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The sky over Kandahar was a particularly unsettling shade of orange; "Dust storm," one of the RAF officers assured him. "We get them from time to time round these parts." The wind outside was brutal, flicking bits of rubbish and grit with stinging force, and John had no trouble imagining it transformed into a wall of choking dust any minute. The whole base was paralyzed.

"Welcome to Afghanistan," he muttered to himself, sipping his Coke.

A man in a flight suit suddenly bellied up to the bar directly next to him; tall, dark hair mussed by the punishing wind, sunglasses. "What'd a guy got to do to get something to drink around here?" he asked, all nasal American vowels to match the flash on his sleeve.

"Don't look at me," John said. "Just got here myself."

"Lucky you," the other man said with a tight smile. He took off the shades, revealing stark tan lines around his eyes. He was perhaps a year or two older than John, or perhaps that was just the effect of the deep tan and heavy stubble on his narrow face. "RAF?"

"God, no. Medical Corps." John took another sip of his soda, which was going flat anyway. "What about you, then? Are you with the 451st?"

"Something like that," the pilot said. He sighed, took a seat, and offered John his hand in that order. "Name's Sheppard, by the way. What's up, Doc?"

John rolled his eyes, but shook with him anyway. Somehow, by the time the server in the canteen found her way over to get Sheppard's drink, they were deep in conversation.

-\-\-\-

Said conversation, and also the storm, lasted into the evening; until the weather broke, Sheppard (who turned out to be a helicopter pilot, rattling off names of machines that John had, perhaps, at some point, heard of) couldn't fly out, and John couldn't meet up with the unit he was meant to be embedded with. Other people filtered through the canteen around them, but somehow neither of them noticed overmuch. The drinks shifted at some point from Cokes to beers, and a friendly argument thereon, and the orange sky out the windows shaded slowly darker.

"Visibilty's better at night," Sheppard informed him, toying with a half-empty bottle. "Once it's full dark they might let me get going."

"That makes one of us," John said morosely.

Sheppard punched him lightly on the arm. "I got a spare seat if you want to defect. C'mon, the dental plan is better."

"Oh, yeah, I bet that line works on all the boys," John said, kicking at him under the counter.

A funny expression passed over Sheppard's face for a moment. "Well, I guess you can ask, but I'm not legally allowed to tell."

Oh. Oh. John had been ignoring it thus far, or at least not staring, but now he couldn't stop himself: his eyes flicked down to Sheppard's left hand, which was curled loosely around the bottle, to the band of stark white skin against the tanned knuckle. It wasn't quite as well-defined as the lines on his face from the shades and helmet, but it was enough to catch anyone's attention; a wedding ring, worn faithfully and recently removed.

"If that's okay with you," Sheppard added, and took a long swallow of beer, tilting his head back a little further than was probably necessary.

John was clever enough to pick up on the implied offer: it had been a while, but he'd reluctantly admitted to himself ages ago that he wasn't exactly arrow-straight. And on a deployment like this, it wasn't like he'd have too many future options, between the regs about fraternization and doctor-patient ethics. There wasn't anything wrong with helping a mate out...though of course, he'd just met this man, and so far knew primarily that he liked awful beer, Ferris wheels and reckless flying.

And probably reckless other things, considering that he was trying to pull in the officer's canteen of a multinational air base. But of course John wouldn't have joined the army if he hadn't been a little bit reckless himself.

"It's fine," he said, and nudged Sheppard's leg again, less than a kick but not by much. "You know, I don't think I've got any Earthly clue where anything is around here except this place and the toilets."

Sheppard smiled slowly, a little dangerously, and put his shades back on. "C'mon. I'll show you around."

-\-\-\-

Sheppard lead the way to a storage area in the back of a hanger; the cliche of it made John chuckle a little. The walls were wire mesh, but in a way that was an advantage; they'd see anyone coming long before they were seen themselves. The lights were dim, yellowish; the mesh made a pattern on Sheppard's narrow face as he pulled the shades off again.

"How do you wanna do this?" he asked in low tones.

"Properly," John suggested, though he had to go up halfway on his toes to kiss him.

Sheppard rocked backward, out of reach, skittish; he put a hand on John's shoulder like he was preparing to push away. "Whoa, hold on a sec," he said warily

"To what?" John asked. "Look, just because we're both getting a leg over doesn't mean we can't be friendly about it."

That made him smirk a little, an uneven expression that didn't reach his eyes. "Friendly. I'm gonna have to remember that one." The hand on John's arm suddenly gentled, and Sheppard tentatively lowered his head to kiss him properly.

For a minute that was all they did; Sheppard's bristles harsh against John's face, his lips chapped by sun and wind. John nudged him backwards, against a beam between two ranks of shelving, pushing close enough to feel Sheppard's cock stiffening against his belly. "Right," he murmured, tugging at the flight suit. "How d'you work this thing?"

Sheppard gave a small, huffing laugh and worked a finger under the front placket, exposing the tabs of the zips. He tugged it down and open completely, and John could easily slide a hand inside, navigating by feel under the worn t-shirt, the band of the boxers, along the iliac crest and through the trail of coarse hair below then navel. Sheppard squirmed, and made a small, high noise. "Problem?" John asked.

"Ticklish," he muttered, with his face turned away into shadow.

John laughed in spite of himself, and dragged his knuckles against Sheppard's belly again just because he could. Sheppard made a strangled noise, not really a laugh, but the smile on his face now reached his eyes even as he narrowed them at John warningly. Snickering, John pulled the band of Sheppard's boxers all the way down, and knelt.

This was...he liked it, in an abstract sense. It was challenging, and intimate, and the friction on his lips and tongue was as pleasant as a kiss. Sheppard hummed softly low in his throat and spread his legs a little wider as John took him in, a little deeper each time, clinging to the bunched-up material of his flight suit with both hands. Sheppard briefly dropped one of his hands to the top of John's head, mussing his hair in a vague way before dropping down to curl against the nape of his neck. Not pushing or anything, just tucking his fingers under the collar of John's smock and t-shirt to press lightly against bare skin. Nice.

He got a grip on the base of Sheppard's cock to keep himself from accidentally gagging, and sped up, tightening his lips just behind the head on every upstroke. Sheppard was circumcised, he noticed, and there was a difference, with no foreskin catching on his tongue. For a few minutes there was no sound other than Sheppard's heavy breathing, his own erratic gulps of air, the undignified wet noises of skin and saliva.

Footsteps, coming from some distant part of the hangar.

Sheppard held his breath, and the hand on John's shoulder pressed down, perhaps signally silence or even stop. John shrugged it off and squeezed Sheppard's hip with his free hand. He could feel how close Sheppard was, in his heartrate and the way his abdominal muscles twitched and spasmed, and anyway those footsteps were miles away and coming no closer. He swiped his tongue against the head of Sheppard's cock, sucking hard, and Sheppard's hips twitched forward just a little, involuntary.

The footsteps waxed and waned, aimless, and John didn't think he could go much faster without needing a neck brace in the morning. Sheppard was still holding his breath, and his face had gone scarlet from the exertion, but he wasn't trying to push John off anymore. Just gripping his shoulder tight, up to but not past the point of pain, as a tremor worked its way up his thighs. He thrust a few times, ragged and asyncopated, and then came without making a sound.

John spat as soon as he could; his lips were a bit numb and he had a hair in his teeth. They stayed in place, breathing deep and quiet, Sheppard's hand making a nervous kneading motion against John's shoulder, until the footsteps faded and went silence.

Then Sheppard suddenly tugged him to his feet. For a minute John thought he was about to he punched; after all, the stakes weren't the same for him, if they were caught. But Sheppard was grinning, a proper grin, showing a bead of blood where he'd bitten down on his lower lip to keep quiet. "You are one crazy fuck," he whispered affectionately.

"You weren't exactly complaining," John shot back, relieved.

Sheppard kissed him again, and the hand that had been clinging to his shoulder tugged at his trousers. There was a bit of confusion over his stable belt, but then Sheppard's hand was wriggling into his pants, warm and rough, the other folded securely around his hip. He didn't seem to mind John leaning against him, muffling his gasps into his shoulder; it didn't take very long to finish him off.

They put their clothes back together in silence, and John leaned comfortably against the shelf to get his wind back. Sheppard cleared his through and said, "I, uh, I should--"

"Know how this works, thanks," John said calmly.

Sheppard visibly relaxed. "Yeah. Okay." He scrubbed his fingers through his hair, which utterly failed to make it behave, and gave John a pat on the shoulder. "See you around, I guess."

"As long as it's not on an operating table," John said.

Sheppard chuckled, and slipped out of the hanger. John waited in the shadows for a few minutes before following him out.