his door. He paused a moment, not entirely sure of what he had heard. Another heavy wrap thudded across the room. His head whipped around as he turned his wide eyes toward the door. All he could do was stare at it, completely silent and unmoving. It was John. It had to be John. Nobody else would come knocking at his door. No, it was definitely John and he definitely didn’t want to see him.

 

Rodney stayed unmoving, willing John to leave. If he just ignored him he would give up and go away. That was how it worked. If no one answered the door you were at, you moved on. Rodney nodded to the empty air, confident in his chosen actions.

 

When another knock echoed through the room Rodney began to chew on his lower lip. Why wasn’t he going away? He was suppose to give up and go away. It figured, it was just like Sheppard, never playing by the rules.

 

There was one more knock, this time followed by a familiar, accented voice, “Rodney?”

 

Rodney blinked at the door. It wasn’t John. It was Carson. Why would Carson be standing at his door knocking? ‘Well obviously he wants to see you, idiot.’ Rodney admonished himself as he moved hesitantly toward the door.

 

Go away.”

 

Would you please open the door?”

 

What do you want?”

 

Well for one thing I want not to be talking to your door,” There was a brief pause in which Rodney opened his mouth to speak but was cut off, “I also have yer laptop, you left it in my office this morning.”

 

Just leave it on the floor and go away.” Rodney’s strained voice called through the door.

 

Rodney,” Carson sounded slightly exasperated, “don’t be ridiculous. I’ll not be gotten rid of until you open this door. Now, just let me in.”

 

Rodney heaved a heavy sigh and allowed his shoulders to sag in defeat, “Fine.”

 

A moment later the door slid open and Carson saw that Rodney was standing in front of his window, his back to the door. The door slid shut again when Carson entered. The lights in the room where off and the only illumination was that of the planet’s twin moons, coming in through the windows. The darkness filled the room with a heavily somber ambiance.

 

Carson moved to the desk that occupied one of the corners and set the laptop down on the clean space that was obviously it’s intended home. Turning toward his friend, Carson watched him for a moment with sharp, concerned eyes. The scientist was almost completely unmoving as he stared out over the water and he hadn’t said a single word since Carson had entered his quarters. These things were very much un-Rodney-like.

 

He moved slowly to stand next to Rodney, joining him in partaking of the view. They stood like this, shoulder to shoulder, hands in their pockets, in silence for a while before Carson turned his head and spoke to Rodney’s profile.

 

I’ve put in the paperwork. Yer off the team until further notice. I put it down to health related stress issues but that excuse wonna work forever.”

 

Rodney sighed and his shoulders sagged a little more, but he didn’t look away from the ocean, “I know, thanks.”

 

Rodney,” Carson hesitated a moment, unsure about how to go about this, “what’s happened between you and Colonel Shepphard?”

 

That got a reaction. The astrophysicist's head jerked around and he regarded the other man with squinted, slightly accusatory eyes, “What makes you think something’s going on with us?”

 

Carson closed his eye a moment and shook his head, laughing quietly.

 

What?” Rodney questioned sharply.

 

Well, even if your reaction just now weren’t enough,” Carson told him as he opened his eyes again, “He paid me a visit today, wantin’ to know what was wrong with you.”

 

He...he did?”

 

Aye, he seemed very concerned. Overly so. An after your little visit to me earlier I simply added two and two and plainly enough got four.”

 

What makes you so sure the answer is four?”

 

Even us voo-doo practicioners can count Rodney.”

 

Rodney turned back toward the water and Carson waited, watching him. After a few beats Rodney heaved a sigh and turned his gaze back to his friend. He opened his mouth, about to speak when yet another knock rumbled through the enclosed space. Rodney’s eyes went wide and his entire body tensed even as he turned toward the door.

 

McKay, I know you’re in there, we need to talk,” this time it really was John, and Rodney swallowed audibly, “Rodney!”

 

His name being bellowed as a command made him jump and he startled a little when Carson’s hand fell, warm and reassuring, onto his shoulder. His eyes flew to Carson’s face, moving in rapid panic.

 

Make him go away.” he hissed in a whisper and then turned and fled into his bathroom.

 

Carson blinked after Rodney but before he could even get his hand completely raised the bathroom door slid shut and John was banging again.

 

Damnit Rodney, answer the door!”

 

Carson took a deep breath through his nose, called the lights up and strode purposefully to the door. He waved his hand before the door control and with a beep the door slid open. For the second time that evening Carson found himself opening a door to reveal a back and he crossed his arms over his chest.

 

It’s about time,” John grumped as he turned around to face who he thought would be Rodney, he was visibly shocked to find that it wasn’t, “Carson?”

 

John.” Carson gave him a curt nod, he actually found himself a little miffed at the entire situation and he had the distinct feeling that it was all John’s fault.

 

John’s eyes shifted over Carson’s shoulder and they searched the room behind him looking for Rodney. John shifted his weight and Carson heard a soft tinkling clank that caused him to look down at Sheppard’s hands. That was when he realized that he was holding a large cup of blue jello. Carson raised an eyebrow.

 

Hungry Colonel?”

 

Huh? What?” John looked down briefly, suddenly remembering what he had, “Oh, this, right. No. No, I, uh, figured, you know, if McKay was sick he might, um, like it.” he finished with a shrug.

 

Ah. That’s very thoughtful of you.”

 

So, is Rodney around?” John asked leaning forward a little, trying to get a better view into the apartment.

 

Aye.” Carson stated.

 

Oh great, then I’ll just,” John moved to enter but was stopped by Carson’s hand against his chest.

 

I don’t think so lad, he’s not up for company, doesna want ta see anyone.”

 

It’s alright Doc, I’m sure he’ll make an exception for me,” John tried, giving the other man a cock-eyed grin and raising the jello in the air with a little shake, causing the spoon to clink against the side of the cup again, “and blue jello.”

 

The blue jello, yes,” the doctor said plucking the container from John’s hand, “you, no. You, specifically, are on the no admittance list Colonel, I’m sorry but you’ll hafta go.”

 

At those words John became bristled and blustery the grin falling away from his features to be replaced by a harsh scowl. He knocked Carson’s hand roughly from his chest and pushed his way into Rodney’s quarters.

 

What the hell is that suppose to mean?” he questioned loudly as he turned his angry eyes on Carson, “Where the hell is he?”

 

John turned in a small, tight circle, searching the apartment until his eyes found the closed bathroom door. He breathed in like a raging bull and charged at it then gave it a good banging, demanding that Rodney come out. By now Carson had taken all he was going to, turning he set the jello down and moved to follow the fuming military commander.

 

Look here Colonel Sheppard, I’ll not have this. It’s been made as clear as crystal that he doesn’t wish to see you. Now stop making all this fuss and go.” Carson was shaking a finger at John now.

 

I’m not going anywhere until he comes out here.” John yelled at the bathroom door.

 

I’ll ask you this only once more Colonel. Leave. Now.” John look ready to protest some more, “Don’t make me hafta call for security.”

 

John looked him in the eye and he could see just how serious Carson was about that threat. He took a final look at the offending door, muttered a highly pissed off fine and stomped out. Carson breathed a sigh of relief and went to sit on Rodney’s bed, rubbing the bridge of his nose to fight off the rising tension headache. After a few minutes of silence the bathroom door opened a crack and Rodney peeked out looking pale and bewildered.

 

Is he gone?”

 

Yes you daft cow, he’s gone. Now get out here and tell me what the bloody hell is going on.”

 

Rodney’s eyes scanned the room quickly and he gave a slight nod as if satisfied that Carson was telling the truth and then he ventured out. He stood before Carson for a moment nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot before deciding to take a seat next to him on the bed. Carson watched as Rodney studied his hands in his lap. It was obvious that Rodney wanted to talk about this, whatever this was, but it was still Rodney and he was going to need some help to get started. That was fine, Carson could do help. He turned his body toward his friend and reached out to place a hand on his shoulder.

 

It’s alright Rodney, I’m your friend. This is what friends do. It’s part of why we have them you know. Tell me what’s going on and I’ll do whatever I can to help ye sort it out.”

 

Rodney looked up from his hands a look of pain and confusion mixed with a little bit of unease swirled in those deep blue pools and Carson felt something tug at his heart. Carson gave the warm shoulder under his hand a squeeze, trying to tell Rodney through action that he was in a safe place where he could feel free to speak whatever was on his mind.

 

I,” the word was all that Rodney could get out before stopping again, “I don’t want to tell you something that will cause you not to want me as a friend any more.”

 

Rodney, there’s not a thing you could tell me, short of confessing to havin’ killed my mum, that would make me not be your friend. So unless you’ve got a confession of that sort, you’ve got nothing to worry about from me.”

 

Rodney looked down at his hands again. He seemed to be working himself up, trying to pull out the courage to tell Carson whatever his big secret was. The thing that had suddenly come between he and John. He knew how hard this was for Rodney, for as much as the man liked to blather on he was rubbish when it came to emotions and even worse when it came to talking about them. So Carson just waited. Finally Rodney looked back up into his eyes.

 

I’m gay.” he blurted quickly.

 

That’s lovely Rodney,” well if that wasn’t the perfect catalyst for two million new hot, sweaty fantasies he didn’t know what was. He had to fight back the grin that was attempting to make itself known.

 

No, you don’t get it. I’m Homosexual. I like men. For having sex with.” Rodney sounded as if he were trying to explain the definition of quantum mechanics to a mentally challenged ten year old who didn’t speak English.

 

Aye Rodney, I know what gay means, rather intimately actually.” Beckett told him with a shy smirk.

 

Rodney’s eyes widened a portion as he realized what Carson was saying, “You mean you...your...”

 

As a blade.” his bright blue eyes sparkled with humor.

 

I...you...but...how did I not know?” Rodney rambled, waving his hands about frantically.

 

Well it isn’t as if we all wear buttons now is it?”

 

Still, I should have been able to, you know, sense it or something.”

 

This isn’t about me Rodney, this is about you. You and Colonel Sheppard. Now, please, tell me what’s happened with the pair of you? Has he found out about you? Is he treating you badly?”

 

Rodney gave a strangled snort in response, “Badly, yeah, that’s one way to put it.”

 

What’s he done?” Carson asked, his voice becoming slightly edgy, “If he’s threatened you in any way.” Carson felt his temper rise a little at the thought. He would not sit by while Rodney was bashed in any form.

 

No, no, it’s nothing like that.” Rodney shook his head.

 

What then?”

 

He,” Rodney paused and took a deep breath, “He cheated on me.”

 

Carson blinked at Rodney, his brow furrowing. This was not the connection he’d made back in his office earlier today. This was the very last thing that Carson had expected to hear come from Rodney’s mouth. Ever. That John was into men was hard enough to believe, but that he and Rodney where a couple? That was unfathomable.

 

Not that anyone’s being with Rodney was unbelievable, no far from that. He himself had been over the moon for the neurotic scientist for longer than he cared to admit. It was more that Rodney would find John partner worthy, that was the part that surprised him completely.

 

You and John?” he asked finally.

 

Yeah, it’s hard to believe, I know.”

 

How long?”

 

Over two years.”

 

And what makes you think that he’s cheated on you?”

 

I walked in on it.”

 

Oh, Rodney. When?”

 

Last Thursday.” Rodney answered simply.

 

On your birthday?!” Carson sounded disbelieving, certainly not even John Sheppard could be that daft.

 

I still don’t think he even realizes that fact.” tears had suddenly sprung up in his eyes, shining as they hung on his eyelids.

 

Rodney I’m so sorry, that’s a shit way to spend your birthday.”

 

Rodney snorted again this one slightly wet sounding, “More the fool of me I guess. It’s not even the first time he’s cheated. I’ve caught him before, early on and I forgave him, let him back in. I should have known better, it’s not like I’m the catch of the century after all. I’m more like the grunt for the moment.”

 

No. Rodney you look a’ me now,” Carson cupped Rodney’s cheek in his hand, “and you hear what I’m saying. The man is an A class idiot and a right git to boot. Anybody who could have the good fortune to win your favor and your heart and could throw that away isn’t deserving of you and he’s the damned fool.”

 

Their eyes locked for a moment, wordless volumes being spoken between them. Then Rodney’s mouth captured Carson’s, rough and blindly desperate, as if his very life depended on the force of the kiss. Carson could taste the salty moisture of Rodney’s tears on his lips and the sadness in them broke his own heart. Rodney’s hands groped at Carson’s back, pulling him in toward his chest.

 

Carson’s mind was a torrent, a tidal wave rushing headlong into oblivion. The thoughts in his head crashed against each other as he struggled against his conflicting emotions. It was Rodney’s tongue, pushing for entrance to his mouth, that finally made everything snap and brought him back from the fire.

 

Carson moaned and reluctantly pushed away, keeping his hands flat on Rodney’s chest, trying to catch his breath to speak. Rodney’s eyes were wide now and he looked ready to fling himself from the balcony.

 

Carson, oh god, I’m...I’m so sorry. I just...I mean I thought I saw, in your eyes, I thought you wanted...”

 

Carson had to grab for Rodney’s arm as he tried to flee. He pulled the scientist back down onto the bed and used his hands on either of Rodney’s shoulders to force him to look at his face.

 

You’ve not a clue just how badly nor for how long.”

 

Then why? If you want and I need then why not? Help me Carson,” Rodney begged, his hands tangling in the front of Carson’s shirt, “Help me forget. Help me move on.” Carson’s hands closed over Rodney’s and pulled them from his shirt but didn’t let them go.

 

I’ll help you. I can be here for you. I want to be here for you. I want to make this better. Anything you need, but not this. Not yet. It’s not fair to either of us and if this happens. No,” he corrected himself, “when this happens I want it to be so much more than fair. I don’t ever want to be something you regret. Can you understand?”

 

Rodney could only nod as more tears fell. He’d never known what it felt like until now, right at this moment. To have someone love him so much as it was obvious to him that Carson did. Somehow it made the pain of John’s actions hurt all the more. That someone that he loved completely could rip out his heart so callously and repeatedly when all the while there was someone watching over him, willing to love him in any way he could, even if it meant postponing his own desires.

 

Rodney couldn’t take it any longer, he wanted to let it go. All of it. He wanted Carson to take all the pain away. He reached out for the other man and dragged himself into his arms. He wrapped his arms around Carson’s torso and pressed his face into his shoulder as his body was racked by violent sobs. He felt Carson’s arms wrap him in an embrace and pull him a little closer and for a moment it felt like home.

 

Hush, love, it’s alright. I’m here. Just let it out.” Carson whispered as he ran his palm over Rodney’s back in long soothing strokes even as his own tears began to silently fall.