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With Intent

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fic, fluff, pr0n, sga


Title: With Intent
Author: Shaenie
Rating: Hahhaha, NC17
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Warnings: Uh, Fluff? Porn? Fluffy Porn? I know, weird.
Spoilers: Through 4X14, Harmony
Summary: John has never successfully talked about anything in his entire life, and while Rodney would probably tell him that means he's statistically due for success, John isn't keen on risking it.
Word Count: 12,000+
Notes: Desperate gratitude is owed to [info]the_drifter for duties including, but not limited to, beta, whining, pointing out an extremely unfortunate analogy, mockery and just general awesomeness. Thanks and Mockery in equal parts to [info]cindyjade for the abuse of googledocs comment feature while simultaneously abusing capslock. <3 you both.


They have nearly died together one hundred and sixteen times; they have each nearly died separately a combined total of forty-one times (John thirty-two, Rodney nine). Rodney seems to think that the difference in his totals means that it's John's fault when he nearly dies when John is present. John has a different theory (namely, that Rodney can't keep his damn mouth shut off-world, and rarely goes off-world without John there to drag into trouble with him), but that's not the point.

The point is, he's losing his mind or something.

The point is, John has been in the Air Force for almost the entirety of his adult life, and he's been deployed into hostile situations for almost half that. He's no stranger to the ways that you cope, and he's never worried much about the times that coping means frantic, hurried intimacy with someone he knows damned well he should leave alone. Things like that happen if you live under the constant threat of death or capture, and they happen mostly with whomever is on hand when you need it to happen. Guys you like too much are worse than guys you actively don't like, and the guy that you know likes you more than you like him is worse than both. It rarely turns out well, but there are times when it is as necessary as breathing, for you, or for the other guy, or sometimes both. There are times when there's nothing else you can do.

John doesn't think about it much of ever. It's never premeditated, and he refuses to brood about it once it's done.

People do stupid things all the time, even knowing they're stupid. They may think their reasons are justified and their circumstances are unique, but John knows better than that. Sometimes you have to do something, and your options are limited. He knows he isn't alone in occasionally stepping off the edge of the proverbial cliff with his eyes wide open, and he knows what it feels like to do that.

He hasn't actually done it since he came to Atlantis (if you didn't count that one incident with Teyla, but he thinks the fact that he was turning into a bug at the time negates the whole eyes wide open factor), but it's not something he could ever do without recognizing it for what it was, and this isn't it.

This is something else, something he has no frame of reference for at all, and the almost out-of-control feeling that gives him is what stops him mid-lean, blinking with something that feels like equal parts astonishment and disappointment.

He thinks ... the hell? because they aren't in imminent danger, and haven't been for the last couple of weeks. The last time they ran into anything even remotely resembling trouble was the mission where they escorted Princess Snooty-Pants and got ambushed by the Genii, and aside from John's ego (Rodney had predictably taken to calling him Queen Sheppard pretty much the second they got back to Atlantis), they hadn't even ended up with much in the way of bruises from that one. And it had been almost a month ago. Nothing had lately exploded, mutated, escaped the Ancient's really questionable containment measures, or been activated unintentionally with near-deadly results.

Things have been quiet, and there's absolutely no reason for John to randomly lean-with-intent at Rodney.

Or had been quiet, anyway; he gets the idea from the look on Rodney's face - startled, but morphing into comprehension even as John watches - that things are about to get noisy and awkward in a big way. He wishes briefly and intensely that Rodney had been his usual oblivious self, just this once, but he isn't actually surprised. He had been looking right at John, they'd been bullshitting pointlessly for nearly half an hour, and really, it isn't like that lean could have really looked like anything other than what it was.

"I think I'll go to bed," John says, striving for casual and missing it by a country mile.

Rodney gives him a long, appraising look, and surprises the hell out of John. "Okay," is all he says, mouth quirked into a crooked almost-smile.

John beats feet out of the lab, leaving Rodney with his laptop and the half cup of coffee John had brought him (after drinking half of it on the way to the lab).

Now that he thinks about it, Rodney hadn't even complained about it.


**


The mission the next day is more of the same, really; nobody tries to kill them, the natives of PF3-841 are reserved but friendly, and happy to trade their almost-corn for nearly anything, since it grows uncultivated as far as the eye can see from their village. There isn't a tree in sight, either, and when he asks about flooding and topsoil erosion, Huri, the young man who has apparently been assigned by the village elders to "see to their comfort" (which John immediately translates to "keep them out of trouble") nods sadly and explains that they're very lucky that the erfa grows so easily and so well, as they lose so much of it to seasonal flooding. John makes a mental note to check with the botanists about whether or not it's possible to transplant trees from the mainland of New Lantea. They're only using a fraction of the available landmasses, after all. Nobody would even notice.

They're served not-corn chowder for a meal, along with freshly made not-corn tortillas. The chowder is okay, a little too sweet for John's taste (though Rodney eats three bowls), but the tortillas are like little roundish bits of heaven, and John footnotes his mental note to put the recipe in as a condition of the trade of trees, if it turns out to be possible. If not, he'll think of some other way to get the recipe, he decides, happily imagining the mess serving not-corn tortillas with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Rodney is so engrossed in his chowder that he hardly seems aware that he even has tortillas, and the nasty look he gives John when John pinches one off his plate is perfunctory at best.

"You have to try these, Rodney," John says, rolling his pilfered tortilla into a tube and biting off half of it. He waves it under Rodney's nose. "Seriously, they're the best tortillas in two galaxies," he says, mouth full.

Rodney gives him a sideways look, lashes sweeping visible shadows against his cheek for an instant, and swallows his mouthful of chowder. Before John realizes what he intends, Rodney leans in and takes a big bite of John's tortilla-tube. His bottom lip brushes John's thumb.

John watches dumbly as Rodney chews thoughtfully, and then licks his lips.

"They're pretty good," Rodney finally says, and goes back to his chowder.

John spends the rest of the mission trying to figure out whether or not Rodney did that on purpose, and it's a good thing these people really are as easy-going as they appear to be, or John's distraction could have ended badly.

Rodney doesn't act like anything weird happened at all, however, and by the time they go home John has decided it was nothing to get worked up over. Random weirdness happens in this galaxy all the time, after all.

After the briefing, however, he declines to join the rest of the team in the mess. He's still full from all the tortillas.


**

Two days later, his door chimes sometime in the small hours of the morning. He comes awake blinking in the dark, automatically cataloging his surroundings, considering where he is, the fact that he hasn't been paged over the city-wide comm and that his radio isn't beeping, and coming up with safe and late. He considers being irritable, even feels a little irritable, but that's not really his default setting, so he just rolls out of bed and pads barefoot to the door. He blinks at Rodney, murmuring a scratchy, "Hey," before he really thinks about it.

"Sorry, sorry," Rodney says, and steps inside. The lights come up on their own, probably in response to one of their wishes, though John isn't sure whose. They stay fairly dim, just enough light to see by, bright enough that he sees Rodney quirk a little smile at him. "Hey," he says, like he's just remembered he didn't return John's greeting properly. He's looking at John's hair, his smile going a little wider, which John chalks up to bed-head. His hair sticks up all the time, but that's really nothing compared to what it looks like after he's slept on it.

What are you doing here? John thinks, but what actually comes out of his mouth is, "Okay, buddy?"

Rodney's eyes go a little wide at that, and John stares back, mute with horror. He's muddle-headed with sleep, he decides. There's no other explanation for coming so perilously close to asking about Rodney's feelings.

Rodney takes a step closer, and the door swooshes closed behind him. "It's late, I know, but I have to know if it works, and I can't test it myself or it'll just imprint on me."

"Huh?" John says, and Rodney takes another step closer and reaches for John.

"Think 'on,'" Rodney tells him.

"Uh," he says, rising to the balls of his feet, feeling the kickstart of adrenaline snap his whole body tight, and he's on the verge of backing away when something cool touches his chest, and John must've thought 'on' at it without realizing it, because it's buzzing with a familiar energy against his skin.

Rodney grins delightedly, and John forgets to look down and see what the hell is on him for a few seconds.

"God, that was a bitch," Rodney says, grin dialing down to a smirk with more than a dash of smug thrown in for good measure. He doesn't appear to notice that he's standing practically on John's toes, so close that John can see the shadow of his Adam's apple splashed like a sideways moon against his pale neck. He smells like the lab, and also vaguely like burnt coffee. It's completely out of place in John's room, but familiar nonetheless. The realization that he's always known that Rodney smells like the lab and burnt coffee at least five nights out of seven hits him in the back of the head; for a second his knees feel weird and wobbly.

Rodney pokes John in the chest with one finger, and there's a weird static-squelch of sound, also familiar, though John is pretty sure the source doesn't have anything to do with lightsaber duels. He looks down and sees Rodney's finger not-touching him, a half inch from John's bare chest, right next to the glowing green jewel-like casing of the personal shield. "Huh," John says. The pad of Rodney's index finger is paler than the skin around it, attesting to the fact that he's applying pressure. John doesn't feel a thing. He can see the green energy particle-ripples, but he doesn't feel those either, and as soon as Rodney lets his fingertip fall away those vanish as well. Oh, cool, John thinks. "How'd you-?" he starts, feeling the grin stretch his lips, but Rodney is leaning in closer - John can feel his breath gust against his bare shoulder - and the sentence dies off as Rodney brings his whole palm to bear against the shield right above the device itself; if he were actually touching John, his broad hand would splay from nipple to nipple. John doesn't really have time to consider that before Rodney slides his palm up to the curve of muscle that joins John's neck to his shoulder. John watches the wash of green static it produces, listens to the energy-whine of it. He doesn't feel it, not even the ghost of sensation, though he can still feel Rodney's breath.

He shudders a little anyway; Rodney doesn't seem to notice. He has his experiment face on, eyes narrowed with focus, expression intent. He presses two fingertips against the forcefield near John's wrist and drags them up to John's elbow, apparently also oblivious to the noise it makes. It really does sound a lot like lightsabers scraping against one another, which should automatically slot it firmly into the same category as NASCAR and college football and Doctor Who as things that John likes. He doesn't, though. The sound grates on his last nerve, setting a muscle in his jaw to jumping, and it's only through the application of a somewhat significant amount of willpower that John doesn't grab the shield device, cool and present but oddly weightless, and rip it away from his skin of his chest.

Rodney doesn't seem to notice this, either. He hums as though pleased, and presses his palm flat against John's belly, and John shifts uneasily. It looks weird, intimate, despite the fact that John can't even feel the warmth of Rodney's skin through the forcefield. Rodney, intent, trails his hand along John's left side, and John turns with him when Rodney steps around him. "Be still," Rodney scolds, simultaneously impatient and distant, his 'busy, now, be annoying later' voice, although without any of the usual venom. John sighs, but stands still and lets Rodney circle around him, listens to the sound of Rodney's hands without feeling them, without being able to see the splash of green as the shield deflects them once, twice, three times. Then Rodney is in front of him again, beaming.

John asks irritably, "Are you done with the pseudo-fondling, McKay?"

Rodney rolls his eyes, though he's smiling a little. "It looks pretty good," he says, apropos of nothing as far as John can tell. "We can field test it tomorrow."

"Uh, okay," John says, but Rodney is already palming open the door.

"Goodnight, Colonel," Rodney says over his shoulder, without looking back.

John stares stupidly at the closed door for several seconds; his chest feels tight, like maybe the shield is limiting his oxygen supply. It drops into his waiting palm when he thinks 'off' at it, and he turns it over in his hands. It looks exactly like the one Rodney had had, the one he'd depleted by walking into the energy-sucking cloud. He puts it on his desk next to his laptop.


**


They don't manage to field test it the next day because John leaves it sitting on the end table by his bed. He does it deliberately, with premeditation even (a decision made after it's the first thing he sees when he wakes up, and he spends eleven minutes unable to think about anything except the sound it had made with Rodney's hands 'testing' it). It's a distraction, he decides. He does not confess this to Rodney, who has spent the last seven hours bitching about what John could be doing if he was invulnerable.

The good news is that the natives think Ronon's hair is a manifestation of their god, and were ecstatic to see him. The bad news is, they'd bundled him off seven hours ago for 'the blessing,' and two minutes after that had tossed the rest of the team into a well.

"Seriously?" Rodney had shrieked up at the circle of light above them. "A well? Are you kidding me?"John had half expected him to shake an enraged fist at the sky. Then the natives covered the well with something, blocking out the light, and Rodney sighed and said, "Dammit."

John bumped shoulders with him in the dark and Rodney leaned back for several seconds.

John said: "Okay, let's figure out how to get out of here."

That was when the bitching had started.

It's not that far to the top of the well, and the sides are rough, with plenty of hand and foot holds, but it turns out to be covered with a slab of stone that even John and Sergeant Walsh together can't shift.

John has more or less tuned Rodney out completely by the time Walsh falls for the third time, this time twisting his ankle on the landing, even though landing on John (also for the third time) mostly breaks his fall. The long, flat rock he'd been using to try and lever the stone up enough to get a look at what's going on up there (John's pretty sure it's pointless, but it gives them something to do, and Rodney bitches slightly less when someone is actively trying to save his ass) donks John on the head sharply on the down, bounces and hits the wall and then ricochets off and catches him above his right eye. He grunts, but he's pretty sure Rodney doesn't notice over Walsh's groan of pain. He wipes blood out of his right eye, and otherwise ignores it, getting to his knees in the narrow space to fondle Walsh's ankle in the hope that he'll be able to tell if it's broken (not that he's likely to be able to: it's too dark, there isn't room to get a good angle, Walsh is wearing combat boots, etc...). A minute or so later he feels a warm trickle run down his left temple. He swipes at it with the back of his hand absently, assuming it's sweat from the exertion and the close quarters. It is fairly cool and damp at the bottom of the well, but it's also close, and they've been climbing. It takes him another minute or so, doing his best to use the sheath of his knife crammed into Walsh's boot and a field dressing tied around the top to immobilize the ankle, before he gets to his feet and immediately notices that his head is killing him.

He gingerly runs the fingertips of one hand across the top of his head and feels the wetness almost immediately. Great, he thinks. Two for the price of one. Rodney is going to freak.

And it's not that big a deal. It's nothing compared to some of the head injuries he's suffered before. He doesn't feel sick or dizzy or anything like that. Or not much, anyway. Scalp wounds just bleed like a bastard.

He doesn't mention it, just wipes it away as best he can without bumping into anybody and swipes at the other cut over his eye with his sleeve.

"I wish Teyla was here," Rodney murmurs a while later. He sounds tired. After a good thirty seconds, he adds, "No offense, Sergeant."

Walsh snorts. "None taken, Dr. McKay. I wish Teyla was here, too." His voice is dry and amused, but edged with pain.

John likes Walsh; he handles bad situations and Rodney McKay far better than the last two temporary team members they've had. Too bad an ankle injury will almost certainly get him a ticket to light-duty land.

He isn't crazy about how tired Rodney sounds. He hasn't been climbing like Walsh and John, but Rodney doesn't handle forced inactivity well. It's practically a mathematical constant. He wonders if he can figure out a way for Rodney to catch a nap. It's more or less impossible for all of them to sit down; at the very least, it'll be really uncomfortable. John can press his shoulder against one side of the shaft and lay his palm flat to the other wall with considerable bend to his elbow; there's barely enough room for the three of them to stand comfortably, what with Rodney's shoulders taken into consideration. "Why don't you sit down for a while, McKay," he says after a moment's thought. "We'll take turns."

Rodney says nothing for a half-dozen heartbeats that John can feel in the entire top third of his head, and finally says, "Walsh should get off that ankle."

Which John can't argue, since he really should have thought of that first. Walsh is injured, dammit. Why didn't he think of that first?

"I'm all right," Walsh begins, and John cuts him off.

"It's not a suggestion, Sergeant. McKay is right; sit your ass down."

Walsh huffs out a laugh and John shifts over to clear some space, his shoulder brushing against Rodney's in the narrow space left over; Walsh sighs, quiet and relieved, as soon as he's down.

Shit, John thinks, disgusted with himself. He blinks blood out of both eyes this time and lets his head rest against the wall behind him (carefully, so as not to cause himself further head trauma). He thinks about McKay's reaction if he asks if either of them have a field dressing handy (he used his on Walsh's ankle). He'd really rather not, but he figures it'll only be worse if Rodney finds out the hard way.

"You got a field dressing in your vest, Rodney?" he asks as casually as possible. "That rock Walsh was using hit me on the way down."

He isn't even surprised when Rodney manages to wriggle around until he's facing John. A second later John hears the crinkle of the waxy paper the field bandages come in, and Rodney gropes until he finds John's hand (after hitting his chest, his belly, and his hipbone) and presses the gauze into his palm. "How bad is it?" is all Rodney says, however.

John is grateful; he isn't sure his head could withstand one of Rodney's rants.

"Bleeding, no concussion," John admits, figuring that there's no real reason to mention that there are two wounds and he's starting to have some doubts about the concussion part; he presses the thick pad of gauze against the cut above his eye first, cleaning it up the best he can in the dark.

His mouth falls open a little when he feels Rodney's fingertips brush across his cheek and then skim slowly upward. Rodney doesn't say anything, so John doesn't either. He can feel Rodney's breath on the side of his face, and doesn't turn into it. Rodney's fingertips find the back of John's smallest finger and breeze across it, making John's skin prickle. Rodney huffs impatiently, and John moves the gauze out of the way. The exploratory fingertip pauses when it encounters tacky blood, then continues on its course a little more cautiously. John bites his lip, but can't keep from wincing a little when the fingertip grazes the edge of the cut. Rodney inhales sharply, but doesn't stop until he traces just above the entire jagged length of it.

When his hand falls away, John brings the gauze back up without comment. His chest feels a little tight, and he wonders about delayed-onset claustrophobia.

"That's going to need stitches," Rodney finally says. The back of his hand brushes the back of John's.

"It's not that bad," John says, and tips his head back again, leaning a little more of his weight on Rodney, feeling Rodney shift and lean back so that they brace each other up.

Rodney sighs, but doesn't say another word until, two hours later, John jolts awake from a light doze because evening light is shining down on them from above, outlining Ronon's distinctive dreadlocked head.

"Finally," Rodney announces, and Walsh makes a soft snort of surprise as he wakes up.

A rope slithers down the side of the well, and Rodney catches it, already fashioning a loop at the end with his quick, deft hands.

Ronon hauls Walsh and then John up hand over hand; when John gets to the top, head thudding with the effort, eyes slitted to block out the too-bright light, he sees that Ronon's dreads are now tipped in silver ornaments and wound through with something silvery, either wire or thread. His goatee hasn't escaped unscathed, either, and he's wearing the shiniest shirt John has ever seen. "All hail the king of disco," John croaks, and sinks to the ground with his back to the well.

Ronon smirks at him, and winds the rope snugly around his hand and elbow, reaching forward over the lip of the well to offer Rodney a hand up.

"Christ, you look like a Professional Wrestler," Rodney says disgustedly. "What took you so damn long?"

"There were some rituals," Ronon said, shrugging one shoulder. Some sort of silver armlet thing is wound around the biceps of both arms, John notices. "What happened to your head?"

"Rock fell on it," John says, short and flat, and Ronon just nods.

He can feel Rodney's eyes on him, though, the prickle-skinned feel of being looked at. He turns his head, and Rodney is looking at him, but he doesn't say anything. His mouth is flat and unhappy. John firmly squashes the urge to explain ... something.

Their packs are all in a pile two feet away, and Rodney grabs his canteen and a couple more field dressings, but John waves him off. He struggles to his feet, feeling a little tired and a lot wobbly, but otherwise not too bad.

"It's scabbed over," he says at Rodney's tight look of disapproval. "It'll just start bleeding again if I mess with it. Let's get back to Atlantis."

Ronon gets Walsh up and mobile without having to be told, and they start back in the direction of the gate.

"Where are the natives?" Rodney wants to know, and John looks around dumbly; he hadn't even realized they weren't anywhere around.

Probably a concussion then, he decides, depressed. And what a stupid way to get one, too.

Ronon tips his head toward a long, low building a little ways away. "Still doing ritual stuff. I got bored." Rodney snorts.

About halfway back to the 'gate, John stumbles on a clod of dirt or something (just because he can't see what he stumbled on doesn't mean it isn't there), and Rodney steadies him so quickly and smoothly that he must have been walking practically on top of John.

John blinks, and Rodney says, "Hm," and bends quickly at the knees, coming up under John's arm, one hand encircling John's wrist, the other resting on the opposite hip. "Come along, Colonel," he says, and John doesn't object, even though he really is pretty much okay to walk. Even after hours at the bottom of a well, Rodney smells reassuringly like coffee and the weird hot-plastic-and-dust scent of the labs, and John's head is killing him. He figures taking a little comfort in having Rodney warm and solid up against his side is probably okay.

In retrospect, he'll realize that thought alone should have been enough to tell him that a concussion was a mathematical given.

He slides out of consciousness between one step and the next, hardly even aware it's happening, and not much caring.

**

"You have a skull fracture," Keller tells him; she sounds apologetic, as though she was the one that dropped a rock on his head.

"Wha...?" John says, which is the best he's got right now. He just woke up, and the room is entirely too bright. Teyla is in the chair next to the bed, one hand resting soothingly on John's wrist, the other curved over the swell of her belly. John secretly wants to touch it, but he hasn't figured out how to ask her if it's okay yet. Especially since he suspects she's still a little bit mad at him. Rodney is at the foot of the bed, hand resting just to the left of John's leg, and Ronon is behind him. He still has all his shiny new hair jewelry. Keller and Carter are standing side by side opposite Teyla. Keller still looks apologetic; Carter looks almost accusatory.

"A skull fracture," Rodney repeats helpfully, glaring at John through narrowed eyes.

"Only a little one," Keller tell him earnestly, all big eyes and hopefully curling lips. Carter gives Rodney an exasperated look, which she then turns on John.

"It didn't even hurt that much," John says in his own defense, since it's clear no one else is going to defend him. It isn't exactly true, but isn't actually a lie, either. It had hurt, but it hadn't hurt as much as the last time John had had a concussion.

Rodney rolls his eyes. "Yes, thank you, Colonel Stoic, we're all aware of your high tolerance for both pain and stupidity."

Carter gives Rodney another look, and Keller unexpectedly leaps to John's defense. "It really is only a little fracture," she says. "A hairline crack. You've got a mild concussion, and I had to stitch both wounds, but it should heal in no time!"

John's hand goes up to pat his hair, and sure enough, there's a stripe missing. He scowls as he pokes at it, and sees Rodney rolling his eyes some more.

But all he says is, "It'll grow back."

John opens his mouth to say something pointed, but stops abruptly as he realizes that that was Rodney offering comfort. He blinks and closes his mouth.

Ronon's hair jewelry jingles; Rodney is looking off to one side of John, mouth a tellingly crooked slash. John can feel the tip of Rodney's pinky touching his calf through the blanket.

"He should really rest," Keller says, and Rodney spins on one foot so quickly it's clear he's been waiting for the chance to escape.

"Yes, yes, and as usual, I have vitally important things to be doing." He twitches a look in John's general direction and waves one hand in what could be either a goodbye or a dismissal. "Try not to let anything else fall on your head," he mutters, and is gone.

The rest of them disperse more slowly, and with less acerbic wishes for his general well-being. Keller has someone bring him a tray containing nothing John even remotely wants to eat and will only give him Tylenol for his head. He considers sulking, but he's pretty tired, so he washes them down with a cup of water and lays back down, already bored of the infirmary. The Tylenol takes the edge off the pain, which still isn't really all that bad, considering, and John drowses for a while.

He drifts awake to the smell of coffee and something else, something sweet and pastry-like, and opens his eyes to an unexpectedly close view of Rodney's mouth as he leans over John. John sucks in a sharp breath, and Rodney shifts his gaze down from the stitches on his forehead - above which the fingertips of the first two fingers of Rodney's right hand are hovering - to John's eyes. He stares at John for several long, silent seconds, his expression taut and almost fierce.

"You're so stupid," he hisses finally; the side of his thumb brushes John's temple for an instant before Rodney pulls his hand back, curling it into a fist and letting it fall to his side. "Do you think I worked my ass off on that shield for my health?" He's still so close that John could look up his nose, if he were so inclined. He's not; he's too busy looking at the downward slope of Rodney's expressive mouth and wondering muzzily about the texture of the light growth of stubble on Rodney's cheeks and chin.

"McKay," John says, and feels the warm flex and shift of Rodney's biceps under his palm with surprise. Rodney closes his eyes for a moment, visibly gathering up the threads of his temper. When he opens them again, the near-anger is gone. He just looks tired. John's belly rolls over uneasily. "A rock fell on my head," he says slowly. "It was a stupid accident; it's not a big deal."

Rodney's biceps tense under John's palm; he feels the solid muscle under his fingertips and wonders when that had happened. "Of course," Rodney sighs, and starts to straighten up.

John doesn't decide to hold on to Rodney's arm, but finds himself doing it nonetheless.

Rodney goes still and just looks at John. He looks both focused and frustrated, the same way he looks when he's bludgeoning a stubborn problem into submission with his giant brain.

It's less leaning this time, since John is pretty much stuck horizontal, but his chin tips up in what is definitely the equivalent of leaning with intent; it's like John has no say in it at all. By the time he realizes it's happening, it's already done. Rodney's gaze slides down to his mouth for the space of about two seconds, and John's breath sticks hard in his throat.

Then Rodney tugs his arm gently free of John's grip - his hand falls back to lie on the blanket, twitching a little at the absence of heat - and turns away.

"I thought you might be hungry," he says, too quickly. His shoulders are a little round; one of his hands is gripping the standard hospital issue wheeled tray thingy hard enough that his knuckles are pale. John opens his mouth to say something just as Rodney steps to one side and swings the tray around, putting it between himself and the bed. He gestures toward a small plate holding what looks something like a danish and a cup of coffee without looking at John. He glances at John's untouched tray from earlier, and adds, weirdly gentle, "Keller doesn't know you don't like the meatloaf."

"Why would she?" John asks, trying for amused and failing abysmally. To his own ears he sounds uncertain and a little shaky; the way Rodney pierces him with a sharp, brief look makes John think his own ears are just about right. He sort of wants to ask what the hell is going on, exactly, but his head hurts and he isn't sure he'd be able to parse the answer, if Rodney even gave one.

"Right, of course," Rodney says, and steps around the tray to the foot of John's bed. He flicks his fingers at John's coffee and danish and takes a breath. "I'll see you later," he says, but it turns out to be untrue. He doesn't visit again for the whole three days John is confined to the infirmary.

**

Thirty-six hours after he's released from the infirmary, John's headache is omnipresent and just on one side of unbearable; he's not actually sure which side. He's reserving judgment. He still hasn't seen Rodney. He considers finding him the lab after dragging dinner in the mess out for an hour and a half, then changes his mind halfway there.

The truth is, he isn't sure what he's even going to say to Rodney, but whatever it is, he doesn't want the whole lab looking on while he says it.

The truth is, there have been a lot of people John has nearly died with. Hell, he's nearly died with practically every member of the expedition, but even if he doesn't count Atlantis at all, there have been a lot. And a lot of of them have been far more than once. Out of all those people, he's only fucked a handful of them, a fraction of a percent, and he's never ever had any urge to do it again. He's never unexpectedly leaned at any of them, before or after the fact, and he's never spent days in the infirmary wondering if he was imagining the way Rodney had looked at his mouth, knowing damned well that he hadn't been.

The truth is, he doesn't have a single goddamned idea what's going on, and the whole thing makes him edgy and off balance; it only aggravates his sense of things being off that he suspects that Rodney does know what's going on, and isn't telling. What the hell is that about?

And he's kind of pissed at Rodney for not breaking him out of the infirmary. They always break each other out.

He heads back to his quarters, fractious and morose, head ceaselessly aching in an annoying, low-key kind of way that doesn't even justify the trip to the infirmary for more Tylenol. It doesn't do much good anyway. The painkillers don't seem to touch it, but it's bad enough to keep him from doing anything that requires any sort of concentration, bad enough that he hasn't been wildly successful at sleeping over the last few days. He drifts, but the throb in his head won't allow him to sleep deeply.

He's tried to read, but his head won't allow it.

This time he gives golf on his laptop a go, which makes him squint and his head throb, and is nowhere near as much fun against the computer, which never accuses him of cheating or informs him smugly that golf is just physics or pokes him in the thigh the instant before he's going to release his shot, messing him up and then snickering like a seventh grader about it. He shuts the laptop down in disgust and sprawls on his bed, one leg hanging off one side, head hanging off the other with his neck crooked at an angle that makes it ache, but is worth it because it makes his skull ache marginally less.

So when Rodney comes in, he's upside down.

John is ridiculously glad to see him. "Oh," he says, feeling like an idiot, but unwilling to scramble upright, a move that would guarantee an even more unpleasant headache. He figures pretending that he always lays like this is the best option. "Hey."

"Hey," Rodney says. One side of his mouth is crooked upward, both eyebrows arched. He's got a DVD in one hand and a two-liter bottle of Coke in the other. "I thought you might be bored."

I was bored for three days in the infirmary, John thinks. He says, "My head hurts." It's apologetic; he doesn't really think he can watch Red Dwarf right now.

"I can-" Rodney says, gesturing toward the door with Red Dwarf.

"I am bored," John says, and grimaces a little at how whiny he sounds while simultaneously trying to shift his neck in a way that will somehow help with both the headache and the impending crick in his neck. "I just don't think I can watch a movie right now."

"Hm," Rodney says; he looks odd upside down, weird and unfamiliar. John's eyes track his mouth, nose, chin, the lines of his arms, trying to put them together in a way that adds up to Rodney from the unusual angle. "You're doing it wrong," he says after a few more seconds, and John jerks a little, and winces.

Rodney puts Red Dwarf and the Coke on John's desk and comes to the foot of the bed, where he toes off his shoes. "Shove over," he orders, but he gets a hand under the back of John's neck when he wincingly obeys, and helps shift him with as little head-jostling as possible. "You'd think you've never had a head injury before," he snorts, and circles around to sit on the side of the bed without letting go of John's neck, and sinks down just above John's head, upside down again. "Okay, just a second," he says, and eases his supporting hand out from under John's neck. Then he's folding John's pillow in half and urging John to lift his head; the pillow supports his neck and lets his head just sort of rest lightly against the bed.

"That's a little better," he confesses.

"Of course it is," Rodney scolds, like John had said something ridiculous. The lights, which had been pretty dim already, soften even further. Then Rodney's thumbs come to rest lightly on his forehead.

"What are you doing?" John asks, peering at upside-down Rodney suspiciously.

Rodney sighs. "Shut up, please. I'm trying to remember how to do this."

"Do what?" John wonders aloud as the fingertips of Rodney's first two fingers press gently into his temples.

"Hm," Rodney says, and then, "Ah, yes."

And then Rodney's thumbs sweep from the center of his brow to his hairline on either side and then back again, the rest of his fingers holding a light, steady pressure against his temples.

John's eyelids flutter embarrassingly, but something he hadn't realized was knotted loosens at the base of his neck.

Rodney's thumbs still at his hairline on the second pass, and he strokes the rest of his fingers down from John's temple to his jaw, index fingers digging in just beneath the hinge carefully, just enough pressure that John's mouth drops open in response, and then back up to his temples, his brow, his jaw again, just pressing lightly this time.

"Nngh?" John says.

"Shh, John," Rodney replies quietly, and John does because Rodney's hands feel amazing framing his face, easing pain and tension away with each pass of his fingers or thumbs. John sighs and closes his eyes and lets himself go boneless in response.

"I learned to do this when I was nine," Rodney almost whispers sometime later; his breathing is slow and steady and reassuring in the dark behind John's eyelids, and John is matching it, had started breathing in time with Rodney at some point, unthinkingly. "Jeannie had migraines. Sometimes it took her hours to relax enough to fall asleep."

Rodney's fingers sweep and soothe along John's face, dip down behind his ears and press briefly, painlessly, under his eyes and down the line of his jaw. John has had massages before - although never a head massage, he'll admit - but he's never had one like this, where there's absolutely no pain involved whatsoever. His head still hurts, but it's the actual top of his skull alone, now, not the neck and the back of his head, aching with the tension of trying to hold off the pain, not his jaw from clenching or his temples from squinting and he's pretty sure this is the best thing ever.

"Best ever," he slurs at Rodney, who snorts very softly.

"Go to sleep," is all he says, though, and John does so, drifts painlessly off with the feel of Rodney's hands on his face.
**

It's his first actual sleep since the well, honestly; he shouldn't be as surprised as he is when he wakes up and discovers he's been out for fourteen hours. He stares blearily at his ceiling for about three minutes, trying to figure out why it looks weird, before he realizes it's because he's still lying halfway down his bed, feet flat on the floor. His boots are off, and the blanket has been tucked up under his heels. For a long moment, all he can think about is how amazing it is he didn't manage to roll over in his sleep and crack his head open on the floor.

It's only several minutes later, as he's standing over the Ancient toilet with his dick in his hand and pissing for what certainly seems to be a small eternity, that he realizes his head hardly hurts at all. There's none of the aching, grinding tension that has been making him miserable for the last four days, and only a little bit of throbbing. He prods at the top of his head experimentally and finds it tender, like a still-fresh bruise.

He can totally live with that.

He digs out his secret stash of coffee, considers its worthiness (Kona, which is a plus, but only four ounces, which McKay will almost certainly tear through within a day), and adds the last three Tim Tams he's been hoarding for nearly a month. He shoves them all into a paper bag and shuffles through his desk until he finds a sharpie, and writes on the outside of the bag in block letters.

CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING: ONE (1) 4 OZ BAG KONA; THREE (3) TIM TAMS; ONE (1) PKG HOSTESS TWINKIES. IN THE EVENT THAT ANY OF THESE ITEMS ARE NOT PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR ON RECEIPT, DR. MCKAY WILL FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE, YOU THIEVING ASSHOLE, AND HE WILL KILL YOU.

He doesn't sign it; Rodney knows his handwriting. By the time he's out of the shower everyone else is at lunch. He uses his powers for evil to make sure no one is in the lab when he leaves the bag on Rodney's cushy chair.

The joys of Kona and Tim Tams may be strictly transitory, but terrorizing his underlings over the disappearance of the fictitious twinkies will be forever.

It's the kind of thank you Rodney is sure to appreciate.

**

There are still a couple of people in the labs later when John stops by. He leans casually against Rodney's lab table, next to the twists of empty Tim Tam wrappers and an enormous travel coffee mug. They throw nervous looks at him, but turn back to their work with their heads tucked down and their elbows drawn in the manner of people who are trying mightily not to draw attention to themselves.

"How's your head?" Rodney asks him in a voice pitched not to travel. He doesn't look up from his laptop, but he's smiling lopsidedly at whatever he's working on.

"What do you mean, someone stole your twinkies!" John expostulates.

"You're diabolical," Rodney tells him with sincere admiration.

John smirks.

**

Thereafter follows an unprecedented week of absolute boredom. The team is stuck in Atlantis until John's skull heals, and being taken out of the off-world rotation means Rodney is hardly seen outside the labs, Ronon breaks two marines while "sparring" and is sternly chastised by Carter (while John stands behind her and tries not to laugh, since she seems almost as frustrated at having her second in command underfoot as John feels at being underfoot), and Teyla is somehow in the middle of a meal every single time John goes to the mess, including once at one in the morning when John has the uncontrollable craving for that blue, football-shaped fruit from ML5-448.

John prints out a dozen fliers showing a package of twinkies with the words "I know who you are" as the caption, and sneaks into the lab in the middle of the night to post them.

The next morning Rodney walks into senior staff eight minutes late and sets his laptop on the table, points one unsteady finger at John, and then starts laughing. He laughs so hard that he has to brace his hands on the back of a chair, and it's the contagious kind of laughter, the sort where even though no one but John has any idea what's so funny, in two minutes they're all laughing anyway. Rodney is wheezing and waving one hand as though to say 'enough already,' but he's still laughing, and Carter giggles until her face turns pink. Finally, as Rodney is gasping for breath, he lets out a small, totally unintentional snort, and John loses it completely.

Rodney finally slumps into the seat next to John's, still chortling with mirth, his face flushed and his eyes red-rimmed. He's still grinning maniacally, and this time the leaning-urge doesn't come as such a surprise.

It happens almost gradually. He's just sitting there grinning and watching Rodney reach across the corner of the table and drag his laptop over, watching him flip it open and wait for it to boot up, watching Rodney's grin slowly melt into a smaller smile, crooked and content, and it feels like the air is somehow thinner between them than it is in the rest of the room. Not suddenly, either, but like it has always been thinner; like all this time, all he had to do was stop working so hard at standing up, and he'd fall naturally in Rodney's direction.

Rodney glances over at him and takes a breath as though he's going to say something, but then doesn't. He just looks at John, still smiling, eyes warm, and John sees the lean coming.

John had seen an avalanche one time. He remembers the way the snow had shifted right before, like the mountain shrugged, how it had just rolled outward from a fixed point over long, slow seconds, powerful and unstoppable. He'd been in the air at the time, safe and snug in his Pave Hawk, but even knowing he was safe, he had stared, heart pounding and unable to look away. He remembers it as one of the most awesome - in the literal meaning of the word - things he has ever seen.

In a way that he can't actually explain, watching Rodney start to lean toward him feels just like it.

Then Carter says, "Okay, who's up first?" and Rodney turns back to his laptop.

Leanus Interruptus, John thinks ridiculously, and faces forward.

He's pretty much useless for the rest of the meeting.

**

"It's like Survivor:Atlantis in my lab," Rodney says, and John jerks upright, the motion of which starts his feet sliding, in spite of his best efforts, right off the flight console of the puddlejumper, catching briefly on the arm of the co-pilot's chair -- which in turn jerks him right back into the slouch he'd been enjoying before Rodney had startled the crap out of him -- before contacting the the metal flooring with an extremely loud sound that echoes in the enclosed space. Rodney smirks and steps around his knees to settle into the shotgun seat.

"I'm sorry?" John tries, more a stalling tactic than an actual meaningful apology as he tries to work out what Rodney is doing here without actually asking. He knows Rodney knows that John hides in the puddlejumpers when he wants to be alone, but Rodney has never interrupted him here before.

Rodney snorts. "Are you kidding me? I heard Simpson threaten Peterson by calling him 'twinkie breath.' This is the most fun I've had in months." He swivels the chair around to face John. "They're far more productive when they're pitted against one another, and incidentally trying to appease me so I won't suspect them. Vargas is working frenziedly at artificially reproducing the chemical compounds that make up the creme filling as we speak. I wouldn't be surprised if he's planning to make a deal with Sergeant Singh in the mess to actually create twinkies."

John can't help but grin. "Yeah, but they'll probably be pink."

Rodney waves a hand dismissively. "Genius cannot be constrained by previously accepted norms that have outlived their usefulness, Colonel," he says airily.

John chokes on a laugh. "Jesus, McKay, you're not even a little bit subtle," he says before he thinks to stop himself. Before he gets a chance to regret it, however, Rodney leans forward and braces his elbows on his knees, lips curled in a tiny smirk.

His gaze is blatant. .

John feels the smile fall off of his face, and has no idea what has replaced it.

"And yet it's still taken you this long to see," he says, tone equal parts gentle and smug, which John thinks shouldn't sound so normal, but it's Rodney, so it does.

John opens his mouth to say something in his own defense, something about how he never sees these things coming, but changes his mind before he actually speaks. It wouldn't be true this time, anyhow. The look on Rodney's face says that he knows exactly what's going on in John's head. It's an unlikely tangle of amusement and fondness and improbable patience overlying something darker that John can't exactly quantify. John closes his mouth, and watches Rodney's gaze snag on his lips for a handful of seconds or minutes, a bizarrely fluid stretch of time in which Rodney's expression inverts itself, softness sliding into retreat to let the focused and needful intensity beneath it show.

The thing is, John knows, is that no one gets him like Rodney gets him. Not just in Atlantis, either. Rodney gets him like no one, anywhere, ever has. No one knows the stupid shit he's capable of the way Rodney does, and Rodney is still here. He's pulled John out of firefights, out of prisons, out of the beds of insistent priestesses/princesses/chieftan's daughters, out of holes in the ground and, on one memorable occasion, out of a cookpot, even out of his own mind, and it doesn't matter that it's always with some degree of mockery or inappropriate sarcasm.

It matters that he's always there, he always does it.

The thing is, that Rodney McKay has become the constant in John Sheppard's life. Somehow over the last four years, it's Rodney that John counts on, Rodney that he protects, Rodney that he goes to when he's happy, when he needs to pick a fight, when he can't sleep, when he needs help.

The thing is, this is no different than any of that.

John licks his lips, and Rodney tips his chin up deliberately to meet his eyes.

"Do you see, John?" he asks, low and tight, and John is perfectly aware that the question is nowhere near as straightforward as it sounds. It's all there in the tension around Rodney's eyes, the stillness of his body, and John realizes that what he had mistaken for patience is actually the opposite. Everything about the way Rodney looks speaks of intense impatience, tightly controlled.

He feels himself reacting to it, an escalation of the tension in his own body, and can't help but feel a little astonished; he wouldn't have believed someone who told him Rodney McKay was capable of this level of self-control, even though he knows better than anyone that there's more to Rodney than what everyone sees.

Self defense, John thinks, and wonders why he's never thought of it before. There's so much Rodney wears right out in the open, so much on display that no one ever thinks to look much deeper.

"Yeah, Rodney," he says hoarsely, unevenly.

Rodney stares at him for several seconds, and then says, "Hmm," and stands up only to lean in slowly, eyes on John's face, as though watching for his reaction.

John doesn't lean, can't lean in the position he's sitting in, but it still feels like leaning, is just as easy as that first unsuspected moment in the labs, as he tips his chin and strains upward to meet Rodney's mouth.

It isn't tentative, but it is slow and deliberate, the careful press and drag of warm, soft lips that John makes no effort to exert any control over. Rodney's eyes stay open the whole time, and his stubble drags brightly across John's chin. It feels different and unexpectedly good, and it occurs to John that he can't remember the last guy he kissed. Rodney eases back six inches and looks at John thoughtfully. Then he puts his hand on the console and glances over his shoulder, and John hears the mechanism engage as the rear hatch of the puddlejumper closes.

He arches both brows at Rodney when he looks back at John, and Rodney lifts a single sardonic eyebrow in response. "You want to do this here?" John asks. He expects a wry smirk and a comment about Rodney's prescription mattress, but what he gets is a bright, broad grin that shaves all the tension and worry of the last four years off of Rodney's face.

"I want to do this everywhere," is what Rodney says, his voice low and frank and warm with both amusement and self-deprecation. John feels the laugh as a solid thing in his chest for a second before it escapes him, equal parts amusement and fondness, because it's so forthright, and even with Rodney's habitual honesty it's enough to make John want to grab him and kiss him again for making it so easy. Then, because mockery is second nature to Rodney even now, apparently, he adds, "Besides, everyone on Atlantis knows that you want to do it here."

"Everyone in Atlantis?" John repeats, and he's trying to smirk but his lips have other ideas and he's pretty sure that his smile is wide and goofily delighted.

"Mm-hmm," Rodney says, and touches John's mouth with the side of his thumb as though he has every right to, like it's something he does every day, something he thinks about at night. John's mouth goes dry, and a jolt of shockingly abrupt want twists at the base of his spine. He relaxes his jaw without thought and slides further down in the pilot's seat, thighs splaying wider, and watches Rodney's eyes go dark again. He still manages to say, "If you asked everyone on Atlantis to complete the sentence: 'John Sheppard wants to have sex...' at least sixty percent of them would say '...in a puddlejumper. With me.'"

John grins and Rodney's thumb fans lightly across the corner of his smile. "What would the other forty percent say?"

Rodney's eyes slide up from John's mouth to meet his gaze, and his mouth curls in the familiar, crooked half-smile that means he thinks you're a little slow, but since you're hot he isn't going to mention it. "Thirty-nine percent would just say, 'yes, please.'"

John rolls his eyes. "That doesn't complete the sentence," he points out, but Rodney's thumb slides from the corner of his mouth to the side of his jaw until his whole hand is cupped around the side of John's face. Rodney's fingertips drag through the hair just above his ear, making John's scalp prickle and the fine hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

Rodney steps closer, sliding his knees in between both of John's. It doesn't really change anything other than the angle (and Rodney will probably bitch about the strain on his back at some later time), but it's still Rodney between his thighs, and it makes John swallow hard. "That thirty-nine percent isn't very smart," Rodney tells him, and uses his hand to tip John's face at an angle that he apparently likes, if the little hum he makes is any indication. "You can't expect them to follow instructions when they're thinking about you having sex."

Rodney's chin tips down in what John reads as a precursor to further kissing, and this time he braces an elbow on the seat behind him and pushes up so that the leaning is a little more mutual. Rodney makes a low sound against John's mouth, and a second later John has his free hand around the back of Rodney's neck and his tongue in Rodney's mouth with no memory of making the decision to do either of those things. Rodney gasps a little, like he's surprised, but it doesn't stop him from sliding his tongue along John's or biting gently at it until John makes a grating sound that is related to a groan but comes off a little more desperately than that.

Rodney pulls back to look at him again. This time his mouth is wet and kiss-flushed and his cheeks are pink. His eyes are glittering and dark, irises reduced to slim rings of blue, which should make the intense focus of his gaze impossible, but it just figures that Rodney McKay could manage deeply thoughtful and panting with lust simultaneously.

"Rodney," John objects hoarsely, and Rodney's eyes narrow slightly.

"Aren't you going to ask me about the other one percent?" Rodney asks thickly with the barest flicker of a smile, but his still-wet and slightly parted lips are so completely distracting that John can't bring himself to care much about what he's actually saying.

John blinks and flexes both arms, the one braced against the back of the chair pushing him further upright, the other one dragging Rodney's back toward him at the same time. "I don't care about the other one percent," he says, exasperated. "Can we please focus here?"

Rodney lets John pull him in, but balks an inch and a half away; John puts more force into his lean, but Rodney stops him with a hand braced at the top of his chest. "I am focused," he says, eyes locked intently on John's, mouth tugging downward at one corner. "John." He takes a deep breath. "Are you?"

John is confused for the space of maybe two heartbeats, feeling the tension under the hand he has curled around the back of Rodney's neck and looking at the almost frown that half of Rodney's mouth is displaying, before he has a flash of epiphany that explains the way Rodney is looking at him now, the way he hadn't kissed John in the infirmary, the way he'd let John retreat that first night in the lab without a single sarcastic syllable.

And this is the second time, he realizes, that Rodney has asked him what boils down to the same question.

John has never successfully talked about anything in his entire life, and while Rodney would probably tell him that means he's statistically due for success, John isn't keen on risking it. The fact that his cock is wedged at an uncomfortable angle in his BDUs and he can see Rodney's nipples poking happily at the material of his t-shirt only makes him less willing to risk fucking this up by opening his mouth. John considers his options and decides on a frontal assault, making an effort to tug Rodney in again. Predictably, Rodney resists, and the prolonged silence is starting to make the rest of Rodney's mouth look unhappy as well.

So. Sneak attack it is.

He reverses the direction of his tug, and that combined with Rodney's continued resistance forces Rodney to take a step back to maintain his balance. John scoots his ass off the edge of the pilots seat and slides onto his knees in the sliver of space this creates in front of Rodney. He can see Rodney's cock straining against the taut fabric of his pants about two inches from John's face, and is ridiculously reassured by it. When he looks up, Rodney is staring down at him looking almost helpless with want, lips parted to accommodate the quick, panting breaths he's taking, eyes glazed. "John," he says, and it doesn't sound anything like an objection, so thoroughly has he been derailed.

John is far better at saying it with blowjobs, anyway, and Rodney's expression pretty much guarantees that he's not going to object, which alleviates the need for John to speak at all. He is hyper-aware of the warmth of Rodney's thumb resting against the lowest curve of his bottom lip, and the feel of Rodney's palm against the hinge of his jaw makes his mouth water with anticipation. Which means it makes even less sense when John hears himself say, "I'm focused."

Rodney's hand flexes on John's face, fingertips pressing briefly behind his ear as Rodney makes a low, twisted noise, like a growl and a sob at the same time. Want clenches in John's belly hard, and his fingers begin to fumble purposefully at Rodney's fly in response, but his mouth seems wholly disconnected from the rest of him (which has gone frantic with lust, from his aching cock to the formerly unrealized erogenous zone behind his ear), and just keeps going, making talking as easy as it had been to lean at Rodney in the first place, a soft murmur of, "It's okay, I'm with you, I want this, too." He's just managed to drag down Rodney's zipper when Rodney lunges down at him, bunching one hand in John's shirt and hauling him into an awkward half-standing position made even more awkward by the fact that the two of them are crammed into the slim aisle between the front-most seats in the cockpit, but John forgets about it almost as soon as he notices because when Rodney kisses him this time, it's nothing like careful or deliberate.

It's the exact opposite of careful and deliberate, in fact, is fast and reckless and complete with clashing teeth and a bright splash of pain when Rodney bites hard at John's tongue, is wet and so goddamned hot that John forgets what he was doing and grabs Rodney's ass with both hands, straightening up to align their bodies correctly so he can feel the rough grind of Rodney's cock against his through both of their pants. Rodney groans into John's mouth, and John spits, "Fuck, Rodney, oh fuck," back at him with deep and sincere appreciation.

When they pull apart, Rodney mutters, "I take it back, this is the worst place ever for sex, and I hate you," but his hands are shoving John's shirt up to splay warmly across John's ribs, and John is having a hard time believing him.

"There is no bad place for sex," John growls back, and then hisses when one of Rodney's thumbs drags across a nipple. He grabs at the bottom of his t-shirt and jerks it over his head one-handed, and Rodney rocks back a little, his eyes raking across John's chest before he jerks forward and bites John's collarbone hard enough that John opens his mouth to yelp and instead lets out a low, throaty groan.

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say," Rodney snaps, lips leaving hot, damp trails as they move against the base of John's throat. John closes his eyes and tips his head back, and Rodney takes the opportunity to lick all the way up the column of his throat and nip at John's chin until John angles their lips together again, which makes it easier to get at Rodney with his hands physically, but harder also due to the extreme distraction of Rodney's slick tongue sliding along John's bottom lip.

He gives up trying to get under Rodney's shirt and just goes for a nipple through it, and Rodney lets out a harsh, choked sound that makes John's hips snap forward. His fingers on Rodney's nipple tighten instinctively, far tighter than John means to squeeze, but Rodney's head falls back on his neck and his hips jerk forward to meet John's. "Please, please, Jesus," Rodney pants, and John's cock jerks in his pants in the equivalent of the two-minute warning.

"Shit," John mutters, and pulls back, grabbing Rodney's shoulders at the same time and shoving him down into the shotgun seat.

"John," Rodney objects, and reaches for him, and John can't quite bring himself to evade Rodney's hands, even if it means he ends up shooting in his pants during what he thinks is probably his only shot at puddlejumper sex, if Rodney has his way. He drops to his knees again, leaning into Rodney's hands, which tangle themselves in John's hair and drag him into another kiss, this one wetter and more pornographic than John has ever experienced in his entire life. Rodney's hands in his hair force John's head back, and he doesn't even try to keep Rodney from prying his mouth open and fucking it with his slick, hot tongue. He just fumbles at Rodney's chest, bunching the t-shirt up under his armpits rather than pulling away long enough to get it off, and listens to Rodney make the hottest noises imaginable into John's mouth while John brushes his fingertips across his nipples. "Yeah, please, John," Rodney slurs against John's lips, and he makes a hitching, helpless noise when John shoves Rodney's fly out of the way and cups a hand around his cock over his boxers. Rodney is thick and hot under John's palm, and the way he twitches his hips to shove his cock up against John's hand makes John feel a little crazy.

"I want to suck you," he grates out, and Rodney abruptly arches his hips up off the seat and shoves his pants and boxers all the way down until they're bunched at his ankles on top of his boots.

"Knock yourself out," Rodney gasps breathlessly, and John snorts out a helpless laugh. "Metaphorically speaking," he adds after a second, and John kisses him again, partly to shut him up, he'll admit, but mostly because kissing Rodney is hot as hell, unexpectedly easy, and possibly addictive. He cups Rodney's hips, thumbs sliding over the bumps of his hipbones, and Rodney's hands stroke across his face, card through his hair. He doesn't seem in any particular hurry as he kisses John back, dragging his lips along John's cheekbone, licking at his upper lip, nuzzling at his throat, until he breathes, "Touch me," against the angle of John's jaw, rough and pleading at once, and John loses all thoughts of making it last and focuses instead on making it good.

He curls a hand around Rodney's cock and gives one firm upward tug as he sweeps his tongue along one of Rodney's pink little nipples. He means it to be exploratory, just to get a feel for what does it for Rodney, but Rodney shouts and squirms and John recognizes it for what it is just in time to tighten his hand around Rodney's cock and catch his nipple between his teeth, just in time to ease him through it when he shudders and arches and comes all over John's chest.

Nipples are a go, check, John thinks, stunned and so painfully turned on that he has to fumble at the front of his own pants, get his cock free before he fractures something vital. "Jesus," he pants, "Jesus Christ, McKay."

"Yes, well," Rodney says, and John sees that he's flushed, one side of his mouth quivering crookedly, "need I remind you that I've been waiting for weeks for you to..." He lets the sentence die when he looks at John, which John figures means the hotness of the last thirty seconds is written all over his face. "Ah," Rodney says, and gets a little pinker. "Oh." Then his gaze drops down to where John has one hand curled around the base of his cock, and his face loses all trace of embarrassment in favor of heated focus. He licks his lips, and John's cock twitches hopefully. His eyes snap up to John's face, and he says, "Can you stand up, can you-" he waves his hands, and then apparently deciding it'll be faster to do it himself, grabs John and drags him to his feet. He uses one hand to swivel the pilots chair around and the other to shove John against it. He gives the chair a brief, sharp-eyed look, and John feels it lock in place. Then he gives John the exact same look, and says, "Don't think this means I've forgotten about the blow job you owe me," and goes down on John all at once, before John can even think of protesting that Rodney's lack of blowjob totally wasn't his fault.

John swallows a groan with limited success and forces his hips to be still as Rodney's chin bumps up against his balls. He watches, unable to even contemplate looking away as Rodney pulls back slowly, eyelashes fluttering against the upper curves of his cheeks, mouth stretched around John's cock. "Rodney," John groans and slides a fingertip along the side of Rodney's mouth just to feel the stretch of skin there. Rodney hmms and reaches up to swipe his hand across John's chest. It isn't until Rodney wraps his hand around the base of John's cock and strokes, his tongue curling hot and slick around the head at the same time, that John's brain catches up with the fact that Rodney's using his own come to slick the base of John's cock, and his balls contract so hard that he lets out a hoarse cry and has to brace one hand on the console to remain upright. Rodney hmms again, clearly pleased, and works his hand and mouth on John's cock in perfect tandem, hard friction and soft-wet heat that has John's eyes rolling into the back of his head and his thighs shuddering, balls so tight that they ache with it.

"Rodney," he warns, and slides his hand around to cup the back of Rodney's head. Rodney's hand drops from the base of his cock to cup his balls, his mouth sliding all the way down in one fluid movement; John can feel the back of Rodney's throat fluttering against the head of his cock, the quiet almost-strangled sounds that Rodney is making, which are, God, just so hot and wrong, but Rodney won't let John's hand tugging at his hair stop him. "Rodney, Rodney, Rodney," he groans, and Rodney's free hand curls hard and bracing around his hip just as John's whole body jerks, arching and straining. A low, pained sound drags its way from somewhere low in his belly all the way up and out of his open throat as Rodney's mouth works him through his orgasm, suction and friction and the mind-bending choked-wet sounds that Rodney makes as he swallows.

"Jesus," John slurs stupidly, feeling dazed and baffled, leaning most of his weight on the console. Rodney gets to his feet and uses the side of his thumb to wipe at the corner of his smug grin. John feels his lips curling in response and is unable to stop it. Honestly, he doesn't try that hard. "Christ, I can't believe how good that was," he says, and it's absolutely true. He absolutely cannot believe it. It has to be a fluke. It's not just the best blowjob he's ever had; it's the best blowjob he's ever had by several orders of magnitude. It's better than the best blowjob he's ever imagined.

Rodney goes pink again, but doesn't lose his smug smile. "You remember that I'm a genius, right?"

John waves his free hand. "You can't walk and operate the life-signs detector at the same time, Rodney. How was I supposed to predict this?"

Rodney snorts and opens his mouth, and they both nearly jump out of their skins when Carter's voice says, "Puddlejumper One, this is Atlantis. Please identify yourself."

They exchange a look, wide-eyed, and then Rodney leans over the console to look out the front windshield. "Oh, just wonderful. We're hovering." He turns an accusing look on John. "Honestly, what does it say about this galaxy that I should actually ever have to say out loud: do not interface with Ancient technology while engaged in sexual activity." He rolls his eyes at John and gives every indication of being aggravated, but one side of his mouth is twitching and John isn't fooled, even by the acidly sarcastic, "Well done, Colonel," that Rodney tacks on at the end. There's no way that Rodney is anything but smug as shit about getting John off so hard that he accidentally flew.

John gives him a narrow-eyed look which he's willing to bet is miles less effective while post-coital, and keys the comm. "Atlantis, this is Sheppard. Sorry about that. I was just messing around."

There's a pause, and Carter sounds long-suffering when she responds. "Colonel Sheppard, I trust you weren't planning to go joyriding while you're still suffering from a head injury."

John talks the 'jumper into settling back to the ground before answering. Rodney mutters, "Clearly she doesn't know you very well." John ignores him.

"No current plans to joyride, Colonel," John answers, letting his grin bleed through in his voice. "Like I said, I was just messing around. I'll stop. Sheppard out."

By the time John turns away from the console, Rodney has his pants up and is looking only slightly mussed by the preceding half-hour. Comparatively, John is naked aside from his BDUs bunched on top of his boots, and is pretty sure he looks ridiculous. Rodney is giving him a look that is a little wary, but mostly blatantly admiring, which goes a long way toward making him feel less stupid.

"Your dream-woman just blitzed my afterglow, McKay," John drawls pointedly as he pulls up his pants, and Rodney scowls and rolls his eyes.

"You're not getting another blowjob until you make good on the one you owe me," he says, and bends to pick up John's shirt.

John holds out a hand, and Rodney closes the distance between them to hand it over. John leans in to take it, tipping his chin up at the same time, easy and thoughtless and normal, and Rodney tips his chin the other way and meets him in the middle. John can feel the crooked tilt of his mouth against his lips. "What if I let you fuck me, after," he murmurs against Rodney's mouth, which promptly drops open enough to admit John's tongue. He laughs as one of Rodney hands curls urgently around his upper arm, fingertips sinking into his biceps.

"John," Rodney says, and tips his face into the curve of John's neck. John's hand curls of its own accord around the back of Rodney's neck, and they just stand there for a few seconds, Rodney's hair tickling John's nose.

"Yeah?" John asks eventually.

"The other one percent are lesbians."

John laughs.


**