A Walk in the Sun

by The Grrrl

Title: A Walk in the Sun

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@gmail.com

Author's URL: http://thegrrrl2002.slashcity.org/

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Pairing: Sheppard/McKay

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Rodney's not all that fond of being on the beach. But John seems to enjoy it.

Rodney gripped the controls tightly, his palms sweating. "Maybe we should find a bigger space."

"Rodney, come on, right there was fine," John told him. "Now circle back around, and just land the damn thing."

"But I think there's something you're missing here about the relationship of the size of the jumper to the size of the beach and—"

"Rodney? Land."

Rodney relented. "Fine. Landing." He brought the jumper around, and pointed it to the ridiculously small patch of sand between the sand dunes and the ocean. Bad enough he had to land it earlier near the Athosian settlement. All those damn kids running around the grassy clearing, and he had been convinced he was going set down on top of one.

"Slow down," John warned.

"I am slowed down."

"Not slow enough. Go slower."

Rodney slowed the jumper further, and stole a glance at John. Even though John's eyes were fixed on the navigational display in front of him, he could see a smile in the curve of John's cheek. "That's not what you said last night," Rodney said, conversationally.

"That was a different situation."

Oh yes, very different. John standing in the middle of his room, naked, lube in one hand, fingers stuffed up his own ass, demanding that Rodney hurry up and fuck him, damn it—do it hard and fast and do it right now.

Which Rodney did. Albeit slowly, very slowly, because he loved making John crazy. He loved the wordless, pleading noises as he pushed inside, John's hands sliding flat against the wall and that was so not what he needed to be thinking about while trying to land the jumper alongside an enormous sand dune.

"Keep it steady."

"I'm keeping it steady, at least as steady as I can, because I wouldn't purposely be keeping not-steady, would I?" Rodney forced himself to loosen this death-grip on the controls. The jumper's flight smoothed out immediately, and he was able to bring it in, positioning it on the sand with only a slight thump although it was entirely possible he scraped a drive pod against the side of the dune.

"Nice going," John said. "I think you've got it down."

"Yes, it was rather nice, wasn't it?" Rodney agreed. "Light as a feather." He was about to power up and take off once again when John rose from his seat.

"Shut it on down."

Puzzled, Rodney shut down the power.

"Come on," John told him as he opened the 'jumper door.

"Where are we going?" Rodney asked. "Did you spot something on the sensors?"

"Yes, I did. A big body of water, waves crashing on shore—I think it's called an ocean." John picked up a sack an Athosian had given him and slung it over his shoulder.

"Oddly enough," Rodney told him as followed, "I'm familiar with the concept."

"Well, then, come on."

Rodney hesitated, making a face. "But there's all that sand—"

"No kidding." John paused just past the door, kicked off his shoes, then bent to roll his pants legs up.

Rodney watched, curious. He wasn't sure what John thought he'd find on what looked to be an unremarkable beach, but it was a nice day, and now that Rodney was out and about, he was in no hurry to get back to the city. Leaving his shoes and socks behind, Rodney rolled up his pant legs, and stepped out of jumper into the midday heat.

His feet immediately sank into the hot sand. Blue skies, birds swirling overhead, glaring sunlight shining on what looked to be miles and miles of beach, stretching out in either direction. And the waves—huge, waves, breaking noisily against the shore, edged with foam. Further out among the swells, though, he could see that the water was dark green, rich with life.

John was already halfway to the water's edge. He paused, looking back expectantly. Rodney hurried to catch up. They walked until the hot sand gave way to cold and wet. The air felt cooler near the water, and it was pleasant enough, despite the wind and salt spray.

John came to a halt, staring out over the waves. He squinted, as if searching for something, hair ruffling in the wind. But when he turned back to Rodney, he seemed pleased. "Great waves. Ever do any surfing?"

"You're joking, right?"

"No, I'm not. It's not so hard. And it's a whole lot of fun."

"Yes, I'm sure drowning is a wonderful experience, especially with the added pleasure of being smacked in the head with a surf board." Rodney said. "No thank you."

"You won't drown. The wetsuit makes you buoyant. And when you catch a wave just right? It's like flying."

Rodney stared at the dangerous-looking waves, which had to be averaging least ten meters from trough to crest. "My preferred kind of flying? In a puddlejumper. Not that there aren't inherent dangers in that, such as explosive decompression and crash landings but hopefully one could control the risks—" He broke off, because John was smiling at him, and Rodney wasn't sure what was so funny. "What?"

"You really think a lot, don't you? Come on, you'd love it. It's all about physics. Here," John looked out over the water again, then put his hand on Rodney's shoulder and pointed. "See that nice roller right there?"

"Roller?"

"Wave, all right? The hydrodynamics of water waves is non-linear, but it reaches maximum velocity when it's about to crash—"

"No kidding," Rodney said, refusing to be impressed. "Everyone knows that."

"Just listen to me. You paddle around until you get to a good one."

"A good roller," Rodney supplied.

"Exactly. Then you accelerate up to the wave velocity, until you can feel your board being carried along by the wave. Then it's like magic. You keep the velocity parallel to the wave front and gravity pulls you down while the wave pushes you forward and up and it's—it's—like you're dancing along with hydrodynamic forces." John bent his knees and twisted his hips in an odd yet strangely appealing little dance. "It's not difficult at all."

"Hydrodynamic forces," Rodney repeated, too astonished by the words coming out of John's mouth to even comment on the dance. First the math thing and now this.

"It's all about the amplitude," John said.

"Oh, uh, I see." Rodney was pretty sure John was teasing him now, but he really liked the way John's mouth moved when he said "amplitude."

"And if we ever get back to earth? I'm taking you surfing."

Pleased beyond measure, Rodney still couldn't help protesting, "You do know I'm not the most well-balanced person around, don't you?"

"Oh, I know. Believe me, I know." John rolled his eyes.

Indignantly, Rodney insisted, "That's not what I meant and you know it."

"Of course, Rodney." He patted Rodney's shoulder, then slid his hand down to the small of Rodney's back and guided him on. "Let's say we walk for a while."

Rodney looked down the long expanse of sand and water. John certainly enjoyed being on the beach, and Rodney decided he was happy just to be spending time alone with John, wisecracks about his balance notwithstanding. "All right," he shrugged. "We'll walk."

Small brown birds scurried ahead of them, busily following the ebb and flow of spent waves. The sun was hot on Rodney's neck, feet squishing in the wet sand, making walking difficult and soon sweat dripping down the center of his chest. He was acutely aware of John next to him, striding easily. It was very pleasant to be out somewhere together and not be on a mission, not to have to be alert, with guns at the ready. Dangerous missions followed by hot, crazy sex—definitely the strangest relationship he'd ever been in.

Not that he was complaining.

When they strayed too close to the water's edge, a wave surged up to meet them. Frigid water wrapped around Rodney's ankles and licked up his calves. Rodney yelped, jumping back, glaring at John. "Now that's cold, cold, painfully cold."

John lifted a foot as the water streamed back. "Just a little." He stared down, then plucked an empty seashell from the water. He handed it to Rodney, some sort of bivalve. "I wonder if these are eatable. Wouldn't it be cool to have clambake on beach?"

"Oh yeah, great fun. I'll stick to MREs, if you don't mind." Another wave splashed up, wetting the bottom of their pants, but Rodney failed to notice, because John's fingers were lingering on his arm, fingertips stroking the sensitive skin on the inside of his wrist.

"We should ask Teyla if any of the Athosians have tried them."

John's head was cocked, exposing the side of his neck. Rodney knew that if he pressed his lips against John's skin he would taste the ocean and maybe even the sunshine, too.

"Might be good, you never know."

"What?" Rodney asked, shaking himself out of his reverie. "Yes, we should. Or just try feeding them to Ford."

"He'll eat anything, won't he?" John laughed, tossing the shell into the water. "Crazy kid."

John led him away from the surf, and then sat down right on the sand, motioning for Rodney to join him. Rodney would have preferred a blanket, or to sit in the cool, shady, and sand-free jumper. He lowered himself down anyway, gathering his legs and sitting cross-legged next to John. He uncapped his canteen. "What's in the bag, anyway?" he asked, sipping the lukewarm water.

"All sorts of good things." John pulled out a bandana and spread it on the sand. He dug through the bag. "Cheese. Grapes. Some bread. He placed each item on the bandana. "And, oh, look, couple of those nut cakes."

"You mean those sticky little cakes, with that weird spice? I really like those."

"I know you do." John seemed pleased with himself, and didn't complain when Rodney went for the sweet first.

Sticky and a little messy, reminiscent of good baklava minus the phylo texture. And very, very delicious. Rodney made a happy sound as he chewed.

"I kissed my first boy on a beach just like this," John mused.

Rodney swallowed the last of the cake and licked his fingers. "Did you?"

John nodded. "Yup. It was summertime and I was fifteen. Snuck out at midnight to go to a party on the beach. Had maybe three beers, and next thing I knew I was making out with a guy—Rob? Ron? Or maybe Ray?"

His grin was mischievous, and Rodney found himself grinning back. He could see it now—a teenaged John, lean and tan, his shorts hanging low off his hips, revealing a strip of pale white skin. "Can't even remember his name, can you?" For some reason, that made him strangely happy.

"It was a long time ago. And now that I think about it, maybe it was four beers," John said. "I do remember jerking each other off behind the sand dunes, though."

"Ah. Carefree youth." So different from his own. "Tell me, oh precocious one, how old were you when you kissed your first girl? Twelve?"

John popped a grape into his mouth and frowned thoughtfully. "Something like that. And what about you?"

Rodney broke off a piece of cheese. He never liked thinking back on his childhood. Not exactly happy times—he much preferred the here and now. The right now, as a matter of fact. "First girl I ever kissed was Laura Fiora, she lived across the street from us and she had the blondest hair you've ever seen. I had a crush on her for years."

"You have a thing for blondes, don't you?"

John's expression was downright sulky, and Rodney bit back his laughter. "Yes, I do. Absolutely. Nothing but fair-hair sweethearts for me."

"First guy you kissed—blonde, too?"

"Yes, he was. I was in grad school, and he was a professor. A hulking blonde Nordic physicist named Sven." At John's expression, he finally laughed out loud. "Okay, his name was Peter, but he was blond. And—uh, very big."

"Big?" John raised his eyebrows.

Rodney nodded, enjoying himself. "Yes, big. Huge."

"And smart, I suppose."

"No, not so much. I mean, he never showed me how to fly a puddlejumper or threatened to take me surfing."

"Good." John leaned back on his arms and smiled warmly at Rodney.

So warmly that Rodney began to feel oddly exposed and naked, and maybe he had spoken a little too earnestly but John talked to him about amplitude and hydrodynamics so how was he supposed to feel? "Shouldn't we be heading back soon? Isn't Elizabeth expecting us?" Rodney asked, trying to cover his confusion.

John checked his watch. "No, we're not due to check in for another couple of hours. I told her we'd do a little exploring while we were out."

"Oh." Rodney looked out over the ocean, then over his shoulder at the grass-covered dunes. "I see." Even though he didn't, because he didn't think they had explored much.

"Exactly," John told him. He then startled Rodney by pulling his shirt off over his head, and lying in the sand, stretching his legs out flat. All that black hair on his chest and stomach, and plenty of it further down, too, hidden under his eternally low-hanging pants.

"What are you doing?" Rodney asked. The wind must have died down because the air grew unquestionably warmer.

"Relaxing." John flung one arm behind his head and wriggled against the sand, smiling up at Rodney with his unconsciously dirty little smile. It was the kind of smile that made Rodney want to have sex with him right then and there. Except that with all the damn sand there would be chafing in very bad places. Not to mention they were on a mission. Not a dangerous one, nothing life-threatening here, except maybe for those waves. Still, Rodney had every intention of insisting on hot, crazy sex when they returned.

For the moment, he decided he could relax and enjoy himself, too. He pulled his own shirt off and lay back. Sun on his chest, hot sand on his back, sticking to his sweaty skin and getting into his hair and they were going to be a mess when they got back.

He closed his eyes, listening to the sound of the waves and the distant call of a bird. Maybe it was the full stomach, the warmth, or just sensation of John's foot brushing against the top of his, but he began to feel drowsy. He thought maybe he understood what John liked about being on the beach, something he never was very much into himself but yes, it had its pleasures.

He turned his head, squinting at John. "This is nice," he acknowledged.

"Yeah?" John smiled at him, open and happy in a way that tugged at Rodney's heart. There was sand on his cheek. "I thought it might be a good thing to do, spend some time together, just the two of us. There's always so much going on in the city—attacks and disasters and deadly outbreaks. We never really get a chance to just be, you know?"

It took a moment for Rodney to parse the meaning of John's words. "Of course," he said. "Yes, yes we—uh—"

He had had it all wrong. It wasn't about the beach at all. It was about them, even though they weren't naked and groping and hot and crazy. About them being together. Even though John had to deal with him every single day, John wanted to spend special time alone with him on a beach. It was almost as if—

"We're on a date, aren't we?" Rodney said with surprise.

"Well, yeah—" John's smile faded, replaced by a look of concern. "I thought so. Unless you—"

"No, no, of course we are. I knew that." Heart beating faster, Rodney reached out, sliding his hand down a narrow forearm until he found John's hand, half-buried in the sand. He squeezed, grains of sand scratching against his palm.

"Okay. Good. Because we are." With a content grin John turned his hand under Rodney's and clasped it firmly.

Rodney basked in the warmth, closing his eyes and soaking it in.

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