Eps/spoilers: Episode tag for Trio. Minor spoilers for all seasons.
Summary: Everyone thinks that John keeps McKay focussed in a crisis...
A/N: This, again, came out of a comment discussion at sardonicsmiley's journal.
Posted at: mckay_sheppard
"So, Dr. Keller tells me you were great yesterday, Rodney." Sheppard dropped his tray onto the table across from him. "No panicking at all."
At the next table, Teyla's shoulders stiffened. Ronon's head came up and he pinned McKay with a fierce look.
"Oh, uh..." Rodney took a deep drink of his water to buy himself some time. "Ha ha ha. Well, have to put up a good front for the womenfolk, you know." He coughed a little as some of the water went the wrong way. Sheppard raised an eyebrow. Rodney tried to ignore Ronon's glare.
"You didn't panic with Katie, either." John gave him a wide smile. "And you didn't freak out with Ellis' needling." Teyla's head turned, her stare joining Ronon's in the 'let's try and kill McKay with our *brains*' contest. "I think you might actually be growing up!"
Ronon's huge hand came down on his shoulder. "McKay. It's time. For the thing."
John frowned. "The thing? What thing?"
Teyla's hand came down with equal pressure on Rodney's other shoulder. "Rodney offered to show Ronon and I the... new code structures... for the communications encryption to the Satedan settlement." Rodney looked up at her in impressed shock. She smiled back at him coldly. "Since we are about to re-initiate contact in a few hours, now is the best time for him to come with us." She bared her teeth. "We have much to discuss."
"Right. Now." Ronon's fingers tightened, lifting Rodney out of his seat.
"Yes, yes. I'm coming!" Rodney yelped but managed to grab his coffee before Ronon pulled him away. Teyla followed them serenely, her bulk no competition against her natural grace.
John's eyes narrowed, and he followed.
"Unbelievable, McKay. You have one job, *one* job for the team and you're screwing it up." Ronon was growling.
He found them huddled on a balcony just down the hall from the mess. The door to the small alcove had been closed, but Atlantis proved as easily convinced as usual to help him out, sliding the heavy metal open just enough for sound to escape.
"Oh, come on! It's been four years! Don't you think its about time I started to grow a backbone under pressure?? How long do you think this whole..." John imagined Rodney's hands cycling madly through the air. "... thing would continue to work?"
"If you wished to change our agreement, you should have asked first, Rodney." Teyla's voice was calm and cool and infinitely disappointed. Rodney sighed with an aggreived huff.
"I didn't change the agreement. I didn't!" The rising pitch of Rodney's voice implied the rest of his team's disbelief. "I didn't think I had to do it when he's not even there, for pete sake!"
"Who is Pete?" Ronon sounded ready to hunt down this Pete fellow and rip out his lungs.
"It's... oh never mind. There is no Pete. The *point* is," John could practically hear Rodney's eyes rolling. "He. Wasn't. There."
"I believe it is important for you to maintain a certain... reputation, Rodney." Teyla's voice remained perfectly reasonable. "Think of the possible repercussions should he determine..."
"Ha! Well, maybe that won't be a problem any more. It's been ages since he went off and tried to throw himself into the flames of nuclear annihilation. Maybe he's, you know..." John pictured more arm waving, "over it."
John willed the door open. "Over what?" He asked with deceptive laziness. The look on all three faces was worth it.
Teyla and Ronon exchanged wordless glances of desperation. Rodney simply turned his back and stared out over the water. John had to admit, as an avoidance tactic it was effective. "Well?"
"Over the effects of..." Teyla began, stumbling visibly with the words. Rodney spun on his heel, cutting her off with a slash of his hand. She subsided into silence.
"Look, he's caught us, ok? And frankly I'm kind of tired of this whole charade. So how about we put all the cards on the table and just fess up already?"
Teyla winced, but nodded slowly. Ronon sighed and flicked his fingers at McKay to continue.
"Ok. Ok. Um." Rodney's hands twisted nervously. "See, Sheppard? The thing is. Uh. I actually? Don't really panic under pressure."
John laughed. "Oh, you don't."
"Uh. No." He looked at John, ducking his head sheepishly. "No. I don't."
Teyla stepped to his side. "We noticed, when you were attacked by the Iratus bug, that calming Doctor McKay tended to provide focus in times of stress, John. We didn't think much on it at the time, but subsequent events showed that without that focus, you would... from time to time... take actions that were... possible to construe as... potentially unnecessarily self-sacrificing."
"If you weren't kept busy you'd go throw yourself on the Wraith. Or ride a nuclear weapon. You did seem to develop a real fondness for that particular method." Rodney as usual cut straight to the chase, bitterness seeping through the words.
Teyla coughed delicately. "Indeed. So, Doctor McKay and I agreed that a certain belief in the necessity of your presence to maintain Doctor McKay's concentration would be useful in protecting Atlantis' interests."
"If you're keeping me calm, you aren't off exploding yourself."
John shook his head in shock. His eyes cut to Ronon, who'd turned back around and was watching him with calm eyes. "You were in on this?"
Ronon shrugged. "I suggested it. Turns out they'd already decided to go that way."
John shook his head again, rubbing his neck reflexively. His eyes cut to Rodney. "So all this time you've been lying to me??"
Rodney pursed his lips. "Not *lying*, no. Of course not. We wouldn't, you know, *lie*. Exaggerating, perhaps."
"The crash on the prisoner planet?"
Rodney nodded again.
"The underground Alien bunker?"
A sheepish shrug.
"The thing with Ford and his merry band of enzyme addicts?"
"Oh, no. No, that time the panic was all real." Rodney seemed to think he was actually reassuring him. "The freakout with Ronon in the hiveship? Also totally genuine."
Ronon spoke up. "The screaming and shooting on the planet where we all met?"
"All real." McKay narrowed his eyes. "As you well know." He clapped his hands together, rubbed them briskly. "Excellent! Now that's out of the way, I'm going back to work." He shot a glare of concentrated irritation at John so suddenly and intensely that John stepped back involuntarily, triggering the door. "And you! Don't go getting all... " hands waved wildly "upset or freaked out or pissed off, or god forbid, martyrial about this. We were just taking care of you the way you thought you were taking care of us." He smiled then, like sun breaking through clouds. "It'll be nice not be going all hysterical all the time. It's exhausting!" He left, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"For all of us," Ronon muttered, following him out. Teyla slid past as well, her size making it difficult but her grace making it look smooth. John let them go, staring at Atlantis' new ocean, mind racing over all the times Rodney had spewed panic and nonsense and 'the sky is falling', trying to see where the fact and fiction diverged. All the times Rodney had come out of a crisis sweat soaked and falling down tired, with Ronon's face grim with the effort of not simply shooting him to shut him up, Teyla's eyes tight with irritation and fatigue. All because they wanted to ensure he felt his worth was with them as opposed to giving himself up for them.
Helplessly, John choked, brought his hand up to his mouth. The gurgle turned into a snicker, a blurt of laughter, then finally into full out belly laughs of mirth. The laughter doubled him over, dropped him to a knee. After a long minute, he spluttered to a halt except for little snorts, wiping streaming eyes with the backs of his hands. All this time, putting themselves through that, with John egging Rodney into ever-increasing levels of hysteria because the man seemed to perform better the more upset he was! He snickered again. Maybe Rodney was right, maybe it would be nice to have some more subdued crises.
Cause the other way? Really was exhausting.