Depth Perception

by The Grrrl

Title: Depth Perception

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email:

Author's URL:

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Pairing: Sheppard/McKay

Summary: John and Rodney are stranded on a planet together, and Rodney finds out John isn't exactly the guy he thought he was.

Notes: Your basic, straight-up romance. Smut-filled comfort fic, for me, at least, because writing it made me happy. Much thanks to mmmchelle for the beta and to her and wickdzoot both for the support and cheerleading and general sweetness and fun. Contains minor spoilers for "Siege III".

"Rodney, dial the gate."

Rodney couldn't understand how John could be so calm under fire. He was flying the jumper effortlessly despite the wraith darts swirling around them. Still, no way were they going make it to the gate unscathed, not this time. Rodney did as requested, reaching for the panel. "Dialing. I'm dialing," he announced, then ducked his head instinctively as an explosion flashed in front of them.

"Rodney, now."

"Yes, yes," As Rodney brought up the dialing program, the jumper took a hit, rocking wildly. He flew out of his chair and onto the console. "Ow, damn it, Colonel, can't you--what happened to the inertial dampeners?" The jumper rocked again, and Rodney thumped back into his chair.

"We took some damage." John's voice was grim. "Hang on. Use your--."

"What? Use my what?" Rodney tried to hang on, but the arms of the chair slipped from his fingers, and there was nothing on the console he could hold on to, despite his frantic scrabbling. He flew sideways, the wall of the jumper rushing up and smacking him in the head. Bright pain as he fell back, over the damn console again. Why didn't they have seat belts? This was ridiculous; they were all going to die. Then he saw the readout on the screen, and that was puzzling; he hadn't dialed--

Another thud and all went black.

Day 1

He woke to a dull, throbbing pain in his head.

"Rodney, are you okay?" John's voice sounded faint, as if in a dream.

"No," Rodney managed. His mouth was dry, and his tongue felt too thick. "Ow."

"C'mon, wake up, Rodney."

Rodney opened his eyes to see John fuzzily looming over him. "Ow," he repeated. "Pain." He took a deep breath, blinking at the bright light streaming in. His vision cleared enough to see that John's brow furrowed in a gratifyingly concerned manner.

"How do you feel? Are you okay?"

"No, I'm not okay, my head hurts, and why aren't I in the infirmary?" Panic inflected his voice as he stared up at the blue sky outside the jumper windshield. "Where's Carson?"

John patted his shoulder. "Probably back in Atlantis."

"What? And where are we?" Alarmed, Rodney tried to sit up, but than only made the pain in his head worse. His hip joined in the chorus. "Damn it." He closed his eyes and let John push him back down.

"Just hold still. Here, maybe this will help." Something cold and soft settled over Rodney's forehead.

Rodney reached up to touch it--a chemical cold pack, and already the pain was easing to bearable levels. "Thank you," he whispered. He opened his eyes carefully. "What happened?"

"We're safe, for now." John patted his shoulder again and smiled reassuringly.

Rodney appreciated the patting, he really did. But it didn't answer any of his questions. "Where the hell are we?" he asked in a small voice.

The patting stopped. "I'm not sure. Seems like you misdialed, maybe?"

"How could I have misdialed? I hadn't even dialed, unless, unless, when I hit the controls--oh god, I dialed with my hip, didn't I?"

John nodded, visibly perplexed. "Maybe?"

"Never mind. Where are we?"

John shrugged. "On a planet. It seems like a pretty nice one."

Rodney lifted his hand, pointing a finger in the air. "And why aren't we flying back through the gate right at this very moment?"

"We took a hit, remember? The jumper is...broke. And the gate's in orbit. After you fix the jumper, we can fly out of here and get back home," John explained easily.

"Oh, no."

Patting Rodney's shoulder again, John added, "I'm sure you can fix it; you're a smart guy, Rodney. At least that's what you keep telling me."

"Yes, I'm smart, but may I remind you of the 'not superman' concept again? It's a lot to assume, considering I haven't even looked at the damage, due to the damage to my head. Which still really hurts."

John nodded sympathetically. "You whacked it pretty good. Had me worried there." He touched the side of Rodney's head. "But now you're awake and you'll get us out of here. Right?"

"Assuming I don't die of a brain hemorrhage first." Rodney closed his eyes. "The jumper is obviously in one piece, so it's possible, and I mean possible, that I can cobble together enough energy to at least get us up to the gate."

"See, that's what I'm talking about." John sat back on his heels, apparently satisfied. "In the meanwhile, we're safe for the moment. As we landed, I scanned as much as I could, and there was nothing on the life signs detector, although I spotted the ruins of a village a ways back."

"Recently culled?" Rodney asked, the sick feeling in his stomach no longer entirely due to his headache.

"I think so. I doubt the wraith will be coming back any time soon. And the cloak still works, if they do."

"Excellent." Rodney tried to push himself up into a sitting position. His head pounded, and his vision swam hazily. "Oh, not good." Before he could fall back, a strong arm went around his waist, supporting him.

"Easy, Rodney," John murmured, his lips disquietingly close to Rodney's ear. "Here, lean back against the bench."

He maneuvered Rodney around so that he could prop himself against the bench, and picked up the cold pack. "Use it," John ordered.

Rodney held the pack to his bruised head and accepted a canteen of water. "What if I have a concussion?"

"You probably do have a concussion. You were unconscious for almost 15 minutes." John scratched at the back of his neck, looking worried again. "Let's see. Brain's your vision? Are you confused?"

Rodney raised the canteen to his lips, then brought it down again without drinking. "I can see fine now. It was blurred when I first woke up, and I'm a little disoriented and nauseous. Oh god, what if I'm seriously injured? No offense, but I really wish Carson was here."

"Well he's not. You're stuck with me. Until you get us out of here."

"What about my pupils? Are they dilated? Are they of uneven size?"

"Let me see." John crawled close. "Look up," he said, holding Rodney's chin steady. He pressed closer, until his face was mere centimeters away.

Rodney had to force himself not to look down at John's lips, or to stare into John's oddly colored eyes, eyes that couldn't decide whether to be brown or green. John's face was close enough that the tips of his hair tickled Rodney's forehead. Rodney's heart began to race, which made his head hurt all the more.

"Uhhh," Rodney said. John's lips were close enough that it would only take a little tilt of his head to kiss them. He could always blame it on the head injury, claim he was confused, that he didn't know what he was doing.

It could work.

"They look okay to me," John said, pulling back, safely out of reach. "What, are you all right? You don't look so good. Like you are fuzzing out or something."

"Feeling a little dizzy," Rodney admitted, breathlessly.

John expression grew concerned, and he took the canteen from Rodney's hand. "Want to lie down again?"

"No," Rodney said, taking a deep, steadying breath. "I'd rather start checking out the systems. The sooner we get back home, the better I'll feel."

"Then come on."

He let John help him up and settle him at the jumper's console. He might have leaned against John more than was purely necessary, but he was bruised and sore and dizzy, so he had earned it. "Hey, how come you didn't get knocked around?" he asked.

"Strapped my vest to the seat, I was trying to tell you that."

"A little late, don't you think?"

"Sorry, I was otherwise occupied, trying to keep us from getting blown up."

"Yeah, yeah," Rodney waved him off, and slid down into the chair. "Okay now." He powered up the console, bringing up system readouts and right away he could see that it wasn't good, but there was plenty of power--not getting through, maybe he could reroute--

"Well?" John asked.

"Give me some time?" Rodney asked, irked.

"How much time is this going to take?"

"I don't know, just--just go do something, and I'll let you know as soon as I have it figured out."

"Okay. I'm going to check out the surroundings." John pulled on his vest, latching it over his chest.

"How far are you going?" Annoyance gone, all Rodney could think of was being left alone on a possibly dangerous--no make that probably dangerous--planet.

"Not far. I'll keep the jumper in sight. And we'll stay in radio contact. You let me know if you start feeling sick." John retrieved the cold pack from Rodney's lap. "And keep this on your head, okay?"

Rodney nodded. "Go, go."


Rodney wedged himself underneath the console, removing yet another damaged crystal. It was not a good situation, not good in many ways, and his damn head throbbed every time he had to crawl around on the floor. He leaned his forehead against the cool wall, wondering where he had last left the icepack.

He didn't bother to look up when he heard the jumper door swinging open. A worried voice called out his name.

"Hmm. Fine, I'm fine, just--just in pain, that's all."

John crouched down beside him. "Why don't you take a break?" Again, that gratifying look of concern, and if Rodney's head didn't hurt so much, he would have enjoyed it.

"Good idea." He let John pull him to his feet, and lead him over the bench toward the rear of the jumper.

"Want to lie down?"

Rodney shook his head. The ramp was still down and there were sand dunes in the distance. He could smell the sea on the breeze, a scent that was deeper and richer than Atlantis's, and heard the sound of waves. "We're by the water?"

John nodded. "It's pretty nice out there." He sat beside Rodney, rubbing his palms against his knees. "So, the jumper?"

"It's not going anywhere," Rodney told him with a heavy heart.

John's brows slowly rose. "Not at all?"

"I don't know how you managed to get us down in one piece," Rodney said, impressed as always by John's piloting skills. Not that he'd ever admit to it. "Even though we have plenty of power, the thrusters have taken too much damage. And no, I can't fix them, I don't have the parts I need."

"So," John said. "Any way we can activate the gate from here and send a message?"

Rodney pointed a finger excitedly. He loved when John was on the same page as him "Yes. Maybe. I think so."

"Which is it, Rodney?"

"The gate's in orbit, right? I should be able to boost the signal enough to activate it from here, but the gate is going to have to be directly in the line of sight of the transmitter."

John brightened. "So, that's good, right?"

"Right," Rodney agreed. "According to my analysis, this line of sight should happen twenty two days from now. The maybe comes in with how much I can boost the signal. It should be able to reach the gate, depending on its exact orbit. There's a margin of error in calculating the orbit."

After a thoughtful moment, John asked, "No way to get word to Atlantis sooner, to at least let them know we're okay?"

"Unfortunately, no." Rodney hadn't thought of that. "They won't know that we survived, will they?"

"If the Daedalus goes looking for us when they get back from Earth, they won't find any wreckage, at least."

"They'll keep looking for us, only they won't know where to look," Rodney said. "Oh no. Poor Elizabeth." He wrapped his arms around himself, wishing there were some way that he could let her know they had survived.

"There's nothing we can do about that, Rodney." John rose up from the bench, and paced the length of the jumper. "Okay. Let's see, we have enough food to last a couple of months, and plenty of water. Not only that, but there's a freshwater stream nearby. A change of clothes, a medical kit, plenty of ammunition," he paused, squaring his shoulders. "I think we're good."

"Good enough," Rodney mused.

Day 2

They might be better than good, Rodney thought as he watched John wake, stretch, and then sit up in his sleeping bag, appealingly rumpled and bleary-eyed. Rodney was going to get to see this for the next twenty some-odd days. The fact that it made him happy was pathetic, but he couldn't help it. He couldn't remember the last time he had fallen this hard.

Wait, yes he could. Major--no make that Colonel--Carter. What was it with him and the military? Did he have to fall for every heroic figure that crossed his path? Or only the ridiculously pretty ones?

John scrubbed at his face with the heel of his hand, then blinked down at Rodney. "Good morning," he said, in a low, relaxed voice.

Rodney grunted and closed his eyes again. "You did say there was a supply of coffee on board, right?"


"If you're making some..." Rodney opened his eyes to John's 'yeah, right' expression. "Just checking."

John's expression switched to one of concern as he focused on an area just above Rodney's left eye. "Oh wow, nice bruise," he said, reaching out to touch Rodney's forehead. "Does it still hurt?"

"Er, no, actually, much better," Rodney stammered, mesmerized by the feel of gentle fingers gliding over his skin. It seemed as though John was touching him a lot, which was unusual. But not unwelcome.

"Good. And your vision is still okay?"

"The vision is really, really good," Rodney told him. John leaning over him, in a tee-shirt and boxers, how could that not be good?

John nodded, apparently satisfied. "I'll boil up some water for coffee." As he withdrew his hand, it brushed against Rodney's cheek.

If Rodney didn't think it was absolutely crazy, he would have sworn John's hand lingered there for the briefest microsecond. "How very magnanimous of you," he said distractedly.

After breakfast was eaten, and the sleeping bags and pads stowed away, Rodney dressed and headed for the overhead panel to sort through the damaged crystals. It was going to take at least a full days work to swap out the ones critical for the transmitter and, oh god, he was stiff and sore.

"Wait," John said. "Aren't you going to come outside first?"

Rodney cocked his head at him, puzzled.

"You've been cooped up in the jumper since we got here. Come out and take a look around before you get back to work," John insisted.

"Colonel, I'm really sore--"

"I was going to check out the fishing situation--thought I spotted some schools in the distance yesterday." He waved the binoculars, looking hopeful. "Come on. It's not far. It will help with the stiffness, you know, to get out and walk around some."

Rodney shrugged. The repairs could wait. "All right."

John grinned happily as Rodney grabbed his jacket, then turned trotted down the ramp into the sunshine. Rodney followed more slowly and was startled to see the deep groove in the sand, scoured out by the jumper. "You know? I think I'm glad I was unconscious during this landing." He stepped over a small, scrubby tree uprooted by the craft.

"Hey, for a crash landing, it was pretty damn smooth," John insisted, sounding offended.

"Of course it was." Dubious, Rodney circled the jumper, taking in the scorch marks along one side. "Whoa. Without the shields, we would have been toast."

"It wouldn't have been pretty."

"Which way is--oh, I see." Looking past John, Rodney could see an ocean just past the dunes. The water was rough, covered in pale green foam and a mist had formed above the breakers.

"It's this way," John said, leading Rodney down a path between the dunes. Small birds fluttered about in their path, taking refuge in the bushes. "The area is more forested once you get past the dunes. The freshwater is less than a kilometer to the east." John turned and pointed past the jumper.

"Okay." Rodney stumbled down onto the sandy beach, squinting into the wind. "You really think you're going to be able to fish out here?"

"Why not? See those rocks to the south? I can sit up there. We have fishing gear in the survival kit. It will be a piece of cake."

"And how do we know the fish is edible? What if they are poisonous?"

John stopped short. "Why would they be?"

"Because things are, that's why. Maybe as a defense mechanism--"

"Wait--there was the remains of a village further south, I saw it as we passed over. Right on the water, with boats and everything. I'll bet the inhabitants fished. It was probably a fishing community. What else would they be living on? I didn't see any farmland." John crossed his arms and nodded, smug as could be. "How about that? I'll bet they ate fish all the damn time."

"Fine. You can eat it. I'll stick to MREs, thank you very much."

"And if we end up being here for an extended length of time?"

"We won't," Rodney said, with a certainty that he did not feel. "I'll make certain of that."

Day 6

The days fell into a comfortable routine. Rodney did the repairs on the jumper, swapping out broken crystals for intact ones, rerouting critical subroutines, and running as many tests and simulations as he could without actually powering up the transmitter. He didn't want to burn it out prematurely.

John patrolled the perimeter, more than Rodney thought was strictly necessary, and spent time fishing. Unsuccessfully. Rodney thought he detected a certain restlessness, especially once they realized they were safe, no dangerous predators lurking in the shadows or evidence of a wraith presence.

Then Rodney finished working on the jumper, and he was a little bored, too. He missed the city and all its wonders, missed his lab, even missed his fellow scientists. He wasn't quite sure what he should be doing, other than worrying that the transmitter would blow out, that he wouldn't be able to repair the secondary transmitter, that they'd be trapped on this planet forever. Eating poisonous fish. So when John suggested it was time to do laundry, Rodney gladly gathered up his clothes and headed down the path to the stream.

Following John's lead, Rodney used rocks to secure his submerged clothes. They padded about barefoot in the clear, cold water, which was a pleasant contrast to the hot sun overhead. He snuck a peek at John's clothes--tee-shirt, pants, socks, those incongruous blue pinstripe boxers--and grinned. The boxers tended to make an appearance above the waistband of John's pants quite frequently, much to Rodney's amusement.

"There. That should do it," John said, stepping up onto the bank.

"Yes, now our clothes will be covered in algae and dirt, I'm sure that will be a big improvement."

"We'll rinse them again, Rodney," John said in his patient voice. "Either way, I'm sure they'll smell a whole lot better."

He was probably right. Rodney wondering how long John planned on letting them soak.

"Speaking of smelling," John started. He squinted up at the sun, then, nodding as if he had come to an internal decision, stripped the fresh t-shirt off over his head. "We both could use a real bath." He started unbuckling his belt.

Rodney stared at him in dismay. "What? Are you for real? I'll have you know I've been keeping up with the regular sponge baths--and--and--"

Jesus, John was naked. Totally naked, and stepping gracefully out of his pants. Completely, utterly naked, with the chest and nipples and that line of hair leading right down to there, all that dark hair and John dressed to the left, didn't he? Face burning, Rodney turned away, then stole a look back to see John bending over--bending over, and that was one hell of an ass--to fish something out of his pants pocket.

John straightened up and grinned. "Even brought soap." He held up a small white package.

"Soap," Rodney said, his voice breaking. He felt a little faint, and even worse, felt his cock thickening rapidly. "You go on, I'll be in in a second. Let me know if you come across anything large and biting." He pulled his shirt off, and then John was already knee-deep in the stream, heading toward a quiet, deep pool, and yes, biting sounded like a very good idea, Rodney wouldn't at all mind nibbling on that small, tight ass.

Not good. He shouldn't be thinking about such things. Rodney shed his pants and briefs, then hurried to get into the water before John turned around and noticed a certain level of excitement, one that Rodney really, really did not want to explain.

He needn't have worried--the water was colder than he recalled, and as he splashed clumsily toward the deep water, his cock sought the warmth of his body, shrinking down and pulling up tight. He reached the pool and knelt, gasping from the cold, the water lapping against his chest. "Okay, cold."

"Feels good, doesn't it?" John lathered up his hair, and Rodney glared, annoyed that John could still look good with a head full of suds.

"No, it does not feel good, it feels cold."

"You have to get your head under. Then it will feel good," John said. He was soaping up his armpits as he spoke.

Rodney hesitated, then dunked his head under, because after all he did have to wash his hair, his scalp was getting itchy and his hair, greasy. "Oooh," he said as he resurfaced. "You're right." The cold actually felt invigorating. He blinked the water out of his eyes to see John standing and washing his groin, his soapy hand sliding right over his cock, then reaching behind--

Groaning, Rodney dunked his head again. When he emerged the second time, John was holding out the bar of soap. "Here you go."

Wet fingers glided over his as he took the soap. John's eyes were bright and playful. A streak of lather decorated his cheek. All this touching--it was almost as if John was doing it on purpose, but that was patently ridiculous, because, why? Rodney banished the thought from his mind and began washing his hair.

John rinsed his head and then sat in the stream as Rodney washed, making idle comments about their surroundings, that the berries should be ripe soon, and how the wild rosebushes reminded him of the rosehip jelly his grandmother used to make. And how, later this afternoon, he was definitely going to catch a fish.

"I'll believe that when I see it," Rodney told him.

"You don't think I can catch a fish?" John sat back, arms waving slowly over the surface of the water. The movements made the muscles in his shoulders flex and stretch.

"Let's just say that maybe there aren't any fish out there to catch?" Rodney lathered his chest, then stood to get to the regions below.

"It's an ocean. Of course there's fish." John's eyes swept briefly over Rodney's body before looking away. "You'll see."

Rodney sat back down to rinse. "You keep on with your little fish illusions, Colonel." He grinned as John splashed him.

"You know what? Just for that, you're going to come and help me fish tomorrow," John said.

"I'm pretty sure I have some work I need to do. Found an old set of equations on my computer that I was trying to solve, and now's the perfect time, no interruptions--"

"Rodney," John said sternly.

"Okay, okay, fishing it is."

Day 7

From their perch on the smooth boulder, Rodney could see nothing but the sea. The water was calm, small waves breaking further out than usual, and the surf quietly splashing up at the base of the rocks.

"Wow, look at all those fish." Rodney said. "There must be millions of them out there."

"Very funny, Rodney. Just you wait, I'm going to catch the biggest fish you've ever seen."

"I'm waiting." Rodney leaned back, stretching his feet out in front of him. The wind cooled him, and late afternoon sun was beginning to dip low against the horizon, taking on a decidedly orange cast.

"Here, hold this a sec." John handed Rodney the line.

"Um, what? I don't know how to do this." Rodney hoped desperately that any fish were far, far away.

"Hang on, hang on." John was pulling his jacket closed, hunkering down and leaning into Rodney. His shoulder touched Rodney's shoulder, his arm pressed against Rodney's forearm.

Rodney decided that there might be something to this whole fishing thing. "Okay?" he asked, handing back the line. "Here, take this back before something happens."

John nodded.

"What are you using for bait?" Rodney asked.

John motioned to a small plastic bag beside him. "Little crawly things I dug up in the sand."

"Ah. Little crawly things. That would be the technical term?"

John gave him a look. "Actually, I believe they were crustaceans."

"Crustaceans." Rodney wasn't sure what those were, but he loved it when John was smart. "Do we know these so-called 'fish' eat crustaceans?"

"I'll ask our local marine biologist, okay? I tried a bunch of stuff from the MREs, and that didn't seem to work, so now--" John shrugged.

"Crawly things," Rodney finished for him.

"Yes. Why, do you actually know anything about fishing?"

"Not even a little. Fish is something that comes served to you on a plate, in a restaurant, and then you have to tell them to take it back and try again, this time without the lemon, just like you told them the first time."

John grimaced. "You'd think they could at least get that right," he said. "I promise, when I catch one, I'll serve it to you without lemon, okay?"

"Okay," Rodney said. He couldn't help smiling.

"A little white wine, some butter, maybe capers, a dash of thyme--it will be delicious, I promise you."

Rodney's smile grew broader. "You can cook?" he asked, his voice rising in disbelief.

John tilted his head close to Rodney's. "Shhh," he said, "don't tell anyone. You'll spoil my macho image. Anyway, I don't do anything fancy, only the basics."

"Like fish in a white wine sauce."

"Yeah, that's pretty simple, and works well with the milder white fishes," John explained. "I'll make it for you someday."

"I'd like that," Rodney said. "Did you fish a lot back on Earth?"

John shook his head. "Actually, no. I went a few times when I was younger, with my dad and my uncle, but I prefer getting it at local fish market, already cleaned and gutted. It's a hell of a lot easier."

The wind picked up, and Rodney pressed closer to John. The rock still held the sun's heat, and the clouds were glowing red and orange as the sun set. "Fishing isn't so bad," Rodney said.

John nodded. "No, not so much," he said with a content-sounding sigh.


Day 9

Rodney grunted in frustration, pushing his computer aside. Even tied into the jumper's system, it didn't have the power he needed to work on his equations. Sure, he could do that one extraneous side project, but that was boring and rote, something a first year grad student could do. He spun aimlessly in his chair. There was nothing else he could do, aside from enjoying the dubious wonders of the great outdoors. Not that he minded the fishing. Fishing was fun.

Actually, it was John who was fun. Disconcertingly so. He checked the scanner display, watching the red dot as it approached the jumper.

"Speaking of dubious wonders," he said softly, turning his chair to see John trotting up the open ramp, hair even more windblown than ever. His cheeks were flushed and he was grin happily at Rodney.

"What? Did you say something?"

Rodney shook his head. "Nothing. Find anything interesting?"

John threw himself down into the seat directly behind Rodney, and lounged comfortably, legs stretching out until his feet nudged Rodney's. "I went to the top of the big dune to the north," he said with a wave of his hand. "You should have come along, you could see all around--woods inland, and a mountain range in the distance. Coast seems to get rockier as you go north, featuring some pretty ragged-looking cliffs."

"Isn't that exactly what you picked up with the scanner before you landed?" Rodney offered with a shrug.

John nodded. "But it's not like being there, Rodney."


"I'll show you. I am taking you there tomorrow."

Rodney scowled, trying for exasperated but his heart wasn't in it. There was something enormously flattering about John wanting to share his adventure. "I suppose," Rodney said.

"I wish we could fly up to the mountains, though. I'll bet there's some real good hiking there."

"Might I remind you, Colonel, that this jumper isn't going anywhere?"

"I know, I know. I miss flying it, that's all. So," John said, sliding forward in his seat, toward Rodney. "Where you able to get any work done?"

Rodney let out a sigh. "No, not really. I didn't realize it, but I don't have the computing power I need. Funny how quickly I got used to the Atlantian systems. Our laptops are like calculators in comparison. Old TI calculators, the ones about the size of a coffee thermos with the red LCD output?"

"Hey, I remember those," John said, excited. "They were really cool."

Rodney closed his eyes in dismay. "Right." When he opened his eyes again, John was leaning disturbingly close, gazing at the laptop screen. He smelled of sweat and the sea. Rodney turned away. There was nothing left for him to do other than work on the boring subroutine. It was either that, or continue breathing in John's scent, and wasn't he frustrated enough for one day?

As he opened the file, out of the corner of his eye he watched John slide over into the pilot's seat, tapping the controls restlessly. He reminded Rodney of a bird in a cage. And was much too there for Rodney to ignore, even though he very much wanted to. He was about to suggest more fishing when John spun around in the chair to face him.

"You wouldn't have any computer games on there, would you?" John asked, eyeing Rodney's second laptop.

"I might have a few," Rodney said, relieved. "Anything in particular you're looking for?"


"Original and 3D."

John brightened. "Cool." He hopped out of his chair and disappeared, thankfully, to the rear of the jumper with the laptop. "Where are they?" he called out.

"Check under the 'wasting time' subdirectory. And don't think you're going to beat my high scores," Rodney tossed over his shoulder.

"You should know I'm pretty damn good--had to do something while stationed at McMurdo. I'm going to kick your ass, Rodney."

Rodney snorted, because no one, but no one, could beat his Tetris scores. In either version. He went back to his subroutine.

The remainder of the afternoon passed pleasantly enough. Rodney stole the occasional glance at John, sitting on the floor of the jumper, focused intently on the laptop, head bowed, eyebrows working as he tapped at the keys. Mostly, however, Rodney worked on his subroutine, to the enjoyable sounds of John's occasional huffs of breath, muttered curses, and frustrated exclamations.

Sometime later Rodney heard a low, smug chuckle. The hairs on his neck prickled. He turned in his seat. John was leaning back, computer on his lap and a satisfied grin on his face. "You didn't," Rodney accused, eyes narrowing.

John folded his arms across his chest and nodded. "I did."

"Are you serious? You can't be serious. Even in Russia, I was the champion--I can't believe--" Rodney rose up from his chair and went over, kneeling on the floor beside him. "Let me see that."

John's grin only grew broader "Are you sure? I don't want to damage your delicate ego." He shut the lid of the laptop.

"No way. No way could you have beaten me," Rodney told him. He pulled the computer out of John's hands and pulled it open only to discover that John's score was nowhere near his own. "Oh, you are--" he sputtered.

John laughed and patted Rodney's leg. "Had you going there for a minute, didn't I?"

"No, you didn't," Rodney lied. Thing was, there didn't seem to be anything John wasn't capable of, including returning alive from a suicide mission and landing a dead-in-the-water jumper safely.

"Did too," John countered, still grinning proudly. "Fooled you." His hand remained on Rodney's leg, curled over the muscle of his thigh, stroking lightly with thumb.

Rodney stared down, forgetting his indignation, aware only of the heat and weight of John's hand on his leg. Touching him. Again.

A beat passed, then another, in silence.

John pulled his hand away. "Sorry," he said, in a soft voice.

"No, don't be," Rodney said, looking up to see John's embarrassed expression. "You can put your hand there. It's okay with me. You can put your hand anywhere you like. You could put both hands on me, if you wanted to."

Which was clearly a stupid, stupid thing to say, because John's sheepish expression turned stony.

"No, no, never, mind," Rodney said, mortified. He raised his hand. "I just--I didn't mean to imply--I don't know what I was thinking. Let's pretend I never said anything, because that wasn't what I should have said and I'm going to go back to my work now, okay?" He pushed himself to his knees, only wanting to escape, but a hand grabbed his wrist and pulled him back.

He must have seriously pissed John off, because John yanked him back down onto the floor. "Listen, Colonel," Rodney started. John pushed on his chest, climbing over him, and Rodney fell back, alarmed until he saw John's face. "Oh," Rodney said.

John wasn't pissed. John was staring down with something akin to wonder on his face.

"Did you mean it, Rodney?" His voice was rough. "Because you shouldn't say stuff like that unless you mean it."

Unable to speak, heart pounding against his chest, Rodney nodded.

John dipped his head and kissed him. It was only a quick press of lips against his, warm and sweet. And it was altogether too brief. Rodney wanted more. Cupping a hand around the back of John's head, Rodney brought him down for another. This time the kiss was sloppily eager and enthusiastic and good that a small, happy sound escaped from Rodney's throat. John seemed encouraged, sliding his tongue past Rodney's parted lips and then they were really kissing.

"Oh, wow," John murmured against Rodney's lips when they finally came up for air. He relaxed, his body easing down to rest partway over Rodney's.

"Yes, wow." Rodney welcomed the weight, the feel of lean muscle and bone. It was spectacularly good, every single nerve ending in his body sizzling and he was sure he had never, ever felt this alive. He wrapped an arm around John's waist and pulled him in tight against his body. "This is absolutely wow. I'm going to wake up soon, right? I always do before we get to the naked part."

With a startled laugh, John placed a hand on Rodney's chest. "What? You? Because I never thought that you were--"

Rodney frowned. "What?"

"You see, you talk about girls all the time," John said. "Well, not all the time, but you come across as so straight. I didn't expect this." His hand slid down to Rodney's stomach, paused, then continued further over his hip and onto his thigh.

"I do? Really?" Rodney stroked the side of John's neck, fingertips tracing exactly where they had been itching to touch. "No wonder I have such a hard time getting dates with guys. Although it's not like I'm all that successful with women, either."

John's hand traveled up the inside of his thigh.

"But that's neither here nor there, is it?" Rodney added quickly. "Keep doing that, please."

John moved his hand directly on top of Rodney's cock and pressed down.

Rodney squirmed and moaned against the sudden pleasure. He was achingly hard, and he couldn't take his eyes off of John's face. John watched intently, as if fascinated by his response. "I can't say I expected this, either, from you," Rodney gasped out.

"You weren't supposed to." John dipped his head to kiss Rodney's throat. "And I'm not supposed to. But you're all I think about, Rodney." His voice took on a faint, accusatory whine.

"You're kidding me, right?"

John raised his head, meeting Rodney's eyes. "No. Not kidding at all," he said, all heartfelt earnestness. "Being here with you, now, spending all this time with you--I would think that maybe it was something you wanted too, but then, I don't know, I figured it was wishful thinking on my part."

Rodney closed his eyes in wonder. Wishful thinking. It hadn't only been him. He reached under John's shirt, feeling warm, smooth skin under his palm. John's skin, John's naked skin. Rodney wanted to feel all of it. He opened his eyes. "Can you take this off?" He tugged on John's shirt.

John nodded rapidly. "I can do that." He sat up, pulling his shirt off over his head and exposing his wonderfully muscled chest.

Rodney stared, then pulled his own shirt off and reached for John, his arms around John's bare shoulders. "Oh god." All that skin against his.

"Pants," John murmured.

"Yes, yes." Rodney pressed his face against John's neck, tasting the sweat from his hike. He wanted to lick every inch of John's body.

"Off," John demanded, trying to unfasten Rodney's pants while crawling closer, straddling Rodney's lap.

"I plan to get you off." Rodney found the swell of John's cock and squeezed.

"Damn it, Rodney--" John stopped unbuttoning Rodney's pants and began working on his own. "Now, do it now--I need--"

"So then, let me get that," Rodney said, shoving John's hands aside.

John determinedly reached for Rodney's waistband again, and it became dangerous clash of fingers, elbows and knees. John kissed him at the same time, wet, licking kisses that stole Rodney's breath away. And his hands, John's hands were everywhere at once, trying to touch and stoke and undress them both, getting in Rodney's way as Rodney tried to do the same. Pants caught on boots, laces knotted and Rodney didn't think getting naked should be so difficult. All the times Rodney had fantasized about sex with John, he had somehow pictured John as sophisticated and seductive, sweeping him off his feet and into bed. He hadn't imagined that sex would be like this, clumsy and needy on the dirty floor of a jumper, complete with bruised ribs and bumped knees.

Not that he was complaining. He was okay with John being a lot like him.

"Would you just--" he grunted, finally getting John's boots off.

As John fell back to free his leg from his pants and boxers, Rodney took advantage of the moment to shed his boots and his own pants, despite the distraction of John being very naked, his hard cock jutting out eagerly. And this time, Rodney could touch. Clothes finally disposed of, Rodney didn't know where to start--nipples, cock, lips, the side of his neck, collarbone--he wanted everything.

The decision was made for him when John grabbed hold of his arms and laid back, pulling him down over his body. Touching everywhere--shoulder to shoulder, chest to chest, hip to hip. Rodney's cock rubbed deliciously against John's stomach, and sparks flew behind his eyes. He grabbed hold of John's ass, shoving down into him. John put his arms around Rodney's waist and shoved back. All coherent thought flew from Rodney's mind and there was only delicious friction, the smell and the taste of John's skin. He pressed his face into John's neck, sucking on his skin. It was all good, the mindless rubbing, and as the excitement built he wanted to ride it forever, so much nakedness and John and his cock driving against John's body, sweat making their skin slide together.

John moaned, low and desperate as his lips brushed against Rodney's ear and Rodney's balls tightened at the sound of it. Another moan and John stiffened, hips jerking. Warmth flooded over Rodney's stomach, and Rodney realized John was coming, John was orgasming right there underneath him.

"Oh my god," Rodney said, awestruck. "You--I--" He dug his fingers into John's ass, holding on as he lost control and came, too, his release bright and sharp. "Oh, oh, god." He slumped down, resting his head on John's chest, boneless and exhausted and feeling damn good about it.

"Oh yeah," John agreed, breathlessly. "I had forgotten how good sex feels."

Rodney raised his head, blinking in disbelief. Surely John was kidding. "Are you trying to tell me it's been a while? Because I am not buying it."

John frowned, looking utterly perplexed. "Why?"

"Because you look like a guy who gets a lot of sex, that's why." Rodney pushed himself up further, and pointed a finger. "What about Chaya?"

"That wasn't real sex. I mean, it was pretty cool, but there was no touching, and I didn't end up all sticky at the end." John wriggled his hips for emphasis. "This was much better. It was really good." He paused. "Wasn't it?"

"Of course it was," Rodney bent down to kiss him, and John responded with a long, slow kiss, arm hooked around Rodney's shoulders, holding him in place. "Really, really good," Rodney murmured when they finished.

John smiled and ruffled his hair. "Speaking of getting sticky, I'm sort of dripping here."

"Oh," Rodney rolled off him, on to the cold hard floor. The gritty, cold hard floor. "Oh, yuck," he said, standing up and brushing the sand off. "I'll get a towel."

He went into the bathroom to clean up, and when he returned John was absently running a finger through the slick on his stomach. He looked gorgeous lying there naked, his body long and narrow, dark hair at his groin and armpits and Rodney didn't know why he liked that but he did.

John took the offered towel with a hopeful smile. "Know what would be nice? Sleeping bags. Unless you want to--" John waved a hand in the direction of the console, "get back to work."

"Right. Stupid subroutine, versus naked cuddling. Tough choice." Rodney found the gear, spread out the pads, then began unzipping a bag and placed it on top.

John was on his feet, sweeping the sand off his legs with the towel. "Will you get my back?" He handed Rodney the towel.

"Turn around, Colonel--um, turn around," Rodney said, flustered. Colonel. He should have said John. Because they were naked. They were both naked, so he could be "John" now, right?

John's face clouded. "Feel free to call me John when we have no clothes on, okay?"

Rodney nodded, his face growing uncomfortably hot. "I was just thinking that, John," he said. "Turn around."

John turned, and Rodney ran the towel over his back, brushing the sand away, still uncomfortable. Sex not withstanding, he shouldn't forget who they were, and who John was. Even though he was staring down at John's naked ass, with pale golden skin and a layer of fine silky hairs curling all around. "There, finished." He tossed the towel aside, then stepped away, even though he wanted to touch and stroke John all over.

"Thank you." John turned, and spread his arms, watching Rodney "Awkward moment?" he asked, worriedly.

Rodney nodded. "I think so."

"Are you sorry you--"

"No, no, no, seriously, no--are you?"

John shook his head. "Rodney," he said with an incredulous smile. "How could I be?"

Rodney didn't know what to say to that, because John was acting as if he himself was the lucky one, and that didn't make any sense at all. Instead Rodney chose to settle in and make himself comfortable on the sleeping bag, all soft, warm fleece, much better than the cold floor on his naked skin. "Come here then?"

John sat next to him, then stretched out beside him, hand stroking down Rodney's side. "You look good naked. And I didn't even have to sit in an ice cold stream to see it."

"Are you saying you made me bathe just to see me naked?"

"No, I made you bathe because you were getting stinky. I lingered in there with you, though, so I could watch."

"I'm not sure there was much to see, considering how cold the water was. I was pretty sure my genitals would never untuck." Rodney laid a hand over John's hip, then slid it down over the curve of his ass, exploring.

"But your nipples got all hard and tight. I liked that." John rubbed his thumb over one. "Sort of like they are, now." He leaned forward and licked it.

Rodney buried his fingers in John's hair, sighing. Warm tongue on his chest, gentle, relaxed kisses on his throat, and it was mind-boggling to think that John Sheppard, the man he had wanted and admired for so long, was naked in his arms. Rodney knew he was never going to be the hero who got the girl, and so had never expected to be the one who actually got the hero.

Day 10

This time, when Rodney woke up, not only was he next to John, he was completely wrapped up in John. Leg slung over his hip, an arm around his shoulders, warm, naked chest pressed against his, and Rodney was pretty sure this was the best way to awaken ever. Even with John's bristly chin digging into his shoulder, and a bony ankle poking at his shin.

When he stroked the back of John's neck, John simply grunted and snuggled in closer. Rodney considered letting him sleep, but he couldn't resist. Even after all the exploring and tasting he had done last night after that frantic first time, he still wanted more, wanted to start from the beginning and do it all over again. He wanted to feel John's cock swell in his mouth, wanted to run his tongue over the soft, loose skin of his balls, wanted to watch John sigh and stretch as he kneaded the lean, hard muscles in his back.

He nosed the top of John's head. "Good morning," he whispered.

John raised his head, blinking, then smiled in a way that made something go fluttery deep in Rodney's gut. "Hi." John leaned for a kiss, warm, dry lips bumping against Rodney's mouth.

"Mmm." Rodney kissed John's lips, his cheek, and then nuzzled his ear. "Sleep well?"

"Like a log." John slid over to lie on top of him, and Rodney welcomed the weight.

Rodney had to ask. "So, we're doing okay with all this?"

John nodded. "What, you think I'd change my mind? What part of 'oh god Rodney, don't ever stop' didn't you get?"

Rodney began to grin, because he liked that part. Liked it a great deal. "Just confirming my initial conclusion." He tilted his head back as John nibbled his throat.

"I didn't get a chance to reciprocate properly last night. Although the bit where you jerked yourself off as I came was really, really hot." John drifted down to a nipple, and sucked lightly.

"Oh," Rodney said. He had been a little embarrassed by that, because after sucking John dry, after listening to John come, he couldn't hold back anymore. "Then by all means..." his voice trailed off as John licked a path down his stomach, "Just go on and, um--"

John licked the length of his cock.

"--do that."

John grinned up at him, a sideways sort grin that made him look half his age and sinfully good. "Do what?" His breath cooled Rodney's wet skin.

"Suck me?" Rodney asked.

John obliged, pushing Rodney's legs apart and sucking his cock down, sliding it slowly past his lips. Rodney whimpered, all that heat engulfing him, so fantastically good--

And then it was gone.

John pulled back, coughing. "Sorry," he said, wiping his eyes. "It looked easy when you did it."

"What? Are you telling me--"

Nuzzling at the base of Rodney's cock, John admitted, "All I ever did before were handjobs."

"Oh," Rodney said. He never expected to be the experienced one. "Oh. Listen, you don't have to do this if you're not comfortable with it."

John rolled his eyes. "Rodney, I want to suck on your dick. It's very--suckable." He cradled it in his hands and kissed the tip.

Rodney watched, fascinated by the sight. "I want you to, too. I really, really, really want you to."

John rubbed his lips down the side of his shaft, then closed his mouth over the head, tightening his hand around the base. He started a steady sucking motion, sliding his mouth about halfway down, and stroked the rest with his fist.

Rodney's head fell back and he groaned. "That works. That works nicely, thank you. It's...intense."

Humming enthusiastically, John licked across the head again, then went back to sucking.

It didn't matter at all that it wasn't the most skilled blowjob Rodney had ever had, because it was John, who was apparently excited and happy just to be sucking Rodney's cock. And nothing could feel better than that. Soon Rodney was whimpering, clutching at the sleeping bags. John maddeningly kept the same pace, that hot, hot mouth sliding down his cock, then back up again. Rodney had to look again, oh god, his cock disappearing into John's mouth, it was utterly breathtaking--

"John, I'm going to--you might want to move--oh god," Rodney moaned and came, slow, delicious pleasure rising through his body, it was just right, just perfect.

He laid back, limp and blissed out. Then opened his eyes to see John sitting up, hand over his mouth, looking dubious. Rodney grinned. "I won't be offended if you spit."

John shook his head, and a moment later, removed his hand. "There," he said, proudly.

Rodney began to laugh, pulling John down beside him for a kiss. "Thank you. That was wonderful."

"Hmm. I think I need more practice. Lots of practice." He leaned against Rodney, pressing his cock into Rodney's thigh. When Rodney reached down to touch it, John shivered and pulled Rodney in for a kiss. "Make me come," he whispered, then kissed Rodney again, hard, his tongue sliding against Rodney's.

Rodney rolled into him, stroking steadily. John's cock was completely hard, and a little damp at the tip--close already, simply from sucking him. It was amazing, and Rodney was sure he should stop being amazed at it all, but he couldn't help it. John's cock thrusting into his hand, John's tongue in his mouth, tasting of his own come--it was all more exciting than he could have possibly imagined.

Much more exciting than his fantasy of John oh-so-smoothly sweeping him off his feet.

John made a pained noise, then broke off the kiss and pressed his mouth against Rodney's cheek, panting. He pushed into Rodney, grabbing at his shoulders, cock growing even stiffer as it whipped through Rodney's hand. "Rodney," he whined.

His cock pulsed and Rodney squeezed in response. John came, messily, spurting over Rodney's fingers and leg. He shuddered and pulsed one last time, then the tension left his body as he relaxed into Rodney's arms.

They lay quietly together, and John's breathing grew slow and steady. His face was pressed into Rodney's neck, bristly cheeks and all, but Rodney made no move to dislodge him. He didn't want to move at all, not even to wipe the come dripping over his thigh. When they got back to Atlantis--if they made it back--they might not have any lazy mornings together, no time for relaxing and being together and sleeping on top of each other. John might even come to his senses, and not and not want to have lazy mornings or naked nights together. There was no telling what might happen once they got back.

Rodney slid an arm around John's waist, holding him tight, and eventually he slept, too.

Day 12

Rodney stepped out of the jumper late in the afternoon and stretched. It had been a long day of hiking yesterday, plus other assorted activities, of the naked kind, and his body was tired and stiff. It had been a bit of a relief to sit and finish his subroutines.

He found John out on the beach, barefoot, his pants rolled up. Water rushed up, foaming around his feet, and it must have been cold, but John didn't seem to notice. Instead he stared out to sea, a steady wind rippling his shirt. Rodney admired the sight before realizing he didn't have to admire from a distance, he could get right up close to admire if he wanted to. He could even touch.

He could also wait until John finished looking at whatever it was he was studying out there, and then admire him inside the warm, dry jumper. He kept on thinking that as he unlaced his boots, pulled off his socks and rolled up his pants.

The water was indeed icy cold and Rodney's feet sank into the wet sand. But when John smiled over his shoulder, Rodney no longer noticed or cared. He reached John and asked, "What are you doing out here? Keeping an eye out for those elusive fish?"

"I'm done fishing for the day. Now I'm just watching the water."

"Not to mention getting wet," Rodney said, as water splashed up over their feet, "and cold."

John leaned back against Rodney's chest and guided Rodney's hand under his shirt and onto his stomach. "You're nice and warm."

"I'm a warm kind of guy." Rodney kissed the back of his neck, then licked the skin directly below his hairline. Water swirled around his ankles, making him sink deeper into the sand. "Ask anyone."

John snorted.

"What, is that funny?" Rodney nipped at his neck.

"Very." John pushed his ass against Rodney's groin. "I like funny."

"Should I be flattered?"


Truth was, Rodney was enormously flattered. John seemed to inexplicably like everything about him. He mouthed the side of John's neck. John's skin was cold and he tasted of the sea.

"I think there's a storm coming in. Surf's rough. Do those look like rain clouds to you?" John pointed out to the horizon.

Rodney peered over John's shoulder. All he saw was a dark shadow. "What am I, a weatherman now?"

John shrugged. "Just wondering. I'm not so fond of storms anymore."

His voice was quiet and Rodney barely heard him over the wind, but he understood. The thought of it brought a flood of memories, none of them pleasant. "We'll be fine in the jumper," he said, which was a pretty pointless thing to say, because John already knew that.

John lifted Rodney's left arm, tracing a finger along the pale, twisted scar remaining on his wrist. It used to bother Rodney how quickly he had broken, that it was a sign of weakness. But not anymore. Once the Wraith ships started coming, things like that didn't matter. He took John's hand in his, turning John around to face him. "It's faded," he said. "See? Can barely make it out anymore."

John's face was still troubled, much to Rodney's consternation. So Rodney kissed him, soft, gentle kisses, one hand cupping the side of his face. When John sighed and leaned into his touch, Rodney felt gratified. And when John kissed him harder, hugging him close and pressing his growing erection against Rodney's hip, Rodney was surprised and touched by John's response. He wouldn't have predicted that he could affect John this way, get him aroused and excited and make him stop thinking about what might have been.

Comfort had never exactly been Rodney's forte.

Rodney slid his hands down over John's ass, squeezing, and John moaned, clutching at Rodney's shoulders. Rodney dove in and kissed his neck, reaching down to stroke John's thickening cock.

"Rodney, please," John sighed. He pushed forward, into Rodney's hand.

Next thing Rodney knew he was down on his knees, in the icy surf, unzipping John's pants. He could hear John's laughing protestations, but John wasn't making any move to stop him. He freed John's erect cock from his boxers. It was all warmth and smooth skin in his hand, and he could feel John tremble as he took it into his mouth. He sucked down the length of the shaft and back up again, with slow, firm strokes of his tongue, over and over again, as John cupped his head with gentle hands. Rodney thought he heard John say something, but his voice was unintelligible over the wind. Rodney sucked harder, until John's hips jerked and his cock swelled in Rodney's mouth. A little more sucking and John quivered and flooded Rodney's mouth with warm come. Rodney swallowed him down eagerly and without hesitation.

When he finished, he rose to his feet, cold and numb from his knees on down. John chuckled, leaning on him. "I can't believe you did that after complaining about the cold." John hugged him and leaned against Rodney's chest, further unsteadying him.

"I can't believe it, either," Rodney said. "Because I think my feet are frozen into ice cubes. Can we go in now?"

"You mean you want your blowjob inside a nice, warm jumper?"

Rodney nodded. "That's exactly what I mean."

"I thought you were made of sterner stuff, Rodney."

"You do know this is me you're talking about?" Rodney pointed out, to John's laughter.

They didn't bother with their socks, just shoved their feet directly into their boots and slowly made their way back up to the jumper. Rodney's feet began to ache as the feeling in them returned, but before he could complain John had stripped him of his clothes and laid him down on the sleeping bags. His warm, wet mouth started at Rodney's feet, warming them, then worked his way up Rodney's legs. By the time it descended on his cock Rodney was no longer cold. And all he could think was that John was getting really, really good at blowing him. Astoundingly good.


Day 13

The rain thrummed steadily on the roof, and a gust of wind rocked the craft. Nonetheless the only thing Rodney was aware of was John. John straddling his lap, John's hands stroking his cock. John's warm, sweaty body encompassing him. "Oh, god, you're wonderful," Rodney moaned. "Just what you're doing, it's good, good, good."

"Damn right I'm wonderful." John squeezed harder, rubbing his sunscreen-slicked thumb over the tip of Rodney's cock.

"Oh, jeeze--" Rodney tightened his hold around John's waist, pulling him closer, until he could feel the knuckles of John's hand rubbing against his stomach. "More. Do it faster." He raised his head and received a rough kiss, the force of it pushing him back against the bench. He tried to shove his hips up, wanting to thrust into John's fist but John's weight held him down. It was strangely exhilarating, trapped in the bench seat of the jumper by John. John could hold him and keep him there forever, as long as his clever hands kept moving, pulling up pleasure from deep inside his body.

"Like this?" John asked, picking up the pace with a twist of his wrist that left Rodney gasping.

"Oh, oh, yes, like that, like that."

"Or like this?" John slowed his movements, and leaning back to reach a second hand down to tug gently at Rodney's balls.

"That's--that's good, too." Rodney managed. "Oh god, do anything you want to me." Rodney truly meant it, and that was a little frightening. Then the thought was gone, because John was stroking both his balls and his cock and it all went spiraling out of control. He came with a loud moan, fingers scrambling at John's back.

Breathless and shaken, Rodney leaned his head back as the last waves of pleasure faded. He opened his eyes to see John watching him with a delighted grin. "Have I mentioned how much I like making you come?"

Rodney licked his lips, not sure if he could make his mouth work again. "Um", he said intelligently. He liked it too. He liked it a lot.

"It's fun. And satisfying." John furrowed his brow. "And it's much easier with guys. But mostly because it's you," he finished earnestly.

A small laugh bubbled up inside of Rodney. He was happy, because John liked having sex with him, because John was naked in his lap, because he was stuck in a jumper in the rain with a naked John who liked having sex with him. He pulled John's head down to his and kissed him.

"Does that mean you like it, too?" John asked when Rodney released him.

Rodney smiled. "It's like finding out wormhole travel exists all over again, that's how amazing it is."

John made a face. "Oookay," he said.

"Oh come on, didn't you get all excited when we first told you about it?" Rodney poked John's shoulder with a finger.

"No, I was overwhelmed and confused," John said. "Suddenly everyone was all excited and making a fuss over me, and I wasn't really sure why, except that this weird equipment kept responding to me, weird alien equipment that I could work with my mind, and that was pretty damn freaky."

"Please, don't remind me, I was incredibly jealous of you."

"Really? Of me?"

"Yes, of you, with your 'I'm so cool' hair and sexy slouch and hyperactive ancient gene." Rodney sighed. "I didn't know if I wanted to slap you or sleep with you."

John's smile bordered on smirk. "I was pretty sure you were an arrogant ass, but one who became oddly cute when excited. All I could think was thank god I gave up doing guys, because no way was I going to get a big dumb crush on you."

"Oh. Smart thinking." Rodney touched John's lips with a finger, then leaned in and kissed him.

"Not successful, by the way."

"Thank god."

"Not that this is a crush," John said quickly. "It might have started like that, because even though you were obnoxious you were smart and cute and would kind of bounce when you got excited, but then you know, it's like--not only that, okay?"

Rodney nodded. "Okay. Because--yeah, not only that." God, it was more than that, if John knew how much more he might panic, and that wouldn't be good, not when they were trapped in a small jumper together. "I'm just glad that you ended up there, touching equipment that you weren't supposed to. Serendipity. Not that I believe in such things."

"No, of course not."

"How did you end up at stationed at McMurdo anyway?" Rodney asked.

John stiffened in his arms. "I managed to piss off a few people," John said, his cool tone matching his body language.

"No kidding. You?"

"Shocking, isn't it?" John climbed off his lap, abruptly.

"All right, clearly, a bad subject," Rodney said, holding up his hand. He already missed the warmth of John's body. "Forget I asked." He watched as John turned away, wiping his hands on a towel. "So, looks like rain, huh?"

"Rodney," John started, and Rodney was startled by the sadness in his voice. But before John's could continue, the jumper's warning system beeped. "Huh. That's can't be good."

Rodney scrambled off the bench as John slid into the pilot's seat. Rodney took the one beside him. "Energy burst detected, source right below the horizon," Rodney said, calling up the readouts. He looked at John. "The gate was just activated."

John's face showed his dismay. "I'm thinking this isn't going to be a good thing."

Rodney nodded. "I'm glad we decided to stay cloaked." He watched as a blip appeared on the screen. "Crap. It's wraith. A wraith dart."

"I'm only seeing one so far."

They watched in silence, the red dot moving slowly across the schematic of the sky. Rodney became very aware of his naked ass on the seat, and that the seats weren't intended to be sat in naked. The fabric was rough and uncomfortable. He stole a glance at John, taking in the incongruity of his nakedness as he fiddled with the controls, expression grim. Somehow, he managed to look less naked than Rodney felt.

"Gate just deactivated," John informed him. "Still detecting only one dart."

"Right. Reconnaissance, you think? He's keeping a pretty high orbit." Rodney drummed his fingers on the console.

"Must be."

"If he doesn't leave, you know, if he stays on the planet for another 7 days, and it comes time to activate the gate--"

"I know, Rodney. We'll be detected," John said. "How is the weapons system looking?"

"If I have to power the weapons, it's possible the replacement conduit will blow, and we won't be able to power up the transmitter. Or maybe we can. I can't predict what's going to happen, not completely," Rodney finished, frustrated. Even though cloaked, he felt exposed as he watched the dart maintain orbit. He looked up through the windshield at the clouds and rain, as if expecting to see it appear in front of them.

"Well, let's hope that once he figures out no one is here, he'll leave." John turned to face Rodney, looking him up and down. "In the meanwhile, I think I'd feel more comfortable if we were dressed."

"Of course--uh--" Rodney almost addressed him as "Colonel" again, because the situation called for it, or at least he thought so until John surprised him by leaning over and pressing a hard, swift kiss on his lips. "John," he said. "Clothes. Good idea."

He did feel better once he was dressed, lacing up his boots, and, following John's lead, latching up his vest. "Colonel", he said, as they returned to their seats.

John shot him an odd look.

"Right," Rodney said under his breath.

They sat quietly, the sound of the rain filling the room. Then, staring at the screen, John spoke. "I disobeyed direct orders."

It took Rodney a moment to understand what John was referring to. "I'm sure you had good reason to," he finally said.

In an even, quiet voice, John told him everything, how he disobeyed orders because he had to rescue his people, but it all went wrong, and he ended up rescuing no one. His buddies were dead, and he found himself demoted, in deep trouble, with only a sympathetic commanding officer keeping him from being booted out completely.

He told Rodney how he liked being at McMurdo, because no one bothered him, and he wasn't responsible for anyone, how he wasn't expected to save them. Then he had been tapped to transport one General O'Neill to a research station, and everything had changed. Next thing he knew he was in Atlantis, shooting his own commanding officer.

Rodney's heart felt tight. "John, you had to--"

"I know, I know," John snapped. "But that doesn't make it any better, okay?"

"I'm sorry," Rodney said.

John fell silent.

"You kept us all alive," Rodney said at last. "Maybe you didn't want to be the hero, but you were, and you were damn good at it. Aside from that whole suicide run thing. Don't ever do that again, okay?"

"Rodney, I can't ever promise that." John didn't sound angry anymore.

"You could at least pretend to."

"Would it make you feel better?"

Rodney nodded. "Yes, it would."

John shook his head and his smile was sad. "Doesn't matter what I say. I can't save everyone. Hell, I couldn't save Ford. What if it's you next time?"

"If you can't save someone? Then they are unsavable."

John shook his head. "I can't believe that."

"You know what? You have a team. There are four of us--"

"And I’m sleeping with one of them."

"Yes, yes, the wisdom of which can be debated, but what I'm saying is, you can't go running off by yourself because you have to work with your team, because that's what being part of a team is all about." Rodney was sure that he was babbling now, and not making any sense at all, but he was also sure that Teyla and hell, even Ronon would say the exact same thing. "Think about it. Don't make us have to save you from yourself."

John leaned back in his chair. "And when did you become so soldierly?"

"Me?" Rodney asked, startled. "I'm no soldier. You know that."

But John kept looking at him, face speculative.

Day 15

The dart remained in orbit for ten hours before leaving.

"Thank god," Rodney sighed, as the gate deactivated. "What the hell was he looking at? How long does it take to scan a planet? One that you already culled?"

"It makes you wonder. I don't think they're all of a kind, you know? Maybe one community had culled, and this guy didn't know it yet." John stood and stretched.

It looked like a good idea. Rodney stood and did the same, listening as his spine popped and joints crackled. They had remained at their stations the entire time, watching and waiting, listening to the rain, and now Rodney was restless and exhausted all at the same time.

"I don't know about you," John said, "but I need to get out of here for a while. The walls are closing in on me."

Rodney looked out the windshield at the steady rain. "You mean, like outside 'out of here'?" He thought John didn't like storms.

"That's exactly what I mean." John opened a locker and retrieved two rain ponchos. "Come on Rodney, a little water never hurt anyone." He tossed one to Rodney.

"Why do I always wind up getting wet with you?" Rodney griped, shaking out the poncho. He looked up to see John grinning slyly. "Oh, what are you, twelve?" Still, he smiled too. It was nice to have John being John again. He pulled the poncho over his head. "Shall we?"

Once they got out into the wind, Rodney had to hold the wildly flapping poncho close. The hood bothered him, restricting his vision, but when he pulled it down, the wind blew rainwater directly into his ear. "Great," Rodney muttered, pulling the hood back up.

They squelched through the grass, marching over the dunes. John walked fast, seemingly unfazed by the hood or the rain and the wind. Rodney had to hurry to keep up. It felt strangely exhilarating, to be out in the wind and the weather, the sound of the waves crashing on one side, the whistle of wind through grass and scrub on the other. The tide was high, the surf surging up to touch the base of the dunes, and water encompassed the entire beach area.

John stopped short. "Oh, damn it, the berries. I'll bet they got blown away."

"Don't tell me you were really going to eat those?"

"Yes, I was. Or, at least, taste them." John turned and headed for the path leading into the forested area.

As they traveled inland, the wind eased. They reached the area just past the stream, where they had previously found a low cluster of berry bushes and John shook his head, water dripping off his nose. They had been stripped clean of ripe berries, a few remaining green ones lingering on the lower branches "Aw, they're all gone," he cried out in dismay.

"That's all right. They were probably poisonous," Rodney told him.

"What is with you and the poison thing? You know, Rodney, not everything is out to get you."

"But it could be, hmmm? Better safe than sorry."

"Oh really? What about me, then? I'm definitely out to get you." John poked a finger into Rodney's chest.

"But that's completely different definition of 'get'." Rodney backed away as John advanced on him, because John was dripping wet, and he looked like trouble. "One that I actually like very much, even though it doesn't seem to be very safe."

"You're not sorry though, are you?" John smiled, blinking water out of his eyes.

"What do you think?"

John drew closer, still smiling.

"Oh, no, I'm going to end up soaking wet, aren't I?" Rodney came up short as his back touched against a tree.

John didn't stop until he was leaning right up against Rodney, pushing him against the tree. He pressed in to lick Rodney's cheek. "Maybe." He kissed Rodney's mouth delicately. "Probably."

John tasted like the rain, and Rodney clung to his poncho, moving into the kiss. John caressed his head, pushing Rodney's hood back. Cold water trickled down Rodney neck. "Oh, damn it--" Rodney yanked the hood back up.

"Sorry, that was an accident, I swear," John said, backing away with his hands up.

"Right." Rodney glared at him, but John's expression remained perfectly innocent.

"All right. No berries, no getting wet," John paused to sigh dramatically, "how about we head back?"

Rodney nodded, still wary. "Yes, thank you."

The trek back was into the wind, and Rodney had to narrow his eyes against the onslaught of the rain. His legs were wet from the knees down, his feet were soaked, and all he could think of was the nice dry jumper, with the warm, soft sleeping bags. And John, naked. Despite all the sex they'd had in the past five days, the idea of being naked with John still thrilled him. He didn't think the novelty of it would ever wear off. He didn't know if the same were true for John, if John would eventually lose interest. Although for some reason John seemed to like him a great deal, certainly more than any of his other lovers ever did. None of his other relationships were ever long-term, especially with the men--those relationships were basically only for the sex, and this was not like that at all. He was different, too, doing things he never thought he could, like stepping through a Stargate with a P90 in his hand. Therefore it was entirely possible, albeit improbable, that a genuine relationship might actually be occurring, and that was really cool.

He was brought out of his thoughts when he realized they had reached the dunes, and that he had unthinkingly followed John to the edge, overlooking the sea. The ocean was frothing below, waves splashing up directly below them.

"Wow," John shouted over the noise. "Pretty wild, huh?"

Rodney put a hand on John's shoulder. "We'd better be careful--it's possible the wave action has eroded the base of the dunes."


"I said," Rodney shouted, struggling to be heard over the wind and crashing surf. "I think the--"

And then the ground beneath his feet gave way. Rodney flailed wildly, cursing as he slid down the crumbling slope onto his ass. Icy cold water rushed up to greet him, flowing up under his poncho, churning up the sand.

John had splashed down next to him. "Whoa," He righted himself with a great deal of splashing, then grabbed Rodney's arm. "Are you alright?" he shouted as the water receded.

Rodney glared as his initial panic faded and irritation set in. "Oh, just fine, I'm fine really, this is just fine." He climbed to his feet, tried to right his poncho, then finally pulled it off over his head in disgust. "Cold! This is cold, absolutely, no doubt about it, cold."

Another wave came up, almost knocking Rodney off his feet. It didn't help that John grabbed his arm again, tugging hard, throwing him off-balance. "Rodney, over here," John yelled. "We can climb this way."

It was rough going, the sand crumbling away beneath their feet. By the time they made it back to the top, Rodney's heart was pounding. His hands and knees were covered with sand, and he was soaked to the skin. "I knew I'd get wet out there," he yelled to John. "I could have stayed in the nice warm jumper, hiking has never been my thing. I don't know why I thought it would be."

John was ahead of him, patting his pockets with a look of consternation.

"What?" Rodney asked.

"You wouldn't have the remote opener for the jumper, would you?"

Rodney's heart dropped. "You're kidding me." Alarmed, he gazed in the direction of the cloaked, and very securely locked down jumper, then back down the dune at the water. "You've got to be kidding. No, I don't have it, you had it, and we cannot get into the jumper without it. I'm wet and miserable and cold and if you think I'm going down there to look for it you are absolutely insane--"

He turned back around and John, device in hand, was lowering the ramp of the decloaked jumper. "Just kidding," John said, with a bright grin.

Speechless, Rodney stared at John.

John's grin grew broader. "But you totally fell for it, didn't you?"

Rodney found his voice as he marched up the ramp. "I don't believe you," he burst out. "Of all the childish, ridiculous--I'm cold and wet and I have sand in my underwear, I'm chafing right now, damn it, and you--you--you're so--" Safely inside, he spun around and glared at John, who looked remarkably unrepentant, not to mention exceedingly proud of himself. "You know, you may be brave, you may insanely self-sacrificing and courageous but I'm coming to the conclusion you're also the biggest damn goof I've ever met." When John opened his mouth to speak, Rodney cut him short with a raised finger. "Ah--and don't deny the brave part, because you're sleeping with me, and if that doesn't say brave, I don't know what does."

John nodded, still grinning as he pulled off his poncho, his jacket, and then his shirt.

"Don't try and change the subject." Rodney's eyes dropped to John's bare chest. "Did I mention childish? And ridiculous?" he asked with a huff.

"I think you did." John unlaced his shoes and kicked them off.

"How about unrepentant? I'm definitely detecting a lack of repentance."

"I'm afraid you're right," John said. He unfastened his pants and then dropped first his pants and then his underwear down to his ankles.

"And that you've totally destroyed the mythical, heroic impression I had previously held of you?"

John peeled off his wet socks. "Good." He padded toward Rodney, starkly naked, sand smeared across one thigh, wet hair plastered against his head. "I'm me, Rodney," he said, arms spread. "Just--me."

"For which I'm profoundly thankful," Rodney said, and pulled him into a kiss, heedless of his own cold, wet clothes.

Day 17

"Do it," John said, spreading his legs.

"If it feels uncomfortable, we can go back to what we were doing."

"Rodney, I said I wanted to try it, didn't I?"

"Yes, you did." Rodney slid his fingers behind John's balls, then, reaching further back, circled John's opening with a slick finger. When John sighed and lifted his hips, Rodney eased his fingertip inside. Muscles contracted, fighting the intrusion for a brief moment, then relaxed, allowing Rodney's finger to slide all the way in.

"Oh," John said. "Weird."

"It gets better, I promise." Rodney captured John's cock again with his mouth, sweeping his tongue along the underside while stroking John on the inside with his finger. John felt warm and smooth like silk, Rodney's finger moving easily as he pulled out and pushed back in.

"Mmm. I'm getting the 'better' part now." John pulled his knees up and spread his legs, lifting his hips further. "Wow. That's really...can you push harder?"

Pleased, Rodney reached in deep, his finger sliding over a slight bump, and John let out a strangled cry. "Ah, there it is. You know, I've never been quite sure before if I've actually located the prostate." Rodney ran his finger over it again, and looked up. "That was good, right?"

John stared down at him, panting. "Yes. Good."

"Hmmm. I thought so." Rodney moved his finger around some more, while cradling John's cock in his other hand and sucking down the side. Soon John began to squirm, shoving his ass down onto Rodney's hand, so Rodney decided it was time to work in a second finger, squeezing it in past his index finger. John grunted, digging his feet in and shoving his hips forward.

Rodney didn't bother to ask if that one was okay, too.

Instead he kept his mouth busy on John's balls, sucking lightly, first one, then the other, to John's moaned encouragement. Muscles trembled, then clenched and released around Rodney's fingers, and every time Rodney reached deep inside John let out a delighted gasp.

It was fun.

Rodney couldn't remember ever being this relaxed and comfortable with someone, taking the time to explore, to find out exactly what his partner liked. He actually couldn't remember being all that concerned over what he partner liked, being too busy with the "oh my god, I'm actually having sex" kind of thoughts to even consider it.

With John, things were different. He was finding it pretty damn cool that he could cause John to make all sorts of crazy noises, that he could suck on John's cock and shove with his fingers and John would squirm frantically beneath him.

As John's moans became shorter and more intense, Rodney backed off. He let John's cock slip from his mouth, and moved to lick and nip at John's thigh.

John grabbed his shoulder. "Rodney, oh god, please--don't stop," he pleaded, voice ragged.

"Stopping? Who said anything about stopping?" Rodney squeezed John's cock, then pulled it back to lick from John's balls all the way up to the head with one long swipe of the tongue. "I'm just taking my time, enjoying myself."

With a pained noise, John rocked down onto Rodney's hand. Rodney held his hand steady, letting John fuck himself, ass slamming against Rodney's hand. "Oh, god. Can you come like this?" Rodney asked.

"No," John whimpered. "I--I have to--" He grabbed his cock.

"Wait, wait--." But before Rodney could stop him, John brought himself off with three quick, hard strokes, his entire body stiffening, the muscles in his neck cording. Rodney felt an odd lurch in his stomach because it was an astonishing thing to see, John totally open and exposed, skin sheened with sweat, face twisted in a grimace of pleasure, hand wrapped around his cock and come oozing out between his fingers.

When John's body went limp, Rodney slid his fingers free, making John shake again. "Ooh, sorry," Rodney murmured, bending to kiss John's stomach.

John opened his eyes and gave a weak laugh. "S'okay. Especially after that."

Rodney ran his hand down John's thigh. "So, the finger-fucking goes on the list?"

John nodded. "I think it goes straight to the top of the list."

"This is going to be a long list." Rodney grabbed the nearby towel, wiped his hands, then handed it to John, who scrubbed lazily at his belly.

"Wow, totally wiped out." John stretched his arms out over his head, looking up at the ceiling. "Have you ever had this much sex before?"

Rodney snorted. "Not even close. Maybe if you added up all the sex I've ever had, it would equal this week."

"You said you thought I looked like I got a lot of sex." John poked Rodney with a toe. "Why is that?"

Rodney sighed. "Must you have such a good memory? Because you are good-looking, not to mention charming. And cocky. You have that whole cocky thing going on."

John grinned.

"Yeah, like that."

"Of course I'm cocky. I have a really cute boyfriend, and he's good in bed, too." He squeezed Rodney with his legs, knees bumping Rodney's arms.

"You're kind of nuts," Rodney said, flustered. "But I like it." He climbed over John's legs, and leaned down to kiss his mouth, which took a great deal of time to do properly. When he was done John simply smiled up at him, dopey and content. Rodney shook his head, not wanting to admit how much that look got under his skin. "I have to wash up, okay?"

He returned to find John under the blankets, eyes closed, chest exposed. Rodney crawled and laid down next him, sliding under the blankets and pressing himself against John's warm skin. John stirred, then rolled over, his ass tucked into Rodney's lap. Rodney put his arm around John's waist and rested his hand on John's chest.

"John," he whispered into the thick black hair tickling his nose. Then, "Colonel", even more quietly, just for the hell of it, just because it was almost funny to think how little he had actually seen of John before all this.

Day 20

"Nervous?" John asked.

Rodney rubbed his hands together, leaning forward in his seat. "No." He took a breath. "Yes. Maybe."

"Me, too. But this is going to work."

Rodney watched the red blip move across the screen, edging slowly toward the vector indicating the range of the transmitter. "And how do you know that?"

"Because you'll make it work."

"No pressure, huh?"

"You're tough," John said with a wave of his hand. He was leaning back in his chair, the very picture of nonchalance. "You can handle it."

"I'm not tough. I'm soft and kind of squishy." Rodney wiped his palms on his thighs. "Okay, it's in range."

"Then let's do it."

Rodney dialed the sequence for home. "Dialing," he said, needlessly. He felt as though all the air had gone from the jumper.

"Try to do it right this time," John teased.

Rodney pressed the last symbol, and waited, watching the readouts. Then relief flooded his body. "It worked--the gate just activated. It worked," he said excitedly. He grinned at John. "We're going home."

John's head bobbed as he nodded rapidly. "We are. We really are. Nice job Rodney." He grinned back.

Rodney pointed to the mike. "Maybe we should say something?"

John's brows rose and his mouth made a little round "o" as he sat forward. Activating the mike, he announced, "Hello, Atlantis? This is Colonel Sheppard. Anybody home?"

Silence first, then Elizabeth's voice came though, her disbelief evident. "John? Oh my god, John is that you?"

"Yes, it is," John said smoothly. "And I've got McKay right here next to me. We seem to be in need of a lift home."

Rodney added, "Elizabeth, I'm transmitting the coordinates right now."

"Rodney? You're both all right. Wait--we're receiving the coordinates right now. Colonel, we didn't know what happened to you, how--?" Her voice rose in pitch then broke off.

Rodney could picture her face as she struggled for composure. His own throat got tight, and he felt a little guilty for having enjoyed himself so much while she had to cope with their disappearance.

"We're safe, and we've been safe, just stuck. The jumper is out of commission. And I'm sorry but we weren't able to make contact sooner," John told her.

"Sit tight," she said. "I have a team on the way."

They spoke a little further, then signed off. Rodney shut down the gate, falling back into his chair with a sigh of relief. His hands felt shaky as he rubbed his forehead, watching the screen until the gate activated again. "It's one of ours," Rodney informed John. "We're finally going home."

As they headed out the jumper, John took one last look around the tidied up interior. "We got rid of all the incriminating evidence, right?"

"Incriminating," Rodney said quietly. He knew that was what their relationship would become on Atlantis. It was going to be different between them from now on. It had to be.


Rodney figured people would be happy to see them, but he wasn't prepared for level of enthusiasm that engulfed them the moment they stepped into the city. Elizabeth hugged them both, blinking rapidly, then hugged Rodney again. Teyla bumped her forehead against his and held him there, her delicate hands digging into his shoulders. Rodney saw Ronon grab John's shoulder and shake him like a puppy with a toy, grinning wildly. Rodney tried to dodge him, but Ronon was quick, and promptly did the same to him. Before Rodney could recover his balance Radek grabbed his hand and shook it, almost as roughly.

Everyone was talking at once, asking questions, demanding to know what happened to them, how they survived on the planet, and Rodney was pretty certain he caught something about "managing to survive without strangling each other". John smiled at everyone surrounding him, at ease with the all attention. The returning hero, enjoying himself.

Next thing Rodney knew Carson was hustling them into the infirmary for a checkup, despite Rodney's protestations that they were fine. "I'll be the judge of that," Carson told him sternly. "Now both of you, sit."

The curtain closed around him, and the usual exam took place--cold stethoscope, sharp needles, a bright light shining in his eyes. He was declared healthy, and his head, hard as a rock, with no ill effects from the blow.

Rodney could have told him that.

Just as Carson finished, Elizabeth returned, insisting they all go to the commissary for a bite to eat. Rodney was astonished to find they had pulled together an impromptu party, complete with a freshly baked cake. As he listened to Radek describe a new technology they had found in the city, a device they couldn't decipher, Rodney caught sight of John, draped over a chair across the room, laughing and talking with his compatriots.

Rodney couldn't shake off the odd feeling that the past three weeks were a dream. That they had never been naked together, that it was crazy to even think Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard's mouth had been on his cock.

As soon as he could, Rodney begged off from the party, claiming exhaustion, that he only wanted a hot shower and to sleep in his own bed, which was the truth, at least partially. He was surprised to find himself escorted back to his room by a happy crowd, and when someone shoved a big plateful of cake into his hands as he said goodnight, he was touched and more than a little overwhelmed.

Finally, he was alone in his room, with his pictures of himself and his cat, clothes tossed about messily. "Home at last," he murmured. Back to normal. He had meetings the next day, he had reports to read, devices to figure out, missions in his future--nothing had changed.

He lingered under the shower for a half hour or more, the hot water relaxing his tense muscles, even though he would have preferred to be sitting in a cold stream on another planet. When he finished, he padded out into his room, barefoot, towel--a clean towel wrapped around his waist. "Oh," he said, as he caught sight of his visitor.

John stood in the middle of his room, freshly showered himself, in a clean tee-shirt and light-colored pants. "I let myself in," he said, only it was more of a question.

"I noticed. You being here, and all." Rodney's heart began to beat faster.

"It's nice to be home, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is."

John leaned one hip up against Rodney's desk. "Listen, I know we've been living in each other's back pockets, so you probably want to get some space to yourself." He idly traced a finger through the frosting on the slice of cake. "Not to mention I'm sure you have a ton of Rodney-type things to do, but I just wanted to stop in, and say 'goodnight' before I went to bed."

Rodney eyed the slouch, the studied coolness, the casual shrug, and tried not to smile. He might have been fooled by it at one time, but now he knew better. He marched up, slid one arm around John's waist, wrapped the other around his shoulders, and kissed him, hard, leaning into it and dipping John back. John hung onto him fiercely, his grip bruisingly tight.

"Space? Highly overrated," Rodney said, with a grin he suspected was pretty cocky. "How about I sweep you off your feet and into my bed, instead?"

John nodded rapidly. "That would be cool, too." He reached down to Rodney's waist. "Hey, look, your towel fell off. How'd that happen?"

"Oh, that was smooth," Rodney told him.

They stumbled toward the bed, hands getting entangled as they both tried to open John's pants.

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