Everyone was fine.
It wasn’t the first time a mission had gone balls up, and it sure as hell wouldn’t be the last. The important thing was, everyone was fine. No one had fallen to their death or been frozen, even though McKay had given it one hell of a try, shivering and leaning into John’s arm like it was the only thing holding him up as they stumbled through the gate.
Beckett had cleared him, told him to rest. McKay was probably sleeping soundly in his room, lips parted softly, no longer tinged with blue. Was probably warm under the covers, breath slow and even, not panicked and short and hissed through chattering teeth. Probably.
John punched his pillow, turning over in an angry effort to find a comfortable position. Goddamnit. Everyone was fine, McKay was fine, and there was no reason for him to be losing sleep over this. Except…
when he closed his eyes he saw McKay, too pale, too fragile, blue in his lips and his fingers and the hollows under his eyes; shaking so hard he couldn’t speak, and that was the most terrifying thing… that silence, broken only by the percussive rattle of teeth on teeth, and it was wrong to see McKay so quiet, and John had been afraid that… that…
God damn it.
He was through the door before he even thought about it, hardly taking a second to look at McKay, sprawled on his stomach and sleeping just as soundly as John knew he would be. Looking wouldn’t be enough; he was aware of this in the same way he was aware he was not acting rationally as he shoved his way into McKay’s bed.
“The fuck?” McKay said, still mostly asleep, and the relief at hearing just those two words hit John like a physical blow. He wrapped himself around McKay’s back, one arm firm across his chest, feeling his heartbeat and his breath and the heat coming off his skin.
“Shut up and go back to sleep,” John ordered, curling a little closer. McKay twisted against him, pressed his foot back against John’s legs in what was probably meant to be a kick, but he obeyed. His toes were ice cold where they rested against John’s shins, but John didn’t move away.
He fell asleep to the rhythm of McKay’s breath, and the thought of melting ice.
The next time, John had honestly gone to McKay’s quarters to give him a piece of his mind. If he could be bothered to spend an hour or so in the gym once in a while, then John wouldn’t have to literally drag his ass up and carry him home after things got a little intense.
The late hour didn’t matter; McKay hardly ever slept these days, and the way John’s body ached all over was not exactly conducive to rest. His breath hitched a little as the door opened, and it was entirely because of the cracked ribs; nothing to do with the way McKay was asleep on his side, sheets pushed down by his hips, the bare skin of his back mottled with bruises.
John exhaled, and reached out to brush gentle fingers over the darkest mark. McKay shifted over, humming absently in his sleep, but he wasn’t trying to get away. He was making room. John climbed into bed without thinking about it, and continued to not think about it as McKay reached back for his wrist, tugging gently until John’s arm was around him, hand pressed against his heart. He didn’t think about it, and closed his eyes.
He woke up hours later, his face tucked against the back of McKay’s neck, and as comfortable as it was, John had a reason for coming here. But he looked at McKay, still asleep and drooling slightly into his pillow, and for reasons that had nothing to do with how stupidly endearing that was, he decided not to wake him.
John left him a note.
Get your ass to the gym at 1000 hours. I'm sick and goddamned tired of having to haul you to the gate because you're out of shape. - JS
He wasn’t surprised at the email response he received later that day.
Up yours. - RMcK
When John entered McKay’s quarters, the third time, Rodney was curled up on his side of the bed, the covers turned down and inviting. He felt like he was being made fun of somehow as he slipped under the blankets, but Rodney didn’t laugh; didn’t resist when John ran careful hands over his arm, his chest, down his side, feeling him warm and alive and whole under his fingers. Rodney just sighed a little and relaxed into the touch, leaning back against John’s chest, like maybe he wanted the reassurance, too. It didn't have to mean anything.
He sent Ronon in the next morning, instead of leaving a note. Ronon didn’t take snarky email for an answer.
Later, John was pretty sad that he’d missed the PowerPoint presentation.
John woke up at the sound of his door opening, but he wasn’t in a position to do much more than open his eyes (can’t move, can’t fight, can’t breathe). He’d only been out of medical for a few hours at most, was still bleary from the long days of painkillers and procedures, and the world still tilted unpleasantly if he moved his head too fast.
He turned his head very slowly, and there was Rodney, looking exhausted and conflicted and clearly on the verge of what would surely be a spectacular argument that John had no absolutely no endurance for. So before he could get started, John carefully moved onto his left side (Rodney prefers to sleep on the right), shifting so Rodney could join him, if he wanted. (John hopes he wants to)
A long moment passed, and John held his breath, feeling suddenly vulnerable; like he’d read this wrong and Rodney was just… was just… But then Rodney was in his bed, carefully keeping space between them despite everything, and John could hear him overthinking. He reached back and wrapped his fingers around Rodney’s wrist, pulling his arm over and around his chest, just like Rodney had that second night, and it was nice. It was perfect, that sense of symmetry.
He had a flash of memory, of the last time this arm was tight around him, pulling him to safety; all but dragging him home, when he'd been ready to accept that he would never see it again. He could feel the soft-rough scratch of bandages where Rodney's chest touched his shoulder blades, could remember the wound underneath them, red and angry. The wound that Rodney wouldn't have if he hadn't refused to leave John behind.
Maybe it meant that they were one step closer to even (they are even, even odd, the same). Maybe it meant something else. It didn't have to mean anything.
When John awoke the next morning, Rodney was still fast asleep, one hand curled against his collarbone, the base of his thumb just resting against John’s throat. John could feel his own pulse in that spot, beating softly and steadily against Rodney’s skin, and it made him think of all the things he probably should’ve said already. For the first time in what felt like ages, he felt human again.
Thank you, he didn't say, resting his temple against Rodney's forehead, just for a second. It wouldn't have been enough, and he didn't know how to say the rest. Wasn't sure what 'the rest' even was. He was still kind of strung out on the good drugs. And Rodney was sleeping, anyway.
He left another note.
Thanks for the other day, but you're not getting out of PT. Meet Lorne in the gym at 1100, or I'll have Ronon hunt you down. - JS
When the single word response (not even a subject line) showed up in his inbox, John didn’t stop smiling for a long time.
He was an asshole, but it was for a good reason.
It had been ten days since the last time residents of Atlantis were in mortal peril, and in a near-miraculous turn of events, neither John nor Rodney had been involved. Not directly, at least. There had been a few moments there where it seemed like Rodney would scream Kavanagh to death or die trying, but on the whole, things were pretty peaceful.
So John was a little confused when Rodney came into his room in the middle of the night, standing next to his bed with an expression that was half-indecision and half-annoyed impatience.
Confused, but not as surprised as he should've been.
“Move over,” Rodney said. He didn’t sound too pleased about it.
John frowned up at him. “Why?” Everything was fine, he thought. What was the problem? It wasn’t like they…
Rodney winced. “I can’t sleep,” he said, and it sounded like a confession.
“Rodney —” John started, and it was really just as well that Rodney cut him off, as he wasn’t sure how he was going to finish that sentence. Get in here, seemed a likely candidate.
“I can’t sleep. I know you’re okay, and I’m okay, but I can’t sleep and I want — I want —”
John just waited, wanting to hear what Rodney wanted, but it seemed like that was as far as he could go. He stalled out on a weak stammer, gaze falling to the floor, and John moved over; pulled the covers back invitingly.
Rodney climbed in almost immediately, lying down with his back to John, on the very edge of the bed. Then he huffed and rolled onto his back, tugged the sheets up to his chest. Then he turned the other way, his bent knees brushing the outside of John’s leg, and he seemed to settle.
“Do we have to talk about this?” John said, trying to keep the smile out of his voice.
Rodney grumbled into his pillow, hiding his face. “Probably.”
“Does it have to be now?” John sighed, shifting over just a little. Rodney wrapped an arm over his chest.
John laughed softly, and let himself relax. It didn’t have to mean anything.
But it was more than all right if it did.