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"Look," John says, and it's Woolsey, so there's really no reason to be nervous. "You gotta back off Ronon and Teyla. They're not what you think they are. Whatever you think they are, and it's getting kind of creepy."

But apparently this version of Woolsey isn't easily intimidated. "I'm sorry, Colonel, but your little cross-dimensional mishap has caused me the loss -- however temporary -- of my own subs. Are you suggesting I take you in their place?"

The fuck? John thinks, but he manages not to say it. This universe has some really weird ideas about sex and sex roles, but he isn't going to stand back and watch two of his teammates get harassed or worse, not when he can run a little interference. "What you you do if I said yes?" he says, making it a challenge, daring Woolsey to try to imagine him submitting to anyone.

But Woolsey just looks at him appraisingly. "I would expect you in my quarters. Tonight at ten."

So apparently Woolsey's imagination is up to the task. "Fine," John says, fighting down a moment of queasiness. He knows there's little chance Rodney will figure out how to get them back to their own universe before then, but he can handle it. It's not like anything's going to happen. "But in the meantime, I want you to lay off my team."

"Duly noted," Woolsey says, and John turns to go before Woolsey can imagine he's waiting to be dismissed.

*

John doesn't say anything to his team. Ronon and Teyla would tell him they can deal with it themselves, and they can. He knows that. It was just killing him to watch Woolsey looking at them like that. Talking to them like that. Like they would want to do that with him.

Rodney updates them over dinner, and it's about what John expected. Progress is slow, even if Rodney tries to make it sound better than it really is. Woolsey doesn't stop by their table, and Ronon and Teyla look a little better. Ronon's still in wary mode, but Teyla is smiling and laughing, and that makes everyone feel better.

Well, as much better as they can in this universe. It's still pretty freaky to see people they know -- or, rather, bizarre versions of them -- wearing collars and leather cuffs, the rings on them advertising exactly what they're used for. John would just never have pictured Lorne like that. Or Doc Keller. And if he'd ever thought of it -- which he really, really never has -- he kind of would have thought Zelenka would belong to that group, but Zelenka's sitting with a strapping young marine in a collar, and when John looks up at exactly the wrong moment, he sees Zelenka pass his sub a tidbit off his own fork.

It's really better to keep his eyes on his own table and not think too hard about what he's going to say to Woolsey tonight.

*

He shows, because he has no idea how long they're going to be here and if he bails, Ronon and Teyla will pay. Woolsey opens the door wearing a suit and tie, so he's got something in common with their own overstarched base commander. It's not exactly reassuring.

"Come in, John," he says, and the first name grates, but apparently that's how it's going to be. "Would you like a glass of wine?"

John knows the right answer is no. He has to be on his toes tonight. But one glass isn't going to hurt, and he could use a little fortification. "Sure."

Woolsey hands him a deep glass of burgundy. At least John thinks it's burgundy. It's been awhile since he's had anything but ruus wine or that rotgut from M3G-637. He swirls it around a bit before taking a mouthful, but despite his father's best attempts he's always been more of a beer guy, so any nuance is pretty much lost on him.

"Please," Woolsey says, indicating his couch, "make yourself comfortable."

John sits, leaning back like he's not nervous, like he's just playing hard to get. He can string Woolsey along, he figures. He should be able to get a few days out of this, anyway.

"So tell me," Woolsey says, sitting next to him. "In your own universe, who's your dom?"

John chokes on his mouthful of wine, manages to swallow it, and then has to cough. Woolsey pats him on the shoulder helpfully, and John tries not to pull away. He's playing along. He has to remember that.

"Look," he says, trying to make it sound sincere rather than weirded out, "my universe doesn't work like yours. I'm not saying nobody does this whole--" He waves a hand. "Dom-sub thing. It's just not all that, you know, common."

Woolsey gives him an assessing look. "So you're saying you don't have a dom?"

"Exactly," John says, feeling a little better. Woolsey's smart. He'll figure out he can't treat any of them like this.

"Excellent," Woolsey says, sliding closer on the couch. "This way I don't have to worry about poaching on someone else's territory."

Fuck. John sits up a little straighter and takes another gulp of wine. If he could only learn to think like these people, he might be able to talk his way out of this, but he's completely out of his element. "Okay," John says, looking for another way to stall. "Maybe we can take this kind of slow. You know, date a little first. Get to know each other before we do anything crazy."

"Perfect," Woolsey says, and leans back, stretching his arm along the edge of the couch cushions so that it's inches from John's shoulders. "So tell me, what do you like? Any particular ties or positions? Figging? Flogging? Nipple torture?"

Jesus. John keeps his face neutral with an effort. "I'm not, you know, particular," he says. He wonders what Woolsey would say if he said, actually, I'm good with swapping hand jobs. Although he can't imagine giving Woolsey a hand job. That would be bizarre.

"But you do like to be penetrated," Woolsey says.

"Sure," John says. It's not exactly a lie. He just doesn't particularly want to be fucked by Woolsey.

"All right," Woolsey says, his forehead wrinkling a bit. "Is there anything you'd like to put off limits?"

Yeah, John thinks. The whole kinky sex thing. But he's not stupid. He's pretty sure if he names something, it'll be the first thing Woolsey tries to do to him. "Nope," he says with as much nonchalance as he can muster.

"Okay, then," Woolsey says. "Okay, good," and he gets up off the couch. John gets up, too. Now is obviously the time to make an excuse and get out of here so he can string Woolsey along for a few more days. But Woolsey is turning, and it's not toward his front door. "Are you coming?"

Coming means into the bedroom, where Woolsey has a metal headboard that looks like a rack with leather straps hanging off it. John balks in the doorway. It's not that he's never had gay sex. He has, which is why he's here instead of Ronon or Teyla. He's just never done anything like this.

"Um," he says, trying not to stare. There's a pile of leather and metal on the nightstand. Metal bars standing up in the corner.

"Don't worry," Woolsey says. "We'll go slow and play by all the standard rules. Why don't you take off your clothes and get ready?"

John crosses his arms over his chest, but Woolsey's lips compress into a wide, thin line, and for the first time John has an inkling of the way this universe works.

"You have two choices," Woolsey says. "Take your clothes off, or leave. I'm not interested in subs who play games."

He doesn't have to say any more. John knows who he's doing this for and why. Which is how he ends up, minutes later, naked on his back in Woolsey's bed with his wrists in leather cuffs, fastened tight to the headboard over his head.

His heart is rattling against his breastbone as he watches Woolsey open a drawer. Woolsey is still completely dressed. He hasn't even loosened his tie, and it's starting to make John nervous.

Okay, no, what's making John nervous is the big green dildo Woolsey's just pulled out. That and the tub of what looks like serious lube.

"Whoa," John says, and he can't help tugging against the cuffs. "Thought you said you were going to go slow."

"I am," Woolsey says. "Don't worry. We can always get to the hard and fast later."

"Crap," John says, but he got himself into this, and he can handle it. The times he's tried it, he's always liked bottoming just fine. Maybe if he closes his eyes and pretends it's someone else...

"Now, then," Woolsey says, and with that voice there is just no way John can imagine he's some random hunky stud. "I'm going to need you to bend your knees. Unless you want me to restrain them, too?"

Now that he's on his back, John can see the rings in the ceiling. One of them has a chain hanging from it. He pictures himself trussed up and dangling, and can't hold back a shiver. "That won't be necessary," he says, and he does it. He spreads for Woolsey, heels on the bed, knees high and wide.

He's completely open, all his goods on display. His skin feels tight all over, and he knows his ass is clenched tight because when Woolsey spreads the dildo with lube and presses it against him -- not so much as a finger for prep -- there's no give whatsoever.

"Relax, John," Woolsey says, and John feels the pressure increase, blunt against his hole. "Show me you can take it."

John lifts his head off the bed. He may be tied up and naked, but that doesn't mean Woolsey owns his soul. "Why don't you make me?"

"Oh, I can do that," Woolsey says, and John must have relaxed his guard a tiny bit, because he can feel the whole tip of the dildo now, like he's opened just enough for it to slide half an inch inside. "I can make you beg for it."

"Fuck," John says softly, and he feels Woolsey's hand on the inside of his thigh, stroking him.

"One step at a time," Woolsey says. "Come on, John. You can do this."

There's something about the gentleness that takes John by surprise, and he feels another half inch slip inside him. He tenses his arms, pulling against the restraints, and breathes through his nose as Woolsey pushes again. This time he feels a little pop and then a flare of pain and he knows the head of the dildo is past the first ring of muscle.

"That's it," Woolsey says. "That's very good."

He's still pushing, and John can't fight it. His body opens for the dildo and it slides in smoothly. It hurts, but John clenches his teeth and takes it until it bottoms out and Woolsey's hand brushes the underside of his balls. The dildo is big and hard and unnaturally cool. John can feel his pulse around it, but Woolsey holds it inside him with one hand while his other hand strokes John's stomach right next to the head of his still-limp cock.

"You see?" Woolsey says. "I told you, you could take it. And now you can show me what else you can do." Then he eases the dildo almost all the way out before slowly pushing it in again.

It still hurts, but this time it bumps John's prostate on the way in, and there's a jolt of pleasure along with the pain. On the second stroke, the pleasure is equal to the pain, and by the fifth, the pain is almost gone and John's gasping and hard.

"Oh, yes, that's much better, isn't it?" Woolsey says.

John doesn't answer, but the next stroke makes him gasp again, because Woolsey knows exactly how to hit the right spot. John doesn't want to think about what that means, about how many guys Woolsey has done this to. He sure as hell doesn't want to think about how many have ended up begging for more.

But he's not going to break. He's not going to submit. And he's sure as hell not going to beg. Even if -- Jesus -- Woolsey's a fucking magician with that thing.

And then Woolsey pulls it out. Pulls it all the way out and sets it on a towel on the nightstand, then turns and sits on the bed next to John's hip. His suit is a navy pinstripe with a flawless white shirt and a bright red tie. Like an 80s power suit, John can't help thinking, and he wants to laugh only he can't, because he's hard as hell and it's all he can do to keep from admitting out loud how empty his ass feels.

And suddenly he wants to come. Wants to do it all over Woolsey's crisp suit, get spunk on his tie and all over his jacket. It's what he deserves, and if John could come just by thinking it, he'd do it.

John looks up to find Woolsey watching him, like he's waiting for him to speak.

"Fine," John says, and it's not breaking. Really, it isn't. "Whatever. You've proved I can take it. You gonna take these cuffs off now or what?"

"Oh, I don't think we're done yet," Woolsey says, frowning, and John remembers he agreed to this. He put himself at Woolsey's mercy and Woolsey apparently isn't very merciful. "There are so many things we haven't tried."

When John doesn't answer, Woolsey lays his hands on John's rib cage and slides them up, brushing each nipple with a thumb and then rolling them between his fingers until John arches and gasps. He can't help tugging at his restraints, and Woolsey takes hold of his nipples again, twisting them until John whimpers and pumps his hips, fucking the air above his untouched cock.

"Very nice," Woolsey says. "I was hoping you'd be responsive." His hands slide up again, running lightly over John's exposed underarms and up to his straining elbows. Then Woolsey's right hand touches John's face, stroking his cheek and brushing across his lips. "You're more like him than I thought."

"Like who?" John says, because he can't mean...no. He really can't.

"Like my John Sheppard," Woolsey says. "Sometimes he pretends he doesn't need it, too."

John clenches his teeth. He doesn't even know why he didn't figure that out before. He was just so set on protecting Ronon and Teyla he didn't even consider it. "If that's what he's like," he grates out, "then I'm not like him at all."

Woolsey laughs, then takes off his glasses and wipes them on his handkerchief before settling them back on his nose. "Curiously enough, I think he'd say the same thing."

John tugs at his cuffs, trying to rattle the headboard, but it's rock solid and he only succeeds in making the mattress springs squeak. "What about Ronon and Teyla?" he asks, because he has to.

"Oh, I like to have them play with us, too," Woolsey says mildly. "Sometimes I have them both fuck him. It's surprisingly effective."

Christ. John closes his eyes and breathes. He's not going to get out of this any time soon; that much is obvious. "Look, can we just get on with this?"

"Well, well, well," Woolsey says. "I told you I'd make you beg."

"Fuck you," John says, but Woolsey just smiles.

"Not tonight, I don't think. Let me see." His voice trails off and he gets up, but he doesn't pick up the green dildo again like John's expecting. Instead he roots in the same drawer and comes up with something shorter, wider, and more bulbous. A plug rather than a dildo, not green but shocking pink.

"They do make these things in ridiculous colors," Woolsey says. "There's a certain amusement value in that once they're in place."

John can't stop from seeing it in his mind, the hot pink base of the plug in his ass. So maybe he lifts his hips a little when Woolsey brings it over, but he's just trying to get this over with.

The plug slides in easily until it gets to the wide spot, and then there's another brief twinge of pain, but Woolsey's relentless and in a moment it's all the way in.

"Very nice," Woolsey says, easing back to survey his work, but all John can think about is what the bright pink base must look like, nestled behind his balls. So he's not really paying attention when Woolsey reaches for one of his ankles, straightening John's leg and cradling it in his lap. Then Woolsey runs the tip of his thumb up the sole of John's foot and John's whole body jerks, his cock bobbing against his stomach as the plug shifts inside him and sensation sparks everywhere.

"Holy fuck," John breathes.

"Impressively sensitive," Woolsey says, taking John's other foot into his lap. This time John knows what's coming and tries to brace himself, but Woolsey presses harder, and it's like there's a direct connection between John's foot and his ass. And this time when his cock bounces against his stomach hair, it leaves a sticky trail.

"You're going to come for me," Woolsey says matter-of-factly. "Soon, I think."

"Not a chance," John says, biting the inside of his cheek in an attempt to distract himself. But Woolsey's thumb slides up his foot again and he gasps and pants, so damn close his head feels light and his ass is clenching around the plug.

"Yes," Woolsey says. "You are." And he reaches over and casually twists the plug.

It's nothing less than ambush, but John falls for it, wrenching his wrists against the cuffs and slamming his hips down and coming so hard his vision goes gray. Woolsey pumps the plug inside him, milking his orgasm so that he's still gasping when the last little spurt dribbles out, and the next thing he knows, Woolsey's unhooking the cuffs from the headboard and rubbing his shoulders.

John sits up slowly. His stomach and chest are covered in spunk and the plug is still in his ass where Woolsey left it, but Woolsey's hands feel good and he just lets it happen, lets his head loll forward while Woolsey gets the kinks out and the blood comes back into his aching arms.

He doesn't even move when Woolsey gets up and comes back with a warm, damp towel, although he does reach for it. But Woolsey shakes his head and says, "No, no, this is my job," and John doesn't have the energy to protest.

He's feeling a little less out of it by the time Woolsey hands him his clothes, but when he reaches between his legs for the plug, Woolsey's hand closes around his arm, surprisingly strong.

"Leave it in," Woolsey says. "I want you to wear it back to your quarters. Think of it as a little reminder of what we did here." He gives John a quiet smile. "You can take it out when you get there. Just be sure to clean it thoroughly before you return it to me tomorrow night."

John feels his face go hot, and he doesn't even know if it's the idea of walking through Atlantis with that thing in him or the assumption that he'll be here tomorrow night. "Same time?" he says. It sounds like a croak.

"Same time," Woolsey says. "I'm sure you don't have any plans you can't change."

John's still too out of it to attempt to invent anything. He pulls on his boxers and pants, tugs his shirts on, and slides his feet into his boots. He can feel the plug with every movement, reminding him of just how and why he got off, and his face goes hotter. But when it's time to put his wrist band and watch back on, he realizes he's still wearing the leather cuffs.

"You gonna take these off?" he asks, holding them out.

Woolsey's eyes crinkle. "I confess, I'm tempted to leave them on."

John feels it in his gut. The plug is bad enough, but if Woolsey makes him wear the cuffs, everyone who sees him will know exactly what he's been doing. "Please," John says roughly, lifting his wrists. "Don't do that to me."

Woolsey's smile softens. "All right," he says, unbuckling the cuffs and setting them on his side table. "We'll save that for later, too. Tomorrow night, John."

In your dreams, John thinks, but as he slips out Woolsey's door with the plug pressing hard on his prostate, he knows he'll be back.

He won't make anyone else go through this. Not when he can take it. And however humiliated he's feeling right now, he's pretty sure he can.

*

He hates himself in the morning. The plug sits on his bathroom shelf, mocking him, and his ass is sore enough that he feels it in the shower. All he can think is that he could have stalled better. He could have strung Woolsey along. He could have not come.

But he did; he embarrassed the hell out of himself, and he's going to do it again tonight.

He spends the day helping Rodney. He doesn't have his own duties here, and although Woolsey has given his team free run of Atlantis, they're not allowed offworld and they're not allowed any weapons, so it's not like there's anything else he can do. Ronon watches their backs, Teyla searches the database and helps Rodney with his diagnostics, and John tries to keep them all together. Tries to keep it all together, himself, which isn't exactly easy when he can't breathe a word about what happened last night.

He doesn't know whether he's pissed or grateful that his team doesn't notice anything wrong. Okay, he's grateful. He really is. He's glad he's not acting any different, glad he doesn't look any different, because on the inside he feels like he's someone else entirely. Someone who let himself be cuffed and used.

Someone who got off on it.

So he's feeling pretty weird when he shows up at Woolsey's door. The plug is in his pocket, and he has a hand shoved in there, too, just to make sure it doesn't pop out. Fortunately the only people he met in the hallway were Lorne and Cadman, and they seemed far too absorbed in each other to notice any pocket bulges.

"John. Come in," Woolsey says with a smile that seems innocently pleased, like he's not planning to have John tied to his headboard this evening. He hands John a glass of red wine, already poured and waiting. "Here, I think you'll enjoy this. It's a bit young yet, but it's an excellent vintage."

John takes the glass with the hand that isn't still holding the plug in his pocket. The wine tastes different tonight, smoother and brighter, like Woolsey's decided he's worth a more expensive bottle. It's still mostly wasted on him, but he drinks it anyway. No point in pouring it down the drain; he needs all the liquid courage he can get.

"I understand Dr. McKay is making only slow progress," Woolsey says.

John takes another gulp of wine. "You know McKay. He could have a breakthrough at any time."

Woolsey's expression changes, and it's not what John was expecting. He looks almost wistful. "You're right, of course. There's always hope." He sets his own glass down, empty, and gestures toward the bedroom door. "Shall we?"

John drains his glass, because this is what he's here for and there's no point in pretending otherwise or trying to put it off. "Sure," he says, and leads the way.

He's unbuttoning his pants when he remembers the plug in his pocket. There's no graceful way to get rid of it, so he just pulls it out and tosses it on the bed. "You wanted it back."

But Woolsey cocks his head and looks from John's face to the plug and back again. "You could keep it if you like."

John feels his face heat. "No," he says. "Thanks." And he strips out of his pants and boots before pulling his shirt over his head. Woolsey is still looking at him when he's done. It makes John feel awkward. Reckless.

"So," he says, more than a little sarcastically, "where do you want me this time?"

But Woolsey just rubs his chin like he doesn't hear the insolence. "I've been thinking," he says, "and I believe I've determined the problem. You have a hard time letting go."

Yeah, no shit, John barely keeps himself from saying.

"I can help you with that," Woolsey goes on. "Why don't you get on the bed? Yes, that's right. Kneel facing the headboard. No, a little closer, and give me your arm."

It's a weird position, but John stretches out his right arm, and Woolsey buckles on a cuff, then fastens it to the headboard like that. He walks around the bed and does the same to John's left arm, so that he's spread flat against the bars. It's not so tight that it hurts, but it's not exactly comfortable, either.

"Here," Woolsey says, and John turns his head to see him with a pillow. Woolsey tucks it over the top of the headboard, wedging it against the wall so that if John wants to lower his head he'll have something soft to rest it on.

"Thanks," John says automatically, but he can't help wondering what it means, and exactly how long Woolsey expects him to stay like this.

"Lift up, now," Woolsey says, a hand under John's stomach, and the only way to rise up is to lift his ass into the air, sliding his knees out a little for support. And then he gets it. He's in a perfect position for fucking. Woolsey's going to take him from behind.

It's not a big deal. He's been fucked before. But it feels like a big deal. It feels huge, and in this position he's not going to be able to see it coming. He has no idea why Woolsey thinks that's going to help him relax, but then, he doesn't understand Woolsey -- this Woolsey -- at all.

"Are you good?" Woolsey asks from somewhere behind him. John's listening for the tell-tale rustle that will mean Woolsey's taking off his suit, but he hasn't heard it yet.

"Fucking fantastic," John says.

"Excellent," Woolsey says, and when John turns his head he can see him, still fully dressed, standing next to the bed. He reaches to rub John's arm above the cuff, just once, and then kneels on the bed beside him. "Don't worry," Woolsey says. "The anticipation is often more intense than the actual experience."

John can't help a little shiver. He's more than half hard, which is kind of fucked up, but there's not a damn thing he can do about it, just like there's not a damn thing he can do to stop Woolsey. He tugs his wrists against the cuffs, just to test them, but they're good and secure. "Easy for you to say."

"That's a fair point," Woolsey says, resting his left hand on the small of John's back. "You'll have to tell me if I'm right after we're done."

John doesn't get any more warning. There's a sudden loud cracking noise and pain flares through his ass. "Motherfucker," he gasps, because Woolsey just hit him and it hurts like hell.

"That's right," Woolsey says. "Breathe through it." And then he smacks John's ass again.

John clenches his teeth against the protest that wants out. This is Woolsey's idea of relaxing? But he's not going to give Woolsey the satisfaction of another reaction. He's not going to give him anything.

"Ah," Woolsey says. "I can see this is going to take some time." And his hand cracks against John's ass again, so hard John's teeth rattle.

It's not just the pain, although it fucking hurts. It's that he's being spanked like a naughty two-year-old and there's not a damn thing he can do about it. John's face feels as hot as his ass, but Woolsey doesn't let up, just keeps on whapping him, over and over until John's panting against his pillow, his whole world given over to shame and pain. His focus narrows to the next smack, sharp and clean across his burning skin. He wants...he needs...actually, he has no idea what the hell he needs, but the blows keep coming, bright and hard.

"Fuck," he hears himself whisper. "Fuck, fuck, fuck," and the smacks get, if anything, harder, until he has to bite the pillow to keep from yelling.

"Please," he hears his voice, muffled and broken. "Please, I..."

And just like that, it stops. Woolsey's hands run over his ass once and it stings, but then he pulls back and the next thing John knows, there's a soft towel wiping his face and then hands unfastening his left wrist.

John pulls it against his body, expecting it to be stiff and sore, but it's not all that bad. Nothing at all, really, in comparison to his flaming ass. Woolsey moves around the bed to free his second wrist, stroking John's arm before letting it go.

The unexpected kindness is almost harder to take than the hitting, and John rubs the back of one hand surreptitiously across his face. It comes away damp, but it's sweat, nothing more.

"Where do you want me now?" he says hoarsely, because he knows this isn't over. It can't be.

"You may have a minute to collect yourself," Woolsey says, and John takes it like a gift, sliding his knees back and hanging his head while the bright burn slowly fades to a heavy throb.

He's not ready -- he's never going to be ready -- when Woolsey climbs on the bed and touches his arm, but he manages not to flinch, just lets Woolsey pull his hand behind him. He's not surprised when Woolsey reaches for the other arm, but he isn't expecting the way Woolsey holds him, carefully lowering his face to the bedcover before grasping both wrists again and fastening them together beneath John's thighs.

It's an effective tie, forcing his ass up and his face down, and John can only imagine what it must look like. His face heats again at the thought, but Woolsey gets up off the bed and John hears the sound of a drawer opening.

He can't look and he doesn't even try, just waits like that, ass in the air while Woolsey makes more noises John can't identify. And then the mattress dips and he's behind John once again.

"You can't possibly imagine what you look like," Woolsey says.

"Got some idea," John says and then regrets it when he thinks he hears Woolsey smile. But when Woolsey speaks, his voice is serious.

"You look beautiful," he says. "Like you were made for this."

You wish, John thinks, but when Woolsey's hand touches his hip, he lifts his ass higher, like he's showing off, like he wants Woolsey to see everything. His cock is still trapped between his stomach and his thighs, but it's rock hard and has been, probably for awhile.

Woolsey's hand brushes over his ass again, just enough to sting. And then something touches John's hole, something blunt and slick.

He closes his eyes, not even caring whether it's the dildo or the plug, but it turns out it's neither, because a moment later it starts to vibrate and John's whole body jerks at the sensation.

"Holy shit," he breathes as the sensation spreads, reigniting the fire across his ass as Woolsey runs the tip of the vibrator around his hole. Pain and pleasure mingle, indistinguishable, untraceable. He's never felt anything like this and he wants more, wants whatever it is inside him, and he doesn't even care if it's huge. He presses back against it, but Woolsey just pulls it away.

"Now, now. We can't have you getting greedy."

John's whole body goes hot. He's desperately close to begging and he didn't even know it. He steels himself as the vibrator comes back and makes another circle, but he can't help the full-body shudder or the way his cock twitches against his legs.

"If I put this inside you," Woolsey says, "will you come?"

John swallows against the mattress. "Maybe."

"Try not to," Woolsey says, and presses with the tip of the vibrator, dead center. It slides in easily, not like yesterday at all, and the buzz and stretch fill John with a whole new burn. He clenches his hands under his thighs, desperate for control, and finds enough to keep from embarrassing himself, at least for the moment.

"Commendable," Woolsey says, pushing on the base of the vibrator and wreaking havoc on John's last modicum of restraint. "Really, quite impressive." He pulls the vibrator out and slides it back in while John whines into the bedspread.

"Oh, all right," Woolsey says, pushing the vibrator as deep as it will go. It fills John's ass and the buzz goes all the way to his head, shorting out all of his higher functions. "Now, John," Woolsey says, and slaps John's burning ass as he comes and comes.

He's barely aware of Woolsey sliding the vibrator out and unfastening his wrists. He only knows he can collapse into the puddle on the bed, his cock and ass still spasming. He lies there, feeling the ache and the burn and the afterglow as a single, overwhelming sensation, until he feels Woolsey's hands again, cool and slick, sliding over his sore skin. It's some kind of lotion or liniment, and it stings at first but then starts to feel better as Woolsey works his way across each buttock, kneading gently.

"There, now, that should feel a little better," Woolsey says, rolling John over. John doesn't want to open his eyes, but he does it anyway, taking in the flush of Woolsey's face, the shine on the top of his head, the skew of his tie. This took something out of him, too, and John doesn't know why that's satisfying, but it is.

Woolsey has a towel in his hands, and he cleans John methodically, starting with this thighs and skirting John's crotch to wipe his stomach and chest and dab at his chin. Then he refolds the towel and sets to work on John's oversensitive cock and balls. It's almost too much, but John tightens his hands into fists and takes it while his spent cock twitches and his ass starts burning again where it's pressed into the bed.

"Would you like a plug?" Woolsey asks. "It doesn't have to be the same one you had yesterday. I have plenty."

John swallows at the thought of walking back to his quarters, filled and burning. "No," he says, and it comes out rough again. "I'm good."

"I know you are," Woolsey says gently, leaning over him to remove the leather cuffs on his wrists. "You may get dressed whenever you're ready."

So maybe he's weak, but John actually lies there for a few minutes while Woolsey moves around the room, cleaning and straightening. He wonders what Woolsey would do if he said he couldn't move. It would tempting, if only wouldn't mean admitting he's broken.

He's not even close to ready, but John pushes himself up and slides off the bed. His ass is killing him, but he's not going to ask for more of that liniment. He slides gingerly into his boxers and pants and tries not to wince when he bends to put on his boots.

"Here," Woolsey says as John finishes pulling his t-shirt over his head, and he looks up to find Woolsey offering a glass of water and a couple of ibuprofen.

He's not stupid or proud enough to refuse. He gulps the tablets down and hands the glass back. "Thanks."

"I hope you're feeling better tomorrow," Woolsey says, and the worst part about it is that it sounds sincere.

"You want me here again?" John says, daring Woolsey to say no.

But Woolsey just smiles and nods. "If you're up for it."

"I can handle it," John says, not entirely sure it's the truth, but all Woolsey says is, "I know."

*

John sleeps on his stomach, but he's still sore in the morning. His ass has faded to a dull red, but he figures he'd better put off sitting as long as possible. Fortunately he makes it to the mess early and grabs a breakfast burrito, pretending he has something to do so he can find a quiet corner to eat it standing up.

He makes it all the way to lunch before anyone notices, but he can't avoid eating with the team. He thinks he's sitting pretty normally, but Teyla, being Teyla, notices.

"I'm fine," he says, willing his body to relax. "Just slipped in the shower this morning."

"You should see Dr. Keller," Teyla says.

John thinks longingly of more ibuprofen, but there's no way he's going to Keller, even if she's the kind of person who's been through what he's going through. Actually, that would probably make it worse. "If it's not better in a day or two, I'll get it checked out," he tells Teyla.

She doesn't look happy, but she nods, and they're both distracted by Woolsey stopping by their table. John's heartbeat picks up stupidly at the sight of him.

"Colonel," Woolsey says, and for a moment John's afraid he's going to ask how John's feeling.

"Mr. Woolsey," he says evenly.

"I'd like a word with you after lunch, if I may? You can stop by my office."

"Sure thing," John says, making it lazy and insolent and everything he's not feeling.

"Thank you," Woolsey says primly, then nods to the team. "Ronon, Teyla, Dr. McKay."

John can't help watching him as he goes, cutting across the mess hall with an air of self-importance. In some ways, he really is like their own Woolsey. Just not in the ways that matter.

"What was that all about?" Rodney asks. Of course John's not going to get out of this easily.

"No idea," he says. "Probably just wants to micromanage us."

"Right, well, tell him I'm making progress," Rodney says. "Maybe convince him I'm almost there? Oh, but if you can get him to assign Zelenka to us, that might be helpful. Tell him it will get us out of his hair, well, lack of hair, sooner that way."

"I'll see what I can do," John says noncommittally, and makes a mental note not to let Rodney anywhere near this universe's Woolsey. John has no idea how he would react to Rodney's brand of tactlessness, but he doesn't want to find out.

He spends the rest of the meal concentrating on acting like his ass doesn't hurt and trying not to think about what Woolsey wants. It can't be anything sexual. That's reserved for the evenings, or at least John thought it was. Because if Woolsey wants to add an afternoon tryst to their usual schedule, he's not sure he can handle it.

Unless Woolsey wants a chance to get off. It's the elephant in the room, the thing that's been driving John crazy for two days now. Because however much he's done to John, Woolsey hasn't actually participated himself, and it's starting to weird John out.

Not that he wants to touch Woolsey's cock or suck him off or anything, but surely Woolsey must want that, right? So why the hell isn't he taking it? He's had John tied up, completely helpless, for two whole evenings. He could have taken his pleasure any number of ways. But he's never so much as unbuttoned his fly.

It's enough to make a person paranoid. So John isn't exactly relaxed when he shows up in Woolsey's office, and it probably shows.

"John," Woolsey says, not Colonel, like in the mess, and that doesn't bode well. "Come in, over here, and pull down your pants."

Fuck. It's everything John was worrying about, only worse, because he's in Woolsey's office, and those windows open straight out into the gateroom like a god-damned fishbowl.

"No," John says, risking everything. His knees are twitching and his ass aches and if he's just endangered Ronon and Teyla, he's never going to forgive himself. "Not here," he amends, with a quick glance toward the windows.

Woolsey does a double take, then looks over at the window and gets it. "Ah, modesty," he says, like he's talking about some Victorian custom. "How quaint."

"Look," John says desperately. "I'll meet you in your quarters or wherever. Just don't make me do this."

"There's no need," Woolsey says, gesturing to the door at the other end of his office that leads to his private washroom. "After you."

The door closes behind them, anyway. At least John doesn't have to worry about one of his teammates getting an eyeful.

"Your pants, John," Woolsey says, and John reaches for his buttons with fingers that have suddenly gone clumsy. Even if Woolsey preps him, it's going to hurt, and he almost wishes Woolsey would tie him up first, because then he would have no choice but to give in and take it.

"You can bend over the sink," Woolsey says when John's fly is undone, so John does, pushing his pants down over his ass. It stings, but it's going to hurt more in a moment so it's not like it matters.

Woolsey makes a soft tsking noise at the sight of him. "I should have realized," he says.

"What's the matter?" John says, and damn it, if he's bruised, it's not his fault. "Not so pretty like this?"

"It's not that I confused you with your counterpart," Woolsey says, and John feels a hand, feather-light on his bare skin. "I merely failed to realize you would have a higher pain tolerance."

That's not what John was expecting. He would have figured the other John Sheppard, the one who was used to these games, would be able to take a lot more than he can. But he has to take Woolsey at his word, and anyway, if it earns him a bit of respect, it's not a bad thing. "Can we get on with this?"

"Oh," Woolsey says, like he forgot what they're here for. "Of course." And he reaches for something in a small bottle, rubbing it on his hands.

Moments later he touches John's ass, stroking across the sore skin with cool, slick fingers, and then John recognizes the smell. It's the liniment from last night, and the pain eases as Woolsey spreads it.

Woolsey takes his time, adding more liniment as he goes, but he never once slides a finger into the cleft of John's ass. When he's done he steps to the side and washes his hands.

"That should help," he says, and when John doesn't move, he adds, "You can pull your pants up now."

John feels his face heat as he reaches for his waistband. He can't believe that's all Woolsey wants from him, but when he turns, Woolsey is holding out a glass of water and a couple of ibuprofen.

"I imagine you could use these, too."

It's deliberate. It has to be. Woolsey's trying to confuse him, make him drop his guard. But John's not about to forget why he's doing this, or what Woolsey's true motivations are. It's not hard to remember that he's nothing more than a convenient ass to hit.

"Thanks," he says, and swallows the pills, but when he goes to set the glass down, Woolsey puts a hand on his arm.

"John," he says, "don't come to my quarters tonight."

John feels a strange rushing sensation, like the world's gone haywire. "You don't want me there?" he asks, and it really should be a relief but his stomach feels funny.

"Of course I do," Woolsey says, and John's stomach feels even stranger. "Come tomorrow if you must, but give it a day."

"Okay," John says, and that is a relief, because if Woolsey were planning to seduce Ronon or Teyla, surely it would take him more than a day. "Tomorrow." And suddenly he has to get out of there. He has to check on his team, which is stupid because Woolsey's right here. "Can I go?"

It's only after Woolsey has said "Of course" and John's headed down the gateroom stairs that John realizes he just asked permission to be dismissed.

*

He hangs out with Ronon and Teyla that evening until both of them are yawning and giving him strange looks. After Woolsey's dual methods of pain relief, he's moving more easily, so Teyla doesn't mention the infirmary again. John finally heads back to his own quarters to avoid arousing any more suspicion, but he seeks them out in the morning again. He feels a little stupid when they're fine, but he's relieved, too. If any of them have to have scars from this place when they finally go home, he's glad it will only be him.

He doesn't see much of Woolsey, but he can't stop thinking about him. About his hands, soothing the aches. And causing them, too. He remembers the way it felt when pain was pleasure and pleasure was pain, and he wonders if Woolsey knows what it was like for him. If Woolsey gets off on knowing.

But the night in Woolsey's bed starts with another gentle massage of his bruised skin, and if Woolsey's trying to fuck with his head, he's succeeding.

"Well," Woolsey says, tugging on John's hip until he rolls over onto his back. He's half hard, but Woolsey barely glances at his cock. "What shall we do tonight? A frogtie, perhaps?"

John has no idea what that is, so he just says, "Whatever," as flippantly as he can.

"I think it will do nicely," Woolsey says, taking out a pile of cuffs and straps. The cuffs are for John's ankles this time, and Woolsey buckles them on precisely, checking each for fit after they're on. He loops a strap around each of John's thighs and then fastens them down to his ankles so that John can't straighten his knees.

"Now the arms," Woolsey says. "Over your head or out to the sides?"

It's not the sort of thing John was planning on having to decide, but he remembers how sore his arms were the first night. "Sides," he says, half-expecting Woolsey to do the opposite. But Woolsey just takes each arm in turn and cuffs it to a strap fastened to the side of the bed frame.

"I'd better tie down your legs," Woolsey says. "You're not going to want to be able to move for this." And he runs a strap from each of John's thighs out to the edges of the mattress as well.

It's a weird position, spread out on his back like this. It can't be very good for spanking, which means John ought to feel relieved. But he knows this Woolsey well enough by now to know he has no idea what's coming, so he's not about to relax.

"I'm not going to hit you," Woolsey says, opening a mini refrigerator in the corner of the room. He takes out a small object that looks like a branched root. He reaches for a small paring knife and begins to peel it, and John suddenly recognizes the smell. It's ginger.

"Making yourself a snack?" he says, as Woolsey methodically strips skin from the bulbous end of the root.

"Very funny," Woolsey says, continuing to carve. In moments he has it shaped like a thick finger, tapering and then spreading into unpeeled branches at one end.

"What the hell?" John says, because he's starting to get a very bad feeling about this.

Woolsey looks up from his work, his forehead rumpled in surprise. "You've never done this before?" John doesn't answer, but Woolsey must see something in his face, because he smiles. "Well, you're in for a real treat."

He sits on the end of the bed and shows John the piece of ginger which is, John realizes, cut in the shape of a small plug. And then, without prep or even lube, Woolsey presses the ginger against John's asshole.

There's a tiny sting, nothing John can't handle, and when it slips inside him, it feels cold. Woolsey seats it carefully, twisting it to make sure it's all the way in, and the sting feels a bit stronger, like the heat from a spicy curry.

"That's it?" John says, because he was kind of expecting a little more.

"Mmm hmmm," Woolsey says, but he's watching John's ass.

So maybe it's more than a little sting. Maybe it's an actual burn. No worse than being fucked with the green dildo, though. John can handle it.

"Just wait for it," Woolsey says, running a hand up the inside of John's thigh, stroking the crease of his groin.

The burn is definitely getting stronger. John shifts his ass a little and the ginger moves inside him, cool and hot at the same time. He clenches and the burn flares into pain. His muscles tremble a little as he forces them to relax.

"That's it," Woolsey says. "I knew you were going to love this."

John swallows and keeps his muscles loose with an effort. It's getting worse. It's getting a lot worse, and as it does, he feels his cock swell. It shouldn't be a turn-on -- his ass is on fire now -- but he can't help it.

He wants the ginger out. He wants to come. His cock is so hard now it feels like it's burning, too, and if his hands were free, he'd be pulling on it, even with Woolsey there watching him. "Fuck," he hears himself whisper. "Jesus fuck."

"Some subs like to be spanked now," Woolsey says. "I'm afraid we're going to have to skip that tonight."

John tries to imagine that and his body clenches around the ginger at the thought, making his hips jerk. He's glad he's tied down because the way his body is twitching is embarrassing enough. He wants to fuck something. He wants to get fucked. He wants Woolsey to fuck him, hard and fast. Only Woolsey never takes off his god-damned suit.

"Please," he hears his voice say. "I need..."

Woolsey's hand presses his thigh. "Do you need me to take it out?"

"No," John says, and no matter how much it hurts, that's not a lie. He doesn't need to back off, ramp it down. He needs more. "Just...fucking touch me."

Woolsey grins. "Like this?" he asks, stroking a finger down John's side.

John grits his teeth, but he can't stop himself, even though he can't deny it's really begging this time. "My cock," he grates out. "Touch my cock. Please."

Woolsey's smile looks oddly more soft than triumphant. "Well," he says, still stroking John's side. "You have been very, very good."

His hand slides down to cup John's balls and John can't help squirming and panting. The burn in his ass is so strong he can't think. Can't anticipate. Can only want.

"You're sure?" Woolsey says, squeezing just a little.

"Yes," John says, and if his arms were free he'd be grabbing Woolsey's hand and shoving it where he needs it so badly.

"All right," Woolsey says, sliding his hand up to John's cock.

John lifts up as far as he can, pushing into Woolsey's hand, and Woolsey chuckles. And then John starts to feel it, the tingle where Woolsey's fingers are touching him.

It's the ginger. Still on Woolsey's hands from peeling the damn thing. If Woolsey keeps jacking him, it's going to burn like hell, just like his ass.

"Fuck," John says, and "yes" and "please." Woolsey's hand strokes him slowly, and ordinarily it wouldn't be enough, but the burn makes even the slightest touch set off fireworks.

"That's it," Woolsey says, and his other hand takes hold of the ginger root, pressing it rhythmically into John's ass. "Just feel it, John."

It hits before John's ready for it; the burn becomes fire and the fire pools and then erupts and he's flailing against his bonds and gasping and coming into Woolsey's hand. Woolsey squeezes him as his cock spasms and it's too much, but John just moans and takes it as he spurts all over his stomach. And then it's over and Woolsey is taking his hand away, sliding the ginger plug out, leaving John heaving.

It still burns. Even as Woolsey wipes him up and unties him, it's almost unbearable. There's fire everywhere and John still needs relief. Any kind of relief. No, something specific.

"Let me suck you," he says roughly, and Woolsey's chin jerks up.

"You want that?"

"I'll make it good," John says. "I swear. Just let me. Please."

Woolsey's staring, and John is sure he's going to say no. But then he drops the straps and cuffs on the floor and turns back to John, up on his knees on the mattress. "All right."

John dives for his fly before he can change his mind. His fingers make quick work of the tab closure, the button, the zipper. Woolsey's wearing plain white briefs, and John has them down in seconds.

Woosley's cock pokes out between his dress-shirt tails, already hard, thank God. It's big, too. A lot bigger than John was expecting, but it feels right against his tongue, hot and smooth.

He wants to be good. He wants it to be the best damn blow job Woolsey's ever had, but as soon as his mouth is full he loses it, wrapping his hands around Woolsey's hips and taking his cock as deep as he can.

He doesn't care that he's choking and gagging. His ass and cock are burning and he needs this. He can't believe he's had to wait this long. It seems totally unfair, when he could have had this days ago.

If only he'd had the courage to beg.

He lets Woolsey's cock hit the back of his throat over and over again, until he's sore there, too. He sucks and bobs, fast and sloppy, and he's rewarded with a groan and a shudder from above.

Fuck my face, John tries to say with his tongue and hands, since words aren't an option. Use my throat the way I want you to use my ass. He feels Woolsey's palms touch the sides of his face, fingers tangling in his hair, and he moans as they tighten to hold him still. And then Woolsey does it. He pulls his cock out and shoves back in, once, twice, three times, and then his cock jumps against John's tongue and John's mouth fills with his bitter reward.

Woolsey's hands loosen and John swallows and swallows, chasing Woolsey's cock as he pulls out. Woolsey stops him with a tug, then pets his hair. "There, there," he says. "It's okay. It's over now."

John swallows again, tracing the last taste of Woolsey in his mouth, and nods. It's over. He has to come down now. He has to wait until the next time to feel this way.

"You deserve something for that," Woolsey says. "Do you want a plug?"

John doesn't, not really, but he can't refuse Woolsey anything right now. "Yeah," he says. The burn in his ass has faded. It's almost to the point of hurting less than his throat.

Woolsey chooses a short, wide plug -- blue, this time -- and when he brings it over, John spreads for it. It hurts going in, although John has no idea whether it's the width or the remaining effects of the ginger. But once it's in, it feels right. If he closes his eyes, he can almost imagine it's Woolsey's cock.

"I'd love to have you stay," Woolsey says, "but I'm afraid I have a bit of work to catch up on before I can sleep. Will you be all right?"

John understands. He's being kicked out. He sits up, grunting at the pressure of the plug inside him, and then gets off the bed to find his clothes.

"I'll give it back tomorrow night," he says, and his reward for the evening is that Woolsey nods and smiles and says, "That will do nicely."

*

In the morning, it feels like a dream. A fucked-up, down-the-rabbit-hole dream, with only the remaining soreness in his ass and throat to tell him it was real. But Woolsey really did stick a piece of ginger up his ass. And he really did humiliate himself by breaking down and begging.

He tells himself it was just one time, that he was out of his mind with the ginger, but he knows it wasn't a mind-altering drug. Woolsey knew exactly what to do to break him, and the odds are pretty good it's going to happen again tonight.

Somehow he makes it through the day. He shows up at Woolsey's door with his heart racing and his cock heavy in his pants, and he chugs down the obligatory glass of wine so fast Woolsey raises his eyebrows. But then he's in Woolsey's bedroom, naked on Woolsey's bed, staring at the paraphernalia Woolsey is digging out of a chest by the closet.

There's a wide leather strap with a buckle, covered with studs and rings. It's too big for a cuff, too small to fit around anything but...oh. It's a collar. Woolsey pulls out another strap, long and straight, to set next to it, and then something that looks like a big fish hook. It has an eye at one end and a smooth metal ball at the other and John's not going to ask what it's for. He has a feeling he's going to find out soon enough.

Woolsey glances up and smiles when he catches John staring at it. But then his face goes serious. "John, before we start I have something I need to ask you. I meant to ask earlier, actually. I'm afraid your eagerness is a bit distracting."

That doesn't sound good, but John folds his arms over his chest and says, "Ask away."

"I need to know if what we did last night is something you want to repeat."

John looks at the hook on the bed, not sure how the hell it fits in with stuffing his ass full of ginger.

"Not the figging," Woolsey says hurriedly. "I meant afterwards. The...the blow job." He stutters over it a little, like it's hard for him to say, and John's so surprised he doesn't know how to respond. "Because I realize it was spur-of-the-moment," Woolsey says. "I wouldn't expect you to have a preference, one way or another."

The question still doesn't make sense. John has no idea why Woolsey would be asking, why he'd care what John wants. Unless he's...no. No, it's a mind game, it has to be, just another way to make John beg. It has to be, because anything else would mean...no. Not possible.

At least John's past the point where he has a lot of pride. "Yeah," he says, and it's not as hard to say as he expected. "I would, um, want that. Again. If you did."

But somehow, even knowing it's a game, John feels Woolsey's smile go straight to his chest. "Good," Woolsey says. "That's...very good. Now then, let's start with the collar."

It feels heavy against John's collarbone, but not too tight. Woolsey slips two fingers under it to check, and then clips the strap to the back like a leash. John's heart rate picks up. He pictures Woolsey leading him around like that and feels his ears go warm. Because he'd do it. He might even hate it, but he'd do it, and the freakiest thing is that it doesn't freak him out.

Woolsey proceeds to buckle leather cuffs to John's wrists, and then to his ankles as well. So it's going to be that kind of a night. John's cock bounces at the thought. And then Woolsey picks up the hook and starts to spread lube on the ball.

It's a plug. John's mouth goes dry as he watches Woolsey put the lid back on the lube and turn back to him. "I'll need you on your knees, John," he says, pointing to a thick mat on the floor next to the bed. "On the floor."

John swallows and lowers himself to the mat facing Woolsey. The leash dangles behind him, brushing the top of his ass.

"Bend forward," Woolsey says, and John does. A moment later he feels the cold, hard metal against his hole and he takes a long, slow breath and lets it out as Woolsey presses the thing inside him.

It's big and it settles in exactly the right place to press against his prostate. John can feel the shaft of the hook between his buttocks, and then Woolsey takes hold of the leash and John's chin is pulled up as he clips it to the hook.

John feels his whole body go hot. He's tied to himself, neck to ass, and when he moves his head, he feels the ball move inside him. He lowers his chin and the hook pulls the ball deep enough to make him shiver.

"Very nice," Woolsey says, and reaches for John's hands, pulling them behind his back. When he's done, John's wrists are fastened together and linked to a chain that's attached to his ankles. He can't use his hands or stand up, and he can't move his head without feeling it in his ass. Woolsey's fucking diabolical, and John's so hard he's pointing straight out.

Woolsey stands and walks around him, surveying him like he's evaluating his handiwork. John turns his head, and the tug in his ass makes his cock jump.

Woolsey stops in front of him, his crotch just level with John's head, and suddenly John's desperate to suck him. He can't help leaning forward a little and licking his lips.

Woolsey chuckles. "Is there something you want, John?"

"Yeah," John says, and then, because he knows Woolsey's not going to give it to him unless he begs: "Want you to fuck my face."

He thinks Woolsey's going to laugh at him, but instead Woolsey makes a soft, breathless noise and strips off his suit jacket. He doesn't remove the tie, but his hands undo his fly with astonishing speed, and then his cock is right there, jutting toward John's mouth.

It's as big as John remembers from last night, long and stiff with a tight, plump head. John leans closer, but the motion pulls hard on his ass and he has to check himself, brought up short.

This time Woolsey does laugh, a soft, satisfied chuckle. "Now, now," he says. "Remember what I said about being greedy."

John whines in the back of his throat and Woolsey takes pity on him, stepping forward so that he's in reach. John opens his mouth and takes him in, takes every inch Woolsey's willing to feed him and it's as good as last night. No, it's better, because he hasn't come yet and he can feel every thrust in both his throat and his ass, like Woolsey's fucking him at both ends.

He's never wanted this. He knows that, even as he sucks eagerly. He's hog-tied; he's being used; he should hate this. But even though his mouth is busy -- maybe because his mouth is busy -- his head is full of the words he can't say. Words like, how did I never know I needed this, and so god-damned good.

It's easier, like this, to face a few home truths. Like that however he got into this, however Woolsey coerced him, it's the best sex he's ever had. And maybe the reason he never thought he liked rough sex is that he always thought he was the one who had to be rough. He never thought he'd find a way to give in, to give himself over completely, to live in the moment and not need anything more.

But he doesn't. He doesn't need anything but this: the slide of Woolsey's cock in his mouth and the slide of the ball in his ass. The dual onslaught vibrates through his body, turning every inch of him into a single sensual receptor, and he opens his throat, taking Woolsey deep, taking the ball deep. He's just here to be used. Woolsey could do anything to him and he would take it and moan.

He's making noises around Woolsey's cock, now, muffled but obvious. His cock feels like it's leaking, but he doesn't care if he comes. All he cares about is Woolsey's cock. Woolsey's pleasure. Woolsey's hands, tightening in his hair again, and it feels so good he has to close his eyes.

"John," Woolsey says, and it's breathless, like he's getting close. "My God, John."

Woolsey's hand's slide down the back of John's head to the collar, and he feels a tug on strap that pulls the hook tight inside him. He gasps and chokes, but he doesn't care. Woolsey's playing him like a fiddle string, but he's doing it for John's pleasure, and when he tugs again, John loses it, groaning around Woolsey's cock and spurting all over his knees and the mat.

Woolsey's hands slide back up to John's hair as he comes, and Woolsey's cock presses hard against the back of his mouth. John can feel Woolsey shaking in time to his own shudders, and then Woolsey's coming too and John's keening and swallowing and collapsing forward against Woolsey's legs.

"John," Woolsey says more softly, and pulls out of his mouth to slide down into a crouch in front of him. Woolsey's arms wrap around John's shoulders and John presses his cheek to Woolsey's rumpled dress shirt, panting against his neck. "I've got you," Woolsey murmurs. "Just breathe."

The ball is still hard inside him, but John doesn't mind. All that matters is Woolsey's heartbeat against his ear and Woolsey's hands, stroking up and down his back. He knows he's going to get kicked out all too soon, but for now, he has this, and it's enough.

*

"Did you even hear what I just said?"

John looks up to see his teammates staring at him. It's lunchtime in the mess, and he knows he should be paying attention, but Woolsey just stood up across the room and John can't help where his mind's gone. "Course," John lies, figuring Rodney will repeat himself anyway.

Rodney rolls his eyes. "I said I think I'm close. That 'Ah Hah' you heard this morning looks like it just might be the vital breakthrough."

John's chest goes tight. Not that he doesn't want to go home. Of course not. "How long?" he asks, his voice cracking a little.

Teyla's staring at him and even Ronon raises an eyebrow.

"'Til we can go home," John says, and that sounds a little better. Hopefully they'll just think he's eager to get back.

Rodney waves his hands. "I don't know, maybe a couple of days? Given that we're in no immediate danger, I want to do as much testing as possible before we actually attempt the cross-dimensional switch. The calculations are mind-bogglingly complex, and the device I've adapted is going to need to be perfectly calibrated in order to connect to the right universe in exactly the right way."

"Right," John says firmly. "No point in taking risks we don't have to."

But Ronon and Teyla are still staring.

"John," Teyla says, "are you feeling all right?"

"Sure," John says. "I'm fine." And if they don't believe him, well, there's not a whole lot he can do about it.

*

There's a certain freedom in having broken so badly he can't lie to himself anymore. John feels so relaxed in Woolsey's quarters that night he sits on the couch with Woolsey and sips his wine, their knees occasionally bumping each other. He's not thinking about going back to his own universe. Tonight he's just here.

He's still relaxed when they get up and head to the bedroom, but then Woolsey puts a hand on his back and guides him into the bathroom instead. John goes, because he's not about to start refusing stuff now, but he almost balks when Woolsey takes out an oversized bulb syringe.

"Um," John says, and Woolsey just looks at him with his eyebrows raised.

"I need you clean inside for what I have planned," he says, and John goes hot all over. Maybe Woolsey's finally going to fuck him.

"Where do you want me?" he says, and Woolsey points to the towel he's already laid out on the floor.

John strips quickly and gets into the position Woolsey indicates, on his knees with his ass in the air. Woolsey doesn't restrain him and John kind of wishes he would, but he realizes he has to be able to get up to use the can, so maybe Woolsey knows what he's doing.

The enema nozzle slides in smoothly, and Woolsey has the solution at body temperature, so John can't really feel it trickling into him. He consoles himself with the sensation of the nozzle itself and Woolsey's hand, stroking the curve of his ass. Sooner than he expects, Woolsey's removing the nozzle and petting John's back as he tightens to hold it in.

"That's it," Woolsey says. "Just a few more minutes."

John nods and doesn't say anything. He doesn't want to talk right now. He just wants to be here.

And anyway, he's not going to tell Woolsey about Rodney's breakthrough. Woolsey can find out from someone else; John doesn't want to be there to see his face when he hears. Because if the switch happens like Rodney says it will, when he goes back to his own universe, Woolsey's going to get his own John -- and his own Ronon and Teyla -- back.

John's not stupid. It's pointless to be jealous. They've known this Woolsey for a hell of a lot longer than he has. They belong to this universe, and he doesn't. But he can't help thinking that when he leaves, it's going to make Woolsey happy, and John will have nothing. No one.

He tries to imagine having sex with his own Woolsey, tries to imagine his Woolsey tying him up and using his mouth and ass, but he can't even picture it. This universe's Woolsey has a confidence and an authority his own Woolsey lacks, and anyway, he's pretty sure his Woolsey is straight.

He's divorced, anyway. John knows that much. Not that an ex-wife means a person can't like guys, too, but still, John thinks it's pretty unlikely.

"You may release it now," Woolsey says, and John remembers what he's doing. Why he's here.

He gets up and makes it to the toilet. He doesn't really expect Woolsey to give him privacy, and it's both embarrassing and strangely intimate to have him watching. For a moment John's not sure he can do it, but pressure and nature take over, and his ears are hot when he finishes.

"Excellent," Woolsey says. "Let's try that again, shall we?"

It takes two more syringefuls before Woolsey's satisfied. John figures he's so clean on the inside he squeaks, but if Woolsey's going to fuck him, he's not going to complain. But when Woolsey has him tied on the bed -- face up with his arms spread but his ankles free -- he reaches into one of his toy chests and comes out with something new.

It's a series of metal balls strung one after the other on a cord. They clang as Woolsey brings them over, like they're hollow with more metal balls inside. John can't take his eyes off them. There are five of them, and they're pretty big, almost as big as the ball on the hook last night.

And he knows exactly where they're going.

"Are you ready?" Woolsey asks, and John's feeling so dizzy with anticipation that he can't help himself.

"What if I said I wasn't?"

Woolsey lifts his eyebrows. "Is that all you're going to say?"

There's something weirdly significant about that, but John's not going to ask. "You want me to say something more?"

"No," Woolsey says, uncapping the lube. "I really don't."

The first ball feels huge. John's relaxed and ready, but the balls have some sort of silicone coating on them and it takes extra lube to get it in. John feels himself flushing, but Woolsey doesn't say anything, just dribbles more on and pushes harder, and then John's body is opening for it and he's holding his breath trying not to fight it.

He can feel his muscles close around it, and the first ball is in. But Woolsey doesn't give him any time to breathe, and the second ball goes in more quickly.

"Jesus," John can't help gasping, and Woolsey looks up at him.

"Good?" he asks.

It's more complicated than that, but John just nods, and in short order the third and fourth balls are inside him. He feels incredibly full, and when he tilts his hips he can feel the balls and the balls-within-the-balls shifting inside him.

"One more," Woolsey says, and starts to push.

"It's not going to fit," John says.

"Oh, I'm pretty sure it will," Woolsey says, and then there's a popping sensation and it's inside.

"Wow," John says, and Woolsey smiles.

"I knew you'd like them," he says, and then, without any warning whatsoever, he leans forward and sucks the tip of John's cock into his mouth.

"Holy fuck," John gasps. His hips jerk up, making the balls inside him shift and roll, and the only thing that stops him from coming is that Woolsey has pulled off already.

"I can see you're too close for that," Woolsey says. "A pity."

John swallows hard and fucks the air a few times. His cock wants Woolsey's mouth so badly he thinks he might die if he doesn't get it. But Woolsey's getting off the bed and unhooking John's cuffs from the bedframe and the next thing John knows, he's being handed his clothes.

"What the hell?" he says.

"Oh, right," Woolsey says. "You'd better wear these." And he reaches over to the nightstand for a small piece of fabric.

John doesn't have any choice but to take it. It turns out to be a tiny pair of briefs. Jet black. "You want me to put these on," he says, and he should be used to being surprised by Woolsey but apparently he isn't.

"And the rest of your clothes," Woolsey says. John feels his stomach sink, but Woolsey must read something in his face because he adds, "I'm not sending you away. We're just going to take a little walk."

Oh. Oh, God. With the damn balls inside him.

John tugs the briefs on. They're so small they barely cover his erection, and they pull at it, holding it tight against his body. Which is probably the point, John realizes as he gets into his pants and t-shirt. He'll show less this way.

"Ready?" Woolsey asks when John's dressed, and John nods. He wonders if Woolsey's going to put the collar on him and display him in the halls, and a tiny well of panic rises in him. But Woolsey just gestures to the door.

Walking with the balls inside is almost impossible. They move with every step, knocking against each other and bumping John's prostate over and over. It's all John can do not to waddle. Or to grab Woolsey and hump his leg. It's only sheer force of will that keeps him from begging to suck Woolsey off right here in the corridor.

So it's not until they've made it to the transporter that John realizes he's still wearing the leather cuffs on his wrists. But Woolsey didn't take them off. Woolsey must have meant for him to wear them. And if he sees any of his teammates, he can always shove his hands in his pockets or something.

John's half expecting them to go somewhere public and mortifying like the mess, but Woolsey presses the map for the transporter outside the gateroom. John follows him out, doing his best to walk normally. There are a few marines in the gateroom, but no one more than glances at John until they meet Cadman on the stairs.

"Evening, sir," she says to Woolsey. She nods casually to John, and then her eyes widen in surprise. Her gaze rakes John head to foot, lingering on the cuffs around his wrists. It's too late to try to hide them. "Oh, wow," she says to Woolsey. "Nice work. You're corrupting him thoroughly, I hope?"

John feels his face go hot. It's like she can see right through him, see the balls up his ass and the hard-on in his too-tight briefs.

"I believe he's enjoying himself," Woolsey says mildly.

Cadman gives John another once-over. "I can only imagine. I still can't believe they don't have sex in his universe."

"Hey," John says, because that's just ridiculous. "We have sex. Just not...your kind. Very often."

Cadman rolls her eyes. "I'm sure it's all very dutiful and boring."

"It's really not," John starts, but Woolsey says, "John," very quietly and he shuts his mouth. He doesn't want to argue with Cadman, anyway. It's pretty obvious she'd never understand.

Cadman turns back to Woolsey. "So," she says casually. "You planning on collaring him? Because if you're not, I know a few people who might like to play with a recent virgin."

John's stomach goes queasy. He tries to catch Woolsey's gaze with his own, to will him to say yes, even if it's a lie. He doesn't even care what it means here, although he's starting to think it means a lot.

"No," Woolsey says, lifting his chin. "It would be unfair to him, seeing as he'll be going back to his own universe in no more than a few days. But for the time being, you should treat him as though he were mine."

Cadman meets Woolsey's gaze for a long moment, and John has no idea what she's going to do. But then she just nods and says, "I suppose there's no point if he's really going to be leaving so soon," and John feels his stomach unclench.

"Well," Cadman says, "you kids have fun," and with another nod to Woolsey she continues down the stairs.

There are technicians in the control room -- Chuck in his collar and a woman John doesn't know who's obviously a domme -- but they just exchange a greeting with Woolsey and go back to their work as Woolsey leads the way to his office

"I'm sorry," Woolsey says as they cross the bridge. "I'm afraid Lt. Cadman's attitudes are a bit old-fashioned."

"So there are people like that here?" John can't help asking. "People who don't do the whole dom/sub thing?"

"Of course," Woolsey says. "Naturally, it isn't easy to live like that. But they've been earning a few more rights recently. A number of countries now recognize collarless partnerships."

John has a sudden, bizarre insight into how these people must see him and his team. The reaction they got when they tried to explain how their own universe works makes a lot more sense, now.

Woolsey enters his office, walks around his desk and sits down. "It turns out I have a bit of paperwork to catch up on," he says, opening the computer in front of him. "Why don't you kneel at my feet?"

John circles the desk. There's just enough room on the floor underneath it, and he slides in, facing Woolsey.

"Try not to distract me too much," Woolsey says, and starts typing.

John's pretty sure that's code for "don't blow me," which is incredibly unfair. Woolsey's crotch is right there in front of him, and his slacks are pulled tight enough that John can see he's hard. John shifts on his knees, feeling the balls roll inside him, and leans forward. He wants to taste Woolsey, or at the very least smell him, but all he smells is the clean scent of skin and soap.

"Don't worry, I won't be long," Woolsey says from above, and his hand caresses John's hair briefly. John takes that as permission to do a little more, and he leans forward and rests his cheek on Woolsey's knee.

It's bizarrely comfortable like this. John tightens his ass muscles every once in awhile just to feel the balls move inside him, and Woolsey strokes his hair every now and then. John knows he's being used, but it feels almost cozy. He wonders if Woolsey's actually getting work done, or if it's all a sham, but he doesn't really care. It's enough to be here. To be Woolsey's. To be thinking about what's going to happen eventually when they go back to Woolsey's quarters.

He's so lost in his own world that he doesn't hear the footsteps until it's too late.

"Mr. Woolsey? May I have a word with you?"

It's Teyla. At Woolsey's office this late for no reason John can imagine.

"Of course, Teyla," Woolsey says, pushing back a little in his chair. John takes that as a cue to lift his head. But Teyla can't see him under here. He's safe.

"I wish to speak to you of Colonel Sheppard," Teyla says, and John's heart jumps. He can't be here. He doesn't want to listen to this conversation, but there's not a damn thing he can do.

Woolsey's chair rolls back and he gets to his feet. John can just see that he has his arms crossed over his chest. "What of him?"

"He has...not been himself lately," Teyla says, and her voice has that quiet note John knows is her most dangerous. "I believe he has felt...pressured in recent days, and I have come to ask you to stop."

Woolsey's posture relaxes, just a little. "Colonel Sheppard is his own agent," he says. "If you have no personal claim over him, then he is free to do whatever he chooses."

"I am here as his friend," Teyla says. "I would not want a claim over him. But I do not want to see him hurt."

"I understand," Woolsey says, and it sounds almost gentle. "And I can only promise you that I am doing as much as I can to avoid hurting him."

John swallows. Three days ago he would have taken that for an obvious lie. Now all he knows is that he desperately wants to believe it.

"Then you admit that you are pursuing him? Even after he has explained that relationships in our universe do not work as they do here?"

"I believe," Woolsey says, "that he was the one who pursued me."

John doesn't have time to react to that, because Teyla's not appeased. "You think us powerless because you have taken away our weapons," she says. "But I assure you, we are far from helpless. I would advise you not to do anything that might anger us. I would advise it very strongly."

John closes his eyes. Teyla's the perfect white knight. If only she had the perfect cause. And suddenly he can't stop himself. He crawls out from under the desk and climbs slowly to his feet.

"John," Teyla says, clearly shocked. "What are you doing here?"

"Look," John says, "it's not what you think."

Teyla's eyes sweep down his body, fixing on his wrists, and John remembers he's wearing the damn cuffs. But it's too late, anyway. Far too late. "Is it not?"

"I'm fine," John says. "You don't have to pull out the big guns."

Teyla glances at Woolsey and then back to John. "He's not hurting you?"

Not intentionally, John thinks, and it's not even hard to believe, now. "No," he says. "I told you. I'm fine."

Teyla regards him steadily, and John knows she's looking for a sign, a codeword, anything to show that he's lying, but he just meets her eyes levelly. "All right," she says finally. "If you're certain."

"I'm sure," John says.

Teyla gives him one last helpless look before nodding to Woolsey. "I will see you tomorrow," she says to John, and he nods as she leaves.

There's a long, silent moment, while John hopes to hell she hasn't entirely destroyed the mood.

"Well," Woolsey says. "I suppose we should get back to my quarters."

The walk back to the transporter is uneventful, and when they get inside, Woolsey pats John's ass deliberately. Between that and the balls, John's back to hard by the time they're at Woolsey's quarters. Woolsey doesn't say anything about Teyla, but then, there's not much to say. If she doesn't understand, she doesn't understand, and John's not about to ask her to join them so he can prove he's enjoying himself.

He strips at Woolsey's command and Woolsey fastens his arms to the headboard, face up again. John's glad of that, because whatever they do, he wants to see Woolsey's face. Actually, he wants to see more than that, but he's taking what he can get. Whatever he can get.

"Legs, too?" Woolsey asks, and John nods. It's all or nothing tonight.

Woolsey puts cuffs on his ankles and straps them to his thighs, then hooks the cuffs to a second strap that runs under his hips. He's spread wide open and utterly helpless and it feels like flying.

"Good?" Woolsey asks, and John nods again. And then Woolsey gets off the bed and takes off his suit coat, tie, pants, and glasses.

"That it?" John asks. It comes out low and gravelly, like he's a pack-a-day smoker.

Woolsey's chin jerks around. "You want something else?" he asks.

"Your shirt," John says, gesturing with a cuffed hand as best he can. "Not going to take it off?"

Woolsey clears his throat. "Some things are perhaps better left to the imagination."

It's the first time John's seen anything of his own Woolsey in this one. In bed, anyway, and it's wildly endearing. "You think I give a damn whether you have washboard abs?" John says. Hell, it's not like he's all that built, himself. "Look, I just...I want...tonight."

"Ah," Woolsey says, like he actually understands that. "Well, if it's really what you want." And he strips out of the dress shirt and the t-shirt he's wearing underneath.

He's not built. His chest hair is graying and his skin is pale and his stomach looks soft and John doesn't care. He just stares and stares like he can't get enough.

Woolsey climbs back on the bed. "Apparently I'm in the mood to indulge you."

"Thank you," John says fervently, and Woolsey smiles at him, and then smacks him on the ass.

It sets the balls bouncing inside and John gasps. He wonders if that's the plan, if Woolsey's going to spank him now. But Woolsey's hand just strokes the spot he hit and then gives the string still dangling from John's ass a little tug.

The last ball presses against John's hole from the inside, and he gasps again. "Jesus."

"Just wait," Woolsey says, and bends down to lick the underside of John's cock.

Strapped down like this, John can't move his hips, can't push up against Woolsey's tongue, and Woolsey keeps it so light it's maddening. By the time he lifts his head, John's a quivering mess. "Please," he whimpers. "God, please."

"Please what?" Woolsey says, and he sounds amused.

"Anything," John says. "Please, anything."

"Very well," Woolsey says, and he gives a sharp pull on the string. The first ball pops out in a perfect flare of pain and pleasure, and John's cock jerks.

"More?" Woolsey says, but all John can do is pant.

"Ah," Woolsey says. "Perhaps I should let you back down a bit," and he smacks John's ass again.

John can't help crying out. "Not...helping," he says through clenched teeth when he can.

"You can come if you like," Woolsey says magnanimously. "Any time now."

"No," John says. He feels suddenly wildly powerful, like he rules the universe, tied up in Woolsey's bed. "Not gonna."

"Oh, we'll see about that," Woolsey says, leaning in to lick his cock again.

John moans and screws his eyes shut, willing his body to obey him. He's not ready yet. He's not sure he'll ever be ready.

"John," Woolsey says reprovingly, and the onslaught stops. "What are you holding out for?"

John doesn't have to stop and think about it. "Want you to fuck me," he says. "Not gonna come 'til you do."

"I see," Woolsey says, and John's pretty sure it's supposed to be stern, but it sounds kind of breathless. "Well, let's see how strong your resolve is." And he tugs another ball out.

John can't arch or pull away. The only thing he can do is bite the inside of his mouth and think about something unpleasant. Something really fucking unpleasant, like leaving. Like not having this any more. Like never seeing this Woolsey again.

"Impressive," Woolsey says, and leans to suck on John's cock while he pulls another ball out. But John's found his bittersweet center, the place where the pain counteracts the pleasure instead of adding to it, and he manages to stay there while Woolsey pulls out the final two balls and then slowly sits up and leans over him.

"Oh, sweetheart," he says softly, and his thumb reaches to trace the outer corners of John's eyes. "Was that really worth it?"

"Yes," John says, because it's the only answer he can give. It's all worth it. Worth every single moment of pain.

Woolsey shakes his head gently. "You realize I can do anything to you like this, right?" he says, touching John's outstretched arm, and then his chest. "Anything I want."

"Anything," John agrees.

"And I choose," Woolsey says, his eyes on John's, "to reward you."

John has to swallow the strange knot in his throat, but Woolsey doesn't leave him waiting for long. Woolsey lifts up over him, aligns his cock, and presses in.

After the balls, John's pretty relaxed, and Woolsey slides in with a single, hard stroke. He still feels big -- hell, he is big. Bigger than anyone John's ever bottomed for. It seems fitting, that this is a first in so many ways.

John only hopes it isn't a last, as well.

Woolsey pulls out and strokes in again, and John can't help a small, broken noise. It feels like he's wanted this forever. It feels better than anything he imagined.

So maybe he's not the only John Sheppard Woolsey's ever fucked, but he doesn't care right now. Right now Woolsey's thinking of him, and that's all that matters.

"Oh, God," Woolsey says. He's pumping into John, his face red, his breathing ragged. "You'd better not...hold out too long."

John grins, but it's not like he could disobey even if he wanted to, because when he clenches down around Woolsey's cock, it sets off heat everywhere inside him, and when Woolsey moans, he's lost.

"Fuck," he whispers, and his chest feels like it's going to crack. "Richard, I..." But he's coming before he can say anything, before he can think anything, before he can do anything but shake and shake and shake.

"It's all right," Woolsey says. "It's all right, John." And his hips keep moving, fucking John through his shudders and on out to the other side.

John tips his head back and closes his eyes, letting Woolsey use his body, giving himself up wholly. He's Woolsey's now, utterly and completely, and it's the best feeling he's ever had.

His arousal is spent, but John doesn't care. He's right where he wants to be, limp against his bonds, giving it up for Woolsey, and if he feels it tomorrow, so much the better.

John doesn't open his eyes, just rides it out as Woolsey grunts and thrusts and says his name and comes. Woolsey holds him for a long moment afterward, but then he's pulling out and unfastening straps and cuffs, rubbing John's arms and legs, hands lingering here and there. It feels good and John cracks his eyes open, lying there like he's dazed. Like he's earned this.

After a few minutes Woolsey gets up, but he comes back with a soft towel and cleans John up. John still doesn't move. He's not leaving until Woolsey kicks him out. But Woolsey just lies down next to him and runs a hand up and down his side.

"Thanks," John says finally, quietly. It needs to be said.

Woolsey still has his glasses off, and he peers at John's face like he has to be sure what he's seeing. "I believe that's my line," he says. "For this night, and all the other nights. You have made missing my John bearable, and I'm grateful for it."

Of course that's what this is about. It's not like John ever thought any differently. John takes a slow, deep breath, but it doesn't hurt as much as he thought it would. Possibly because he's just been fucked through the mattress. "He wears your collar, doesn't he?"

To his surprise, Woolsey shakes his head. "Not yet. I had hoped to ask him, but I had not yet gotten up the nerve."

That explains a surprising amount. And somehow makes John feel better. "Ask him," he says, and it's unexpectedly easy to say. "Trust me. He's not going to say no."

Woolsey's eyes widen briefly. "How can you be so sure?"

"Okay, fine," John says. "He's not me. But I bet I know how he thinks. Just ask him, okay?"

Woolsey rubs a thoughtful hand across his mouth. "All right," he says finally. "When you've gone back to your universe, I will."

John looks up at the ceiling, at the rings and the dangling chain he hasn't had a chance to experience yet. "You know it's going to be soon, right? Rodney said no more than a few days."

"I know," Woolsey says, and squeezes his shoulder.

"That's got to make you happy," John says, and that hurts a little more to say.

Woolsey's hand never leaves his skin. "I am a very selfish man," he says. "I wish I could have him back and keep you, too."

Something in John's chest goes loose and warm and stays that way. Woolsey may just be saying that, but it's exactly what he needs to hear. "Rodney says that's impossible," he offers. "They can't come back unless we go."

"So I understand," Woolsey says. His fingers caress John's arm. "Are you cold?"

Now that the sweat is drying, John's a little cool, but if he admits it, Woolsey might make him get dressed. "I'm fine."

"Here," Woolsey says, and gets up off the bed. But he doesn't hand John his clothes. He just fetches a couple of pillows and pulls down the bedcovers.

It's not an invitation to stay the night. It can't be. But John's still taking whatever he can get. He climbs under the covers and holds his breath until Woolsey slips in next to him and then reaches for his bedside table to dim the lights. And then Woolsey's pressed against him, skin to skin, one arm slung across John's chest like he's not going anywhere, and John lets out his breath.

"I still can't believe I've never even managed to push you to yellow," Woolsey says against John's hair. "I've never been with a virgin who was so game."

I wasn't a virgin, John almost says and then remembers it means something different here. "What do you mean, 'yellow'?" he asks instead. It seems innocuous enough.

But Woolsey stiffens against him and lifts his head in the darkness. "'Yellow' as in standard rules," he says. "I'm certain I mentioned it the first night. I would never have played with you without first establishing the basics."

Something about this conversation is making John lose some of his buzz. He hates feeling out of the loop, but he has no idea what Woolsey is talking about. "You do realize I come from a different universe, right?"

"How could I forget?" Woolsey says, but he sounds uneasy. "But surely there is some elementary knowledge that is universal. Green for go, yellow for slow, red for stop?"

"Well, sure," John says, and then it dawns on him. Woolsey's not talking about traffic lights. "Wait, are you talking about in bed? You mean, if I'd said 'yellow' or 'red,' you would have stopped whatever you were doing?"

"Of course," Woolsey says, and he sounds shaken. "How could you not know that? And how could you have agreed to sex without knowing the safeword?"

I didn't know I had a choice, John doesn't say. It's too big to put into words. "I'm in a different universe." He lifts the shoulder under Woolsey's hand. "It was no big deal."

But Woolsey's not buying the nonchalant act. "God, John. Tell me the truth. Was there any time when I pushed you past your limits? When you would have stopped me if you knew you could?"

"No," John lies. It's easy enough to say, and he can't hurt Woolsey. Not now that he understands. "No, it was...you were...I wouldn't have changed a thing."

"Thank God," Woolsey says, and he fingers John's collarbone like he still needs reassurance. "I can't believe you didn't know something so basic. What do they teach in your sex education classes?"

John laughs. "Not much," he admits. "None of the important stuff."

"Obviously," Woolsey says with feeling, but he seems more relaxed. "I had no idea a place could be so backwards."

John doesn't answer. He's still kind of reeling. But it makes sense, and more, it feels right in a way he didn't even know to hope for. And if Woolsey never meant to force him, then maybe he's gotten some other things wrong, too.

"Hang on," he says, because he needs to hear Woolsey explain it. "What about Ronon and Teyla? You gotta admit you were coming on kind of strong."

"I'll admit it wasn't terribly subtle," Woolsey says. "But I prefer straightforward courting, especially for short-term, casual play."

"You call that courting?" John says, but he can't find any outrage. "You were describing kinky sex acts in pretty intimate detail."

"Is there a better way to discover if potential sex partners are compatible?" Woolsey asks.

"Um," John says, because he doesn't have an answer to that, and Woolsey shakes his head.

"You know, sometimes I find your universe utterly incomprehensible."

"It makes sense when you're there," John says, although he's starting to wonder if he's right.

"But how do you figure out what anyone else likes?" Woolsey asks. "Is it all just trial and error, like I had to do with you? Because I have to confess, I found your refusal to discuss scenes in advance somewhat intimidating."

"But not too intimidating," John says, because that has to be an exaggeration. "You wanted me."

"Yes, of course," Woolsey says. "And you seemed so eager for it that I couldn't say no. But it wasn't easy."

"Whoa," John says, and a bunch of other things snap into perfect clarity. "I guess I did pursue you."

"Yes," Woolsey says, "you did."

It shouldn't be funny. It isn't funny. But suddenly John's laughing into Woolsey's shoulder, so hard has to stop just to breathe. "This is so fucked up," he finally manages.

Woolsey stiffens beneath him. "Well, I'm sorry if you--"

But John cuts him off. "No, in a good way. The best way. You're...not what I expected. At all."

"I hope that's a good thing," Woolsey says.

"Yeah," John says softly. "Yeah, it really is."

*

After that, there doesn't seem to be any point in going back to his room, and Woolsey doesn't kick him out. As it turns out there's an advantage to staying -- over and above the press of warm, naked skin all night -- because in the morning Woolsey gets out a spreader bar for John's ankles and cuffs his hands to the shower controls and fucks him under the spray until they're both shaking and spent.

John doesn't want to leave even then, but he has to get clean clothes from his own quarters, so he promises Woolsey they can meet up in the mess. But ten minutes later his team finds him in the service line, and from their expressions, something's wrong.

"Hey," John says, choosing eggs and bacon and plenty of buttered toast. "What's up?"

"We need to talk with you," Teyla says, and Ronon nods. Rodney's as jittery as if he's had six cups of coffee already, and John has a sinking feeling that Teyla spilled the beans.

John follows them to their table, suddenly not hungry any more. He sucks down half his cup of coffee, nearly burning his throat, and puts on his best blank face.

"John," Teyla says, putting a hand on his arm. "I'm sorry. I did not realize that you were trying to protect us. If I had known, I would have stopped you days ago."

John gulps some more coffee. "Look," he says, leaning in so he can say it quietly. "It's no big deal. I'm just running a little interference."

Ronon is watching him steadily. "By letting him tie you up and fuck you?"

"Shit," John says, and he's pretty sure his ears are giving him away. "Who told you that?"

"Nobody," Ronon says, and Rodney adds, "Given what Teyla saw last night, it's pretty darn obvious."

"If you want," Ronon says calmly, "I can kill him for you."

Crap, this is a mess. "No!" John says, pinching the bridge of his nose in an attempt to think straight. "Listen, it's not what you think. He's not...forcing me. He wouldn't do that."

"Oh, God," Rodney says. "It's Stockholm Syndrome. You're identifying with your captor."

John looks Rodney straight in the eye. "He's not my captor," he says, "and he's not our enemy. He's done nothing but try to help us get home. And for your information, I was the one who came on to him. Not the other way around."

It's out there, on the table, in front of them all. John feels flushed all over, like he's just laid his soul bare. All the other three can do is stare.

"Well," Rodney says finally. "I'd better get back to work if we're going to leave before noon."

John's heart dives for the floor. "Today?" he says.

"Yes," Rodney says. "Today. And I'm going to need your help with the device. As soon as you're done with breakfast."

There's no way John's going to eat now. And there's nothing he can do. Woolsey hasn't even made it to the mess yet. "Yeah," he says, and it comes out low and flat. "Okay," and he stands up to bus his tray.

*

It's mostly make-work, stuff Ronon or Teyla could be doing just as easily, and it's ridiculously transparent they all think they're saving him. Rodney has John carry things and press buttons while he explains. The device he's cobbled together is somehow going to tap into the naquadah of the stargate to trigger the cross-dimensional transfer. All they have to do is rig it to the gate, activate it, and step through the field it generates like it's an event horizon.

It seems too simple to be true, but John helps him set it up, alternately passing him wires and his datapad and doing his best to prove he's not unhinged. They're halfway done when Woolsey shows.

John meets his eyes for one agonized moment and then has to look away.

"I understand you're leaving today," Woolsey says.

"Yes," Rodney answers. "As soon as I can get this up and running."

"And how soon with that be?" Woolsey asks.

"I don't know, another hour?"

"All right," Woolsey says. "I'll leave you to your work."

John looks then, watching Woolsey's retreating back. His uniform isn't exactly flattering, but at least John knows what he looks like out of it.

He can't watch for long. Rodney wants his datapad again, and some of the green wires, and it's back to feeling leaden and half alive while they work on a way to get home.

"Look," Rodney says. "You'll feel better when we get back. You'll just forget about all of this and it will be fine."

Not a chance, John thinks sourly, and leans against the gate. The worst thing is, he doesn't even blame his team. In their shoes, he'd probably be doing the same thing. But that doesn't make it any easier on him.

It's funny how it's the first time he's ever wished Rodney worked slower. But of course wishing doesn't do a fuckload of good. Before the hour's even up, Rodney's straightening and dusting his hands.

"Well," he says. "That ought to do it. Shall I fire it up?"

"Yeah," Ronon says, and Teyla nods, and a moment later Rodney flips a switch on the device and the gate shimmers to life. It looks more like a force field than a wormhole, but there's definitely something there.

"Okay," Rodney says, dusting his hands. "How do we want to do this? Should we all just go together?"

"Wait," John says. "That's it? You're not going to test it by sending something through?"

"There's no point," Rodney says. "We'd have no way of knowing if it actually made it through intact."

"John," Teyla says, painfully astute as usual, "are you saying you do not wish to go?"

John hesitates for a moment. But whatever his heart and body want, he can't stay. He doesn't belong here. Woolsey's Sheppard does. And he's made it through the vast majority of his forty-odd years without mind-blowing kinky sex. He'll survive. "No," he says. "I'm going with you."

"Well," Rodney says. "Shall we?"

But before they can make a move, they're interrupted by a clatter on the stairs. It's Woolsey and a couple of marines, and John's so happy to see him he doesn't even notice he's carrying their weapons until he's handing Ronon his blaster.

"Here," Woolsey says, giving John his P90 and sidearm. "You might as well take everything you came with."

"Thanks," John manages, while the marines pass weapons to Rodney and Teyla.

"I believe you forgot this as well," Woolsey says, holding out a black satchel John's never seen before in his life.

"That's not mine," John says, not taking it.

"Yes," Woolsey says, meeting his gaze directly. "It is."

There's a moment when all John can see is Woolsey's face, the deep grooves around his mouth, the sadness behind his glasses. And then John realizes: whatever is in the bag is something Woolsey wants him to have, and that's enough. "Oh, right," John says, taking it. "Thanks."

He can see Rodney out of the corner of his eye, impatiently tapping his thigh. Ronon and Teyla are watching, too. But suddenly John doesn't care. He leans in and gives Woolsey a quick, hard kiss, then pulls back just as quickly, feeling like an idiot. He doesn't even know if they kiss in this universe, if Woolsey will understand what it means.

But apparently they do, because Woolsey's face goes soft and then he's threading his hands into John's hair and twisting tight as he pulls him close and kisses and kisses him.

It can't go on forever, however much John wants it to. Eventually Rodney clears his throat and Woolsey pulls away, giving John's hair one last stroke before stepping back.

"Good-bye, John," Woolsey says.

"Yeah," John says huskily. "Bye."

He's hard when he steps through the gate. It seems fitting, somehow.

 

Epilogue

There's a flicker and a brief sensation of falling, and then John and his team are standing behind the gate, like they just walked through an empty ring. Woolsey's still on the other side, and John's heart leaps.

"It didn't work," Woolsey says, and John's not imagining the sound of hope in his voice.

"It had to work," Rodney says, circling the stargate to examine the device. "I tested it fifteen times! There's no reason it wouldn't work."

But then John looks around the gateroom. There are marines with Woolsey, but one of them is Guzman, and John's pretty sure he wasn't there before. And there's Doc Keller, just coming down the stairs. Her neck is bare.

"Wait," John says to Woolsey. "Tell me something. If you were trying to court someone, what would you do?"

"Court someone?" Woolsey says. "Ah, you mean, romantically?"

John nods, his heart in his throat.

Woolsey's face looks a little flushed. "Well, a nice dinner, I suppose. And flowers are really never amiss."

The disappointment is so strong it's a physical shock, and John has to close his eyes for a moment. "You can stop messing with that damn thing," he tells Rodney. "We're home."

*

It's amazing how quickly things go back to normal. Rodney disappears into his lab. Teyla goes back to her family. Ronon runs John ragged on the city's catwalks. And not one of them mentions the other Woolsey.

John spends a lot of time alone in his quarters with the contents of the black satchel. He was smart enough to wait until he was alone to open it, and he's not entirely surprised by what's inside. Five butt plugs and two dildos, in various sizes and colors. A set of leather cuffs for both wrists and ankles. A bunch of straps. A telescoping spreader bar. Two sets of anal beads. A couple of things he doesn't even recognize. And a note.

"I'll miss you," it says. It's unsigned. John nearly wears it out, folding and unfolding it.

He puts the cuffs on, sometimes. Sometimes he even straps his legs up. But he can't make himself helpless because he needs to be able to get himself free, so it kind of defeats the purpose.

Mostly he just uses the larger dildo. It's almost exactly the size and shape of Woolsey's cock.

*

The easiest thing would be to avoid Woolsey. John knows that, but he can't help himself. There are the obligatory meetings and debriefings of course. But it's worse than that. Every time John sees him in the mess, his head jerks around. Every time he stops by the control room and Woolsey's in his office, he flashes back to the washroom and Woolsey's gentle hands, spreading comfort on his bruised ass.

He knows it's not the same Richard Woolsey. He's painfully aware of that fact. But he looks the same. He sounds the same. And sometimes he even acts the same. They may not be the same person, but they're more alike than identical twins, and John's drawn, like a moth to a porch light.

His door chime rings one evening when he's contemplating his bag of toys. He zips it hurriedly and shoves it in his foot locker before going to open the door, but it's only Teyla, bearing a plate of the tiny, savory cakes Athosians sometimes eat with their tea. She knows he likes them, so this must be some kind of gesture. It's enough to worry him before she even opens her mouth.

"Shouldn't you be tucking Torren into bed or something?" he asks, but Teyla just smiles.

"He is sound asleep and with his father," she says, and sighs. "It is good to be home."

"Yeah," John says, because he knows she missed the family her counterpart didn't have. But he can't find anything else to say.

Teyla sets her tray down on John's side table. "Actually," she says, "that is what I wanted to talk to you about."

This is John's room, so there's nowhere to go, no excuses to make. He takes a cake instead. Maybe if his mouth is full, she won't expect him to say anything.

"I'm here to apologize," Teyla said. "We obviously...misread the situation and separated you when we had no need to. It was unfair to you, however well-intentioned."

The cake is moist and crumbly, but it feels dry in John's mouth. "It's okay," he says. He can't say anything more.

"No," she says. "It's not. You had a right to find comfort where you would. It was our failure that we did not understand."

She knows too much, and it sears along his nerves. "It didn't matter," he says roughly. "Rodney needed my help, and the important thing was to get back. This is our home. My home."

"I know," she says, and there's so much sympathy in her voice he feels like he's going to crack right down the middle.

"Look," he says desperately, "I'm sure you have other things to do tonight. People to beat up in the gym. Yoga moves to practice."

She laughs, but it's a little hollow. "I understand," she says. "I thank you for listening. Good-night, John."

"Thanks for the snack."

He doesn't get out the black satchel when she's gone. He just eats his little cakes and does crosswords until his eyes are so blurry he can't read the clues anymore.

*

Somehow it's worse after that. When he sits with his teammates in the mess, he can't help wondering what they're thinking, and he has to force himself not to look for Woolsey. The only relief he gets is in staff meetings. No one can blame him for looking, then.

John leans back in his chair, pretending to be bored, drinking in the line of Woolsey's shoulders, the bunching of his sleeves. He wonders if this Woolsey has ever spanked anyone. If he's ever had gay sex. If he even knows what a safeword is.

"John?" Woolsey says, and then corrects himself. "I mean, Colonel. What do you think?"

But John barely hears the question. He's buffeted by full-body memory: lying open and helpless in his restraints, anchored by that voice saying his name.

"Colonel?" Woolsey says again.

John jerks upright. Everyone's looking at him. He's only glad his crotch is hidden by the edge of the table. "Well, it's an interesting question," he manages, but that's all he's got. He doesn't have a clue what they're talking about. He doesn't even have a way to pass the buck, and if he doesn't come up with something soon, he's going to out himself to everyone.

"Oh, please," he hears Rodney say. Clueless, tactless Rodney, who has just enough knowledge to blow this whole thing sky high. "Why are you asking him? This is a scientific matter, not a military problem. I mean, seriously, all we need to be able to do is recalibrate the dynamic field potentials and we'll be able to circumvent the whole issue!"

It sounds like gibberish to John, but everyone's eyes are on Rodney now, and he can breathe. He's fine. He's...fuck. Woolsey's looking at him. Woolsey's wondering what the hell just happened. And John has no explanation. No excuse whatsoever.

He makes it through the rest of the meeting somehow. He throws his weight behind Rodney's proposal, not knowing if it's a good idea or a terrible mistake, but whether Rodney's rescue was deliberate or not, John's grateful. And he manages to slip out of the conference room moments after Woolsey ends the meeting, so at least he doesn't screw up again.

But it's even harder after that. He keeps seeing Woolsey in the hallways. In the mess. Outside the armory, and what the hell is he doing there? He starts noticing that Woolsey is looking at him, and yes, damn it, that means he's looking, too.

Woolsey knows something's going on. And whatever else he may be, Woolsey is not a stupid man.

So he's half expecting some sort of confrontation. He's been working on excuses -- he hadn't slept well, he was thinking about staffing problems, he was coming down with something -- but none of them are plausible. None of them will hold up to cross-examination, and he's not forgetting that that's Woolsey's area of expertise.

What he's not expecting is a summons over the radio at nine o'clock at night.

"Colonel Sheppard? I was hoping you could stop by my office this evening. At your convenience."

John stops right where he is, in the middle of an empty corridor. His heart's pounding and the back of his neck feels hot. "Yeah," he says, and it sounds breathless and wholly inappropriate. "I can be there in five."

He heads straight for the gateroom. So maybe he should have stalled, but that would only give him more time to freak out. He'll be fine. Woolsey probably just wants to give him grief about the brevity of his latest mission report.

There are techs on duty -- Banks and Lee, tonight -- and Woolsey's office is still a fishbowl, so John does his damnedest to act normal. It's a lot harder when Woolsey gets up from behind his desk and comes around to greet him.

"Colonel Sheppard. Thank you for coming. Please, have a seat. Can I get you a drink?"

John's mouth goes dry, and all he can taste is red wine. The good vintage, if a little young. "I'm good," he says. "Thanks." And he lowers himself into one of Woolsey's chairs.

Woolsey sits in the chair next to him. Almost close enough to touch. John can't help wondering if Woolsey can hear his heartbeat. He leans back like he's at ease.

"Well," Woolsey says, "I expect you're wondering why I've called you up here."

Damn straight, John doesn't say. "Figured you'd get to that part."

"Yes," Woolsey says, "well." And then stops, like he's waiting for John to say something.

John sets his jaw and stares at the shelves behind Woolsey's desk. They're filled with antique-looking law books. He can't remember if the other Woolsey had books like that.

"I owe you an apology," Woolsey says, and John's head snaps back around. Woolsey looks nervous. Like he's the one in the wrong here, and John doesn't know whether to be relieved or terrified.

"Pretty sure you don't owe me anything," he says.

"Yes." Woolsey looks down. "I do. Although I must confess that I had no plans to tell you." He pauses, still not looking at John. "I told myself it wouldn't matter, that it wouldn't affect our working relationship, but I can see now that it has."

He can't have found out. John knows his team would never tell anyone, but he still can't suppress a wave of panic. "Look," he says. "It's no big deal. Whatever it is," he adds, because he's not admitting anything until he's cornered.

"It was to me," Woolsey says quietly. "It matters to me."

Crap. John contemplates the door and wishes he'd asked for that drink after all.

"John, I..."

He can't know what that name does to John. If he had any idea, he wouldn't throw it around so casually.

"I have to say this," Woolsey barrels on. "I realize it's not fair to you, but I can't lie about this anymore. While you were away, I had a sexual relationship with your counterpart. The other John Sheppard."

The words fall like a blow. "Son of a bitch," John says softly. He can't believe he didn't guess. That he didn't realize how lost -- how horny -- the other John would be. But it makes sense. Too much sense. And he's suddenly so jealous he can't see straight. "What did he do?" John asks. "Did he bring you flowers and ask you to dinner? Or did he just beg you to tie him up and beat him?"

Woolsey stiffens. "It wasn't like that." His hands are clenched on the arms of his chair. "It wasn't tawdry. He was...generous."

"Oh, I'll bet," John mutters.

"He put up with my inexperience," Woolsey says. "He taught me more about myself than I had thought possible."

It's too much. Too close to John's own experience. He's on his feet heading for the door when Woolsey says his name one more time.

"John."

It's one syllable. He hears it every day of his life. But to hear it now in the voice he craves stops him in his tracks.

"I never confused him with you," Woolsey says. "I wouldn't do that."

John doesn't turn around. "It's not that simple," he says. "Trust me, I know."

There's a silence that drags on too long, and John suddenly remembers that Richard Woolsey is a very smart man.

"You, too?" Woolsey says finally.

There's no point in denial anymore. John turns around to see Woolsey on his feet, his face full of sympathy. "Yeah. Me, too."

They stand like that, looking at each other. John has no idea what the hell he's supposed to say.

Woolsey clears his throat. "I imagine I would make a rather poor substitute," he says.

John feels light-headed, like he's forgotten how to breathe. "I'm not looking for a substitute."

There's a crease between Woolsey's eyebrows. "Then you're not like him."

"No," John says. "I'm not."

"To tell the truth," Woolsey says, "I'm probably not much like your Richard Woolsey, either."

"He's not mine," John says. "He never was."

Woolsey's forehead is rumpled, and the lines of his face look deeper than usual. "I suppose not," he says. "We were only borrowing them."

John can't say anything to that. It hurts like only the truth can.

"Perhaps it's better this way," Woolsey says. "Maybe things can get back to normal now that we've cleared the air."

"Yeah," John says, and stands there. He knows it's time to go, but if he walks away now, he knows they'll never mention this again. "Richard," he says quietly.

Woolsey's chin jerks up, his eyes widening behind his glasses. "Yes?"

John swallows. He feels like he's looking out an open airplane door and he's not even sure he's packed a parachute. "I'd make it good for you." It comes out in a rush, and the humiliation of it goes straight to his cock. He hasn't forgotten where he learned to beg, and why. "You wouldn't have to tie me up. I'll do...anything. Anything you want."

"Oh my God," Woolsey says. He's not moving, but his hands are clenched in front of him. "And if I...wanted to tie you up?"

The rush becomes a whistling in John's ears, like the wind at ten thousand feet. "Do it tight."

Woolsey takes a step toward him. "He did teach me a number of interesting knots."

"I have stuff," John says. "Cuffs and...things."

"So," Woolsey says. "My quarters, ten minutes?"

This could be the biggest mistake John's ever made. Or it could be the beginning of the rest of his life. "Ten minutes," John says, and falls free.