Character/Pairing: McKay, Sheppard, i.e. McShep
Category: AU, General, kinda fluffy I guess, humour maybe?
Summary: Veterinarian, Rodney McKay may secretly have a tiny little crush on delivery guy John Sheppard.
A/N: Entry for the Urban Legend Challenge, my legend was #34: Seeing eye dog named Lucky causes death of four of its owners
Also, unbeta-d, so concrit always welcome, as is anyone who'd like to beta it for me :)
Archived on AO3
Looking away from the window again, he centred his most scorching gaze on the bane of his underpaid and unappreciated existence.
The fan was driving Rodney crazy. The whirring. The clattering of the metal frame -which was surely not attached properly. The screech of metal on metal.
No matter what anyone said it was not his fault for setting a reasonable budget for these type of things. It was Aiden’s fault for falling for the spiel of the top heavy young woman who was hosting the garage sale he bought it from.
Rodney glanced out of the window before looking back over the chart he was studying. What kind of people let their cat and snake roam free in the same living space? Poor thing, cats could be vicious when they wanted to.
As he closed the file and reached for another he noticed he’d been tapping the edge of the desk with his pen. In rhythm with the god forsaken fan.
The pen hit the contraption with a resounding clang and fell to the floor. The fan only whirred more persistently.
Rodney gritted his teeth and stood up. He had just begun advancing on the thing when the door swung open.
"I doubt strangling it will help," Lorne said with a smirk. Rodney glanced down at his outstretched hands, redirected them to the plug socket and flicked the switch
Turning back to glare at Evan he asked, "Do you ever knock?"
"No McKay, I don’t," he replied cheerfully. "Here’s your appointment list for tomorrow," he said, handing Rodney a sheet of paper.
"Thanks," Rodney said, glancing once more at the window before looking down at the document.
"He’s always late you know, he won’t be here until at least ten past," Lorne said as he walked through the doorway.
Rodney glared at the open door, stood up and slammed it shut.
He glanced up at the clock; 13.32, and back out of the window again.
* * *
"You can’t be serious!" Rodney exclaimed.
"Admittedly it doesn’t look good on paper-" Travers, or Trawly or whatever his name was argued.
"He’s killed his last three owners!" Laura exclaimed from behind him, where she sat behind the reception desk.
"He hasn’t!" the Wuppertal Dog School representative argued.
"He’s just led three people to their deaths!" Rodney said in exasperation.
"Lucky is a damn good guide dog-"
"Mr. Travers, please," Laura said mockingly.
"He just needs a little brush up on some elementary skills, that’s all," Travers continued as if he had not heard her.
"You’re completely moronic! When a seeing-eye dog leads their owner off the end of a pier I think it’s time you give it up!" Rodney responded.
"We will not put Lucky down," Travers insisted.
"Well I wouldn’t either, after the amount of money you’ve just spent on his last operation," Rodney said with a sardonic twist to his lips.
"We haven’t given you the bill yet have me Mr. Trawly?" Laura said sweetly. "How would you like to pay?" she asked. Trawly glared at them both as he wrote out a cheque.
"You can pick Lucky up in a few days. We’ll call you," Laura told him as she handed him a receipt.
"If I were you I’d start looking for another job," Rodney said as Travers walked out of the clinic. "You’ll be the first name we say when the police come knocking!" he called.
"Making friends as usual McKay?" a voice drawled from behind him, making him jump.
"Can’t you use the front entrance like a normal delivery person?" Rodney snapped.
"Here I was thinking I was special," Sheppard said, sounding hurt but winking at Laura as he handed over the paperwork for her to sign. "But apparently I’m just a plain old ‘normal delivery person’," he continued.
"Shut up, Sheppard," Rodney groused as he stomped back down the corridor to his office. Sheppard followed him and stepped inside the door a bare second before he managed to slam it.
"You gonna’ help me with the delivery?" he asked with a smile, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet.
"No I am not. That’s the sort of thing I employ other people to do," he said absently as he walked back out of the office and towards the cages, Sheppard continuing to follow him.
"Lorne!" he called into the room, receiving only a few barks in return.
"You getting the animals to do the work now?" Sheppard asked as he followed Rodney back towards reception.
"If you’re looking for Aiden, he’s out walking two of the dogs. And Evan left early for a dental appointment," Laura said, not looking away from the computer screen.
Rodney turned to Sheppard and rolled his eyes at the smug look on his face.
"Where’s the van?" he growled. Sheppard only smiled wider.
"Follow me," he grinned, before sauntering out of the practice and out to the car park. Rodney studiously kept his eyes level with the back of John’s head, and followed him out.
* * *
Rodney was so busy on the day of the next weekly delivery, that he hadn’t even noticed Sheppard arrival. All Rodney seemed to do anymore was put down family pets. Whether it be a disease, a disability or old age, Rodney couldn’t even remember the last time a consultation hadn’t ended with him having to euthanise the patient.
Most people wouldn’t have thought this would bother him so much he supposed. But the main reason he’d gone into veterinary was because he liked animals better than people. No useless conversation, and most were more self sufficient than any human being he’d ever met.
He’d also been delusional enough to believe that his lack of people skills wouldn’t matter in such a profession.
He’d been horribly, horribly wrong. As evidence by his armful of the sobbing owner of the cat he had just put down.
Rodney was absolutely, positively sure he’d buzzed Laura ten minutes ago, but she or anyone else had yet to appear at his door.
Eventually, when Rodney was sure he could feel the tears start to permeate his shirt, there was a knock on the door and Lorne entered shortly thereafter.
"Sorry, but Sheppard needs your signature on the delivery paperwork," Lorne explained. Rodney gestured for Lorne to come forward as his entrance had initiated no change in the woman’s histrionics.
"Miss Watts, this is Evan," Rodney said, detaching himself from her grip and pushing Lorne into it. "He’ll sit with you until you feel ready to leave," he added, with smirk in Lorne’s direction who was now glaring at him. Miss Watts only cried harder, and Rodney was glad to shut the door behind him and shut out the noise.
Rodney closed his eyes briefly before stalking down the corridor to reception, shucking off his white coat as he walked and chucking it at Laura as he passed.
"I’m going for lunch," he told her without stopping.
"But, Sheppard-" she began but the sound of the practice door slamming shut behind him cut her off.
Rodney walked down the street as fast as his feet could carry him. After a few turns he reached the highstreet, swung the door to the diner open and took up residence in a booth in the corner of the restaurant.
He hadn’t even finished ordering his coffee before the door swung open again and Sheppard walked in. Rodney glared at him as he sat down.
"Where’s the paperwork then?" he asked shortly.
"I left it at the clinic," Sheppard answered.
"Well that was pretty stupid of you wasn’t it? Why bother following me all this way to get the paperwork signed and then not bring it?" Rodney barely resisted adding ‘you idiot’.
"That wasn’t why I followed you," Sheppard responded with a shrug.
"Why else would you follow me?" Rodney asked in confusion.
Sheppard scratched the back of his neck and looked out of the window. "You left in a bit of a rush," he said eventually. Rodney looked at him expectantly. "You seemed upset," he clarified.
"I was not upset," Rodney denied reflexively.
Sheppard looked at him disbelievingly for a moment. "Okay," he said, drawing out the word. "You just really wanted some lunch. That’s understandable, a man’s gotta’ eat," he said with a shrug and began to stand up.
Suddenly it hit Rodney that Sheppard had come to see if he was okay. He’d come to this crappy little diner our of concern for Rodney. You’re average delivery guy didn’t do that. This was definitely progress. Maybe not in the direction Rodney really wanted, but this could be an overture of friendship; and Rodney wasn’t exactly over-run with friends so -
"Wait!" he said, grabbing Sheppard by the wrist and pulling him back down into his seat. "So maybe I was a little upset," he conceded.
"Yeah?" Sheppard asked, leaning his elbow on the table and resting his chin on his palm.
"Yeah. Well, actually it’s more like fed up," Sheppard was watching him with a look of patient expectancy. "I originally trained to be a doctor; a people doctor not an animal doctor that is, but I’m not exactly a people person, not to mention I diagnosed myself with about ten different ailments in my first year.
"Anyway, it wasn’t so bad. I actually like animals better than people. No talking back, no malpractice lawsuits," Rodney paused as Sheppard laughed softly.
"Thing is, people don’t care as much about pets as they do people. Which is understandable I guess, I mean if you can’t afford an operation on your cat you can’t afford it, you’re not going to scrounge together every last penny you have like you would if it was your sister or niece," Rodney shrugged. "Which means that my job is to euthanise about 70% of my patients. It can get a little down-heartening."
Sheppard looked at him contemplatively. After a few moments, during which Rodney thought he looked to be in deep thought, he opened his mouth to speak the words of wisdom on which he had just pondered. "You need a hobby." Clearly Rodney had been wrong about him being deep in thought.
"That’s your solution?" Rodney asked, taking his coffee from the waitress as she passed it to him.
"Yep," Sheppard grinned.
"Well that’s just…." he trailed off and took a sip of his coffee. "I have a hobby," he said.
"Oh yeah? What’s that?"
"I pick apart the math in astrophysics journals," Rodney answered. "Shut up, Sheppard," Rodney said as he laughed.
"John," Sheppard said once he stopped laughing.
"You can call me John, Rodney," Sheppard said.
"Oh," Rodney blinked before taking another gulp of his coffee.
"That’s not a hobby," Sheppard said. Rodney opened his mouth to argue but Sheppard got in there first. "Does it get you out of the house? Does it help you meet new people?"
"It’s not a hobby," Sheppard repeated.
"Okay then, what’s your hobby?" Rodney asked in irritation.
"You play football?" Rodney asked incredulously, looking Sheppard over.
"No I watch it," Sheppard corrected.
"Oh and how does that ‘get you out of the house’? Or ‘help you meet new people’?" Rodney snarked.
"Easy. For example, tonight I am going to the sports bar round the corner to watch it on their big screen," Sheppard replied smugly. Rodney rolled his eyes and finished the rest of his coffee. He contemplated the idea of ordering some food, but after a glance at the other patrons meals he decided against it.
After Rodney paid the cheque, he and Sheppard walked back to the clinic where Laura had kept the paperwork behind the reception desk.
She passed it to him and he gave it a brief glance over before signing in the required boxes.
"Well?" Sheppard said, Rodney finished signing before looking up and passing the clip board back to him.
"Are you gonna’ come to the bar?" Sheppard asked in exasperation.
"I don’t watch football."
"Rodney, that’s not the point," Sheppard said with an amused smile accompanying the exasperated tone this time.
"Oh," Rodney said. "The one on Melbourne?" he asked.
"That’s the one," Sheppard nodded. "Meet you there at seven?" he asked.
"I," Rodney paused, still feeling like he was ten exchanges behind in the conversation. "Sure."
"Great," Sheppard grinned, and all of a sudden Rodney felt far too warm. "See you later," he said as he left the surgery.
"You’re blushing," Laura sing-songed.
"Shut up," he snapped and strode back to his office.
* * *
Luckily, the bar Sheppard had chosen was within walking distance from Rodney’s house, as he doubted he was in any fit state to drive.
The nerves hadn’t been too bad to begin with. He had realised that Sheppard was clearly under the delusional impression that Rodney was a likeable person; that he was in some way the type of person Sheppard should befriend.
This invitation was just an extension of the hand of friendship, which would be quickly withdrawn once Sheppard truly got to know Rodney.
That however, was before Laura had got to him. With each of her ‘Looking forward to your date?’ and ‘What are you going to wear?’ type comments Rodney became increasingly nervous.
She was just trying to wind him up. He knew that.
Funny how that knowledge did nothing to settle his nerves.
It was just beer and football, he told himself as he drew to a halt in front of the bar. Beer and football, he thought as he reached for the door handle.
Beer, football and Sheppard.
With a deep, steadying breath he pulled the door open and stepped in.
The bar itself was far better than Rodney had been expecting. Clean for one, not to crowded, airy. It wasn’t decorated in dark wood nor with glass topped everything in an attempt at being ultra modern like some sports bars he had had the misfortune of visiting.
A scan of the room located Sheppard sitting in a corner, relatively isolated from the other patrons but still with a clear view of the big screen television.
One glance at Sheppard’s attire had Rodney sighing with relief, along with an ounce of disappointment which he quickly squashed. This was clearly not a date. Sheppard was in the clothes he’d worked in; jeans, a black T-shirt and a black sweater draped across the back of the chair he too was adorning.
As Rodney approached Sheppard spotted him, sat up a little straighter and smiled. Rodney ignored the swooping sensation in his stomach and settled for a neutral ‘Hey’ as he pulled up a chair opposite Sheppard.
"Has it started then?" Rodney asked, glancing over at the screen.
"Yep, you’re late," Sheppard replied.
"By ten minutes," Rodney answered. It had been completely intentional, he’d not wanted to appear over-enthusiastic.
"It’s no problem," Sheppard shrugged with a quirk of his lips that made Rodney glance away before he could even start looking for too long. "Hey, you want a beer?" Sheppard asked.
"I-" Rodney began, but Sheppard was already gone. He was back within a few minutes with two beers, one of which he slid across the table to Rodney. "Thanks," he said, taking a sip before replacing it on the sticky table top.
The conversation continued smoothly, the small talk not as excruciatingly painful as Rodney usually found it. Sheppard spent, what Rodney was sure they both felt was hours trying to explain all the rules to football. When Rodney questioned the lack of people in the bar actually paying attention to the game, Sheppard told him that it was a repeat.
"Of a game you’ve seen?" Rodney had asked.
"Yes," Sheppard drawled in response.
"And yet we’re still sitting here watching it?"
"We’re not here just for the game McKay," Sheppard had responded with a roll of his eyes.
"We’re not?" Rodney had asked, bewildered. Sheppard smiled and went to get them more beers.
When they were shooed out at closing, they walked (a little unsteadily) in the direction of Rodney’s house, having discovered that Sheppard lived about five minutes further walk after that.
"I’m thinking of getting a dog," Sheppard announced, not looking up from the curb which he was walking along, arms held out for balance.
"A dog?" Rodney questioned. He should have known Sheppard would be a dog person.
"I figured you’d be the man to ask," he continued.
"Ask what?" Rodney asked, steering Sheppard round a street light he would have walked head first into otherwise.
"Thanks," Sheppard said with a smile which Rodney returned. "I was wondering if that shelter down the road from the clinic was any good?" he asked.
"You know the animal shelter, attached to the guide-dog place?"
"Right, Yes. As good as any other I guess. I wouldn’t recommend the guide-dog place though," he added.
"No?" he asked, stepping back onto the pavement but turning round so he was walking backwards and facing Rodney.
"Not unless you feel like taking a walk off of a railway platform," Rodney scoffed.
Sheppard raised an eyebrow at the comment before bumping his shoulder against Rodney’s. "Good thing my vision’s twenty-twenty then, isn’t it?"
When they reached Rodney’s house, Sheppard stood at the end of the drive and leant on the wall pillar as Rodney walked to and unlocked the front door.
Rodney gave a small half wave, not sure what to do with himself. Sheppard grinned and called, "Night Rodney."
Rodney stood at his door for ten minutes watching the direction in which Sheppard had walked before realising he was no longer in sight. Rolling his eyes at himself he stepped inside and shut the door.
* * *
Sheppard rang Rodney the next evening to ask if he was watching Back to the Future. Rodney proceeded to explain in detail why that film wasn’t even worth the effort of picking up the remote control.
Rodney lost track of how long they argued over the merits of the flux capacitor or the coolness of using a Delorean as a time machine versus the practicality, but he was pretty sure the film had finished by the time he hung up the phone.
* * *
It was several days since Rodney had heard from Sheppard, but he wasn’t too bothered as there was a delivery today.
He tapped his pen against the side of his desk and stared idly at the remains of his electric fan laying on a table in the corner of the room, looking at the clock every few minutes.
At five to two Laura buzzed him and he came out front.
"Delivery’s here," she told him as he entered the reception area. Rodney glanced round the room finding no sign of the familiar messy head of hair before he noticed the woman standing at the reception desk.
"Sam?" he asked taking a step forward. "What are you doing here? Where’s Sheppard?" he asked.
"Hey McKay," she said, handing over her clip board with the paperwork on. "John had a slight accident," she told him.
"What?" Rodney asked in shock, fumbling with the clipboard as he almost dropped it.
"Yeah, hit by a car. He’s going to be fine, but he’d still in recovery," she explained. After a few moments pause she spoke again. "You going to look at that?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Hmm?" he asked and she gestured toward the clipboard. "Right, sorry," he said and gave it a quick once over before putting his signature at the bottom.
"Thanks, I’ll just get Lorne to help me unload the stuff," she said with a smile before leaving..
"I’m sure he’s okay Rodney," Laura said reassuringly.
"Of course he is," Rodney snapped. "She just said that, didn’t she?"
"Okay, okay," she said placatingly. "Well you’ve only got two appointments this afternoon, you can go and visit later if you want," she shrugged.
"Right," he nodded. He could take grapes, or something.
"Oh Rodney, we’ve got Lucky back in the cages by the way," she told him.
"Great," he replied absently and turned to leave.
"Apparently they handed him over to the shelter in the hope he’d do for someone as a regular pet, but apparently he dragged his owner right into oncoming traffic," she continued.
Rodney stopped mid-step on his way back to his office.
It was just a coincidence, surely.
He walked to his office and picked up his phone. For Travers sake, it’d better be a coincidence.
* * *
Rodney bounced on his toes nervously as he stood in the hospital elevator, waiting for it to reach the floor Sheppard was on.
He’d caught Sheppard’s boss, Sam Carter, before she left and asked which hospital he was in and if she knew what floor and room She’d looked at him oddly when he asked and so he ended the conversation by once again, suavely asking her out. To which she rolled her eyes and left without replying.
Grapes clutched tightly in one hand, Rodney exited the lift and strode down the stark white corridor to the room which Sam had told him Sheppard was in.
The door was ajar. Rodney could hear the beeping sounds of a computer game drifting out into the hall from inside and smiled.
He rapped his knuckles twice against the door before stepping inside.
Sheppard looked a little bruised and a little pale, and his hair was only sticking up on one side of his head opposed to it’s usual all over electrified look, but on the whole he looked just about as good as usual.
Even better when he smiled upon recognising Rodney.
"Hey," Rodney said, walking into the room and stopping at the foot of Sheppard’s bed.
"Rodney," Sheppard grinned at him, and really Rodney’s going to have to ask him to stop doing that. "You came to visit me," he stated, still smiling.
"Yes. Well." Rodney cleared his throat and stepped forward to hand Sheppard the grapes. Sheppard peered inside the brown paper bag and looked up at Rodney with a raised eyebrow.
"Thanks," he said, taking one and chewing it, before putting the bag down on the bedside table.
"So, I rang the shelter and spoke to your boss," Rodney began. "I hope you’re seeking legal action of some kind."
"Oh come on Rodney, he didn’t mean to-"
"It dragged you in front of on coming traffic!" Rodney exclaimed.
"Did they even tell you anything about that animal before you took it home?" he demanded. Sheppard looked away and Rodney continued before he could speak. "I mean, he’s killed his last three owners. If they did tell you I can only conclude that you’re some kind of suicidal lunatic!" he exclaimed.
"Sit down before you fall down through lack of oxygen," Sheppard said in exasperation, tugging Rodney until he was perched on the side of the bed.
"Sorry, it’s just you don’t know how many times I’ve had that dog in the cages after its led its owner into danger," he said and he must have sounded a little defeated as Sheppard rested his hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "Now it’s there again and you’re in here and I’m just thinking we should chuck it out on the-"
Rodney stopped when he felt the tips of Sheppard’s fingers carding through the end of his hair at the back of his neck.
"What are you-?" Rodney began to ask but Sheppard raised his other hand and pressed a finger to Rodney’s lips.
"Shut up now, Rodney," he murmured before leaning closer so that Rodney was breathing in the air that John had breathed out.
With a quirk of his lips John closed the remaining millimetres between them and pressed his lips to Rodney’s.
Rodney let his eyes flutter closed and sighed into the kiss, feeling John smiling against his lips before he parted them with his tongue.
All conscious thought left Rodney’s brain for the next few minutes until the noise of someone clearing their throat from the doorway caught both their attention and they pulled apart, breathless.
"Mr. Sheppard?" the intruder asked. John cleared his throat and leant back against the pillows on the bed. Rodney groaned under his breath but turned round anyway. Which turned out to be worth it at the look on Travers’ face.
"Doctor McKay?" he asked sounding slightly stunned.
"Mr. Travers, a pleasure to see you again. Even more so as I assume you’re here to let John know you’re putting that creature down," he said with a plastic smile.
"Rodney," John objected quietly.
"We’ve had this conversation before Doctor McKay," Travers said stiffly. "We will not put Lucky down."
"There’s no need to kill him," Sheppard agreed. Rodney rolled his eyes and stood up.
"Fine," he snapped and walked towards the door, Travers stepping quickly aside to let him pass.
"Rodney?" Sheppard called after him. Reluctantly, Rodney turned round to face Sheppard, who hadn’t completely masked the hurt from his face.
"I need some coffee, do you want some coffee? I’ll get you some Jell-O from the canteen," he answered quickly.
"Cool," Sheppard smiled a smile that for once didn’t make Rodney’s stomach flip over, for it was the dorkiest grin Rodney had ever seen.
"We thought Lucky would be ok as a regular pet Mr. Sheppard, but clearly being a seeing eye dog is his calling. Thus we’re fully prepared to fund some retraining for him," Travers began his spiel as Rodney stepped into the hallway.
"Are you going to tell whoever gets him next about his record?" Rodney heard John ask.
"No. It would only make them nervous, and would make Lucky nervous. An when Lucky gets nervous he’s liable to do something silly."
Rodney rolled his eyes and went to get John’s Jell-O.