To be honest, John wasn’t exactly sure what had just happened. One minute he had been admiring the new driver someone had left leaning against his door with a bow on it, the next McKay had been babbling about how long they had been friends, John’s past dating experience, and mutual gratification, and the next after that Rodney had stormed from his room even more flustered than when he had first arrived.
The conversation had gone something along the lines of Rodney saying, “We’ve known each other for quite a while now, haven’t we, Colonel?”
“Long enough, I suppose,” John had answered absently as he looked down the length of the club. It was a Ping; an expensive club for the less than glamorous act of whacking practice balls into the ocean. Who the hell would spend that kind of money on a gift for him?
“Long enough that you might be interested in maybe helping me with a… situation I have? Right?” As if noticing the golf club for the first time, Rodney brightened. “That’s a nice golf… stick isn’t it?”
“Club, McKay,” Sheppard corrected. “A driver to be more accurate, and, yes, it is a nice one. A very nice one.” It wasn’t even anywhere near his birthday, or the anniversary of his promotion, or any other significant date he could think of. Oh well, he shrugged internally, best not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
“So you like it?”
“Yeah, I like it.” John’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why? You know something about where it came from?”
“Good, good,” the scientist beamed without answering the question and John thought he might have found his secret benefactor. “It just means I wouldn’t be the only one benefiting from this arrangement.” The hands that never stopped moving kept rolling in an attempt to keep Rodney’s flow of ideas moving over his tongue. “Plus, of course, I’d be willing to return the favor…. That is if it’s something you’d be interested in. And it’s not like you haven’t been with a lot of women… I mean a lot of women.” He snorted knowingly and nodded his head in earnest agreement with his own last statement.
John’s decided his gift horse was more of a horse’s ass and frowned. “If you have a point, Rodney, now would be the time to get to it.”
“I guess what I’m saying is… sex. You like sex, right? I mean, I’m assuming you must, else why sleep with all the women. Right? And if sex ends up being mutually gratifying, then all the better. Right? After all, I’m sure you’ve propositioned many women over the years so it should be second nature to you, unlike someone like me who isn’t that comfortable with the idea… Although I’m talking about more than just meaningless sex so you would think this would be easier…”
With an irritated sigh, John cut off the babbling man. “Look, McKay, are you asking for a blow job or help getting a blow job? Because you aren’t making a hell of a lot of sense here.”
Rodney had flushed red, somewhere between embarrassment and anger, and snapped, “Neither, actually. It’s a little more complex than that.”
“Then what is it?”
“Forget it. Just… forget I ever stopped by.”
He had then turned on his heels are stalked from the room.
Sheppard decided that whatever it was, McKay would eventually work it out on his own, ask someone else, or figure out what he wanted to say and ask him again. Until then, John planned to take his new toy out and put it to the test.
It performed like a champ. And the warm sun, cool breeze, blue sky, and straight flight of the balls into the Atlantean ocean had the odd effect of making him exceptionally happy with the day and rather guilty about the way he had treated McKay, especially considering that Rodney was his best guess as to who had given him the club in the first place. And that had him thinking more closely about what Rodney had said, and that had him coming to a conclusion that made him feel even worse about the way McKay had left.
Rodney wasn’t asking for sex, he was asking for more. He was asking for… a relationship? Surely not. McKay in a committed relationship? He couldn’t commit to a uniform color… blue, black, a little of both. And he had the nerve to accuse John of sleeping with lots of women when Sheppard was the one that had been wearing black since day one… just like Rodney was now.
Holy crap! Rodney was dressing like him. Rodney wanted to be like him. Rodney wanted to be with him. And that was… well, that was screwed up was what that was. Because Rodney was his teammate, his friend. His best friend. Probably the best friend he had ever had in his life. Hell, McKay had risked his life to save Sheppard’s ass on more than one occasion and John had done the same for him. They’d been willing to die for each other and that was more than he could say for anyone else he’d slept with.
But sex? With McKay? It wasn’t exactly something he had thought about that often. Sure there had been that one dream, and dream Rodney had been… wow. That frantic intensity John had seen the scientist display on more than one occasion when their lives had hung in the balance had been completely focused on various body parts in the dream… all of them belonging to John and all of them very happy with the attention.
Realizing he was smiling at the memory, Sheppard shook his head to clear it away so that the growing pressure in his pants didn’t start affecting his swing. Because it was just a dream. One he’d written off to post-mission stress. After all, John had almost died that time and Rodney had been the one to hook the harness around him so Ronon and Teyla could pull him out of that damn hole even while the man fought the shaking in his own hands and chanted under his breath about wide-open spaces. So it was natural, nothing unusual about being a little infatuated with the person that saved your life. Hell, patients did it with doctors all the time. Although, John had never fantasized about Carson… or Ronon… or Teyla. Okay, that was a lie, Teyla showed up a lot. But Teyla was curvaceous and exotic and unassumingly erotic. Teyla was also a woman and that pretty much sealed the wet-dream deal for Sheppard. But Rodney was… none of those things, that was for damn sure.
And yet, when Sheppard saw him in the cafeteria that night sitting with one of the new expedition medical staff and Rodney refused to make eye contact with him, instead smiling and laughing… laughing!... with the woman, John felt his stomach sink uncomfortably. He spent the entire meal ignoring Teyla and Ronon who sat at his table and concentrated on McKay and the woman that he was obviously trying to flirt with and failing miserably. Maybe John had been wrong, he decided, maybe Rodney had been asking for tips on picking up this new woman. She was pretty, he supposed, in a mousy sort of way. And the few times John had seen her for post mission physicals in the infirmary she had been pleasant and friendly. But, more importantly, she showed no interest in McKay. In fact, at one point, she looked over at where Sheppard sat watching them and smiled at him. Rodney’s forehead had crinkled in annoyance and John suddenly found his beef stew very interesting.
After dinner, John returned to his room and pretended to work on paperwork while his mind went over and over the conversation with McKay, the way McKay had acted with the doctor, the way the woman had responded to Rodney and the way he had felt about the whole thing. He finally decided to give up on the paperwork because there was only way to figure out what was going on here.
He found McKay in his lab, as usual, with his nose in his laptop. Assuming his most casual attitude, he leaned against the table like he had a thousand times before. “Hey. What’re you doing?”
“Organizing my recipe collection,” the scientist snorted without looking up. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
John studied the graph being generated on the screen and said, “I’d say you’re calculating the drift coefficient for the energy draw on the power grid when the Jumpers are charging.”
Rodney blinked and sat a little straighter before turning pleasantly surprised eyes to Sheppard. And since when did McKay’s eyes look so… blue? “You’d be right.” When John didn’t answer, seeing as he was trying to remember when they had upgraded the lighting in the lab, because that was the only explanation as to why he was noticing McKay’s eyes now, the scientist turned back to his work. “So what are you doing here? I thought you’d be out playing with your new driving club.”
“Driver,” John corrected once again, “And I already did. It’s a really great gift.” He tried to throw his appreciation into the statement.
McKay, however, didn’t seem that interested in receiving it. “Hmm. Good to hear.” And he kept on typing.
“So, you decided not to join Teyla and Ronon for dinner tonight.” He intentionally left himself out because if he had been there before, surely Rodney would have sat with them instead. Wouldn’t he? And why was he so concerned with whether he would have or not? Well, that’s what he was here to find out, now wasn’t it?
“I had business to discuss with Dr. Rhymes.” He finally stopped inputting data and looked at John again.
“Business. Ahh. I see.” Business that involved laughing and flirting. Laughing and flirting business. Of course, it was all so clear now. Except for the way those damn blue eyes were regarding him expectantly and making his skin feel a little too warm. “Did you change the lighting in here or something?”
“No,” Rodney answered in confusion before asking, “Sheppard, is there something that you want, because I have work to do.”
“It’s nothing,” he shrugged. “I just thought that you might want to watch a movie is all. But if you’re busy… another time then.”
“Yeah, I’ve got a lot to do here.” McKay hitched a thumb at the computer. “What are you guys watching, anyway?”
It took John a second to comprehend that Rodney thought he was suggesting a group movie night. “Oh, no, I didn’t mean with the others. I thought, maybe, just the two of us could…” He stood straighter and decided this was a bad idea. “It’s no big deal. Finish your work. I’ll see you at the staff meeting in the morning.”
He was halfway toward the door when Rodney called to him. “You have popcorn?”
Looking back he saw that McKay was still working on his calculations. “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.”
“Give me half an hour and I’ll meet you at your place.”
John did his best to control the smile that was trying to bust out across his face. Not that McKay would have seen it because he had yet to look over his shoulder. “Popcorn will be waiting.”
And forty-five minutes later when Rodney showed up, it was ready. Cold, but ready. Rodney must have come straight from the lab because he still had his laptop under his arm. The friendly smile on his face dissolved into puzzlement when he heard the music John had playing in the background. “Is that… Barry White?”
Okay, maybe that was overstepping the bounds a little bit. But, honestly, when he had no goddamn clue why he was doing this, how could he be held responsible for what he was doing. John waved a dismissive hand. “Yeah. No, it’s nothing. Just trying to clear out some old mp3 files is all. Come on in and have a seat. You want a beer?”
“Beer? You’ve been hoarding beer?” John turned off the music and watched surreptitiously as Rodney considered his seating options… bed or floor… and chose the floor using the bed as a backrest. Yeah, okay, that was probably for the best. Wouldn’t want to move things along too fast, whatever things were going to be. And, if he were honest with himself, tonight was as much about finding out if he was even interested in going somewhere with McKay as it was to find out if McKay was really interested in it, too.
“Well, I managed to track down a couple that Lorne owed me from poker night.” John grinned and held the bottles up for the scientist to see. “They’re even from your neck of the woods.”
“Molson. Wow, I’m flattered.”
“As much as I’d like to take credit for the thought, I just took the beer. If things had gone differently, you might have been drinking Bud.” He sat on the floor beside Rodney and handed over the open beer.
“Thank goodness for small miracles.” With a tip of his bottle to clink against Sheppard’s, Rodney took a long drink. “What are we watching?’
“Your choice,” John offered after a swallow of his own, pointing to a stack of DVDs by his laptop.
Rodney’s eyes narrowed curiously at the offer and he seemed ready to ask a question, then thought better and started flipping through the stack. “Sergio Leone seems to be a favorite of yours.”
He shrugged with a smirk before taking another pull from his beer. “Can’t go wrong with Clint.”
“Ha! You never saw ‘Paint Your Wagons’ then did you?”
Rodney turned amused eyes toward Sheppard and John started to wonder who had upgraded the lights in his quarters when he wasn’t looking, as well. Especially considering he had them dimmed for watching the movie.
Yeah, that was the reason. God, what was he doing?
“Can’t say as I ever have.” Pushing away thoughts of the lighting situation in his room, Sheppard raised a wry eyebrow at the implications of McKay’s comment. “But evidently you did.”
The curl of John’s lips had Rodney doing the same before taking another drink. “It was college, I was curious, I was open to experimentation.”
“Like the infamous toking incident?”
“Actually, throw in a case of Twinkies and a six pack of Jolt cola, and that’s it exactly.”
“Well, then, I know what to serve the next time we do this.”
Those blue eyes that had John unable to look anywhere else rolled as Rodney tossed a DVD in his lap. “Let’s get through tonight first.”
“It’s a western isn’t it?”
With a shrug, John opened the case. “You have me there, McKay.”
But Sheppard didn’t have a clue how accurate that statement was, because the longer they sat watching the movie, shoulder to shoulder, laughing, commenting, quoting along, the more John dreaded the movie ending because that would just mean Rodney would have a reason to leave. And that was one thing he didn’t want to happen. So he decided it was time to test the waters and see if the flirting he thought he was picking up on really was just that.
“You want another beer?” John asked.
“You have another beer?”
“Actually, no. But I do have some water. We could always fill the bottles and pretend.”
McKay seemed to consider for a few seconds then nodded. “Pretending can be good.”
Taking the empty bottles, John stood and filled them from the pitcher on the nightstand before handing over the mock beer and sitting again. “Cheers,” he saluted with a sip of the water, before giving an exaggerated stretch of his arms to loosen tense muscles and draping one on the bed behind Rodney’s head. It was a petty move, juvenile, and now that his hand was perched within groping range he remembered that McKay was a guy and really didn’t have much to grope within range. So he settled with running his thumb along the back of Rodney’s neck, slowly with just a feather touch.
McKay tensed at the first brush, but didn’t move away, and Sheppard decided to rub a little harder until Rodney settled back into the contact a bit more. That was the only indication John had that Rodney was even aware of his hand on his skin until McKay reached across to grab a couple of kernels of popcorn from the bowl on Sheppard’s other side, then let his hand rest on John’s thigh. Rodney’s fingers mimicked the motion of John’s on his neck and he leaned against Sheppard a little harder and John took that as a sign that it was okay to flex his fingers along the nape of Rodney’s neck. Fine brown hair in need of a trim ducktailed around John’s fingers and McKay let out a relaxed sigh with just a whisper of a moan as he momentarily tightened his hold on John’s leg.
And Sheppard decided he like it. All of it. The feel of Rodney’s hair, his skin, the warmth of him so close, the sound of an exhaled breath. And that’s when the lights in John’s quarters went out.
You sly dog, John thought with a smile, curling his fingers to run the tips along Rodney’s throat, to tip his chin up and toward his own mouth. Rodney’s hand kneaded into his leg, sliding up as John bent his head down toward McKay’s, tasting the remnants of beer and butter on Rodney’s breath. Holy shit, he was going to kiss McKay. He was going to honest to God kiss him. What’s more, he wanted to kiss him, wanted to do a hell of a lot more with the man. But first, this… this that he had wanted to do for a while and just hadn’t comprehended it until now.
“Nice mood lighting, McKay,” he murmured, his lips brushing against Rodney’s as he spoke.
Rodney’s reaction, however, wasn’t what he expected. Instead of melding against him, McKay stiffened and sat straighter. “You didn’t turn out the lights?”
John blinked in confusion. “No, I thought you…”
“Where’s my radio?” Rodney was already patting around on the ground beside him, using the scant moonlight coming through the windows to find the object. “Goddammit, this is not happening. I take one night off, one! And this is what…” The rant stopped as he found the com and slipped it back into place. “Radek? Sorry, I was…” His eyes flicked momentarily to John before focusing on a point in the distance as he turned his attention back to Radek. “I wasn’t wearing my radio. What the hell just happened?”
Sheppard grabbed his own radio from the bed and could hear the Czech rambling on about capacitors and distribution circuits and crystal alignments. Rodney gave that ‘you’re annoying me with a bunch of information I don’t need’ shake of his head, even though Zelenka couldn’t see it.
“Is the ZedPM damaged?”
“No, it is fine, Rodney,” Radek assured before adding with less conviction, “for now.”
“Shit.” Using the bed to push himself up, McKay told his fellow scientist, “I’ll be right there. Don’t touch anything until I get there.”
Rodney was already heading for the door before he remembered where he was and what he had been doing. “Oh.”
The fact that he stopped at all was proof enough for Sheppard that what had happened hadn’t been a total fluke. “Go.” John waved his hand. “Can’t watch movies together if we don’t have power. The laptop batteries only last so long.”
“So, I could, maybe, stop by after, you know, after I fix the whole power thing…” Fingers pointed and thumbs hitched and wrists spun and John finally stepped in before McKay sprained something.
“I’ll be here.”
“Okay, then, I’ll see you later.”
“Later,” Sheppard concurred with an encouraging smile.
But it was almost four thirty when the lights came back on and woke John from where he was dozing fully clothed on his bed, and it was almost eight o’clock in the morning when he finally saw Rodney again and he had to go to his lab to do it. McKay was in almost the same position he had been the evening before when Sheppard had invited the physicist to his place, eyes squinting against the glare of the computer screen as he shook his head and mumbled under his breath about the results he was getting, which was fine seeing as he was the only person in the lab. With a growl McKay typed some more and sat back to wait on the results.
In the meantime he tapped at the radio in his ear. “Radek, are you still getting the fluctuations in the buffers on the North Pier?”
Seeing as John couldn’t hear the response, he supposed the science staff had switched to their private channel so they could talk without tying up the main frequency. Or, as Rodney had told him once, so they wouldn’t be distracted by all the useless chatter that went on daily across the radio and could actually get some work done. Yeah, who needed to be bothered with pesky information like an unauthorized off world activation of the gate or when the city was being put into lockdown when you wanted to berate every team of scientist performing maintenance on Atlantis? No one could argue that Rodney had his priorities firmly in place and right now his priority was the city’s power supply.
McKay listened closely to the information he was being given by Zelenka before ordering, “Download the data and send it over. I think I might have something we can try.”
When Rodney turned his attention back to his computer, Sheppard decided it was safe to approach and sat down the plate he carried. “I take it the fact that you’re still working but we have lights means you’ve managed a temporary fix?”
“I figured out what happened, I just can’t seem to figure out why it happened in the first place. Which means it will probably happen again if I don’t.” As if finally putting two and two together and coming up with an Air Force colonel leaning against his lab bench, Rodney furrowed his brow. “Wait, what are you doing here? I was just about to finish up and come by…”
The shake of John’s head stopped him from saying more. “Sorry, McKay, that pumpkin turned about eight hours ago.”
“What?” There was a slight note of panic in the scientist’s voice and John realized with a touch of self-satisfaction that Rodney was concerned that any chance of anything more happening between them had disappeared when he left the room to repair the ZPM. If only the man knew what John had had to do the previous night to relieve the… anticipation of Rodney’s return, he would have been gloating instead of worrying.
“It’s morning. You worked through the night and the staff meeting and evidently breakfast.” Sheppard pushed the plate toward McKay, watching as the frown of anxiety transmuted into a grateful grin at the sight of the cinnamon roll and fruit John had brought for him to eat. “Elizabeth says, hi, by the way.”
“Was she pissed?” Rodney waved a dismissive hand before John could answer as he picked up the pastry to jam half of it in his mouth. “I’ll brief her later. I figure she wants power more than being graced with my presence in a staff meeting anyway. If she doesn’t, she can freeze in the dark for all I care.”
“Seeing as it’s daytime and summer, I don’t think that’s much of a threat for the time being, McKay.”
“She’ll be singing a different tune in about ten hours. Although by then, I’ll have everything up and running again.”
“And if you don’t, we can light the way with the dazzling glow of your brilliance,” John drawled.
“If only I could figure out a way to capture it, we could chuck the ZedPM in the ocean.”
“Well, be forewarned, Weir said if she didn’t hear from you within the hour she’s coming to get her update in person.”
“How the hell am I supposed to get anything done if I spend all my time explaining what I already did? I swear to God, bureaucracy is the downfall of progress and just one more distraction I don’t need.” He crammed another large bite in his mouth and chewed irritably.
“Speaking of distractions, I should get out of here and let you get back to work.”
A hand landed on Sheppard’s arm before he could straighten. “I didn’t mean you. You’re the good kind of distraction; the kind that brings food.”
John raised eyebrows at the backhanded compliment. “Ah, I see. Like having to get up from the couch when the pizza delivery guy shows up.”
“You should start a service here on Atlantis.” He grinned around the last bite of his breakfast roll. “Supplement your retirement with the tips alone.”
“Well, sorry to disappoint, but I’ll have to put those entrepreneurial plans on hold. I have to head out to the Mainland. We’re running exercises with some of the new Marines. See if any of them can tag Ronon before he takes them down. If I’m late he’ll give the field briefing without me and I’ll waste half the day while the troops change into clean underwear.”
When the hand didn’t move, neither did John. “Will I see you later? Really see you later this time?”
Hazel eyes moved from the hand on his arm to the blue ones studying him hopefully and his lips quirked with the warmth that touch sent up his spine. “Tonight I get to pick the movie.”
Sheppard’s smirk was suddenly met with Rodney’s mouth as the scientist leaned in and kissed him. “Thanks for breakfast.”
It had been just a press of lips, the slightest tug on his lower one accompanied by a flutter of tongue and it was over. Simple, quick, and a little sticky from the cinnamon roll, which ended up being the least of the reasons why John found himself licking his lips even before he reopened his eyes when it was over. But more than that, it was so… natural that he was left wondering why McKay hadn’t thanked him like that every time he had done something for the man in the past.
Doing his best to control the goofy smile on his face and failing, Sheppard decided he should probably get the hell out of there before he made a complete fool of himself. “Yeah, okay,” he relented somewhat breathlessly, “you can pick again.”
When the grin on McKay’s face turned a little smug, he thought of kissing him back, but he was afraid if he did he’d never make it to the Mainland and Rodney would never fix the power problem and as much fun as that might be, in the long run everyone would be better off if he just waited until tonight. Instead, he settled for the smile he couldn’t seem to stop from spreading across his face and running his fingers up Rodney’s arm and down his back as he walked toward the door. And as he made his way to the Jumper bay he came to the conclusion that that had to have been one of the shortest second dates that he had ever been on, not to mention one of the best.
But when he was lying in the infirmary with an I.V. feeding antihistamines into his arm, he decided that he and Rodney really needed to stop promising to see each other later because it just seemed to put a jinx on the whole situation.
He had thought the field of flowers, with their broad leaves and long stalks covered with tiny yellow blossoms would be a good place to hide and set up an ambush on Ronon. Sure, the Marines were the ones being evaluated, but it never hurt to give the Satedan a challenge of his own. Hey, he could at least pretend he offered a challenge to the big guy, even if Ronon had simply turned his training weapon casually to his hiding spot and fired, setting off the signal indicating Sheppard had been hit, with little more than a taunting grin over his shoulder.
“Son of bitch,” John had grumbled as he stood and brushed at the pollen coating his clothes and causing it to fly in a hazy cloud around his head. He’d sneezed once, dismissed it entirely as he went to assess the damage to the newbies and didn’t think about it again until they were halfway back to Atlantis and he came to the conclusion that he couldn’t see because his eyes were swelling shut. A quick mental rundown of his passenger list had him calling to Parker, a baby-faced Marine who had had him biting his tongue when he first met the kid to keep from asking if his mama knew he was out playing with the big boys. Parker also had the distinction of having received the ATA gene therapy the week before and, lucky boy that he was, it had taken.
By the time Sheppard had him sitting in the pilot seat, he couldn’t even see the sergeant, but he didn’t need to in order to hear the wariness brought about by the young man taking the controls of a Jumper for the first time in his life. “Sir, are you sure about this?”
“Parker,” John wheezed, digging in his vest for the Epi-pen he always carried just in case McKay had a reaction off world. “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”
The epinephrine had him breathing easier by the time he had to talk the Marine through the landing procedure… and any thoughts he’d had about Rodney being a slow study in flight went out the window when they jarred roughly to the floor. But they were on solid ground and everyone was alive and one of the more experienced pilots could park the damn thing later. Right then he just wanted to get to the infirmary so he could see again.
Dr. Rhymes was on duty and he could just make out her smile through the watering of his eyes as she checked his I.V. “Don’t worry, Colonel. We’ll have you fixed up and golfing again in no time.”
She handed him a tissue when he sneezed and he asked conversationally, “So, you golf, too?”
“It’s a prerequisite for medical school,” she laughed lightly. “Just like poor penmanship.” Happy with the progression of the medication, she patted his arm. “Maybe sometime you can show me your driving range you’ve set up.”
“Today is probably out,” Sheppard spoke though a yawn, knowing the drugs were making him sleepy even as they were relieving the allergic reaction.
“I think you’re right about that.”
Her voice was soft and soothing and made him want to just close his watering eyes and drift off to sleep, which he must have done. It was also in complete contrast to the one that suddenly came from the foot of his bed.
“Holy shit, Sheppard. What did you do to yourself?”
He didn’t bother opening his eyes; he didn’t need to see who was speaking for the voice to bring a small upturn at the corner of John’s mouth. He’d actually been expecting him for a while now. “I have hay fever, McKay. Go figure.”
“Hay fever? Are you sure it’s not Hemorrhagic Fever?”
“Nothing that serious, Dr. McKay. In fact, the colonel is progressing nicely,” Dr. Rhymes provided. “I was going to release him soon, that is if he can stay awake long enough to make it back to his room.”
“Rodney can walk me back,” John volunteered, finally seeing a silver lining in the way this day had been going. Which was impressive considering he could barely see anything at all. “Can’t you, McKay?”
“I evidently live to serve,” the physicist countered dryly before asking the physician, “Will this keep him from going on tomorrow’s mission?”
“He should be fine by then,” Dr. Rhymes said with little doubt. Although she sounded rather curious when she asked McKay, “Were you planning on going, as well, Doctor?”
“Of course he’s going,” Sheppard told her before Rodney could answer and just in case she was actually interested in the man and was hoping maybe he’d stick around Atlantis for another lunch date. “He’s a member of my team; he always goes.”
The woman seemed a little confused by John’s answer and for a second he was afraid he may have spoken a little too forcefully and possessively and given something away. “Well, then, in that case, we should probably have a chat before you leave, Dr. McKay.”
“Later,” Rodney dismissed. “It looks like Sheppard’s I.V. is finished and he’ll be sleeping here tonight if I don’t get him home.”
“We really need to check…”
McKay cut her off with a snippy, “I said later. I’ll be back after I get the colonel settled and take care of a few things.”
John grinned to himself at the thought that a few parts of him were included in those things Rodney needed to take care of. “So what’s the consensus? Can I go?” He forced his eyes open in hopes that the act would convince her he was ready to leave.
With a sigh she frowned at McKay. “Fine, take him home. But you better be back here before I go off-duty at six.”
“Not a problem,” Rodney grumbled as he watched her disconnect the tubes from Sheppard’s hand.
When he was cut free, John wasted no time sitting up and throwing legs that felt like lead balloons over the edge of the bed. With an effort, he pushed to a stand, Rodney hovering nearby to make sure he stayed that way, and took a tentative step. That one worked out well, so he continued on, stifling another yawn.
Once they were out in the hall, Sheppard demanded, “What took you so long to get here?” The funny thing was, the question had nothing to do with the fact that he and Rodney were now dating, which was a funnier concept still when he stopped to think about it.
“I was out on the South Pier deploying the final patch to fix the power problem. It took Ronon a while to track me down.”
Evidently Teyla had been easier to find because she was there in the infirmary before the nurse had even started the I.V. but she had left to attend a meeting with a delegation of traders for Elizabeth. And the fact that Ronon had only stuck around long enough to ridicule Sheppard about his poor choice of hiding places before he left in search of the others confirmed what McKay had told him. He listened as the scientist babbled on in great detail about the repairs he had made, the words only adding to the cocoon of fuzz that was settling happily around his thoughts so that he was almost disappointed when Rodney reached the end of his lecture.
“Does that mean it’s fixed?” When he staggered sleepily, Rodney steadied him with a hand to his back and John took advantage to lean against him for a moment.
“It’s fixed,” McKay assured as he steered him down the corridor that led to the residential section of the city.
John rubbed at still itchy eyes, depending on Rodney to guide him around any obstacles as they walked. “So, no interruptions tonight?”
The hand at his back rubbed a small circle as Rodney promised quietly. “No interruptions.”
“Good.” The attempt at a waggle of eyebrows just had him blinking his swollen eyes rapidly.
Rodney activated his door open and waggled back a little more successfully, “I certainly hope you’re aiming higher than just good.”
John didn’t bother thinking the lights up when he walked in. The dimness was a relief on his eyes and, besides, he wasn’t going to need them for what he had in mind. As soon as the door closed behind them, he turned and did what he had wanted to do ever since he’d licked cinnamon from his lips that morning. He cupped the back of Rodney’s head and kissed him, really kissed him, with a slow play of tongue across eagerly parted lips and Rodney really kissed him back.
“Thanks for walking me home.” John grinned when he stopped long enough to pull in a breath, stepping backward toward the bed and hauling McKay along with him.
“It’s the least I could do,” Rodney admitted with a nip to his lower lip that had John closing his eyes in anticipation of more. “After all, you brought me a cinnamon roll.”
“That’s all it took?” he snorted and McKay nipped again. “I had no idea you were so easy.”
“You’re one to talk.” They reached the bed and John tumbled back pulling McKay with him. “One beer and a power outage and you’re all over me.”
Any smart-ass comment he might have had disappeared when Rodney kissed him again, lazy and lingering, hands moving steadily along his back until they came to rest between his shoulder blades and then started the return trip back down, and an all-encompassing warmth overriding it all. And John rode along with it, his thoughts meandering the same way his lips did along McKay’s jaw, his teeth scraping against the late afternoon stubble he found there, Rodney raising his chin to give him access to the soft flesh of his throat, feeling the reverberation of a soft groan through the tip of his tongue. All of it swallowing him in a slow, hazy affection as he nuzzled against Rodney’s neck and felt the steady thud of McKay’s pulse point against his cheek. He rested there for a long moment, suspended in the reflection of that heartbeat and the one he could feel thrumming against his palm he had splayed across Rodney’s chest. McKay was here. He was here and John was safe and warm and so damn comfortable he thought might melt.
“Sheppard?” Rodney’s nose brushed against his temple followed by a kiss.
“Hmm?” It was all he could manage at the moment because he was trying to figure out why Rodney’s voice was coming from so far away and yet John was obviously wrapped around him.
“Never mind.” John was vaguely aware of another kiss, then an arm pulling him a little closer, which was just fine by him.
In fact, it was goddamn perfect.
John woke to an annoying beeping sound and the even more annoying feeling of an empty bed. McKay had been there last night, hadn’t he? He was pretty damn sure he hadn’t dreamed the whole thing, although given that he was still dressed in the scrubs from his infirmary visit, the whole thing hadn’t been as whole as he had hoped. And for a fleeting second he was afraid that maybe it had just been the drugs playing fast and loose with his memories after all. But when he rolled over and slammed the button to turn off his alarm, he saw the cinnamon roll sitting beside the clock, and he knew it hadn’t been a dream and maybe… maybe if all went well on this mission, things would finally turn around and he’d be able to eat the damn thing off of Rodney’s naked torso tonight when they got home.
Of course, when he and Rodney ended up stripped of their weapons and field vests and shoved into the stone room with the heavy iron door swinging shut with a definitive clank behind them, he thought maybe he had been a little optimistic in that assessment.
Rodney had immediately gone to the door, looking to see if there was anyway he could open it from the inside. The problem was, the Teldeens weren’t exactly a technologically advanced race, having crude projectile-firing guns and not much else. The locks were nothing more than a tumbler mechanism that required a key to open and seeing as their captors had taken pretty much anything they had that might possibly be used to pick the lock, there wasn’t much Rodney could do to get them out.
“Great,” he grumbled as he stood and kicked at the solid metal. “Does the universe have something against me getting laid, or is it you it has it in for?”
Sheppard wisely kept the proposal he had received from the Teldeen Chancellor’s daughter to himself as he offered a compromise. “I think it’s the two of us together.”
“Fine, if that’s all it is we’ll take alternate days for getting off. We’ll play rock, paper, scissors for first dibs.”
John leaned against the wall, feeling the anxiety of their capture knotting between his shoulders. Rodney had taken a few punches during the scuffle that had allowed Ronon and Teyla to escape. John had taken a few of his own, but as much as they ached, it was the way his stomach flip flopped when Rodney took a hit that was causing him to roll his neck and try to work out the tension. They were together, he reminded himself. Contrary to the Teldeens threats, they had been locked up together, which meant he knew McKay was okay, and he could do everything possible to make sure Rodney stayed that way.
Rodney was pacing by the door and John couldn’t help smiling at the way Rodney’s eyes seemed a little bluer when he was pissed. They were together, they were alive, and for the moment, that’s all that mattered to Sheppard. He checked his watch and considered the time, then considered McKay, then considered the alternatives, then considered how he didn’t want to consider those anymore, and considered the best way to keep those off of his mind. “You know, McKay, the guards mentioned they had to report back to the Chancellor when they left.”
“So, if they have to go all the way back over to the Town Hall, it will be a good forty minutes before they get back. Maybe an hour if we’re lucky.” The slow smile had Rodney rolling his eyes.
“Sheppard, you cannot be suggesting that we have sex here on a hostile planet while we’re locked in a jail cell.”
With a shrug, he took a step forward, wanting to touch McKay, needing to do it. “We can’t get out on our own. Ronon and Teyla will have to circle back and find us. What else are we going to do?” John could see the way the thought caused McKay to flush, the action sending a shiver of desire down Sheppard’s spine that went to work loosening tense muscles. “Come on, McKay. Don’t you think we’ve waited long enough? I mean, it’s our fourth date for God’s sake. Hell, most women would put out by now.”
“We’re dating?” McKay seemed genuinely shocked by the revelation.
“Well, seeing as we haven’t had sex yet, we sure as hell aren’t just sleeping with each other, so that’s the best description I can come up with.”
“Regardless, this is not our fourth date,” Rodney argued, taking a step back when John took another toward him.
“The movie, breakfast the next morning, you taking me back to my room last night, and now.” Each was ticked off on long fingers. “That makes four.”
“Okay, first off, a cinnamon roll doesn’t count as a date.” McKay crossed his arm in triumph.
“Ah, ah, ah. You kissed me,” Sheppard countered and Rodney cursed under his breath at being caught in a technicality.
“Fine, it was a date, but this,” arms spread wide to encompass their prison, “is not a date.”
“There’s a bed, we’re alone, what more do you want?” John did his best to keep the whining out of his voice but he didn’t think he succeeded, especially given the insistent finger that pointed at the pile of straw and ratty blanket piled in the corner.
“That is not a bed.”
Rodney was red now, breathing hard in agitation and John wanted to grab him and kiss him and not stop until someone pulled them physically apart. “I don’t need a bed,” he growled low and predatory. The way McKay’s throat bobbed when he swallowed and licked his lips sent a prickly current through John that tethered itself deep in his belly. “Admit it, McKay, you are as a turned on by the idea as I am.”
The defiant chin rose at the accusation as Rodney blinked rapidly in denial. “That is not the point. The point is…”
Sheppard didn’t give a shit about McKay’s point. Instead he lunged forward, framed Rodney’s face between his hands and kissed him hard. It was as good as he had hoped, better actually, because whatever counter argument the scientist may have had planned disappeared instantly as he gripped both of John’s arms and kissed him back. And then John found himself pushed against the wall with one of the stones digging into his lower back and Rodney was biting his collarbone and he sucked in a breath when McKay pressed against him and he could feel just how turned on the man really was. Instinctively he thrust his hips forward and was reward with a guttural moan against his neck and that just made him want to do it again and that had Rodney dropping to his knees and working frantically at the buttons on John’s pants.
McKay let out a curse as he fumbled at the clasps and John slapped his hands away and started working them open with his own trembling fingers. Relieved of his task, Rodney decided to occupy his time by pushing Sheppard’s shirt up to his chest and running his tongue along the dip of his navel. John swallowed a gasp at the sensation, seeing stars momentarily when he threw his head back and smacked it against the stones behind him.
“John, Rodney, are you in there?”
“Teyla?” John called hoarsely, running fingers into Rodney’s hair and gripping to stop the man who was evidently too preoccupied with nibbling on bruised abs to have heard their teammate.
“Stand clear of the door, Sheppard,” Ronon directed when he heard his team leader’s voice. “I’m going to blast the lock.”
“What?” John demanded, Rodney’s eyes widening in an alarm to match his own. Why now? Why today, of all days, did they have to set a new record for the world’s fastest rescue? “No, wait!”
But it was too late, and all John could do was throw his arms around Rodney’s head and duck his own as chunks of stone and masonry went flying. The door swung open and Teyla and Ronon stood staring with matching quizzical expressions on their face at the position their two captured teammates had assumed.
Rodney recovered his composure faster than John, whose entire body was pulsating with the denial that this wasn’t happening, that there was no way in hell that, once again, he wasn’t going to get any. With a brisk efficiency, McKay tugged Sheppard’s shirt back into place, effectively covering the unsnapped pants. He stood as he rubbed his hands together and announced conclusively. “I wouldn’t worry about it, Colonel. I think your ribs are bruised but not broken, but you should definitively have them checked out when we get back to Atlantis.”
With that diagnosis delivered, he turned to his rescuers. “It’s about time you got here; seems like we’ve been waiting forever.” When Teyla raised an eyebrow at his complaint, Rodney waved an arm. “So are getting out of here or what?”
“We will make sure the way is clear and call you when it is,” the Athosian offered in a tone bordering somewhere between confusion and disbelief.
When Sheppard nodded his agreement with the plan, she and Ronon started down the hall and Rodney moved toward the door to wait for their signal. John took the opportunity to button his pants, biting his lip against the protesting pressure there before joining McKay at the door. He leaned over Rodney’s shoulder to watch their teammates, whispering roughly in his ear, “Don’t you fucking dare get yourself hurt or killed before we get back to my place tonight.”
“Follow your own damn advice, Colonel,” McKay ordered back, sucking in a deep breath to try and regain his composure, his fingers flexing open and closed repetitively as he fought the desire to reach back and grab the man behind him. Then Teyla was signaling them and they were making a run for the Jumper and even though the two of them made it out without a scratch, he couldn’t say the same for Ronon.
(Gift Horse Part 2