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Mutually Exclusive

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At first, John was more than glad for the interruption. Sitting with Teyla through endless rounds of trade negotiations was not his strong suit, and he knew that, given another ten minutes or so, he would have stood up, flipped the table over, and offered the Kul'lni anything they wanted if they'd only let him leave and go home. Which was, not coincidentally, how every game of Monopoly he'd ever played had ended.

So it was just as well that his radio beeped at him; it meant fewer offended trade partners and probably a better deal on the strangely addictive beet-things they were trading for.

"Sheppard," he says, standing and excusing himself from the table as he touched his radio.

"Hey, it's me." Rodney is never going to be persuaded to use actual radio call-signs and terminology. Every single time, the guy sounds like he's phoning you up to tell you to pick up bread on your way home.

"What can I do for you, Rodney?" John asks politely. Rodney's been hanging out with the local scientists for a few hours now; maybe he's found something interesting that will require John to leave the negotiating table.

"Are we exclusive?"

John assumes that there's something wrong with his radio.

"Say again?"

"Are we exclusive? You know, monogamous?"

Nothing wrong with the radio. John shifts his assessment to 'something wrong with Rodney.'

"We're in the middle of a mission on another planet, and you're asking me about monogamy?" John grits out, his voice measured and even.

"Well, I – "

"You're asking me about monogamy over the goddamn radio?"

"Come on, it's a perfectly valid question!" Oh, Rodney's defensive now. Wonderful.

"And why are you asking it just now, if I may ask?"

John's radio crackles ominously.

"Well, it's possible that – I may have an opportunity to – "

Something feels suddenly heavy in John's stomach.

Rodney tries again. "There's someone here who wants to fool around, okay?"

Fool around. Jesus. He, John Sheppard, is dating – maybe even monogamously dating – the kind of person who says fool around. The words roll around his head like marbles.

"John?" Rodney asks, after a long pause.

"No," John says finally. He keeps his voice calm.

"Oh," Rodney says. "Uh, do you mean, no, I can't fool around, or no, we're not monogamous?"

"No, McKay, we're not monogamous. Do what you like."

"Oh," he says again. "Okay, that's good."

"Yeah," John replies.

"Okay. Um. Bye."

John, mercifully, hears the click as McKay's radio cuts out.

Luckily, when he goes back to the negotiating table, Teyla and the Kul'lni leader have finished the contract. If he'd had to sit back down and nod through another round, John woulda flipped that table for sure.

-

When they meet back up at the gate a few hours later, John tries to see it on Rodney, smell it on him, looks for suspicious stains and clothes on inside-out and swollen lips. But he looks the same as always: balding, middle-aged, cantankerous. Who would want to be exclusive with that guy?

He holds out until after his workout with Teyla (during which he falls down a lot) and after dinner (which he eats on his own). Then he swings by McKay's quarters.

"Hey," Rodney says, smiling at him. "Come in."

John does.

Rodney starts talking about the application of Ancient science on Kul'lni, bustling around his quarters while he does so, as if nothing's different. John considers hitting him; it would feel good, it would make his feelings known, it would be succinct and unambiguous. Then he counts to ten in his head, and decides he probably won't hit him.

And Rodney's still talking, oblivious.

John considers kissing him: similarly to the point, though it would fail to communicate the anger and hostility that John feels at this particular moment. Maybe if he kissed Rodney really angrily? John thinks about shoving Rodney against the wall and biting at his lips and shoving at his shoulders until he agrees to never look at a person who isn't John. Ever. It might work, but feels a little over the top to John. He counts to ten again.

Rodney stops talking when he hits seven, and by nine he's looking quizzically at John, and by ten John's striding across the room. He doesn't shove him, doesn't even touch him, but just backs him up against the wall until he's completely in Rodney's space, their noses almost brushing, their lips inches apart. Their thighs brush together.

"Yes?" Rodney says, in a vaguely professional tone that makes it sound like Rodney's next words will be 'how can I help you?'

John braces his arms against the wall on either side of Rodney's head.

"Who did you," John chokes out the words, "fool around with?"

Rodney's cheeks flush. "Uh, nobody."

John grimaces. "I'm serious, McKay."

"So am I," Rodney protests, his voice muted by their proximity, his eyes flicking down to John's lips every few seconds. "I didn't go through with it. Uh. He didn't go through with it."

He.

"He turned you down?" John uses his softest voice and leans just infinitesimally closer.

"I, uh, may have said something about my boyfriend being okay with it, and he backed out." Rodney's gaze is all but fixed on John's mouth, now.

John nods rationally, then figures, screw it, and closes the distance between them to capture Rodney's mouth in that harsh, biting kiss. It goes on for a long time, gets harder, gets wetter, gets sharper, and gets to the point where Rodney's making little half-hitch moans when John finally pulls his mouth away.

"Good," he says. "Because we're fucking exclusive."

Rodney nods weakly. "Okay."