by The Grrrl

Title: Credentials

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email:

Author's URL:

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Pairing: Sheppard/McKay

Rating: NC-17

Summary: It was a very nice planet. Plus a very nice party, with some interesting consequences.

The Iwannhians really knew how to throw a party.

John watched the colorful dancers sweep past, mesmerized by smooth, undulating stomachs and shimmying hips. He tried to applaud, but the lovely dark-haired lady in his lap got in the way—Not that he was complaining. Not one bit. It had been way too long since he'd had something this pretty nestled up against him, all warm and sweet-smelling and curvy.

Kleia kissed him and handed him another cup of wine.

"Thank you very much," he said, laughing. He laughed because she was laughing, and because he was happy to be there—it was such a nice planet, with such pretty, fun-loving natives.

"I like this planet," he said to no one in particular when the music ended. "Isn't this a nice planet?"

"Absolutely. It's a really, really nice planet," Rodney agreed. He was lounging beside John on the couch, snuggled up to two women, which gave John pause. How'd he get two? Especially that one in the red—she was one of the dancers, wasn't she? Rodney's arm snaked around her bare waist, pulling her onto his lap. Her hands slipped under his shirt, while the other woman, who was maybe a dancer too, nuzzled his neck. Rodney was smiling. He looked happy, very happy, and for no reason at all, John's heart felt all twisted up.

"And it has become even nicer," the one in red said to Rodney, "now that we have enough fresh water. Thank you."

"Hey, I helped, you know," John pointed out as she kissed Rodney appreciatively.

Rodney came up for air, head leaning back, eyes half-open. "Oh yes, Major. Thank you for carrying my tools."

"What? No, I really did help," he insisted. "I adjusted the—the thing. With the sparkly lights." He couldn't remember what Rodney called it, but he was sure it was important.

The dancer smiled at him. "And we are very appreciative of you, too, Major Sheppard." She reached over and kissed him. Her mouth was sweet and wet and tasted of wine. And maybe she even tasted a little of Rodney.

"It was my pleasure. Always happy to help out our new trading partners," John said. "And you are?"


"Uilla. You're a remarkable dancer, Uilla."

"Thank you. You are very kind." Uilla moved closer, half in his lap, half in Rodney's, her breasts rubbing against his chest. When Kleia kissed her neck and stroked her hair, John decided the party was getting decidedly more interesting by the minute, and that this was definitely his most favorite planet ever.

"Yes," Rodney was saying, as he tugged on Uilla's arm, "Yes, you ever need something else done, as in fixed, you just let me know."

"I like Ferris wheels," John said in his most winning manner, but Uilla slid back into Rodney's lap.

Rodney scowled at him as he hugged her. "I can build Ferris wheels."

John stared at him, opened mouthed, the dancer forgotten. "Really? You never told me that."

Rodney blinked and shrugged. "How hard can it be?"

Uilla touched Rodney's cheek and turned his head back to her. He immediately focused his attention to her, grinning broadly. "Oh, hi." He began kissing her, dismissing John.

"Rodney never told me he could make a Ferris wheel," John whispered to Kleia. "That would be really cool."

"Ferris wheel?" Kleia frowned.

"It's—it's a big—wheel," he said. He sketched a circle in the air. "It goes up and around. It's not as good as flying, but still pretty neat."

She giggled. John didn't understand what was so funny. He thought maybe Atlantis really did need a Ferris wheel. And he needed more wine. He took the cup from her hand and found that it was mysteriously full again—so thoughtful of their hosts. The drumming started up again, and Kleia swayed in his lap, grinding against him in a way that was so distracting that he spilled the wine. She took the wineglass from him and licked his chin. Then she slid down, licking his neck. She felt warm and wonderful, her skin soft under his hands, her silky hair tickling his arms. Her hands were in his lap, directly on his—

"Oh, Kleia," he sighed, lying back against the cushions. His limps felt heavy, and the firelight flickered strangely. The wine, he thought. Strong stuff. He felt odd, something more than drunk. The Iwannhian home brew must have more than alcohol in it. Then Kleia squeezed his cock again and he stopped thinking altogether. A warm body bumped against him—one of Rodney's ladies wriggling between them on the couch. He caught a glimpse of Rodney, like him, being pushed back into a half-lying position, but then his hand fell upon a soft thigh, and Kleia's mouth was on his stomach, his hand was guided to someplace warm and wet, and then Kleia was unbuttoning his pants.

"Um," he said, his tongue feeling thick in his mouth. "I'm not so sure we, um, oh, that's real good." He blinked, feeling stupid and lazy. It was damn good, but a voice in the back of his brain kept trying to tell him something about an Air Force code of conduct, and he suspected letting Kleia suck his dick wasn't exactly part that code—although it should be. Still, accepting hospitality could only go just so far in justifying getting this up close and personal with the natives.

"Kleia," he said, putting his hand over hers. "Not that I don't really appreciate the offer—I mean really, really appreciate it—but—"

"But what?" Kleia asked, gazing up from between his legs, uncomprehending.

"We don't, um—duty. We're kind of on duty, and this is not—" He stumbled over his words. Finally he just pulled her onto the couch next to him. "I like you, but I can't, you know. Even though I really want to."

Oh, god, how he wanted to. He wanted to forget everything, forget who and what he was and sink into her softness, to ease that ache in his cock and to fuck her slow and steady, in time with the low, throbbing drumbeat, until he had nothing left to give. But he was on duty, and they were guests on this planet, this very nice planet, with the very friendly ladies. Representing Earth—no not Earth at all, but Atlantis, and that wasn't even the same thing, was it?

Atlantis, John realized, was his home.

The sound of low laughter to his left reminded him that there was Rodney to consider, too. The scientist was kind of under his command at the moment, although not really. But John was responsible for him, and as much as Rodney was enjoying himself, John didn't want him getting into any sticky situations with the natives. Those ladies might have jealous boyfriends, and Rodney could get in trouble. Dr. Weir would never forgive him if something happened to Rodney.

It was up to John to save him.


He saw that Rodney was sprawled half on top of Uilla, the other nameless woman snuggled in at his side. He was smiling at both of them, and he either didn't hear John or chose not to. But at least they were all still dressed. John suspected that once Rodney got going, he would be hard to dissuade. He could very focused when working on a problem. He was probably like that during sex, too, very focused. Intense. Rodney was an intense man. But he also liked to play, John had seen that, with the shield device. That had been fun. He'd gotten to shoot Rodney.

But nobody else was going to get to do that.

"''Scuse me, ma'am," John said to Kleia as he rose to his feet. The room swirled around him, but thank god, the drumming came to a halt, for the time being, at least. "Dr. McKay," he said, tapping Rodney's hip. "It's time for us to turn in."

Rodney raised his head. "You're kidding, right? Oh, please tell me you're kidding."

Something about the way he looked—so flushed and hungry, and maybe even a little desperate—made John's mouth go dry. "No," he said, "I'm not. We can't. Now let's—let's just go."

For a second, John thought Rodney would argue with his typical fierceness, but instead he merely nodded, dropping his eyes and touching Uilla's cheek with surprising tenderness. He said something to her—John didn't hear what—but the woman smiled and patted Rodney's shoulder as he pushed himself up.

Even so, Rodney asked, "Are you sure we have to?" as he untangled himself from his admirers. "They're—um—very pretty."

John grasped his hand and helped him to his feet. "Yes, they are. Very pretty," John said, loud enough for the ladies to hear. He smiled apologetically.

In a wistful tone, Rodney added, "And they like me."

"Rodney." John placed his hands on Rodney's shoulders. "We all like you." As he said it, he realized that he really did like Rodney. He wouldn't have thought so, not in those first few days, but he had come to find that life always seemed a little more interesting when Rodney was around, to the point where he found himself actually seeking out Rodney's company. "We really do."

Rodney stared at him, his expression indecipherable. Then he laughed. "Right. Good one." He patted John's chest.

"What?" asked John. But Rodney was already leaving, making his way past dancers and servers. He didn't know why Rodney didn't believe him, but then again, Rodney had always been an odd one to figure out.


"It's this way."

"Are you sure?" John asked. Nighttime, and all the damn huts looked alike.

"No." Rodney stopped short, and John walked into him. "Huh," Rodney said, staring up at the night sky.

John looked up. "Oh, wow." Two moons, bright and mellow, hung low on the horizon. It was a strange and beautiful sight, a reminder of how far from home he had traveled. He had walked through a Gate clear through to another galaxy, to another life, leaving the remnants of the old one behind. And that, he realized, was a good thing, such a good thing that it made him a little dizzy to think about it. He swayed, bumping his shoulder against Rodney's solid mass.

Rodney's hand automatically moved to his back, steadying him. "Wow is right. Did you know there are three more moons in this system? Five moons. During our first survey we calculated that their orbit is such that they are only all visible in the sky once every twenty or so years. That would really be something, wouldn't it? Five moons, all hanging up there in the sky." Rodney turned to him. "Can you imagine what that will do to the tidal pull?"

"Right. Amazing. What do you say we come to see it?" It sounded like a great idea. Five moons. Cool. John leaned against Rodney, his warm body a contrast to the cool night air. The moons seem to loom larger. "I feel kind of funny," he said, blinking and peering at the sky again. Definitely something more than alcohol in that wine. He wondered whether he should be worried.

"Yes, so do I." Rodney rubbed John's back absently. "Rather pleasant, isn't it?" He grinned, and for a moment he looked startlingly young and free and happy.

John smiled back at him. No harm done. They were a bit stoned, that's all. Like being kids again. Like being weightless. And he was with Rodney, who was rubbing his back, and smiling. He liked that. "Yeah, not bad, you know? Assuming we can find our hut."

"Oh, right." Rodney pointed to his left. "That's it, over there, isn't it?" He stepped away, and John promptly lost his balance. Maybe not so weightless after all.

He peered past the almost-could-be-palm trees. "I don't think—wait up—Rodney—" He followed Rodney, afraid that he might lose him in the night.

John was astonished to discover it really was their hut, grassy little roof and all, the one the Iwannhians had kindly assigned to them. He knew it was theirs because the pack that he stumbled over immediately upon entering the small structure was definitely his.

Rodney sat heavily on a pallet, and John dropped down next to him. Neither of them bothered to light the small lamp. There was enough moonlight—two moons worth—shining through the low windows to illuminate the room with a soft, white light. Drums sounded in the distance. "Party's still going on," John commented. "They're serious about this party thing. I like this planet."

"Dancers." Rodney kicked off his shoes and sighed. "All those pretty ladies by their lonesome. Too bad we couldn't stay."

John nodded. Good thing he had rescued Rodney when he did. He liked Rodney. Rodney could build Ferris wheels, and he didn't want Rodney to get in trouble. He said, "I meant it, you know, when I said we all like you. Why wouldn't you believe me?"

"What? Oh, that. It's been pointed out that I can be a real son of a bitch sometimes." Rodney's voice was matter-of-fact.

"Exactly." John grasped Rodney's arm, happy that he understood. "What's there not to like?"

Rodney laughed, and it sounded nice. Another thing to like about him. He placed his hand on the center of Rodney's chest, just so he could experience the low rumble. He wasn't sure he had ever really heard Rodney laugh, honestly laugh, before this evening, and he wanted to feel it as well as hear it.

He realized Rodney had stopped laughing, but he didn't remove his hand. Rodney's chest was broad and flat against his palm. The heat from his body soaked into his hand, and Rodney was so very, very still, that John could feel his heartbeat. He moved his hand down Rodney's chest, gliding slow and easy over the blue shirt, until it was resting on Rodney's hip and all he could hear was the faint sound of drums and Rodney's sharp intake of breath.

Rodney wasn't like anyone he had ever met before. He was smart—so smart it was kind of scary. He was difficult, he was quick, obnoxious, and passionate, and when John least expected it, he was brave. As a matter of fact, he was never quite sure what Rodney was going to do from one minute to the next, and that was kind of exciting. He was also not quite sure how his hand moved from Rodney's hip onto his lap, but somehow the palm of his hand was moving over Rodney's thigh and then found something that had to be Rodney's cock. It was stiff and hard, and he could almost get his fingers around it through the loose uniform pants.

"John." His voice was quiet, faintly puzzled.

John liked the way his name sounded when Rodney said it. His heart beat faster and with a shiver of excitement he answered, "Yes, Rodney?"

"You do know that's my penis you've got there."

"No kidding. And here I thought you had grown a third leg." John rubbed his fingers up and down the length of it, and Rodney didn't shy away.

"I can see how you might think that." Rodney shifted, resting on his hip, leaning toward John.

It did actually feel sort of big. John squeezed, and Rodney's cock responded by growing even harder. He didn't know why it had never occurred to him to do this before. Holding Rodney's cock was strange and electrifying, in a way that snuggling up to Kleia hadn't been. Then John felt a hand on his cock, and such startling pleasure that his own hand faltered. He hadn't realized that he had gotten so hard.

"Oh wow," John sighed. "Keep doing that. It feels good."

"Like this?" Rodney worked his cock with strong, firm movements, his hand sure and steady. Rodney knew how to touch him just right, and that must be because Rodney was really, really smart.

"Like that."

"Why don't I—come here—"

The room spun around when John fell back with Rodney over him, pushing him down onto the hard pallet, and then Rodney was mouthing him right through his pants.

It was like being in a dream, some sort of fantastic, really good dream, one he didn't want to wake up from. John couldn't get his pants unfastened quickly enough, but even so, he felt like he was moving infinitely slowly, fingers thick and clumsy, like he would never get the buttons undone. Rodney must have helped, because somehow his pants were open. A rush of air cooled his overheated dick, and then he gasped out loud as Rodney's warm mouth finally swallowed him down. He couldn't stop moaning. He could still hear the drums beating, or maybe it was just his heart pounding in his chest and his blood roaring in his ears, because dear god, Rodney was licking his balls and slurping down his dick and giving him the blow job of a lifetime.

John couldn't hold still. He pushed his hips up, trying to resist the urge to thrust into Rodney's mouth and failing miserably. Rodney let him do it, though, he let John fuck his mouth with short little strokes, sliding his hand across John's stomach, stroking his hip, and then patting John when he moaned too loudly. John tried to be quieter, jamming his hand into his mouth, but oh god, Rodney was so good, too good, and it all came together in a rush. He came, hard, so suddenly that he couldn't warn Rodney, and he was pretty sure he made a lot more noise. That didn't seem to bother Rodney at all, who just held him down and sucked until John couldn't take it anymore, and he was positive his brain had melted.

"Oh, god," John groaned, his voice sounding strangely low and rough. "Oh, god that was good." He wanted to lie there forever, and he thought he might have to, because his body didn't seem to want to move and he was sure he used to have bones. He lay there, motionless, listening to a soft, whispery sound, an odd sound he couldn't place until he realized it was the sound of skin rubbing together, and he opened his eyes and could make out Rodney, on the other side of the pallet, hand whipping determinedly along his own dick.

"No, no, wait," John said. "Rodney, I want to do that." He sat up, dizzier than ever, crawling to him and pulling Rodney's arm away.

"John, it's okay, really—oh, oh—"

"Shhh. Let me." Rodney's cock was hot in his hands, and it was hard and heavy and just a bit wet at the tip. He circled his fingers around it, pumping up and down, because this was Rodney, and he was going to make Rodney come. They bumped faces and somehow his tongue found its way into Rodney's mouth, and they were kissing, with Rodney's whiskered chin scraping his. Rodney made noises, muffled by John's mouth, but John was pretty sure they were good noises, especially since Rodney kept right on kissing him.

This was nothing like being with a woman, John thought. It was rough and needy and fierce and not at all sweet. He liked it, liked the way Rodney's cock sliding through his fist, liked the way Rodney was pushing against him, arm clasped around his shoulders, his teeth pressing against John's lips. And those little noises, oh man, John loved those noises, the ones that made it sound like Rodney was just going to die if he didn't come, if he didn't come right now.

Then Rodney stiffened, his cock, his body—everything. Warm liquid oozed between John's fingers and Rodney moaned, a low moan ending with a little hitch, his mouth sliding wetly across John's cheek. His head came to a rest on John's shoulder, his cock twitching in John's hand.

"Oh," John said. "Cool."

"Very cool," Rodney confirmed weakly.

John laughed, pleased with himself. "I made you come." He lay back on the pallet, pulling Rodney's limp, relaxed body down with him. His hands were sticky, and he wasn't quite sure what to do about it.

Rodney put his arms around John's waist. "Why, yes, you did," he said, kissing John delicately. His hands glided over John's back, and then fingers found their way into John's hair, playing with it. "Are you wiping your hand off on my shirt?"

"Well, it was either that or wipe it off on mine."

Laughing, Rodney grabbed John's arms and rolled on top. John gladly took his weight, holding him close and then they were kissing again, slow and languid and dreamlike, until the rest of the universe faded to a soft blur.


John woke to a pounding headache, a sour mouth and an arm, of all things, around his waist. A big, heavy arm, under his shirt, directly on his skin, holding him close. And a big body curled up around him, breathing slow and steadily.

It all came back to him in a queasy rush—repairing the desalination plant, the party, and Rodney. Oh god, Rodney and touching and stroking and sucking, and he was pretty sure that meant they had had sex, and what the hell had been in that wine?

He opened his eyes, squinting against the obnoxiously bright interior, sunlight streaming in the windows as if it had nothing better to do than to make his head hurt. His mouth tasted like something had crawled in and died during the night, and his stomach rumbled threateningly. He supposed he should move, but his back was nestled up against Rodney's chest, which felt oddly comforting, as did the leg pushed up against the back of his thigh. "Cuddly" was not a word he'd ever thought he'd use to describe Rodney, but yet there he was, cuddling with John, and John thought that actually, it was kind of nice

So nice that as his initial panic passed, he realized the sex last night, from what he could remember of it, was actually pretty damn good.

"Uhh." Rodney grunted against the back of his neck, and rolled away.

John sat up carefully, narrowing his eyes at the pain thudding mercilessly at his forehead. He twisted around to see Rodney lying on his back, rumpled and pale, an arm flung over his eyes.

"Rodney?" he whispered, anxious. He had started it last night, with his hands all over the man, and he didn't know if he should be ashamed, or if Rodney was going to be as pissed at hell at him, or if or if they both were going to be unbearably embarrassed. All he did know was that despite his fragile condition he wanted to touch Rodney all over again, wanted to hear and feel Rodney's laughter.

Rodney arm fell away from his face. He opened bleary eyes, frowning. "Major."

Major. That wasn't good at all. What happened to "John"? "Rodney, listen," he started, not sure at all of what he was going to say.

Rodney's expression sharpened, and he looked to the door. "Coffee," he stated, sitting up.

"What?" John looked up to see their door swing open, and a young boy appeared, bearing a round wooden tray containing a silver pot and cups. "What are you, a bloodhound?" he asked, jerking his head back to Rodney, then wincing at the sudden pain. "Ow."

"Good morning. Kleia sends her regards." The boy smiled shyly, placed the tray on a small, low table, and backed away with a polite bow.

After a heartfelt "thank you," Rodney held the pot in his hands, breathing deep, eyes closed, before pouring coffee into each cup. He sat back, sipping it, looking anything but relaxed. "Okay, I feel like hell. Now that we've been poisoned by the local home brew, isn't it time to go back to Atlantis yet? How long till the rendezvous with Ford and Carson?"

"Rodney—" John started again, wanting Rodney to know it was all right, that last night hadn't been an awful mistake.

"Have some coffee," Rodney said, interrupting him again. "It helps."

Bewildered, John reached for his cup, then sat back on the pallet beside Rodney. He wasn't sure if it was his imagination or not, but Rodney appeared to shrink away from him. He sighed, and tried the coffee. It was thick and bitter, but it did seem to help, settling his stomach and clearing his head. They sat in silence, awkward, but John couldn't let it go, couldn't pretend that nothing had happened.

"Interesting night," he tried.

Rodney shot him a you-never-give-up, do you, look. "Don't worry, Major, you were stoned. Your heterosexual credentials are still intact. Let's just forget about it, okay?"

"My what? Credentials—?" Suddenly, despite his throbbing head, he put it together. Rodney had been good last night, very good. It all made sense. "So," he said carefully, "Your credentials, they, uh—"

"Yes, my credentials go both ways. Isn't that amazing."

"Oh." After a minute, John said, "Actually, for your information, my credentials are kind of uncertain." John was pretty sure he would have never admitted such a thing back on Earth, but here—this was a whole new ballgame. He wasn't on Earth anymore. And since he had pushed his cock into Rodney's mouth, he owed him the truth.

Rodney shot him a look, his expression wary. "I'm sure you'll get over it."

"Well, maybe I don't want to," John replied sharply. "And anyway, it's not like I haven't done this before," he added, wincing at the defensive tone of his voice.

"Oh, really."

So god damn snotty. Despite his surge of anger, John wanted to kiss the sneer right off his face, wanted to make him say "John" all breathless and desperate like he had last night. "Yes, really. So don't go making assumptions about my credentials, okay?"

He didn't see any need to explain that his experience consisted of a few furtive, anonymous hand jobs in a bathroom stall, that it had been nothing like this, with the kissing and laughing and cuddling.

Rodney opened his mouth to reply, but shut it promptly when John's radio crackled. "Major Sheppard."

John winced at the loudness of Ford's voice. He grabbed the radio. "Lieutenant Ford? How are things going?"

"Dr. Beckett's all finished up here, sir. We're on our way. Should be about thirty minutes."

"Gotcha. See you at the rendezvous point." John signed off, and saw that Rodney was already heading toward the door, albeit slowly. "And where are you going?"

"To find some breakfast before I pass out."

And then Rodney was gone. Just like that, even though John could still feel the whisker burn on his cheek from slow, lingering, kisses.


The Iwannhians were sorry to see them go, noisily bestowing gifts of wine and honey cakes and java beans, exhorting them to return soon. John had to admit it was nice to have made some friends for a change, not that there was much tactical advantage to their world—but a little goodwill never hurt.

What did hurt was the long haul under the bright, hot sun, the almost-palms providing only meager shade. As John plodded along, cringing behind his sunglasses he became convinced that someone, somehow had moved the Stargate back, and quite frankly, he didn't remember it being up on such a steep hill, either. Rodney wasn't doing much better. His silence was deafening. Ford, ever alert, of course noticed, throwing little glances at John, then looking over at Rodney, then back at John with a frown.

"Late night," John finally explained. "Had a bit of a party."

Ford raised his brows. "Oh," he said knowingly. "You guys get to have all the fun."

"Yes, it was fun," John said. "Very fun, actually. A good time was had by all, or so I thought," he added loudly.

If Rodney heard him, he gave no sign. He just continued trudging along the hard dirt path, eyes straight ahead, mouth grim.

"Do you want some aspirin?" Carson asked John.

"No, no thank you." John hadn't eaten, and his stomach was still feeling somewhat unsettled. He suspected it wasn't entirely due to the wine.

"Be sure to drink some more water at least. How about you, Rodney?"

"I'll be fine, thank you, Doctor. Just a little stomach upset." He patted his stomach, and then, looking down, plucked at a stain.

John suddenly remembered wiping his hand on Rodney's shirt, and the ensuing laughter. Feeling perverse, he asked, "What, did you spill something there, Doctor?" Snotty of him, he knew, but if Rodney was going be snotty about it, so could he. His head was throbbing, the humidity sapped his strength, he couldn't bear to eat, and all John wanted was a shower and a nap and for Rodney to stop acting like an ass and talk to him, god damn it.

If looks could kill, John would have dropped dead in his tracks. Rodney snapped, "I have no idea what you are talking about, Major."

"I see," John said. He could have cheerfully strangled Rodney on the spot. "Oh look, here's the Gate. What do you say we go home?


John's condition improved somewhat once he entered Atlantis, where it was soothingly shady and cool, where the fresh tang of ocean air eased his headache. "Elizabeth," he said by way of greeting, as they settled in at the debriefing. He went on to describe the successful repair of the Iwannhian desalination plant—Rodney's successful repair, that is. He touched only briefly on the quiet social gathering afterward. He ignored Ford and Carson's grins. They were getting awfully cheeky, he thought.

"Nice job, Major," she said, sniffing the coffee beans and tasting one of the honey cakes. "Oh my. This is very good. I take it all went well with you and Ford, Dr. Carson?"

Carson nodded. "They're a healthy people. A few antibiotics here and there, that's all that was needed. We spent a pleasant afternoon."

"Good to hear." She examined the wine bottle curiously. "And this is?"

"I'd be careful with that," Rodney said. "I'm not so sure it should be on our grocery list."

"Strong stuff?" Elizabeth seemed to be fighting back a smile as she looked him over, as if suddenly noticing his pale skin and shadowed eyes.

Rodney glowered. "Yes. I wouldn't be surprised if it had intoxicants in addition to the rather high level of ethanol. It can seriously impair judgment."

"Oh really," John interrupted, his headache back in full bloom. "How serious is serious?"

"As in stupid, really, really stupid," Rodney snapped. "Highly impaired."

John half-rose from his chair. "All right, just knock it off. You know Rodney, you're real son of a bitch. An absolute—"

Rodney looked him right in the eye. "Precisely. And you?"

"Gentlemen?" Elizabeth's voice was quiet, but nonetheless, it silenced them both effectively.

Yelling. John had been yelling, and he'd never yelled in a meeting, never gotten that worked up before, no matter how urgent the issues were, or how personally frustrated he had gotten. He took a deep breath. "Yes?" he said, leaning back in his chair with exaggerated calm.

"My apologies, Elizabeth," Rodney said, looking faintly embarrassed as he stared at his hands.

"Is there a problem I should know about?"

John was once again acutely aware of Ford and Carson's eyes on him, their curiosity. "No, no, no problem here," he said, as Rodney mumbled the same.

"Good." With one word Elizabeth made it clear she didn't believe either of them, and that they had better work it out. "We'll hold off on the wine shipments for now. Dismissed."

John wasn't at all proud of the fact that he hurried out of the room before she could catch up with him.


Food, a shower, a nap, and John was feeling a little more human but no less angry. Not even War and Peace could soothe him. He stared out his window for a while, watching clouds drift over the endless sea. He debated seeking Rodney out, but he suspected that despite his best efforts, it would turn into another shouting match, and that wouldn't do either of them any good. He had gotten enough odd looks from folks in the mess already. Gossip traveled quickly. He wondered if any of them knew about Rodney, if Rodney had maybe been more open with his fellow scientists about his sexuality back on Earth than John himself had ever dared to be. Rodney had never appeared to be overly concerned with how others perceived him, whereas John had always been concerned about such things—maybe too concerned.

And despite everything, John couldn't stop thinking about how Rodney's cock felt in his hands. Which only made him angrier.

War and Peace. He returned to his book and managed to read an entire page, when a soft knock sounded. He scrambled off the bed to answer it, tossing his book onto the floor.

Rodney strode in without invitation, right past him, and began without preamble. "Okay, rude. I was rude to you, really, really rude." He spun around to face John. "Rude."

John blinked, feeling off-balance, almost as if he had been hitting the wine again. "Yes," he finally said, nodding. "You were kind of rude."

"I'm sorry."

Spoken so earnestly, and John felt the anger drain from his body. "Apology accepted. Rodney, can't we talk about this?" All at once he felt absurdly happy that Rodney was here in his room with him, being heartfelt and sincere and maybe even a little nervous.

"I'm not trying to be difficult about this, which I know is hard to believe." Rodney paced the length of the room. "But the situation is—what happened last night—those pretty, sexy Iwannhian ladies got you all revved up, but then you had no place to go, and there I was, and we both had a little too much of the local goofy juice, but it doesn't mean anything, and I understand that, really, I do."

John gave Rodney the courtesy of thinking it over, then shook his head. "No, I don't think that was it." Rodney definitely looked nervous, and John felt a flutter of anticipation himself.

Rodney stopped in mid-pace, frowning at John as if he were being the difficult one. "Major, come on, think about it."

"I did think about it. And what about you, Rodney?"

"What do you mean, 'what about me'? What about me?"

"Is that how you felt? Was I just a convenience? A willing body in the right place at the right time?" John didn't think so, given Rodney's response.

"We were talking about you, here." Rodney wouldn't meet his eyes. "And your credentials, not mine."

"I see. You're avoiding my question, which is kind of an answer in and of itself now, isn't it?" John's heart beat faster, because Rodney had given him the answer he needed, in his own Rodney kind of way. "Listen, if you just want to pretend this all never happened, fine. But you should know that it's not what I want, okay?" John was pretty sure that it wasn't what Rodney wanted, either, or else Rodney wouldn't be here staring at his own feet like that, would he?

"I fail to see any alternative, Major. What, are we going to start dating? Oh, please."

"And what's wrong with that?" John took one step toward him, then another.

Rodney stared at him in amazement, his mouth forming that odd little twist. "You can't be serious. On this base—we're practically living in each other's back pockets. And by the way, Air Force? Military? Don't ask, don't tell? You remember that? John, you're the ranking military officer here."

"And now who's being naive? You think that little rule ever stopped anybody?" John. Rodney had called him John. "And this is Atlantis. Anything is possible here."

"Really? Who—? No, never mind. I don't need to know," Rodney said with a wave of his hand. "But yes, this is Atlantis, the big magical city, and, you're in charge of the dumb Neanderthals like Bates. How is someone like that going to react if and when they find out? And what happens when things fall apart? When things get ugly? They always do, and don't try to tell me it won't. And in case you haven't noticed, I don't deal well with stressful situations. You'll be stuck with me, on your team, you'll have to face me every day. I suppose you can just remove me from your team, and it's not like I like having Wraiths shooting at me anyway, so you know, I'll get over it, thank you very much. I recommend Zelenka to take my place. Sure, he's not as bright as I am, but he's smart enough, and pretty quick on the uptake. He'll need some weapons training, though. He's pretty hopeless with the hand-eye coordination."

John's head was spinning from Rodney's rapid-fire delivery. A weapon—if only they could harness Rodney's brain directly, they'd have one hell of a weapon. "Rodney, you're insane, you know that?"

"Bingo! And you want to 'date' me?"

"Yes!" John shouted, practically in Rodney's face. "What the hell do you think I've been trying to tell you?"

John watched the realization finally dawn on Rodney's face. Rodney said, "Oh my god, you really mean it, don't you?"

"Yes," John said, quietly this time. He loved the way Rodney looked right at the moment, so sweetly dumbfounded, as if this was one outcome he hadn't ever anticipated, and he felt a shameless tickle of pleasure at having outwitted him, just for a second or two.

"I was…" Rodney's voice trailed off, and he shook his head, as if trying to clear it. "I had it all wrong."

"Yes, you did." John folded his arms over his chest, feeling unreasonably smug.

"Leaping to conclusions. Why do I do that?" He stared at John, as if John somehow held the answer to all such mysterious questions, and then a smile came over his face. "Does this mean we get to have sex again?"

"That would be nice." That flutter of anticipation again. "Really nice."

"Like right now?" Rodney asked, hopeful and eager. "Could we?"

"Right now would be good. Very good. I'd like that." He started toward Rodney, and at the same time Rodney stepped toward him, and they almost bumped into each other, and all John could think was that god, they were bad at this but somehow that only seemed appropriate.

Rodney hesitated, his hand on John's arm, and John was afraid he'd start talking again, that he would come up with another frenzied list of reasons why this would never work. But instead Rodney leaned forward and pressed his mouth carefully against John's, almost if he were afraid of doing it wrong, as if John might somehow change his mind. John thought it was only right that he encourage Rodney by wrapping his arms around Rodney's body and pressing his tongue into his mouth while backing him onto the bed, stumbling over War and Peace in the process. It was clearly the right thing to do. Rodney was encouraged enough to drag John down on the bed and managed to pull most of their clothes off, with only one quick interruption of the kiss while pulling their shirts off over their heads. John was impressed by Rodney's cleverness, and then they were naked together, Rodney's broad, square body pressing up against his, so much hot skin touching him, so much of it to kiss and touch.

"Okay, now—this is much better naked, isn't it?" John gasped, reaching down to tug his socks off. Naked chest, naked stomach, naked cock—big, hard, naked cock jutting out from between strong thighs, strange and yet so familiar and utterly fascinating.

"Sex usually does work much better this way."

John was aware of Rodney watching him, that Rodney had noticed his wide-eyed stare. "You look really good," he told Rodney. As proof, he took Rodney's hand and placed it over his own cock, just as naked and big and hard. "See? And no slinky dancer ladies in sight. Or wine. Just you."

That faintly awestruck expression again, the one that John decided he really, really liked.

"You're so—come here," Rodney pulled at his arms. "Move your leg, like this—" He slid closer, then patted John's leg.

"What?" John was momentarily confused, what with so much nakedness all around, and Rodney's hand on his cock.

"Lift your leg," Rodney said again.

John obeyed, and Rodney slipped a leg between his, and suddenly their cocks were snugged up next to each other, and they were chest to chest, face to face. "Oh," he said with surprise, wrapping his leg around Rodney's hip. He had never done anything quite like this before with a man.

"Yes, 'oh,'" Rodney repeated. "What was that about being experienced?"

John suspected he had just made his lack of credentials pretty obvious, but it was okay, because of the incredible warmth and affection in Rodney's voice, and plus that look in his eyes, that made it clear John's lack of experience didn't matter one bit. Touched, John had to kiss him for it, and Rodney kissed him back, sloppy and enthusiastic. They held each other, hands wrapped around each other's cocks, and things got more interesting from there. Much more interesting. It was just as strange and exciting as it had been the night before, and so much better than anything John had ever experienced, because they were naked, John was in his right mind, lust-addled as it was, and because this was Rodney, not some nameless stranger he picked up in a bar.

It wasn't long before they were both gasping and wet and sticky, but they kept on clinging to each other, faces pressed together. "Okay, good, that was good," Rodney finally gasped, rolling onto his back and dragging John with him. "Oh, god, John, I was wrong in a really big way, wasn't I?"

"You'll get over it." John's body still buzzed with pleasure as tucked his head on Rodney's shoulder. "I'll help," he added, with a blissed-out sigh. Rodney chuckled, curling an arm around John's waist. It was a while before either of them spoke, but as John gradually caught his breath, he noticed again what a nice chest Rodney had, kind of furry, with little curls that were surprisingly soft to the touch.

"Why do you think this is going to end badly?" he asked, pressing a hand against Rodney's pecs. He was solidly muscled, more so that John would have suspected. It was a nice feeling, to be leaning up against someone so strong.

"Let's just say I don't have a good track record. With either men or women. Try not to act shocked, but I'm not the easiest person to get along with."

John grinned, then kissed Rodney's chin, his chest, and a nipple, just because. "Rodney, those other people? They're not me."

"Oh, and you think you can succeed where all others have failed?"

"Absolutely." John rose up on an elbow and moved to nuzzle at Rodney's armpit.

"You're really arrogant, you know that? And kind of weird," he added as John's nose poked at him, but he lifted his arm anyway. "But arrogant, too." Despite his words, Rodney sounded pleased, and maybe even a little hopeful.

"That's why we get along so well."

Rodney seemed to find that quite funny, and after a moment, John did too. "All right, all right," he admitted, easing his body over onto Rodney's and staring down into his eyes. "But you can't deny that we're good together."

Rodney's lips curved into a happy little smile, his eyes soft. "That, I'll agree with."

"Oh my god, we're reached an agreement." That earned him a playful slap on the ass, and he decided he liked this side of Rodney, liked it very much. And if it took some slightly clumsy sex with to bring it out in Rodney, well, that was the price he was willing to pay. He'd get better at it soon enough, right?

As if reading his mind, Rodney asked, "So, about this 'experience' that you have, just how extensive is it?"

"Extensive enough," John answered, indignant. At Rodney's amused disbelief, he relented and added. "Well," he relented, "as in a couple of hand jobs in a bar, okay? I couldn't allow myself more than that, not then."

Rodney didn't laugh. His expression grew more serious. "So why now? Aside from the obvious fact that I'm irresistible."

"We're in Atlantis," John said. When Rodney looked around the room, filled with shadows in the late afternoon sun, John shook his head and clarified, "I mean we're in a whole other world. A new galaxy. I left a lot of stuff behind in the old one. Stuff I never really needed to carry around with me."

"Oh." Rodney touched his cheek, and there was that sweet, surprised expression again. In a voice rough with emotion, Rodney said, "This is a really nice planet, isn't it?"

John couldn't agree with him more.

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