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Title: Subject of Focus
Author: esteefee
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG
Words: 2069
Categories: First Time, little H/C
Summary: Some temporary glasses make John see clearer.
Warnings: John has a temporary eye injury.
A/N: Beta by em_kellesvig

Subject of Focus

by esteefee

When John came into the lab to grab Rodney for their meeting—because apparently two calendar reminders and a sarcastic invite over the comm weren't enough—he found Rodney hunched in front of two monitors, his fingers dashing over his keyboard while his eyes darted back and forth between the output on the screens.

"Hey. Hey, McKay. Yo," John said, but when Rodney didn't respond, John just leaned his butt on one of the lab stools and watched while Rodney kept typing. Sometimes John's eyes just got caught when Rodney was like this, so focused and brilliant, code streaming beneath his fingertips in two windows at a time as he made different parts of some program merge flawlessly. So maybe John got a little fascinated; it was a big part of the reason why he let Rodney get away with so much shit.

For example, not showing up for this meeting Rodney himself had scheduled two weeks ago and insisted on.

"Yo." John crumpled up a post-it note and tossed it at Rodney's head.


"What? What!" Rodney spun in his chair. "Can't you see you're interrupting genius at work, here?" He looked absolutely incensed. "I was very deeply involved in—"

"Yeah, yeah. Which is why you probably missed that." John pointed at the lower right corner of Rodney's left-hand screen, where their meeting reminder was glowing ominously. "Not to mention me giving you the fifteen minute warning over the comm."

"Meeting? What stupid meeting? I really don't have time to waste on bureaucratic—" Rodney clicked on the reminder. "—oh."

"Yeah, oh. The planned power conduit overhaul? You're doing a temporary relocation of personnel and wanted to discuss changing patrol routes?"

"Yes." Rodney's forehead creased as he changed gears, and John fought to keep a smile off his face. He reminded himself, again, that Rodney's flakiness when it came to anything but science, though offset by his brilliance and the ability to save all their asses, made mooning over the guy pretty pointless, as Jennifer Keller had learned.

"We might as well meet here, then," John said. "Do you have the plans?"

"Yes, of course. Just let me...save...save...save," Rodney muttered, and then made various moves, lightning fast, so both screens lit up with various floor plans of the occupied living quarters.

John rolled his stool over so they were shoulder-to-shoulder. This close, it was obvious Rodney had been at the white board earlier—he smelled a little like Dry Erase marker with the ever-present overlay of dark coffee and that slightly metallic odor from playing with Atlantis' subsystems. Ever since their return to Pegasus, Atlantis had needed tons of work to fix the damages from two intergalactic voyages and a serious space sortie. John had participated in a lot of the repairs, along with Radek and his team, and Ronon as well, since he had good structural engineering skills and muscle on call.

It had been a little tough for John. He had a weakness for smart people, and he'd been working side-by-side with quite a few of those over the past few months, all these smart men and women of Atlantis that he didn't usually have a lot of exposure to.

And over them all had presided the king of smarts, Dr. Rodney McKay, snapping out orders and irritably punishing people with his sarcasm for any slips in judgment.

"Dr. Parlette. Unless you're really dedicated to the idea of Atlantis sinking beneath the waves when you blow a hole in both walls of the ballast tank, I suggest you use a non-conductive element to shield the field coil of the generator."

John shook his head at the memory.

"What?" Rodney said.

"Oh. I'm just thinking." John pointed at the floor plan. "You should probably stick Dr. Parlette near Dr. Yu. There's a reason Isobel was so distracted when we were re-jigging the ballast generator."

"Huh." Rodney snorted. "And here I thought it was the way she kept giggling when you called her 'Izzy.'"

"Me? Nah." So, yeah, Isobel was smart and gorgeous in that petite, dark-haired way that always got to John, but it was obvious she was already hooked on the tall, bashful Dr. Yu. "Just being friendly."

"Friendly. Right." Rodney flicked his fingers over the floor plan. "Well, I'm not playing geek matchmaker."

"Aw, c'mon. They're good kids. Everybody deserves...something."

Rodney tensed, and John turned his head to catch an expression leaving Rodney's face, gone before John could analyze it. But Rodney swapped out Jensen's name for Yu's, leaving him two doors down from Parlette, and John smiled a little.

"Cool. So, let's talk patrols."

"Right. Well, the closest transporter is here..."


"Aw, C'mon, Doc. I look stupid. Can't I just wear my own sunglasses?" John pushed the heavy frames up; they kept slipping down his nose.

"Nope," Jennifer said cheerfully. "These automatically block out all the spectrums that could damage your retinas. I need you to wear these until your irises recover from the exposure to that weird pollen." She grinned at him. "Guess you're wishing you'd listened to Dr. Parrish and not gone wandering off the path."

"Yeah. I'm wishing I didn't look like a dork."

She raised her eyebrows. "And now would be different how?"

John grinned. "Ouch. Nice one, Doc."

"Get out of here. Report back in six hours or so."

"You got it. Thanks, Jennifer."

John ducked out of the infirmary and took the transporter right away. It was hard to focus on the map; hard to focus on anything, really, but he stabbed the right quadrant by luck and got the corridor to his quarters.

The plan was to hide out from anyone with eyes to see him until it was time to take these darn things off.

Unfortunately, he'd only had about twenty-five minutes hanging out in his quarters and getting bored with how little there was to do without being able to use his eyes for anything, when his radio chirped on the band he and Rodney used.

"What's up, McKay? I'm kind of...off-duty."

"Off-duty? It's the middle of the afternoon, you slacker!"

"Well, it's more a medical thing. Call it medical leave." John tried to hit the basket with his Nerf ball, and once again hit the rim. Eight for twenty. Pretty bleak.

"Medical—what the heck did you do to yourself this time?"

"Took a little jaunt with the botany team, got sprayed in the face by a bunch of evil flowers. Hey, do you remember Spock on the paradise planet with the gorgeous chick? It was like that. Only, no pretty blonde. Just Parrish and a bottle of eyewash. And now I can't see so good."

"Jesus. You moron. You don't deserve a hippie shore leave. I'm Spock, remember?"

"I'd look great in that turtleneck, though."

There was silence over the line, and John grinned to himself. "Anyway, my eyes are all blurry for now, so I'm kind of useless—"

"But they will get better?" Rodney asked, actually sounding worried.

"Hell, yeah. Six hours or something. Jennifer promised." She sure as hell had, or John would be kicking up a heck of a fuss, probably begging to go back to Earth for a neuro-ophthalmologist at this point.

"Then come on down to the lab. I need you to initialize the portable mass spectrometer while I run some baseline tests. There's something wacky going on with the results."

"Um. Kinda tired, Rodney. Can this wait six hours?"

"No, it cannot. This is where this is on the schedule, or have you forgotten tonight is Pork Chow Fun Scrabble Challenge Night?"

Rodney and his Scrabble. Who knew?

"I really am on medical leave, you know. So I will come down, but only if you swear on a stack of physics books—the good ones—not to make fun of me. I mean it, man."

Rodney sniffed."You know I am capable of great sensitivity. Jennifer taught me that at least. I wouldn't make fun of your hideous eyelid scars or whatever happened on Paradise Planet. Just get down here. Time's a-wasting."

"Yeah, yeah."


John was already in civvies; he put on a ball cap and took the back hallway route to Rodney's lab, ducking his head when he passed a couple of people. He couldn't see if they saw him, but no one stopped and pointed with laughter, so he figured he was clear.

Then he was hovering at the doorway to the lab. He could see Rodney hunched just beyond his consoles, but couldn't see his face. John sidled in and came around the table to stand just behind Rodney's shoulder.

"What? Oh, yes. Sheppard," Rodney said, turning, and John tried to keep a straight face, but he couldn't help wincing a little.

"Oh. Oh." Rodney rolled his chair out and faced John head on. "Well, that's. Well, it's ridiculous, really. How is that even—?"

"Yeah, they're pretty dorky, I know." John said, pushing at the bridge of the glasses.

"No—God, no. I wish—you know how I love to mock, but, no," Rodney said, his voice disbelieving.

John could see Rodney's expression through the blur that shifted in and out, and something about it made John's pulse go faster. It was...focused. Rodney's eyes were trained in absolute stillness on John's face, his features tight. He looked like he was trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. He looked like maybe he could find them in John's eyes.

And still they kept staring at each other.

"Rodney—" John croaked.

"I just don't understand," Rodney said. "How—believe me, I have seen you covered in sticks and mud, I have seen you transformed into an insect, so you know I've given this a great deal of thought. I've titled it the Sheppard Phenomenon, and it's truly absurd how you retain your attractiveness through the most dire circumstances, but this—"

"What?" John swallowed and shifted forward. He needed to see Rodney more clearly, but his eyes wouldn't cooperate.

"The phenomenon, Sheppard. It's not quantifiable, it has to be nuclear, or even quantum... it has to be working on a quantum level, there's no other explanation for it." Rodney waved his hands a little, but his eyes never moved off John's face.

"Well," John said, a little shakily, "if it's quantum, how do you know it's there?"

Rodney blinked and then he pointed and snapped. "There! Right there, that's what I—you are such a—seriously, how is it you do this to me every time?" He sounded despairing.

"Same way you get to me, I guess," John confessed. His voice broke alarmingly, and he coughed.

The harsh lines of Rodney's face softened, then blurred again. John blinked frantically, trying to get him back in focus.

"Why—?" Rodney's voice sounded off, grainy. "Why now? You can't expect me to believe—is this pity? Is this everybody deserving something and you thinking the poor little scientist deserves a lay? Because seriously, Sheppard—" Rodney's voice started to get higher and a little frantic. "—I'm over Jennifer, and settling quite happily into the bachelor life—"

John grabbed for part of Rodney's arm, hit-or-miss, and got his elbow, and squeezed tight. "Shut up. Listen."

Rodney shut up.

John kissed him.

It took Rodney a split second to catch on, but then he caught up fast, pushing his tongue into John's mouth and grabbing the back of John's neck to hold him steady. John should have been expecting the focus, the drive, the pushiness, and he was; what he didn't expect was the little whimpers of need, the way Rodney's fingers petted through the short hair on John's neck, sending tingles down his spine, or the way Rodney panted after John ended the kiss, as if Rodney were overwhelmed.

"Don't think I didn't notice you never answered my question, Sheppard. Why now?" Rodney's smile slanted. "You do realize we could have been doing this for ages?"

"Maybe it's these things. Helped me see a little clearer." He settled the frames on his nose, ignoring Rodney's indignant huff.

Funny thing was, it was the truth.

"Come on." John gave Rodney a tug toward the door. "I'm still on medical leave. I need to go rest up for Scrabble Night."

"But what about the mass spectrometer?"

"Did I mention I want to 'rest up'?" Sheesh.

"Oh. Oh!" Rodney dragged him toward the transporter.

"Now you're getting it, bright eyes."


Spock in This Side of Paradise


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC)
Very cool! I liked Rodney being flaky about the meeting (too busy geniusing) and John looking hot in the dorky glasses, and the amicable breakup (offscreen ) with Jennifer, and the work needing to be done on Atlantis after her two intergalactic voyages, and Ronon the structural engineer. Loved how you slipped in all these many details that hinted at great swathes of events that happened offscreen and before the current story you're telling. It made the story feel more lush, more vibrant and full. Very cool beans!
Jun. 1st, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
you know, I didn't realize I was doing that, so I cannot take credit, but I thank you very kindly, woof. you always leave the most awesome comments. <3
May. 31st, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
Loved all of this, the depth of passing detail, John in his dorky glasses, all the little moments of focus, Rodney is Spock! And Ronon, smart and strong. So adorable.

ETA: Spock! OMG! Perfect fappage material for Rodney! bwahahahahahahaha!!!!

Edited at 2014-06-01 12:01 am (UTC)
Jun. 1st, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
hee hee hee!!! SPOCK sez HDU WANK2ME. :D KIRK sez INB4U.
Jun. 1st, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
Oh my. Crying here. So perfect, I'm verklempt.

Kirk sez INB4U in more ways than one...

Edited at 2014-06-01 12:10 am (UTC)
Jun. 1st, 2014 01:25 am (UTC)
aw boys. This was utterly charming.
Jun. 1st, 2014 01:50 am (UTC)
eee, thanks. *glomps them*
Jun. 1st, 2014 02:40 am (UTC)
Well, John in glasses is hot. It's not surprising Rodney would admit that! LOL
Jun. 1st, 2014 04:27 am (UTC)
Seriously. Dorky Sheppard is irresistible. :))
Jun. 1st, 2014 08:59 am (UTC)
ah, this is perfect on a Sunday morning :)
The 'Sheppard Phenomenon' indeed.
Jun. 1st, 2014 09:16 am (UTC)
Gets Rodney every time! :))) Tx, trystings.
Jun. 1st, 2014 01:28 pm (UTC)

Oh, I loved this! Of course, Rodney would be turned by the geeky glasses. I mean, his Flyboy was wearing them, what do you expect? LOL

Awesome! :)
Jun. 1st, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
John shouldn't be embarrassed: they are geek magnets. :))
Jun. 3rd, 2014 04:56 am (UTC)
I LOVE the idea that John could be a little more honest when his vision wasn't all there. Serious in-character love there.

You rock for writing this AND meeting our deadline. ;)
Jun. 3rd, 2014 05:17 am (UTC)
hard deadlines are such a gift. thanks, shmoopie! <3
Jun. 3rd, 2014 07:11 am (UTC)
John and Rodney interact in an interesting variety of ways and emotional tones before the great 'reveal' and clinch here. Enjoyable--and the Star Trek references more than the glasses certify their mutual geekiness, down to the quantum level.
Jun. 3rd, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC)
niiice. yeah, they established their cred early in their relationship. <3 thanks, fff.
Jun. 12th, 2014 04:58 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome.
Jun. 7th, 2014 04:24 am (UTC)
::snark:: Oh John - ALWAYS listen to the Botanists!

And by the way, John in glasses WOULD be nuclear hot! ;)
Jun. 7th, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
Seriously, right? The Botanist knows all! :p

Thanks, my squidge. <3
Jun. 9th, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh FFS. Their adorkable love knows no bounds: Rodney hypothesizing about the the Sheppard Phenomenon, & John quietly perving mooning over Snark!King!McKay & making self-deprecating quantum jokes! :-) (ILU Rodney but you are so not Spock.)

Engineer!Ronan & Sarcastic!Jennifer FTW! I hated how she was written as a mealy-mouthed milquetoast, & both were portrayed as not very bright. And Rodney saying, "You know I am capable of great sensitivity. Jennifer taught me that at least...."
Good gods. Just think about that. ~o_0`

In summary: glasses on either of them, especially specs that let them spot the clue bus, = FAB. OM NOM NOM NOM
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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