Title: The Care and Feeding of Rodney McKay
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Warning: No spoilers.
Word Count: 850
Summary: Five things Sheppard will never admit he did to make McKay happy.
Notes: Playing drabble games. For .
There were some people in Atlantis who swore that Rodney McKay was never actually happy: he was just, sometimes, less annoyed than others. John Sheppard knew this was not so—he knew, as few others did, that McKay was as capable of joy as anyone. His bliss just took a little patience and forbearance to find.
The first thing that Sheppard discovered was that Rodney enjoyed simple pleasures. In Atlantis, because so much had to be brought in from Earth or grown on the mainland, many things that were taken for granted on Earth became treasures to be hoarded or traded for other, perhaps more forbidden, delights; and everyone loved the first day a transport came from Earth when treats were plentiful.
On one such day, because Rodney had been shouting at his team loud enough to be heard three floors away, Sheppard put together a tray for him at lunch, taking two pudding cups at lunch and making a little, “Shh, don’t tell,” gesture to the line worker. He brought the tray to the physics lab, standing back from the door as Rodney’s team fled to shouts of, “Go on, get out of here! Come back when you’ve brushed up on your Newton!”
“McKay,” Sheppard said, ducking into the lab before machinery could be thrown. “You sound like your blood sugar’s low.”
“It’s the stress,” Rodney said, picking up the sandwich from the tray. “All this stress just drains me. Hey, this almost-turkey isn’t bad.” He spied the pudding cups. “Two puddings? That’s perfect—that’ll get my blood sugar right back where it should be. Thanks, John.”
Sheppard shrugged like it was nothing, grinning.
“Hey, Rodney,” Sheppard said to Rodney’s brusque, “What?” at his quarters door. “I brought you something.”
“Souvenirs from Earth,” Rodney groused, looking sweaty and drained from a workout. “Is that what we’ve come to?”
“Well,” Sheppard said as he slowly took the bag of coffee beans from his jacket pocket, “if you don’t want these I could just turn them over to the mess—”
Rodney snatched the bag from his hand. “Don’t you dare! You brought these for me, I’m drinking them!” He opened the bag and inhaled the scent of whole coffee beans with a rapturous expression.
“I’ll leave you two alone to get acquainted,” Sheppard said and left, closing the door behind him.
They were out of popcorn. None to be found city-wide, and a good fifty people had requested it for the next supply run. Probably twice that would want some.
They were out of Coke (not that they ever had much Coke: a bottle or two every few months, because there were cheaper equivalents the IOA was much more willing to pay for even though they always tasted entirely unlike Coke, or even near-Coke); there were, of course, nothing even resembling Raisinets or even Sour Patch Kids.
“On the plus side,” Rodney said as he settled in comfortably beside Sheppard, “no sticky floors or kids kicking the back of your chair.”
“On the minus side,” said Sheppard, shifting over to give Rodney more room, “no surround sound or Dolby.”
“Or drive-ins,” said Rodney as he pushed play on Sheppard’s computer.
“Or art films.”
Rodney looked at him with wonder. “You miss art films?”
“The occasional art film is good for the soul,” Sheppard said. “Subtitles exercise your mind.”
“You don’t have one art film in your collection.”
“When you have to make a choice,” said Sheppard comfortably, “go with explosions.”
“You’re right about that,” Rodney said.
“. . . and if you die I’m never speaking to you again,” Rodney was saying when Sheppard opened his eyes. “So I want you to think long and hard about whether you’re going to—oh—” He smiled, having finally noticed he was no longer talking to someone unconscious. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Sheppard rasped. “What were you saying?”
“Never mind,” Rodney said. “Doesn’t matter now. I’ll get Jennifer.” He hesitated, then patted Sheppard’s hand. “It’s good to see you again, John.”
Sheppard managed to grunt something in agreement and closed his eyes again.
Rodney doesn’t look like himself—the Rodney everybody else knows, anyway—when he’s asleep. All the tension and worry gone from his face, his mouth relaxed, his eyes darting under his eyelids as he dreamed about something—Sheppard hoped—other than whales or clowns.
“You should have woken me up,” Rodney complained as he gave himself a hurried shave. “Now people will wonder why I was late when I’m never late. Never.”
“You were tired,” said Sheppard with a shrug. “I’ll tell you something, Rodney: even geniuses have to get some REM sleep now and again.”
“Leonardo only slept twenty minutes a day,” Rodney snapped, then hastily wiped the shaving cream from his face and pulled on his jacket. He paused a moment before rushing off, and Sheppard knew what it was: it would be the same question he asked every day. “See you later?”
Sheppard gave the same answer every day, too. “Always.”
3 thoughts on “The Care and Feeding of Rodney McKay”
This was lovely. I’m slowly making my way through your archive, mostly for the Torchwoord fic (you’re the best writer I’ve found in that fandom so far), but I’m glad I stopped and read this one, too. You’re good at manipulating the reader’s emotions, as a writer should be.
Thank you! Though I prefer to think of it as guiding rather than manipulating :).
I remember this story from way back when and loved it. It was the perfect antidote to a bad day. Still, manages to make me grin idiotically. The banter! <3