Rodney might have said a time or two that if you walked through Sheppard's head you'd hear an echo, but he'd never expected it to be literally true.
Of course, he'd never expected that he was literally going to walk through Sheppard's head, for the simple reason that it was impossible. Yet here he was. Life in Atlantis was such that once you'd concluded that something was impossible, you just looked around for the next step in the inquiry. Sherlock Holmes would have thrown himself off a balcony after the first week.
So this was Sheppard's brain, or some sort of interface to Sheppard's brain -- this room like a Japanese temple, filled with beautiful light that illuminated nothing because there was nothing there.
Man, there was repressed and then there was psychopathic. There were probably ax-wielding maniacs lurking behind every door. Except that there weren't any doors.
Rodney shook his head. He was well aware that his own mind was overstuffed and messy, but this --
Oh, shit. If he was in Sheppard's brain, then Sheppard was in his brain. And if Sheppard was in Rodney's brain, there was an excellent chance that he was going to stumble upon one of Rodney's embarrassingly large library of fantasies starring Sheppard himself. He was probably right now looking at his own naked body spread out over some surface or other and thinking --
"Relax, McKay." Sheppard's voice sounded amused. Rodney could almost picture the smirk. "I'm not going to go rifle through your underwear drawer."
And the oddest thing was that as soon as he said that, there was something in the empty room besides Rodney: A chest of drawers.
Rodney opened the top drawer -- what? Sheppard had promised; he hadn't.
Striped boxers, folded and rolled. Black socks, in neat balls.
No way. Sheppard's own subconscious had provided the underwear-drawer image. There had to be something there.
Rodney hauled the drawer out and dumped it out on the gleaming wood floor, sending socks bouncing everywhere. Nothing. He felt around inside, and then underneath. Nothing. He turned the drawer upside-down. Nothing -- wait. A board ran down the middle of the bottom, from back to front, and the wood on one side was a slightly different color from the wood on the other. Rodney touched them and smiled. Wood on the left. On the right, cardboard.
He pried it off. Underneath it was a manila envelope.
He paused for a moment, because this was a serious invasion of privacy, even compared to being in your sidekick's brain in the first place. But he wanted to know.
One of the brass prongs was broken off; this envelope had obviously been opened quite often. Inside was a file folder. Inside the file folder, black-and-white photos, big and glossy, like the ones blackmailers had in the movies.
Somehow he wasn't even all that surprised when he turned over the stack and saw his own face.
The poses were innocent, except for the suggestiveness that they picked up just from being hidden under a drawer. His hands, gesturing, clearing spiderwebs off a ZPM on some planet, fixing the navigation panel, typing on a laptop. His body, seen through eyes that found it a lot more interesting than he did -- shoulders, thighs, ass, the back of his neck, the soft place on the inside of his arm. His face, laughing, bruised, smeared with dirt, on the verge of tears, sleeping.
He let the stack sag in his hand. This, this was huge. This wasn't an idle fantasy. This was a carefully hidden, carefully maintained inventory of John Sheppard looking at Rodney McKay like a lover.
This was amazing.
Rodney let the photos slide out of his hands; after all, the place wasn't really real, and he had things on his mind. He watched them scatter on top of the overturned drawer and the crumpled pile of shorts and socks. He'd made a mess of Sheppard's nice clean mind, hadn't he?
He could feel a manic smile starting up. He was just getting started.
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Back to in medias Res
January 20, 2006