"I know this isn't the best time to ask a question," gasped Sheppard, as the water rose past both his and Rodney's chests, "But this is sort of a have to know now kind of situation…"
Rodney rolled his eyes.
"Unless you have a solution to our current situation, no, now is not a good time ask anything other than how the hell are we going to get out of here!" the scientist exclaimed, his eyes frantically searching for a way out of their predicament. Both of them were treading water at that point, and as John looked over at Rodney, his better judgment was silenced and he gasped out, "Look, I don't care if it's bad timing, but I might not get another chance, Rodney! Humor me? Please?"
Rodney glared at him and snapped, "Well considering the rate of flow of the water into the room, the weight of our gear, along with the distance of the ceiling, you've got about…six minutes? Give or take a few seconds? If you're gonna ask something, then ask it now."
John nodded, stuttered a bit in his treading, his head dunking under the water for a brief moment, and then surfaced, spluttering.
Finally, he said, "Rodney, how long have we been dating?"
"What?" said the scientist, confused. "You want to waste our last few precious moments we have asking how long we've been dating? Out of anything you could have asked, you couldn't have thought of anything better? Oh, I don't know, like-"
"Just answer the damn question, Rodney!"
Still treading water, the scientist absently glanced up at the ceiling and replied, "Uh, about eighteen months, two weeks, three days, twelve hours, and about twenty five minutes or so, give or take a few minutes. Why do you ask?"
"You know the minutes?" John said, slightly incredulous, but then rolled his eyes at the stupidity of his statement, and answered his own question. "Of course you know the minutes, why I am even surprised, but that's beside the point. Look, the point is this: I know you love me."
"Oh, c'mon, we're going to do this now? Can't we just, oh, I don't know, try and figure out a way out of here?!"
"Rodney, shut up! Maybe you've never said it out loud, but it's true, and I just want you to know that I love you, too." Rodney opened his mouth, but Sheppard cut him off. "Now, can we just skip the usual formalities for once, and will you please just shut up and give me a damn answer?"
"You haven't even asked me the question, so how am I supposed to know what answer-"
"Will you marry me?"
At this, Rodney was the one who stopped treading for a moment and John had to drag him back up after he'd dipped under the water, and he came up gasping, staring at the soldier as if he'd grown another head, which wouldn't be entirely improbable, considering their current situation.
Finally, he spluttered out, "Did you just…propose to me?"
"Yes, I did. Now, according to you, we got about four minutes left before we drown, so give me a yes or a no, and I'll die either very happy or horribly depressed but quickly put out of my misery, so just pick one!"
At this, Rodney floundered and said, "Only you, John Sheppard, would propose when both of us are about to meet our imminent death! You know, I can't help but notice that you have the worst timing in the world when it comes to these kinds of things…"
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, how about when you first asked me out? You asked me right before dinner in the middle of the mess hall in front of everyone on base!"
John rolled his eyes, glanced warily up at the shrinking distance between them and the ceiling, and defended himself with, "I hardly think it was everyone, Rodney. I mean, sure, Ronon and Teyla and Woolsey was there, but I don't think-"
"Oh, or how about the time you first kissed me?" he interrupted, his eyes, too, looking up at the ceiling and then back at John. "You did it in the infirmary while I was still drugged up after getting stitches in my side, in front of Jennifer, Carson, and half the infirmary staff!"
"Okay, first off, it was your damn fault that happened there!" the soldier snapped back, quickly defending himself, trying to shove the fact that they were about to most likely drown in just a few minutes. "You were doped on morphine, at the time, and I was just leaning over to fix your blanket and you reached up and shoved your mouth onto mine! I was just defending myself!"
"By kissing me back?" Rodney quipped.
Okay, he had him there.
Trying to wrap things up before they actually drowned, he said, "Look, do you really want to argue about this during the last few minu-"
"We might as well! Let's go through some more examples, shall we?" Not pausing to take a breath, he rambled on, while John was silently amused at seeing just how well the scientist could multi-task when he put his mind to it. "There was the incident with my birthday, which proved to me that you apparently aren't past a Sesame Street education when it comes to counting, and, oh, oh! What about the training incident in which I nearly lost my leg do to you walking in at precisely the wrong moment and destroying my concentration? And then there was the incident on MKX-971, in which, if I recall correctly, which I am most certain that I am, you managed to lead us directly to the locals…who were in the middle of choosing a human sacrifice and saw our arrival as a sign from their gods that we were the ones that they should sacrifice! Or do you not recall any of these incidents?"
Sheppard was tempted to simply hold his head under the water and drown him first so that he could live the last few seconds of his short life in blissful silence. However, just as he was just about to, they suddenly heard a familiar voice crackle over both of their coms.
"Colonel Sheppard? Dr. McKay?"
"Woolsey? Is that you?"
"Yes, Colonel. It is. We've found the emergency shut off valve and should have you out momentarily."
Just as he spoke, both he and Rodney noticed that the water had stopped rising. John let out a sigh of relief and said, "Well, how about that. We're not gonna die," and he looked smugly back at his boyfriend, who rolled his eyes and said, "Oh, please. Like you actually knew that that was going to happen. If anything, they probably found us because of me."
John's grin turned into narrowed eyes and he jabbed, "Oh, yeah, because your trail of microchip breadcrumbs was so easy to follow…"
They were interrupted by another familiar voice over their coms that said, "Actually, though I am loathe to admit it…yes, they were. If we hadn't noticed the irregularities in the security system along those particular corridors, we'd never have found you in time." It was Zelenka.
"Zelenka? You found us?" asked Rodney, incredulous.
"Yes, Rodney. I found you. Don't worry, I'm certain that any second now you'll still find a way to make it into your own success…"
"Well," drawled the scientist, not even hesitating to pat himself on the back, "If I hadn't thought of messing with the security protocols, then you never would have found the corridor that lead to the hidden room that I'm in…we're in," he quickly corrected, seeing Sheppard's glare.
"Speaking of rooms," John gently inquired, "How long until we're out of this one?"
"Give us a couple of minutes. You'll be out in no time."
The two of them looked at each other. Two minutes. It was enough time for them to finish their argument…or see their entire relationship crumble in the blink of an eye. Too much time.
As they waited, the water slowly draining, neither of them looking directly at each other, John couldn't hold it in any longer, and finally pushed out, "So…am I going to get an answer?"
"An answer to what?"
At this, John's eyes went wide and he looked about ready to say some serious words.
"This isn't funny, Rodney. You know what I want an answer to. Can you be serious for once in your life?"
Rodney gave him a look and glibly replied with, "Oh, I don't know, can you? I mean, what do you expect me to say? You asked me to marry you only when you thought that we were both about to die! I don't know about you, but that makes me wonder if you ever would have asked me otherwise!"
By that point, they were back on their feet and the door was slowly raising from the ground. John glared at him. He then shoved his hand roughly into the inside pocket of his BDU's and pulled out a small wooden box and dropped to one knee, ignoring the fact that he was now kneeling in ten inches of icy cold water. The rest of him was already soaked, so who cared?
"Meredith Rodney McKay," he firmly started, and the other man shook his head.
"Oh, no, you're not actually doing this here? Now? After what I just told you about you having the shittiest timing of anyone I've ever known?"
Ignoring him and his protests, along with the sound of boots out in the hallway, John persisted.
"Meredith Rodney McKay," he repeated, and Rodney rolled his eyes and muttered, "My god, you're actually serious about this," but he persisted. "Meredith Rodney McKay," he said firmly, for a third time, and then finally continued. "Even though you infuriate me to no end, and I want to throttle you at least three times a day…you have made my life better." He opened the box. "So, I am asking you, if it doesn't offend you, too much," he said pointedly, giving him a look, "To be a part of the rest of my life, because I can no longer see it without you. Despite your ego, your social skills, your general lack of tact-"
"Hey, aren't you supposed to be buttering me up, here?" Rodney protested, but he went quiet with a look from John.
"You require a different approach," said Sheppard, and the scientist looked sufficiently chastised and went silent. "Now," he continued. "I will ask you one more time, and please don't make me ask it again, because even I feel sufficiently embarrassed here," he added, glancing at the members of the team outside the door, consisting of Ronon, Teyla, Woolsey, Keller, and Carson, as well as several others on the medical team. "Will you, please…marry me?"
Rodney looked at him a long time, his own BDU's clinging to his body like a second skin, shivering, his hair plastered against his head and bags under his eyes…and then he smiled.
"Well, duh, you idiot. You think I was dating you for shits and giggles?"
"Was that a yes? I mean, it better be," John snapped, "Because my knees are killing me, here, and if you make me wait one damn second longer, I'll-"
Rodney cut him off by hauling him to his feet and pressing a quick, but firm kiss to his lips.
"Of course, it's yes, John."
At that, John couldn't help but lean in and plant a much messier and wetter kiss onto his lips, completely ignoring the crowd outside the door, wrapping wet arms around a wet back, neither of them caring about the spectacle that they were making of themselves.
He heard a splash, and Rodney suddenly pulled back from the kiss almost comically fast.
"Was that the ring?"
"You gonna pick it up?"
He pulled back and quickly reached down and attempted to grab it before it flowed out with the rest of the water, but then looked up, embarrassed, when Teyla's fingers caught it after it had slipped right past his. She gently handed it to him and gave him a reassuring smile.
Feeling heat rising in his cheeks, John grabbed it and fumbled as he pulled the ring from the box and slid it onto Rodney's finger.
Rodney gave him a long look…and then said, "You know you're still the girl in this relationship, right?"
"Oh, I know."
Yeah, his boyfriend had the worst timing in the world. But he wouldn't have it any other way.