A Thousand Natural Shocks

Written with notpoetry.

They start doing it after really charged scenes, the script points that are so full of the weird sexual energy of their characters. First little pecks, tentative and chaste, with furtive looks afterwards–both of them wondering what the hell they’re doing.

First after Hide and Seek, as soon as Martin hollers “Cut!” after Joe says, “I shot him! In the leg!” And Joe, as Sheppard, turns to David, as Rodney, though the cameras have stopped rolling, giving him a ridiculously happy grin. Because this show is fun, and Joe never expected to do sci-fi and have it be like this.

David just grins dopily back, pecks him on the mouth, and hustles off.

Joe is totally weirded out, but he thinks it might be one of those–things, like when he’s winding up a conversation with his agent and says, “Okay, talk to you later, I love you, bye,” and then won’t realize what he said until thirty minutes later. And Joe understands that, more than other people, David is a little method.

And then, suddenly, it’s a habit.

“Seriously, David, I’m touched and all,” (and he really is, that’s the worrying part) Joe says, touching two fingers to the spot on his cheek where David dropped a chaste kiss after the last take where they killed him (again). “But I’m not actually getting electrocuted to death.”

“I know that,” David says, a little huffily, crossing his arms. “But Rodney doesn’t. Sorry, okay?” He looks away for a minute, and when he looks back, Joe sees just that hint of McKay. “Seriously, if Atlantis were Canada, the characters would already have made out by now.”

“We can pretend it’s Canada,” Rachel says helpfully.

They both sort-of mock glare at her.

It’s always David kissing him, after something terrible or traumatic has happened on the show, and Joe almost grows to expect it, take comfort in it (because it is kind of traumatic to pretend to die, over an over again). But then they’re out in the woods, filming the goddamn Planet Kid Kill episode, and Sheppard is freaking out in the back of Joe’s brain for the entirety of the shooting, because oh my god Wraith dart on the planet and where is McKay and what is he doing and why isn’t he here and there are small children aiming pointy objects at my head and where the hell is McKay? and Joe knows it’s dangerous to hear voices in your head but he has to listen to this one, because he helped create it.

And then David runs out into the clearing, all McKay hustle and bluster, and Peter yells, “Cut! Ten minute break, go.” Joe drops his P-90 prop to the side as he ambles off towards the craft services table with David, and slings an arm around David’s shoulder and hauls him close to press a kiss to the skin right in front of David’s ear. And when he leans away, David’s grinning.

They first kiss, for real, after the Genii.

David’s got Rodney written all over his face, good and annoyed, but it’s that covering-for-fear look that Joe knows so well, and after Joe’s said bye to Robert with a little smile (because you can’t set off huge explosions in some remote field with a guy and not at least smile goodbye) David hauls him off to one of the trailers and bangs the door shut.

It’s a kiss Joe’s not prepared for, because it’s not “Yay you’re not dead” kiss or “Ha, you did something both stupid and funny” kiss. It’s a “Why the fuck do these things keep happening to us?” kiss, and that one Joe’s not used to, full of displaced anger and fear — but Sheppard’s been expecting it. David bumps him into the door, throwing his weight around, and Joe is suddenly a little uncomfortable, but then David’s in his space with that familiar smell and when David’s face comes into focus, he sees the tension written there, and the uncertainty, too, right before David kisses him.

David’s fingers curl into the front of Joe’s jacket, and Joe lifts his hands up to pry them off but somehow winds up instead resting his hands on the back of David’s neck. His fingers brush up into David’s hairline, stroking and petting as he kisses David back, a serious “I don’t think I could do it alone” kind of kiss, one of the kisses that seems to swear I do.

David licks into Joe’s mouth, and Joe’s surprised to feel his knees weaken a little; it’s easy enough to just let his body rest between the door and David, equalizing their heights and letting his head tilt back at a better angle. David kisses like his knees are wobbling too.

“We should maybe talk about this a little,” David says, once Joe has backed off and is shakily running his hand over the top curve of David’s skull, petting him anxiously like he does to David’s dog.

“We really, really shouldn’t,” Joe says, and David’s face collapses into relief.

As the show progresses and that weird sexual chemistry gets a little more, well, normal, the kisses change too. Long and deep, longer than either of them thought would happen; in their trailers, practicing lines, or in the break room, with the door locked and their scripts flung haphazardly on the table.

They never let it go beyond kissing, and never take it off the set. Hell, they never even talk about until one night they’re in David’s trailer, stealing half an hour or so between scenes, and Joe, looking a little spooked, asks, “So, what the hell are we doing?”

David, of course, doesn’t have an answer. But he looks at the pages in his hand, waving them feebly, and said, “Well, it seems like–something they would do.”

Joe nods a little, lying down on the couch, and David comes over tentatively. “Are you okay with this?” he asks, more serious than he wants to be.

“…yes,” says Joe, not looking at him.

But still, his face tilts up for a kiss; and David is obliged to give it to him, mumbling Rodney’s words before he did.

They wrap filming on the rain scenes in The Eye earlier than they all expect. Joe’s been hanging around all day, reading his newspaper out of the range of the wind and rain machines but still in full view of David getting a thousand gallons a second dumped on his head. It’s the second to last day of filming, and most of the cast is milling around the set, waiting to film one of the larger scenes in an hour or so. Joe wants to go home more than anything, because it’s two days until hiatus and they’re four months away from filming the next episode — but that’s part of the reason he’s sticking around right now. Four months until filming means four months in Los Angeles, four months without excuses.

Martin yells, “Okay, cut! No more rain!” and Torri and David actually sprint off the effects stage, jostling down the stairs, and David skips every second step and leaps the last four. And while Torri is shaking down a PA for his thermos of coffee, David has already started booking it towards the meeting room by the time Joe’s folded up his paper, tucked it under his arm, and stood.

He follows David into the conference room and closes the door behind him. “Hey,” he says quietly. David’s crouched in front of the space heater, wringing out his jacket. Joe lets his hand fall to rest on David’s shoulder. “You did good,” he says. “Real good.”

“I can’t feel my nose,” David says, and Joe smiles, uncurls his fingers to rest on the side of David’s face.

“You still did good,” he says. I’m proud of you, Sheppard urges Joe to say. He wants to, because he is, he so is. But he can’t.

So he drops into a crouch next to David, takes his face in both hands and kisses him, hard and solid like a train car driven by gravity. David’s hands come up and hold his face, fingers digging into his cheeks as if to say, don’t go anywhere.

I won’t, Joe wants to tell him, you did good today and I’m proud of you and I’m not going anywhere. And then the door slams open.

“Joe, they want to shuffle around the — oh.”

They both stare, mouths half-open, at David Nykl’s shocked face, glasses on his head and normally wild hair even wilder from drying after a bad experience with the rain machine.

“Um,” he says intelligently, and then turns and shuts the door behind him.

Their hands drop and they sit back for a moment, trying to figure out what to do.

“Well,” David says slowly, “at least we’ve got four months to figure out something to say.”

At the wrap party, Joe watches anxiously as David H. takes David N. aside and they have what appears to be a highly animated discussion. It ends with backslapping and a weird handshake that the Davids and Paul put together one drunk night Joe only heard about, and doesn’t regret missing.

But Joe’s just happy that things look okay, and he fidgets with his beer, waiting for David H. to come back over.

“It’s cool,” David mutters. “Nykl gets the method thing.”

Joe rolls his eyes. “I don’t get the method thing.”

David’s mouth does that weird smile of his. “Yeah, well, you don’t understand the handshake thing either.”

Joe shrugs haphazardly, then brings his beer to his lips. He’s not prepared for David to sidle up to him as he takes that first swallow and whisper in his ear, “I saw the sides for the second half of the season, and I swear to god, John and Rodney totally have sex in this one where they’re on this desert planet–”

Needless to say, Joe sprays himself and at least five other people (though strangely not David) with beer.

David’s hand is on his elbow, and he keeps talking even as Joe is coughing into his hand, because that’s David. “And they’re fighting this crazy Wraith and in the end it’s just them, in the desert, dirty and angry and freaked out and –”

“I get it,” Joe mumbles, moving away from David and bringing his drink to his mouth to cover. “I really, really get it.”

David steps back, a wicked grin on his face, and says, “See you in four months,” walking off as Paul beckoned him over.