Pairing(s): Rodney McKay/Radek Zelenka
Rating: PG-13 for language
Warnings: Spoilers for "The Pegasus Project"
Summary: "You!" The word was bellowed, and John turned, blinking, as Zelenka stormed towards him.
Word Count: 1,700
“You!” The word was bellowed, and John turned, blinking, as Zelenka stormed towards him. The Czech’s face was flushed, his hair sticking up every which way, and his eyes glittered madly. In fact, he sort of reminded John of the senile cat that his mom had had during his childhood, which had attacked anything that even looked at it.
John blinked, and then glanced down the near-empty hallway to confirm that yes, he seemed to be the focus of Zelenka’s death-glare. “Uh.” He glanced over at Teyla, who simply shrugged, looking equally bemused.
“You!” Zelenka shouted again and prodded John hard in the chest with a finger. It didn’t actually hurt. After all, Zelenka was pretty scrawny. The Czech’s eyes narrowed to slits, and when he spoke, the words flew fast and harsh, barely discernable through his ever-thickening accent. “You! You think you are perfect, yes? The incredible Colonel John Sheppard who can do no wrong! Who can get away with anything!”
John stared at him for a moment, and in spite of his better judgment felt a grin tug at his lips. A pissed-off Zelenka probably shouldn’t be funny, but then again, John had always loved to tease his mom’s crazy cat as a kid too. He folded his arms against his chest and ignored the finger that was now in his face. “So…apparently I did something wrong.”
Zelenka’s lips twisted into a thin scowl of displeasure. “You don’t even realize why I am angry, do you?” he said, and there was a note of disgust in his voice. “Don’t even understand what you did.”
“Obviously not,” John said, but judging from the expression on Teyla’s face, she’d figured it out. He blinked as a slight frown appeared on her face and she too turned a grave look on him. “What?”
“There is a fine line between friendly teasing and cruel humiliation, Colonel, and you have--” Zelenka gestured wildly, as though at a loss for words. John watched the Czech’s mouth open and shut for a moment, cheeks reddening, until the scientist finally snapped, “You have crossed that line! This Mitchell, he is an outsider, and you tell him about--”
“Wait.” John frowned, incredulous. “This is about me telling Mitchell about McKay’s citrus allergy?” The urge to laugh was rising. “Come on, it was just a joke--”
Zelenka’s finger jabbed him in the chest again, and this time it actually did hurt, and John couldn’t quite keep from flinching. “You, you-- You do not deserve to have Rodney as a friend!” The scientist’s face was still flushed, and he was breathing heavily. “If you ever do such a thing again, you will never have a hot shower for as long as you live in Atlantis. Never!”
“For one thing, it was a fake lemon. For another, it was a joke!” John protested, even as Zelenka turned on heel and stormed away, muttering darkly in Czech under his breath. He turned an appealing look upon Teyla. “Come on, it’s not that big a deal.”
Teyla looked somber. “Colonel Mitchell used a lemon, a lemon which you gave him, to force Dr. McKay to work faster. He wouldn’t have known how to threaten Dr. McKay without your aid.”
“But--” John frowned. It’d been a joke-- but then again, he hadn’t expected Mitchell to bully Rodney. And while Rodney was obviously a hypochondriac, Carson had mentioned that Rodney’s citrus allergy was a very real issue, and…. Oh, fuck. He was going to hell, wasn’t he? “Shit.”
“You are going to go apologize?” Teyla was watching him steadily, the grave expression never flickering.
“Yeah.” John rubbed at his face, feeling a headache coming on. All he needed was for Elizabeth to walk by and shoot him a disappointed look and mention ‘team dynamics’ or for Ronon to stare at him and grunt something that was the equivalent of ‘You really fucked up.’
He sighed. “If Rodney even lets me get a word in edgewise.” He could already hear Rodney bitching him out in his head.
Rodney wasn’t in the labs, although Samantha Carter was, and John earned an odd look when he asked if she had any clue where Rodney might be. He tried the commissary next, to no avail, and finally headed towards where Rodney's quarters were.
All the while, a sense of doom followed him, like some sort of overcast shadow over his mood, and he wondered how much Rodney was going to gripe about this and if he maybe should have brought some blue jello along as a peace offering.
He squared his shoulders and stared at Rodney’s door. He could do this, let Rodney vent about how Candid Camera had skewed his sense of humor -- "Humiliating people isn’t funny, Colonel, no matter how much television would like you to believe it is" -- and then things would go back to normal. All John needed to do was knock, and listen, and then let things settle back into their regular pattern.
He knocked twice, and when Rodney didn't immediately open the door and start berating him, rolled his eyes and knocked again, louder this time, and then blinked as the door opened and Zelenka scowled out at him.
"Oh," Zelenka said, in the exact tone someone might use when they realize they've stepped on a used wad of bubblegum. If it was possible, Zelenka's hair was even more mussed, and his eyes still held a dangerous gleam that John didn't like one bit. Zelenka glared at him for another moment, and without looking away, called, "Rodney, do you want to speak to the colonel, or should I send him away?"
John could hear the snort from the hallway. "For God's sake, Radek, stop being overprotective. I think I can handle something like a simple conversation."
Zelenka finally stopped glaring at John long enough to roll his eyes and glance over his shoulder, presumably to focus his glower onto his fellow scientist. “I am not being overprotective, Rodney. I was trying to be considerate, but obviously that is a word that is not in the McKay Dictionary.” He paused, and added, quieter, with a note in his voice that had John’s eyebrows shooting upwards, “Would you like me to leave and give you some privacy then?”
Rodney didn’t say a word, but apparently his expression was answer enough, because it was Zelenka’s turn to snort.
“Very well. If you find a new appreciation of my considerate nature, I will be in the main lab.” Shooting a final venomous glare at John, Zelenka pushed past him and headed down the hallway, muttering something under his breath that was either a profanity in Czech or a mantra of “cold showers” -- either way, both spelled doom.
John watched him go, tempted to throw a, “It was a fake lemon!” at his retreating back just to watch him get even angrier, but he wasn’t feeling suicidal, at least not yet. Maybe after this conversation with Rodney.
He stepped into Rodney’s room. It was the exact same as it had been the handful of times he’d been here before -- aside from the fact that Rodney was leveling a vaguely disgusted look at him. “Uh,” he said, ineloquently. Why did his vocabulary dry up whenever he had to make an apology or say something…heartfelt? Not that John was about to be emotional with Rodney. After all, it was Rodney.
He tried on a grin, and could feel it, stretched tight and uncomfortable and just the slightest bit lopsided on his face. “So, you know, next time I fuck up royally, you don’t have to send Zelenka in like a miniature attack dog.”
Rodney’s vaguely disgusted look shifted to an exasperated expression. “Oh yes, Colonel, because I asked Radek to go tearing off to yell at you in a very public hallway. I am just that pathetic.”
A million jokes popped into his head, most of them at Rodney’s expense, some at Zelenka’s, but John wisely kept his mouth shut and instead just shrugged, coloring his smile with a hint of sheepishness.
And Rodney kept talking, and there was the rant that John had been expecting as Rodney folded his arms against his chest and snapped, “But while we’re on the topic, Colonel, the whole lemon incident? Not funny, unless you’re still in elementary school -- which sometimes I swear is your default age.”
“It seemed funny at the time,” John offered, earning a glare, and then a slightly less severe look as he shrugged and said, “But it was pretty dumb. I didn’t think Mitchell would threaten you with it.”
“Yes, well, it’s obvious that juvenile humor is Mitchell’s default setting,” Rodney said sourly. A sudden look of horror crossed his face. “Has Radek said anything to Mitchell? If he tried to defend my honor again--”
John raised an eyebrow, remembering the odd note in Zelenka’s voice, and was quiet for a moment. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had always worked fine for John, even for civilians, and it especially worked for Rodney, because John knew -- without a shadow of a doubt -- that if he let on that he’d figured out Rodney’s relationship with Zelenka was more than professional, he’d be on the receiving end of way, way too much information.
“I don’t think he’s said anything to Mitchell,” he said mildly, and watched Rodney’s face crumple in relief, and then tighten in suspicion once more.
“Yet. But he was probably lying through his teeth about being in the main lab. He’s probably hunting Mitchell down right now, and it's not that I don’t appreciate the loyalty, but really, it’s a bit of an overreaction, and plus it ruins the speech I was preparing to give Mitchell before the Daedalus left, and--”
John couldn’t help but grin at that, and made a note to make sure not to miss that little show. “You should probably go and make sure he’s in the main lab then.” He turned to go, and then paused at the doorway. “Oh, and McKay? It was a plastic lemon.”
Silence, and then-- “Where the hell did you get a plastic lemon on Atlantis?” Rodney demanded, almost squawking.
John just grinned, tucked his hands into his pockets, and strolled away...in the opposite direction a certain Czech had gone.