Title: The Cosmo Boy's Guide to Dating
Fandom: BtVS/Stargate: Atlantis
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, which means it's not real. This is a work of fanfiction, which means I'm not making money from it.
Summary: Despite being accompanied to the Pegasus Galaxy by a ridiculously hot one-eyed man, Rodney had been home for nearly two weeks without getting laid. Sequel to Chances Are
Author's Note: This is the first crossover-y thing I've managed to write in AGES, and I'm hoping it's a sign that my writer's block is breaking down. If you've been waiting for updates on my WIPs, I can only apologize and say I'll add to them as soon as the words will come.
The moment he set foot back on Atlantis, Rodney was greeted with a serious malfunction in the environmental controls, a minor repair to the shields, several discrepancies in power usage, and a vast array of insignificant complaints from the scientists who worked under him. Frankly, he wanted to tell his staff they were all whiners and to suck it up, but the last time he did that, he'd had to endure an hour of Elizabeth's 'Verbal abuse is bad for morale' lecture.
In other words, Rodney McKay was a very busy man. This was his excuse for failing to notice that, despite being accompanied to the Pegasus Galaxy by a ridiculously hot one-eyed man, Rodney had been home for nearly two weeks without getting laid. When this egregious lack of sex occurred to him, Rodney closed down the bitter email he was writing as part of his ongoing war with the anthropologists and went to track down Xander Harris.
He found Xander on one of the balconies with his little redheaded crony and her girlfriend. The girlfriend was clearly unstable; she'd threatened Rodney the first time she'd met him. He'd merely expressed polite interest in her relations with the redhead - namely, the favorite positions and toys used in those relations. The girlfriend (who had a name like an American president, Truman?) had crushed a pair of golf balls with her bare hands to illustrate her point, which was certainly taking things too far.
When Rodney stepped out onto the balcony, the redhead grabbed Reagan by the arm and dragged her toward the door. Rodney was often accused of being oblivious, but even he could see the significant looks both women aimed at Xander as they left.
Xander gave him a slightly sheepish smile. "Hey," he said.
"Yeah, hi," Rodney responded impatiently. "Look, I haven't really seen you in a while. So I was thinking, you could come back to my quarters, and I could ... see you." That sounded fairly pathetic, so Rodney tacked on his best leer, the one that got him either restraining orders or sex in public places.
"I, um, I don't know if that's a good idea." If Xander had looked sheepish before, he looked horribly embarrassed now, a flush rising up his neck.
"What? Why?" Rodney stared at him and was suddenly hit with a horrible suspicion. "Wanda's been talking to you, hasn't she?"
"Who?" Xander asked. Rodney waved a hand, dismissing his bewilderment.
"That redhead who follows you everywhere. What did she say?" Rodney demanded.
"She ... It was really long, and there were analogies to buying cows and lectures about my self esteem." Xander's face was entirely red now. "And then she brought out a copy of mmplhbo."
"I'm sorry, I don't speak immature mumbling. A copy of what?" Rodney asked, crossing his arms.
"A copy of Cosmo," Xander said in a rush. "And she made me do this quiz - Don't look at me like that!" he cried defensively. "I've been trained to take whatever quizzes Willow puts in front of me. It's leftover conditioning from study nights in high school."
Rodney glared. "So you're Pavlov's dog where quizzes are concerned. What does that have to do with me?"
For a moment Xander's flustered, frustrated expression softened into something like affection. "You know, most people act a little nicer when they're trying to get laid," he pointed out.
"Yes, well the chance of getting laid seems to be getting slimmer by the moment. Besides, I've never been much for acting nice," Rodney said.
Xander gave him a sardonic look. “I didn’t know that about you,” he said sarcastically.
“So what’s the problem?” Rodney demanded. “Share with me the wisdom extracted from the hallowed pages of Cosmo.”
“The quiz was just this stupid thing about knowing your relationship style, but it was just there to back up Willow’s point,” Xander explained.
“Oh, she had a point?”
“Rodney!” Xander’s voice was exasperated and his face was tired. He slumped back against the railing that ran around the balcony. “Her point was that I’m not very good at casual sex.”
Rodney smirked. “I beg to differ. I would call you extremely talented at casual sex. And – wait, you had sex with Wendy? I thought you were gay. I thought *she* was gay. Was her girlfriend there? Because if you had an orgy and didn’t invite me, I’m going to feel very offended and -”
"God, could you listen to me for, like, two minutes?" Xander interrupted, pushing away from the railing to pace around the balcony. "One, I did not have sex with Willow and Kennedy. I wouldn't have sex with Willow and Kennedy, hot though the idea is, because they're really not into men and I'm really not into being turned into a frog. And B, I didn't say I'm not good at *sex*, I said I'm not good at casual sex. I get all relationshippy. And Willow was worried that I was going to get relationshippy about you while you were feeling just 'casual sex' about me. *That* was her point."
Rodney blinked. “Oh,” he said. His mind was racing in several directions at once. One part – a large part – was busy plotting revenge on Wilma for screwing up this thing with Xander, probably out of revenge for the way Rodney had dismissed her ideas for modifying the shields, but, honestly, her ideas were more solidly rooted in voodoo than anything Carson had ever done. Another part of him was glowing at the thought that Xander would want more from him, would not be able to *help* wanting more from him. And really, who could blame him? Rodney was quite a catch. A third part was busily calculating the odds of Rodney managing to keep Xander happy enough that the sex might still happen. Rodney didn’t kid himself; those odds were annoyingly slim.
“So was there a plan after she made this point?” Rodney asked finally.
“No. Well, yeah. Her plan was pretty much for me to stay away from you, which is surprisingly straightforward as her plans go.” Rodney felt a cold wave of disappointment wash through him at the idea of Xander simply staying away from him. He told himself that was ridiculous, as he’d gone two weeks without even noticing he hadn’t seen the man, but it didn’t do anything to dissipate the sense of loss.
“But I thought we could maybe try and something else,” Xander continued, his voice tentative. “Spend some time together, y’know, with clothes on. See if we *want* to get relationshippy.”
“Okay, first, you do know that ‘relationshippy’ is not a word?” Rodney said. Xander rolled his eye in reply, which Rodney took to mean agreement. “Then, I suppose … I have very little free time, and I have to say that I think having sex is the most productive and entertaining use for that time.” He took a deep breath. “But I suppose we could try spending time together and see if we can get along outside of bed.” Rodney felt wistful, though, because they got along so well *in* bed.
“Really?” Xander asked, his face lighting in a grin. “How about tonight, then? I’ll bring some DVDs by your room. Around eight.” Rodney found himself nodding in agreement. “Coolness. I’m gonna go tell Willow to restrain her interfering urges for a while.” He gave Rodney one more delighted smile and left, leaving Rodney alone on the balcony.
Rodney stared out at the ocean, feeling a little dazed. When the realization hit him, it was intense enough that he said it aloud. “I’m dating Xander Harris.”
By the time Rodney made his way to the mess and through the line (having only shouted at one cook, a new one who had been foolish enough to offer him salsa with lime in it) he was over feeling dazed. If he had to successfully date Xander, he was going to need some help. A flash of red hair caught his eye as he crossed the room, but when he turned to glare at its owner, it turned out to be a male chemist who wore his hair wrong. Huffing in irritation, Rodney dropped his tray on the table where Sheppard was sitting.
“You need to help me,” he said without preamble, grabbing a taco from his tray even as he sat down.
“I do, huh?” Sheppard leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest in a macho, ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ kind of way. It made Rodney want to throw things at him, but all he had to throw at the moment was food, and he wasn’t *that* irritated.
“Xander won’t sleep with me anymore unless we can get along in fully clothed, date-like interactions.” Rodney shot Sheppard a piercing look. “You can see where this would be a problem for me.”
Rather than jumping into helpful dating advice, Sheppard was staring at Rodney like he’d turned purple and started singing opera. (Which had only happened once, and it was all Radek’s fault for not documenting the Ancient technology more clearly.) Rodney paused, half eaten taco in hand. “What?” Rodney asked.
“You’re sleeping with Xander?” Sheppard choked out.
“Not currently. Hence me needing your help.” Rodney took a big bite of his taco, trying not to let the cheese fall out the open sides. Sheppard was still staring at him and Rodney stomach sank in a way that had nothing to do with tortillas made from thantral grain instead of corn. “Tell me you don’t have some homophobic issue with me sleeping with guys,” Rodney said, his mouth still full.
Sheppard uncrossed his arms and held his hands in front of him in a warding off gesture. “No! No issues. I just … I didn’t know that. About you. It surprised me, is all. Like drinking Dr. Pepper when you thought you were getting Coke. Shocking, but not bad.”
Rodney watched Sheppard’s face closely through his babbling and allowed himself to be convinced. He moved on to his other taco while Sheppard was pulling himself together.
“Xander? Really?” Sheppard asked with just enough skepticism in his voice to raise Rodney’s hackles.
“Yes, Xander. Why? Do you have a problem with him?” Rodney surprised himself with a surge of defensiveness and bit into his food viciously.
“Hey, I like the guy. I just hadn’t seen the two of you together, and I know some of the women have been making eyes at him since he got here. They think the eye patch makes him look ‘rakish,’” he said with a smirk.
Rodney scowled and looked around the mess, wondering whom, exactly, had been making eyes at Xander. He turned his scowl toward his now empty tray, then back up at Sheppard. “So, are you going to help me with this or what?”
Sheppard grimaced. “I don’t know how much help I’ll be,” he hedged.
Rodney scoffed. “Come on, Colonel. Women throw themselves at you. Sometimes literally. Remember that woman with the feathers in her hair on MX8-334? The one who jumped on you while you were swimming?” Rodney smirked at the memory of Sheppard coming up sputtering, trying tread water and explain that he wasn’t interested at the same time.
“That’s my point, Rodney. Women kind of throw themselves at me. I never see it coming, I rarely have to win them over. You,” he eyed Rodney, and now Sheppard was the one smirking, “You have to woo Xander.”
“What woo? I didn’t say anything about wooing. I just have to convince him I’m a nice guy with whom he can enjoy leisure activities and amazing sex,” Rodney said.
Sheppard just smirked harder. “Woo,” he repeated annoyingly.
Rodney shoved his tray away with a sigh. “Does that mean you’re not going to help me? Because I would ask someone else, believe me, if my choices didn’t consist of Ronon, who would probably tell me to just tie Xander up and drag him back to my quarters, and Radek, who’s the worst gossip on Atlantis. He’d probably put out a mass email about this, just to pay me back for cancelling his simulation last week.”
“Okay, fine. I’ll help you woo Xander. But don’t blame me if I’m not that much help,” Sheppard said warningly, gathering his tray and tilting his head in a ‘follow me’ motion. “How’d you get a guy like Xander in the first place? Isn’t he a little too hot for you?” Sheppard asked over his shoulder as they returned their trays. Rodney scooped up some spilled cheese off his tray and threw it at Sheppard. It hit him right in the head, but it was so light that Sheppard didn’t notice.
Rodney set his tray down in the collection area and followed Sheppard out of the mess. If Sheppard was going to be a jerk, then Rodney wasn’t going to tell him about the cheese in his hair.
At 7:30, Rodney was teetering on the verge of insanity. He had cleaned his quarters, straightening out the stack of journals he’d brought back with him from Earth and making sure there were no empty MRE pouches or powerbar wrappers lying about. He’d also tucked a bottle of lube, discreetly and hopefully, into the drawer of his bedside table. He didn’t expect there to be any sex tonight, but it was always best to be prepared. He had taken a shower and shaven carefully. Even after all this time back in contact with Earth, having real shaving cream and deodorant again made him feel slightly pampered, so he took his time on that part.
Once he was clean and smooth and deodorized, Rodney had stood in front of his closet for at least ten minutes, trying to decide what he should wear. The BDUs were strictly for missions, and he didn’t want to wear one of his uniforms. Although when Sheppard had stopped her for fashion advice on their way out of the mess, Teyla had said the blue of his uniform brought out his eyes. Rodney wavered for a moment. No. He wore uniforms all the time. Sheppard had said to make a point of showing that time with Xander was special. Finally, Rodney had grabbed a pair of jeans and a button up shirt with a blue plaid pattern. It had only taken him a moment to get dressed, and then he was ready. A half hour early.
He wandered aimlessly around his quarters, picking up random objects and putting them back down, smoothing his hair over and over again, straightening and re-straightening the pillows on his bed. When he heard a knock on the door, he had a moment of fear that he’d somehow fallen asleep standing up, but a quick check of his watch showed that it was still early. Rodney smiled at the thought that Xander was nervous, too and waved a hand in front of the panel by the door. When it slid open, though, he didn’t see the dark haired man he’d been expecting, but the red haired woman he’d been plotting to torment.
”Winnie,” he said shortly. “What do you want?”
“It’s Willow, actually. Can I come in?” Rodney debated it for a moment, but he figured the momentary pleasure of shutting the door in her face would lead to the long term frustration of never having sex with Xander again. And possibly of getting beaten up by Willow’s girlfriend. He stepped back and let her into the room.
Rodney was pleased to see that Willow looked just as uncomfortable as he felt. He crossed his arms over his chest to stop himself from fidgeting and thrust his chin forward belligerently. “Well?”
“I guess I’m not your favorite person right now, huh?” she observed.
“Since you told Xander he should stay away from me entirely, I’d have to agree.”
“See, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Xander said you guys are going to try this out and see if you could, you know, be together.” It wasn’t a question, but she looked at him with wide, questioning eyes, waiting for a confirmation.
“Yes, yes. In fact, he’ll be here in fifteen minutes,” Rodney said, checking his watch again.
“I know. He made me help him pick out an outfit.” She grinned suddenly. “He hasn’t let one of us dress him in years. Oh, not naughty dressing,” she stammered, “Just with the picking out of clothes and making sure his socks were matchy.”
“Since he’ll be here so soon, perhaps you should tell me why you’re here,” Rodney suggested.
“Right.” She took a deep breath and looked him in the eyes. “I don’t like you. But Xander has a long and storied history of dating people I don’t like, so I can live with that. What I can’t live with is Xander getting his heart broken. So if you plan on feeding him a line to get him back into bed, and then ignoring him again –“
Rodney stopped her. “What? Hold on. What?”
“You picked him up in the bar, with your snark and your Canadian beer, and I thought, ‘Oh, well. We’re going to another galaxy soon. No big if Xander has a one night stand with the rude man.’ But then he stayed with you all weekend and it turned out you were going to *be* in the other galaxy. And when we got here, you didn’t come talk to him, or email him, or anything for two whole weeks. And I’ll tell you now, mister, I’m not nursing another friend through the ‘he only wanted me for sex’ blues.” She nodded in agreement with her own arguments, her mouth set into a determined line.
“I was busy!” Rodney said defensively. “You can check the logs if you want. I am an extremely important man, and I was busy from the moment we got back to Atlantis until I came to find Xander this afternoon. Busy!”
Willow gave him a measuring look and seemed to find him wanting. “I’m not saying you had to spend hours with him while there was work to do. But you remember those people he dated that I didn’t like? They made the choice to treat Xander like he was important to them. You haven’t made that choice yet.”
“You – I asked my very military male friend for dating advice in the middle of the mess. I shaved. I cleaned my room. What more do you want from me?”
“I want you to either care about him or leave him alone,” she said firmly.
Rodney stared at her disbelievingly. “My God, you’re completely insane. Didn’t they make you undergo a psychological evaluation before you got here? You could make an appointment with Dr. Heightmeyer. In fact, maybe you should do that right now, since her office is the place for crazy to happen and my room is not.” Willow opened her mouth, but Rodney held up a warning finger. “I don’t know if I care about him yet. That’s the whole point of this … dating thing. To find out if we could care about one another. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit into your notions of what is owed to your friend, but normal people don’t just fall in love over a weekend of hot sex.”
Willow stared at him, and now her green gaze was less measuring and more frustrated. Helpless. A few years ago, Rodney would have had no idea why this should matter to her, but he’d learned a lot about friends and love and loyalty since then. She gave him a wobbly smile and said, “Okay. I’ll stop being such a buttinski, but …” She stopped whatever she was going to say and shook her head. “I better go before Xander finds me here. He reprogrammed my iPod last time he got miffed at me, and I don’t really want to put up with the best of hair metal if I don’t have to.” She walked to the door and waved a hand over the controls. She looked back at him over her shoulder and said, “Try not to hurt him.”
Rodney rolled his eyes, but kept his mouth shut.
He checked his watch as the door shut behind Willow and found that he still had five minutes before Xander was due. Rodney rolled his head on his shoulders to try to loosen the tension in his neck and reached up to smooth his hair down. He was eyeing his laptop contemplatively, wondering if he had time to check his email when he heard a knock at the door. He opened it cautiously, just in case Willow had returned to threaten him or something, but it was Xander.
Xander, looking stunning in a dark blue jumper and jeans. Xander, with a surprisingly shy smile on his face. Xander, whom Rodney wanted to drag to the bed right now, except the whole point of this was to *not* drag him to the bed. Which was, frankly, unfair.
“Hey,” Xander said, bobbing his head in casual greeting completely at odds with the death grip he had on the DVD case he was holding.
“Hi,” Rodney replied. His voice was pretty casual, too, but he was clutching at the doorframe. He forced himself to let go of it and step back. “Come in, come in.”
Xander stepped inside and looked around awkwardly. “Nice room,” he offered.
“It’s hardly palatial, but it’s adequate,” Rodney said. “I suppose I could request a bigger one, but I’m not really here that much. I’m usually either in the labs or off-world, so it doesn’t really seem worth it to go through the hassle of moving.”
“I get that. Moving sucks. After Sunnydale collapsed, we were looking for upsides, and I said, “Hey, at least we don’t have to pack.”
They stood in the middle of the room, nodding at one another and staring and smiling foolishly until Xander held up the DVD and said, “I brought Batman.”
“Michael Keaton?” Rodney asked, reaching out to take the box from him. “It’s certainly not the worst adaptation out there, but I never really bought him as Batman. He isn’t physically imposing enough.”
“Plus he’s kind of homely,” Xander agreed, following Rodney over to the laptop and watching as he put the disk in and got it set up to play. “You expect millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne to be a little more handsome.”
“I don’t know,” Rodney said, looking up with a smirk. “He’s got enough money, he could be ugly as sin and still get enough action to be labeled a playboy.”
Xander made a face. “That’s a depressing thought. Bruce Wayne, hideous lech who buys off his dates by day and beats up bad guys by night. I’d rather have him handsome, thank you.”
Rodney grinned at him and picked up the laptop. “Is it … The best place to sit is on the bed, but I promise I won’t throw you down and ravish you.”
Xander looked a little wistful at that, and Rodney resisted the urge to preen as they got settled on the bed, leaning back against the wall with pillows behind them. Rodney set the laptop so it was half on his lap and half on Xander’s and hit play. It was weird, sitting there on the bed, his shoulder pressed right up against Xander’s, the screen wobbling every time one of them moved. He let the oddness of it distract him from the movie until Xander exclaimed, “There was no reason in the world for them to cast Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent. None.”
“Maybe they thought he had leftover credibility with the fanboys from doing Star Wars,” Rodney suggested.
“Lando was cool, but it doesn’t make the man Harvey Dent.” It was possibly more discussion that a cameo deserved, but Rodney suddenly felt more comfortable. He wriggled a tiny bit closer, watching Xander’s reaction out of the corner of his eye. Xander swallowed heavily and, with studied carelessness, reached over and took Rodney’s hand.
Aside from feeling like he was about fourteen, Rodney was enjoying himself. He let himself get caught up in the movie, and soon he was expounding upon the travesty of aerodynamics and physics that was playing out on the screen. He didn’t notice how worked up he was getting until the laptop nearly tipped off his lap. He flushed.
“Sorry,” he said, righting the laptop with his free hand.
“No, it’s cool. You know stuff.” Xander shrugged. “Hey, next time I’ll bring Buckaroo Bonzai and you can tell me how wrong the science is in that,” he promised.
“Oscillation overthruster, my ass,” Rodney snorted. Xander smiled at him and Rodney smiled back. On the screen, dead models smiled in Joker’s commercial. Rodney leaned comfortably against Xander.
This dating thing might just work.