disclaimer: not mine.

note: dedicated to b-b-banana, crossposted to eljay. originally written in all-caps (oh ho).


dispute

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Meredith Rodney McKay, PhD PhD, is kind of a dick.

The Nobel has not helped.

He is also, if the two detectives - if that is even what they are - on his doorstep are telling the truth, in possession of a haunted house. after years of fighting aliens and staring the terrors of the (un)known universe in the face, Rodney has gotten pretty good at suspending his disbelief, but ghosts? Ghosts?

Oh my god, he thinks. Oh my god. People are idiots.

And then he slams the door in the detectives' faces, and it feels wonderful.

The thing is, Rodney isn't actually sure they aren't haunted.

Not by ghosts. Of course not by ghosts, you imbecile.

But things have been ... shifting. Moving around just so, making Rodney nearly trip down the stairs, (once,) or falling backwards over chairs when he's on the phone, (twice, both times arguing with John about what to have for dinner,) or not find his laptop chargers (countless). He has bought more laptop chargers the last two months than he has the five years before that. admittedly, he spent most of those in Atlantis, but the point is, Rodney does not lose his laptop charger.

If he didn't know better, he would suspect stray Atlantean technology. Actually, no, he does suspect stray Atlantean technology, and so he spends a lot of time giving John suspicious looks.

"Did you touch anything?" he asks, over breakfast.

"My ... toast?" John frowns confusedly at him. "why?"

Rodney huffs.

"Nothing," he says, and then he has a near death experience over a stray piece of orange.

"Hey, Rodney," John says yells from the living room, and the way his voice sounds takes Rodney right back to Atlantis, with the alarms blaring and the wraith banging on the door. Rodney forces himself not to run.

John is staring at a small mountain of photographs - and those are a lot of photographs, Rodney doesn't remember anyone ever taking them - with an unhappy look on his face.

"I think we're haunted," John says, going for flippant and overshooting. Rodney looks at the photographs.

They are all of John. His face is lovingly encircled with black ink on every. single. one.

Rodney stares. He realises, with dawning horror, that there are hearts.

It reminds him of every alien that ever tried to get into John's pants. He thinks about Chaya and Teer and the creep who tried to get Sheppard pregnant, and something that's part blind panic and rage and part resentment with extreme prejudice wells up in his stomach like acid reflux. Not having any aliens trying to get into John Sheppard's pants was supposed to be one of the few benefits of having to leave Atlantis. (Drawbacks: Idiots. Idiots. More idiots. Not enough alien technology that might explode and kill you. Even more idiots.)

He stomps to his desk, and powers up his laptop.

They're not really expecting the ghost to appear.

It makes no sound as it shows up - one minute they're doing internet research, and the next it's in the middle of the living room. It looks like it's falling apart. it looks like a corpse, and it's wearing a bright orange sundress that makes it look even paler, like it fell asleep in a bag of flour and then didn't wake up for three months.

Rodney's fingers twitch over the keyboard. the ghost barely glances at him before catching sight of John, and then it tilts its head to the side and smiles a horrible, terrifying, pearly white smile.

"John," it says, dragging out the name like a death rattle, and Rodney thinks about another kind of undead. John gives the ghost his charming pilot smile, the one he gets when everything's going to hell.

The ghost takes a graceless step towards him.

Rodney opens his mouth.

He starts to shout.

During the first few insults, the ghost just stands there, staring.

Then it starts to yell back, hurtling abuse with all the force and vocabulary of an old sailor on steroids. If anything, it only encourages Rodney to up his game.

John watches them scream at each other with a growing feeling of detached horror. It's going to be a long day.