Rodney watches another drop of sweat roll, slow as honey, down Shepherd’s forehead towards his temple. It hangs delicately in a strand of hair plastered to his face by the hard work of the day, falls to roll over a cheekbone, then drops quick as light to his chest, golden and bare in the Athosian summer sun. Rodney watches, fascinated, the ache of want temporarily canceling out the instinct towards caution, as it slides down skin peppered with curly hair. Silk and wire to the touch, he imagines, as the same drop traces a path, almost delicately, over abs defined by sharp muscle and lithe strength.
As if to draw out his torture, or prolong his pleasure, the drop of sweat slows as it nears the loose waist of Sheppard’s pants, defying gravity just like Rodney’s own heart, flipping randomly at odd moments. And then – and then it slithers, soft as his own fingers would be, down and down, until suddenly, it’s gone, absorbed into the sweat-soaked waistline of the BDUs which cling, barely, to Sheppard’s hips.
The spell breaks, and he feels himself flush, looking up swiftly under his eyelashes to make sure Sheppard hasn’t seen - . But his heart stops, because Sheppard - John is looking at him, watching him, with a look on his face – a look Rodney can’t decipher.
Everything is still, silent, for a beat of time, and Rodney’s heart twists, because he’s blown it for good and forever now, and nothing will ever be the same.
Except then Sheppard, half-naked, dark sweat-soaked hair making his eyes electric, steps close to Rodney, and then closer still. Rodney can’t breathe, seriously has no air left in his body, and then he thinks maybe he’s hallucinating the whole thing from oxygen-deprivation, because John reaches out a tanned, muscled arm, lifts a hand to Rodney’s brow, and brushes his burning fingers over Rodney’s forehead, once, twice, three heart-stoppingly slow times, wiping the gathered sweat away, then lets his hand fall. “Sweat’s gonna get in your eyes,” he says.
Rodney gapes a minute, but he’s not a genius for nothing, so he lets his shaking hand lift toward John’s face, where another drop of sweat is hovering, this time sliding down his cheek, heading to his mouth, or close enough. John lifts his eyebrow at Rodney, and is that a dare? Because, no problem, he’s in, so he rests his hand feather-light on John’s cheek and lets his thumb brush, once, silky over John’s upper lip, swiping away the bead threatening to slither into John’s mouth. “Hot day,” Rodney manages to rasp, forcing himself to step back, reclaim the necessary distance, pulse stuttering wildly.
They don’t touch again the rest of that day. Rodney would almost think that he daydreamed the whole thing, coming back to the sleeping starlit city late that night, body aching from hard work and long deprivation. He really has himself almost convinced it was some fever dream brought on by heat and John’s bare chest, and has himself definitely convinced that if they did have a moment of mutual madness, it would be better for everyone to chalk it up to the Athosian heat wave. And maybe that would even be true.
Then John, leaning against the side of the transporter after the two of them get in, says, “Hot day.”
“Yeah,” Rodney manages, cutting a quick glance to the still-open doors, then a longer glance at John. His clothes are clinging to his body where he’s sweated through them, his hair a little flattened for once, hanging in moisture-glued clumps around his dirt-streaked face. Rodney can smell him from his side of the transporter, redolent of earth and hard work and something else – something male that’s kicking Rodney’s heart rate up, making his hands clench into fists against his want.
When Rodney finally raises his eyes to John’s face, there’s a smirk there, but John’s eyes – John’s eyes are fixed firmly on Rodney’s mouth.
Rodney decides, fuck it.
The doors snick shut just in time.