Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, McKay/Keller established
Warnings/Content notes: (skip) Stream of consciousness
Spoilers: Through season 5
Word count: 1362
Summary: He knows what their reunion in less than an hour will be like. A wry comment from John. An eye roll from Rodney.
He begins feeling it a few days before John is scheduled to arrive. There's a restlessness in him. He's distracted. He's telling himself that he's just looking forward to seeing his friend again, and it's working.
Up to the last day.
Teyla and Ronon had their annual evaluation interviews a few weeks before. He was happy to see them. He realized that he missed them more than he thought. But life is going on, experiments, occasionally missions, his life with Jennifer.
Their second wedding anniversary is coming up, and Rodney should probably think about something nice to surprise her with. He doesn't though. His mind keeps drifting off. To old times. To Atlantis.
It's only been nine months since they left so that Jennifer could become the head of the new Stargate Center for Disease. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. Atlantis. It's both a wonderful dream and much more real than his life here on Earth now.
It's a good life. They've given him his own research department. He has a team of halfway competent scientists. And he has Jennifer. It's a good life.
But lately, he's finding himself in his car on his way to work, wondering what the hell happened to his life. It felt so good to talk to Ronon and Teyla. They're writing each other, but Ronon isn't a man of many words and neither is John. And either way, it's just not the same.
He remembers life on Atlantis. And in comparison, life on Earth doesn't feel like much of a life. It's security and comfort. It's routine. It's sex three times a week as if on schedule. It's slipping by so fast that Rodney isn't sure it's really happening.
John is coming.
The day he's scheduled to step through the gate, Rodney takes over an hour to dress in the morning. He's late in his lab; he can't concentrate on even the most simple thing. It gets so bad that he hides in his office.
Rodney feels as if he's going to be sick. His heart is beating too fast even for him. He can't even sit still. He feels the anticipation vibrating through him. It's stupid. It's just an old friend whom he hasn't seen for a while. Yes, he missed John the most of them all, but this is ridiculous.
He hasn't even thought about John all that much in the last months. He thinks of him when he plays a computer game, or hears someone talking about football. He thinks of him when they talk about someone being reckless, or heroic. He thinks about him when he wants to let off steam or when he discovers something that he knows John would have liked.
He thinks about John all the time. He's filled his life with little moments of remembering. He remembers John. He remembers how they played games or watched DVDs. He remembers how they drank beer on the pier or fought over lunch. He remembers.
Rodney has to sit down. It's too overwhelming.
When he made the decision to leave Atlantis, it wasn't really a decision. His wife wanted to go. Eventually they'd have to go back anyway. They wanted kids. There was nothing to think about.
Rodney thinks of John. Now. He didn't think of him then. There was no logical reason to. There still is no logical reason. There is no logical reason for Rodney to hide in his office, too nervous to work, too excited to calm down the beating of his heart.
No logical reason.
He had to go with Jennifer. She was his wife. She was his life, till death do us part. She was going to be the mother of his children. They haven't talked about it. It's not even been a year back on Earth. They have time. Another year of this. Going to work, experiments, scientific discoveries, dinner, TV, sex, sleep. The first kid, the second. Maybe a third. School, high school, university. He'll be old by then. Jennifer not as much. And John ...
John will be old too. Or dead.
Rodney's always anticipated the weekly data bursts, not so much for a few lines in an email, but to know that they're okay. That John is okay.
John will be here soon. Rodney will be able to see him, talk to him, feel him. They didn't hug when he left. Rodney's dreamed about it. He knows what their reunion in less than an hour will be like. A wry comment from John. An eye roll from Rodney.
Rodney's hands are shaking. He doesn't know how to get them under control. But he has to. If he goes out there like this, he'll throw himself at John. It's what Ronon did. But John is not Ronon. John wouldn't understand. Of course, he wouldn't. How could he when even Rodney himself doesn't understand.
John will only be here for a few days. It's just a visit, and he'll be gone again. And Rodney will be able to go on with his life. He tries to picture himself years from now, a happy family. His hand turns into a fist. He takes a deep breath.
There's a knock on the door. "Dr. McKay. Colonel Carter wanted you to know that we're expecting Atlantis to dial in in a few minutes. She thought you might want to be in the gate room."
"I'll be there in a minute," he manages to shout. His voice sounds almost normal.
He can do this. He has to do this. He has to be there when John steps through the gate. John.
He has no idea how John feels. He never said he missed Rodney in his emails. But then, of course, he wouldn't. And he won't now. He'll be cool and collected while Rodney is completely beside himself, feeling too much to make sense of any of it, overwhelmed, out of his depth, useless.
He can't go out there like this. He doesn't want John to think that he went crazy on Earth. Without him. Even though right now it feels like it.
Rodney laughs. It's slightly hysterical and he stops. God, he wishes he'd drink. Or had the foresight of keeping a paper bag close by. Deep breaths. Deep calming breaths. He'll be okay. He's faced death for God's sake. How hard can it be to say hello to a friend who's come from literally another galaxy.
There's a knock on the door. "I know. I'm coming," he says, taking another breath.
The door opens. "Three million light years and you can't even come to greet me? Or did you forget me already? McKay, I'm hurt."
Rodney looks at him, stares. The door closes, and as if it's a signal, he can't keep still any longer and rushes to John, pulling him in to his arms fiercely.
"Hey, whoa. I guess you did miss me," John says, putting his arms around Rodney. It's not half as hesitating as Rodney would have thought.
Rodney clings to John. He can't stop. He's taking in John's smell, the feeling of John's body. His voice. His presence. Finally. "I can't," Rodney says brokenly.
John pulls back, frowning. "You can't what?" he asks, worry in his voice and in his eyes.
"I can't leave you," Rodney says.
John keeps frowning, confused, and Rodney realizes that he can't make sense to him, that John can't know that Rodney's finally making the decision he didn't even think about nine months ago. But suddenly, John's frown disappears and gives away to surprise.
For a moment, John looks stunned, still holding Rodney. His left hand moves to Rodney's shoulder, then tentatively to his face.
How could Rodney not have known this? Minutes ago, an hour, nine months, when he got married, when he first told himself that Jennifer was perfect for him. His lips part, but no words come out of his mouth.
John cups his face. "Rodney." It sounds a bit like a question, but it's not. Because there is no question. Finally, there's just an answer.
"John," Rodney says, suddenly calm, and leans in.