John found the rest of his team sitting at the conference table waiting for him. He surveyed them sitting there, enjoying the sight of Teyla holding her sleeping son close. Ronon sat next to her, leaning back in his chair. He watched the baby with a soft look on his face. When he saw John watching him, he straightened, studiously ignoring the sleeping baby.
John had to bite back a smile. Despite his reputation as a fierce warrior, Ronon loved babies and eagerly took his turn at caring for Torren whenever Teyla needed him. John remembered flying the dart with the sleeping baby warm and snug in his lap. He knew how Ronon felt, he was looking forward to the time when he could take his own turn at taking care of Torren. He'd even heard a rumor that Rodney had been drafted for baby-sitting duty. He'd heard that Rodney hadn't complained too loudly.
Rodney had his lap top open in front of him and was typing away, ignoring everyone equally. When John entered the room, Rodney stared up at him with wide eyes. His intent blue gaze took in John's pale face, the falter in his step, the way he kept his elbow tucked in protecting his injured side.
Rodney's mouth tightened and he sipped at the cup of coffee he took with him wherever he went before he said anything. "Should you be up? You just had surgery."
Rodney looked kind of pissed at him. Why John just didn't understand. There was no way he could have avoided that rebar in Michael's building when it fell on them. So it wasn't his fault he'd been impaled. But it was his fault that he'd pretty much convinced Keller to let him go on the mission to rescue Teyla even though he was already injured. And Rodney wasn't going to let that one go anytime soon. But John would do it again. And Rodney knew that, too.
John eased himself into a chair, refusing to meet Rodney's eyes. "My surgery was a few days ago, Rodney. Thanks for your concern. Keller said I was doing fine and I could go to my quarters if I took it easy." He reached out to snag Rodney's coffee cup. Keller wouldn't let him have any coffee in the infirmary and he needed the caffeine. Rodney drew his cup away out of John's reach with a frown.
"This is taking it easy?" Rodney challenged him. "You look like you're going to fall over any minute."
"Don't exaggerate, McKay," John told him. "I'm fine."
Rodney snorted. Ronon and Teyla exchanged a skeptical glance.
John gave an exaggerated sigh. "Fine, as soon as we're done here, I'll go to my room and rest. Are you happy?"
He glared at his team. He hated being coddled and they knew it.
Teyla inclined her head, "That will be satisfactory."
"Good. Now, what have you found out about Carter?"
The slash of Rodney's mouth got tighter if that was possible. "She's really not coming back. They're replacing her with Richard Woolsey. Of all the asinine things, I can't even tell you how idiotic the IOA is..." Rodney started, getting warmed up on his rant. John tried to get comfortable, but that was just not happening. Maybe he should have left the meeting for later, but there was no way he was admitting that to his team.
"Stupid," Ronon commented, effectively cutting Rodney's rant short.
Rodney frowned at him. "Yes, well we've still got a couple of weeks before the Daedalus gets here," he clutched his coffee cup to him. "Surely we can think of something by then."
"Something, Rodney?" John's brow lifted. It was pretty much the only part of him that didn't hurt.
"You know, like cloaking the city. Maybe Woolsey will think we finally blew ourselves up and he'll go back to earth?" Rodney regarded them all, seeking their approval of his brilliant plan.
Ronon nodded, "It could work."
Teyla frowned at them, "no, I am afraid it would not," she said before John could speak.
"And why not?" Rodney demanded.
"Well, Rodney," John answered him, "as much as we'd like to think otherwise, Woolsey is smarter than the Wraith."
"You sure?" Ronon leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms. "He didn't seem that smart to me."
John refused to grin, "Pretty sure."
Rodney's rolled his eyes, "Okay, then, I guess we're at plan B," he said.
John was almost afraid to ask. "And Plan B would be?"
Rodney and Ronon exchanged a glance. John felt a thrill of fear go up his back. Nothing good could come of Ronon and Rodney working together.
"It's a little out there, but I think it could work," Rodney said quickly, like if he talked fast enough he could bludgeon them into submission with his words. "We can just leave the city and fight the wraith on our own."
Teyla gave John a glance that said he was on his own.
"Let's call that Plan C," John temporized. "Any other ideas?"
"I could shoot him," Ronon offered.
John was glad he was sitting down for that one. He could *feel* the rush of blood as it left his face.
Teyla frowned at Ronon. "Ronon, you can not do that. It is against Earth laws," Teyla said primly. Torren shifted restlessly, making little baby noises in preparation to waking. She shifted him to her shoulder, bouncing him a little in her arms.
Ronon shrugged, "I'd make it look like an accident."
"No, no," John said hastily. He could never quite tell when Ronon was joking so he was quick to add, "Let's table that idea, I'm pretty sure we can think of something else."
"Just let me know," Ronon patted his gun fondly.
"Oh, I know," Rodney snapped his fingers and beamed at them. They all looked at him expectantly and he just kept beaming at them.
Finally John snapped, "Well, are you going to share with the rest of the class?"
"It's so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner." Rodney smiled smugly.
"Yes?" John drawled the word out in the way that he knew made Rodney a little crazy.
Rodney threw him a glare before he explained, "We can declare ourselves a free colony and make me king."
There was a moment of stunned silence where John thought Ronon might shoot Rodney. "And once we've cut off all ties with Earth, where are you going to get more coffee?" John asked with a raised eyebrow.
Rodney's face fell and he pulled his coffee cup to him. "I didn't think of that. Let me work on that plan some more."
"You do that," John told him.
Teyla patted Torren a bit as he shifted restlessly on her shoulder, "Could we not allow Mister Woolsey to come to Atlantis and see how he does?" she asked, in the same careful tone she used when she was dealing with natives who wanted to sacrifice the team.
"Are you insane?" Rodney stared at her aghast. "We'll all be dead inside of a week."
"I'd give us four days," Ronon said thoughtfully.
Rodney's eyes narrowed as he considered what Ronon had said. "Really? Things are pretty quiet right now. We could make it a week."
"You bet seven days on Chuck's pool, didn't you, McKay?" Ronon huffed a laugh.
John's head was beginning to ache and he was rethinking the going-to-his-room-and-resting plan. It was looking better and better all the time. "I can't believe you guys are betting on the possibility of Woolsey failing miserably as commander of Atlantis."
Teyla frowned at them, shaking her head sadly. "It is our job to make sure that he succeeds."
"Oh, now *that's* a bad plan," Rodney informed her tartly.
Teyla regarded him with narrowed eyes. John thought Rodney should quit while he was ahead.
But Rodney never knew when to quit, because he continued with, "It'll be our lives on the line when Woolsey screws up. We'll all die horrible, tragic deaths."
Teyla paused a moment before she answered. John thought that she was probably planning her retribution. Not that Teyla would ever call it that. She would say something like, "I was only teaching him a lesson for his own good" when she kicked Rodney's ass. At least that's always what she said when John was on his knees, her bantos rods at his neck.
John decided it was time to intervene, "Okay, well, we've still got some time before the Daedalus gets here to come up with something." John pushed himself up and regretted it immediately when something in his side twinged with pain. He collapsed back in the chair with a muffled oath. He shut his eyes, just for a moment until he could gather the strength to get his feet under him and go to his room.
A hand was shaking his shoulder. John opened his eyes, surprised to find himself in his room. Rodney sat on the bed next to him, peering down at John anxiously.
"Rodney?" John asked sleepily. He stretched and regretted it immediately when pain shot through him. He bit back a small gasp and wilted back into his pillows.
"I'm here," Rodney assured him. He grabbed the small bottle of pills that Keller had sent with John when she released him from the infirmary. He shook out one of the little pills and held it out to John.
John didn't like it, but he took the medication without argument. Rodney handed him a bottle of water. John swallowed the pill down with a healthy swig of the water.
"Thanks," he said, his voice a little rusty.
"Sounded like an interesting dream," Rodney commented as he put the pills and the water bottle back on the table.
John tried to push himself up into a more upright position, but had to give up when his body just wouldn't cooperate. Rodney busied himself with fluffing pillows and helping John to sit up. When he was done Rodney leaned forward and kissed John gently. It wasn't a passionate kiss, it was just a chaste brushing together of their lips, an assurance of his presence, more comfort than passion. It warmed John, helping more than the pill at easing the pain. He slid his arms around Rodney, enjoying his solid warmth.
"The dream?" Rodney murmured into his ear.
John sighed. Neither of them were good at the touchy-feely stuff, but Rodney was tenacious. When he felt like they needed to talk he'd worry at it until John talked or exploded. And even after he exploded, Rodney still expected him to talk. Usually it was just easier to get it over with.
"I guess I'm just a little worried about Woolsey. Sam knew about... us," John never quite knew what to call what he and Rodney had. It was so much more than a 'thing,' but he hesitated to call it a relationship. John always failed at relationships, and he didn't want to fail at this. "She never said anything, but I could tell she knew. Woolsey is so by the book. I'm just..."
"We could stop," Rodney offered quietly, his face buried in John's neck where he couldn't see it. But John knew what it cost him.
John had actually thought that once. They should stop before someone caught them. Their relationship was against USAF regs, and there were a million other reasons they shouldn't be together. But that had been at the beginning of... whatever it was they were doing – before Rodney had been trapped at the bottom of the ocean, before Rodney had offered to give up his life for his sister's, before John had gone 48,000 years in the future to find Rodney waiting for him to make everything right again. He couldn't stop now, even if he still wanted to, which he most adamantly didn't.
John shook his head. "No, not an option," he said.
He could feel Rodney's body relax in his arms, felt Rodney's smile against his skin where Rodney pressed a kiss. "Well, then, I'm sure Radek and I can arrange an accident, no one will ever find the body."
John huffed out a laugh, followed by another pained moan. "Don't make me laugh, it hurts." Rodney tried to pull away, afraid he was hurting John, but John wouldn't let him go. "And no, you can't get rid of Woolsey. We've survived the Wraith and the Genii and the replicators. We'll survive Richard Woolsey."
"And us?" Rodney asked softly.
John shifted slowly so that he could see Rodney's face. He leaned in and pressed his mouth to Rodney's, kissing him slow and sweet, a promise of more when John was healed. "We'll just have to be careful he never finds out. I don't intend to give you up ever." He let Rodney read the words that John couldn't speak out loud.
Rodney smiled at him, his hand cupping John's cheek. "Now that's a plan I can get behind."