Summary: This was an argument that would last for *years*.
Info: Written for the mcsheplets 'I love you" challenge
He slowly came back to consciousness to the sound of Rodney saying, "Teyla, he's waking up. Go get Jennifer." And he wondered then how it was possible that Rodney could have so many tones and undertones to his voice, melodies and harmonies, points and counterpoints. Because Rodney's voice was a whole fucking orchestra, with its relief and worry and urgency and authority, all wrapped up in a tenor that shouldn't have the capacity for such depth but did just the same.
He opened his eyes.
If Rodney's voice was full of uncharted depths, then his eyes were fathomless with their capacity for relief and pain, for worry and heartbreak and something else not quite defined. Anger maybe, spurred by fear and John felt a vague sense of injustice. What the hell was Rodney so pissed at him for? After all he was the one lying flat on his back in...where exactly was he again?
"Hey," he said aloud instead, like he was sure of where he was and where he belonged.
"'Don't you 'hey' me," Rodney grumbled, but his hand said something altogether different when it gripped John's in a firm grasp. Rodney pulled John's hand to his chest and held it there, even as he glared down at John where he lay. "We have to talk about this death wish of yours."
He ignored Rodney briefly, letting his eyes take in his surroundings in a quick, practiced movement. They were in a tent, the bright sunlight outside muted by the tanned hides making up the walls, the cloth covering the opening. John lay on a wooden cot, a soft woven blanket covering him. The tent seemed all wrong somehow but he couldn't say why. He frowned slightly, trying to recall the events that had put him there.
"You don't remember what happened." Rodney's mouth pursed in a moue of discontent. He replaced John's hand alongside his body on the bed and folded his arms across his chest.
"I remember," John said crossly. "I got hit in the head." His head ached; he gingerly reached up and touched the tender lump near his hairline. Getting hit in the head seemed a safe bet.
"And?" Rodney said testily, not accepting that John really remembered what had happened to him, but all of the sudden, it was there in a flash. John felt a momentary burst of irritation with Rodney, to be replaced with triumph at the returning memory.
"There was an earthquake," John said, not bothering to keep the smug out of his voice. 'I was just trying to help."
"You went back into the building," Rodney said severely, "which no one who has ever lived in California, as you claim to have done, would ever voluntarily do."
"The little girl ran back inside. What was I supposed to do, Rodney? Let her get crushed when the building collapsed?"
"No," Rodney said with a brittle smile. "No, you had to shove her mother at me and demand I hold her while you ran back inside to be crushed instead. While we both watched."
"Well, no one got crushed, did they?" There was a long pause. John searched Rodney's face with his eyes but found no answers there, only an intense, breath-constricting expression that met his eyes. Something in his gut twisted. "Rodney. No one was crushed, were they?"
"No," Rodney said shortly. "When we dug the two of you out, you were protecting the kid with your body."
"Well then," John breathed an internal sigh of relief. "All's well and all that."
"Tell me, Colonel," Rodney said stiffly and John winced mentally at the tone. "How many head trauma incidents does it take before the military decides that they need to personally ground you, to earn you a medical discharge, to send you back to earth?"
"I'm guessing the recurrent penetrating stomach wounds and the frequent episodes of cardiac arrest will get me a medical discharge long before the head trauma will." John deliberately kept his tone light.
Rodney didn't seem to think it was funny, which was odd, because he could usually make Rodney laugh if he tried hard enough. He looked down at John a long moment and then finally spoke with a little sigh. "You know, I never wanted to say anything, because I figured that saying something was a sure fire method for making you run screaming in the opposite direction. Well, maybe not screaming per se, but definitely throwing up a level ten force field and shutting me out, so yeah, planned on not saying anything ever. But then something like this happens and I think how easy it would be to lose you to something stupid." Rodney's voice broke here and he fell silent for a moment. "If you ever get sent back to earth, I'll just have to resign and go back with you, because really, there'd be no point in staying."
"Rodney," John heard the exasperation in the two-note drawl but then fell silent when the realization of what Rodney was saying suddenly hit him. "Rodney," he breathed out, in a totally different tone of voice.
Rodney simply looked down at him, his expression belligerent, worried and tender all at the same time.
"Ditto." John grinned up at him and made a mock-painful face when Rodney punched him in the shoulder.
"Oh please, like I could seriously hurt Lt. Colonel Sheppard, hero of Atlantis, with a simple slap to the arm." Rodney's expression suddenly took on a smug look. "So let's just remember here for the record, I said it first."
"You said nothing, McKay," John pointed out.
"If I said nothing, then why did you say 'ditto'?" Rodney was triumphant.
"I was responding to...I was reacting to...damn it, McKay, you didn't say anything here!"
"Well, you certainly sound normal," Keller said pleasantly as she ducked under the flap, entering the tent. "Let me just check you over here and then we can see about getting you back to Atlantis." She smiled as she pulled out a penlight to flash in his eyes.
When the blinding light cleared, he glanced over at Rodney, who mouthed at him 'said it first.'
John waited until Keller had turned aside to root in her medical bag for something else to torture him with and mouthed back, 'fuck you, Rodney.'
Rodney suddenly developed 'the devil made me do it' gleam and mouthed in response, 'promises, promises.'
John licked his lips and caught his lower lip briefly between his teeth, laughing internally at the slack-jawed expression this created in Rodney. He waited until Jennifer was distracted again and mouthed 'love you.'
The expression on Rodney's face was priceless.