by Kass

Written for Cate's "Friendship / Flirting / Thinking of You" e-card ficlet fest! Thanks to Lamardeuse for audiencing the draft.

The third time Rodney caught sight of Sheppard hanging aimlessly around the lab, he snapped. "What?"

Sheppard affected surprise. "Hm?"

"You've been standing in the doorway," Rodney accused.

"I have not!"

Rodney talked right over him. "All morning. This is one of those rare days when we don't have to be offworld, and I thought I could -- at long last! -- get some work done, but you're...lingering."

"I'm lingering," Sheppard repeated, leaning against the doorway. Rodney ignored how long that made his legs look.

"Lurking," Rodney offered. "Breathing down my neck."

Sheppard stood and meandered over to Rodney's workstation. "See, that," he said, "I can pretty much promise you I haven't been doing."

He smelled like aftershave. "Why's that?"

"I'd have to be standing a lot closer," Sheppard pointed out, standing a lot closer now. His proximity made Rodney's palms sweat.

"Shoo," Rodney said, and he did.

Five minutes later, the anonymous e-card arrived in Rodney's inbox.

"Okay, that," Rodney said, barging into Sheppard's office, "is not funny."

Sheppard looked up from the notepad where he was aimlessly doodling what looked like fighter planes. "What's not funny?"

"First of all, there's the sticky matter of US military policy, which for the record I have always thought was moronic, but it leaves me somewhat uncertain about how to proceed."

"You don't sound especially uncertain," Sheppard noted, but he didn't seem to expect Rodney to stop talking.

Which was good, because Rodney was just working up a good head of steam.

"And while I recognize that my intellect is unparalleled, surely it won't have escaped your attention that that's not the metric people usually use to measure these things, which means I'm completely at a loss as far as figuring out whether you meant that ironically or in a genuine way."

"Meant what," Sheppard asked.

"Not to mention the worst possibility, which is that you're just yanking my chain because you either haven't figured out that I'm gay, or you thought it would be funny to flirt with me despite the fact that you're obviously not available, which given how ridiculously attractive you are is nothing short of cruel, plus which I'm on your team and that seems like some kind of breach of regulations somewhere, so--"

"What are you talking about?" Sheppard asked, and the question finally penetrated Rodney's consciousness.


"You're obviously pissed about something," Sheppard said. "At least tell me what it is I didn't actually do?"

Rodney opened his mouth, then closed it. Oh, God: the card hadn't come from Sheppard. Rodney was an idiot. A moron. And had probably just ruined his nascent friendship with Sheppard, to boot.

"Never mind," he said, and turned to depart, wishing he could make the floor swallow him up right there.

"Whoa, wait a second," Sheppard said, and must have thought the door closed because it whooshed shut in Rodney's face before Rodney could walk out.

Rodney turned to face him, folding his arms across his chest. "What."

Sheppard had gotten up from his desk now and was advancing toward Rodney, his hands held up, placating. "I take it someone sent you...something."

"An e-card. Forget it."

"It wasn't me," Sheppard said, "but I think I can guess what it probably said."

Rodney could feel his face heating up. "I apologize, I made an incorrect assumption -- can I go now, please, before I completely die of embarrassment?"

Now it was Sheppard's turn to keep talking. "Maybe something like, 'I really like you and I'd like to get to know you better'?"

Rodney stared at him. Was Sheppard mocking him?

"Or maybe 'I think about you at night in entirely inappropriate ways and I wish I knew whether you'd be okay with that?'" Sheppard's voice had gotten lower. It made Rodney want to do unspeakable things to him, just to see if he could make Sheppard's voice break.

Rodney cleared his throat. "Not exactly," he said. And then, praying he was reading this right, he added, "More's the pity."

Sheppard was standing right in front of him now, too close. His gaze flicked from Rodney's crossed arms to his mouth before meeting his eyes again.

"That's how you know it wasn't from me," Sheppard said.

"You had better not be fucking with me," Rodney managed.

Sheppard grinned, slow and lazy. "This would be a bad time for a lame joke, right?"

"I don't believe this," Rodney murmured, and then Sheppard was pushing him up against the door. The kiss was gentle at first, uncertain -- 'can I really' and 'give me a chance' -- but when Rodney responded with 'oh my God' and 'hell yes,' it got intense, quick. Jesus: maybe Sheppard had been fantasizing about him. What were the odds of that?

When they broke, Rodney couldn't stop staring at Sheppard's mouth. The feeling seemed to be mutual.

"Okay, whoever the hell sent me that e-card, they deserve a prize," Rodney said, dazed and tingling.

On the other side of the city, Radek Zelenka glanced at Rodney's empty workstation, checked his watch to see how long he'd been gone, and grinned.

The End