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As a child he had loved to lay on his back in the garden staring up at a sky full of stars. John was lucky his family had a ranch outside of the city so the skies were not shrouded by pollution or street lights. As he grew older he saw the stars from various places around the world. He could recall the dark nights of Afghanistan, with the desert illuminated only by starlight, and the even colder nights in Antarctica where the stars were sometimes hidden within the incredible beauty of the aurora australis.

On clear nights he would cast his mind adrift within the sea of stars, letting his imagination run wild.

Despite the grief of loss and the horrors of war he had never given up his love of the stars so it was little surprising he went out onto the pier often, legs dangling over the edge as he sat beneath the stars in an alien galaxy. He heard he sound of a tab opening, the hiss of escaping gas from the beer can and put out his hand blindly. The beer was ice cold in his hand and just as cold in his mouth an throat as he took a sip.

"Thanks, Rodney," he stated softly, gaining a quiet nonverbal grunt in response.

They fell into companionable silence, which was something most people didn't expect from the normally over-talkative Rodney McKay, but Rodney had always loved the stars too. He had once told John it was the only time he could feel his mind slowing down, finding peace.

Of course John had proved him wrong, quieting his mind in the afterglow of good sex.

"When did we start coming out here?"

John licked his lips. He hated being reminded of the time when Rodney's incredible mind was slipping away more each day. He had never shared this place - this peace - with him until the vulnerable, scared man came running to his quarters in the middle of the night. He hadn't shared it a second time until after Rodney broke up with Jennifer, finally noticing John had loved him all along. It was their place now, their peace away from the demands of their subordinates, and no one disturbed them here unless the city was about to be invaded, sink, or explode.


He looked across at Rodney, seeing the starlight reflected in his eyes, darkened now but so blue in the daylight. John still let his imagination run wild occasionally but no longer in yearning for adventure or for someone precious to share this moment. He'd experienced more adventures than most, and he had Rodney by his side now, in all ways.

"I think it was after Jennifer dumped you."

"She did not dump me! We merely came to a mutual agreement that we weren't..." he trailed off, rolling his eyes as he caught John's smile. "Oh, very adult."

John laughed and wrapped his arm around Rodney, taking another sip of his beer as Rodney's warm arm wrapped around him too.

Under the stars, the first time and even the second time seemed unimportant compared to this moment... and the next.