"...And one last thing." Elizabeth added.
Rodney mentally groaned. Didn't she understand that he actually had things to do that didn't involve sitting around in meetings, listening to people who had yet to discover that 1 + 1 = 2? If possible Sheppard, who was sitting across from him looking so bored that he might pull out his gun and start making pictures in the walls with bullets, slumped even further down in his chair and he couldn't possibly think that Rodney was the only one who noticed that he had been tracing linear Diophantine equations onto the surface of the table.
"I've just received word from Stargate Command that Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be repealed in three days." She looked around at each of them and Rodney studiously avoided her gaze. "So expect a few changes around here, and should any member of the US military come to you, I expect all of you to handle it gracefully."
Elizabeth looked at Rodney when she said this. Rodney snorted, like he wasn't graceful. Please, his country had fixed this problem years ago. Rodney shot a glance across the table at Sheppard who appeared slightly shocked and maybe a little put out that Elizabeth hadn't told him before springing it on the department heads.
"If that's all...?" She asked, question trailing off. "I'll be sending an e-mail out about the announcement on the day of the repeal. And if there are no further questions then you're dismissed."
Rodney didn't even look back as he grabbed his computer tablet and made his escape for his lab. Next time Zelenka was going instead.
The next few days flew by with a blur and when Rodney woke up on that third day, he couldn't have even told you what day of the week it was, much less that it was the day of great advancement for the US military. He walked, still half asleep, into the shower until Atlantis made the water run cold and Rodney made yet another mental note to fix that. Because hey, there had to be some perks to being in charge. His coffee maker automatically started as he sniffed at the clothes on the floor and, deciding that they smelt okay, he pulled on pants from an unknown previous day as well as a blue shirt that was not only odorless but also wrinkle free. While he brushed his teeth, the scent of coffee filled the room and Rodney hurried to rinse so he could grab a cup of the hot beverage even faster.
He checked his e-mail while he was halfway through his third cup of coffee and in the middle of reading number twelve of seventy-nine (and couldn't he make it through one day where half the base wasn't e-mailing him with something stupid?) he had an epiphany on how to maximize power output of the jumpers' shields. He abandoned his coffee and barely remembered to get some shoes on before heading out the door, calling Radek on his radio about his newest brilliant idea.
It was when he stepped out of his door that Rodney realized maybe he had forgotten something. There were rainbow streamers lining all the hallways from his room to his lab and Rodney growled at whoever had used the dwindling supply of toilet paper to make them. There were three members of his staff already mulling about, probably destroying the city while Rodney had been drinking his morning coffee. It was unusual for anyone to be there before him, but that wasn't what made him pause at the entrance to his lab. No, it was the bright purple shirts that everyone was wearing and the little rainbow patches that had taken up residence on their shoulders.
"You can't all possibly be gay." Rodney blurted out. "It's statistically impossible."
All three people stopped to look at him and it was some blonde, who had arrived on the Daedalus a year ago whose name Rodney hadn't even bothered to learn, that answered. "We're showing our support for the troops." She told him.
"Bake them cookies instead. You look like giant Muppets or something." He grimaced. "And where the hell's Zelenka?"
"I am here, Rodney!" A voice said loudly from behind him. Radek looked as disheveled as ever and Rodney didn't pause to say 'Hello' before blurting out his newest idea.
It was sometime after the rest of Atlantis had probably eaten lunch that Rodney decided he should listen to his stomach and get something to eat. He left Radek to finish and went in search of mess hall leftovers. He eyed the tacky rainbow decorations that seemed to be everywhere as he made his way through Atlantis to get some food. When he arrived, Rodney filled his plate up with lukewarm meatloaf, cold mashed potatoes and three pudding cups. Oh, and one giant pot of coffee to go with the empty mug he grabbed.
Rodney briefly looked around before heading over to a table that seated Sheppard and Lorne. Both were sitting on the same side huddled over a computer tablet with coffee mugs placed in front of them. Rodney plopped his tray down on to the table and dug in.
Sheppard looked up at him. "Geez, Rodney, leave some for everyone else, why don't ya?" He drawled. Lorne unsuccessfully hid a smirk.
Rodney looked between the two of them and he was swallowing the meatloaf in his mouth when it came to him. "Oh my God! You're gay now! I knew it! I knew it!"
He must have timed his outburst just right as both Air Force men spit coffee out all over the table with a few drops landing on Rodney. "McKay!" Sheppard said angrily. Rodney just wiped away the drops and kept eating. "Jesus Christ, Rodney."
"What?" He asked around a mouthful of potatoes. "I thought I could ask now."
"You weren't asking." Lorne chimed in as he reached into a pocket for a napkin.
"And you weren't telling!" Rodney accused.
"Possibly because we aren't gay, McKay." Lorne answered.
"You aren't?" Rodney looked between them. Sheppard shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. "Huh."
Sheppard rolled his eyes. "In fact, Rodney, we were just talking about how many people have come out to us today." He surreptitiously accepted the napkin that Lorne held out for him.
"I knew it!" Rodney declared, stabbing his fork in Sheppard's direction, sending potatoes flying.
"Knew what?" Sheppard asked, taking another sip of his coffee.
Rodney thought that would have been obvious by now. "I knew that you and Lorne were here leading a troupe of flaming grunts."
Sheppard stared at him while Lorne choked on his coffee. Rodney was starting to think that Lorne, and maybe Sheppard, had skipped the lesson on how to drink and swallow. "A troupe of flaming grunts?"
Rodney stabbed a giant piece of meatloaf. "It's so obvious, Sheppard." He shoved the piece in his mouth.
"For your information, Rodney, no one has come out to us at all."
Rodney blinked. "No one?"
"No one." Sheppard confirmed. "Elizabeth called us into a meeting at 0600 this morning so that she could quote 'teach us how to respond to anyone under our command who might choose to come out' unquote. No one has."
Sheppard looked like he thought the whole notion of being briefed on how to accept a coming out was ridiculous and Rodney thought that he was probably right. What's a gay guy--or girl-- when you have the Wraith waiting to eat you?
Rodney frowned. "So all of the people walking around with rainbow patches and Barney shirts..."
"Are all scientists." Sheppard finished. "I had Jameson tell me that the rainbow patches brightened up the uniforms, but other than that... nothing."
"So who are they showing support for?" Rodney shoveled some more potatoes into his mouth and washed them down with coffee.
"Beats me." Sheppard said with a shrug, leaning back in his seat.
Rodney blinked. "Oh."
Several hours later Rodney sat down at his desk to just check one thing in the database before heading off to bed...
"Rodney!" A voice said loudly over his shoulder.
Rodney jerked up from where he had been taking a short break, i.e. nap, on his keyboard. He reached up to his cheek and yep, damn it, keyboard face. He tried to inconspicuously wipe at the drool that had seeped down into the keys. He turned to face whoever had woken him up and was met by Sheppard and Carson. Carson was standing slightly behind Sheppard and to the left. Both looked a little bit nervous.
Rodney rubbed at his cheek. "What? I was just taking a short, very short, break."
"Sure, you were, McKay." Sheppard drawled.
Rodney crossed his arms. "Well?"
"We, uh, we have something to tell you, Rodney." Sheppard said.
Rodney wondered why people said that instead of just saying what it was they wanted to say. Like asking if they could ask a question. "What?"
Sheppard turned a little to face Carson and Rodney frowned at this even as Sheppard turned back to face him. Atlantis' military commander reached up to pull off his Atlantis patch and he carefully replaced it with one of the rainbow versions that Rodney had seen people wearing earlier. He was about to ask who Sheppard was supporting when Carson tore his patch off, replacing it with a rainbow one as well.
Rodney blinked. "Um..." And was it just him or did Sheppard take a teeny, tiny step backwards? Into... Carson?
Sheppard ran a nervous hand through his hair. "Well, no one ever did end up coming out to me today," he said with a soft laugh.
"And so you decided to show your support for no one?" Rodney gestured loosely to the patches.
And that's when Rodney first thought that something else was going on. He squinted a little as he studied his friends and holy shit, how had he missed this before? Carson's right hand was lazily resting on Sheppard's right hip and he had a leg between Sheppard's as they stood there. There were comfortably close with each other and Carson had a soft pleading look in his eyes that said he's nervous, don't hurt him.
Rodney closed his eyes and when he opened them again they were both still standing there. Sheppard's face had taken on a wary look and he seemed to be leaning even further away from Rodney. In the meantime, Carson's other hand had managed to settle on Sheppard's other hip, effectively keeping the other man in place and near him at the same time.
Rodney blinked. And then he blinked again. "You... He..." Rodney swallowed. "How long?"
"Since Antarctica." Carson answered.
"That's... that's almost four years!" Rodney sputtered. Sheppard grimaced a little as he nodded. "And you're only just now saying something?!"
Sheppard coughed politely as Carson answered. "Well, it's not like we could have said something before, Rodney."
"To me!" Rodney said loudly. "You could have said something to me! I thought we were friends!"
Carson sighed. "Look, we wanted to tell you--"
"Carson." John interrupted quietly. His eyes stared straight into Rodney's. "Look, Rodney, I was nervous about telling you, so don't go blaming Carson for anything."
"Nervous about telling me? Hello!" Rodney waved a hand in front of their faces. "My country has had gays in the military for years." He watched, interested as Sheppard flinched slightly at the word 'gay'.
"I had a few things to work through." Sheppard told him. "But, um, now that I can tell you, I just thought I'd let you know."
"We thought." Carson corrected.
Sheppard nodded. "We thought."
Rodney stood there looking at possibly his two best friends in the universe. Sheppard was looking increasingly nervous and Carson increasingly more protective. Rodney tried not to wonder how their relationship worked. Except that he couldn't stop wondering and now his mind was producing images that he would really rather not have of his friends.
"Um, well, congratulations." Rodney said finally. What would Jeannie say? What would Jeannie say? What would Jeannie say? "Thanks for," He gestured between them. "Telling me and everything. And, uh, this doesn't change anything, right?"
Carson leaned forward to mumble something into Sheppard's ear and when he pulled back he was smiling. Sheppard, though, had an odd look on his face, a cross between happiness and constipation. "No, Rodney, it doesn't." The medical doctor offered.
"Well, good. And I'll keep an eye on him for you, Carson." Rodney offered. "In case he starts Kirking it up off-world."
"Hey!" Sheppard frowned.
Carson laughed. "Aye, lad, you do that."
"Carson!" Sheppard protested and the tips of his ears went red.
"Well," Carson stated. "We'll get out of your hair." His hand slid down to Sheppard's and Rodney tried not to watch in fascination as his two friends turned into two people in love.
"'Night, Rodney." Sheppard offered quietly with a small smile.
Rodney gave a half-wave in reply as Carson pulled Sheppard out of his lab. Huh. Well, okay. And Rodney couldn't stop himself from calculating how much better the odds were of getting laid now that Sheppard, with his stupid hair and flirty grin, and Carson, with his accent that girls seemed to giggle over, were out of the equation.