He wasn’t good with friendship… Not good at being a friend. Never had to worry about it much. His intellect made up for any shortfalls his lack of socialisation skills caused. At school, he was bullied unmercifully by the jocks until one day he showed them how useful he could be, writing their essays for them and helping them with exams. Almost overnight he found himself one of the popular crowd but he knew he was only there by default, that the first time he didn’t perform to expectations he’d be out eating lunch at the geeks’ table again, or worse yet, tied up naked in the girls’ restroom. Not once had he ever kidded himself that the guys, who thumped him on the back when they saw him in the hall, or called him Rod as if it was an affectionate nickname, were his friends. He may never have really had any friends but he knew enough to recognize that these weren’t it.
It had never particularly bothered him. Even when he’d first come to Atlantis and Sheppard had made him part of his team, he’d known it wasn’t because they were friends. It was a purely tactical decision on Sheppard’s part, and he was okay with that. It made sense, after all, to have the smartest mind in two galaxies on the frontline team, even if, at the time, he couldn’t hit the side of a barn with the weapon they gave him to carry.
“Hey, McKay, you still awake?” A nudge against his side and Rodney turned his head and looked at Ronon.
“Can’t sleep,” he said simply.
“Scared the big, bad wolves are gonna come back for us?” Ronon lifted his weapon and hefted it in his hand, shooting Rodney a sidelong grin at the same time. “Pretty sure I got them all.”
“Well, yes, unless they’re cannibals and more of them come back to feast on the dead ones and then on us,” Rodney bit out acerbically. He sighed, cradled his injured arm more carefully against his chest then said, “Sorry. I’m a little tense. I appreciate what you did. I know you saved my life.”
Ronon shrugged. “You would have done the same for me.”
“Yes, you would have,” Sheppard said.
Teyla reached across and patted Rodney’s shoulder gently. “For any of us,” she said softly. “It’s what friends do.”
Rodney nodded because it was true. He may not have succeeded as spectacularly as Ronon had but he would have died trying at least.
He was reminded of that story his mother used to read to him when he was a kid, the one about the three little pigs and how the house that had withstood the wolf’s huffing and puffing had been the one made of bricks. His friends were a little like that – his metaphorical brick house. No matter how many wolves came, his friends would be there, by his side and at his back, through thick and thin. He looked around at them all. “Yeah, I know,” he said, settling back against the cave wall and closing his eyes. “It’s a friend thing. I get it.”