John would never have agreed to it if Ronon hadn't thoroughly vetted the Alvanians first. And after learning no, they had no designs towards his advanced genes and yes, they were just that physically affectionate, he was willing to play along for the sake of peaceful trading agreements. He even volunteered to be the first among his team to try the Inlas nectar, in spite of Ronon's assurances that it was not a sacrifice that needed to be made. The vial of amber liquid was pressed into his palm, and John mimicked the movements of the people around him, drawing out the stopper and placing a drop on his tongue. The liquid was cool and tasteless. It was the young woman, Kaiah, who approached him first. John could not refuse at that point, and he had agreed to do this, so he leaned forward until their tongues touched, in what he hoped was a suitable kiss.
He didn't know what he expected. There was nothing, no taste to the nectar. It was just a kiss, and after a moment they parted. Kaiah gave him a warm, if somewhat wistful smile, and the celebrations commenced. The food was decadent, the tureen of wine they passed around even more so. People ate and drank, and throughout it all, continued trading kisses with those around them.
The Inlas nectar, as Ronon had explained it, measured compatibility. There was no drugging involved, and a sign of compatibility was not some sort of binding contract, as John had originally feared. The Alvanians were simply strong believers in affection, showing that affection and sharing it with everyone around them. And they enjoyed themselves most when they found someone they were 'compatible' with. Rodney started talking about chemical responses to stimuli, and how the Inlas nectar probably reacted to a shared hormonal reaction between two individuals, and how Carson was probably better equipped to explain it all, and that they should probably try to bring some samples back to Atlantis with them.
Rodney's rambling was cut off, and John turned his head, ready to act if he was in some sort of trouble—but no, Rodney was fine. A woman introduced to them as Erensa was offering the vial to Rodney, and John turned his head away quickly at the unpleasant lurching in his gut. He took another swig of wine that was offered, enjoying the buzz it brought.
Music began playing, and the Alvanians took to dancing. Every few moments there would be a pause while more drops of the Inlas nectar were exchanged, more kisses shared, and couples would continue dancing or slip away to the colorful line of tents. Teyla joined the dance circle, and after a few minutes reached an arm out to Ronon. John was not surprised to look in their direction later and see the stopper held out between them, placing drops of the nectar on their tongues. They kissed, and John could see the moment it deepened. Dancers in the circle clapped around them, and John forced himself to pull his eyes away.
John didn't look back at Rodney. He didn't want to see if he was still kissing Erensa, or maybe someone else at this point. He didn't want to know if they'd been compatible. Several other Alvanians approached John, women and a couple men. He accepted two other kisses from women for the sake of diplomacy, and only because he knew what the compatibility results would be. The nectar remained tasteless on his tongue. He was not curious enough to try it with the men. After that, he declined more kisses in what he hoped was a gracious manner. At that point, everyone had enough wine in them that they weren't offended.
It was the buzz of wine and Teyla's coaxing that finally brought John out into the dance circle. He didn't know what he was doing, he was terrible at this sort of thing—but the music was playing, and people were clapping. And John had had enough wine to not care about his own terrible dancing. Firelight danced around them, casting long, constantly-shifting shadows on the sand. John didn't know if it was Teyla's doing, but no one else approached him to share kisses. That was all very well. He didn't want their kisses. He wanted…
John halted. Rodney was standing there, at the edge of the dance circle. The firelight illuminated his face, highlighting the angles of his cheekbones and jaw. His mouth was slack in an unreadable expression, and his eyes were blue. So blue. A flicker crossed Rodney's expression, and he raised his hand. It took John a moment to register what Rodney was holding.
It was his vial of Inlas nectar. John couldn't be sure, but it looked full, like none of it had been used. John felt the surprise registering on his face, which redoubled as Rodney slowly pulled the stopper from the vial. And then, deliberately, Rodney placed a drop of the nectar on the end of his tongue.
John was transfixed, mind caught up somewhere between the fact that Rodney's vial was still full and that Rodney had been the one to instigate this, regs be damned. John remembered the twisty feeling in his gut from earlier. Of all the kisses he had been offered tonight, this was the only one he wanted to accept.
John pulled out his own vial and touched the end of the stopper to his tongue. The cool liquid rested there, and for a moment John wondered if nothing were to happen. What then? But Rodney was leaning in, and no time for either of them to back out now. He angled his head.
Their tongues touched just the barest amount before parting. At the place of contact, John felt warmth blossoming. He drew in a quick breath, and saw the surprise mirrored in Rodney's own expression. John leaned in further until their tongues and lips met again, and where their mouths connected there was honeyed sweetness. Rodney seemed to sigh into John's mouth, and John deepened the kiss, wanting to chase that warmth and sweetness and something else, undefinable, beneath it all. Something that was just Rodney.
When John pulled back he realized he had a small audience, Teyla and Ronon and a few others staring in rapt attention. He could only stare at Rodney, however, who looked somewhat dazed as he opened his eyes. His pupils were dilated, with only a thin ring of blue surrounding them.
"Wow," Rodney breathed, and John realized he liked that. Liked it when Rodney was breathless and reduced to single-syllable utterances. Liked the way Rodney's bottom lip looked, his tongue just barely visible behind it.
John reached his thumb out to trace the slickness there on Rodney's lip. Rodney seemed to hold his breath as John brought the thumb back to his own mouth. That honeyed sweetness was still there, heady and intoxicating. Diminished only somewhat from its original intensity. John could see how these people found it so alluring, to find the one with whom you were compatible.
Compatible. That ought to be freaking John out, but all he could feel when he looked at Rodney was amazement and relief and a swelling in his chest he couldn't yet put words toward. And with that the desire to kiss him more, until the sweetness of the Inlas nectar was gone and only Rodney remained.
It was Rodney who made that decision for him, letting out an impatient huff and "Honestly, people say I never see this coming?"—before grabbing John and pulling him forward until their lips met again in delicious tandem.