Another new planet, another new race, and another new person seduced by Col. Sheppard. John sometimes wondered if it was worth the effort. He knew that the Marines bragged about their CO’s exploits, but there were mornings when he couldn’t remember the name of the person whose bed he was sharing. Still, it was better than his own hand.
"You don’t have to leave just yet, do you?" a sultry voice purred in his ear as a hand reached between his legs. "The sun won’t be up for another hour."
John rolled on top of the gorgeous brunette, smiling. "Oh, I think I can wait that long, Nalia."
"I am sure the colonel will join us shortly, Rodney," Teyla was saying patiently as John made his way out of the tent a while later.
"What’s the rush?" John asked, smirking at his teammates.
"Some of us would like to finish this mission so that we can get back to civilization, Colonel," Rodney snapped, glancing up at the other man, then back at his coffee.
"McKay’s been ready for hours," Ronon added, grinning.
"The sun hasn’t even been up for hours. Since when are you an early riser, McKay?"
"Since I couldn’t sleep anyway, so I thought I might as well get some work done." Rodney looked up again, then shook his head when the gorgeous native woman exited the tent as well to trail her fingers over John’s back, gaining a distant smile from the colonel.
"Well, far be it for me to keep our chief scientist from his work. Let’s get going, people." John stepped away from Nalia’s touch, deftly avoiding the kiss she attempted to give him.
"Another team will be back in a day or two to finalize the treaty," he said to the village elder. "We look forward to trading with you."
Rodney glanced over at Teyla and Ronon, his jaw tight. "Is he saying that we stayed here overnight just so he could play Kirk?"
"I am sure the colonel had good reason for our stay," Teyla replied diplomatically.
"It’s called being friendly, Rodney," John added. "You should try it sometime."
"Thank you but you seem to do it well enough for the entire expedition."
"I don’t think the word ‘friendly’ is in McKay’s vocabulary." Ronon grinned as he started to pack up the tent he and Teyla had shared.
"It would do wonders for your mood," John said, smirking at Rodney again as he made short work of the tent Rodney had had to himself the night before.
"I happen to like my mood just fine," Rodney grumbled as he poured his coffee out on the fire and walked over to his pack to stow the rest of his gear.
"Well, it does serve as a great secret weapon," John mused, hefting his pack onto his back.
"I hope you will visit us again, John," Nalia murmured, undeterred by his brush-off.
"We’ll see how it goes. I never know when or if I’ll get any free time," John replied evasively. "But I’m very appreciative of the hospitality you showed us, and I know my people will be as well."
Rodney glanced at Teyla and rolled his eyes. "He certainly has that line down pat."
"The colonel has his own brand of diplomacy."
John grinned crookedly. "I like making new friends."
"I’m just waiting for the day one of those friends shows up on our doorstep with a John Jr. at her side." As Rodney spoke, he closed his pack and hefted it onto his shoulders, groaning as his sore back twinged.
"Condoms," John said succinctly. "What’s wrong with your back?"
"Considering the fact that I spent the night tossing and turning on the cold, hard ground, I can’t imagine."
"Ah, nothing new then." Relieved, John turned his attention to making their farewells and extracting his team from the village. He was looking forward to getting back to Atlantis and a long, hot shower.
By the time they got back to Atlantis, got rid of their gear, and de-briefed with Elizabeth, Rodney’s back was spasming, and he winced as he walked out of her office.
"You should see Carson about that," John observed.
"I’m planning on it," Rodney said dryly. "Have a lovely day, Colonel."
"Okay, what’s your problem?" John asked, a little irritated. "It’s not like you don’t get offers of your own."
"Oh yes, they all fall at my feet," Rodney snorted. "And my problem is my having to sleep outside, alone, in a tent on the freezing rocky ground so that you can get your rocks off, Colonel. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get a muscle relaxant from Carson and take a nap."
"Rodney, it was perfectly comfortable, not Antarctica." John shook his head. "Was I supposed to offend the Telarians?"
Rodney shook his head and winced when the motion pulled at his back again. "Never mind, forget I said anything." He started to walk away, muttering under his breath as he did so.
John hesitated before swearing and chasing after Rodney. "Look, what the hell’s up with you? It’s not like I’m doing anything different."
"Nothing! My back hurts, and I’m tired, and I’m—tired, I’m just tired."
John sighed. "Come on, you don’t need pills; you need a massage." He caught hold of Rodney’s arm and steered him toward the transporter.
"Just where are you—Colonel!" Rodney sputtered, stumbling as John pulled him along.
"Since apparently it’s my fault that the ground mysteriously transformed under you, I’ll fix the problem." John sent the transporter to the living quarters and hauled Rodney toward his room.
"I will be perfectly fine if I get something from Carson—oof!" The last was grunted out when John pushed him to the bed.
"Drugs aren’t the best solution to every problem. Now take your shirt off." John looked around before picking up the lotion on the nightstand. "Not as good as massage oil, but it’ll work."
"Colonel, I do not need you to give me a massage!" Rodney snapped, trying to scramble around and sit up but ending up curled up in a ball, trying to rub his back.
"Would you stop fighting me," John ordered in exasperation. "I’m trying to help you here." He caught hold of the hem of Rodney’s shirt and drew it upward.
"I don’t—oh for god’s sake," Rodney exclaimed as he found himself stripped from the waist up.
"You have got to be the most stubborn man in two galaxies."
"It serves me well."
"Yeah, well, cooperation will serve you better in this case."
"As if I could so anything else with you sitting on me!" Rodney gasped, squirming under John’s weight.
"So lie still already and let me get on with it. I don’t do this for just anyone, you know."
Rodney’s snort said exactly how much he believed that.
"Hey, I don’t. I haven’t given anyone a massage since I got to Antarctica."
"Uh-huhohhhh," The word turned into a groan as John’s hands dug into the tight muscles in Rodney’s back.
"Did I mention I’m really good at it?" The smirk was audible in John’s voice.
"If you stop, I’m going to have to kill you, and don’t think I won’t," Rodney moaned.
"Now don’t you feel like an idiot for trying to stop me?" John worked on a particularly tight knot until it finally relaxed and then moved on to the next problem area.
"Safer," Rodney muttered under his breath as he felt knots of tension he hadn’t known he’d had relax.
John’s hands stilled. "I thought we were friends?" he said, a faint undertone of hurt in his voice.
Rodney stiffened as he realized John had heard him and tried to look up and back at the other man. "We are. Right?"
"Then why would you think you’re not safe with me?"
"It was a stupid comment, Colonel; I’m obviously suffering from lack of sleep."
John’s hands began to move again. "If you don’t trust me, Rodney, I need to know it."
"Trust you? What in the hell are you talking about? Of course I trust you!"
Feeling Rodney starting to tense up again, John increased the pressure of his hands. "Okay, okay, no need to get upset about it. You have to admit that it might have sounded otherwise. But we’re good, right?"
"I didn’t mean..." Rodney sighed and shook his head, trying to relax again. "Yes, we’re good."
"Good. That’s... good." Shaking his head at the inanity of the conversation now, John shut up and concentrated on working the new knots out of Rodney’s back.
"Mmmhmm." Glad the talking was over, Rodney stretched out further beneath John, groaning and shifting slightly as he got more comfortable.
Grinning, John resettled himself and lost himself in the rhythm of his hands, working on Rodney without realizing that his own tension was draining away at the same time.
"Feels good," Rodney sighed, squirming again to push up against the strong pressure of John’s hands.
"Told you so."
"Yes, yes, you were right." Rodney shifted again, this time more purposefully, making John inhale sharply and suddenly rise up onto his knees, breaking contact between them.
"Try to remember that," he said, hoping Rodney wouldn’t notice the huskiness of his voice.
"Everyone’s entitled to it once in a while," Rodney murmured, frowning slightly as the pressure changed on his back.
"Ha. You know damn well I’m right more often than not. You just don’t like to admit that anyone but you can have a good idea."
Rodney hrumpfed and squirmed again in response, and John gasped, his hips jerking as Rodney rubbed over his hardening cock.
"What? What happened?" Rodney asked, pushing up on his elbows and looking back over his shoulder at John.
"Nothing, just relax," John said, trying to push Rodney back down before he noticed the effect he was having on John.
"Are you all right?"
"I’m great. Could you lie down again? It’s hard to give a massage like this."
"Oh, sorry." Rodney was still frowning as he lay back down, and he gave himself a full body shake as he settled.
"Oh Jesus," John groaned, the shimmy weakening his knees and making him sink down against Rodney again.
"Wha—oh." Rodney went still as he felt John’s erection pressing against him.
"Sorry," John rasped, pushing himself up again as his body throbbed.
"Nothing to apologize for," Rodney said quickly. "I should have held still." He pressed his lips together tightly to keep from saying anything else.
"I hope this isn’t going to make you uncomfortable around me." John’s hands tightened on Rodney’s shoulders.
Rodney twisted around again to stare up at John, his brow knitted in a frown. "It’s a physical reaction, Colonel."
"Good. That’s good." John smiled crookedly, his fingers sliding down Rodney’s back, causing the other man to shiver and clear his throat.
"So relax," John suggested, working on Rodney’s lower back.
Rodney snorted out a half laugh and tried to do just that.
"That’s it," John murmured, shifting back to work on Rodney’s ass through his clothes, making Rodney tense again.
"Sorry," he muttered before trying to relax again.
John stilled. "Do you want me to stop?"
"No!" The word escaped before Rodney could stop it.
John smiled crookedly. "Then lose the pants. This works better without fabric in the way."
"Lose—" Rodney froze and gave an audible swallow. "You need to get off of me to do that."
"Good point." John swung to the side, kneeling on the bed next to Rodney as he waited.
Moving carefully, Rodney sat up and pulled off his boots before standing, keeping his back to John as he undid his belt and pushed his pants down and off, managing to stay that way as he lay down again.
John hesitated for a moment before moving to straddle Rodney again. He coated his hands with more lotion and placed them on Rodney’s shoulders, slowly working downward.
Rodney bit his lower lip to keep from whimpering and squirming, and his shoulders hitched as he gasped for breath, wondering why he’d agreed to this insanity.
John’s hands slid slower, curving over Rodney’s buttocks, and the colonel never noticed that he’d begun rocking almost imperceptibly against Rodney, but Rodney did, and he squirmed in response, rubbing his body against the bed.
"Rodney?" John caught his lower lip between his teeth, trying not to groan.
"Yes?" Rodney’s voice was rough.
"Do you want me to stop?" John asked again, this time with a very different meaning, and they both knew it.
Rodney knew he should say yes, and it was what he meant to say, but when he opened his mouth, all that came out was a breathy ‘no’.
John’s hands moved over Rodney’s ass, fingertips lightly gliding along the crease, and he leaned down to press a kiss to a shoulder blade. Rodney shivered, and he reached back to touch John’s knee, frowning and growing somewhat embarrassed when he realized that he was still fully clothed.
Coming to the same realization, John squirmed atop Rodney, divesting himself of his clothes, and then he groaned as he slotted his erection between Rodney’s cheeks. He rocked against the scientist, his cock gliding easily along the lotion-slick crevice, and his hands moved over Rodney’s back again.
"Feels good," Rodney whispered, arching up beneath him and pushing up onto his elbows so that he could look back at John again, his blue eyes wide and wondering.
"Yeah," John rasped, staring back. He licked his lips nervously, then leaned forward very slowly, giving Rodney every chance to pull away, and kissed him. Rodney moaned and opened his mouth, his tongue sliding forward as he shifted his weight onto one arm to twist beneath John. John shifted between Rodney’s legs, lowering himself to lie on top of the other man, their cocks trapped between them as he rocked against Rodney.
"God, John," Rodney gasped, clutching at him.
John lowered his head, nibbling gently on Rodney’s lower lip until Rodney opened to him, letting his tongue slip inside while John’s finger carefully pressed into Rodney’s ass, drawing a gasp from the other man. Rodney spread his legs wider, pulling back to gaze up at John, his expression full of trust. John stilled, looking down into Rodney’s eyes, and then he groaned, kissing him hard as he slipped another finger into Rodney.
Rodney tensed up but forced himself to relax as he squirmed under John and stroked his shoulders.
"Shh, relax," John murmured, slowly working his fingers inside Rodney.
"I am!" Rodney snapped before lunging up to kiss John again to stifle his whimpers.
John chuckled into the kiss, pushing his fingers deeper, making Rodney yelp and clutch at him when they brushed over his prostate. Seeing the reaction, John concentrated his attention on that spot, wanting Rodney more relaxed before he took him.
"John, oh god," Rodney moaned, rocking against John’s hand and getting his own between them to stroke down John’s chest to his cock.
"Right here, oh fuck yeah," John gasped, thrusting into Rodney’s hand.
"Can’t believe it," Rodney murmured, smiling up at John, his whole body relaxing as he stared up at him.
"So good," John rasped, moving his hand to grasp Rodney’s hip and position himself, just nudging against Rodney.
Rodney nodded, biting his lower lip as he felt John breach him.
"God, you’re so tight," John groaned, his eyes falling half closed as he sank into Rodney.
"Tense man here, remember?"
"Doing my best to fix that." John managed a grin.
"So I noticed." Rodney sucked in a breath as John pushed the rest of the way in, then managed a smile.
John eyed him, holding still to let Rodney relax again. "You know, if you prefer to top, you just had to say so." He reached between them to pet Rodney’s softening cock, wanting to get him back to the level of arousal he’d been at moments before.
"It’s just I’ve—been a while." Rodney swallowed, trying to hide the wince when John moved in him, concentrating instead on the feel of John’s hand moving over his cock.
"I can tell. God, you’re as tight as virgin," John groaned. He could tell that Rodney still wasn’t enjoying it very much, so he held still, concentrating on Rodney’s cock and balls, slowly stroking him back to arousal.
"Oh haha," Rodney muttered before groaning as John discovered one of his hot spots and teased it. As Rodney slowly relaxed, his attention on what John’s hands were doing, John slowly eased a little deeper, pleased that Rodney didn’t tense up this time.
"John—" Rodney began, his sentence broken by a moan when John shifted within him. "Oh god, there."
John nodded, rocking his hips gently so the head of his cock rubbed over that spot, Rodney gasping at the sensation before beginning to move as well, arching up against John’s thrusts.
"That’s it," John whispered, "move with me. So good, so fucking good."
Rodney nodded, for once beyond words. He reached up with trembling hands and stroked John’s shoulders, reaching up to tangle his fingers in the dark, messy hair and pulling him in for another kiss.
John’s tongue slipped into Rodney’s mouth, possessing him in every way possible. One of them groaned, and he had no idea who it was, nor did he care. They rocked together for what seemed like hours until Rodney gasped and shuddered, stiffening beneath John as he came, his seed coating both their stomachs. John groaned harshly as Rodney clenched down and rippled around him, and he drove into Rodney several more times until his own climax overwhelmed him. He buried himself as deep as he could go, spasms of pleasure wracking his frame.
They lay there together, both gasping for breath, Rodney’s features softened by a not-often seen smile of pure happiness as he slid his hands lower, trailing his fingertips over John’s back. John lay atop him, face buried against Rodney’s throat, apparently content not to move.
"Mmm, nice massage, John," Rodney finally chuckled, turning his head to nuzzle John’s cheek.
"It was my pleasure," John replied, lazily tracing patterns on Rodney’s shoulder with a fingertip.
Rodney chuckled throatily at that. "Not just yours."
John laughed as well. "Yes, I did notice that. And that too was my pleasure."
"Going smug on me?"
"When you’ve got it, flaunt it." John raised his head to smirk at Rodney.
Rodney chuckled at that. "I’ll remind you of that next time you complain about me extolling the greatness of my genius."
John laughed. "Why doesn’t that surprise me?" He sat up. "I hate to rush this, but I have a meeting with Lorne in less than an hour. I need to get going."
Some of the sparkle died out in Rodney’s eyes, but he nodded. "And I should get to the lab; they think I was taking the afternoon off, so this way I can scare the hell out of them."
"No one can do that the way you do," John agreed laughingly as he stood up and stretched before reaching for his uniform.
"If you want to use the shower, feel free," Rodney offered, "I’m just going to lie here and enjoy the feeling of no back pain for a while."
"Thanks." John vanished into the bathroom, uniform in hand, and a moment later the sounds of running water and tuneless humming reached the outer room.
Listening to the homey sounds, Rodney smiled as he squirmed against the sheets, the ache in his ass a reminder that, yes, this had just happened. "I guess the village hussies will have to find themselves someone else to scratch their itch," he murmured before yawning and dragging the blanket over himself as he turned on his side and fell asleep.
Walking into the briefing room the next morning, John glanced at the two vacant seats, one next to Rodney and one across the table, and sank into the one between Elizabeth and Carson, nodding a greeting to Rodney.
Rodney’s smile faltered for a split-second, then he nodded back, glancing quickly down at his datapad to answer a question Elizabeth had asked.
"So basically," John interrupted a few minutes later, "it’s another meet and greet mission, right?"
"The Kecharans grow many crops for trade," Teyla nodded. "Creating good relations between their world and Atlantis would be beneficial for all."
"No chance of artifacts?" Rodney asked, finally looking up from his datapad, glancing at John before looking at Teyla questioningly.
Teyla shook her head. "No, my people have traded with the Kecharans for many generations, and there is nothing of the Ancestors on their world, no ruins, no outposts."
Rodney slumped hearing that information, making Elizabeth smile. "Though there’s always a chance your scans will pick something up."
"And we can definitely use some new allies with fresh food," John added.
"Yes, well, fresh food is always a good thing," Rodney allowed.
"Rodney, ye think of a new MRE as fresh food," Carson chuckled.
Everyone around the table, aside from Rodney, made a face. "The rest of us, however, prefer our meals not to come out of little foil pouches," Elizabeth said.
"They taste good," Rodney protested.
John shook his head. "You’re weird, McKay."
"I know what I like," he shrugged, giving a half-smile.
"If you say so." John turned his attention back to Elizabeth, nodding when she asked if that was all. "So we’re on for tomorrow."
"That’s it?" Rodney made another note on his datapad and stood. "I’m going to go get some lunch." He glanced over at John questioningly.
After a moment John shrugged and got up as well. "I could use something to eat. Teyla, I’ll meet you in an hour."
"Planning on getting beaten with sticks again, Colonel?" Rodney asked, glancing up at John and smiling.
"It’s a thing." John grinned. "It makes Teyla happy."
"She likes beating you?"
"I think she thinks it keeps my head from getting too big," John admitted with a chuckle. "I can easily hold my own with the Marines, but she or Ronon can take me every time."
"Well, we all can’t be the best at everything," Rodney reached up and patted John’s shoulder as they walked.
"It gives me something to aim for. Not that I would want the lives they’ve led that forced them to learn those skills." John shook his head. "Makes a lot of the stuff we complain about seem pretty petty, doesn’t it?"
It took Rodney a moment to answer, but when he did, his tone was serious. "Yes, yes, it does; life here is hard, but I wouldn’t go back for anything."
"It’s home, isn’t it?" John smiled, his hazel eyes warming.
Rodney nodded at that. "The best I’ve ever had."
"Me too." John picked up a tray as they reached the food line. "You’re a really good friend, Rodney, the best I’ve ever had," he said, intentionally repeating Rodney’s words.
Rodney beamed at that and grabbed his own tray, loading it with food and carrying it to a table and sitting. "I feel the same way, John," he smiled.
"Cool." John grinned at him over the table. He picked up his turkey sandwich, eating hungrily.
"Yes, yes, it is," Rodney murmured before tucking into his own food.
John finished quickly and sat back, relaxing for a little while and letting his lunch settle before his workout with Teyla. "I’m surprised you didn’t complain about wasting your time on tomorrow’s mission."
"Just because there’s no record of Ancient buildings there doesn’t mean there might not be anything," Rodney shrugged, pausing to take a drink of his coffee.
"True. We’ll keep an eye out. We might get lucky."
Rodney flashed a grin at that. "I hope so."
John got up. "Gotta go get beaten up now. Catch you later."
"Um yes, later," Rodney said to John’s back.
"We are pleased to make new friends," the Kecharan leader announced, raising his glass to salute the Atlanteans.
"Very glad," his brother Linden murmured next to John, who smiled at him.
"We’re friendly people," he agreed.
Rodney had taken a sip from his glass of the locally fermented beverage, and seeing the warm expression in John’s eyes as he looked at the muscular redhead, he choked.
"Rodney, are you all right?" Teyla asked, eyeing him with concern.
After a coughing fit that ended in a grunt as Ronon patted him on the back with enough force to dislodge all his internal organs, Rodney managed to nod. "Fine, yes, I’m fine." He glanced back at John through watering eyes, hoping he’d been mistaken in what he had seen.
John had looked over when Rodney choked, but seeing Ronon handling it, he turned his attention back to Linden, sliding an arm around his shoulders.
Blue eyes widened, and for a second an expression of total devastation filled them before it vanished, locked behind a mask of snide indifference as Rodney slammed up barriers of well-developed protection between himself and his emotions, managing to survive the evening—at least until the laughing man guided John toward his home.
The moment the colonel vanished, he walked over to Teyla, who was talking with a group of villagers she knew. "I’m going to go back," he announced. "I have work to do, and there’s no need for me to ruin my back sleeping on what I’m sure will prove to be less than adequate mattresses."
Teyla winced faintly, but the Kecharans took no offense, and she nodded. "Ronon will accompany you to the gate."
"I don’t need a baby-sitter!"
"Doesn’t matter, I’m going," Ronon shrugged, planting himself at Rodney’s side.
"We will return to Atlantis in the morning. Good night, Rodney," Teyla said, sympathy in her eyes.
Rodney grunted in return, grabbed his pack from the mound of their gear and started for the gate, ignoring Ronon, who walked alongside him.
"Sheppard doesn’t take any of these things seriously," Ronon observed suddenly. "He probably doesn’t even remember their names."
"And you think this matters to me why?" Rodney asked petulantly.
Ronon shook his head, not bothering to answer. The rest of the walk back to the stargate was accomplished in silence, and once Rodney had gone through to Atlantis, Ronon headed back to rejoin Teyla.
She glanced up as he arrived and at his shrug, shook her head. "This is not going to be an easy time."
"Sheppard still has no idea," Ronon grumbled. "And McKay’s going to make everyone’s life miserable."
"And trying to make either of them see the truth will just make things worse."
"I think we need to go on a mission away from the city for a few weeks," Ronon grumbled.
"And come back to find it in ruins?"
"At least we wouldn’t need to listen to it happen."
Teyla chuckled at that. "I’m finding myself more and more inclined to agree with you."
"I hoped that Sheppard would realize what they were doing once he finally did something, but I think it’s even worse now," Ronon said. "This is the longest and strangest courtship I’ve ever seen in my life."
"Probably because neither of them recognize it for what it is; their culture has strange prohibitions regarding love."
Ronon nodded. "We’ll have to make sure that no problems come up once they finally sort this all out."
"Perhaps we should lock them in a room together."
"I wish we could, but you know McKay would find a way out."
"Or John would have the city let them out, and they would just be angrier for it." Teyla sighed and leaned against Ronon’s side. "It is a shame that neither of them have learned what a gift love is."
"I think McKay might have been ready, but Sheppard..." Ronon shook his head. "Now it will be even harder for them."
"That is true," Teyla nodded. "We will just have to wait and see what happens."
The minute Rodney returned, he tossed aside his pack, brushed aside the gate technician’s questions, and raced for Carson’s room. "Carson!" he bellowed, pounding on the door. "Wake up!"
It took a few minutes before the door opened, and a bleary-eyed Carson wearing nothing but boxers peered out. "What’s the bloody problem, Rodney?" he demanded. "There’s no emergency or I’d know."
"I need a blood test, and I need it now!"
"Have you run mad?"
"No, I have not," Rodney snapped. "But I may have been exposed to who knows what types of diseases, so will you do your job and see what I’m going to die of?!"
Carson raked a hand through hair that was already standing on end. "What are you on about?"
"Sex, Carson! Unprotected sex of the kind that kills you in horrible ways because you were too stupid to realize that you were nothing but a convenient hole!"
Carson gawked at Rodney for several seconds before grabbing hold of his arm and yanking him into his room.
"All right then, let’s start over," he said soothingly. "Are you telling me that you had unprotected sex?"
"Yes." Rodney took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. "Yes, now will you give me a blood test to tell me what’s going to kill me?"
"Breathe, Rodney." Carson patted his shoulder. "Sit down while I get dressed, and then we’ll go to the infirmary."
"Breathe he says," Rodney muttered to himself as he sat down and rubbed at his face. "Breathe while millions of little death-bearers are roaming around my body."
"I find it rather difficult to believe that you of all people would put yourself in this position."
"Yes, rub in my stupidity; it makes me feel so much better."
"Come along, Rodney. We’ll do the test, and then we’ll see what we need to do, if anything."
Rodney stood and nodded, looking oddly vulnerable. "Thank you, Carson," he said quietly.
"It’s what friends are for, lad," Carson replied bracingly.
"That’s what I thought."
Carson frowned curiously, but he didn’t press for information, simply offering the comfort of his presence as they walked down the hall.
When they reached the infirmary, Rodney followed Carson to an examination table and sat, obediently pushing up his sleeve and holding out his arm.
"At least the Ancient equipment lets us get the results immediately," Carson observed as he drew the blood. "You won’t have to wait and wonder."
"That’s good to know," Rodney said wanly.
"It will be." Carson patted his shoulder. "We’ll know in a few minutes."
"I hate waiting."
"It won’t be long." Carson left his hand on Rodney’s shoulder as they waited for the blood to finish processing.
Rodney frowned as he looked up at Carson. "Stupid. I should have known better," he sighed.
Carson eyed him but didn’t comment, deciding to wait till they got the results. "All right then, this is it."
"What is it? What am I dying of?" Rodney asked frantically.
"This isn’t a joke, Carson!"
"Ye’re fine, Rodney. Not so much as a cold, let alone anything else."
"Ye got lucky this time. In future, use a condom." Carson walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a handful, which he tried to give to Rodney.
"There won’t be a next time, so don’t concern yourself," Rodney spat, batting the foil packets away and getting up.
Carson stared at him. "Ye canna mean to be celibate the rest of your life!"
"I didn’t say that! Just that there won’t be any need in the future—the near future."
"If you want to talk..."
"There’s nothing to talk about; I made a stupid decision, and I learned my lesson."
Carson sighed. "Aye. Well, if you ever change your mind, I’m here."
"I’m fine, Carson. Really." Rodney gave him a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. "Sorry I got you up for nothing."
"I’m glad I could set your mind at rest. You should get some sleep now. I’m sure this will seem less awful in the morning."
"Of course, you’re right," Rodney nodded. "Good night, Carson."
"Good night, Rodney." Watching his friend leave, Carson shook his head in disbelief. "I never thought he’d give up on the colonel for someone else," the doctor murmured.
Rodney wandered back to his room, but when he looked at the bed, he knew there was no way he was sleeping there and headed to the lab instead to lose himself in work.
John stepped out of Linder’s house the next morning with a smile on his face and heavy eyes attesting to his lack of sleep.
"Good morning, John," Teyla said, nodding at him as she lingered over her breakfast.
"Good morning. Trade agreement all settled?" he asked, helping himself to the local equivalent of fruit and pastry.
"I believe so."
"Great. So we’re good to head back home?"
"Ready when you are, Sheppard," Ronon commented around a mouthful of food.
"Just as soon as I get something to eat then."
"Of course, John, take your time," Teyla replied serenely though her eyes tracked the approach of the woman the colonel had spent the night with.
Following her gaze, John frowned slightly and started eating faster.
"Looks like you’ve got a friend," Ronon snickered as she walked over and sat down beside John, pressing against him.
"You left so quickly, John," she pouted, "I wanted to give you a proper goodbye."
"And I appreciate the thought, but I have to get home." John leaned away ever so slightly.
"So soon?" she pouted. "I was hoping to show you our far fields and the meadows beyond."
"Maybe next time," John replied easily. "I do need to get back now."
"I will look forward to your next visit," she beamed, leaning in to kiss his cheek.
John smiled noncommittally. "Thank you for your hospitality."
"We should check on McKay when we get back," Ronon commented as he picked up another pastry.
"Speaking of which, where is McKay?" John looked around curiously. "Did he find a friend of his own last night?"
"He went back to the city," Teyla explained, shooting Ronon a frown.
"Really? Was there an emergency?" John was surprised; despite Rodney’s many complaints, he didn’t usually leave without the rest of his team.
"No, I believe he felt he would be more comfortable in his own quarters," Teyla offered.
"That prescription mattress, huh?" John shook his head. "He’s never going to make friends if he keeps avoiding people."
Ronon shrugged. "Must like the ones he has better."
"Yeah, but... Never mind." John finished his meal and stood up. "Okay, let’s head out."
"We are ready, John," Teyla assured him.
With a final perfunctory kiss for Linder, John extracted his team from the village and led the way toward the gate.
"Hey, Rodney, decided not to hurt your back again?" John greeted cheerfully as he entered the lab.
"Yes, that was exactly the reason," came the answer from beneath a large device.
"You’ve been here all night, haven’t you?" John perched on the edge of a table.
"Some of us have work to do. What point was there staying and socializing when that was the case?"
"I don’t know, to have fun? Make friends?"
Rodney snorted out a laugh at that. "I believe you do enough of that for the both of us."
"There’s more to life than the lab, Rodney."
"Tell me that again when what I’m working on saves all our lives."
"Hey, not denying that, but all work and no play makes Rodney a dull boy."
Rodney scooted out from under the device at that and looked up at John, his eyebrows raised. "Colonel, in all the time you’ve known me, could you ever say I was dull?"
John laughed. "You have a point. That’s one word that definitely doesn’t apply to you. Ready for lunch?"
"I was planning on eating here; I don’t want to lose track of where I am on this."
"Far be it for me to cause Atlantis to sink again. I guess I’ll catch you at dinner." John hopped off the table and moved toward the door.
"Possibly," Rodney waved a hand in his direction before sinking back under the device again, waiting until he heard the door whoosh shut to breathe a sigh of relief.
Zelenka came to stand over him. "You cannot hide in lab forever, Rodney."
"I’m not hiding, and who asked you anyway?" Rodney blustered.
"You fixed that device last week."
Rodney pulled out to glower at the shorter man. "I’m double-checking it."
"Of course you are." Radek shook his head and returned to his own work.
"What do you mean by that?" Rodney snapped.
"I mean you’re hiding," Radek repeated.
Radek turned and stared at him in disbelief. "From the colonel, of course."
"Now why would I be hiding from the colonel?"
Radek rolled his eyes. "It is one of life’s great mysteries."
"Oh, will you shut up and go back to work."
"Working." Radek exchanged an impatient glance with one of the other scientists.
"Good," Rodney grumped before vanishing under the device again.
"Okay, you’ve been holed up in this lab long enough. It’s movie night. Move your ass, McKay!"
Startled from his doze, Rodney almost fell off his stool, and, when he recovered, he scowled at John. "Is there a reason you wanted me to break my neck?"
"Nope, but I’m not taking any excuses. Teyla’s getting the popcorn, and the movie’s set up and ready to go. You’re coming with me."
"Oh yes, watching some inane comedy ranks over finishing this report," Rodney snorted.
"I seem to remember you saying that you’d missed the last Star Trek movie..."
Against his will, Rodney smiled. "Really?"
"Yup. So now will you leave this lab?"
"Fine, fine." Rodney saved his file and picked up his datapad, wincing as he stood and stretched.
"See, you’ve been sitting here too long. We’re going to have to take it in shifts to pry you out of here."
"You have got to be kidding."
"Oh come on, boldly go." John herded Rodney toward the door.
"Yes, yes, love long and prosper, Kirk," Rodney sighed, hurrying his steps to slide away from the hand John had on his back.
John eyed Rodney oddly as he followed him out of the lab. "What’s been eating you lately? If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were avoiding me."
"Too many projects and not enough time; as it is, I’m barely keeping ahead of things."
"Well, the Daedalus is due to make another run soon. Why not hire some more help?"
"Please, each batch is worse than the last!"
"Kavanagh was in the original group," John pointed out.
"At least he knows his science."
John actually stopped in his tracks. "Are you feeling all right?"
"Hmm?" Rodney paused and looked back at him. "Of course, just overworked as usual."
"You just said that Kavanagh is an all right scientist."
"Oh, well, tireder than I thought."
"I feel like I should be checking for a quantum mirror!"
Rodney managed a smile that he felt looked reasonably normal. "I assure you, Colonel, I’m all me."
"Yeah, I noticed. No one could impersonate you."
"Exactly, now can we go watch this movie before Ronon eats all the popcorn?"
Laughing, John put a hand on Rodney’s shoulder as they walked into the transporter. "He got a bowl of his own. And so do you."
"You’re too kind," Rodney said dryly when they exited the transporter, shifting his shoulder so that John’s hand fell from his back.
"That’s me, just an all ‘round great guy," John replied cheerfully. "I even got a pot of coffee before coming to get you."
"What? No beer?"
"Of course I have beer. But since when do you turn down coffee?" John eyed him suspiciously.
Rodney shrugged and started walking again. "Maybe I’m in the mood for a beer, Colonel; is that a crime?"
"Of course not, it’s just surprising, that’s all. Then again, you do surprise me on a regular basis."
"I could say the same for you," Rodney murmured as they walked into the room that had served as a lounge since almost their first days in Atlantis.
"Glad you made it, McKay," Ronon called from where he sprawled on the couch, Teyla sitting next to him.
"I told you I’d bring him. It can’t be team night if the whole team’s not here." John dropped onto the other couch, leaving room for Rodney beside him though Rodney apparently missed the implied invitation and sat down beside Teyla, stifling a yawn as he settled back against the cushions.
John frowned over at the three of them squeezed together on the sofa, but he didn’t comment, instead starting the movie. He tried not to think about the fact that he missed having Rodney beside him, commenting on the movie.
With dogged determination, Rodney kept from looking over at John through the course of the movie, though he also paid little attention to the plot and ended up dozing through the end. When the lights came up, he jumped slightly, looking around in confusion before remembering where he was.
"The movie was most interesting," Teyla said diplomatically.
John was frowning at Rodney, the hazel eyes dark and confused. "I thought you wanted to see this?" He sounded disappointed.
"I did—or I thought I did; I suppose it loses a bit of shine when you’re basically living it." Rodney stood and stretched, setting the half-eaten bowl of popcorn on the table, preparing to head out.
"It was better than that one with the ship that turned into the maid," Ronon chuckled.
"I still like the ones with the original cast better. And the Borg one with this cast," John said, "but this was pretty good for a final installment." He watched Rodney curiously. "You’re going to rush off?"
"Hmm? Was there something else going on?" Rodney glanced over at him, his eyebrows raised.
"Gee, I don’t know, actually talking to each other?"
"Oh," Rodney looked sheepish and sat down by Teyla again. "Sorry, I’ve been... distracted lately."
"Yeah, I’ve noticed. Or rather I haven’t. I’ve barely seen you the last while."
"The local genius’ work is never done."
"I’m starting to think you’re avoiding me," John laughed, not seeing the look Ronon and Teyla exchanged.
"Actually, I’ve been making headway deciphering the notes the Ancients left regarding creating ZPMs."
"Really?" John looked at him eagerly. "If you could... Well, you know better than anyone what that would mean for us."
Rodney nodded, and Teyla rested her hand on his arm, squeezing it slightly. "If anyone can do it, you can," she said sincerely.
"Of course," John agreed. "That’s great, Rodney. Have you told Elizabeth yet?"
"No, not yet; I was planning on waiting until I had something concrete to show her." Rodney’s expression darkened momentarily.
John nodded. "Don’t worry, I won’t say anything. Tell her when you think it’s the right time." He looked directly at Rodney. "I trust you."
Rodney closed his eyes for a second and nodded. "Thank you, Colonel. I appreciate that."
"We know you can do it, McKay," Ronon added.
"Once you finish with that, you can work on getting TV reception here," John grinned.
"So you can watch football all day? I don’t think so," Rodney sniffed.
"Think SciFi. Or Space if you want the Canadian version. Star Trek, Rodney."
"Really bad movies," he countered.
"So bad they’re funny," John retorted.
"I liked that one about the flying lizards," Ronon chuckled.
"You just liked the really bad actor who looked kind of like Radek," John laughed.
"I am still trying to understand how a human being can hold on with enough strength against one of those animals to pull an arm off another human being," Teyla murmured, her dark eyes alight with laughter.
"That wasn’t bad science; that was a bad grasp on reality!" John snorted.
"You mean a wing can’t cut a person in half?" Ronon snickered.
"Hardly." John shook his head. "Or we’d be genetically engineering them to deal with the Wraith."
Rodney shook his head. "I wouldn’t mention that to Carson."
"No, genetic engineering is a bit of a sore spot."
"Exactly," Rodney nodded, leaning forward to take a handful of popcorn.
"We’ll leave our survival in your capable hands." John saluted Rodney with his beer.
"Where better," Rodney smiled, raising his own beer as well and taking a drink to hide the tightness of his expression.
"Nowhere." John stretched out on the sofa, watching Rodney.
Ronon nodded and rested his arm around Teyla’s shoulders. "I’m not arguing that."
"I don’t think anyone would. We make a habit of saving each other."
Teyla nodded as she rested against Ronon’s side. "We balance each other well."
"We have a great dynamic," John agreed while Rodney only nodded and sipped at his beer. John eyed him. "You’re awfully quiet tonight."
"Hmm?" Rodney glanced over at him again. "Just tired, I suppose; this project’s been taking up a lot of my time."
"Well, I hope you get it done soon. It’s not the same without you around. Quieter," John added with a chuckle, "but a lot less interesting."
Rodney snorted at that. "I’m sure you’ll find some way to ease your boredom, Colonel."
Catching the tone, John sat up, frowning at Rodney. "I think I’m going to call it a night," he said, deciding not to call the other man on it this time.
"Sleep well, John," Teyla offered as she and Ronon stood as well, followed belatedly by Rodney, who nodded.
"I should be getting back to the lab as well. Have a good evening."
John remained there for a few minutes after the others left, frowning as he thought. Finally, he headed off to his room, still abstracted.
"Ow! Carson what are you doing, trying to tear my leg off at the hip?" Rodney howled.
"Och, Rodney, stop being such a bairn; ye’ve sprained yer ankle, and I need ta check yer mobility before I wrap it."
"Jeez, it sounds like you’re killing him in here, Carson," John said as he came in. "What happened?"
"He slipped on some spilled coffee and twisted his ankle," Carson interjected over Rodney’s explanation that involved a near death experience involving his head and a lab bench.
"Slipped on coffee?" John tried not to laugh.
"Oh yes, please, Colonel, make fun of my injury. Do you want to help Dr. Mengele here torture me more?"
"No, but I might sell tickets."
Rodney glowered at him while Carson chuckled. "Yer going ta be fine, Rodney. I will tell ye to stay off of it for three days, then light duty for the next two weeks."
John stopped laughing. "We have a mission scheduled in three days."
"Well, I suppose you’ll have to survive without my immense genius."
John’s frown deepened. "I don’t like going out with the team light. Something always goes wrong."
Rodney sighed, looking mightily put-upon. "Then take Dr. Rhors; she’s been itching to get into the field, and this would give her experience."
"You want us to take someone else? Carson, are you sure he didn’t hit his head?"
"No, Rodney is as much in his right mind as he ever is."
Rodney growled and glared at the physician. "Not amusing! As for taking Dr. Rhors, yes, this is another meet and greet, correct? I think she can handle that."
"Okay, but that’s it. Any other missions will wait till you’re back on the active duty roster. I’m not going to start breaking in a new scientist."
Rodney opened his mouth to fire back a retort but closed it when he thought better of it. "I’m sure you’ll get along fine," he finally said.
"And here I thought no one was as good as you."
"Of course they aren’t, but she’s friendly; she’ll do fine winning over the locals. Ow! Are you trying to cut off all my circulation?!" Rodney demanded of Carson.
"The wrap has to be tight to support yer ankle, lad."
Casting a commiserating glance at Carson, John backed toward the door. "Well, I guess I’d better go get Dr. Rhors up to speed and make sure she’s not going to shoot herself in the foot."
"She won’t; she’s Israeli, did that mandatory army service thing," Rodney sighed.
"Ah, Ronon should like her then."
"So go, enjoy, start with the whole bonding thing."
There was a hint of a bite in John’s tone as he replied, "Since you obviously don’t need me here, I guess I will. So long, Rodney."
Rodney sat up as if he’d been slapped, then nodded, turning his attention once more to Carson. "Are you going to finish that any time this century?"
"Och, ye dinna need to take your bad humor out on me. Just remember who does your physical!" Carson warned.
"I’ve had worse than your speculum up my ass," Rodney snapped back, his whole posture tense.
Carson frowned. "Was it consensual?" he asked, suddenly wondering.
"What?" Rodney asked, staring at him. "Of—of course it was!"
"I wondered from things you had said."
"It was simply a mistake; one I won’t make again. So, can I work in the lab at least?"
Carson nodded. "Within reason. No staying for entire days at a time."
"Yes, yes, I understand, I’ll rest as much as possible."
"See that you do or I’ll take you off duty."
Rodney rolled his eyes but nodded. "Fine, Carson; can I have some crutches so I can go?"
"If you stay out of the lab for the rest of the day. Otherwise, I’ll keep you here for observation."
"Can I at least use my computer?"
"Just make sure you get some rest tonight. Even a minor injury makes the body want rest."
"Well, considering I won’t be going on missions, I’m sure I’ll be getting plenty of rest," Rodney answered shortly. "Now, crutches, please?"
Shaking his head, Carson handed over the crutches.
Rodney took them and carefully swung himself out of bed, swaying a moment before he got his balance. "Thank you, Carson," he said quietly before limping out of the infirmary.
"Very impressive, Naomi," John was saying as the team came back through the gate two weeks later.
"Thank you, John," she laughed, shifting her pack to a better balance on her back. "I must say, from listening to Dr. McKay, I hadn’t realized these missions could be so enjoyable."
"They’re more pleasant when people aren’t chasing us, trying to kill us for stealing their sacred whatever."
"Yes, I could tell you had quite a pleasant evening," she smiled while Ronon rolled his eyes at Teyla behind her and John’s backs.
John chuckled. "Just doing my part for galactic peace."
"And good will?"
"Exactly." John grinned at her. "I noticed you spreading some goodwill of your own."
She chuckled at that and patted his shoulder. "Just trying to give a good impression of the science department, Colonel."
"Very impressive attention to detail, Doctor."
"Are they going to pat each other on the back next?" Ronon murmured.
"I believe I will leave before we find out."
Ronon nodded at that. "See you at the debriefing, Sheppard."
Looking over in surprise, John nodded. "I’ll see you then."
"When is the debriefing?" Dr. Rhors asked.
"Two hours. It’ll give you time to grab a shower and something to eat."
"Wonderful, I’ll see you there." Giving John a bright smile, she patted his shoulder again and walked briskly out of the gateroom.
John waved to Elizabeth before following the other members of his team and heading to his quarters for a quick shower. Once he was done, he went to the mess hall for something.
"Rodney! Hey, nearly ready to get back in the saddle?" John dropped into a seat across from the scientist.
"Tell me, Colonel, do you see the crutches leaning against the wall there?" Rodney asked, looking up from his meal.
"It’s been two weeks, Rodney."
"And Carson said it would be at least three weeks before I was mobile again."
"We miss you on the team." John pushed the blue jello to the edge of the tray closest to Rodney.
"Hrmm, I heard that you and Dr. Rhors were quite the hit on your last missions; the villagers are falling all over themselves to trade with us now," Rodney commented idly, reaching for the jello and digging into it.
John laughed. "You know me, spreading friendship everywhere I go."
Rodney set down the jello at that, placing his spoon neatly beside it. "Yes, I do know that about you."
John pushed the second jello toward him. "I woo them, and you figure out their technology. It works for us."
"You’re a boon to Atlantis, Colonel."
"You still sound more irritable than usual. Is your ankle really still bothering you?"
Rodney made a face at that and shrugged. "Somewhat; I’m not sure if it’s healing well."
"I’m sure Carson would be doing something if it wasn’t."
"Unless there’s nothing he can do."
"Rodney, it’s a sprain."
"And? Your point is? This isn’t a manly enough injury for you?"
"My point is that it’s neither life-threatening nor permanently debilitating!"
"So I’m supposed to run around the wilderness with a bad ankle? I have to tell you, Colonel, I’m much more comfortable researching the ZPM in my lab!"
"I’m going to start to think that you don’t want to be on the team anymore."
"I—" Rodney swallowed and took a deep breath. "I understand that you and Dr. Rhors are getting along well."
"She’s good and she should definitely be on a team, but she’s no Rodney McKay."
"Of course she isn’t, but she seems to share your... methodology for getting along with the people we trade with."
John stared. "A person’s sexual habits have nothing to do with anything."
Rodney clenched his jaw for a moment. "I’m sure they don’t."
"It has no effect on how they do their job."
"I’m sure it doesn’t."
John leaned back in his chair, regarding Rodney quizzically. "What crawled up your ass?"
"Nothing, does that make you happier?" Rodney asked, pushing his chair back and grabbing for his crutches and his tray at the same time, trying to juggle them both and failing miserably.
John jumped to his feet, catching Rodney’s tray. "Geez, what the hell are you doing?"
"I’m getting up to go back to the lab, Colonel, what does it look like I’m doing?"
"It looks like you’re trying to injure yourself again. And what’s the big rush?"
"It’s called work—perhaps you’ve heard of it?" As Rodney spoke, he balanced himself on his crutches and took the tray back from John.
"Yeah, fine, whatever you say." John turned sharply and walked away without another word.
"There’s an intelligent answer, Colonel!" Rodney shouted after him before cursing when he dropped his tray and glaring at everyone around him. "What are you looking at?!"
"I understand the mission went well," Elizabeth commented when he walked into her office.
John nodded as he dropped into a chair. "Very well. We should get a good trade agreement out of this, and it’ll give us another planet to withdraw to if we ever need to."
"That’s wonderful news, John," she smiled. "And Dr. Rhors is working out well?"
"Yeah, she does a good job. Fortunately, since apparently I won’t be getting McKay back for at least another week. And what’s with him? He seems crankier than usual."
"He’s been putting a lot of hours in the lab working on his ZPM project, so I imagine he’s tired."
"Elizabeth, he wasn’t this bad during the siege." John shook his head.
"I’m not sure what to tell you, John. Have you talked to him?"
"I’ve tried a couple of times, but he just snipes and runs away. I really don’t know what else to try."
Elizabeth shook her head and leaned back in her seat. "I wish I had an answer for you, I know he hasn’t been himself for the last month or so." She looked up when her office door opened and Rodney limped through.
"Elizabeth, I need to speak to—oh, Colonel, you’re here..."
"Let me guess, unless I leave, you will," John said in frustration.
"Actually, it’s probably a good thing that you’re here because this affects you as well." Rodney’s jaw worked as he looked toward Elizabeth. "As Dr. Rhors seems to be a good fit with the colonel’s team, I’d like to suggest her as a permanent member. I’ve got too much to do here; this work on ZPM development is more important than playing kissy face with every little village out there."
John leaped to his feet. "Okay, that’s it. I’ve been patient; I’ve been fucking patient, but enough is fucking enough! What the fuck is your problem? And no, you are not fucking off the fucking team."
"Do you know another curse word other than fuck?!" Rodney snapped back as Elizabeth stared from one of them to the other, her mouth open in shock.
John gawked at him. "You’re complaining about my language?!? That is so not the fucking point!"
"Again with the word! Can you try to be a bit more creative?"
"Gentlemen!" Elizabeth snapped. "If this is a personal matter between you, perhaps somewhere other than my office would be a better place to deal with it?"
"Personal?" Rodney laughed. "The colonel doesn’t do personal!"
"What are you talking about?" John yelled. "Jesus, you’re the closest friend I’ve ever had. Or at least I thought you were. Apparently you have a different opinion!"
"I thought you were, but excuse me for getting confused about the whole friend thing when we ended up in bed together with your cock up my ass!"
Elizabeth’s eyes widened and she stared from one to the other, her mouth opening and closing but nothing coming out.
"What the hell does sex have to do with friendship? Friends are real; sex is just sex!"
"Maybe for you it is, but not everyone else in the whole fucking universe has your moral code! I tried to act like it didn’t matter, but it fucking well did, and you know, I’m not enough of a masochist to sit there and watch you go off with every Tam, Jane and Mary in the Pegasus galaxy!"
"That’s it, gentlemen," Elizabeth said, raising her voice to be heard over theirs, "I’m going to leave now, but try to remember that other people can hear you here." Realizing they weren’t paying any attention to her, she sighed and eased out of her office, closing the door behind her and giving a stern look to the gateroom personnel until they went back to work.
"What the fuck are you talking about? I never planned to do anything about the attraction, but we did, and it was good, and what the fuck is your problem?!?"
"Well, it’s all fine and dandy then, isn’t it. John Sheppard fucks his way around the universe and it doesn’t matter to anyone because he says it shouldn’t. So go and fuck whomever you want, Colonel; just don’t expect me to sit there and watch!"
"What the hell do you want from me?"
"Nothing, nothing at all," Rodney snapped.
"Great, now we’re lying too?" John glared at him.
"What I want you can’t provide, so if that’s lying, then fine, I’m lying!"
"I’m not a goddamn mind reader! How the hell should I know what you want?"
"Why the hell do you think I slept with you?!"
"Because we’ve been attracted to each from day one!"
Rodney growled in frustration and slammed his crutch into the floor. "Do you think I sleep with any and everyone I’m attracted to?"
"I’m not you, Colonel."
"I never said you were." John raked a hand through his hair in frustration. "Damnit, what do you want from me?"
"Something you obviously can’t give me," Rodney sighed. "And don’t worry, I’m not going to bring it up again; I’m sure we’ll regain some kind of working relationship."
John slammed his fist into Elizabeth’s desk. "What. Do. You. Want?" he gritted out.
"Jesus Christ, is this some teen confessional magazine? I wanted a relationship with you; I thought that’s what the—the sex was about, us finally getting to that point!"
John stared. "With me?" he repeated in disbelief.
"No, you idiot, with all the other multitudes of men I’m sleeping with!"
"No one wants a relationship with me," John said, sounding stunned.
"I can’t imagine why."
"A relationship," John repeated.
"And this was why there was no point in mentioning it. If you’ll excuse me, Colonel, I have things to do that don’t involve embarrassing myself."
"As long as one of those things isn’t resigning from the team. That’s not happening."
"And we’re back to the whole misconception of me being a masochist."
"And this is why I never intended to do anything about it," John growled. "We make a damn good team, and you are—" He stopped abruptly, emotion flashing over his face too quickly to be identified, then continued, "You were my best friend."
Pain flashed across Rodney’s expression before he nodded. "I’m sorry my inability to control my emotions is inconveniencing you."
John slammed his hands down on the desk. "I never asked you to control your emotions! Oh fuck it. Do whatever the hell you want; you will anyways. And when we all get killed because we only have the second best scientist instead of the one who could have figured it out, well, don’t worry about it. You won’t need to deal with anything anymore." He stormed toward the door.
"Oh, now that’s just underhanded, Colonel!" Rodney shouted. "What am I supposed to do, sit there mission after mission and watch you fuck anything that breathes when I want to be the one with you? Well, fuck you, John! Thank god I was never interested in a man before you because I sure as hell won’t be after this!"
John froze just before reaching the door and slowly turned to face Rodney. "Why would you... Why?"
"Why what?" Rodney snapped, giving up on trying to balance on his crutches and flopping down into a chair, facing away from him.
"Are you saying that you never..." John trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.
"No other guys ever?"
Rodney sighed and reached up to massage his forehead. "Why does it matter?"
"I never thought... Or maybe I did," John said slowly, realizing something. "I didn’t use a rubber. I’ve never done that before."
"Which explains the lack of diseases in my blood test results."
John’s jaw dropped. "You had yourself tested for STDs?" he finally sputtered.
Rodney looked up at that and frowned. "Of course I did."
"Well, I can certainly see why you’d want anything to do with me when you have that opinion of me!"
"What opinion?! You sleep with anyone who smiles at you; it was a knee-jerk reaction when I was reminded of that fact the very next day."
"I have never had unsafe sex in my life!" John nearly screamed.
"Well good for you!"
"So why exactly would you think I gave you something?!"
"Because I didn’t know what you do with all the men you fuck! You said you used condoms with the women to keep room having those pesky childbirth issues, but who knows about them." Rodney frowned, then looked outraged. "Oh, and I was apparently safe to fuck without one because I haven’t had sex in longer than I can remember?!"
"I never even considered one with you because you’re you!"
"Which means what!"
"You’ll have to ask my subconscious; I don’t have a fucking clue, and right now I don’t want to know either!"
"Fine. Wonderful. Can I go now? I’m sure you and your subconscious can have a lovely discussion without me."
"I give up. You win, okay? Fine. We’re all good. Life is just fucking wonderful!" This time John made it to the door.
"Wonderful!" Rodney shouted after him, starting to throw one of his crutches at the wall before realizing where he was. "Fuck!" he growled, lurching to his feet and limping toward the open door and out on the walkway over the gateroom. The lack of normal sounds caused him to look around at the faces of at least a dozen personnel, all staring at him. "Don’t you people—oh, it isn’t worth it," he snarled, lurching toward the transporter and the safety of his lab.
A moment later the Canadian sergeant on duty activated his radio. "Dr. Weir? It’s safe to come back to your office."
"Here we go again," Ronon murmured as he watched John flirting with the headwoman of the Kellanes.
"I had hoped it would be over once they spoke, but it seems to have made things worse." Teyla shook her head as John and the woman made their way to her hut.
"I think the whole base knows that by now," he said before sighing. "I really wish they would let me bang their heads together."
"I think Elizabeth might allow it if they take over her office again."
Ronon grinned evilly at that. "Oh good."
Teyla chuckled. "I doubt Elizabeth would agree. She was somewhat annoyed the last time."
"Hrmm, good point, it’s still a good thought though."
Teyla was about to reply when John suddenly reappeared and nearly ran past them. "I’m heading back to Atlantis."
"What the—" Ronon half-stood, his hand on his gun. "Sheppard, is there a problem?"
"No! No problem, none at all. I do not have a problem!"
"Of course, John," Teyla said gently. "No one said you had a problem."
"That’s because I don’t! I’m leaving now!"
"We will inform Dr. Rhors when she returns," Teyla promised.
John just waved before dialing the date. Back in Atlantis, he ignored Elizabeth’s surprised questions aside from a quick assurance that there weren’t any problems and headed straight for the transporter. A moment later he stormed into Rodney’s lab.
"This is all your fault!"
"Hello to you too," Colonel," Rodney murmured without looking up from his work. "I thought you were on a mission?"
"I was! And I have never had this happen before!"
"A woman turned you down?"
"No!" John glared at him.
"So was there a reason for your visit?"
"I couldn’t get it up and it’s all your fault!" John snarled.
Hearing that, Rodney looked up and stared at John comically. "Excuse me?"
"No, I won’t! This is all your fault!" John said again.
"How can it be my fault; I wasn’t even there, and I assure you I haven’t found some long-lost Ancient impotence beam!"
"I was thinking about you, damn it!"
"And you became impotent? Why thank you, Colonel, that was just what I needed to hear today!"
"It was because she wasn’t you," John growled.
"Because she—oh please!"
"I hate you! Everything was going fine, and then I thought about you saying you wanted... Well, about you and the way you looked at me and... I really, really hate you!"
"Are you going to stomp your feet and throw things next?" Rodney asked, sounding amused. "If you are, just don’t use anything on this bench; some of them might explode."
John sputtered wordlessly for a moment. "I might throw a punch if you keep that up! What the fuck am I supposed to do now?"
"Get some Viagra?"
John’s eyes bulged. "So not helping!" he finally got out.
"Well, what do you want me to say, Colonel?" Rodney snapped. "Do you want me to give you absolution to fuck where and whenever you please? Go ahead, what does it matter what I think!"
John slumped onto a stool. "Apparently knowing you want me not to makes a difference," he muttered.
"So I should be apologizing for this?"
"Oh fuck, I don’t know what to think."
"Well, neither do I, Colonel," Rodney sighed. "I’m not sure what you want from me."
"I know I don’t want things to be like this."
"I’m sure you must miss your sex life."
"Stop it! I’m the one who has trouble talking about this stuff. You know damn well that’s not what I meant."
"Then tell me what the fuck you mean, Colonel, because I may be a genius, but I don’t have psychic powers!" Rodney demanded, slamming his hand down on the table. "Do you want my blessing to go fuck around; well, guess what, you’re not going to get it because it fucking hurts and I hate it!"
"Christ. I want us to be friends again, and uh, maybe try that relationship thing."
"You sound so enthused by that idea."
"It’s not like it’s something I’ve ever considered before."
"Again with the enthusiasm."
"Damnit, Rodney, what do you want from me?"
"Oh I don’t know, something more than you acting like this is the end of the world might be nice, and just why do you think I want to be in a relationship with you?"
"Maybe because you said you did!" John groaned and banged his head on the table.
"When I thought you might consider it somewhere above, oh, well, getting bamboo shoved under your toenails!"
"What the fuck do I know about relationships?" John yelled, goaded. "My mother died; my father was military; my friends died; I don’t exactly have a great batting average!"
"Oh, so we’re sharing crappy life stories now? My parents only noticed I was alive when the CIA showed up at their door, and the most meaningful relationships I’ve ever had were with my cat and with you as my friend, so I doubt my values are any higher than yours!"
"Oh fuck," John groaned. "Look, I care more about your friendship than anything else. If I could do this with anyone, it would be you."
"But you don’t think you can, do you?"
"I don’t fucking know!"
Rodney nodded at that and sighed. "So what am I supposed to do about this?"
John shrugged. "Give me a chance?"
"To be friends again?"
"At least that, if you won’t try anything more."
"I’m scared." Rodney said suddenly. "No, I’m terrified."
"You think I’m not? You matter, Rodney."
"You matter too, John," Rodney whispered.
"So take a chance on me. If we do this, I’ll really do it. No one else," John promised, knowing that was probably the biggest hurdle for Rodney, based on their previous conversations.
"I miss being on the team. I miss going on missions." Rodney paused and took a deep breath. "I miss you."
"I miss you too. And you are part of the team. You should be with us."
"I want to be—with you—all of you, but also with you, just you."
"So be with me."
Rodney frowned slightly. "Are you saying you want to have sex now?"
"No! Well, I don’t mean I don’t want you, but not right this second," John babbled. "I want us to do things together and you not to avoid me and talk, and oh my God, I sound like a teenage girl, and this is all your fault too!"
"Well, I’m not going to say I’m sorry about that because I’m glad—not that you sound like a teenage girl because that’s wrong on just so many levels even I can’t contemplate it but the rest..."
John just stared at him for several seconds before beginning to laugh helplessly.
John shook his head. "Not important. So, did that last mini rant mean you’re going to give it a try?" he asked, not about to take anything for granted.
"Yes," Rodney whispered. "I want to try and even if this, this thing doesn’t work out between us, I won’t avoid you, I promise."
"Could we maybe not go into it assuming we’re going to mess up?" John suggested. "I’d kind of like this to work, so let’s not shoot ourselves in the ass." He quirked a grin. "I leave that to you."
"I have never shot myself in the ass!" Rodney sputtered, glaring at John before pausing and slowly grinning. "That felt almost normal."
John grinned back at him. "Yup. And we don’t even have to chase Elizabeth out of her office to do it."
Rodney flushed at that reminder. "No, once was enough for that horrible situation, thank you. So, umm, what should we do now?"
John eyed him. "Are you going to run away if I kiss you?"
"I—umm—that wouldn’t be conducive to the whole attempting to have a relationship, would it?"
"Not really." John slowly moved toward him, reaching out to place his hands on Rodney’s hips as he stopped a breath away from him.
"Oh, for god’s sake," Rodney grumbled, sliding his hands into John’s hair and kissing him, deepening it the moment John recovered and kissed him back.
John’s hair was even more rumpled than usual when he finally drew back slightly, his lips curving in a big smile. "See, I knew it was all your fault."
"What was?" Rodney mumbled as he tried to focus his mind again.
John pressed against Rodney’s thigh. "Any more questions?"
"Wha—oh." Rodney’s grin lit his whole face. "Do you think I’m going to complain about that?"
"Glad to hear it." John grinned too. "Although it means that if we want to get out of this lab, it’s going to have to wait a few minutes."
"I thought this wasn’t about the sex?"
John looked confused. "That would be why I don’t really want to be walking through the corridors of Atlantis with you and a massive hard on."
"Oh—oh!" Rodney’s grin returned, and he nodded. "I suppose standing here like this isn’t helping either. I’ll just finish up with what I was doing and you—umm—think cold thoughts?"
John eyed him wryly. "Right. So, uh, do you want to watch a movie or something when we do get out of here?"
"Maybe that Star Trek one again? I missed a lot of it."
"Sounds good." John nodded, sitting down and watching Rodney’s fingers fly over the keyboard. It didn’t help his current problem, but it was fun.
"All right," Rodney said some time later as he closed down his file and stood. "Are things umm... better?"
"I think I need to borrow a clipboard," John replied with a shrug.
"You don’t sound all too upset about that," Rodney chuckled. "Here, use this." He handed over his datapad as he spoke.
"After earlier tonight? No, not really," John said dryly. "Besides," he grinned, "it’s all your fault."
"Colonel, you’re an idiot," Rodney chuckled heading for the door, still limping slightly. "Not that I mind."
John laughed as he followed. "No, when you mind something, I’m never left in any doubt."
Ignoring that comment, Rodney started for the transporter. "Exactly. Now come along; if we’re watching a movie, we need popcorn."
The transporter doors opened, releasing several scientists who stopped in their tracks to gape at the colonel and Dr. McKay. Ignoring them, John stepped into the transporter, then started laughing once the doors shut.
"Did you see their faces?"
"They must have been amazed that there was no screaming going on."
John snickered. "I wonder what the odds are right now on one of us killing the other. I’m sure they’ve been betting on us."
"Ask Radek, I’m sure he was running the damn pool," Rodney snorted.
"Doesn’t really matter since they’re all going to lose." John smiled crookedly as they stepped out into the mess hall to get their popcorn.
"True, I doubt anyone had this outcome as their guess."
"Which just proves that we’re smarter than all of them. I like this much better."
"Than ignoring or yelling at each other? I have to agree, though if they don’t stop staring and whispering, I’m going to scream at them." Rodney raised his voice as he spoke so the last words were audible to much of the room.
John chuckled. "And this would be different from normal how?" He watched several scientists and even a few of the Marines suddenly decide they needed to be elsewhere.
"Oh shut up and get the snacks."
"Yes sir." John snapped off a salute and a grin before making his way up to the cook. A quick conversation and a couple of minutes wait and he was the proud possessor of a bowl of buttery popcorn.
"Drinks?" Rodney asked, smirking slightly as he took the bowl, snitching a handful as he did so.
"You couldn’t have gotten them while I was waiting for the popcorn?" John shook his head. "Definitely high maintenance."
"Still recovering from a sprained ankle here!" Rodney protested. "I’m barely off crutches; it could give out at any time!"
John snorted. "You are so not milking that for months!" he warned laughingly.
"What milking? I almost broke my ankle because some idiot was too lazy to clean up their spill! I almost gave myself a concussion!"
"You slipped and sprained your ankle," Carson sighed from a nearby table, though he was wide-eyed as he looked from Rodney to John and back again.
"Great bedside manner, Carson," Rodney snapped around another mouthful of popcorn.
"You’re in the mess hall cramming handfuls of popcorn into your mouth, not in bed," Carson retorted.
"Semantics," Rodney sniffed. "And are you going to get those drinks, Colonel, or am I going to die of dehydration while we’re watching the movie?"
"That depends on whether there’s going to be any popcorn left for me!"
"I promise to save you some; is that better?"
"And then you’ll eat half of that too," John grumbled, but he was grinning again as he went back to get the drinks.
"And you have a problem with this?" Rodney called after him, though he was grinning when he looked back at Carson, who was staring at him. "What?"
"The colonel?" Carson almost squeaked.
"Yes, that’s the colonel. Do you need your vision checked?"
"It was the colonel?" Fortunately, Carson was sitting alone, and no one else was in earshot.
"What was the colonel? Honestly, Carson, I’m beginning to worry about you!"
Carson just shook his head in disbelief and continued staring. When John rejoined them a moment later, he frowned curiously. "Did I miss something?"
"Other than Carson perhaps needing some anti-psychotic medicine, no—can we go now?"
John nodded, pausing to look curiously over his shoulder when Carson muttered, "You should have taken the bloody things when I offered them."
"Don’t ask, you really don’t want to know," Rodney murmured.
"Okay," John said easily, knowing he’d find out eventually. They took the transporter back to the section where their rooms were located and made their way to John’s room.
"He knows." Rodney stated once they were inside.
John looked startled. "It’s only been five minutes!"
"This is Carson; he’s my doctor; he knows."
John’s eyes widened as he remembered that Rodney’d had himself tested, and he groaned. "Oh my God, don’t tell me he thinks I’m carrying God knows what!"
"Well, he did tell us to use condoms," Rodney said seriously before snickering at the horrified look on John’s face.
"I’m never going to be able to look him in the face again!"
Rodney’s laughter gained volume until he was howling and leaning against John’s side for support, unable to speak.
John glared at him. "This is all your fault too!"
"Excuse me?!" Rodney sputtered. "And just why is Carson thinking you’re disease-ridden my fault?"
"You’re the one who went to him for tests because you thought I gave you something!"
"Well, how was I supposed to know? I didn’t tell him it was you!"
"Well, now he knows it was," John grumbled. "And I’ve never had unsafe sex in my entire life!"
"Except with me." Rodney sounded inordinately proud of that fact.
"That wasn’t unsafe."
"If you make me turn sappy and romantic all the time with your touching declarations, I am going to get revenge," Rodney growled before pulling John in for a kiss that didn’t last long since John was laughing.
"No wonder I don’t want anyone else. You’re one of a kind, Rodney."
"Thank you—I think."
"Get comfortable while I get the movie," John said, kissing Rodney lightly before grabbing his laptop to start the show.
"Ordering me around already, Colonel?" Rodney chuckled, unlacing his boots the moment he sat and rubbing his ankle.
"What do you mean, already? I’ve been doing that for three years." John pretended to think about it. "Oh, you mean you actually started listening to me?"
"I listen to you!" Rodney protested. "When you say to run."
"Usually." John set the laptop in position and leaned back against the pillows, automatically curving an arm over Rodney’s shoulders.
"Sometimes things are too important to leave," Rodney grumbled, squirming until he was more comfortable with his head resting against John’s shoulder.
"The things will still be there. Some people are too important to lose."
"Again with the touching declarations."
John chuckled. "Would you prefer me to quote Shakespeare?"
"God no! You do that and I’m sending you to see Heightmeyer!"
"Oh, shut up and watch the movie."
Rodney chuckled and, for once, did what John said.
"Ah, Dr. Rhors." John regarded her with surprise. "Didn’t you get the reassignment? You’ll be going out with Lt. Cadman’s team from now on."
"I thought there was some mistake," she stammered. "From everything I understood we were doing very well together."
"That may be, but my ankle is better, and Lt. Cadman is in need of a good scientist, so you’re hers," Rodney announced.
"Your performance has been exemplary, Naomi, but you knew this was never a permanent assignment. Dr. McKay’s a member of my team."
"But, I thought..."
"Go see Lt. Cadman, Dr. Rhors," Rodney said in a tone that was gentle for him. "I think the two of you will get along well."
"We thank you for your assistance on our recent missions," Teyla said. "It has been a pleasure working with you."
"Yeah, we didn’t have to save you, made things simpler," Ronon commented.
"Are you saying you have to rescue me all the time?!" Rodney sputtered.
"Only as often as you rescue us," John said soothingly.
"It’s not my fault I was shot in the ass!"
"Of course it isn’t, Rodney," Teyla soothed. "And that time you saved us as well."
"We’re all glad to have you back," John added.
Rodney’s smile was wide and genuine. "It’s good to be back."
"So let’s do this." John stepped through the wormhole.
"Well, no one’s shooting at us yet," Rodney remarked as they emerged onto a planet that was a good deal colder than Atlantis.
"Always a plus," John said, looking around warily. "But saying that usually means someone’s going to start."
"I’m ready," Ronon announced, looking eager.
"The village is this way," Teyla said quickly, leading them away from the gate.
"I think you may be right; Ronon does enjoy fighting a little too much when it’s our asses on the line too," John muttered to Rodney.
"Yes, you’ve told me many things, and they’re all right."
Rodney beamed at that. "Exactly!"
John chuckled and shook his head, not noticing Teyla raise a brow at Ronon, who looked just as bemused by the situation before sliding his hand toward his gun when a group of people appeared at the edge of the woods.
"Welcome, traders," the woman in the lead called as they drew nearer. "We are the Fellian people, and we welcome all who wish to trade. I am Nateyra."
John glanced at Teyla, telling her to take the lead in the negotiation.
"Greetings, Nateyra, I am Teyla Emmagen; with me are Ronon Dex, John Sheppard, and Rodney McKay of the Lanteans. We come in peace and hope to develop relations with you which are beneficial for both of our peoples."
"Come, join us in our village, and we will discuss what we can trade. And friendship between our peoples." She smiled at John.
Rodney’s smile turned tight, and he hitched his pack higher onto his shoulder but didn’t say anything.
John returned the smile, but he remained next to Rodney, and he briefly reached over to squeeze Rodney’s hand, causing Ronon to lightly nudge Teyla in the side. "Do you think...?"
Teyla nodded slowly. "Yes, I think perhaps."
As they entered the village, Nateyra moved closer to John. "You are welcome to remain after we complete our negotiations to visit."
"Thank you for the invitation, but I have someone waiting for me," John replied.
She nodded at that. "That is quite admirable, John Sheppard. I am sure your partner is very happy with you."
John grinned. "I’m working on it."
"I wish you both well then; please enjoy the hospitality of my people."
"Thank you. I’m sure we all will."
Rodney watched, somewhat wide-eyed as John walked back to him. "You—you—"
"I told you I wasn’t going to do that anymore."
In a bit of a daze, Rodney nodded. "Tonight, Colonel," he whispered.
John’s eyes widened. "Oh Christ, Rodney, how am I supposed to get through the rest of the day with a hard on?"
"The same way I am because I have to say you turning that woman down was the most erotic thing I’ve seen in my life."
John smiled crookedly. "I should probably be pissed that you didn’t believe me till you had proof, but I’m not going to complain when I like where we’re at. Although I really wish I could kiss you right now."
"Me too," Rodney sighed, "but I really don’t want these lovely people getting offended and throwing us in jail—in separate cells!"
"No, that would be bad. So I’ll just hold on to it till we get home, and then you’ll get it with interest."
Rodney cleared his throat and shifted in place, feeling the back of his neck heat. "It should terrify me how much I’m looking forward to that."
"Just keep that in mind and try not to get distracted by anything. I’m a lot more fun than artifacts."
"So you’re going to activate when I touch you?" Rodney asked, giving a half-grin.
"Damn right!" John chuckled. "You’ll be amazed how easy I am to turn on."
"I could make an appropriately sarcastic comment, but it would probably lead to an argument, so I’ll just smile and nod."
"Hey, you have nothing to complain about since you apparently control my on-off switch," John said wryly.
Rodney smirked and patted John on the shoulder. "So now you’re a one-person-activated man? I like it."
"What a shock. But I’m glad you’re planning to do something about it."
"As soon as I can, Colonel. Now we should actually do this trading thing so we can get back and do it."
John looked over his shoulder. "I think Teyla’s gone to do that without our interference."
"Probably smarter that way," Rodney mused. "Less chance of misunderstandings."
"Considering that we’re both thinking about things that we don’t want to trade? Very much so." John nodded. "Though we should probably make an appearance."
"I think you already made an impression."
"Or maybe we can take a walk around and see how their crops are," John said hastily.
"Probably a much safer thing to do—as long as we don’t find any more hidden bunkers." Rodney shuddered at the thought.
"Don’t even joke about that!" John tightened his grip on his P90. "One set of Genii is more than enough."
"Not arguing that fact, Colonel, not in the least."
"You think they’d notice if we went back now?" John said almost wistfully.
"It’s a nice th—" Rodney began before a large hand clapped down on both of their shoulders.
"Go back to the city," Ronon ordered. "Teyla and I can handle things here."
John leaned forward to look around Ronon’s bulk at Rodney. "Did he just send us to our room?"
"So it would seem," Rodney mused.
Ronon growled. "Keep wasting time and Teyla and I will be the ones to go back."
"We’re going!" John exclaimed, catching hold of Rodney’s hand and starting toward the gate at a trot.
"I’m not going to be able to look them in the eyes in the morning," Rodney panted. "And if you don’t slow down, I’m not going to have energy for anything other than collapsing!"
"I’m perfectly willing to do all the work," John said cheerfully, although he did slow to a walk. "The first time."
"Excuse me?! I’d kind of like to participate in this!"
"Oh, you will," John promised.
"Good." Rodney looked over at John and smiled. "Very, very good, because I have a lot of ideas that I’d like to put into practice."
John shivered. "I really like the sound of that."
They reached the stargate and paused to dial. As Rodney pressed the symbols, he chewed on his lower lip before blurting, "As you know, I don’t have much experience with this at all—the man on man thing—so while I have ideas, I’m not sure if all of them are feasible."
"Then we’ll find out together," John said easily. "We’ll learn what we like."
"I wasn’t saying that I didn’t like what we did before; I did, very much!"
"And I was just saying that there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. It’s part of the fun of getting to know a lover."
The gate flashed into life, and Rodney nodded. "Yes, yes, that’s true, so shall we?"
"Oh, we shall. We very much shall." John followed Rodney through the gate, staying on his heels.
"Gentlemen? Is everything all right?" Their early return had Elizabeth out of her office and watching the gate with concern.
"Yes, yes," Rodney answered quickly. "Everything’s fine: Ronon and Teyla are handling the trade and decided the colonel and I were superfluous, so we decided to come back and make an early night of it."
Elizabeth’s eyebrows climbed, and there were several muffled snickers and money changing hands. "I see. Carry on then," she said in a choked tone.
"Thank you, Elizabeth," Rodney’s words followed them out of the gateroom and were followed by a round of relieved cheering.
"What was that about?" he asked, looking over his shoulder.
John had a very good idea and just shook his head. "You really don’t want to know."
Rodney opened his mouth, then frowned. "You’re probably right."
John nodded. "Think about what you want to try first instead," he suggested.
"Right now, the main thing is touching you and, um, kissing you."
"We can do that. Just as soon as we get to your room."
"Well, hurry up!" Rodney exclaimed, grabbing John’s arm and dragging him into the transporter.
"You were the one telling me to slow down a few minutes ago," John reminded him, laughing.
"Well, now I’m telling you to hurry up! Get with the program, Colonel!"
"Even more demanding than I expected... and I expected quite a bit," John chuckled.
"Less talking, more walking!"
John saluted and walked a bit faster, starting to slide an arm around Rodney’s waist before he remembered where they were. Feeling the slight pressure that vanished, Rodney looked confused, then grumbled, "I hate your military’s stupid rules."
"Sorry." And John really did look apologetic. "I’ll give you what I can. Is that going to be enough?"
"It’s more than I ever thought I’d have." Rodney smiled at that and thought open his door, pushing John inside and scooting in after him.
John turned to face Rodney, sliding his arms around Rodney’s waist as the door shut. "Me too."
Rodney sighed and leaned into the embrace, wrapping his arms around John’s waist and holding on tightly. "Feel so good," he whispered.
"Yeah, it does. I’m glad we’re doing this," John murmured.
Rodney nodded before lifting his head to meet John’s gaze and smiling. "So am I," he breathed brushing his lips against John’s.
"Less clothes and more skin would be good," John hinted broadly.
"That would mean letting go," Rodney grumbled.
"Only for a moment and believe me, touching’s a lot more fun without anything in the way."
"All right, all right, I’ll let go," Rodney grumbled, pulling back to shrug out of his jacket. John took immediate advantage by tugging Rodney’s shirt free of his pants and sliding his palms up under the fabric, making Rodney sputter. "I thought we both were getting naked!"
"I’m a man of no willpower," John chuckled, letting go to pull his own shirt over his head, leaving himself bare from the waist up aside from the dog tags nestled in his chest hair.
"And mine is crumbling by the second," Rodney groaned, reaching out to run his hands up John’s chest, his thumbs brushing against John’s nipples, making John gasp and reach for Rodney’s belt.
Rodney tried to stand still but wasn’t totally successful as John worked the buckle open, then his pants while he was still exploring John’s chest. John pushed the pants down over Rodney’s hips, leaving them to puddle around his ankles. Unwilling to move away from Rodney’s touch, he left them there for the moment, arching his back to press against Rodney’s hands.
"We’re opposites," Rodney chuckled.
John blinked in confusion, trying to follow Rodney’s thought processes. "Huh?"
"You in your pants, me in my shirt."
"Ah, yes. Maybe we should get rid of the rest of it?"
"It would make things easier." As he spoke, Rodney shuffled backward to sit and pull off his shirt before undoing his boots and kicking them and his pants off.
John paused in the act of pushing his pants down, staring at Rodney hungrily. "God, you look good enough to eat."
"So you’re the big, bad wolf?" Rodney chuckled, though his voice was low and raspy as he watched John.
"And I’m going to eat you all up." John finished undressing and braced one knee on the edge of the bed, leaning over Rodney and pushing him back as they kissed.
"Red Riding Hood never knew what she missed," Rodney gasped as John rolled on top of him, their bare flesh sliding together.
"I’ll bet you taste better than she ever could." John ground down, moaning at the sensation of their cocks pressing together.
"Well, you could try me," Rodney offered.
"Good point." John kissed him hard before sliding downward, trailing kisses along Rodney’s chest, making him squirm in anticipation and push up on his elbows so that he could watch John’s progress. John raised his head to grin, then slid a little lower to nuzzle Rodney’s erection before licking a stripe along the shaft.
Rodney groaned and shivered as air moved over his now moist skin, turning it cool.
"You taste so good, better than I imagined," John murmured before sealing his lips around the tip and suckling.
Rodney could only whimper in answer.
John hummed in pleasure at the sound and took more of Rodney into his mouth, and Rodney’s whimpers turned into full-throated moans. John slid even lower, sucking hard to get more of Rodney’s flavor.
Rodney gasped and bucked upward, his whole body tensing, then shuddering as he came, then collapsed back onto the bed, flushing slightly. "Sorry," he muttered.
John raised his head to stare at him. "What on earth for?"
"I’m not usually this, ermm, quick off the gun," he mumbled.
"I took it as a compliment," John said, nuzzling him before moving upward to kiss Rodney, who frowned slightly at the taste of himself in John’s mouth, then decided he liked it and threaded his fingers through John’s hair, kissing him hungrily.
John explored Rodney’s mouth, learning his taste and what made Rodney squirm and moan. "All of you tastes good," he panted some time later, finally releasing Rodney’s mouth to nibble his jaw line and earlobe.
"I—I’d like to taste you too," Rodney panted, his hands still roaming over John’s back and sides.
John immediately rolled them over so that he was sprawled on his back with Rodney on top of him. "Help yourself."
"Once I recover!"
"Something to look forward to. And this is good now," John said, stroking Rodney’s back.
"So you actually like the cuddling part?"
John stilled, surprised by the realization. "Yeah, I do." He smiled wryly. "I guess I’ll be trying a lot of new things."
Rodney had to laugh at that. "Trust me, you aren’t the only one."
"I do, you know."
"You do what?"
"Trust you." Rodney shifted slightly, and John bit back a moan at the delicious friction on his erection.
Rodney gave a crooked grin at that and nodded. "I’m glad."
"Me too. This is good. You and me, I mean." John rocked up against Rodney, seeking pressure on his hard cock.
"Why am I thinking you’d think it was better if I did something about that?" Rodney asked, squirming to rub himself against John’s erection.
"Because you’re the smartest man in two galaxies," John gasped out.
"Damn right." Rodney leaned in to kiss John as he slid a hand between them, grasping the other man’s cock and beginning to stroke it as he sucked on John’s tongue.
"Mine," John rasped into Rodney’s mouth, pushing into his grip. "So good."
"Damn well better remember that," Rodney gasped, nipping at John’s mouth and chin as he stroked him, and John nodded jerkily, his hands grabbing at Rodney’s shoulders to ground himself.
"Taste, feel so good..." Rodney continued to whisper the words as he tightened his hand around John’s cock, wanting to feel him come.
John groaned, his hips rising. "God, Rodney," he moaned, his eyes opening just as he tensed and came. Rodney reared back enough to watch him, his teeth closing on his own lower lip as he sucked in a breath.
John slid his hand up, curling it around the back of Rodney’s neck. "Rodney," he whispered again.
"John," Rodney whispered back, dragging his hand from between them and giving his fingers a tentative lick. Watching him, John groaned and yanked him into a deep, messy kiss, and when Rodney finally pulled back, he was grinning.
"Okay," John said, smiling wryly, "you get to tell me I’m an idiot for taking so long to realize."
"Now would I do that?" Rodney asked innocently.
John snorted. "You don’t do innocent well."
"You’re one to talk."
"I wasn’t trying." John raised his head to kiss Rodney again.
"Good thing, I’d never believe it," Rodney chuckled.
"Ha ha. You’ll have to stop calling me Kirk now," John suddenly realized. "Riker maybe. Ha, I can call you Imzadi."
Rodney pushed back at that and glared down at him. "Try it and you’ll be celibate."
"You don’t want to be my soul mate?"
Rodney blinked at that, frowning slightly at the same time as he stared down at John. John stared back.
"Okay, so it’s a sappy, chick flick word, but..."
John started looking sulky. "I guess not."
"No, no!" Rodney said quickly, patting John’s chest to reassure them both. "I just—it’s not something I ever considered hearing myself called."
"Oh. Well, it’s not really something I ever expected to hear myself say either," John admitted. "But you know as well as I do that we’ve worked since the day we met."
"Something everyone here should appreciate," Rodney said wryly.
"You mean because we manage to keep each other alive long enough to save everyone else about once a month?"
"One of the reasons," Rodney murmured, continuing to stroke his hand over John’s chest.
"We have other reasons." John smiled at him.
"Mm, yes we do," Rodney sighed, settling down half on, half beside John.
"I’m really going to have to remember to thank Carson for trying to shoot me with a drone."
"We’ll buy him a bottle of Scotch the next time we get back to Earth."
"Good idea. Though I think I came out ahead."
"Better than I did?"
John nodded. "I got a whole new life, my career back, and you. Yeah, I came out on top."
Rodney smirked at that. "Well, when you put it that way..."
"The science team’s going to kill me if I keep feeding your ego."
"And this should matter to either of us, why?"
John laughed, hugging him. "You really don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of you, do you?"
Rodney shook his head at that. "No, there is one person who I’ve always given a damn about what they thought."
"Are you being deliberately obtuse?"
"I’m trying not to take anything for granted."
"It’s you, all right? It’s always been you." Rodney flushed somewhat as he admitted the fact.
"Likewise," John replied quietly, one hand stroking Rodney’s back.
"Yeah. You... you’re it for me."
Rodney smiled at that and leaned in, brushing his lips against John’s. "This—tonight—wasn’t about you turning that woman down; you know that, right?"
"Well, it is what finally convinced you I was serious enough to take a chance on me," John pointed out. "But no, this isn’t about anyone else, just us. Finally."
"Finally," Rodney echoed, trailing a fingertip over the chain of John’s dog tags. "Just us, no one else."
John raised a hand to cover Rodney’s, holding it against his chest. "It was worth waiting for."
Rodney sighed and relaxed against him, nuzzling his shoulder. "Of course, there is more to look forward to..."
"And a long time to enjoy it all in."
"Now if only we could convince the Wraith to leave us alone."
"Make love, not war?" John laughed.
"Sounds like a good motto to me," Rodney shrugged.
"I want to be there when you suggest it to Caldwell."
"So he can ask to join in?" Rodney snorted.
John made gagging noises. "That’s really disgusting, Rodney. Next you’ll suggest Kavanagh!"
Rodney snickered at that, then broke into loud laughter, rolling onto his back and holding his sides.
"Ass," John said affectionately.
"A part of me you seem to like."
"Well, I like pretty much every part of you, but I have a special liking for that one." John stroked the part in question, making Rodney sigh and press back against his hand.
"Perhaps, perhaps you could get better acquainted with it once we’ve both recovered?" Rodney suggested.
"I think that might be your best idea yet," John said, fingers lightly kneading the firm muscle.
Rodney gasped at that and squirmed again. "Keep that up and it may be sooner than you thought."
"Is that supposed to be a bad thing?"
"For the health of my heart," Rodney laughed.
"I guess I’d better not wear you out on the first day."
"You’re really listening to me?" Rodney asked, flabbergasted.
"I always listen to you!" John protested.
"Yes, but you never agree that easily!"
"Yeah, well, as far as I know, there are no Rodney-repair shops, so I’d better take good care of you."
Rodney paused at that, then pulled John into a tight hug. "You do, John. You do."
John returned the hug, holding Rodney close. "We make a good team."
Rodney nodded and nuzzled John’s throat. "Of course we do; we’re both brilliant."
"And humble. Don’t forget humble." John stroked Rodney’s hair lazily.
"That word doesn’t enter my vocabulary," Rodney muttered.
"I’ve noticed," John chuckled. "Everyone who’s ever met you since the day you learned to talk has noticed." He kissed the gathering frown away. "I may be crazy, but I like it."
"It keeps you guessing," Rodney offered.
John shrugged. "It’s part of your personality, and I like you."
Rodney gave a crooked grin. "That’s good to hear."
"I hope it wasn’t news to you."
"I knew you liked me, but not that—oh my god, I’m stopping now before I turn into a pubescent girl."
John burst into laughter. "It’s kinda cute. Not to mention flattering that I reduced the ‘smartest man in two galaxies’ to that."
Rodney snorted at that. "Only you would get turned on by that."
"Only you would get turned on by math," John retorted.
"As if you mind."
John grinned. "I’m looking forward to whispering formulas in your ear at the morning briefings."
"You wouldn’t!" Rodney exclaimed before seeing the expression in John’s eyes. "Oh fuck, you would."
"Why should I be the only one sitting through the meeting with a hard on?"
"You have—oh my god!"
John’s eyebrows rose. "What?"
"You really sit through meetings with an erection?"
"For the last while? Damn right!"
"In Elizabeth’s meetings?" Rodney looked dumbstruck.
"In Elizabeth’s meetings with you sitting beside me where I could smell you or across from me so that all I could see was the way you lick your lips and made me want to be the one doing that."
Rodney’s eyes widened at that. "You were smelling me?" He whimpered as he spoke.
"Well, I wasn’t exactly admitting any of that to myself at the time, but yeah."
"If you make me come in my pants from saying things like that, I’m going to kill you."
"If you hold on, I’ll drag you into a supply closet or empty office after the meeting and fuck you right there," John promised, leaning in to nibble on the curve at the base of Rodney’s throat.
"M-meeting? What meeting?" Rodney gasped.
"The one we were talking about," John chuckled. "The briefing that we’ll both have to carry files to so that we can hold them in front of ourselves on our way to that empty space. Unless you want me to just bend you over the conference table and fuck you right there?" he rasped, dragging his tongue over Rodney’s throat.
Rodney’s only response was a whimper, and John chuckled again. "God, I’d love to do that."
"How—how about we get through this time first, then worry about meetings and tables?"
"I thought you wanted a while to recover?" John teased, sliding a hand down to stroke the obviously recovered length of Rodney’s cock.
Rodney stared at him in confusion, then managed a gasping laugh. "It seems you bring out the best in me—or the worst."
"Oh, definitely the best. The only question now is do you want to fuck me first or me to fuck you?"
"This time, I want you. I want to feel you in me knowing it’s real."
John raised a hand to cup Rodney’s cheek. "It’s real," he promised, his voice husky. He hesitated before adding, "I am clean, you know. I’ve never taken the risk."
"Yes, I gathered that from my blood test," Rodney commented before smiling and kissing John gently. "And even without it, I’d believe you. I want to feel you, John."
John groaned and kissed him hungrily while shifting over Rodney again, settling between his legs.
"I um, I’m not sure I have anything..."
"Hand lotion? Hair conditioner? Hell, gun oil?"
"I do not want gun oil up my ass!" Rodney nearly shrieked. "Hand lotion. There’s some on the desk."
Trying not to laugh, John kissed him again before getting up to retrieve the lotion. It only took a moment before he was stretched out over Rodney once again, the bottle on the bed next to them. John ran his hands along Rodney’s arms, frowning at the tension in the muscles, but he didn’t make the mistake of asking Rodney if he was sure. Instead, he set about relaxing his lover with long, slow kisses that explored every inch of his mouth.
Rodney moaned, arching up under John’s weight, his arms and legs closing around his body to draw him closer, and John took advantage of the shift in position to slide a hand over Rodney’s ass, lightly fingering him.
"Do it," Rodney gasped, squirming under John’s weight.
"Soon," John promised, nibbling his jaw line while coating the fingers of one hand with the lotion and slowly pushing one into Rodney.
"God, feels good," Rodney panted while nuzzling at John’s jaw, kissing the salty flesh there.
"Damn good," John agreed, pulling his finger free only to slide it back in accompanied by another, and he didn’t stop until he found Rodney’s prostate and started toying with it.
"Oh fuck, oh John, that feels..." Rodney squirmed beneath him, his erection rubbing against their bellies.
"It’s supposed to," John replied smugly, continuing to tease him while watching Rodney’s expression avidly.
"Very hot," John corrected, sliding down to lick a droplet of precome from the head of Rodney’s cock, causing the other man to gasp and writhe beneath him.
"God," John groaned, hastily coating his erection with the lotion and fitting himself between Rodney’s legs. He gazed down into the incredible blue of Rodney’s eyes as he pushed forward against the resistance of the tight muscle until he finally slid into Rodney.
"Good, I’m good," he said quickly, stroking his hands over John’s arms.
"You’re fucking amazing," John rasped.
"Of course I am, and likewise," Rodney gasped, tightening down on John’s cock as he experimented with movements.
"Rodney!" John gasped and lowered his head to kiss him while matching Rodney’s rhythm.
"What?" Rodney asked, his brows furrowing with worry even as he gasped for breath.
"God, not going to last long if you keep that up," John panted, reaching up to lace his fingers through Rodney’s.
"Oh. Oh! That’s good—I mean, not that you aren’t going to last, but that you like it."
John rolled his eyes and kissed Rodney to stop the flow of words. "Stop worrying," he said a little later. "I like you, and I’m not going anywhere."
"Well, there’s no reason to be so bossy about it," Rodney sniffed before gasping as John pushed inside him again.
"Only you would complain now," John half-groaned, half-chuckled.
"What do you mean by that?!"
"Could you forget my attitude and concentrate on this?!" John punctuated the demand with a thrust against Rodney’s prostate.
"This, yeah, right, it’s good—no, it’s great!" Rodney groaned, arching upward.
"Yeah, we are," John panted, lowering himself a fraction so that his belly rubbed over Rodney’s erection with every stroke into him.
"God, John, feel so good," Rodney moaned.
"You too, the best." John forced his eyes open to meet Rodney’s gaze, wanting to be sure that Rodney believed him.
"So—ahh..." Rodney whimpered as he came, his whole body tightening down around John’s, making John groan and thrust harder into Rodney, gasping Rodney’s name with each thrust until he came as well, buried as deep inside Rodney’s body as he could get.
They lay there, wrapped around each other, gasping for breath, still shivering with the aftereffects of their climaxes. "I may never move again," Rodney breathed.
"Sure you will. Someday you need to do me." John nuzzled Rodney’s throat.
"I think I could be convinced to give it a try," Rodney sighed.
"Gee, don’t do me any favors," John laughed.
"That was sarcasm, Colonel."
"Which I knew or I wouldn’t be laughing."
Rodney chuckled at that and tangled his fingers in John’s hair to pull him in for a kiss. "Good."
"You need to figure out how to get us connecting rooms so we can do this every night and not have to sneak away in the middle of the night."
"I’m sure I can manage that."
"I wish we didn’t have to, but until the military changes its policies..." John shrugged, kissing Rodney’s shoulder.
Rodney nodded and stroked a hand down John’s back. "I’d rather deal with that than them trying to send you home—not that it would work."
"No turning the SGC into a mushroom cloud."
"So, ever thought of changing citizenship?"
"I don’t think the Air Force would be very understanding about it. But if it comes to that, yeah. And yes to what would go with it too."
Rodney blinked at that, then broke into a wide smile. "Excellent—not that I want you to have an issue with your military, but... Yes."
John smiled as well. "Did we just get engaged? And who gets the diamond?"
"I’ll take a ZPM instead," Rodney murmured.
"If I find one, it’s all yours."
"Mmm, my hero."
"I like the sound of that."
"That may be but if you expect me to appreciate you, it may have to wait a while."
"That’s probably a good thing since I don’t think I can roll over yet."
Rodney chuckled at that and shifted enough to let his legs slide down around John’s thighs. "At this point, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to move for a week."
"I’m willing to be selfless and lie here till you can."
"That’s me, Mr. Generosity. I’m known for it. And it’s all yours now."
"And I intend to be utterly selfish regarding it and you."
"I never thought I’d say this, but I really like the sound of that too."
Rodney was silent for a while, lying there with his eyes closed stroking John’s back. "So, how do you want to handle this in public?" he finally asked.
"Since the Daedalus isn’t here at the moment, I think we’re good to test the waters and see how people react. We’ll have to hide it around Caldwell when he gets back though."
"That makes sense; one step at a time."
John nodded, finally shifting a little to the side to let Rodney breathe more easily. "Hopefully it’ll go well and we can be open about it when it’s just the expedition members."
"If it helps, I can cow my staff into being sublimely happy for us."
John snorted a laugh. "I really don’t think that’ll be necessary."
"We’re both happy; that’s really all I care about."
"Exactly. We finally got what we wanted, and we’re good."
"Just good?" Rodney asked, his arched eyebrow going well with his wry tone.
"Great, extraordinary, brilliant, superb, stupendous..."
"Much, much better."
"You really are a nut, you know that?"
"And you like me, so what does that make you?"
Tracing aimless patterns on Rodney’s shoulder, John smiled crookedly. "Does that mean you’re going to stop terrorizing people?"
"The fact that I love you is not going to change my personality, John," Rodney snorted.
"Good." John turned his head slightly to kiss Rodney. "I fell in love with you just the way you are. Bastard," he added with a chuckle.
"Cry me a river, Colonel," Rodney murmured before kissing him again.
"Somehow I’m not sensing a lot of sympathy here," John said against Rodney’s lips, trying not to grin.
"That would be because you’re not getting any."
"Good thing that’s not what I want from you."
"Now there’s a shocking statement," Rodney chuckled.
"You mean you already figured out that I’m trying to get into your pants? And here I thought I was being so subtle."
"In this matter you’re about as subtle as I am in most others," Rodney snorted.
"That subtle? Damn, I’ll have to try harder. I wouldn’t want you to have any doubts."
Rodney sighed and shook his head. "I doubt that could ever happen, Colonel."
John grinned. "Me too," he said before giving Rodney a quick, hard kiss.
"A very good answer, unless you wanted to get booted out of my bed."
"Considering that I only just got here, no, I think I’ll avoid that. I like it here."
"Enough to want to stay." It wasn’t a question, and Rodney smiled, and he pulled John in for a kiss.
"Exactly," John murmured a little while later, his lips curving into a smug smile against Rodney’s. "I’ve got you now, and I’m keeping you."
"Do you hear me complaining about this?"
"Actually, I think you’re plotting ways to stamp ‘Property of Dr. Rodney McKay’ on me," John laughed.
"I may have to, to keep the village hussies from trying to drag you off."
John shook his head. "Nope. I have what I want right here. The only one who gets to drag me off now is you."
"Sounds perfect, and for the record, it wasn’t you I was worried about, but the hussies."
John’s smile widened again. "That’s good to hear. And also for the record, I was letting you know that I’m better trained and outweigh them, so I’m not going to be dragged anywhere I don’t want to go." After a moment’s consideration of everything that happened to them, he amended, "At least not by any ‘hussies’."
Rodney gave a wry grin at the last. "And try to limit the getting dragged away by homicidal natives as well."
"I never plan on that," John protested with a faint smile of his own.
"Just like I didn’t plan on getting shot in the ass that time."
"Let’s both try to avoid those things then. I don’t enjoy either of them."
"Like I did?" Rodney demanded.
"Well, you did laugh your ass off when the Livanians dragged me off for that ceremony that involved a mud puddle..."
"And could you blame me? You looked like a swamp monster once they were done with you!"
"Which you felt the need to point out to everyone and then describe to everyone back in Atlantis!"
"It’s not my fault that anthropologist took pictures and that they ended up on the intranet!"
"Right, you didn’t offer him your last chocolate bar to do it," John snorted.
"It wasn’t a chocolate bar," Rodney protested.
"Great, you traded sexual favors to make fun of me?" John was trying not to laugh, something that grew more difficult when Rodney’s eyebrows rose and his mouth gaped like a fish. "Hmm, not sex either, huh? What did you do to him?"
"And lose my best bribery tool?"
"I thought you saved the best ones for me," John protested, giving Rodney the puppy dog eyes.
"God, I’m going to be ill," Rodney groaned.
"Not in the bed!"
"Of course not!" Rodney looked at John strangely.
"So since we are in bed, there are a lot more fun things to do."
"Haven’t you ever heard of recovery time?" Rodney laughed.
"Waste of time," John said airily.
"When I have a heart attack, call Carson."
"I’ll just give you the kiss of life."
"You’re a nympho!" Rodney laughed.
"Aren’t you lucky?" John grinned at him.
"In the ‘I’m going to die, but with a smile on my face’ way," Rodney laughed.
"I aim to please. And it’d better be a coffin built for two since I’m nowhere near done with you."
"Please tell me you aren’t planning on doing depraved things to my corpse!" Rodney laughed.
"I’d much rather do depraved things to your live body," John replied. "So no dying, with a smile or otherwise."
"You have no idea how glad I am to hear that," Rodney grinned.
John laughed. "No weird or illegal fetishes, I promise."
"I’m glad to hear it, now should we eat or nap?"
"Sleep," John decided. "And when we wake up, we can do it all over again."
Rodney nodded at that and settled himself more comfortably in the bed, half sprawled over John. "You know, eventually someone’s going to come looking for us," he murmured.
"I have a gun," John muttered, "and I’m not afraid to use it." His arm curved over Rodney’s waist, resting comfortably as he closed his eyes.
"Good," Rodney mumbled, smiling as he drifted off to sleep.