"...carry the one, which leaves us with...something not even remotely possible even in this second-rate galaxy," Rodney grumbled, clearing the screen of his datapad and barreling down the hallway. "Okay, starting with the assumption that everyone else is wrong, and I...oh! Of course! The purple thing!"
He looked up, stopped, started, stopped again. Katie Brown waved from the doorway of the hydroponics lab.
"Um, hi," he said.
Things had been awkward between them ever since Lt. Cadman had used his body to kiss her and then make a pass at Carson. Somehow she'd gotten the impression he was gay. Not only gay, but a slut, which, if he had the time, yes, sign him up, but generally he was way too busy saving Atlantis' collectively brain-damaged ass to sleep, let alone sleep around. He'd made the mistake of saying this to her and now, awkwardness. Also she'd been spending a lot of time with Cadman lately, and either they were talking about him or they were dating, but either way he felt it safer just to steer clear of both of them entirely.
"How was your weekend?" she asked. "I heard you and Dr. Beckett got to spend it on the mainland."
"It wasn't just me and Beckett," he said defensively. "Colonel Sheppard was there too." And, oh god, he thought, as Katie's eyes got even bigger, that hadn't helped his reputation any. "Gotta go! Imminent system failure on sub-level three!" He took off.
There was a hot blonde in the transporter. Rodney kept his eyes fixed firmly on the doors.
Seventy-two hours he'd been forced to share his body with Cadman. Three days and she'd used his mouth to kiss two people, at least, that he knew of, which was two more than he'd kissed in all the days and hours since he'd set foot on Atlantis. Two people and one of them was a man and now, a week later, he was having these crazy moments whenever he stood too close to someone, if he looked over Zelenka's shoulder or passed a marine on the narrow catwalks, he'd just start thinking things, crazy sexy things, like Cadman was still buzzing around in his head. He'd imagine kissing them, these random people he worked with or stood next to or didn't even know. It was weird and inappropriate, not to mention highly distracting, and he kept worrying he'd actually do it, actually kiss someone just because he was thinking about it. He was so used to trusting the ideas his brain gave him, acting on them without question, and to some people that might look like poor impulse control, but it was really just a simple time saver since he was always right anyway. But now, now, after decades of glorious flawlessness, his brain was suspect, contaminated by Cadman and her stupid feminine whatever it was that made her think it was okay to go around kissing people in his body.
The doors opened and Rodney ran away before he got caught in an out-of-brain experience and accidentally kissed the hot blonde.
Sheppard was in the control room, arms crossed over his gun, predictably frowning in the wrong direction. The problem was behind him.
"It's the purple thing!" Rodney yelled.
"But we have already tried purple thing," Zelenka said, pointing.
"No, that's, are you colorblind as well as a complete moron? I said purple!" Rodney shouted, doing some pointing of his own. "Purple! Purple!"
"Hey, guys?" Sheppard, now looking in the right direction, more or less. "How's about we clear up this little decompression problem now, and then later if we haven't sunk to the bottom of the ocean, we can argue about what shade of blue this is."
"It's purple," Rodney said, "and all you have to do is touch it. It wakes up the room, puts it back on the grid. What are you waiting for? Touch it!"
"I would be happy to, just point me at which of these three blue buttons you think is--"
"Oh for--" Rodney grabbed Sheppard by the wrist, pulled him forward and slapped his palm down on top of the incontrovertibly purple hexagon, and held it there, Rodney's hand on top of Sheppard's, purple light glowing up between the slats of their fingers. The city seemed to shudder beneath them and the purple turned a cool misty blue.
Sheppard raised an eyebrow. "Did it work?"
"Perhaps," Zelenka said, consulting the laptop he held in the crook of his arm.
"It worked or we'd be breathing salt water right now," Rodney said.
"Well that's good," Sheppard said, grinning at him with that lazy curl to his lips that never failed to make Rodney hungry and confused. Today, with his hand still over Sheppard's, he could see it so clearly, the way he'd lean in and brush their lips together, step into the heat of his body and open Sheppard's mouth with his, suck his tongue, bite his chin, fist his hands in Sheppard's t-shirt and kiss him until they could barely stand.
Across the room, Zelenka kicked over a can of screws and Rodney broke out of his daze like he'd been shot from a cannon, heart pounding, palms sweaty, breath coming hard and fast.
"We done here?" Sheppard tilted his head and wiggled his fingers under Rodney's and Rodney was ready to give in to the impulse and the inevitable psych evaluation and just kiss Sheppard right there in front of everybody. Whatever it was his brain wanted, he'd do it, cross that line between arrogant and crazy and head straight on into carnal misconduct. It was without a doubt a disastrous career move, one that would get him professionally disciplined, if not actually punched in the face, but this excruciating mental torture was really more than anyone could be expected to endure. It was driving him nuts, this wondering what Sheppard tasted like, the sounds he'd make when Rodney kissed him, how the back of his neck would feel in Rodney's shaking hands.
Now or never and like someone else was controlling him, Rodney felt himself -- his hands, his head, his excitable, impressionable, traitorous body -- jerk backwards.
"Oh," Rodney said, startled and, not confused or relieved, but something else, something he didn't even have a word for. "We're done."