The meeting was excruciatingly boring, possibly due to the lull in wraith activity, possibly due to the signs of spring on the ocean breeze outside, maybe because John had wrapped his report up in about three seconds, but whatever the reason, John was flashing back to Calc II in his freshman year with spring outside the classroom window and John under the fluorescents, working out figures that weren’t challenging enough to hold his interest. That was until a foot slipped up against John’s boot and toed the sensitive curve of his ankle. That got John’s attention right away, if it wasn’t on the meeting at hand. He jerked upright with green eyes wide and blinking.
Woolsey stirred himself at John’s sudden movement, peering at John owlishly through the thick lenses of his glasses. “Do you have something to add, Colonel Sheppard?” he asked.
Keller paused, standing in the semi-circle made by the new rounded slate-topped conference table as she made her report, aided by an Ancient projector and a laser pointer (Earth tech). In fact, everyone paused, their eyes turning to John (even Colonel Ellis, who was passing through the area). Except Rodney at John’s right, who looked unusually, even suspiciously, innocent.
John opened his mouth and closed it with a snap, flush creeping up the back of his neck and into the points of his ears. “No, sir. Nope. Just thought I saw a roach.”
Keller straightened with a snap. “A roach?” she asked, scanning the ground. “I’m not crazy about anything with more than four legs.” She shot a glance at Woolsey.
Teyla turned a curious stare on John after surveying the floor. “I see nothing. Could it be that you were mistaken?” she asked.
“Yeah, absolutely. I think,” John glanced down at his feet and started, seeing a familiar gray sneaker nestled into the instep of his own black boot and raised his eyes to the others with a smile, “what do you know? It was just a raisin.” He was sure that the drumbeat of his pulse would be audible, but only Teyla appeared to find his actions all that odd. Probably owing to her Spidey senses.
“A raisin?” Woolsey asked incredulously. Keller sighed in relief.
Before John had to say anything else, Rodney raised his eyebrows and asked, “Is there any way we can get back on topic? Not that I’m not enjoying the crash course on voodoo, but some of us have projects that require round-the-clock monitoring.”
Keller clicked her pointer back on with an irritable smile and John distractedly thought Rodney was lucky he wasn’t getting a desk chair to the head. It probably wouldn’t be the first time. “Sure,” Keller said. Things were still a little tense between them after some fated incident with a lemon wedge, but they were getting better. John just hadn’t known that it had cycled through uncomfortable into tense and all the way into playing footsie during meetings.
And the moment that Keller resumed talking, Rodney’s foot began to slide up the inside of John’s calf like it knew what John was thinking. Of course, if it knew what John was thinking, the mouth attached to the body attached to the leg would have something to say besides, “Please get on with it.” John was between jumping up and demanding an explanation, and jumping up and demanding more attention. He settled on commandeering the small notepad at Rodney’s elbow and jotting out a quick, cordial message.
The notepad read: Rodney (underlined), what are you doing?
John pushed it back at Rodney as the foot slipped up into the sensitive inside of John’s knee. Rodney leaned forward, his elbow on John’s armrest as he read the note. His body was so close John could smell the shampoo Rodney used and feel the strands of his fine hair against his cheek. John narrowed his eyes incredulously at the scientist.
Rodney’s blue eyes went over the note quickly and his fingers (nice, elegant fingers) flicked against the back of John’s hand as his foot slid down along the back of John’s calf. He took the marker from John’s hand and twisted the pad toward himself.
Rodney wrote a reply as quickly as John had and pushed it back toward John as he settled back into his chair, eyes on Keller as she finished her report. The note said: Nothing. Do you like it?
John balked. He was still balking when Woolsey said, “Thank you, Dr. Keller. Now, if anyone else has anything to add?” No one had anything, least of all John. “All right then. Dismissed.”
John caught sight of Teyla’s face as she stood and walked over to Keller, her eyebrow arched curiously, before she nabbed the younger woman and they both went out. Ellis was at their heels, talking to Lorne. Soon, the room was empty and it was Rodney and John, still sitting at their new conference table, John eyeing Rodney with half-serious suspicion and Rodney making innocent eyes at John.
“So, Colonel?” Rodney asked finally, his foot still hooked on the inside of John’s ankle – the laces of his sneaker against the seam of John’s boot.
John pushed his lower lip out. “Do I like it?” he asked. His face warmed, hearing the words out loud, even if it was he, himself, saying them. He flushed when Rodney raised his eyebrows. “Why do you think—?”
“That you would?” Rodney finished for John. “Then you do?” he said, his eyes big and congratulatory, like he’d known all along that John would.
John stared at Rodney, his level look at odds with the nervous beat of his heart. “You’re not…high on space speed, are you?” he asked.
Rodney shook his head dismissively. “It was the way you responded when I told you about the break up.” He didn’t need to say which one. It was obvious. John just hadn’t known he’d been obvious, too.
“By making fun of you?” John challenged.
Rodney furled his eyebrows. “That’s what they call the complex mating rituals of full bird colonels these days?” John colored and for a full minute, he didn’t know what to say – his tongue wouldn’t cooperate. Then Rodney said, “I can’t believe it took me this long to put two and two together. You must be my blind spot.”
Being called a romantic blind spot had to be a new low for John. John scowled. “Gee, thanks, Rodney. Make me feel appreciated.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Oh please. You’ve been blind spotting me for four years. Otherwise, you’d see how ludicrously hung up on you I’ve been, and you haven’t, so you have.”
John opened his mouth and shut it. Then he opened it again. Still, nothing came out. His chest was hot and expansive, full of conflicting tells, conflicting instincts. McKay was always different for him in a way that counted. “That’s what you call checking a guy out?” he finally drawled. Heat flooded his face, his body, until he was on fire. Until it was almost unbearable, not touching Rodney when touching was all he wanted to do.
Rodney’s grin slanted across his wide mouth. It was more adorable than someone so annoying had any right to be. “You check me out?” he asked.
John looked back at Rodney, then away and said, “Well, yeah, McKay. Why the hell’d you come out at me this way instead of pushing me down like a normal person?” Nervousness made his voice more Jimmy Stewart creaky than usual. John resisted the urge to clear his throat.
Rodney’s answer was half a question: “If you got weird on me, I could always claim that my leg was itchy? Restless Legs Syndrome? Ants?”
John surprised himself with a short, loud laugh. “And you mistook my leg for yours?” Rodney furrowed his brows, probably opening his mouth to tell John how bad it sounded if John knew Rodney and what he was thinking at all. Which, come think, might be true. John pushed his chair back and hooked a finger in Rodney’s collar, reeling him in for a quick kiss.
Rodney was breathless when John let him go. He was speechless for a fraction of a second, his eyes round and blue, before his mouth caught up to his brain. “Okay, that was a good idea. That was an excellent idea. Why didn’t I think of that before?”
John smirked. “Because you’ve got the looks but I’m the genius around here.”