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In retrospect, he really should have seen it coming.

He is completely desirable: intelligent and a quick wit, with heaps of rakish appeal. Well. It's possible that the rakishness dims somewhat when faced with variegated situations where death is racing to crash with inevitability, though he's saved more than his fair share of days.

Naturally Sheppard would be intrigued.

Usually Rodney's highly attuned to the tools in his arsenal, such as his well-honed powers of deductive reasoning, but sometimes it's difficult to see the big picture when the small picture involves crazed hungry aliens and city malfunctions that can kill him. All of the cues were there, waiting for him to tally them up; with hindsight came insight. Surely given the body of evidence, his previous lack of perspicacity - not mistakes, exactly - can be forgiven as individual occurrences, annoyances, even, but when added together became more.

Thank god for basic math.

I. one temperamental team leader acting weirder than usual.

Which, not hard, given the low expectations he has for himself - no, really, Sheppard's plans include phrases like it'll be great and you're just going to have to trust me and apparently it's ridiculous to assume that his reasoning includes actual logic. The last time they'd raced back to the 'gate, angry mob nipping at their heels, Sheppard yelled out, "New plan!" and swerved off toward the coast, drawing a good portion of the crowd after him.

An hour later, he'd come through the 'gate hot, and Rodney's face felt frozen in its expression of confusion and disbelief - who does that!? - and he had experienced an uncommon twinge of pity for the utterly ridiculous amounts of time that the Major had obviously spent blow-drying his hair instead of paying attention in galaxy leadership class.

II. repeated off-world missions back-to-back, requiring:
a) Rodney's unsurpassed expertise for some sort of Ancient doohickey;
b) an overnight stay;
ending with:
i. bonfires;
ii. parties;
iii. lots of whatever home-brewed mead-type beverage the locals have managed to cook up in recent days;
c) resulting in miniscule cabins or rooms equipped with single beds and no bedcovers;
d) Major Sheppard. Who isn't quite the roommate extraordinaire that Rodney had expected.

Honestly, this is the man who keeps his pockets full of extra power bars and extra chapstick and once, even an extra pair of socks, all of which go to Rodney when he forgets - or runs out, which is more likely. Rodney has other very important things to carry.

Rodney's certain that he remembers bitching about somehow winding up with just the one sleeping bag while Teyla and Ford probably had three, were probably taking them all out of their pouches and zipping them together and rolling them around in the dirt; hell, they were probably having sleep sack races in whatever cabin or room they'd wound up sharing while he was stuck with Major Makeshifty.

He's just as sure that Sheppard promised that it would never happen again, except that it did, four times.

So, yes, while he normally would have been able to extrapolate a pattern out of five not-so random events, it's a little different when Rodney's shit-faced, having consumed:

iii. lots of whatever home-brewed mead-type beverage the locals have managed to cook up in recent days;

and having more cups pressed into his hand by the Major, even after he's told Sheppard that the combination of his hypoglycemia and alcohol mostly rendered him drunkenly affectionate and prone to making poor choices.

"You'll be fine," Sheppard says. "Here, have another."

III. the whiff of a rumor of a charged ZPM on whatever planet they're visiting.

It's to the point where Rodney can't even tell if Sheppard's fucking with him about it, either. Sheppard's detail-oriented, Rodney will give him that. Fine, maybe Rodney's not the best at subterfuge, and yes, it makes perfect sense that the possibility of finding a vast power source for the city - that they need, to survive - would excite him. It's not something to throw around without a little respect.

"Dance for the carrot, donkey," Ford said, once.

"Hey, all I know is what I heard, Rodney," Sheppard says when the rumor is a hoax.

It's possibly that Rodney had slyly made the allusion that the squashed shape of Sheppard's ears inhibits his aural ability, but it doesn't help: Sheppard acts as though he hasn't heard.

The crowning moment arrives while they're in the jumper bay after returning from Planet Mead. Rodney's hung over and he slept badly; he couldn't get warm and he blames them all for taking him on a mission that one of the junior scientists could have handled.

Sheppard hasn't moved from the pilot's chair and there's only so long that Rodney can take packing up one of the samples cases before he's forced to say something to break the silence. Finally he slumps back into the front seat. Sheppard's mouth is a twist of frustration and that pisses Rodney off even more. Jesus, Sheppard had been such a pill, the whole flight back, asking very personal questions and then showing only a blank face when Rodney had reminded him - very patiently, too - that he has actual work to do, so if Sheppard could keep his business convention icebreaker activities to a minimum, that'd be swell.

He might have substituted 'fucking awesome' for 'swell', but that was no reason for Sheppard to lean over the console and smack Rodney upside the head, casually, in what Rodney realized was a practiced gesture. Ow. Scientist abuse.

"First job was when I was working on a sailboat," Sheppard had said. "What about you, what'd you do during the summers?"

"Learned how things flew before I knew how they ran," Sheppard had said. "Started building kites when I was seven. Ever flown a kite?"

"Did you catch those shrubs that smelled like wintergreen?" Sheppard had asked. "Reminded me of the birch trees back home."

All of this had led to inevitable explanations for Teyla about high tides and balsa wood and sometimes Rodney has to argue points like the proper pronunciation of the Latin for an aromatic birch tree, but really, was it so much to ask that everyone just shut the hell up?

"You mumble to yourself anyway," Sheppard had said mildly.

"About important stuff!" Rodney railed.

"This is important," Sheppard replied. "You're getting to know your team. What we think. How we live."

He ticked items off his fingers. "Shared experiences. Common interests. Social interaction. Trust. Gotta have trust."

Of course Rodney wants that, but Sheppard makes it sound easy; by now, Rodney knows better.

Seriously, Rodney can't be held accountable for not having picked up on it sooner. Who knew that team-building exercises were really just stealthy methods for learning Rodney's buttons, for figuring out how to press them and in what combinations. Actually, it reminds him of fifth grade when Shelby Gagnon wouldn't leave him alone for the entire month of May, when she teased him and then let him use the water fountain first, and when she would phone him to check on his ant farm.

Oh good god, the Atlantis expedition is being protected by a man who learned courting rituals on the playground and never evolved past that?

Rodney slaps his palm to his forehead and leaves Sheppard stewing in the jumper bay.

So the next time that they're:

1) on an off-world mission requiring an overnight stay and Rodney's unmatchable set of skills with

2) a temperamental team leader and when

3) Teyla and Ford inexplicably disappear, exploring in another section of the city (and Sheppard doesn't freak out) and when

4) there's a lot of 200-proof alcohol at the festive bonfire feast and

5) next to no blankets and it's cold in their tiny cabin with the dirt floor and something like wax paper covering the open windows, rustling in the wind and

6) Sheppard's telling him earnestly that there's a really good chance that there's a ZPM on this planet...

Well, honestly, Rodney doesn't have that much hair left, and certainly not enough to be wasting it on elementary school tactics like a frog on his chair.

After he grabs Sheppard's face and kisses him soundly, after he's drawn back to enjoy the sight of the Major gaping at him, brows drawn together in concern - yes, the secret's out, Major - still Rodney waits until Sheppard's expression melts into one of pleasure and he licks his lower lip.

Then Sheppard kisses him, sweetly, without any of the hesitation from their first kiss. His hands brush down over Rodney's sides and then he's pulling Rodney in close, arms wrapped around his back. Rodney takes a deep breath, feeling Sheppard's body against his, and maybe it comes out sort of like a gasp, and Sheppard breaks the kiss to grin at him. Rodney narrows his eyes, about to say something scathing, but Sheppard's eyes close so Rodney changes his mind. He fists his hands in Sheppard's soft hair and this time there's a crackling, fiery undertone to their kiss, like cinnamon and sparklers and Rodney falls from a dizzying height to get back to earth.

With a straight face, Sheppard says, "Wow, I never see it com-"

Rodney kicks him in the shins. Sheppard should have seen that coming, and from the way that he's laughing, he probably did.