Title: Fire Eye'd Boy
Word Count: 2,115
Author's Notes: Written for The Czech is in the Male ficathon. Hope you enjoy it!
Thank you to blue_raven
for general support and life saving maneuvers.
Summary: "Listen, Radek, are you planning on going to the secular winter holiday celebration?"
Rodney made air quotes with his fingers around the name. His disdain rang in his voice.
It all began two weeks before Christmas, although it wasn't exactly Christmas, of course, at least not on Earth, because of the difference in the length of days and the altered calendar. But it was the holiday season, Elizabeth agreed, and it was largely held that a party was necessary in order to raise morale, and so a committee was formed to create a secular winter holiday celebration. Radek had been asked to join, but he insisted (and Rodney agreed) that he was far to busy. He'd suggested Miko instead, but Rodney insisted she was far too busy, too. In the end, Rodney had suggested Elizabeth go ask the Botanists, who he privately insisted were mostly useless. Elizabeth, for once, didn't roll her eyes. Too much.
So the committee was formed and the party was planned and Radek, for one, was planning on skipping it. His only fond memories of Christmas were from long, long ago when he was a very young boy, before his father was taken away for questioning. He recalled all of his happy Christmases in flashes of pictures and feelings: his mother smiling, dressing in his finest clothes for Mass, and then, later, going to bed so full of food his stomach didn't rumble at all. Since the year Radek was eight, the year his father had disappeared and not come back until morning, his family hadn't celebrated Christmas much. They hadn't celebrated anything, really.
So Radek was happy to help Rodney in the lab instead of celebrate, unless Colonel Sheppard planned on swooping in and dragging Rodney away, like he sometimes did. Radek truly hoped that Colonel Sheppard would leave them in peace. He told himself that was because he would rather eat raw liver than attend a holiday party, and not because he actually wanted to spend time with Rodney, but he knew it to be a lie.
"Listen, Radek, are you planning on going to the secular winter holiday celebration?"
Rodney made air quotes with his fingers around the name. His disdain rang in his voice.
"I hadn't planned on it, no."
Rodney cocked an eyebrow. "I would have thought you would love the opportunity. I hear there will be food and drink from Earth, just arrived on the Daedalus," he sing-songed, as if that could persuade him.
"You are trying to encourage me to attend? You just make me sound as if I am alcoholic." He pushed his glasses further up his nose. "Anyway. Beer from America, Rodney, is not real alcohol. You know this." He busied himself setting up a simulation to run overnight, then pushed away from his workspace.
"Come on, Radek, you might have a good time," Rodney said, his cheeks tinted with color, a strange, hollow expression on his face.
Radek shook his head. "No, Rodney, you go and have fun. Celebrate with your team. I prefer to spend the evening alone." He rapped his knuckles on the door frame and wished Rodney good night, all the while hoping he would not take him at his word. Radek did not wish to attend the party, but he would not mind spending the evening with Rodney, even if they worked on separate projects in the lab and barely spoke.
It was not until later that evening that he realized what that strange look on Rodney's face meant. It surprised him so much that it roused him from sleep. He sat straight up in bed.
Rodney had looked hopeful.
It seemed absurd, but Radek also knew it, suddenly, to be true: Radek had seen that look on Rodney's face only twice before, and both times he'd been looking at a zpm in a dire situation. Tonight, though, Rodney had looked at him as if he
were the answer to Rodney's prayers. If he wanted Radek to attend, as his boss, Rodney would have ordered him to. But instead he had asked, and then asked again, and then tried to persuade him. It almost seemed, now, that Rodney actually wanted
him to go. Wanted them
to go. Together.
The two of them were friends, and got on rather well outside of work. Radek discovered that underneath his prickly exterior, Rodney could be decent.
They enjoyed similar books and films, and while Radek routinely beat him at chess, Rodney was a better opponent than nearly anyone else in Atlantis. And although Radek often suspected his best years may already be behind him, as was much of his hair, his eyes were still startlingly blue and his genuine smile never failed to cause Dr. Wagner to stammer.
For the first time in months, Dr. Zelenka fell asleep feeling as if his fondest wish wasn't completely unattainable.
For the next four days, while decorations were hung and plans were made, Radek dodged mistletoe and tried to ignore people in high spirits. He worked as he always worked. He slept six hours per night as he always slept, and he ate whatever was put on his plate like he always did. He drank the bitter Athosian tea Rodney took to bringing him while he worked (when his mood was especially foul, he complained that Rodney was poisoning him, but because he was not completely lacking in social graces, only when Teyla was not around). And in the back of his mind, behind all of the calculations and theories that ran very nearly non-stop, Radek watched and he waited.
There was plenty to do. On Monday, Radek was knee-deep (literally) in floodwater in some corridors and personal quarters on the south east side of the city. On Tuesday, he spent time with jumper 3, which Colonel Sheppard reported was idling a bit loud. On Wednesday and most of Thursday he spent most of his day trying to diffuse tensions among his Engineers, whose arguments tended to devolve into petty jealousy and name-calling if he didn't intercede on occasion.
"Working, here." Rodney's mood had been particularly bad since their conversation.
"Rodney, you are going to party, yes?"
"Why not? Colonel Sheppard will be there, and Elizabeth, and Teyla. You are hiding from your friends?"
"I'm not hiding from anyone. The party is stupid and I told them I wouldn't be going. You're not changing your mind, are you?"
"No, Rodney (Elizabeth had cornered him outside of the cafeteria just that afternoon and requested he attend. What could he say? Of course he'd said yes)." His left ear itched the way it did when he told lies. "Well, perhaps for a little bit."
"You've changed your mind?" Rodney stared at him, mouth agape, as if he were appalled.
"Dr. Weir asked if I would attend. I said yes."
Rodney mumbled under his breath and set his screwdriver down with more force than necessary.
"Rodney? Are you feeling well?"
"I'm fine, Radek. Shouldn't you be leaving now? For the party?"
"Party does not start for thirty minutes, Rodney."
"Yes, but if you want to impress Elizabeth you should at least shower and change into something a bit nicer than your Wednesday uniform."
"Is Thursday, Rodney."
"But that's still your Wed-" a wrench, this time, along with a few muttered explatives. "Whatever. Look, some of us are trying to work around here."
"Rodney, there is no one."
"Well I guess I'm the only one who cares whether or not we all drown from the flooding on the south east side."
"I fixed that on Monday."
"Whatever. You should go get changed for your date."
"Is not date."
"Well, she asked you, you said yes. End of story."
"She is leader of expedition, Rodney! She has dates with half the base, by your definition!"
"Better get there early, then.""RODNEY!"
Radek waited until he knew he had his attention. "I do not want date with Dr. Weir. I was stupid and did not realize the other night that I was being offered what I have wanted for long time." Radek couldn't bear to look at him just then. Instead, he focused on a smear of grease on the left knee of his Wednesday uniform pants. "But when I see you behave as you are now, maybe was not stupidity after all." He pushed off his chair. He would go to his quarters, or even to the party. At the moment, he wished to go anywhere to escape this heavy silence.
"Don't. Don't go. Please."
He stopped just inside the doorway, but he did not turn around. "Yes?"
A few heavy footfalls and then Rodney was there, behind him, and while they did not touch, Radek could feel him as if he was pressed tightly to his back. "Please," he said again. "I was." He touched Radek's left shoulder blade, lightly running two fingers along the bony ridge. "I'm not good at apologies, you know." He cleared his throat awkwardly. Radek remained where he was, Rodney behind him. He was not going to excuse his behavior just because it was hard for him to say he was sorry. "But I am sorry." Rodney's voice was very small. "Er. I was jealous, I guess. My feelings were hurt. When you said you were going to the party because Elizabeth asked, I jumped to conclusions. You agreed to go with her and not with me."
"I did not wish to go at all, but..." he trailed off as Rodney brushed his questing fingers along the delicate, pale skin at the nape of Radek's neck.
"I know. I should
"Rodney, forgive me for saying so, but I do not want to go to party with you, either." His own voice sounded strange to his ears. He gasped when he felt Rodney's fingers tangle in the curly hairs at the base of his skull. "If you continue to do that, I will drag you to my quarters and no one will see either of us until tomorrow."
Rodney barked a startled laugh, but recovered quickly and turned Radek in his arms, using his larger frame to back him tightly against the door frame. "Lead the way," he breathed, then bent his head and kissed Radek with his desperate, wicked mouth.
When they parted, Radek's face was hot and his knees were quivering. He could not have explained the blue of the sky to school children at that moment. Rodney had fared about the same. He panted wetly against Radek's temple.
"Meet me at my quarters in five minutes. I will be waiting for you." Radek cleared his throat, then, and stood straighter, and then left the lab for the privacy of his quarters.
Miraculously, Radek made it to his quarters without being stopped and dragged off to the party. Once he got there, though, and removed his shoes and tidied a bit, he couldn't help but check his watch and wonder if Colonel Sheppard hadn't intercepted Rodney on the way.
Nearly seven minutes later, Radek's door chimed. Radek pressed the panel that opened the door, and it slid open.
"Sorry I'm late." Rodney stepped into Radek's quarters carefully, as if there were hidden dangers that hadn't been there the week before when they'd met to watch Terminator.
"I worried you had been stopped and persuaded to go to the party. Would you like something to drink?"
Rodney cocked an eyebrow at him. "I didn't come here for afternoon tea."
"Manners, Rodney." Radek smirked.
"I wasted all of my manners on that apology." He stepped closer, lips pressed together, keeping a smile trapped inside his mouth. Radek stepped back.
"There is no such thing as free milk, Rodney." Radek continued stepping back each time Rodney advanced on him. He knew eventually he would run out of room, but for now, the thrill was in the chase.
Rodney's smile bubbled forth. He took another step, and Radek backed into his mattress. He gently lifted Radek's glasses from his face and folded them and set them beside the bed, then caressed Radek's cheek with unanticipated tenderness. "I'm going to kiss you now."
Radek could do little more than nod. The moment Radek ran his tongue along the seam of Rodney's lips, however, both of their comms squawked to life.
"Dr. McKay? Dr. Zelenka? This is Colonel Sheppard. When are you two coming to the party?" His voice dipped to a whisper. "I'm bored."
Rodney removed his communicator, glared at it, and tossed it in a nearby chair.
"Colonel Sheppard? This is Dr. Zelenka. Rodney and I are conducting experiment. We will not make it to party." Radek tried to keep his voice level while Rodney nibbled up the pale column of his throat. "I'm sorry." He bit back a groan when Rodney bit his earlobe. "Zelenka out."