Jun. 8th, 2008 07:43 am
Characters: Rodney, John, ensemble
Warnings: Language, sex
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Beta(s): mgbutterfly and clear_as_blood, trying to keep me straight. So to speak.
Summary: John Sheppard finds himself producing Rodney McKay's late night talk show. It is slightly more than he had been bargaining for.
Author's Note: clear_as_blood was all like: write about late-night talk show host Rodney for me. And I was all like: sure. As you can see, I fold like a cheap suit. Also, there is some art that accompanies this. (Also by clear_as_blood, who did something like triple duty on this fic.) It's right here, and it's absolutely perfect.
The first time John sees Rodney McKay in person, John is sprawling back in his booth, flirting with his waitress. Rita, who has fake red hair, fake double-d breasts, and a fake smile, is asking if John wants his usual, when she's interrupted by shouting. John leans forward, looking around the skinny jut of Rita's hip, in time to watch a man jerk out of a booth across the dining room, red faced and furious.
The man pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose, stabbing a finger down at the man sitting across from him, yelling, "You're unbelievable! I can't—after all the shit I've put up with for you?" John braces an elbow on his table, ignoring Rita's continued efforts to get his order.
The man sitting down John recognizes, because he hasn't been living under a rock. Rodney McKay, the only man in the café wearing a suit, takes another bite of his sandwich before leaning back in his chair and tilting his chin up at the man standing above him. John has time to absorb the fact that the crooked smile is natural, before McKay is saying, "Unfortunately, I have a harder time putting up with your stupidity."
Apparently the acidic sharpness of McKay's voice isn't just for show, either. The man standing over him, fairly vibrating with rage, shouts something wordless and grabs for his abandoned meal. For a half second John is sure he's about to witness a stabbing, but instead the man grabs the chocolate milkshake sitting in front of McKay and upends it over the man's head.
John snorts, watching McKay roll his eyes, the man's voice positively dripping scorn, "You're still fired." The chocolate-assailant throws his hands up, spinning away from the table, storming his way out of the café. John watches him run into an elderly lady out on the sidewalk, only then recognizing him.
John had met Kavanagh at a bar for someone or the other's birthday three or four months ago. He remembers the man only as having the ability to consume more margaritas than John had been aware a person could hold, and no sense of humor. The only fascinating thing about the other man had been the fact that he was the tenth producer for Late Night 101 in half as many years. From the standpoint of a competitor, John had been fascinated. Briefly. Then a sweet young cocktail waitress had wandered by and he'd been distracted for the rest of the night.
Now, McKay is sighing, running a finger through the chocolate sliding down the side of his face and then sucking it off of his finger. John looks back out to the street—Kavanagh is calling a cab—and then up at Rita, saying, "Bring my usual to his table, okay?"
McKay is unfolding his napkin when John slides into the seat across from him, doesn't look up when he snaps, "I'm afraid the French fries won't be nearly so satisfying to assault me with." There are big drops of ice cream all across the man's shoulders, ignored for now as McKay wipes it out of his face.
John watches McKay make a face, tossing the saturated napkin to the side and trying to flag down a waitress for more. John wonders what the hell he thinks he's doing, his mouth running without him, "So, looks like you have an opening available."
That gets McKay's attention. The man looks at him, expression momentarily blank before McKay snorts, narrowing his eyes. McKay has very blue eyes, and there is a spot of chocolate ice cream in the corner of the right one, sticking his eyelashes together and making them look very dark. Under the table, John's hands curl up, while McKay says, "You're John Sheppard."
It sounds accusatory, and John makes himself smile, stretching an arm across the back of the booth. Before he can say something witty or charming McKay is continuing, "You did half decent work on that show CBS gave you last year," the tone of McKay's voice implies that he's lying through his teeth, "You'd probably still be working if you hadn't slept with your main anchor."
John covers a wince with another smile. In hindsight, letting Elizabeth fuck him on her desk while there were interns running around everywhere had probably been a mistake. In his defense, at the time it had seemed like a really good idea.
Rita is there, then, dropping off John's sandwich with a hopeful flutter of her eyelashes. McKay reaches out and grabs the napkins right out of her apron, waving her away when she starts to protest. John is just trying to figure out how to point out that the network had really overreacted by sacking him, when McKay starts talking over him again, "Which is why when you work for me you'll keep your dick in your pants and out of my other employees."
John is pretty sure he missed something, somewhere. He says, "What?" his sandwich halfway to his mouth. McKay smirks at him, finally managing to get the worst of the chocolate off his face. It leaves his short hair sticking up at random angles, and there's a drop on the end of his nose.
Somehow, John still feels like the one that's off balance, especially when McKay pops a fry into his mouth and says, "I'm going to assume that you're playing stupid, because if you actually are this ignorant then we're going to have to stop talking right now." McKay pauses, apparently waiting for John to excuse himself if he is that stupid, before continuing, "You want to produce my show. I, it turns out, am in need of a producer. Congratulations. You start tomorrow."
Then McKay is sliding out of the booth, pulling a card from his breast pocket and sliding it half-under John's plate. McKay frowns then, brushing at the ice cream on his suit, sounding distracted when he says, "Zelenka will fill you in with everything you need to know."
And that's it. The man turns and walks out the door, pulling a cellphone from another pocket and snapping as the door closes behind him, "All taken care of, I told you I'd handle—"
John stares down at the card, up to the sandwich in his hand, and feels himself grinning. It's not ideal, obviously, but at least it's work again. He leaves Rita a huge tip, barely hearing her pleased giggle as he pulls out his phone to call the number on the card.
Radek Zelenka is the associate producer, and based solely off his accent on the phone, John assumes that he's going to be some blond haired, blue eyed, muscular Eastern European type. When John shows up at the set the next day he finds out that Zelenka—while nominally blond haired and blue eyed—is a short, hyper man, constantly in the process of doing seven different things at the same time.
Zelenka drags John around on a tour of the studio while batting ideas for a skit back and forth with a woman apparently named Miko, drinking a coffee, reading a newspaper, and giving John the quick and dirty of the rules for working with Rodney McKay. There aren't as many as John had been expecting, but Zelenka lays them out like the word of God.
Zelenka is saying, waving his coffee around for emphasis, "—rule number two is that there must always be coffee. Always. Coffee is the responsibility of everyone, and everyone is to blame if there is not any. Do you understand?" John personally thinks that all of these people could do with being a little less caffeinated, but who is he to argue. John nods. The tour continues.
A half an hour later Zelenka is pushing John into his office, closing the door and leaning against it, sighing heavily. John is starting to wonder if perhaps he has made a very real mistake, when the man opens his eyes, dragging a hand back through his wild hair, saying, "Now I tell you about the clusterfuck you have walked into, yes? Sit."
John spends the first month thinking he's going to die. The job is hard enough without trying to learn five years of history and trying to fix the mess his predecessor made. He finds himself agreeing with McKay, at least about the intelligence of Kavanagh.
McKay himself is the whirlwind center of the storm. The set is always a mess of people rushing around, but when McKay is actually there he lends a whole new level of frenetic energy to the place. People run, shout, yell at each other. At least one person a week bursts into tears. John is almost convinced that they're all out of their minds, before he decides that they're all brilliant, and then realizes that they're actually both.
Still, he finds himself having more fun than he probably should. He's the busiest he can ever remember being, but the show is getting excellent ratings since he came onboard—in truth it had been getting excellent ratings before he was associated with it in any way, but John is still relieved that it didn't crash when he took over. And the coffee really is good. John grows to appreciate and love rule number two really damn fast, because sometimes the rich, dark coffee is the only thing that gets him through the day.
After a month, things settle somewhat, or maybe John just gets shaken up enough that the twisting, spinning mess of it starts feeling normal. He finds himself laughing along with the audience, sitting beside cameraman Evan—who John would really like to fuck—enjoying the show, taking pride in what he's doing.
McKay is, well, there are a lot of words for what he is. Most of them aren't very nice. The man has something to say about everything, and very rarely is anything he has to say nice. John wonders, at first, why the celebrities keep consenting to come on the show, because McKay takes visible delight in tearing them to pieces.
John is torn between believing that they have a masochistic streak they're indulging, or that they all think they're going to be able to eventually beat him at his own game. It doesn't take John long to realize that's never going to happen. McKay is, in addition to ill tempered and bitingly sarcastic, one of the quickest thinkers John has ever met. The rest of the crew tends to separate Rodney's guests into three categories: Outclassed, Hopelessly Outclassed, and Fucked.
And everyone loves it. John thinks that people watch for the same reason they watch a train wreck, indulging a kind of sick fascination to see what happens next. Sometimes he even thinks there might be some wish fulfillment involved, because McKay says all the things that people think, that they keep to themselves, and he says them better.
McKay makes the rich and famous cry, yell, storm off stage, and America tunes in again and again.
For the most part John doesn't work directly one-on-one with McKay. McKay likes to berate people in groups, arguing with everyone else that works on the show until whatever the issue is has been satisfied adequately and then going off to work on his own. McKay spends a lot of time scribbling in the notebook he always has with him. John figures that it must be his material.
The other man looks completely absorbed when he works in the book, drawing into himself wherever he might be. Right now, McKay is biting at his bottom lip, his bright blue eyes tracking back and forth across the paper as John watches, not paying any attention at all to his lunch. There's a smudge of ink high on McKay's cheek that John is contemplating when Zelenka storms up to his table and almost knocks his lunch all over the floor.
John startles, blurting, "Blue!" and Zelenka hesitates for a second, face scrunching up in a frown before he shakes himself and sits down. Zelenka is still looking at John like he might be crazy, so John clears his throat and decides to share his theory about train wrecks in relation to Rodney McKay.
When John is done, his case laid out complete with the average ratings for Outclassed, Hopelessly Outclassed, and Fucked, Zelenka grins up at him. There's something sharp about the expression, something gleeful in his voice when he says, "Ah, but wait until you see someone who can hold their own against him. That is good television."
John makes a noncommittal noise, because he isn't sure that there's anyone out there who could hold their own against McKay. When he looks up McKay is watching him, head cocked to the side, and John flushes, turning back to his lunch, changing the subject.
Sam Carter—who made her name directing an overly dramatic sci-fi show before segueing into dramatic blockbusters—proves John wrong. The crew is an even bigger bundle of nerves than usual the week before her appearance, something John can't figure out. He keeps telling himself to watch the tapes from her last visit, but there are too many other things he needs to do, and he keeps putting it off.
When she steps onto the stage he wishes he'd made the time.
Carter is pretty, soft blond hair, big blue eyes, pale full breasts that John is willing to bet are real behind her suit jacket. Rodney stands up to shake her hand, bends down and kisses her knuckles and John can feel the crinkle of chemistry between them from the stands. It makes the hair stand up on the back of his neck.
John has never seen McKay flirt with one of his victims before. He's also never seen anyone that could keep up with McKay. The two trade words like blows, fast, razor sharp, all of it edged with tension that for the first time John is thinking of as sexual.
By the time Carter's segment is up John isn't sure if he expects them to hit each other or go at it right there on the desk. John is sure that he's hard, holding his clipboard over his lap and sitting through the last guest, some band that he couldn't give a shit about, while trying to will it away. It doesn't help that Carter keeps crossing and re-crossing her legs. Or that every time she and Rodney look at each other John can almost feel the snap of electricity.
John doesn't think that a single person in the audience listens to the band.
When the show finally wraps, McKay shakes Carter's hand again and she leans into him, saying something that the microphones don't pick up into McKay's ear. John clears his throat, hurries awkwardly to his office, and when cameraman Evan shows up, leaning in his doorway and grinning knowingly, John pulls him inside.
It doesn't take much to get John off, the younger man's tight wet mouth around him. He comes with his eyes screwed shut, seeing blue, blue eyes and a crooked mouth. He doesn't feel as guilty about it when cameraman Evan calls a name that certainly isn't 'John' when he comes five minutes later.
Afterwards, when cameraman Evan leaves, John sits behind his desk and stares up at the ceiling, trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with him. He wonders if it's just a thing he has with anchors. Discovering he'd really like to fuck McKay is highly inconvenient.
John tells himself to leave well enough alone. To go out for a few nights, pick up some sweet young things and move on. That makes it something of a disappointment when, instead, he finds himself standing in the doorway to McKay's office, staring around the messy room, saying, "Uh, hey."
McKay glances up, his chin braced on one hand, looking exhausted. He says, "Do you have fresh coffee?" and when John shakes his head, surprised, "Well go get some." John hesitates for a moment, but McKay is already looking back down at his desk, so John wanders down the hall and returns with a full pot.
The sound McKay makes when he takes the first drink is obscene. John watches him swallow, telling himself to leave, saying instead, "That was some show."
McKay waves a hand, making a face, sounding impatient, "Is that all you came here to say? I mean, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the coffee but at this point you're just wasting time for both of us, and I do, in fact, have things I need to be doing."
John wonders if arguing with McKay the way Carter had would prompt the same response. It's just as likely the attraction was to her breasts, so he says, "I thought we were going to have to cut away there for a moment." McKay snorts, cracking his neck from side to side and making a face. John curls his fingers around his coffee cup, continuing, "You didn't even have sparks like that with Alba."
McKay goes still in his chair, opens one eye and then the other, gaze sharp. The man leans forward slowly, setting his coffee cup down, scowling when he says, "Are you fishing for my type? Is that what this is?" The edge of amusement to his voice makes it worse, and John chugs his coffee to give himself time.
Of course, pausing is just like inviting McKay to fill up the silence, which he promptly does, "Not all of us are fixated on just the physical aspects of a person's body, Sheppard. Not that it's any of your business, but I happen to be attracted to people who actually have some chance of keeping up with me. Stupidity isn't much of a turn on."
McKay sighs heavily, reaching for the coffee pot and refilling his cup, "Any other inappropriate conversations you'd like to have? My favorite position? The most public place I fucked someone?" The words are mocking, and John winces, because he deserves that.
John doesn't try to retrieve the coffee pot, just shifts back on his heels, saying, "I'm actually just going to, uh—" he motions helplessly at the door. McKay waves a hand, turning back to his desk, to the papers strewn across it.
John hesitates for just a second, blinking down at the papers. He expects them to be newspaper clippings, maybe notes for the scripts that Zelenka and Kusanagi come up with. But it's all numbers, tangles and columns of them. John frowns, and McKay sighs, "I thought you were going to 'uh'."
John can feel his ears staining red, and blurts, in an effort to push the embarrassment of this entire situation aside, "You didn't carry the six." He's not even sure how the papers are organized—if they're organized—but there's definitely a mistake there. He points at it and McKay frowns, leaning forward, pushing John's hand aside.
For a half second John thinks McKay is going to argue with him, but then the other man is looking up at him, grinning. John blinks, but McKay is already looking away, twirling a pencil in his fingers and striking out the rest of the equation, curling over the paper while ordering, "Sit down."
John considers fleeing. While he does, his body decides to sit itself down, and McKay shoves a paper filled with half finished equations at him. A half second later a pencil bounces off John's forehead, McKay continuing, "You didn't tell me you were actually interesting. Here, solve this and then, yes, this one."
John looks up, and feels his protests die in his throat. McKay is actually smiling, his gaze darting around the desk, up to John's face, eyes bright and happy. He's tapping the pencil in his fingers, looking like a kid just given a present. John feels blindsided, his heart racing when he bends over and starts working the math. And then McKay is sitting on the desk, leaning over him and making a pleased little sound when he says, "No, not there, yes, like that—"
John frowns after a long moment, looking up to find McKay still watching him, looking ridiculously pleased with himself. That's a new look, as is the crooked smile when John clears his throat to say, "This doesn't have a real answer." He's turned and twisted it around in his head, and granted, he's exhausted, but John is good with numbers.
McKay beams at him, swinging his legs and slapping his hands against the side of the desk. He sounds like he's trying to restrain his giddiness, "You'd be surprised how many people never admit that. So. What's the answer then?"
John stares down at the equation, then back up to McKay. He wonders if this is what the man is actually doing in his notebook all the time, attempting to solve impossible math problems. McKay's gaze is expectant, excited, and John says, "I think I need to work on it for awhile."
That gets an impatient, almost dejected sigh, McKay sliding off his desk. The other man heads for the door, saying as he pulls his jacket on, "I need to get home anyway. Junior and Emily are probably considering cannibalism by this point."
McKay is gone before John can ask who the hell Junior and Emily are, and why they might be considering eating people.
It takes John two days, with his limited free time, to come up with an answer for the problem, and another two of realizing that he's insane and pretending he isn't obsessing over his boss. Then McKay slides up beside him at one of the coffee stations, demanding, "So?" and stealing the cup of coffee that John had been carefully doctoring.
It's early, at least when considered with how late John was up the previous night, so he just blinks dumbly as McKay sniffs his coffee, taking a long drink, making a face. McKay says, "This is horrible," but keeps drinking it, looking up at John and continuing, "My five year old niece could have solved that problem by now."
John blames the sheen of coffee on McKay's bottom lip for making him forget that he's supposed to be pretending the math thing never happened. It's the only reasonable explanation for him to start making another cup of coffee while saying, "I did solve it."
McKay brightens, and John really wishes he'd stop doing that, because it's distracting as hell, and says, "Show me."
Which is why McKay starts leaving pages full of math problems on John's desk and demanding solutions for all of them. They get progressively harder, McKay gets progressively more gleeful with each one that John solves, and John gets progressively more certain that he's completely and utterly fucked. He still can't believe he's managed to develop a crush on a man that considers solving hyper-advanced math a hobby.
Vala Mal Doran is the kind of utterly beautiful star that McKay usually takes great pleasure in crushing. Granted, she actually can act, and makes decent movies, but McKay doesn't usually let that stop him. Add to that all the many and varied rumors about her love life, and John figures that McKay will have more than enough ammunition to reduce her to tears.
Somehow, John hadn't really expected Vala to walk out on stage, lean over the desk, grab McKay's tie and lick her way into his mouth. McKay had kept his coffee mug raised, his eyes dropping to half-lidded as she kissed him, and John had wondered if he was the only one that felt about ready to spontaneously combust.
Vala had leaned back, licking her lips, and sunk down into her chair with a grin. John was more fascinated with McKay's mouth, reddened from the kiss, by the way the other man's hair was messed up on one side and the crooked slant of his tie. John manages not to hear a damn word said the rest of the show, because while McKay straightens his tie and smoothes his hair, his mouth stays kiss-swollen.
After the show John hurries towards his office, hard and wondering if cameraman Evan might possibly show up again, and passes Vala by coffee station number four. She looks bored, in her tight black dress and upswept hair, and then she looks appraising when John walks by. John pauses, looking back.
Vala's smile is wide and straight, her eyes dark when she says, "You'll do. Have an office around here somewhere, I should hope?"
Which is how John ends up with her on her back across his desk, her skirt bunched up around her hips, her long, lean legs wrapped around his waist. When he kisses her she tastes like lipstick and cigarette smoke, and John tells himself he hadn't been hoping for coffee. She groans, her hands sliding under his shirt, fingertips soft up his back, arching her spine and digging her heels into his lower back.
John has his eyes screwed shut, face buried against her neck, the sweet scent of her perfume catching in his throat, when the door opens. There's a span of a few heartbeats as John goes over every worst case scenario that could possibly be about to play out, and then McKay is saying, voice icy and sharp, "Well, she doesn't work for me, so I suppose I don't have to fire you."
John curses, doing his best to ignore the fact that he can feel Vala laughing, though she's muffling her giggles against his shoulder. John keeps his own face hidden, wishing desperately for an extra set of arms to attempt to retrieve his pants from where they're hanging around his knees.
McKay is continuing, and John starts praying that the ground will just open up and swallow him, "Nothing to say for yourself?"
"Um." John's voice comes out wrecked, which he figures is understandable given the circumstances. He's dealing with the fact that listening to McKay talk is, instead of discouraging his erection as he'd been hoping, pushing and shoving him towards the edge. And Vala squirming around beneath him is not actually helping matters, either.
There's a snort from McKay. John can't tell if it's amusement or anger, and makes himself open his eyes, tilting his head to the side just enough to see McKay. The other man is leaning against his doorframe, arms crossed, tie loose, the top two buttons of his shirt open. John bites his lip hard not to groan.
"You know, Sheppard, there are—" and John knows that McKay says more, can hear his voice, but can't make the sounds into coherent words, because McKay said his name and that was it. Vala makes a soft, disappointed sound, and John isn't sure which of the many and varied embarrassments of the evening is making his face flush hot.
Sometime later Vala shoves at his shoulder, grouching in his ear, "He's gone now, and you had better have some intention of getting me off."
John is not a coward. He just happens not to be where McKay is for the next few weeks. They're both incredibly busy men, and that's completely understandable. Less understandable is John's hurt over the fact that McKay isn't leaving him brain breaking math problems anymore.
Apologizing is out of the question, because John is pretty sure he didn't actually do anything wrong. Maybe it hadn't been the best idea he'd ever had, but they'd both been consenting adults. That, oddly, doesn't make him feel like less of a heel. Especially because the rest of the crew seems to pick up on the fact that McKay is upset with him, and suddenly John is eating his meals alone.
John ends up picking up a blue-eyed man in a bar and fully intends to spend the weekend doing debauched, filthy things with him. The plan falls somewhat short when John calls the poor bastard the wrong name, and John instead spends another weekend wondering why the hell he thought that show business would be a better career path than piloting.
By the time he goes back to work, still a little hung over and miserable in the unseasonably hot day, John has accepted that he's about reached the end of his rope. Getting to the studio and discovering that the air conditioners have been out all weekend and that no one can get a hold of anyone to fix them is the last straw.
John is marching back out to the parking lot, because steady work is great, but this job is driving him insane and making him feel guilty about who he fucks and now it doesn't even have air conditioning. He passes McKay coming into the studio, ducks his head, and hears the man curse, "Oh, fuck. This again?"
It's the first time in a month that he's heard McKay sound irritated at something besides him. That's the only reason John pauses, hesitating in the doorway. McKay huffs out an irritated sigh, shrugging out of his suit jacket and thrusting it at John expectantly, who takes it automatically, thoughts of leaving promptly exiting stage right.
McKay starts walking, tugging at his tie and then shoving it at John, who finds himself following without conscious thought. McKay snaps, loudly, "Which one is it this time?" while he unbuttons his shirt, John's eyes bugging out quite without his consent when the man slides the shirt off his shoulders and down his arms. "Hello! Is anyone alive here, which one is fucked?"
Zelenka calls while running down the hall the opposite way, his face bright red from the heat, "Is Big Ethel, I have Ed's on the line, they are thinking they will have someone here tomorrow."
The sound that McKay makes is all scorn, he's pulling his white undershirt out of the waistband of his pants when he says, "I've got it. Those morons only make it worse, anyway." McKay keeps moving, Zelenka throwing a hand up in what's either agreement or surrender.
John ends up following McKay back outside, around the back of the studio to the huge cooling units that aren't doing much cooling at this point. McKay glares at them for a half second, and then marches up to the biggest one, examining it until Miko shoves out of the studio, lugging a tool bag that is pretty much as big as she is.
McKay waves her impatiently away when she sets it down, and then turns his attention back to the cooling unit. John tells himself that he has work to do, work that does not involve standing outside in the pounding hot sun watching Rodney McKay play electrician.
It's just that McKay is wearing a thin white undershirt that's already soaked through with sweat at the nape of his neck. And McKay keeps biting at his bottom lip, or sticking his tongue out the corner of his mouth, kneeling in front of the huge machine and doing all sorts of mechanical things that John doesn't understand and doesn't give a shit about.
John's mouth is dry, but he's pretty sure that has absolutely nothing to do with the hundred degree heat.
When McKay shifts back his hair is damp and flat with sweat, his hands are black with grease, and his shirt is doing something far more indecent than clinging to his skin. John has wasted God knows how much time staring at him dumbly, and now he watches McKay scowl down at his dirty hands before stomping back over to the studio door and bellowing, "Turn the power back on!"
For a long second nothing happens, and then the cooling units start kicking on one at a time. Even outside and over the rising sound of the engines, John can hear the cheers from inside. McKay smirks, coming back over to grab his tool bag.
It's only then that he seems to notice John, cocking his head to the side as a drop of sweat rolls down the line of his neck. McKay narrows his eyes, "How long have you been standing out here? You look like you have sunstroke. Go see Miko before you die."
And with that McKay is stomping off again, leaving John holding half of his clothes, a raging hard on, and absolutely no idea how he got himself into this mess. Zelenka comes to find him a few minutes later, and John can't really blame the other man for laughing under his breath.
John still isn't getting notes, but he's pretty sure that McKay isn't actually angry with him anymore, if the man was angry in the first place. There's a strong possibility he was just mildly irritated. It's hard to tell with McKay, sometimes.
John manages not to have sex in his office anymore, and resumes his unhealthy habit of watching McKay nonstop. John learns a lot of things about McKay by watching him. The other man has an unhealthy obsession with Jello, speaks at least one other language that he and Miko argue in, and gets crayon drawings of questionable artistic value in the mail every few weeks.
Oddly, it's not until John starts recognizing McKay's expressions—the way he frowns when he's out of coffee, the way he stares at nothing when he gets the crayon posters—that he realizes he's developed certain stalker-like tendencies. Unfortunately, by that time it's an addiction that John is powerless to resist.
The only upside of the whole situation is that he's pretty sure McKay hasn't noticed, even if everyone else on the crew has. John blames Zelenka, because he's pretty sure the other man told everyone about John's state after McKay's experience fixing the cooling unit. Then again, the fact that they keep catching him staring might be to blame.
John does his best to ignore the fact that he's pretty sure they're all laughing at him behind his back. Miko, at least, seems to commiserate with him, which is actually a whole new level of embarrassment. John discovers that amusement over his predicament is better than the soft, understanding looks she keeps shooting him.
Still, he's handling it. He's jerking off to McKay more often than not, but that's no one's problem but his own. The last time he had taken someone home he'd even managed to remember their name, which he counts as a huge plus. All in all, things are looking up. It's not affecting his work.
Until it does.
John is barely listening to the interview, it's not boring but the poor guy doesn't seem to realize McKay is mocking him, which is almost embarrassing to watch. He looks up from making a note on his clipboard to find McKay frowning down into his coffee mug, that almost-sadness in his expression that means he's out of coffee.
John reaches for his headset without thinking, saying, "Someone refill his cup." There's a pause, and then a few confused exclamations, which John ignores. He's distracted by the way McKay is turning his cup around and around, tapping a rhythm on the side of the ceramic.
Looking back on it later, John is pretty sure that the exhaustion of planning for sweeps week probably had something to do with him thinking it was a good idea to get up and go find a coffee pot. Coffee Station One is right off the studio, and John frowns down at the coffee for a moment before shrugging and picking a pot up.
John doesn't realize what he's doing until he's stepping up to McKay's desk, meeting the other man's surprised eyes and gesturing with the coffee pot in explanation. There's a surrealistic quality to McKay blinking and raising his mug.
John pours, smiling, feeling something warm spread in his stomach when McKay smiles back at him, and then John walks back offstage. It's only then that he realizes how quiet the studio has fallen. That's about when the realization that he just walked onstage in the middle of a show because he knew that Rodney McKay wanted a refilled cup of coffee hits.
Zelenka looks like he's swallowed his tongue. John puts the pot down, shoving his hands into his pockets to resist slapping them over his face and listening to his heart race. And then McKay is saying, "As you can see, my new producer has heard all the rumors." A pause, "Sheppard, you forgot the sugar."
There's no conceivable way that this night could get any weirder, and John can feel the air of expectation hanging around them. He plucks a few of the sugar packets off the table, turning back around and walking over to hand them to McKay. This time he hesitates, holding McKay's gaze when the other man takes a big drink of his coffee.
The warmth from last time transmutes itself straight to burning heat, especially when McKay sucks his bottom lip into his mouth, tilting his head to the side and going, "Mmm." John nods, smirking, and walks off stage before he ends up grabbing McKay and kissing him.
John gets fan mail out of that, which is bizarre in its own right. He isn't sure quite how to handle it, especially since it mostly seems to comprise of lots of exclamation points and insistence that he get McKay coffee more often.
More importantly, McKay is back to being what passes for friendly with him to John. The first time John finds a math problem, he can't help but grin, and when he sits beside McKay to eat the other man just demands that he share his bag of chips.
John is aware that this is not exactly helping his now insanely huge crush on the other man, but he can't help himself. They settle into a pattern, and John finds himself surprisingly content if not completely happy with his situation.
Awards season comes up surprisingly quickly. McKay is scheduled to host one of the interchangeable ceremonies and to attend the rest of them as a guest. John doesn't think much of it until the first one comes up, when he walks in on Zelenka, Miko, cameraman Evan, and cameraman Tommy having a discussion in the hallway.
John walks up on them just as Miko is saying, "I will handle it. You know the first is always the worst for him." John frowns, aware that his fixation on McKay is probably slanting his thoughts when he immediately assumes that they're talking about the other man. John slows down, and they all shoot him guilty looks.
"What're you going to handle?" The group shifts uncomfortably in unison, looking anywhere but at him. John waits, sipping his coffee and wondering how there was ever a time in his life when he didn't have a cup in his hand twenty-four-seven.
It's Zelenka that breaks, heaving a sigh, "Is the start of awards season. Someone must go check on Rodney, take care of things." The man shrugs, like this is obvious, and John feels himself scowling. "Is nothing to worry about." Which is fine to say, but John is kind of worrying anyway.
"I can do it." John doesn't realize that he intends to volunteer until he already has. It's just that he doesn't like the idea of someone else taking care of McKay. It's not jealousy. Just professional concern. That's all. The others are all boggling at him, and he shifts under their gaze. "What?"
"Nothing, nothing," Zelenka is doing a poor job of disguising his smile. The man fakes a cough, covering his curving mouth, and John frowns some more. "Nothing at all. Give him Rodney's address, Miko. We go in the morning, yes?"
Which is how John ends up with a key to McKay's house, standing on the other man's doorstep at six in the morning. He holds his breath when he turns the key, stepping quickly into the house and punching the code Zelenka had given him into the alarm.
McKay's shoes are in the middle of the foyer, a suit jacket crumpled up beside them. John frowns, picking up the coat and kicking the shoes to the side. Further into the house he finds McKay's tie, and one cufflink. John also finds cats, one huge orange monster with green eyes that stares at him belligerently and a thin gray cat that attempts to trip him every time he takes a step, meowing piteously.
There's no sign of McKay in the living room, kitchen, or bathroom. John hesitates for a half second outside the other man's bedroom, but he's not in there, either. No sign of him in the office and John is about to decide that perhaps McKay went home with someone else last night when he finds the other cufflink in front of the back door.
John hesitates for just a second, then lays the clothes he's collected over the arm of the couch.
The door is unlocked, and John steps out into the early morning air. McKay is sitting against the wall, wearing another of those damn undershirts and his suit pants, his socks sitting in two sad little balls beside him. McKay has his knees pulled up, one arm stretched across them, a mostly empty bottle of vodka dangling from his fingers. He has a cigarette in his other hand, breathing out a long stream of blue smoke through his nose as John looks down at him. There's an ashtray beside him, filled up with butts smoked down to the filter.
John says, "Shit," surprised by how rough his voice is. McKay blinks slowly, taking another drag off his cigarette and then tilting his head back against the wall. There are dark circles under his eyes, his hair is a mess. He raises his eyebrows, and doesn't say a word. John feels compelled to fill the silence, "You don't smoke."
McKay pauses, looks down at the full ashtray, up to the cigarette held loosely between his fingers, back to John's face. His voice is rough, "In light of this evidence, you might want to think about revising that statement." The man takes a drink straight out of the bottle, making a face when he swallows.
This isn't what John had been expecting, and for a long moment he stands there, not sure what the hell he should do. Then he sighs, bending down and taking the vodka away from McKay, who protests and tries to grab it back. John has the advantage of being sober, and tips it out onto the grass, grabbing McKay's arm and attempting to pull him to his feet.
McKay curses him, swaying heavily when John finally gets him on his feet. The man's face ends up pressed against John's shoulder, where he grinds out, "What the hell are you doing?" John ignores the question for a moment, keeping one arm around McKay to keep the other man from collapsing, groping for the doorknob and having to kick at the cats to keep them from making a mad dash outside when he drags McKay in.
"Are you going to be sick?" John asks while trying to remember if he'd closed the door to McKay's bedroom. The other man is close to dead weight against him, his skin cold, and John wonders if he sat outside all night. McKay makes a soft sound that could go either way, so John decides to forego a stop in the bathroom, dragging the other man towards his bed.
It takes a distressing amount of effort to wrestle McKay into his bed, where the man sprawls out on his stomach, limbs going every which way, his cigarette amazingly still held between his fingers. John takes a moment to catch his breath, grabs the cigarette, then heads for the door, ordering, "Do not throw up until I get a bucket."
By the time John manages to find a bucket in McKay's bare kitchen, the other man has managed to curl up on his side. His eyes are closed, and John hesitates beside the bed, watching him breathe. McKay looks younger when he sleeps. He also looks cold. John pulls the other man's blankets over him, smoothing a hand back over McKay's messy hair before he realizes what he's doing.
McKay's eyes snap open, sharp for all that they're bloodshot. John curses, jerking his hand away and feeling himself flush with embarrassment. McKay sighs, hitching the blankets up higher around his shoulders, he sounds more tired than irritated, "Seriously, what the hell are you doing?"
John shrugs, kicking absently at the bucket, "My turn to take care of you." He figures that's all the explanation necessary. Zelenka and the others had made it pretty clear that this was something they were all used to doing.
For a long moment McKay just stares up at him, and then something in his expression shifts to confusion, "Usually they just feed the cats."
In the end, John ends up out of there so quickly that he actually forgets to feed the cats, cursing himself and Radek Zelenka, who had to know that John would misunderstand. Mostly, though, John is thinking about McKay sitting on his back stoop, smoking and drinking, watching the sun come up by himself.
John doesn't go back to McKay's place, and the other man doesn't mention the experience. John manages to convince himself that McKay was too drunk to remember, and holds onto that belief. The show continues around them, John ends up making a few more appearances on stage, much to the delight of the studio audience, McKay continues to demand that he do insane math problems.
John doesn't realize just how long he's been there until the rest of the crew tape streamers up all over his office and procure a huge cake proclaiming how happy they are that they don't have to do his job. A year isn't really very long to hold down a job, unless it's producing this show, in which case John has the record for longest job retention.
McKay doesn't appear aware of the milestone they've passed, or at least he doesn't care.
When John finally gets home all he wants to do is sleep, and so he crashes out on his couch, sleeping until the bright sun starts creeping through the curtains that he left open and wakes him up. There's still a piece of cake in saran wrap out in his kitchen, and he's still in his work clothes. John makes a face, showers, and is in the midst of eating his chocolate cake when someone knocks on his door.
John opens the door in sweat pants and finds McKay on the other side. The other man is wearing a suit—when is he not—but his tie is tugged loose, the top buttons undone, the jacket wrinkled. McKay is also holding a bottle of champagne, which he shoves forward as soon as John opens the door.
John takes the bottle automatically, looking between it and McKay, who is shifting uncomfortably, and who hasn't said a word. Not that John has said anything, either. He clears his throat, "Uh, good morning?"
McKay frowns at him, "It's three in the afternoon." Apparently John had been more exhausted than he'd thought. He opens his mouth to point out that it is, in fact, his day off, so he can sleep as late as he wants. McKay talks over him, waving a hand as though to sweep aside John's explanations or protests, "Congratulations, as of five minutes ago you've lasted longer than any other producer I've had. You're not going to quit, are you?"
John looks down at the bottle of champagne in his hand, trying to get his brain in gear. It's not working so well, but he does the best that he can, "I wasn't planning on it."
"Good. Good." McKay nods, crossing his arms, then uncrossing them to wave at the bottle, "Anyway." Apparently that's it, because then McKay is turning on his heel, walking across John's yard instead of on his nicely manicured walkway towards his car.
Various ways his day could go stream through John's mind, and his mouth decides without consulting the rest of him which one it prefers. He hears himself say, "I'm actually only a social drinker." McKay pauses halfway across the yard, turns back and looks at John expectantly, "You want to come in?"
For a moment John is sure the other man is going to say no. McKay looks up at the sun, frowning, before exhaling heavily, "Okay." And John tries to keep the big, goofy smile off of his face, not entirely sure that he manages it.
Inside, he isn't sure what he expects, but it's not for McKay to follow him to the kitchen, to lean against the island in the middle of the room. John has thought about having McKay in his kitchen, particularly about having him over the breakfast table or in front of the sink. It makes him nearly fumble the wine glasses he reaches for.
John finally manages to wrestle the bottle open and fill both glasses with minimal spills, to find McKay is still leaning against the island. McKay closes his eyes when he swallows the champagne, not bothering to sip it. He licks his bottom lip when he's done, leaving it slick and shiny. John sets his own glass down, in an attempt to keep himself from dropping it.
When McKay opens his eyes John is staring at him, trying not to and failing miserably. McKay carefully sets his glass down, holding John's gaze when he says, "You know, when I said you couldn't fuck anyone on my staff, I was not, actually, including myself in that rule."
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