The explosion of the Wraith hive comes just one heartbeat before Rodney's mouth is hot and unexpected against John's, as shocking as friendly fire. Kissing me, John thinks, stunned to slowness by the fierce, clumsy slide of Rodney's lips, the way his fingers are clutching John's hair, the taste of him cutting John open like a knife to the heart.
John's hands glance off Rodney's shoulders, caught between disbelief, the instinct to push him away and the electric panic of arousal. And then Rodney makes a terrible sound and wrenches away, stumbling backwards, one hand pressed to his mouth, his eyes wide and riveted to John's face.
"Sorry," he stammers, face a hectic red. "Sorry, I didn't mean..." The words dry up, and there's this silence that doesn't end until John's headset pings.
"Sheppard," he manages, and turns aside to listen to Carter's congratulations.
When he finally turns back, Rodney is gone, and it's the best and worst thing that could possibly have happened.
It's not that John's a chickenshit... or at least, it's not just that he's a chickenshit. It's that he's been around the block enough times to know how this works. There are no words he can say to fix this, and god knows what Rodney might come out with, given his lack of brain-to-mouth control at the best of times. Much better to play it out with silent stoicism: he and Rodney will spend a few days out of each other's orbits, and then once work brings them together again they'll pretend nothing ever happened.
It's a good system. Time honored. Reliable.
Thinking about it makes John feel like his guts are going to drop out through a smiling wound in his belly. But that's not really a relevant consideration.
The next time John sees Rodney turns out to be the command staff meeting. It's the first inkling he has that the silently stoic plan's not going to last past first contact with the enemy. Not that there's an enemy in this scenario.
Rodney looks like six kinds of shit. He's pale, with huge rings under his eyes, and he looks like he's aged ten years and lost about twenty pounds. He won't meet John's gaze, and he flinches a little whenever John speaks, as though he's expecting to be outed at any second. John's never seen Rodney look so defeated, and as the meeting progresses he gets this creeping and unshakable conviction that Rodney's going to do something stupid -- like resign. And that it's only a matter of time, tick, tick, tick, until he explodes into action.
By the end of the meeting, John's learned something new about himself, which, in his father's words, means the day isn't a total waste. Kind of ironic, given his father's opinions on faggots, and the fact that John's pretty sure this indigestible surge of acid fear ripping up his insides is all for Rodney.
He waits until late, until the corridors are empty and even the scientists have turned in. Well, all of them except Rodney, who's still hunched over his laptop, muttering to himself.
"Hey," he says, stepping inside the lab and thinking the door shut, locked.
Rodney startles, spinning to face John, both hands clutching at his chest. "What do you want?" he snaps. After a moment, he drops his hands and straightens. Sounding anything but nonchalant, although that's clearly what he's trying for, he adds: "It's long past time for all good little Colonels to be in b... uh..." He takes a step back, so that the lab bench is between him and John. "What do you want, Colonel?"
"I want us not to be fighting," John says, staying well back, giving Rodney plenty of space. "It doesn't have to be like this."
A look of open pain flashes across Rodney's face, and then he sags, shoulders slumping. He leans against the bench and says, "Oh, thank god."
There's no hesitation in him; he clearly believes John means it.
John takes a step forward; he can't quite control his breathing and his heart is racing. His hands are slick with sweat. "Rodney."
"I'm sorry." Rodney takes a shuddering breath and then the words start spilling out: "God, John, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to do that. It was just a spur of the moment thing. Everything going right at the last minute like that was just such a relief, you know? We were going to live, and you were there. I mean, it could have been anyone. Zelenka, or, god, Sam, and I just..." He rubs a hand over his face, pressing his palm to one eye. "It won't happen again."
John thinks that if Rodney had said this on the first day after the kiss, he would have believed it. He doesn't now. Rodney still looks like he's had all the stuffing knocked out of him; he looks like someone whose dream has turned into a nightmare right before his eyes. John can't bear to see that look on Rodney's face. Even so, it still takes everything John has to say, "That's not what I meant."
Rodney's head snaps up and he's apprehensive again. He says something, but John can't hear anything over the roar of white noise filling his ears.
"That's not what I meant," John repeats, because he can't think of anything else. He surreptitiously wipes his hands against his pants and swallows hard. "There are security cameras in here," he says.
There's a beat of silence that feels like it lasts an epoch or two, and then Rodney's eyes go huge. His mouth opens, but no words come out.
"We should go," John says. "I mean, if you..."
"Yes!" Rodney says, "Yes, yes. Okay." Then he's up out of his chair and moving straight towards John.
John turns on his heel and goes as fast as he can without running. He doesn't look back; just heads straight for Rodney's quarters.
Crossing the line between not-touching and touching is something John's never quite figured out. He can do it, but it's always awkward and it never just happens. He's still not sure how Rodney accidentally kissed him, even with the added kick of adrenaline to help him along.
But somehow, this time it's easy. Rodney's standing there, just inside the door, looking uncertain, and it's a simple thing to reach out and pull him close.
"This is a dream," Rodney says, his breath warm against John's collarbone, hands coming to rest against the wings of John's shoulder blades. "Isn't it?"
"No," John says, "this is real," and kisses Rodney long and slow, savoring the surges of electric panic that zing through him every time Rodney's arousal presses against his hip.
Rodney's mouth is eager against his own, quick and uninhibited, taking everything John offers and seeking out more. "How long do you think we'll get?" Rodney asks, the hard press of his fingers against John's back the only clue that his brain has already done the math and he understands the stakes.
John grabs the hem of Rodney's shirt and pulls it up and off. "Six months," he says, and bites the round slope of Rodney's shoulder. The skin gives perfectly and makes John's dick ache. "If we're careful."
Rodney moans and pushes into John's touch. Without warning he grabs a handful of John's hair and jerks his mouth away. "Will they court martial you?"
"Yeah," John says, watching the worry flicker in Rodney's eyes, letting his fingers map the contours of Rodney's ass.
"Are you insane?" Rodney lets go of his hair and cuffs him around the ear. "What am I saying? This is you we're talking about. You idiot. I'm not letting those assholes do that. We need another plan."
"Shut up," John says. "Shut the fuck up." He falls to his knees and rips open Rodney's pants, the button skittering off under Rodney's bed, and Rodney sways, his hand once more clutching at John's head.
"That's not going to distract, that's, okay," Rodney says, as John's mouth closes over the head of his cock. "Oh, god yes. Don't stop."
"Mmm." John sucks harder and bumbles open his own pants. He pulls out his cock, and begins stripping it hard.
Rodney's thigh is shaking beneath his hand, hips moving, shoving his cock down John's throat.
John shifts, sliding an exploratory finger down behind Rodney's balls and back towards his ass.
"That's so... you're so... John, I'm going to..."
Rodney muffles his cries with the heel of his hand, throws his head back and comes in John's mouth, bitter and thick.
John peels Rodney's other hand out of his hair, and shoves Rodney over onto the bed. He falls face down, legs trailing off the edge, splayed open. John spits the come in his mouth into his hand and uses it to ease his thumb into Rodney's ass. Rodney's muscles flutter around him, and John has to grip the base of his cock hard.
"Why are you stopping?" Rodney demands, the full effect of his petulance muffled by the blankets. He kicks off his shoes and pants and opens his legs wider. "Are you waiting for a royal invitation?" He hitches his ass back into John's hand. "Come on."
"Just a gimme a second." John rests his head against Rodney's right cheek, and takes a deep breath. He nuzzles a little, and gives Rodney a nip, just to hear him squeak. Then he gets into position and slowly pushes his cock into Rodney. It's hot and tight, and the last of Rodney's orgasm is still fluttering through his muscles. After a moment Rodney sighs and relaxes, and John's hips snap forward. He doesn't even try to control it, just fucks hard and fast the way he's always wanted.
Rodney's hands are clutching at the blankets and his hips are moving almost as much as John's. "Oh, God," he says. "Touch me. I think I can come again."
John lets go of one of Rodney's hips and reaches around to find Rodney's dick hard and wet. Rodney stuffs his hand back into his mouth, and John's only seen him come once before but that's enough, he's already primed, and the moment he feels the slickness of Rodney's come on his fingers, he's gone. His eyes roll back, and he arches forward, shooting into Rodney's ass, hard, hard, hard.
He comes to on the floor with Rodney's hands on him, pushing and pulling at him until they're both up on the bed, tangled together in a sweaty heap.
"If you resign, you could marry me," Rodney says, just like that, and for a second John thinks he might be having a heart attack.
He presses a hand to his chest, and tries to breathe through it; he can feel his heart hammering away in triple-time, but the beat is steady, and after a bit the heart-attack feeling eases off.
John turns to look at Rodney, who's looking back at him, big-eyed and terrified, like he didn't realize what he was going to say.
"I mean, you don't--"
"Shut up!" John snarls, because if Rodney takes it back, he's going to have to kill something.
Rodney blinks, and then his eyes light up and he's glowing, that crooked mouth of his stretched into the biggest, smuggest smile John's ever seen.
"Make me," he says, and yeah, John's up for that. He rolls over and kisses Rodney, soft and wet and slow. Taking his time. Making it count. Making it real.