Author: Ami Ven
Word Count: 700
Prompt: mcsheplets challenge 102 ‘smart’
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing(s): John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Summary: “You’d think a bunch of scientists would be more weirded out by the military commander spending so much time in their lab.”
Math With Bruce Wayne
“You’d think a bunch of scientists would be more weirded out by the military commander spending so much time in their lab,” mused John, as they left one night on the way to the mess hall.
“Huh?” asked Rodney, his mind still at least thirty-five percent on the fuel equations that John had made him stop working on, so they could catch the last hour of dinner. “Why would that bother them?”
“Because I’m the military commander?”
Rodney frowned. “If you want them to stop shoving math problems at you to solve for them, you can always say no.”
“The only person who does that is you, McKay,” said John. “Everyone else asks nicely.”
“Do you want them to be bothered?” Rodney asked, clearly choosing to ignore that.
“No, but I…” John sighed. “It’s weirding me out, okay? I know that you still have this delusion that I was some kind of frat boy party animal, as a pilot, but the truth is, I didn’t really have many friends, before you.”
“I mean, I was always up for a beer with the guys, I was kind of social. But it was just the guys in my unit, just while they were in my unit, just because we were all pilots and they thought I was one of them. We never hung around with the ground crew, or the flight engineers.”
Rodney squinted at him. “But you would have rather hung out with them, wouldn’t you?” he said, knowingly. “Talking about thrust and torque and trajectories? Honestly, Sheppard, you’re the only rich, handsome captain-of-the-football-team who was ever secretly pining to be a mathlete.”
“I ran track and you know it,” John corrected. “And you really think I’m handsome?”
Again, Rodney ignored him. “So what actually is your problem with this? You seem to enjoy doing the math, and you like hanging out in the lab. You got your wish, Sheppard, you don’t have to hang out with cool kids anymore, you can sit at the nerd table now.”
“I guess,” said John, “that my problem is… ‘Military authority’ isn’t quite the word. But I’m responsible for the lives of everyone in this city. I give the orders that could get them all killed.”
“And you think they don’t know that? Look, I can’t speak for any of the lesser minds on my science team, but for me, personally – and by ‘personally’, I mean in a purely professional context, of course.”
“Of course,” John repeated, with a smile.
“Personally, I find it very reassuring to know that the person making those kinds of decisions has a brain under all that hair.”
“What is with you and my hair?”
Rodney ignored that, too. “So that when we come to you with possible solutions, you actually understand what we’re suggesting. Maybe you’re forgetting that I’ve been working for the American military complex my whole career. I’ve worked for a lot of high-ranking bullies who just wanted a faster plane or a bigger bomb and didn’t really care how I did it. And, admittedly, I haven’t been in the same state of constant mortal danger before coming to Atlantis, but that just makes it more important that you’re one of us.”
John frowned. “I’m not a scientist.”
“Close enough,” said Rodney, with a dismissive wave. “The point is, they know you, they trust you. They know that if they’re ever captured or lost or even just stupid enough to get into trouble in our own city, you’ll come to rescue them, no matter what. And they trust that if it does come to that, to giving an order where some of them might die, there’s no way you would ever give that order unless you had tried every other option first.”
“I…” John said, then softly, “You guys really think that?”
“It’s like…” said Rodney, fumbling for the proper metaphor. “It’s like knowing your secret identity. We can have fun hanging out with Bruce Wayne, but we also know that Batman is right there if we need him.”
“So you think of me as Batman,” said John, grinning, and Rodney rolled his eyes.
“Don’t let that go to your head.”
“Too late,” John grinned.