John Sheppard apparently had no concept of personal space. Peter Kavanagh didn't usually have any trouble with people invading his personal space, because, well, no one ever did, but John Sheppard was right in it.
"That's wrong," Sheppard said.
"Excuse me?" Kavanagh would have spun around and looked offended, but Sheppard was still so close that he didn't really have the space to move.
"That..." Sheppard pointed to the lower left hand side of the board, the scribbled blue equations there. "That 4... It should be a 5."
Kavanagh huffed, but he looked closer at the numbers. The bastard was right! He spun around so fast that he nearly knocked Sheppard over, but the soldier kept his balance by grabbing Kavanagh's arm.
"Guess I was right," Sheppard smirked.
"How did you know that was wrong?" Kavanagh asked.
Sheppard shrugged, stepping back a bit. "It looked wrong."
"It looked wrong?" Kavanagh said.
"Yeah, it didn't balance right..." Sheppard said.
"No wonder McKay keeps you around, you're not as dumb as you look," Kavanagh said, which was, really, pretty nice of him to say, considering Sheppard had just screwed up the equations he'd been fighting with for three days. Damn bastard just had to be good looking and smart, didn't he?
Sheppard grinned. "And I thought he kept me around so he could experiment on my hair."
Kavanagh snorted. "I wouldn't put that past him either," he said, turning back to correct the equations, which did now make more sense. "What were you doing down here anyway? McKay always hangs out in the main lab."
"Hmmm, I know. I was just coming past on my run, thought I'd look in," Sheppard said.
"Look in? Check up?" Kavanagh asked, irritation making him tense.
"Look in," Sheppard clarified. "We were wrong, about... well, about a lot of things and I know Elizabeth talked to you, but..."
"If this is where you apologise, you can forget it," Kavanagh said.
"Fair enough," Sheppard shrugged.
"I can't really blame you, or Weir. At least it proves you'll do what needs to be done to protect Atlantis," Kavanagh said. He wasn't sure why, he should let Sheppard suffer, not that he would but it didn't mean he had to let him off the hook.
"There should still be limits, we had no proof you were a Goa'uld, hell we didn't even bother to scan you, we just assumed..." Sheppard frowned. "Look, I know you don't want to hear it, but I am sorry. I understand you probably still want to go back on the Daedalus, but if you didn't, if you wanted to stay here, I'd support your decision and talk to Rodney and Elizabeth."
Kavanagh snorted. "Yes, because staying where I can be undermined, insulted and generally ignored would be fun. You can keep a clear conscience, Colonel, you said sorry and made nice, no need to go overboard."
"That wasn't why I offered to... Christ, McKay's right, you are an infuriating bastard," Sheppard said.
"Well, I'm sorry if being accused of being a Goa'uld, held as a prisoner and interrogated doesn't do much for my sense of belonging!" Kavanagh snapped.
"Right..." Sheppard sighed. "Sorry..."
"Seriously Colonel, your conscience is clear," Kavanagh said.
"At least join me for dinner," Sheppard said.
"They'll be wondering if you have been taken over by an alien, if we're seen eating together, Colonel," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard snorted. "Probably. But come on anyway, call it a peace offering."
"Will it get you out from under my feet, as long as I'm stuck here I'm supposed to be working and you aren't helping," Kavanagh said, a touch of arrogance and irritation mixing in his voice that forced Sheppard to suppress a smile.
"One Lt. Colonel, completely out from under your feet. I'll go bug Rodney," Sheppard grinned.
"Fine, I'll let you assuage your conscience some more by being nice to me for as long as it takes to choke down whatever gruel they are serving in the mess tonight," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard laughed. "I'll see if they can't serve the good gruel, just for you."
Kavanagh shook his head. "Now Colonel, anyone might think you liked me if you go doing that, and they really will start looking for pods under your bed."
"The only thing under there is dust bunnies. And probably a couple of computer disks, I'm always losing them," Sheppard said.
"I thought you were going to go away," Kavanagh said.
"And just when we were bonding," Sheppard said.
Kavanagh rolled his eyes. "We can bond more later, but not if you don't go away now."
"Okay, I'll go... but just so you know, that 7 on the 3rd, it's wrong too," Sheppard chuckled, dodging out of the room as Kavanagh turned to glare at him. He waited outside just long enough to hear Kavanagh's, 'son of a bitch!' and went to bug McKay.
"Hey," Sheppard said, dropping his tray down across the table from Kavanagh. "You been here long?"
"No," Kavanagh said, aware of the looks that were being sent his way.
"Got a bit held up, Ronon and one of the marines got into it," Sheppard said, sipping at his water. If he was aware of the stares, he didn't show it, slumped casually in his chair.
"Your ape got into another fight, shocking," Kavanagh said.
"He's not an ape," Sheppard said, grinning slyly. "A gorilla maybe."
Kavanagh laughed, despite the stares that made him shift uncomfortably, despite the fact that this was probably a really bad idea, Sheppard was honestly trying to be nice. It was seriously misguided, but a big improvement over the treatment he usually got from the Atlantis senior staff; or most of the other staff for that matter.
"Did you get your equations all in a row?" Sheppard asked.
"Yes, I can't believe you noticed those errors," Kavanagh said. It wasn't even a 'I thought you were too stupid' thing, but a 'I can't believe I was so stupid' thing.
Sheppard shrugged. "Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes, why didn't you ask someone to take a look sooner if you were having trouble with them?"
Kavanagh snorted. "Yes, of course, because there are so many people on Atlantis willing to accommodate me."
"If you were a little nicer sometimes... I know you can be, you haven't insulted me and I've been sitting down a whole three and a half minutes," Sheppard said, the teasing smirk taking the sting out of it.
"It's hard to be nice to people who constantly insult, belittle and berate you, Colonel," Kavanagh said quietly.
Sheppard nodded thoughtfully. "We treated you unfairly," he agreed. "Rodney pulls our asses out of the fire so often, sometimes we forget he couldn't do that without his staff."
"Sometimes he could do that without his staff. But it doesn't mean our jobs are any less important," Kavanagh said.
"No," Sheppard agreed. "Why did you come back? Elizabeth said you told her, there were people here you cared about."
"Taking to teacher about me now?" Kavanagh asked.
"Putting certain things in perspective," Sheppard said. "Like the fact I never knew it was your idea that saved us when the puddle jumper got stuck in the gate."
"It wasn't, it was Doctor Zelenka. How many tangents do you plan to go off on during the course of this meal?" Kavanagh asked.
"At least a half dozen more," Sheppard grinned. "And the way I hear it, it was your idea to blow the rear hatch, give us enough momentum to get through the gate."
Kavanagh looked surprised for a moment. "I didn't even think that made it into the final report."
"It didn't, I've read that report, I'd have known if it was in there. Elizabeth told me, I think she'd forgotten herself actually," Sheppard said.
Kavanagh chuckled, an irritated little puff of air. "Convenient."
Sheppard shrugged. "Really not here to defend Elizabeth's choices."
"Then why are you here, Colonel? I know it's not because you like me, I know it doesn't make any difference to you whether I remain on Atlantis or not, so why are we having this little song and dance? I already told you, I don't blame you for what happened," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard shrugged, spearing a piece of the mystery meat from M5C-713 and chewing it thoughtfully.
"Okay, you win,” Kavanagh finally admitted. “It was my idea, a lot of my ideas have filtered their way up to Doctor Weir and the ones she knew were mine, were dismissed almost immediately, unless it was life or death and there were no other options. She doesn't like that I disagree with her command style, well, that's fine, because I don't agree with it and I'm not going to start, until I see a reason I should. But I'm good at what I do. I'm a good scientist and just because I'm not her loyal little puppy dog, it doesn't make my work any less important, any less valuable and sure as hell not any less *right*." Kavanagh paused for breath, fists clenching at his sides.
"I came back to Atlantis because, believe it or not, I do have a few people here I respect and care about. I may not get along with most people, but the people on this base are some of the best humanity has and I don't want to see them throw their lives away next time Weir doesn't want to listen to someone, just because she doesn't like them. She is more arrogant than McKay, self-righteous and sometimes, just plain *wrong*. Now you can run along and tell teacher all the things I've said about her, so she can hate me some more before I leave," Kavanagh pushed back roughly from the table, aware that he was being watched by almost everyone as he shoved his tray in the waste disposal and headed for his lab, the one place almost no one was guaranteed to interrupt him. Sheppard's little visit earlier aside, not even McKay dared venture there unless he really had to.
"Were you having dinner with Kavanagh?" Ronon asked, sitting in the seat Kavanagh had vacated a few moments before.
"We were talking," Sheppard said, shifting food around his plate. He really wasn't sure how he felt about Kavanagh's little rant. Part of him wanted to hunt him down and deck him, defend Weir, but another part of him couldn't help but agree. Once Weir got stuck in some idea, she wouldn't back down and sometimes, she was wrong.
Ronon grunted, shrugging. Sheppard was pretty glad it was Ronon and not McKay who'd witnessed Kavanagh storming out, the Satedan wasn’t much for idle chit-chat.
"I'm done, we on for a run in the morning?" Sheppard asked, standing.
"Sure," Ronon said, without looking up from his meal. Sheppard grinned, amused; nothing short of imminent death could distract Ronon from his dinner.
It wasn't like he was actively going looking for Kavanagh, but if he happened to go two levels out of his way to get to his lab... well, it was a dumb place to hide anyway.
"Christ, do you just not take hints?" Kavanagh said when he saw him.
"I take them and then I ignore them," Sheppard shrugged.
"If you came to defend Weir's honour..."
"Told you, really not here to defend Elizabeth's choices," Sheppard jumped onto one of the stools littered around the work benches.
"Then I can't imagine why you'd be here when I made it plain I have no interest in discussing any of this further," Kavanagh said.
"Glutton for punishment," Sheppard said. "So you like football?"
"Another tangent, Colonel?" Kavanagh said.
"Well you left before I could get my full half dozen in," Sheppard said.
Kavanagh sighed. "Seriously Colonel, go away. Go chit-chat with McKay, or spar with your ape, sorry, gorilla; or whatever it is you do around here when you're not shooting things."
"I'm ahead of schedule on my book, need to take some time off," Sheppard said.
"How has McKay not killed you yet?" Kavanagh asked.
"Must be my charm and good looks," Sheppard grinned.
"I played football in college, but I never much cared for watching the game. I never saw the point in watching, when you could be playing," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard grinned. "What position?"
"Mid-field and you can wipe that grin off your face, if I can't get rid of you, I might as well follow whatever bizarre train of logic you're following until you go away on your own," Kavanagh said.
"You could always ignore me," Sheppard suggested.
"We've already established you don't take hints well, Colonel," Kavanagh said.
"In one ear and out the other," Sheppard agreed with a smirk. "Were you any good?"
"I got scouted by a couple of pro teams actually, but I had no interest in professional sports," Kavanagh turned his back to Sheppard, tapping away at his computer, but he kept speaking. "I always wanted to be a scientist..."
Kavanagh was surprised, how easy it was, once he stopped wondering what the hell Sheppard was up to, just to talk to him. Sheppard had a sharp sense of humour, sarcastic, but not too biting, droll and a little coarse. He was surprisingly straightforward and didn't seem to take much offence at Kavanagh's more bitter jibes. It was almost a pity, when Kavanagh realised he couldn't do any more work until the next day and that he might as well just go to bed.
"I should be sacking out anyway, Ronon and I are running in the morning," Sheppard said. "You should come along."
"Running, why?" Kavanagh asked.
"It's called exercise," Sheppard said.
"I've been almost tortured enough for one week, thanks," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard frowned slightly. "I mentioned that..."
"Yes, yes, you're sorry," Kavanagh said.
"Well, I am," Sheppard said.
"If you apologise once more, I am going to tell Weir to look under your bed for pods," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard grinned. "So you want to come running?"
"No," Kavanagh said. "But I suppose if I refuse you'll hound me, until I give in."
"Would I do a thing like that?" Sheppard asked innocently.
"Honestly, how has McKay not killed you? You're not that charming," Kavanagh said.
"Must just be my good looks then," Sheppard said.
"Has Doctor Beckett tested you for drugs recently, you appear to be delusional," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard laughed. "So... running?"
Kavanagh rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine. I'll come torture myself with you and the ape."
"Gorilla," Sheppard corrected with a grin.
"If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck," Kavanagh said.
"Better not tell him that," Sheppard said.
"I think running is torture enough, we don't need to encourage your pet monkey," Kavanagh said.
"Gorilla," Sheppard corrected again, jumping out of the transporter when they stopped on the level with his quarters. Kavanagh blinked, barely even remembered walking from his lab. "See you in the morning. 0500."
"Oh God, you really do want to torture me," Kavanagh said, as the transporter doors closed on a laughing Sheppard. Kavanagh leaned back against the wall, surprised by the bizarre turn his day had taken. Hell, this was the Pegasus Galaxy, maybe he should have someone check under Sheppard's bed for pods.
"Why?" Ronon glared at Kavanagh, but his question was directed at Sheppard.
"Because I invited him along," Sheppard shrugged.
"I'm not going slow for him," Ronon grumbled, turning and starting out on their usual route.
Sheppard gave Kavanagh an apologetic look. "It's nothing personal."
Kavanagh shrugged and started jogging along side Sheppard, who might well have been slowing to make it possible for Kavanagh to keep up, but either way, they both ended up sweaty as they made their way back to the main part of the city.
Ronon had abandoned them after a few miles, going off a different route. Sheppard shrugged. He'd make it up with him later. His time to make things right with Kavanagh was somewhat limited.
Sheppard wasn't even sure why it mattered. Everyone seemed to think he was crazy to even try, but he couldn't ignore that feeling that said they'd almost tortured one of their own. That maybe they were no better than the Wraith, or the Genii. Sheppard had done a lot of distasteful things as a soldier, but he'd always held true to two things. You didn't leave a man behind and you protected your own. Kavanagh was one of them, whatever his faults.
"You want to have breakfast?" Sheppard asked.
"I want to shower and possibly fall over," Kavanagh said.
"Oh come on, it wasn't that bad. We didn't even make it all the way to the pier," Sheppard said.
"Thank God," Kavanagh said.
"So, breakfast?" Sheppard asked.
"I have work to do actually," Kavanagh said. "But I suppose if you persist on being nice to me, until I leave, we can take a rain check."
Sheppard laughed. "Okay, I'm holding you to that though."
"Like I expected anything less," Kavanagh rolled his eyes, hitting the lift panel as they reached the main section of the city.
The transporters opened on the command level, for Sheppard first, admitting McKay. "Hey Rodney," Sheppard greeted, as he exited the transporter.
"Huh... oh... Hi..." Rodney looked up from his datapad, glancing at Sheppard and over to Kavanagh. "Did you hit your head when you fainted? How did Sheppard talk you into early morning torture?"
Sheppard didn't hear the rest of what was said as the doors closed, before Kavanagh could reply. He didn't hear rumours later about any bloodshed though, so that was a positive sign.
Kavanagh munched on a powerbar, coffee cooling beside him, as he worked over the latest batch of equations McKay had dropped on him, because apparently he'd 'glanced at the others and they were more competently put together than your average monkey's', and felt Kavanagh could handle a few more. Power consumption was a big issue on Atlantis and just because they had a ZPM they still needed to conserve all they could.
He was busy trying to decide if McKay had actually had a monkey write up the equations, when he smelt bacon.
"Do you ever actually work?" Kavanagh asked, without looking up.
"I apologise for interrupting your work," Teyla said. Kavanagh spun around. Really hadn't seen that coming.
"I... thought you were Colonel Sheppard," Kavanagh said.
Teyla smiled. "He asked that I bring this to you."
"Oh. Right. Well... thank you," Kavanagh said.
"You are welcome," Teyla nodded, handing the tray into Kavanagh's waiting hands. "Colonel Sheppard also suggested that I enquire as to what you were doing this afternoon."
"And why did he suggest that?" Kavanagh asked.
"He is taking me to the mainland, he said you had a 'rain check' and perhaps you would like to accompany us," Teyla said.
"I..." Kavanagh was actually stunned.
"You would be most welcome," Teyla smiled serenely.
Kavanagh could have sworn he'd opened his mouth to say no. "Yes, I... that would be... tell Colonel Sheppard I'll come along."
Teyla nodded her head. "I will, Doctor Kavanagh. We are due to depart at 1330hrs, we shall meet you in the puddle jumper bay if that is acceptable."
"That's fine," Kavanagh said, sitting down as Teyla left and staring at the bacon sandwich she'd just delivered to him. A bacon sandwich, with real bacon. Kavanagh shook his head. Sheppard was fucking nuts. But if he really wanted to assuage his guilt so much, Kavanagh might as well take advantage. He had another nine days before the Daedalus would be ready to leave again, it would never last until then.
Sheppard, was remarkably persistent, Kavanagh would give him that. Three mornings straight, he'd dragged Kavanagh running. Forced him to eat in the mess hall... okay maybe he hadn't forced him, but Kavanagh suspected Sheppard would harass him near constantly if he said no. The Colonel had even insisted - persisted - and generally made a pain of himself, until Kavanagh agreed to join them for poker night. Kavanagh would marry a Wraith before he'd ever admit he'd had fun. Kavanagh would never, ever admit he enjoyed it all. Ever.
"Hey, Peter," Sheppard slunk into his lab, sitting across from him, slouched and rumbled.
"Do you have to come here, right after you've been to the gym?" Kavanagh asked.
"I'm going off-world later, thought I'd stop by," Sheppard shrugged.
"Well, I'm busy," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard grinned lazily. "When are you not?"
"Was there a specific reason you came down to annoy me, Colonel?" Kavanagh asked, rolling his eyes.
"Actually, there is. Rodney wants to run some tests on one of the jumpers in a couple of days, I thought I'd volunteer to play pilot," Sheppard said.
"Yes? And? Therefore?" Kavanagh asked.
"I'm going to need an actual scientist to do the testing," Sheppard said.
"Even assuming McKay would be willing to let me, I don't actually have the time. I have a power distribution test set to run tomorrow afternoon and I'm going to be knee deep in readings the rest of the week. I need to get them all sorted before the Daedalus leaves," Kavanagh said.
"Still going?" Sheppard asked.
"Still going," Kavanagh confirmed. Just because he might, maybe, have made one temporary guilt-inspired friend on Atlantis, it didn't change his mind about leaving.
Sheppard grinned. "Okay, no puddle jumpers, but you'll join us for movie night right?"
Kavanagh pursed his lips and rolled his eyes. "Do I have a choice?"
"Nope," Sheppard said, bouncing off the chair he'd apprehended. "Got to go shower, I have a staff meeting this afternoon. Have fun."
Kavanagh watched him go, shaking his head bemusedly. Sheppard was being really stubborn about this making it up to him thing. It was nice, at least for a little while, to be liked, without having to completely change his personality.
Sheppard ran a tired hand over his face. McKay was fine, recuperating under Beckett's close supervision. But they'd lost Griffin, Sheppard cursed, he hated losing people.
"Colonel..." Kavanagh was the last person he expected to see loitering outside his quarters.
"Kavanagh, what do you want?" Sheppard asked, a little more harshly than he'd intended.
"I... nothing important," Kavanagh said. "It'll wait."
Sheppard sighed, as Kavanagh turned to walk away. "Peter, wait... sorry, it's just... been a long day. Come on in."
Sheppard opened the door to his quarters, motioning Kavanagh to go through. "Excuse the mess," Sheppard said, tossing several files off the chair onto the desktop. Annual reviews that had made their way from his office to his room, in an effort to finish them before the next ones were due to start.
"It's fine," Kavanagh said, looking uncomfortable.
"I'm sorry I snapped outside," Sheppard reiterated. "It's just been one of those days. I shouldn't take it out on you."
Kavanagh shrugged. "I heard about McKay and Griffin."
"McKay is fine, but Griffin..." Sheppard shrugged.
"Will you have to tell his family?" Kavanagh asked.
"Elizabeth deals with all that, but I'll stick a note in with her message," Sheppard said, sitting on the bed. "Pull up a chair."
"I don't want to intrude, I just thought I'd..." Kavanagh shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other.
Sheppard smiled, amused. "You were checking if I was okay."
"No. Possibly. You're annoyingly persistent about being nice to me, I thought I should return the favour," Kavanagh said.
"You do care," Sheppard grinned.
"I wouldn't go that far, Sheppard," Kavanagh said, but he couldn't help the smile that tugged at his lips. "Have you eaten?"
"No, I was just going to sack out," Sheppard said.
"You need to eat, come on, I hear they are serving only the best gruel today, since McKay isn't there to steal it all," Kavanagh said.
"I'm telling him you said that," Sheppard said, but he did stand up. "You know, you just asked me to dinner, that officially makes us friends."
"I wouldn't go that far either," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard didn't say anything, but he grinned, he just might go that far.
Kavanagh kept up a steady stream of inane talk through dinner, poking Sheppard with the odd barb that had him poking back and both of them laughing. It was so remarkably easy, even the odd looks they were getting from people didn't really register.
Teyla joined them about half way through, with a bemused looking Ronon, who was remarkably civil, for someone who was trying to torture him not more than a couple of weeks ago. It's almost something resembling normal and because Sheppard is starting to look sleepy and it has been a long day, Kavanagh walks back with him to his quarters.
"Thanks," Sheppard said, when they got there. Kavanagh gave him a 'for what' look and Sheppard smiled. "Just thanks."
Kavanagh walked back to his lab, to finish what he should have before going to see Sheppard, wondering if maybe Sheppard had hit his head, on his little underwater excursion to rescue McKay. Or if maybe he'd just always been this crazy and no one had noticed it before.
He sat down at his laptop to work some more, again resisting the urge to go back and demand to look under Sheppard's bed for pods.
Daedalus was due to leave in another couple of days, leaving Kavanagh scrambling to get the last of his equations battered into submission, so they'd actually be useful in practice, but Sheppard hadn't stopped with his friendly overtures, if anything he was being more persistent.
"Come on, it'll be fun," Sheppard grinned.
"Camping is not fun, Chinese water torture is more fun," Kavanagh insisted.
"It's barely camping, one night, this phenomenon only occurs once every five hundred years," Sheppard said.
"McKay's going, you don't need more than one pet scientist," Kavanagh said.
"Come on, I'll bug you until you say yes," Sheppard grinned.
Kavanagh rolled his eyes. "Fine, as long as you leave me alone to finish this now and promise me we'll be back before Daedalus departs."
Sheppard nodded. "We'll be back with time to spare, unless you want to..."
"No," Kavanagh said.
Sheppard shrugged. "I'll see you at dinner?"
"Possibly, if I get enough done," Kavanagh said.
"Okay, later," Sheppard gave him a cocky grin and left.
Kavanagh sighed, resting his arms on the lab table, hanging his head. God, why did Sheppard have to be so damn persistent? He was sure he'd have given up by now, but he hadn't. Hell, it wasn't even just him anymore, even McKay was being almost nice to him, or what passed for nice with McKay, Ronon may actually have smiled at him, which was actually just scary, it was like it was catching and although no one other than Sheppard was actively trying to be his *friend* as such, they were being friendlier and it was making Kavanagh twitchy, making him wonder if he could really stay here. Which was a terrible idea, on so many levels.
Damn Sheppard anyway. Damn him for being nice and smart and funny and hot and...
Kavanagh stopped his train of thought dead. Fuck. He really, really needed to get off Atlantis. Of course he'd noticed Sheppard was hot, he wasn't blind but he hadn't really thought... there was a difference between noticing that someone was attractive and actually thinking...
"Only madness this way lies..." Kavanagh said to himself.
Kavanagh knew he just had to make it a couple more days and he'd be out of here and on his way back to Earth. And hopefully before he developed some sort of ridiculous crush on Sheppard.
He might have retracted his agreement to go see the pretty light show Sheppard had insisted he go along to see, but that would only make Sheppard dig his heels in. Besides, it was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity.
McKay was grumbling as they put up the tents, Sheppard was taking the piss out of him and Teyla was giving them a look not unlike an amused parent watching bickering children.
Kavanagh felt a little... jealous. The relationship between Sheppard's team was hard to miss. He really had never had anyone that close.
"Alright, McKay, you can share with Ronon, I'll share with Kavanagh and Teyla, you can have the last tent," Sheppard announced once the tents were up and they started sorting out sleeping bags and the other gear while Ronon was lighting a fire and Teyla started to take out their food rations.
Kavanagh, unlike McKay, had never been fond of the field rations - but he had to admit, Teyla made them pretty palatable and he was honest when he told her as much, surprised at the pleased smile he received.
It was, he reflected, on the whole comfortable. McKay was sniping - McKay was always sniping - but with Sheppard and the others there, it was almost friendly and even almost fun. There were a few moments, where it could have gone horribly wrong, where real arguments looked set to brew, but they cooled down and by the time Sheppard's light show started, they were all mellow and dare he think it, happy.
The nebula on the edges of the solar system that caused the phenomenon they were seeing was only visible planet-side - on the only planet in the system with an atmosphere they could breathe at least - at a certain time of the year, which is why it was so rare to view it. They could have taken the jumper closer of course, but there was something just... better, about watching it from the planet.
Green and blue swirls sparring almost...
Kavanagh understood the science of it, but that was McKay's job here and it was easy to just see it for something beautiful, instead of having to think about what made it happen.
As a scientist, he didn't often do that. As a person in general, he wasn't often interested in doing it. But seeing Sheppard's pleased grin and Teyla's tranquil smile - even Ronon looked impressed - it was nice to just let go and appreciate it.
They all watched for hours, until the sun started to peek over the horizon and it seemed almost pointless to sleep, but Sheppard ordered them to bunk down anyway, Ronon taking watch, even though the planet seemed uninhabited.
Kavanagh however, couldn't sleep. He was full of almost nervous, excited energy and he tossed and turned for a while, before sitting up and wondering if he could get past Sheppard without waking him.
"Where you going?" Sheppard asked.
"Uh..." Kavanagh paused. "I just... I'm not tired, I thought I'd..."
"Yeah," Sheppard said. "Me either actually."
Kavanagh smiled, sitting back onto his sleeping bag. "Thank you... for making me come, it... I'm glad I did."
Sheppard's bright, easy grin pierced the early morning light and made the quiet admission worth it. "I'm glad you came too. You know I really wish you'd re-think..."
Kavanagh sighed. "Colonel..."
"John," Sheppard said.
"Look, I appreciate everything you've been doing, okay? But it doesn't change anything," Kavanagh said. "What happens in a month or two, when you get bored of..."
"I don't get bored of my friends," Sheppard said.
"We're..." Kavanagh was about to tell Sheppard they weren't friends, but the look on Sheppard's face stalled him. "Maybe we are friends, but we wouldn't be if you hadn't felt guilty for..."
"Does that matter? We are now and..." Sheppard ducked his head. "I thought..."
Kavanagh frowned. "What?" he asked. "That a few weeks of friendship would override more than a year of derision and scorn from most of the expedition?"
"That we..." Sheppard's tongue flicked out, wetting his lips and a moment later, Kavanagh nearly fell over, as Sheppard closed the space between them and kissed him.
His breath caught in his throat and he clutched the sleeping bag under him to keep balance as Sheppard's mouth settled against his, soft and slightly wet, Kavanagh let his eyes drift closed in spite of his shock, and opened under Sheppard's tongue as it swept into his mouth.
"No," he pulled back, too late, because Sheppard's hand was under his shirt and stroking across his skin and he couldn't suppress a soft moan, as Sheppard's mouth moved to his jaw and those long fingers teased softly finding places he hadn't even known would make him gasp.
And then it stopped.
Sheppard's hand rested against his hip, but no other part of him was touching Kavanagh and he felt the loss.
"That's not guilt," Sheppard said. "Maybe at first I wanted to make things right for... but now..."
"Why?" Kavanagh asked.
"Because, there are very few people in the world I can be really myself with and somehow you became one of them," Sheppard said softly. "Because I think I might be... Please stay."
Kavanagh closed his eyes - the rising sun made it possible to see all too clearly the look in Sheppard's eyes and he couldn't stand it.
"I can't," Kavanagh said.
Kavanagh heard the hitch in Sheppard's breath and felt lips pressed against his jaw, but when he opened his eyes, he was alone, the tent flap ruffling in the breeze.
Breakfast and the trip back to Atlantis were almost silent. The rest of Sheppard's team - even McKay - seemed to realise something was wrong and Kavanagh headed back to his quarters as soon as they landed. He didn't need to be at the briefing, but he needed to get away from Sheppard, away from the impassive mask that he'd seen every time he dared to look at the other man.
"Fuck, what was I thinking?" he muttered to himself, kicking the side of his bed and wincing because that, really sort of hurt.
Dropping down onto the mattress, he lay down, the room was too bright to sleep, even if he'd been tired - and he should be, he'd been awake for over a day - but he wasn't tired, just confused and... sad. Sad because instead of a few more days of friendship, he'd now probably never see Sheppard again.
The best relationship he'd had in years thrown to the wind.
Kavanagh swallowed back a lump in his throat that felt suspiciously like it might be the start of tears and throwing his arm over his eyes, tried to think of anything - anything - but Sheppard.
When he woke several hours later, in a tangle of sweat and sheets, with one name on his lips, he knew he hadn't succeeded. But he had no idea what to do about it.
He couldn't stay. He couldn't rely on Sheppard's friendship, or interest in more - which could only lead to trouble anyway, because the man was in the American Military for fuck's sake and that was asking for trouble - to sustain his place here.
He needed more than one man's approval - even if that man was John Sheppard - and after over a year of antagonism and occasionally outright hostility, he doubted he'd find it before the Daedelus left, so there was no point in trying. He'd just finish his work go back to Earth and try to forget how much he'd like having John Sheppard as a friend.
Sheppard battered the punch bag with increased ferocity, until he literally couldn't move another inch and then he just collapsed under his own weight, onto the padded floor of the gym.
And it was there Teyla found him, sometime later, when she arrived with her bantos sticks.
"John?" she crouched beside him, concern furrowing her brow.
"I got here early," he said. "Thought I'd..." he motioned at the punch bag.
"It offended you somehow?" she asked.
Sheppard snorted. "Yeah. Maybe."
Teyla smiled grimly. "You know there is nothing you cannot share with me, John."
Sheppard nodded. And then shook his head. "This is different."
"There is nothing," Teyla repeated. "That you cannot share with me. Nothing that would make me think less of you."
Sheppard swallowed. "I... it's..."
"Doctor Kavanagh," Teyla offered softly.
"I was just trying to make amends for... but then it... and he's still leaving, even if he wasn't... my career, if anyone found out..." Sheppard shrugged.
"Yes, however," Teyla bit her lip "Do not people here... 'cover' for Major Lorne and Doctor Parrish?"
"That's different, Lorne's a good soldier, with a clean record, he's..."
"You are a good soldier, John. A good man. A good leader. And a good friend," Teyla said. "I do not believe you are the problem."
"Well, who else then, because it's me he..." Sheppard stopped himself the whiny rebuke freezing on his tongue.
"Did you consider, that it is not you, but Doctor Kavanagh," Teyla said. "I have... not always seen him in the best light, I think we can all be accused of... seeing what we wish to. Were I him, I do not believe I would want to stay somewhere that I did not feel welcomed."
"I've tried to..."
"You have," Teyla agreed. "And through it you have found a good man, under his... acerbic personality, much like we found with Doctor McKay. But were you to withdraw that friendship, Doctor Kavanagh would feel, once more, alone in a city full of people who have not made the efforts you have to see him as he is."
Sheppard frowned thoughtfully. "But I'm not the only one, I mean, you guys have seen it right?"
"I have and I believe Ronon and even Doctor McKay are willing to see it, but we are your team. If there was ever a side to be chosen, it is likely we would choose yours," Teyla said, a soft smile teasing her lips. "Unless of course, you were wrong."
"Of course," Sheppard said. "So he just needs to know other people like him... right... easy..."
"I believe that would allay some of his fears," Teyla agreed.
"And uh... if he did stay and..."
"I believe, that would be your own business and none of anyone else's," Teyla said. "I believe my bantos rods also agree."
Sheppard grinned. Yeah, Teyla had his six. But was it really worth risking another kick in the teeth, for something he wasn't even sure would matter in a couple of days?
Hunger eventually drove Kavanagh into public, hoping that Sheppard and his team were vacant from the mess hall and, relieved when they were, he grabbed his dinner and was headed for the safety of his lab once more when he was stopped in his path.
"Ah, there you are," Radek Zelenka was grinning, his hair wild as usual and holding an apple in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. "What are you doing later?"
"Uh..." Kavanagh had an answer for that he was sure, but he was so stunned by the question he couldn't think of it.
"Poker night, for science department only, yes? Sadly McKay will not be there for me to beat the pants off, but I can still make killing from Simpson and Johansson," Zelenka said.
"I'm busy, I have..."
"Poker night," Radek repeated. "Or I will tell McKay you put orange on his work station tomorrow."
Kavanagh was so stunned, that someone other than Sheppard was railroading him into a social activity, that he nodded agreement without thinking about it.
It was only later, when he was back in his lab and munching his way through a oatmeal cookie, that his brain caught up with itself.
Why the hell had Zelenka invited him to the science department's poker night? He'd never been asked before.
"... royal flush," Kavanagh announced, displaying his hand.
Zelenka cursed in Czech and several other curses, in English, Japanese, Dutch and Welsh, were heard.
"You are having annoying lucky streak," Zelenka said. "I may have to tell McKay you left orange anyway."
Kavanagh snorted. "What's he going to do? Fire me?"
Zelenka frowned. "It is... unfortunate, you are leaving again. I will not have chance next month to reclaim my losses."
"I'm sure you'll just take everyone else's money instead," Kavanagh said.
"Of course," Zelenka agreed. "But it is too easy almost. Having challenging opponent is better."
"I'll say," Johansson agreed. "I may be losing money, but at least it's not to Zelenka for once. He's an unbearably smug little bastard after these games. Worse than McKay."
Kavanagh found himself laughing with everyone else, until he realised what he was doing and what this was and he stopped. "I uh... really should be going anyway."
"Night is not nearly over," Zelenka protested.
"No. really," Kavanagh said. "I have a lot of work to finish before I leave. This way you can still scrape back some of your losses from this sad bunch," he added.
He walked double quick back to his quarters, heedless of anyone he passed and collapsed onto his bed. "Damn Sheppard to fucking hell and back," he cursed to the room in general. Did he really think forcing Zelenka and a few of the others to make nice to him for one night was going to make him stay? Did he have to make Kavanagh almost feel like part of something, just to snatch it away - and it would be snatched away. Kavanagh didn't doubt it. Once the Daedelus was safely away, it would all go back to normal and no one would care about him.
"We try, Colonel. It was enjoyable evening, until he left most abruptly," Zelenka said sadly. "It is shame, that we are only now seeing nicer side to him."
Sheppard nodded glumly. "Thanks anyway, Radek, I really appreciate it."
"It was pleasure," Zelenka said. "Maybe I could try again, Daedelus is here for another day and a half, I could..."
"No," Sheppard said. "I think he... I think he's leaving no matter what anyone does now."
Zelenka patted his arm. "Maybe he come back again. Like yo-yo."
Sheppard chuckled weakly. "Maybe," he said. But he didn't think either of them believed it.
Kavanagh was startled when McKay barged into his lab just after lunch time. "You... you..." McKay was red faced and breathing harshly as he pointed an accusatory finger at Kavanagh.
Kavanagh sighed. So Zelenka had stuck an orange in McKay's desk after all.
"Look McKay, I don't know what Zelenka said..."
"Why would Zelenka... never mind, I don't care," McKay waved a dismissive hand. "Do you know the crap Sheppard has put up with to make friends with you? And to get other people off your back? He's spent the last several weeks trying to convince everyone you're actually a decent human being and making them actually believe it! And you... you... well no, unacceptable. You're staying. I'll lock you in the deepest, darkest room we have until the Daedelus is half way back to Earth if I have to."
Kavanagh blinked. "Excuse me..."
"No, you're not excused," McKay said. "I don't like you. I'm probably not going to like you any time soon, but Sheppard... he likes you and he's my friend and you're hurting him and just... I don't allow it."
"Have you lost your mind?" Kavanagh asked. Because really, it sounded like McKay had lost his mind.
McKay scowled. "You're staying."
"I'm going and you can't do a damn thing about it, not that it's any of your business," Kavanagh said.
"It's exactly my business," McKay said. "Sheppard..."
"Is your friend, yes, yes, then he doesn't need me, does he?" Kavanagh said.
"Yes..." McKay said. "But he wants you."
Kavanagh felt like he'd been slapped.
"I'm not blind or stupid," McKay said. "I don't get it, I don't want to, but he looks at you like I... like I wish Carson would look at me. And don't you dare fucking tell anyone I am telling you this but... I can't make Carson feel like that about me. I can tell you to stop being a bigger dick than you're already being."
It was, Kavanagh reflected, the most surreal moment in his life, more so even than Sheppard kissing him. And that was saying something.
Sheppard was on his bed, not reading his book, when the door buzzer went.
Sighing, he sat up. "Come in."
Peter Kavanagh standing at his door was the last thing he expected when it opened and he jumped up of the bed, standing uncertainly as Kavanagh entered the room, the door closing behind him.
"McKay called me a dick," Kavanagh said. "Which isn't new really..."
"Uh... I can talk to him, I..."
"No," Kavanagh said. "Because I think he might actually be right this time."
"Zelenka invited me to poker night, but then you knew that. You asked him to... and I was pissed because I didn't want you fucking about with my feelings, making me feel like I had friends if I didn't really... but... I do. Or at least I have one, who as it turns out, is the sort of friend who inspires complete loyalty and maybe, if I can have one friend like that, then in time I could have others, if I worked at it," Kavanagh said. "I took my name off the Daedelus manifest."
Sheppard felt something suspiciously like hope blooming, as Kavanagh moved closer.
"I still think you're crazy," Kavanagh added.
Sheppard grinned. "Yeah, I sort of am."
Kavanagh rolled his eyes and Sheppard leaned forward and kissed him.
It was different this time, more assured, more... real. Kavanagh's arms wrapped around him, one massaging his scalp as the other wrapped around his back.
"I think I like crazy," Kavanagh admitted. "But keep McKay away from me, because he's scary when he's being sincere."
Sheppard laughed. "Yeah," he agreed. "But I think I'm gonna give him my chocolate rations for a month."