An Inaccurate Telling

by The Grrrl

Title: An Inaccurate Telling

Author: chelle and The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@gmail.com, mmmchelle@gmail.com

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

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Pairing: Sheppard/McKay

Summary: When the rules change Rodney is asked, but what he tells isn't precisely accurate.

"Dr. McKay, could I ask you something?"

Rodney looked up from his laptop, eyes narrowing at the scientist standing in front his lab bench. The guy's name was Davis or Delores or Davidson, something with a D. "What?"

"Do you know if Colonel Sheppard is seeing anyone?"

"Why would you care?"

"Now that the rules have changed, I was thinking of asking him out."

"He's straight," Rodney said bluntly, although if Sheppard did date men it would probably be someone like Davidson. Blond and broad shouldered, Davidson looked like he'd just stepped off a beach in southern California.

"Are you sure?"

Rodney simply glared at him. "Didn't Zelenka assign you to work on the long range sensors?"

***

"I got asked if you were available today," Rodney said, watching Sheppard cut into his almost-but-not-quite-chicken. "By that blond electrical engineer, Davidson."

"Davis," John said.

"Whatever." Rodney waved his fork. "Imagine the impertinence."

John crooked an eyebrow. "Impertinence?"

"You're totally out of his league." Davis undoubtedly only saw the rakish good looks, the heroic persona, the lean, muscular body, but Rodney knew there was more to John than that. Like a brain, an amazing, complex and surprisingly beautiful brain. Not that Rodney would ever tell John that, short of a threat of bodily injury. "The man's IQ is something like 130," Rodney said with a dismissive wave. "I told him you're straight."

"Kind of," John said.

"Kind of what?" Rodney asked around his bite of thank-god-they're-real mashed potatoes.

"I'm kind of straight."

"How can you be kind of straight?"

"By not being quite straight."

Rodney frowned because a) John was talking in circles; and b) John was his best friend, and if John was kind of straight then Rodney would know. "In exactly what ways are you not straight?"

"In the ways that I've had sex with men," John said.

Leaning across the table, Rodney said, "You have not."

"Pretty sure I know who I've had sex with, Rodney."

"When? Who?"

"No one you know and it was a long time ago."

"So," Rodney said, his brain compiling and sorting through the possibilities, "was it just an experimentation thing?"

"Mostly."

Knowing that was as definitive an answer as he was likely to get, Rodney leaned back in his chair. "You're not looking to start dating men, then."

"I might," John said with a shrug, "if the right one asked."

The right one, as in Mr. Beach Adonis, Rodney thought. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe you should do the asking?" he asked, because John was waiting for a response, and Rodney needed time to decipher the queasy feeling building in his stomach.

"Not really," John said, casual as could be and completely, thoroughly annoying.

Ignoring him, Rodney focused on his food, figuring it would make the queasy feeling go away.

It didn't.

The feeling lingered through nine holes of video golf.

It was still there when Rodney left John's room for his own quarters. Glaring into the mirror Rodney picked up his toothbrush, ran it quickly under the water, and snagged the toothpaste. Despite his looks, John was as bad with women as Rodney was, in his own Sheppard way. They'd talked a little, now and then, and John was even worse with the whole talking/confiding thing than Rodney was.

Rodney stuck the toothbrush into his mouth.

John sucked at talking about his feelings. Half the time Rodney doubted John even knew what his feelings were he buried them so deep.

Women hated that. But a man might not mind. A man might be happy to let John be John as long as he got to have sex with the hottest guy in Atlantis.

If that happened Rodney could say good-bye to evenings of video golf, Sunday morning coffee on his balcony, and long and involved discussions of who was hotter, Princess Leia, Catwoman, or Seven of Nine.

John was the best friend Rodney had ever had - Rodney dropped his toothbrush into the cup next to his sink, where it made a definitive clank – and there was no way Rodney was going to lose him to some wanna be surfer dude.

***

"The problem is located right here," Rodney said, tapping the display. "As a result, there's still no power to the lower levels of that section."

"No?" Davis frowned at the schematics. "What happened?"

Rodney rolled his eyes, but before he could say anything suitably cutting, Radek explained, "It was before you got here. The conduit was damaged when the city had to fly through the asteroid field."

"Oh right. Flying city." Davis smiled, all dimples and shiny white teeth. "That is so cool."

"Is not as fun as it sounds," Radek said with a barely visible shudder.

"Sure it is."

Rodney turned to see John sauntering into lab. "Oh, right. Aside from the part about almost dying."

John shrugged, as if almost-dying was part of his normal daily routine.

"Colonel." Davis brightened. "Hi."

Canting a hip against a nearby desk, John leaned and asked, "Davis, right?"

Davis nodded eagerly.

"Who is about to head off to the Northwest Pier to do some repairs," Rodney snapped, shoving a tablet toward him. "Have fun, and don't come back until it's finished."

"Sure thing, Dr. McKay." Davis picked up the tablet without taking his eyes off of Sheppard. "It'll be just like new."

Rodney wasn't sure which was more irritating--the perkiness, the enthusiasm, or the fact that Davis' blue shirt fit very tightly across his big broad chest.

Or the way Sheppard seemed to have noticed all of those things.

"Shep--John," Rodney said, stepping beside Sheppard. "We're still on for this evening, right?" He placed a hand on Sheppard's shoulder, very casual, like it was something he did every day.

Sheppard frowned at him, clearly wondering why Rodney was asking when they spent every Thursday evening together. "Your quarters. 2000 hours. I'll bring the snacks."

There was something in the tilt of Sheppard's head, the emphasis he put on the word 'snacks.' "You got that crunchy snack mix I like so much, didn't you?" Rodney asked.

"Not telling," Sheppard said with a shake of his head. "You'll have to just wait until tonight."

"You got them."

"Or," Sheppard said, drawing out the word, "Maybe I got something else you like."

"Oooh, like those corn bugles." Rodney wouldn't mind those.

"What are bugles?" Davis asked.

Rodney turned to glare at him. "What are you still doing here?"

"Right," Davis said, clutching his tablet. "I'll let you know as soon as it's done."

"I gotta go, too. See you later Rodney, Radek," John said, taking a step back and forcing to Rodney to let go of his shoulder.

Rodney watched him go and then turned back round to find Radek looking at him. "What?"

Muttering something Rodney couldn't quite make out, Radek shook his head and turned back to the computer and the schematics.

***

Busy morning in the lab, and it was late by the time Rodney made it to the mess for lunch. They were going out into the field the next day, and right now he needed to review reports and make recommendations and do all the million little things that were required of the head of science.

He loved it. Not that he'd ever admit it.

As he entered the mess, he saw Sheppard heading for the far doors, apple in hand. Rodney thought about calling out to him, but he had planned to work through his meal, and he would see Sheppard later anyway. So instead he grabbed a sandwich, a salad, and a small bowl of fruit and started toward the balcony so he could sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Settling into his seat, he took a bite of his sandwich, opened up his laptop and sat back, about to call up the files when he noticed that Sheppard hadn't quite made it out of the room yet.

Davis.

The man kept turning up, like a bad penny.

He was talking to Sheppard, leaning in, hand resting lightly on Sheppard's arm. Sheppard grinned in response, then nodded.

Rodney narrowed his eyes.

Davis said something else, and John ducked his head, laughing.

Rodney turned his back to them, then after a brief hesitation, tapped his radio. "Sheppard," he said, a little too sharply.

A moment later Sheppard's drawl came through the radio. "Hey Rodney, what's up?"

"You busy right now?"

"Nah. Not really."

"I was wondering if you had a moment to go over this training schedule?" Rodney frantically sorted through his files, looking for the scientist flight training schedule.

"Sure," Sheppard said. "Be right there."

"Good," Rodney said, clicking on the file and opening it. "I'm--"

"In the mess," Sheppard said, his voice in stereo this time. "Me, too."

Rodney looked up to see Sheppard standing beside him. "Oh," he said, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. "There you are." He switched his radio off.

"Yes, here I am." Grinning, Sheppard pulled over a chair from the next table and settled into it with his usual boneless grace.

"I just got here," Rodney insisted, arms folded defiantly over his chest. "I didn't see you."

"I was about to leave, but I got to talking with Brad." Sheppard seemed amused by something.

"Brad," Rodney repeated flatly.

"Yeah." Sheppard picked a grape out of Rodney's fruit bowl, examined it carefully, then popped it in his mouth.

"Brad should be out repairing those conduits."

"He's all finished." Sheppard reached for a banana slice this time.

"Must you? With the fingers?" Rodney asked.

"He also had a few questions about you," Sheppard said, licking his thumb. He grinned at Rodney. "It's okay. I explained to him what a nice guy you are."

Rodney scowled, thoroughly annoyed. "Am not. And I'd appreciate if you'd stop spreading those rumors."

Now Sheppard looked as if he was genuinely trying not to laugh. "Me? Spreading rumors? Rodney." He clucked and shook his head.

Rodney sincerely hoped Sheppard hadn't done that around Brad because if he had there'd be no getting rid of the blond bimbo.

***

Of course the first thing Rodney saw when he entered the lab was the bimbo in question. He and Radek were reviewing schematics for the theoretically repaired areas.

"The repairs are done," Radek said, turning and pushing his glasses up his nose. He looked pleased.

"So I hear. They better be right," Rodney said, shooting a quick glare at the back of Davis's head as he approached.

"They're right," Davis said.

"I'll be the judge of that," Rodney said, leaning over to look at the updated schematics. The repairs appeared to be --his eyes narrowed as he looked harder at the screen-- all done perfectly correctly.

"Well done," Radek said, patting Davis's shoulder before walking away.

"Yes, well, there aren't any obvious mistakes," Rodney said, standing and folding his arms over his chest.

Turning, Davis smiled at him, a positively insolent smile that made Rodney wonder if he could assign Davis to train with Ronon. "I know why you told me Colonel Sheppard was straight."

"And why is that?" Rodney asked, jutting out his chin.

"If my boyfriend was as hot and flirtatious as the colonel, I'd tell people he was straight, too."

Rodney blinked. "My---what?"

His boyfriend? Sheppard was not his boyfriend. But--

"Yes," Rodney announced, pointing a finger at Davis. "You see, he can't help the hot part and he's not flirtatious. He's just being himself, but with the hotness and the slinkiness," Rodney waved a hand in an effort to capture the slinkiness, "people think he's flirting. Actually? When he tries to flirt, it's not pretty."

"He didn't look bad when he was flirting with you earlier."

Sheppard had been flirting with him? Rodney shoved that thought aside for later consideration. "It's not really flirting when you're already a couple. Now, since you're Mr. Speedy Repairs, I have another section for you to work on." Leaning over, Rodney began using the keyboard in front of Davis to pull up some new schematics.

"Dr. Z said I could work on the 'jumpers next--"

"No," Rodney said. "You can't." He glanced over his shoulder and scowled at Radek.

"Last week, the Colonel mentioned that Jumper 4 felt a little 'hinky'," Radek said, without looking up from the crystal he was examining under the 'scope. "Remember?"

"Yes, I do." Rodney raised his chin. "But the Colonel and I can deal with any supposed jumper 'hinkiness' ourselves, thank you."

Radek nodded solemnly. "Of course. You and the Colonel."

Rodney scowled some more, but Radek still didn't look up from the scope. With a sigh of disappointment, Rodney turned back to Davis. "Okay, here's the next section. It's on the bottom level of the South Pier. Not completely accessible, you'll have to climb down a ventilation shaft to get there."

And Davis, of course, nodded eagerly.

***

"I can't believe you got these," Rodney said, stuffing another handful of bugles into his mouth. "How did you know I liked them? I never mentioned it."

"Yeah, you did." But John was smiling as he shuffled the cards. "I think it was on P2X-440. You had three glasses of that fizzy pink stuff and you waxed poetic on corn bugles for hours."

"Oh," Rodney said. "I don't remember that."

"No more fizzy pink stuff for you." John leaned forward, elbows resting on the table. "What'll it be? Gin Rummy? Go Fish? Crazy Eights?"

"Go Fish? Do I look seven?"

John grinned, and Rodney shook his head. "Rummy."

***

John was leading, which didn't surprise Rodney at all. He was probably counting cards. Every time he drew he no doubt knew the exact odds of getting a three of clubs or some other useful card.

Although it was possible Rodney was overestimating John's cardsharking abilities.

John looked at his cards and then raised his eyes slowly to Rodney's. "Your turn."

Rodney drew. A nine. Damn, an eight would have gone nicely with his six and seven. He discarded a two.

Sheppard picked it up. Then laid all of his cards on the table. "Gin." He paused a moment to grin at Rodney. "Again."

In Rodney's world losing even the simplest game had always seemed like an attack on his intelligence, his sense of who he was. Rodney was the smartest person in any room, period. And as the smartest person he did not lose.

Sheppard won at chess as often as Rodney did. He routinely beat Rodney at all manner of video games. He'd driven Rodney bankrupt in a marathon Monopoly game that had taken them three weeks to finish.

Yet Rodney still played with him, and the odd thing was, the more often they played the less Rodney minded losing.

In fact, he was dangerously close to not caring at all if he won or lost.

Still, he wasn't going to let Sheppard know that. He leaned over the table, eyeing the cards suspiciously. "No way. Let me see them."

Sheppard pushed the cards toward him then leaned back in his chair. "Go ahead." He looked awfully pleased with himself, and Rodney would have been charmed if he was the kind of guy who found such things charming.

Which Rodney wasn't, of course. Instead he scrutinized the cards, and yes, Sheppard had won, fair and square. "Huh. How do you do that?"

Sheppard picked up the score pad. "Just lucky, I guess."

"It's so not fair."

"Stick with me, Rodney, and maybe my luck will rub off on you. Now come on, show me your cards."

With a huff, Rodney tossed his cards down. "I had no idea you were such a card shark."

Sheppard added up the points, biting his lower lip as he wrote. "There's lots you don't know about me."

"Apparently so." Rodney gathered up the cards. "Like you and, uh--you know. The guy thing."

"The guy thing."

"Yes. The guy thing. Dating." Rodney shuffled the deck, his face growing warm for no reason at all. "With guys."

"Oh. That guy thing." Sheppard took a sip of his beer.

"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about." Rodney's mind helpfully flashed an image of Sheppard in Davis' arms, Davis leaning in to kiss him.

It was...disturbing.

"Does that bother you, Rodney?" Sheppard's voice was soft.

"What?" Rodney scowled. "No. Don't be stupid. Why would that bother me? I'm not some uptight homophobe." He shuffled the deck again and this time a few cards slipped away, falling onto the floor.

Rodney bent over to pick up the cards. Sheppard did the same thing on the other side. "Dunno," Sheppard said, "but your face is kind of red."

"Because I'm bent over," Rodney said, accepting the cards Sheppard was holding out to him under the table.

Sitting back up, Rodney resumed shuffling the cards.

"Your face was red before," Sheppard said, his gaze resting on Rodney's hands.

Obviously, Rodney needed to clarify a few things. "Look, I am not bothered by the idea of men having sex with other men. But we've known each other for five years and you never said anything." And I hate the idea of you spending time with a man who isn't me. Rodney kept that last bit to himself.

"There wasn't any reason to say anything," Sheppard said, but at least he wasn't looking at Rodney's hands anymore.

Yeah, Rodney could see that, and Sheppard wasn't the type to talk about something so personal if he didn't have to. Rodney began to deal. "I don't see why you dating a guy would impact our friendship any more than me dating Katie," he said.

"Okay," John said with a nod, but Rodney got the feeling it wasn't quite the answer John had been hoping for. "By the way, I don't think you have to worry about me and Brad dating."

"Oh, really?" Rodney asked airily.

John picked up the cards and fanned them out in his hand. "Yeah," he confirmed, his mouth curving up into a one-side grin.

"What a shame." Rodney felt a twinge of guilt for misleading Davis, but truly, John deserved better than some pretty blond some-what capable electrical engineer. He deserved someone smart, someone who knew John and appreciated him for more than just his good looks.

"Uh huh." John moved a card from one side of his hand to another. "Gin," he said after a moment.

"W--What?" Rodney sputtered. "No. No no no no. You couldn't--you've got to be kidding."

A broad grin, and John admitted, "Yeah, I am."

"You're shameless, you know that?"

John drew a card from the deck, looking not at all ashamed. "Yup, pretty much."

Rodney shook his head, although it was hard to pretend to be all that disgusted when John was smiling at him like that. It was a broad, open smile, one that made John look kind of happy, and Rodney's chest went all warm and his heart beat faster and it was all kind of weird so he hunched over his cards, picked up John's discarded two of hearts and announced, "Face it, Sheppard, you are going to lose this hand."

***

"Maybe next time we'll try 'Go Fish'", Sheppard said as he buckled up his tac vest.

"Very funny." Rodney adjusted the straps of his pack.

"Pinochle?"

"Pinochle." Rodney straightened up. "I'm not even sure how that's played."

Teyla grabbed a handful of P90 cartridges. "Why don't you two play poker?"

Sheppard snorted. Rodney glared at him.

"Trust me, Teyla," Sheppard said. "There's no challenge at all when to comes to beating Rodney at poker."

"Isn't that the game where the loser has to take off his clothes?" Ronon put in, closing his locker door with one hand and needlessly spinning his gun with the other.

"That's only one version," Rodney said, patting his vest to make sure he had everything he needed.

"Yeah, the fun one," John said.

Teyla laughed. "We will see you in the gateroom," she said, moving toward the door, Ronon close behind.

"The fun one," Rodney repeated, closing his own locker. "You've never even played strip poker."

"Have so," John said, but he was smiling the same way he had the night before when he'd claimed to have a gin rummy as soon as he looked at his cards.

Rodney was just about to answer when the door slid open and Lorne came in. "Ah, sir, I'm glad I caught you."

"What's up, Major?" John said, turning toward him, hands resting on his P-90.

"Harrison's promotion party, I was thinking of holding it tomorrow night, if that works for you."

John shrugged. "Sure. Anything I need to bring?"

Lorne's eyes slid from his CO to Rodney. "You can bring Dr. McKay, if he'd like to come. Ronon's bringing Dr. Keller, and Sgt. Peters is bringing Dr. Lewison."

"Cool," Sheppard said. He looked past Lorne to Rodney. "What do you think, Rodney? You up for a party?"

Bring him? Sheppard was bringing him?

"Sure. Fine," Rodney said, puzzled.

A party. Sheppard was "bringing" him to a party. Rodney knew the military had a party every time someone was promoted, but other than Ronon and Teyla, civilians weren't invited, unless someone brought them as a date. The only exception Rodney knew of had been Sheppard's party, a handful of civilians, mostly Sheppard's friends, had been invited to that one.

Lorne smiled at him, then back at Sheppard. "Have a good mission, sir, Dr. McKay." He left and Sheppard said, "Come on, Rodney. They're waiting for us."

"But--"

Sheppard was already heading through the door. "Today, Rodney," he said cheerily. "You know how cranky Ronon gets when he has to wait."

Rodney followed Sheppard out the door.

***

They were met at the gate by Wylere, leader of the S'rthians. "Welcome back, Colonel," Wylere said to John and Rodney had to hold back his glare.

Rodney was pretty sure Wylere hadn't looked like that the last time they were here, with the broad, almost completely bare chest. The guy was dressed like someone out of an S & M porn film, with four leather straps making an 'x' across his chest, meeting at a ring in the center.

The chest would have been bad enough, but Wylere was smiling at John in a way that was too friendly by half.

Even worse, John was smiling back.

"If you would like to follow me, we can negotiate while Dr. McKay examines the dam," Wylere said.

"I'm afraid not," Rodney said, stepping partially in front of Sheppard. "I need the colonel's assistance."

John shot him a look, but said, "Teyla is more than able to handle the negotiations. I mostly just do what she tells me, anyway." He had a self-deprecating little smile that Rodney would have liked if it hadn't been directed at some alien leatherdaddy.

Teyla stepped beside Wylere. "The colonel exaggerates, of course, but there is much for us to discuss."

"True," Wylere agreed. "Sheppard, you will join us for our afternoon meal when you are finished?" He was still gazing at John as if John himself were the afternoon meal.

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," John said with a tilt of his head that for all the world looked as if he were trying to be coy.

"Yes, right, come on." Rodney patted John's shoulder, narrowing his eyes at Wylere. "We have plenty to do, Colonel."

"Ronon," John said, "You're with Teyla. We'll check in in about two hours."

"Sure," Ronon said. He cast a sideways glance at Wylere's chest and raised an eyebrow, clearly amused. "Have fun."

"Until later, Sheppard," Wylere said with a nod of his head. He then headed down the path leading to the village, Ronon and Teyla on either side of him.

"The dam is this way," Rodney said.

"I know where the dam is, Rodney."

"What is with that outfit?" Rodney whispered, even though he was sure Wylere was out of hearing range.

"What outfit?"

"The leatherdaddy outfit. He's dressed like what's-his-name from Hallona. Baden."

"Baden did not dress like a leatherdaddy."

"Oh, please."

John stopped walking, folding his arms across his chest. "How do you even know what a leatherdaddy looks like?"

"I've seen pictures," Rodney said, grabbing John's elbow and tugging on it until John resumed walking.

"What kind of pictures?"

"I don't know." Rodney waved his hand. "Pictures." He had no idea why John was so hung up on this when he was the one who'd been all coy with the leather-clad alien.

"If you're straight why are you looking at pictures of leatherdaddies?" John asked, tugging his arm free of Rodney's grip.

"Who said I was looking at pictures?"

"You did."

"There's a difference between looking at pictures and looking at pictures."

"And you were just looking."

Rodney turned his head to look at John, because Sheppard sounded almost disappointed, which made no sense at all. "Yes, yes, I was just looking. As opposed to our chieftain friend."

"He was just looking."

Rodney snorted. "He was looking, and you know it."

"I wasn't looking back."

"Good," Rodney said, not noticing Sheppard's smile as they reached a fork in the path and Rodney pointed left. "The dam is this way."

"I know where the dam is, Rodney."

***

"Harrison," Rodney said. "Tall guy with the red hair, right?"

"Nope," John said, waving a hand over the door control. The door slid open to reveal a party in full swing.

"Hey Colonel. Dr. McKay." Lorne waved from across the room. "Beer's on the balcony."

"Great," John said, giving a wave to the crowded room.

Rodney hesitated in the doorway, then was startled to feel a hand pressed firmly to the small of his back.

"This way," John said, leaning in and speaking directly into Rodney's ear.

"I know which way the balcony is." Still, Rodney let John steer him through the room. Which wasn't as crowded as he first thought, despite all the laughter and yelling over the loud music. Military types tended to be pretty raucous when gathered up for celebration.

"Lieutenant," John said as a slim, dark-haired woman approached them. "Congratulations."

She drew herself up straight and saluted. "Thank you, sir."

John shook his head, grinning. "At ease, Harrison. Rodney, this is First Lieutenant Harrison."

"Right, right," Rodney said. "You were involved in the evacuations on MX-092."

Harrison extended a hand and when Rodney grasped it she gave a firm handshake. "Very pleased to meet you."

It was all oddly formal. Rodney frowned at John, who was beaming at him. "Congratulations," Rodney said, because he really didn't know what else to say.

"Were you headed for the beer?" Harrison asked.

"We were," John answered with a nod.

"I think there's still some Guinness left, but you might want to hurry." She stepped aside giving them room to pass.

Guinness. Rodney couldn't remember the last time he'd had Guinness. "Well, come on," Rodney said to John, who didn't seem inclined to move.

Instead of moving, John grinned at Harrison and rolled his eyes. Grabbing his sleeve, Rodney tugged John toward the balcony.

They made it out on to the balcony without any more interruptions. Jennifer was bent over a large tub filled with ice and beer. "McKay, Colonel," she said over her shoulder. Then she stood, a can of Guinness in hand and held it out to Rodney. "Never say I didn't do anything for you."

Rodney snatched it and popped the can open. "It's cold. You Americans never have learned how to serve good beer."

"You don't have to drink it," John said.

Ignoring him, Rodney took a long drink.

John exchanged some sort of look with Jennifer. "Where's Ronon?" John asked.

Waving her hand in the direction of the door, she said, "He and one of the Marines were discussing take down techniques."

Soldiers, Rodney thought. Not that he disapproved of soldiers. He liked soldiers, especially when they were working to keep him alive. But they didn't always make the best conversationalists, except for Sheppard, of course. Craning his neck, Rodney asked, "Where's Lewison?"

"She and Peters were..." Jennifer turned around and then pointed to the far end of the balcony. "There," she said, pointing.

Rodney frowned. That looked like Lewison, although he was looking at her back and he'd never actually seen her with her hair down, but the wavy black hair could be hers. She was talking with the really attractive black woman Rodney had noticed a few times. He'd thought about trying to talk to her once, then remembered that his ability to strike up conversation with the female soldiers was pretty much non-existent. "That's Sgt. Peters?"

"Yup," John said and Rodney could hear the amusement in his voice.

"Michelob?" Jennifer asked John.

"It'll do," John said holding out his hand for the bottle.

Jennifer picked out a bottle for herself. "I'm going to see if I can track down my date. I'll see you guys later."

John smiled at her and raised his beer in salute. Rodney nodded absently. Lewison and Peters were standing way too close for friends.

"We could go say 'hi,'" John suggested.

"Is that a good idea? Being so public like that?" Rodney asked, his gaze still fixed on Peters and Lewison.

"It's not like they're putting on a show, and the rules have changed, remember?" John leaned against the railing, shoulder bumping against Rodney's.

"I know, but changing the rules doesn't change the mindset that led to the rules."

"That was mostly the brass. The soldiers who do the actual fighting could care less who you sleep with as long as you've got their back, especially here."

"Oh." Rodney took a long drink of his beer, turning that over in his head. "So if you did date a guy that wouldn't create a problem for you with..." Rodney waved his hand to indicate all the men and women who served under John.

"Nope. But I appreciate your concern," John said.

If it wasn't for the warmth in John's voice, Rodney would have thought he was teasing. But John just smiled and leaned, his arm pressing against Rodney and Rodney wanted to point out that with all the leaning against and bringing-to-the-party thing, people were going to think that they were dating. It was one thing for Rodney to mislead Davis, that was Davis' own fault for jumping to the wrong conclusion. But with the way John was acting, everyone on base was going to starting thinking they were an item. "Listen, John--"

"Hey, Peters," John said as she approached the cooler.

"Colonel. Sir." She nodded, looking uncertain.

John raised his beer can. "We're off duty."

"Good point, sir." She reached into the cooler and pulled out two cans of beer. "And how are you, Dr. McKay?"

"Good. Good. I'm good." Rodney nodded rapidly. John was still leaning against him and fine, if that was how John wanted to play it, Rodney was more than happy to go along. Especially if it kept the Brad Davis' of the world from occupying John's time. "Nice night, hmmm?"

Peters nodded, tilting her head up to the night sky. "It's so beautiful here. I love it when both moons are out. It's extra-romantic." She grinned at them both.

"Yes. With the larger one at its perigee, we're in the period of the Proxigean Spring Tide," Rodney said. Jerking his thumb out at the water, he added, "Even at mid-sea, we're seeing an increase of almost a meter."

"Really? You say the sweetest things, McKay," John said, sliding his arm along the rail so it was actually behind Rodney and Rodney was almost, sort-of leaning against John's arm.

Peters chuckled.

Rodney glanced at Sheppard, who smiled at him, a low-key, intimate smile. Saying flirty things and smiling like that, with his arm practically around Rodney, in front of a lesbian, who would no doubt think that he and Sheppard were like her and Lewison, which Sheppard sort of was... Rodney liked it. Peters clearly thought that at the end of the party John and Rodney were going to go back to John's quarters, or his, and do the kinds of things couples do after a party, and Rodney liked that she thought that.

And he liked the way John was smiling at him.

"Yes, well, I try," Rodney said, edging a little closer to John.

John's body was warm, in contrast to the cooling ocean breeze and it wasn't anything like leaning against a woman, with the soft curves and sweet smells but even so Rodney's heart beat faster. It wasn't anything he had really thought about before--okay, maybe he did think about it once or twice, but only in an abstract kind of way and that was years ago.

But John wasn't abstract at all. He was real. Very real. And solid, with the firm thigh against his and a muscular arm pressing into his back and he really didn't mind John being all in his personal space and none of it was making any sense.

He lost track of the rest of the conversation, and then with a little wave Peters was heading back to Lewison.

Rodney drained the last of his beer, took a breath and turned to John. "What's with--what with the, you know." He nudged John's arm with his shoulder.

John raised his eyebrows. "No, I don't know." He took the can from Rodney's hand, and gave it a shake, confirming it's empty state. "I'm ready for another, too."

He crouched down next to the cooler, and Rodney crouched beside him. "People are going to think we're a couple," he whispered.

"What? Can't hear you," John said. He pulled out a can and offered it. "Lite?"

"Lite?" Rodney sat back on his heels. "And what are you implying?"

John rolled his eyes and dropped the can back into the cooler.

"There, right there--" Rodney reached out, "grab that one, it's another Guinness."

John retrieved the can, handed it to Rodney, then fished out a second one for himself. "Jeeze it's cold in there," he said, shaking his hand dry as they straightened up.

"Yes, funny thing about ice and water, it can--Hey," Rodney squawked as John's ice cold hand wrapped around the back of his neck.

"Just warming it up. Oh look, sandwiches."

***

Chewing on his not-turkey sandwich, Rodney leaned back on the couch and watched John move his hand through the air, demonstrating some piloting thing for Miller and Lorne's benefit. Rodney could have joined them. He was a pilot, too. When he had to be.

Rodney knew Sheppard had heard him out on the balcony. He just hadn't wanted to answer the question, which was typical of Sheppard. The question was why. There was the obvious answer of John just didn't like talking about this kind of stuff, except they'd been talking about it for the last couple days. Kind of.

John had been acting like this was a date, and maybe he'd just wanted to make Peters feel like she wasn't alone, let her know her commanding officer sometimes batted for the other team, too. Rodney would've been okay with that.

Except John had been acting like this was a date even before Peters had come over.

Maybe it was a date.

"Hey," Ronon said, dropping onto the couch next to him.

"Where's Jennifer?" Rodney asked, craning his neck to see around Ronon.

"Went to check on a patient. She'll be back."

Rodney nodded and took another drink of his beer.

"You and Sheppard having a good time?"

"The beer's good."

"So are the sandwiches," Ronon said, taking the second half of Rodney's from his plate.

"Hey!"

"Shouldn't eat so slow," Ronon said around a rather large bite of Rodney's sandwich.

"I can't believe Jennifer dates you. You have the manners of a barn animal."

"Sheppard dates you and yours aren't much better."

"I'll have you know my manners are--wait, dating?" Rodney asked. "Sheppard and I are not dating."

"That's not what I've heard." Ronon thumped Rodney's shoulder.

Rodney sat up straight. "What did you hear? Because it's possible I might have let someone think something that wasn't true because, well because I have my reasons. But still--"

"Are you sure it's not true?" Ronon asked, leaning back and grinning at Rodney like this was the most fun he's had in a while.

"What's not true?" Sheppard asked, suddenly looming over the two of them.

Before Ronon could open his big mouth again, Rodney blurted, "Nothing. Nothing's not true. And if it was, it still wouldn't be true."

John raised his eyebrows and exchanged a baffled look with Ronon.

Ronon shrugged. "Don't ask me."

"Rodney," John said with a grin. "Maybe you need another beer." He handed Rodney a can. "They're out of Guinness, but Lorne said this was pretty good stuff."

Rodney snatched the beer from John's hand, popped the tab and yes, it was pretty good. John perched on the arm of the couch beside Rodney, his hip pretty much at Rodney's chest level and Rodney stared at it, fascinated by the stretch of fabric over firm muscle.

"Rodney? I said, do you want another sandwich? I have a couple more here."

"What?" Rodney said, looking up.

"Sandwich?" John held out a plate with a couple of sandwiches on it.

His first half a sandwich hadn't actually been that good, but it wasn't like Rodney was a sandwich connoisseur or anything. Plus, it would give him something else to think about. "Thanks," he said, snagging a half.

"You're welcome." John smiled before taking a drink of his beer.

John didn't need to smile at him like that. All Rodney had done was accept a sandwich. It wasn't as if he'd discovered a new power source or a weapon, or a ship, or something else that would merit that kind of smile.

He didn't need to drink beer like that either, with his head tilted back and his lips circling the top of the bottle.

"Hey, over here with those, Sheppard." Ronon waved a hand at the plate of sandwiches.

John held the plate out to Ronon, leaning over Rodney, pressing his hip into Rodney's chest. One slip and he'd be in Rodney's lap, hell, he practically was already with his thigh sliding down to meet Rodney's.

"Excuse me," Rodney said as John slid further. He patted John's hip awkwardly.

"Sorry," John said, although he didn't look particularly apologetic. He shifted away a minuscule amount, but his leg still dangled over the side, touching Rodney's.

Ronon laughed, sandwich in hand. "Got a problem, McKay?"

"Hey guys." Jennifer slid onto the couch beside Ronon. Then her face lit up. "Oooh, sandwiches."

"Again, with the leaning," Rodney complained, but he couldn't put a lot of force behind it. Maybe the beer was going to his head but he sort of liked the warmth of John's body, the teasing grin as John leaned on purpose this time, crowding Rodney in his corner of the couch. Rodney gave him an indignant look and snatched the remaining half-sandwich, leaning back and enjoying it thoroughly. To his surprise, he soon found himself laughing at a story Jennifer told about mis-ordered supplies and before he knew it his beer was finished and someone found him another and it was a pretty good party, after all.

***

"Bye. G'night, Major, " Rodney called out, waving as Lorne left them, turning down the corridor that led to his quarters. "Good party."

Lorne waved back, grinning. "Goodnight, sir, Dr. McKay."

"Come on buddy. We're down this way," John said, steering Rodney down the hall.

"I know where I live." Rodney smiled happily. "I'm not drunk. Just relaxed. Okay, maybe a little tipsy."

"Just a little," John agreed conspiratorially. "So," John said, stopping in front of Rodney's door, "Glad I brought you?"

Rodney nodded and leaned back against the wall next to the door. "I am."

"Me, too."

There it was again, that smile. That smile Rodney had done absolutely nothing to earn. Rodney was considering saying something about that when John leaned close and pressed his lips to Rodney's cheek.

"G'night, Rodney," John said in a voice that was quiet and intimate, and Rodney hadn't known John had a voice like that. Then he pulled away and started down the hall toward the transporter.

He was almost there when Rodney called, "Good-night, John."

John turned, smiled at him again, and then stepped into the transporter.

Rodney stared at where John had just been, wishing he was a little less tipsy so he could figure out what the hell had just happened.

***

The following day, Rodney still couldn't figure it out. It didn't help that he didn't see Sheppard until after lunch, when Sheppard came bounding into the lab, with a big grin and wet hair along with a fresh bruise on his forearm, a sure sign that he had spent the morning whacking sticks with Teyla or Ronon.

"Hiya, Rodney. Dr. Z. Brad." Sheppard had smiles for them all.

Rodney scowled in return. It was all he could think of doing, since he couldn't very well ask out loud what was up with the kissing, not with everyone else around. A kiss. On the cheek. What kind of kiss was that anyway?

"Colonel," Radek said. "And how are you today?"

"I'm doing great, thank you. Had some free time, I thought maybe someone could take a look at Jumper 4 with me." He nudged Rodney with his elbow.

Davis leaped up from his chair. "I could--"

"No," Rodney said. "You can't."

"Jumper repairs are Rodney and Colonel Sheppard's special job," Radek said to Davis.

"Yes. Wait, what do you mean special? It's our job obviously, because Sheppard is our best pilot and I'm our best engineer, but that doesn't make it special. It's not like we're doing it by candlelight--" Seeing the expression on Radek's face, Rodney sputtered to a halt. Feeling his face heat, Rodney added, "Or something."

"Come on, Rodney," John said slipping a hand under Rodney's arm and curling it around his bicep. "Get your tools and lets go."

Rodney stepped away from the bench and John held onto him the entire way to the closet where Rodney kept his tools. It was only a dozen or so steps, but by the time they got there it felt like John's hand was imprinting itself on his skin.

"You sure you have time for this?" John asked, letting go.

"Yes, yes, of course. Why wouldn't I have time?"

"You looked a little busy when I came in. You didn't even say hi."

Rodney figured his imagination was really running wild because he was pretty sure John's expression had turned sulky. "Hi," Rodney said pointedly. Then he kissed John. On the cheek.

He refrained from saying "so there." But it was tempting.

To his astonishment, John ducked his head and grinned, the tips of his ears turning pink. It was alarmingly...cute.

Flustered, Rodney turned and grabbed a case of tools, snatched up a tablet and slammed the closet shut. "Come on, come on," he said, snapping his fingers. "Jumper 4 awaits us." He turned and hurried out the door into the busy corridor, aware of two sets of eyes on them, Davis and Radek both.

It was all Davis' fault, of course. No, not Davis. Sheppard. Or rather, John. John's fault for being flirty and slinky and attracting the attention of people like Davis, who totally did not deserve John's attention and time, because John had other things to do, important things.

"Rodney, slow down," John said, hurrying his long, loping strides to keep up.

"Sorry." Rodney stopped in front of the transporter and wave a hand over the control to open it. "So, this jumper, you said it's a little slinky--" Rodney caught himself, mortified. "I mean, hinky, you said it's hinky."

The transport doors opened and Rodney stepped inside, followed closely by John. "Yes, Rodney, hinky," John said. With a low chuckle he added, "Although it could be slinky, too."

He selected the shuttle bay on the schematic and Rodney was spared a response for all of a tenth of a second, and then the doors were opening and they were in the shuttle bay. Alone.

"Explain this...hinkiness." Rodney busied himself with his tablet as he strode over to the jumper in question, not looking up at John and he wasn't thinking of how good John smelled when his lips brushed John's cheek, fresh and clean and like soap and shampoo. No, not at all.

"Rodney," John said as he opened the jumper door.

"You know, Lorne flew this last week, and there's no report of hinkiness here." Rodney examined the data log as he followed John into the jumper.

"Rodney?"

Rodney dropped the tablet onto the bench and glared at John. "You kissed me last night. Why did you kiss me?"

John folded his arms over his chest. "You kissed me just now."

"Because you started it," Rodney insisted.

"We were on a date. Dates generally end with a kiss, unlike lab visits."

"We're dating?" Rodney asked. "I didn't know we were dating. Sure, I told Davis we were dating, but I didn't think it was true. Not that I didn't wonder last night.... with the leaning and everything..." He locked his gaze on John's. "We're dating?"

John nodded once. "Unless you don't want to."

"I want to. I think."

"You think?" John asked, stepping into Rodney's space in a way that was slinky. Very slinky.

"Previously straight man here."

"Who kissed me, and got jealous of Brad, so jealous you told him we were dating just to keep him away from me."

"I didn't really tell him. He assumed and I didn't-- Wait, a minute, did you tell Davis we were dating?"

John shrugged. "I might have implied something."

"Implied." Rodney pointed at him. "You did. You told Davis we were dating. Who else did you tell? Ronon? Because he thinks we're dating. Does the whole base think we're dating?"

"I don't know about the whole base."

"Lorne does. That's why he suggested you ask me to the party."

"Probably," John admitted. "It's not the kind of thing you discuss with your second in command, but..."

"But the evidence suggests he thinks we're dating."

John nodded.

Rodney had no doubts all of Atlantis thought he and John were dating, which apparently they were, except no one had bothered to tell Rodney. "You tricked me into dating you."

"I asked you to a party, McKay. That's hardly trickery."

"Yes, well." Rodney raised his chin. He was sure there was some trickery in there somewhere, because if John had told him it was a date, Rodney would have... He would have... said yes. If John had asked Rodney on a date, Rodney would have said yes. That thought should've been weirder than it was, but if there was one thing Rodney had learned in Pegasus it was when to just go with it. "If you ask again, I might, in fact will probably, say yes."

"Cool," John said, smiling the really intimate smile again, and Rodney was going to have to do something about that smile. There was no way he could let John just go around smiling like that. Someone might see. And get the wrong idea. Which would be totally the right idea.

"So," Rodney started. "Dating, huh?"

"You're good with that," John said, suddenly earnest. "Right?"

Rodney nodded, struck by the hopeful look in John's eyes. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am."

John brightened, placed a hand on Rodney's shoulder, then after a moment's hesitation, leaned in and brushed his lips against Rodney's.

It was entirely different than the teasing peck on the cheek, especially when John didn't draw back immediately, but stayed there instead, lips barely touching Rodney's, his breath tickling Rodney's cheek. It only took the barest movement for Rodney to press his lips to John's for another kiss. Soft lips, just a hint of stubble, and Rodney was pretty sure he had never kissed anyone who was taller than him. That was kind of weird, but somehow good, too, and it got even better when John's breath hitched and he slid his hand up to cup Rodney's neck and draw him in closer.

Rodney parted his lips and John sneaked his tongue past them for a moment before drawing back.

"Okay?" John asked, resting his forehead on Rodney's, his hand still cupping Rodney's neck. It made Rodney feel cared for, which was scary, but good.

"Yes, of course, why wouldn't I be?"

"Right," John said and smiled.

Rodney wanted to kiss him again. Right away, but they should probably fix the jumper hinkiness problem, and if they kissed any more Rodney suspected his brain might desert him. "So when is our next date?"

"Tonight," John said, lifting his head. "Movie night."

Not bothering to ask what was playing, Rodney said, "Okay." It wasn't as if there were all that many dating options in Atlantis.

"So, uh, we should," John said, rubbing his thumb along the side of Rodney's neck as he stared at Rodney's lips. "The jumper."

"Right. Hinky." Rodney realized his hand was resting on John's waist. He had no idea how it got there.

"We'll have to take it up."

"What?" Rodney asked. He was standing close enough that he could see all the shades of brown and gold in John's eyes.

"The jumper."

"What jumper?" Rodney could also see that John's nose was just a touch crooked, with a bump on one side.

With a huff of pleased laughter, John pulled Rodney into a brief hug and kissed to the side of his neck. Warm, hard body, and then it was gone as John slipped away. It felt good. It felt really, truly good to have John's body touching his.

"How could I have not known?" Rodney asked.

John shrugged. "I guess some of us are better at figuring these things out," he said airily, slipping into the pilot's chair.

Rodney followed him, taking his place in the seat next to John's. Knowing that some comments were best ignored, he said, "So, show me the hinkiness."

***

Date. With John. In public. Rodney's first official gay date. He and John had gone to the movies together at least a dozen times since they'd made contact with Earth and turned an amphitheater they'd found in the west tower into an improvised movie theater.

It was the social event on Atlantis, after all, and everyone who wasn't on duty generally made the once-a-month showing, even if it was a movie they had no interest in, just because it was something different to do.

So there was no reason to be nervous. This wasn't any different from all of those other times they'd gone to the movies together. Right. Rodney nodded to himself in the mirror. Okay, maybe he hadn't showered or shaved or brushed his teeth before any of those other nights at the movies. Or worn his best jeans.

He was going on a date with John. A gay date. A gay date that might lead to gay sex, and Rodney hadn't thought much beyond the kissing, which had been good. Great really. With the way John kissed he probably gave fantastic blowjobs.

Rodney was going to have to learn how to give blowjobs.

Turning around, Rodney leaned against the sink, spreading his legs because his jeans were starting to get a little tight. He was going to have to kiss John's cock. Stroke it. Take it into his mouth and suck it. He wondered what it would feel like. What it would taste like. Would John groan or gasp or just stay quiet when Rodney sucked him? Rodney hoped he didn't stay quiet because John making sex noises would be hot.

The door chimed.

Tugging his shirt down in front of his erection, Rodney left the bathroom.

John was on the other side of the door, wearing that white button-up shirt he favored. The sleeves were rolled up, exposing John's forearms. How had Rodney never noticed before how it made John's skin look even warmer, and the way John's chest hair was visible at the top. The shirt wasn't sheer, but it was close, showing just enough to hint at what was hidden beneath it.

Rodney stared.

"You ready?" John asked, and Rodney forced himself to lift his eyes from John's chest to his face.

Part of him wanted to pull John inside and tell him to forget the movie, but Rodney still wasn't sure what he'd do with John once he got him inside. "Sure," Rodney said, stepping into the hall.

"Wait," John said. He put a hand on Rodney's chest, pushing him back into his room, until they were both standing in the doorway and then John kissed him, hand sliding up to rest on Rodney's shoulder.

It was a brief kiss and John drew back all too soon.

"Oh," Rodney said, his heart beating faster and his brain once again crashing to a halt.

John looked proud. He gave Rodney's shoulder a squeeze before letting go. "Just 'til later. Come on, we want to get good seats."

"Later?" Rodney asked, followed John down the hall. "So, uh, what will we be doing later?"

John stopped in front of the transporter. "Anything you like, Rodney." His grin was sly and just this side of dirty.

Rodney frowned, worried. "What if I'm not sure what I like?" he asked, stepping in beside John.

"We keep trying stuff until we figure it out." John reached for the controls, leaning against Rodney as he selected their destination. "We can try all kinds of things," he whispered in Rodney's ear.

When Rodney stepped out of the transporter he had to stop and take a breath. He hoped it was a good movie, because his brain was busy giving him full color images of the things they could try, him and John, naked together and yes, okay, so maybe he had looked at more than just leatherdaddy pictures that time on-line.

People were already making their way into the theater in a slow moving mass. Davis caught sight of them and waved. John waved back and Rodney wondered if he could grab onto John's hand, not that he had anything to prove to Davis. It wasn't Davis John wanted to try all kinds of things with.

Rodney kept his hand to himself, but his fingers still twitched.

"How was jumper four?" Radek asked from behind him and Rodney spun, startled.

"Fine," he said, glaring at Radek for having startled him.

"No longer hinky?" Radek asked.

"There was a hitch in one of the engines," John said, turning as well. "Rodney found it. We fixed it."

"We?" Rodney asked.

"I handed you stuff. And besides, I was the one who noticed it was hinky," John said, shifting his shoulders back a little.

"Yes, yes," Rodney said, waving a hand, "All credit for hinkiness observing goes to you."

"Thank you." John smiled, lips together, tilting his head a bit from side to side. It was cute.

Rodney closed his eyes for a moment, because, cute. "We should get inside if we want to get good seats."

"And popcorn," John said.

The amphitheater didn't have seats. Or benches, really. It was row after row of platforms big enough for people to sprawl out on. Over the last couple of years they'd stocked it with pillows in all shapes and sizes. Everyone just sort of sat however was comfortable. John and Rodney usually leaned their backs against the platform behind them and stretched their legs out in front of them. Rodney wondered if that's how they'd sit tonight. It's not like they could sit any other way in public. At least Rodney didn't think they could. The regs might be gone, but these people all still worked for them. Rodney was pretty sure cuddling in front of people you supervised was a bad idea.

Did gay men cuddle?

Of course, the lights would be out, so if they did do something that might be considered in the family of cuddling, no one would see. Maybe--

"Rodney, you with me here?" John said, poking Rodney's arm with a finger.

"Yes." Rodney nodded, realizing he hadn't heard a word John had said. "Totally."

John frowned. "Anyway, I heard it was a good movie. But kind of funny, considering--"

And then the line moved and John was handed a carton full of popcorn. "Thanks," John said with a grin, the kind of grin that would have made Rodney give him two cartons and extra butter, if he had been in charge.

"Oooh, there's a spot," John said, hurrying to an empty space between Lorne and a couple of military folk Rodney didn't recognize, and, and--

"Hello, Samantha," Rodney said as he settled in beside Carter.

"Hiya, Rodney, Colonel Sheppard," Carter said, smiling cheerily.

"Colonel," John said, leaning around Rodney to smile at her.

"I hope they sent something funny this time," Carter said.

"It's not like we don't get enough drama," Rodney said, wishing he had been listening to John because he had no idea what was playing.

"True," John said, pointing at him.

The lights dimmed, and conversation tapered off.

"The Mummy?" Rodney squawked as the movie opened.

"Shhhhh," Carter said.

John snorted. "You totally weren't listening to me, were you?"

"Of course I was. But come on, this movie is totally ridiculous," Rodney insisted in a loud whisper. "There aren't even any goa'uld in it. Or spaceships."

"But there's Oded Fehr," Carter said.

"Yes," John agreed.

"Totally hot," she added, leaning back with a bucket of popcorn on her lap.

John nodded as Rodney stared at him. His life was getting rather surreal now.

"The Medjai guy. Riding around on the horse," John explained. "You'll see. Popcorn?" He held out the carton to Rodney.

Rodney grabbed a greasy handful and turned his attention back to the screen.

It was a fairly entertaining movie, even if it got everything wrong. The plot was basic, just a dressed-up version of the original which Rodney decided was much better and he had a hard time paying attention because it seemed that John was moving closer and closer, until he was leaning against the same pillow as Rodney, his long, outstretched legs resting lazily against Rodney's, his elbow poking into Rodney's side.

"I hate those things," John whispered as the flesh-eating scarabs attacked.

Rodney patted John's arm. "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if they were replicators?"

John gave a mock shudder. At least Rodney thought he was mocking. He gave John's arm a squeeze, then wondered if he should leave his hand there. John's hairy, bony forearm--it was kind of hot. Very much a guy's arm. And Rodney was touching it. He stole a glance at Carter, whose eyes were fixed on the screen. He was pretty sure she was the kind of person who wouldn't care what a person's sexual orientation was.

Still, he wasn't going to fondle John's arm in front of his commanding officer. That wouldn't be right.

But instead of letting go, he moved his thumb, just a little.

John didn't give any sign that he was bothered so Rodney did it again. John's skin was really smooth under the hair, and Rodney wondered what the inside of his arm might feel like. He was so busy moving his thumb back and forth and then around in a slow circle that he lost track of the movie.

"Popcorn," Carter whispered, holding her back out to him.

Startled, Rodney let go of John's arm, and stuck his hand into the bag. Hand full, he held it against his chest and ate with the other hand.

John lowered his arm, so it was resting in the non-existent space between their legs, half on Rodney's thigh and half on his own. A moment later he moved it so it was resting entirely on Rodney's thigh.

Rodney nearly dropped his popcorn.

A burst of action on screen and John tightened his grip, squeezing. Then his grip eased.

Rodney pressed his thigh to John's in silent acknowledgment--yeah, those scarabs were pretty gross.

John took it as an invitation to slide his hand down over it, fingertips gliding over Rodney's inner thigh, and that wasn't what Rodney meant at all, but he found himself slinking down against his pillow, spreading his legs further apart as John fondled him, because that was exactly what John was doing--fondling, right there in the theater, right where Carter could see them and it was ridiculously, completely, irresistibly hot.

Rodney stole a glance to find Carter's attention focused entirely on the screen. He then surreptitiously pulled his other leg up, clasping his knee in one hand, blocking her view of John's wandering hand. Which had wandered north at this point, the side of his hand brushing against Rodney's balls and Rodney had to bite back a sound from low in his throat.

Reaching down, he grabbed John's hand and entwined John's fingers with his. He could handle public fondling, but not there. Public fondling there was going to lead public moaning. And public moaning was just not something Rodney was willing to do, even with John. Rodney's balls were firmly off-limits in public places and while sitting next to Carter of all people.

John shot him a hurt look, and Rodney squeezed John's fingers while shaking his head, trying to say that John could grope him later, once they were alone. John didn't look reassured. In fact, his lower lip was protruding dangerously.

Which was ridiculous. Forty-year-old men should not pout. Rodney leaned close, intending to whisper that very thing, but instead he found himself pressing a small, quick kiss to John's pouting lip. "Later," he whispered directly into John's ear, hoping he'd been quiet enough to avoid being overheard.

When he drew back, John smiled at him. The kind of smile that made alien governors hand over the keys to the kingdom, or would have if John had ever smiled that smile at an alien governor, which he hadn't, because Rodney had never seen that smile before.

Seeing it now, Rodney felt himself starting to flush.

John looked back at the movie and Rodney loosened his grip on the hand in his, but he didn't let go.

The movie dashed along to it's grand finale, with plenty of whooping and yelling from the audience. Once both Carter and John started in, Rodney couldn't resist and shouted along with the rest of them. The special effects were pretty cool, after all. Even if the fight scenes were a bit ridiculous.

And then the lights came up. John blinked and grinned at Rodney as everyone around them got to their feet and straggled out the door. "Pretty good, huh?"

Rodney sniffed. "If you like that sort of thing." He glanced down at their clasped hands, John's long fingers and hairy knuckles entwined with his own thick, pale fingers.

He was holding hands.

With John. Who had fondled him. Right there, in the theater. "Huh," Rodney said, unable to resist grinning. "Yeah, I guess it was a good movie."

John gave Rodney's hand a squeeze, then released it. "Come on."

He rose up to his feet with his typical grace, while Rodney grunted and pushed himself up with the edge of the platform. Only to nearly fall down once again when Ronon clapped him on the back. "You were right, Sheppard. Cool movie."

Grabbing onto John's arm for balance, Rodney said, "You do know Earth is not really like that, right?"

"Shhh, don't tell him that," Jennifer said, and John laughed his big loud laugh and slowly they made their way out of the theater, John resting a hand on Rodney's shoulder when the crowd pushed against them.

***

"So," Rodney said as they stood in front of his door. They had argued over the movie all the way back, and it was enough of a distraction that Rodney didn't realize they had reached his room. He had no idea what was supposed to come next, but he was pretty sure it should involve kissing. And not out in the hallway, either. He pointed a thumb at his door. "Uh, come in?"

"Sure," John said.

Rodney swiped a hand over the control and then they were in his room, door sliding shut behind them. "Because I'm not exactly sure how this--with guys, the dating." Rodney turned to face John. "I mean, is this what guys do? Go to movies together?"

John shrugged. "I guess so. I never really got the opportunity to date much. It was always more...well, directly to the point." His voice had gone almost wistful.

"Oh," Rodney said, turning away slightly. If John wanted to get to the point he could do that. It wasn't as if getting to the point was unappealing. He reached for the button on his pants, only to have John's hand curl around his wrist.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting to the point, what do you think I'm doing?"

"What? Why?" John asked, stepping closer and easing Rodney's hand away from his pants.

"You said you wanted to get directly to the point," Rodney said, pulling his arm away just hard enough to get John to let go. "I was doing that."

"That's not what I said. I said I'd always had to get directly to the point in the past, Rodney. That doesn't mean I want to now."

Maybe Rodney had leapt to conclusions – one conclusion, but still. "So you don't want to get to the point?"

"Sure I do, but I kind of want to, you know..."

"I know what?"

"Getting from here to there, we could enjoy it." John sounded, and looked, uncertain and a little bashful, and utterly charming.

"Oh," Rodney said, even though having John in his space looking like that was enough to create a spark of desire low in his belly. "We could do that. I'd like that, actually."

"Cool," John said and kissed him slow and lush. John's kisses were as sensual as the curve of his lips, and Rodney slid an arm around John's shoulders, the second going around his waist, as Rodney tilted his head for a better angle.

John was holding him tightly, and the strength in those arms was kind of a turn-on.

Rodney was holding on pretty tightly himself. The first time they'd done this, Rodney had been too caught up in the kissing to notice anything else. This time he was noticing. Oh god, was he noticing. John's smell and John's taste, and the lean, hard body pressed against his. By the time John's mouth left Rodney's to kiss the line of his jaw, Rodney had to gasp for breath. It was entirely possible that he had forgotten to breathe during all the kissing.

"This is good." Rodney slid a hand down John's back. "Really good. Especially that. That's good, too," he added, shuddering a little as John mouthed his neck.

"Yeah?" John bumped his nose against Rodney's skin.

"Uh huh. Everything's good." Rodney rested a hand directly on John's ass, and then moved the other up onto John's head and into his thick, crazy hair. He wasn't sure which was more fascinating.

"Good. It's good to be able to do this," John said, kissing Rodney again, "and not worry about getting caught." He rubbed his cheek against Rodney's.

Rodney drew back, curious. "Is that why you were fondling me in the movie theater?"

John's raised his eyebrows. "I wasn't fondling you, Rodney."

"Oh no? What was it then?"

"Just..." John looked thoughtful. "Resting my hand."

"On my thigh?" Rodney would have folded his arms across his chest in indignation but he really liked having them wrapped around John.

John nodded solemnly.

"While touching other, very personal, non-thigh parts of my body?"

"Completely accidental," John insisted, all innocence.

"Right."

"All right, you want to see fondling? I'll show you fondling," John said, grinning as he slid one hand down and cupped Rodney's ass, the other sliding up under Rodney's shirt.

"As a matter of fact, yes, I would like--oh," Rodney sighed as John pulled him close, pressing their hips together and there was no mistaking the hardness of John's cock, pushing against his thigh. "Although technically I think that’s rubbing."

"True, but this is fondling," John said as he squeezed Rodney's ass lightly.

"Okay, yes, that's definitely fondling," Rodney agreed, leaning in to kiss the side of John's neck. John's skin felt good against his lips, so Rodney kissed his neck again, slightly higher up. Lingering, he drew a small bit of skin between his lips and sucked softly.

John made a pleased sound, which was hot and exciting and made Rodney think of all the other ways he could get John to make sounds, hot, happy, exciting sounds. "I am going to be so good at this gay sex thing," Rodney said, before kissing another spot on John's neck.

"Yes, yes you are," John agreed, holding tight to Rodney's shoulders and pressing his cock against Rodney's thigh.

Wondering if there was a particularly sensitive spot, Rodney pressed another kiss to John's neck, then another.

John moved his hand up Rodney's back, stroking in a way that was surprisingly erotic. Rodney thought maybe it had something to do with the strength in John's hand. Strength Rodney could feel. John kissed Rodney's cheek, and Rodney shifted to meet him. There should be some sort of warning label on John's lips, because Rodney was pretty sure they could be heart attack inducing in the right circumstances.

As it was, Rodney couldn't get enough of them, of the crazy mix of softness and assertion that was John's kisses. Or the way the John's hands went still as he leaned into the kiss, fingers pressing in as if Rodney might slip away if he wasn't careful, the way one kiss flowed effortlessly into the next.

"Can I?" John murmured, his hands fisted in Rodney's shirt, tugging lightly.

"Huh? Oh, you want to--oh, my shirt. Yes." Rodney pressed his lips to John's again. "You have to, too."

Rodney grabbed the collar of his shirt and begin pulling it off over his head and John helped, arms tangling briefly with his and then Rodney's shirt was gone. John stared at Rodney's chest with a bright, happy grin. "You too," Rodney pointed out, although the look on John's face made him shivery with anticipation.

"Not yet. Have to fondle." John ran his hands over Rodney's chest, gliding over the curve of muscle, touching his fingertips to a nipple.

Rodney bit back a gasp. "Don't I get to fondle, too?"

"Do you like that?" John asked, rubbing his thumb over a nipple.

Placing his hand over John's, Rodney said, "A lot." His voice sounded weak to his ears, probably because all his blood was down in his cock and he was getting a little dizzy so it was probably a good thing that John was now guiding him over to the bed and settling him down on it.

"Your shirt," he said petulantly.

"Right." John slipped his shirt off over his head, not bothering with the buttons. Rodney immediately lifted a hand and slid it up the center of John's chest, watching dark hair curl around his fingers. John had muscles, lean, solid muscles and tempting brown nipples.

Rodney brushed a nipple with his fingertips, felt it harden. "Looks like I'm not the only one who likes that."

"Nope," John said, and leaned down for another kiss.

As long as John kept kissing him like that, Rodney was willing to take however long John wanted to get there. Obviously, getting there was half the fun.

Rodney leaned back onto the bed, and John followed him down, still kissing. Only now they were kissing with their chests touching, and Rodney moved his hand to John's back, slid it over soft, smooth skin.

John made a pleased sound in the back of his throat and deepened the kiss.

Rodney repeated the touch, because he wanted to make John moan and shake and feel really, really good, all over Rodney. He wanted to make John feel so good he couldn't think about anything else, couldn't feel anything else. He wasn't exactly sure how he was going to go about it, but he was pretty sure he could figure it out. Because this was John. Who had wanted him for--for--

"How long?" Rodney asked, whispering the words into John's ear.

"What?" John blinked at him, looking more than a little dazed.

"Me. How long have you," Rodney searched for the right word. Pining? That sounded too romance novel-ish. "Wanted to. Be. With me."

John took a breath, and Rodney could feel it against his chest. "Too long." His face went dark and that was not what Rodney wanted, he wanted that dazed, lusty look back. It was a look that really worked for him.

"I didn't know," Rodney said, wondering how he could have missed it. He then changed the subject by rolling over and pushing John down onto his back and John went willingly, pulling Rodney into another kiss. when Rodney slid a hand down John's chest, John arched into his touch. A little further down, past John's belly and Rodney reached John's jeans, soft, worn denim and then the hardness of John's cock.

He covered it with his palm, just feeling it. That was John's cock. John was hard for him. John had wanted him for a long time. It was enough to make Rodney light-headed all over again, except he couldn't afford to be dizzy. He was a man with a mission. He pressed slightly with his hand and then slid it back and forth over John's cock.

John lifted his hips pushing into the touch.

Emboldened, Rodney undid the button at the top of John's jeans, then slid the zipper downward. John's cock pushed forward, almost like it was reaching for Rodney's touch. Rodney liked that idea and he slipped his hand under the waistband of John's soft yellow boxers. His fingers bumped John's cock but then he managed to get his fingers around it.

The angle was kind of awkward and John's boxers were in the way, but he managed to stroke anyway. John's cock felt good in his hand, smooth and firm, but best of all was the way John gasped his name and curled a hand around his neck, dragging him into a hot, needy kiss.

"Pants," John said.

Rodney nodded because pants were good, without pants they'd be naked, and kissed him again.

"Off."

"What?" Rodney tightened his grip on John's cock, and John wriggled in a way that was truly fascinating, Rodney's name on his lips as his fingers dug into Rodney's shoulder. Rodney kissed John's neck, his shoulder, his chest. John pushed up into his hand, and when Rodney pressed his lips to a nipple he moaned, cock stiffening even further against Rodney's palm.

He really was going to be good at this gay sex thing. Except things would go much more smoothly if John wasn't still wearing his pants. "Why don't you get these things off," Rodney said, slipping his hand free so he could to tug them down past John's narrow hips.

"Why don't I?" John pushed and kicked, trying to free his legs of his pants and shoes and socks all at the same time. It was a little dangerous, especially when his boxers got hung up on one ankle but Rodney persevered and finally, John was naked on the bed. "Knees," Rodney said, surprised.

John looked at him dumbly.

"I like them." Rodney kissed one, and then the other.

John nodded, then took Rodney's hand from his thigh and put in directly on his cock. "I liked this part," he said.

Curling his hand around it, Rodney stroked the full length, and then back down again. John's cock felt good against his palm, solid and warm and smooth. "That looks so hot," he said, mesmerized by the sight of John's cock and his hand.

"Yeah," John said. He lifted his gaze from his cock to Rodney's face. He looked so damn pleased and still a little bit stunned, and Rodney had to kiss him. But after just a short kiss, John pulled away. "Come on, Rodney. Time to get naked," John said, pressing a hand to Rodney's cock.

Naked. Right. If he was naked, John could touch him. Letting go of John's cock a little reluctantly, Rodney backed from the bed and stood.

John sat up, his eyes on Rodney, and Rodney couldn't stop looking at him. John was completely naked, one bony but still oddly attractive knee bent, the other leg straight out in front of him, his cock jutting up eagerly. Rodney wanted to push him back on the bed and climb on top of him. He wanted to touch every bit of John's bare skin with his hands and his lips. He wanted to find out all the things John liked and do them over and over again.

"Rodney," John said, a hint of a whine in his voice.

"I want you," Rodney said.

John smiled at him, one of those slowly spreading smiles that had always made heat pool in Rodney's belly, and for a genius Rodney really could be slow sometimes. "Me, too, but you have to lose the pants."

"Right. Pants." Rodney unfastened his pants and pushed them down past his hips, one hand on the bedside table for balance. Socks, underwear, everything had to go so he could be naked with John, both of them naked together because there was going to be sex, sex with John and all his naked John skin. "Sex," Rodney said.

John watched with a rapt expression as Rodney undressed. "No kidding."

"Naked sex. You and me." Rodney rubbed his hands together. "Wow."

"Rodney." John's eyes narrowed. "You're not freaking out on me, are you?"

"Surprisingly, no." Rodney climbed back onto the bed and slid into John's embrace. "I just want it to be good. Really good. Because you--you waited. For me." He kissed John's shoulder.

"Of course it will be good," John quietly assured him, as if there had never been a doubt in his mind. "Been pretty damn good so far." He stroked Rodney's thigh. "Hey, look at that." John cupped Rodney's hard cock, then stroked it with a feather light touch and just that was enough to make Rodney shudder.

"That's good." Rodney said as John stroked him again. "That's very good,"

"Yeah," John said, his voice gone low and full of heat, and pressed his lips to the place just below Rodney's ear. That was good, too.

Shifting Rodney onto his back, John stretched out next to him, his hand still lightly stroking Rodney's cock. Rodney wanted to touch, too. He just needed to remember how to make his hands work, which was harder than it should have been.

Getting a hand around John's cock, Rodney stroked it as lightly as John was touching him.

"That's it," John whispered. "Just like that. Make it last."

Rodney wanted to make it last. He did, but he also wanted to feel John's lips on his again. Sliding his free hand into John's hair, he tugged John's mouth to his.

Then he kissed John with everything he had, because maybe Rodney hadn't wanted this before, but he wanted it now. Because John was extraordinary, and Rodney was going to show him just how extraordinary, using his lips and his hands and whatever else John wanted him to use.

John made another one of those small, delicious sounds and pushed himself up on an elbow, leaning into the kiss, leaning into Rodney. His hand slid down to cup Rodney's balls, rolling them on his fingers, then tugging ever so gently. Rodney squirmed and John grinned against his mouth.

"Do you like that?" John asked.

Rodney nodded. "I like everything you do."

Sliding his hand back up, John squeezed Rodney's cock and Rodney shuddered, his own hand gripping John's cock more firmly. He rolled toward John, pushing his cock into John's hand, his mouth moving to John's neck, sucking on John's wonderful skin.

"Here, like this," John said, edging closer and draping a leg over Rodney's hip.

Rodney's knuckles brushed John's, and he glanced down to see how close together they were, John's narrow hips moving with short little jerks, pushing his cock through Rodney's fist and when Rodney slid his thigh between John's everything fit together perfectly, in a way he couldn't have ever imagined. It was strange seeing another man's hand on his cock, but it looked good, too, because it was John's long fingers and hairy knuckles and tanned skin.

John gasped, his movements growing jerky and uncoordinated.

John was going to come. Rodney was going to make John come. He stroked a little faster, moving his hand up to focus on the head, the way he liked it. John must've liked it to, because he made a small whimpering sound and tightened his grip on Rodney's cock.

"I want you to come," Rodney said, his voice low and urgent.

"Not—oh-- not gonna be a problem," John said, panting a little and shifting his hips.

Cupping John's shoulder with his free hand, Rodney nudged him down into a kiss. It was heated, and kind of sloppy, and it made Rodney groan. It felt so good, the kiss, John's cock in his hand, John's hairy body pressing into his, John's hand on him, stroking right where Rodney needed it.

John pulled away and pressed his face into Rodney's shoulder, his hand stilling on Rodney's cock. John's cock pulsed in his hand, his fluid landing on Rodney's stomach in warm stripes. "Oh, oh wow," Rodney said, slowing his strokes as John shuddered against him.

With John still panting against his shoulder, Rodney stopped moving his hand altogether, simply cupping John's cock, feeling it twitch. There was come dripping down his stomach--John's come--and his hand was wet and it was totally hot and kind of messy and he had no idea that making John come would make him feel so good, like he had figured out some huge mystery of the universe.

It got even better when John pulled back and blinked up at him, bemused and bleary-eyed. "Oh," he said.

"Exactly," Rodney agreed, then kissed John, because dazed was such a good look on him. Rodney planned to put it there every chance he got.

John ran his hand over Rodney's stomach, then wrapped it around Rodney's cock again, slick and wet now, moving with firm, steady strokes. A little shove and Rodney rolled willingly onto his back, hands on John's shoulders.

"That's it," John whispered as Rodney moaned. He straddled Rodney's hips, gazing down at Rodney as he stroked Rodney's cock. Rodney pulled him down, wanting to kiss him, but John resisted. "Let me see," he said.

Rodney thrust up into John's fist and came. John kept stroking him, and it felt like Rodney's entire body was pulsing, not just his cock. John's gaze was focused on him, watching him come.,that was enough to make Rodney's body pulse again, because he was giving it up for John.

John slid his free hand through the liquid pooling on Rodney's stomach and raised his hand to his lips, tasting.

That was too much for Rodney. He had to sit up, put his hand on the back of John's neck and pull him into another kiss. Rodney could taste come in John's mouth, and it was probably both of them together. The thought alone was so hot Rodney was surprised his cock didn't start hardening again.

He lay back on the bed and John followed him down, smearing their fluids between them, and that was hot, too.

"We're going to do this a lot," Rodney said. "All the time." Given how hot this whole gay sex thing was, they were going to have to.

"Every chance we get," John said.

"Do you like morning sex?" Rodney's mind was already supplying images of shared morning showers.

"Yup."

"What about blowjobs?"

"Love 'em," John said, shifting closer and kissing the side of Rodney's neck.

"I'm going to suck your cock."

"Okay," John said, unusually agreeable.

"No, no, in the mornings. Maybe I'll even wake you up like that."

John nuzzled Rodney's neck, rubbing it with a cheek that was starting to stubble, even though John had shown up for their date freshly shaven. "That's okay, too."

"I bet I'll be good at it."

"I'm sure you will."

"I'm serious. I like putting things in my mouth."

John chuckled against his shoulder, low and sexy. "Oddly enough, I've noticed that."

"Really? What else have you noticed?" Rodney shifted, turning partially onto his side and forcing John to look at him.

"That you have skilled hands. Very skilled hands."

"I do, don't I?"

"Yup."

"I'm going to use them on you a lot, you know."

"I'm counting on it," John said, and he was smiling that smile again, the one that did crazy things to Rodney's insides.

Reaching up, Rodney brushed John's cheek with his fingers.

John's smile faded, replaced with a look that was heat and tenderness and did even crazier things to Rodney's insides. Then John leaned in and kissed him. Easing Rodney on to his back, John snuggled up against him, his head on Rodney's shoulder and an arm and a leg stretched across Rodney.

Sliding his own arms around John, Rodney said, "I'm good at this whole gay cuddling thing, too."

John laughed.

Just like Rodney had known he would.

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