Teaphile (teaphile) wrote in oddball_sga,
Teaphile
teaphile
oddball_sga

New Fic: Direct, Rodney/Ronon

Title: Direct
Author: Teaphile
Pairing: Rodney/Ronon
Summary: It was always best to know your teammates well, for trust was built on knowledge and knowledge only came from direct exposure.
Notes: I started this in late October, and finally decided to throw it out into the ether. Concrit is always welcome.

Direct

Ronon wasn’t really thinking when he entered McKay’s lab first thing in the morning. He’d performed his daily exercises, eaten breakfast with Colonel Sheppard, and started wandering the halls looking for something to do. Sheppard and Teyla were both occupied with their various duties, and no one had thought to give Ronon tasks, so he set about entertaining himself by exploring the city and meeting its inhabitants.

So yes, maybe he was thinking when he stepped into the lab; he was thinking that of all his new teammates, McKay was the one he’d spent the least time with. It was always best to know your teammates well, for trust was built on knowledge and knowledge only came from direct exposure.

He was also thinking that he’d never heard McKay yell quite like that before. His voice was markedly different at this time than when he was sniping at Sheppard or asking bewildered questions of Ronon himself. This time, McKay sounded forceful, masterful, like he knew exactly what he was doing and why. It was different, and Ronon was intrigued, so he leaned against a table and pretended he wasn’t there as McKay’s staff scurried around fixing their apparent mistakes or in some cases, just making it look like they were busy. Ronon made note of those few; McKay would need to know so he could deal with them properly.

One little guy in a shirt that looked too big for him noticed Ronon and nodded to him pleasantly just as McKay stabbed one forefinger into the air triumphantly and finished his rant with what must have been a particularly biting insult, based on the reactions of everyone but the little guy. Ronon nodded back to him. He’d seen him around, usually in McKay’s company, and since McKay had not once included him in his anger this time, Ronon thought maybe he was okay.

The underlings scattered, several practically running past Ronon out the door. McKay spun around and stared at a monitor, finally noticing Ronon as his eyes swung past him. “See, this is what I need,” McKay spat out in the little guy’s direction, pointing at Ronon decisively. “I need them to know that my friends are large and carry weapons, some of them with blades. Maybe that will put the fear of painful death in them.”

Little Guy nodded, his hair flopping everywhere. “Yes, of course. Perhaps we should print it on a T-shirt for you.”

“Teyla’s not large,” Ronon said, taking the couple of strides to their side. “She’s pretty small.”

McKay looked up at him while his hands took apart a little round thing. “No, she only seems large. Whenever I’m in her presence I have a hard time remembering that she’s six inches shorter than I am. She projects...,” his hands waved vaguely in the air, “largeness. Unlike you, casting your shadow over small cities. Move out of my light, please.”

Ronon moved out of the light, over to where the little guy was typing. “Do you do that often? Discipline your people like that?”

McKay didn’t answer, so the little guy did. Ronon had to find out his name or he’d slip up and actually address him as little guy, and these Earth humans seemed to have a complex about relative height. “Every few days, the minions need to be reminded of who is in charge.” Blue eyes looked up at him through glass. “That would be Rodney.”

“I noticed.”

“Is there a reason you’re here,” McKay asked impatiently, “or are you just practicing your looming skills?”

Ronon shrugged. “Mostly the second.”

Little guy snickered at that, and McKay looked at him ruefully. His gaze sharpened as it fell on Ronon. “Have you ever taken apart a Wraith stun weapon?”

Ronon had, and said so.

“Good.” McKay pointed at a table on the far side of the room. “Find out what’s different about that one.”

Having nothing better to do until Sheppard called him to fight, Ronon happily complied.

*

Sheppard entered just as the projectile hit McKay square between his shoulder blades.

“Hey!” McKay barely had time to react before Sheppard was reaching down to pick up the squishy toy and levelling a glare at Ronon.

Ronon shrugged as McKay joined in the glaring. “You weren’t answering to your name.” He looked up at Sheppard. “He wasn’t answering me.” He wondered if he sounded as much like a confused child as the words seemed.

The overprotective looked eased off Sheppard’s face. “Oh. That’s not so unusual.” He wandered over to Ronon’s table and leaned a slim hip against it. “What are you up to?”

“I got bored. McKay gave me work.” He picked up the remains of the stunner’s power source and held it up, because even though it should have been obvious, Sheppard--and a few of the other Atlanteans, too--sometimes pretended not to understand. “Did you want something?”

“You weren’t answering my calls,” Sheppard answered as if it was obvious.

McKay snorted. “You should have thrown something at him.” Ronon smiled widely at him, his smile growing when McKay just rolled his eyes and raised the corner of his mouth in amusement.

“Yeah, what’s that about?” Sheppard’s mothering frown grew again. He’d been wearing that expression frequently lately, and Ronon had yet to figure out which was the anomaly: the past few weeks of concern or the whole previous month of comparative carelessness.

“Dr. Zelenka told me that’s how you get someone’s attention.” It made sense to Ronon; shouting was rude, but startling someone while standing near was never a good idea. This way you got their attention but stayed out of striking range.

Sheppard addressed McKay’s back, and seemed unconcerned that he was forced to. “Aren’t those stress toys?”

McKay swiveled around on his chair, as if finally realizing he was part of a conversation. “They serve a slightly different primary function around here.”

Sheppard still didn’t look happy. “You drafted Ronon?”

“He was bored and decided to poke around in here. So I handed him a screwdriver and gave him something useful to do.” McKay’s eyes narrowed. “Is that a problem?”

Sheppard shook his head and looked at the floor. “You never put me to work,” he said, and if Ronon had thought earlier that he himself sounded petulant, Sheppard sounded even more so. These people had the strangest interpersonal relationships Ronon had ever witnessed. He thought that he should find Teyla and compare notes with her some day.

“That’s because you’re incapable of sitting still for more than five minutes at a time,” McKay answered without having to think about it at all. “Ronon has been so quiet the past hour that I forgot he was here. Hence the need for the toy.” His eyes gleamed a little as they refocused on Ronon. “Although I do think he just likes to pester me.”

Sheppard nodded, but not like he knew what he was agreeing with. “Okay,” he said. “I’m glad you guys are getting along.”

True enough. “Sheppard, did you want to work out now?” To be told, Ronon had been sitting still a little too long. He still wasn’t accustomed to long periods of inaction, and that part of his brain that told him to keep moving was starting to itch again.

“Sure, if Rodney can spare you,” Sheppard answered with a twist in his voice that Ronon had come to learn meant he was amused about something.

McKay just waved his hand in the air, already absorbed in his work again, so Ronon took that as a sign that he could go. He put away his tools and gathered his jacket, stopping by McKay’s seat as he passed by. “Thank you,” he said simply, and McKay answered with a delighted smile.

*

Sheppard had invited the team to watch a form of visual entertainment that evening, as near as Ronon could tell. Teyla and McKay acted as if this was usual to them, so Ronon had no reason to be suspicious, but he still sought out McKay to be sure.

“You’re asking me for social advice?” And it was apparently worth it just for the look on McKay’s face. He even spun around on his chair in the control room as if to check if anyone had overheard. No one had.

“You know more about the situation than Teyla even.” Teyla’s reaction to the invitation had been subtly different from McKay’s. She’d been rather resigned, instead of happy, although she had accepted politely.

“Dress casual,” McKay said primly. “Expect to drink alcohol and watch a movie with no redeeming value. Ask questions. He loves that.”

“About what?”

“Earth culture.”

“So this is like school?”

McKay stopped. “Huh. I guess it is.”

Unsurprisingly, McKay was good at school, at least, Sheppard’s kind of school. Ronon watched Teyla pat Sheppard on the shoulder as he struggled with an involved question about social mores that McKay had asked. She was alternately trying not to laugh and asking more questions. McKay sat back and looked smug, as if he’d known exactly how unequal Sheppard was to the task of answering. Ronon had to admire someone who could cut through the tangled undergrowth of social habit and meaningless niceness to explore the reasons beneath. Politeness had its place, but bluntness was never, ever misunderstood.

He caught McKay’s attention by passing him another of the fizzy drinks they had. “If I come to the lab tomorrow, will you have something for me to do?”

McKay grinned at him--rather stupidly, Ronon thought. “We have got to get you the gene therapy.”

Ronon wasn’t entirely sure what was involved in that, but if it meant more entertainment like today, he was ready for anything.

*

Ronon still didn’t quite know what to make of Sheppard. Teyla he’d figured out: she was like him. But Sheppard made him uneasy. They sat together at breakfast the morning after their “movie night” and Sheppard kept talking, asking him questions--personal questions that Ronon didn’t want to answer--and refusing to accept silence. He just kept battering away with the questions and personal observations, trying to help Ronon fit in, or something. At least when McKay talked he didn’t expect conversation; he was perfectly happy to just talk at you and let you listen without contributing. Ronon liked that. His contributions had always been less than verbal. So he retreated to the science lab as quickly as he could, with barely a word to Sheppard, just the way he liked it. If Sheppard wanted to know where he was going, he could easily find out on his own.

McKay wasn’t actually in the lab, which was also fine because Zelenka was and after a quick assessment of Ronon’s skills he found something for Ronon to do involving a screwdriver and one of the tablet computers. Once again he enjoyed having something to occupy his time, and the company was good, even if McKay wasn’t there. In fact, Zelenka reminded him more than a little of the custom shoemaker his mother had commanded the services of back on Sateda. He bent over his work in exactly the same way. Even his hair was similar. Ronon quickly squashed the homesickness; Sateda was gone, her people mostly dead, including the shoemaker. Grief and self-pity were dangerous when the Wraith were around.

Sheppard kept trying to tell Ronon that he didn’t have to run anymore, that he was safe there on Atlantis. Ronon firmly believed that Sheppard was fooling himself. He underestimated the Wraith, relying on his weapons and technology to protect him, even though it barely did. Only vigilance would keep you alive. McKay understood that. McKay understood a lot of things that Sheppard didn’t. If nothing else, McKay had an appropriate, if sometimes misguided, sense of self-protection.

Ronon finished screwing the tablet back together just as McKay returned, bubbling over with frustration, hands making abstract patterns in the air, voice singing out with contempt for the “lower life forms” he’d just been supervising. Ronon smiled at him, and for a brief moment McKay smiled back before continuing to yell in Zelenka’s direction.

Zelenka just sighed and said, “Yes, Rodney,” and “No, Rodney,” and Ronon knew that McKay was just protecting his home and his people, and Ronon could relate to that.

*

They were off-world--and McKay’s current rant included trying to figure out why they still used the term “off-world”, because to be off-world you would have to be in space, instead of firmly on a planet, thus being “on-world”--exploring, looking for clues to why some of the Wraith were slightly different from the normal ones. A previous team had found what they suspected to be an ancient Wraith city, from before they’d permanently moved into their giant hive ships.

Now McKay was waiting not-so-patiently for Sheppard and Teyla to scout the building he thought housed their main power source. Ronon had volunteered--garnering a puzzled glance from Sheppard--to stay behind and guard McKay. Really, he just wanted to watch McKay’s growing excitement and frustration as he was delayed from seeing the object of his interest. He leaned against the rough wall and tracked McKay’s movement back and forth across the small patch of open ground. “For someone who hates to exercise as much as you do, you sure do waste a lot of energy talking.”

McKay stopped, mouth half-open. He shut it again and turned to face Ronon, crossing his arms as he did so. “Thinking is much harder work than exercise is.” His left arm twitched, as if he was going to gesture but controlled himself.

“Do you always think with your mouth?”

McKay’s eyes shot down, then around as he nodded. “Pretty much.”

Ronon shrugged. “Okay.” The wall behind him was surprisingly warm for being deep in the forest, and Ronon didn’t feel much like arguing.

McKay stepped closer, eyes narrowing. “Okay? What’s that supposed to mean?”

Ronon smiled just a little. This was getting good. “It means okay.” He pushed off from the wall and widened his stance. “I asked a question and you answered it. What more is there?”

“Huh,” McKay grunted quietly. “So you didn’t mean to that I should shut up and stand still while we wait?”

“Not really.” He leaned back against the wall and listened to the trilling of something that might have been a bird or a small lizard.

McKay leaned beside him, barely shoulder-to-shoulder. “You’re in a good mood today.”

“Good company.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” And McKay was pretty good company, now that Ronon knew how to translate him, and without Sheppard around to get him all riled up.

Speaking of whom, Sheppard and Teyla came back out at that point, blinking into the small pool of sunlight that filtered down through the trees. “All clear,” Sheppard said briskly, but McKay was already on his way inside.

*

When they stepped back through the gate to Atlantis, McKay turned to Ronon and waved the bit of Wraith tech at him, a playful smile making his mouth quiver. “Want to help me take it apart?”

“Sure.”

“Excellent.” Then McKay was gone through the wide door in the company of Zelenka and some other guy, and Ronon was left with Sheppard and Teyla.

Sheppard smacked a hand on Ronon’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. “Glad you two are getting along,” he said again in a flat voice, and Ronon had the feeling he didn’t really mean it.

Sheppard left, and Ronon walked with Teyla out of the gate room. “I am also glad you and Rodney are getting along,” she said quietly, but he knew she was sincere. “He can be difficult, and I was afraid you would antagonize each other.”

“I like him,” was all Ronon could reply. And because he wanted to see Teyla’s raised eyebrow, he added, “He’s restful.”

She gave him the eyebrow with added smile, and he went down to the lab satisfied.

McKay was shouting again when Ronon got there, dividing up the work to be done so he could devote his time to the new technology. Ronon leaned against the desk and watched, and when the right moment came he withdrew his biggest knife from its sheath and handed it to him. McKay took it with surprise and brandished it fairly effectively at an unknown scientist who’d been pestering him for help. The scientist slunk off with little grace and Ronon had McKay’s full attention.

“Well,” McKay said brightly. “Shall we?” He gestured with the Wraith device towards a station in the far corner.

They worked intensely for a while, mostly with Ronon listening to McKay think, but Ronon soon grew bored. He took back his knife and started prying the cover off the device, just to hear McKay yell. He was quite creative, using Pegasus galaxy referents instead of the Earth ones he used on his own staff. Ronon just grinned at him, giving in and being good every once in a while.

Sheppard entered the lab, which was now pretty much deserted for dinner, just as McKay was delivering a scathing order to Ronon. Ronon complied in picking up the pieces of plastic he’d been scattering around the table, but Sheppard’s hand stopped his, drawing him away from McKay, who ignored them both.

In the other corner, Sheppard drew closer to Ronon, lowering his voice confidentially. “He’s bullying you, Ronon.”

Ronon grinned down at him. “I know.”

“You don’t have to put up with it.” Sheppard sneaked a look at McKay and lowered his voice even more. “Tell him to back off.”

Shrugging, Ronon just said, “What if I don’t want to?”

Sheppard pulled back, his forehead creasing in confusion. “You like it?”

He looked over at McKay, who was frowning into his microscope. “It’s hot.”

“Oh. Okay, then.” Sheppard said. He then turned sharply, looked at McKay, looked back at Ronon, opened his mouth, closed it again, and walked unsteadily out the door.

Ronon fully expected a sympathetic and understanding lecture from Doctor Weir the next morning, so he figured he’d better work a little faster if he was going to get what he wanted without interference. “Hey, McKay,” he called across the room, noting how quickly he got McKay’s attention these days. It was a pretty good sign.

“Where is everyone?” McKay asked a little vacantly.

“You vaporized them a few hours ago. I was the only one who noticed.”

He was out of his chair faster than Ronon had ever seen him move before. “What?” He recovered himself and stood straighter, lifting his chin. “Oh, ha ha.” He crossed his arms in front of him, in a gesture Ronon had come to learn meant belligerence. “Did you have something you wanted?”

“Actually…,” Ronon let his sentence trail off and let his eyes wander over McKay’s body, hoping he was obvious enough. He smiled as McKay’s eyes widened, then narrowed as realization struck.

“You mean you…me?” His voice was hesitant, but already laced with interest, even though it squeaked at the end, and okay, that wasn’t quite what Ronon was after.

“Well, I’d rather that you…me.” Ronon replied, dropping to his knees and unfastening McKay’s belt. McKay inhaled sharply, and Ronon heard a barely muttered, “I think I just figured out why your pants lace up the back.”

Yeah, that was better.

END
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