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Rodney wakes to pleasure, gentle waves that roll over him, making him tingle and gasp. It's baseless and decentralized at first, dry and shuddering from one end of his body to another. Slowly, something coalesces in his groin, sharp and aching but still oddly tender. His muscles tighten, whipcord tight until finally his fingers and toes curl and one last mind bogglingly pleasurable wave washes over him and he gasps loudly, only peripherally aware of another voice, a groan of surprise joining his.

When it's over, he trembles violently, unable to catch his breath. The sound of another raspy pant reaches his ears and Rodney closes his eyes tightly, unable to face whoever just watched him-- he shifts around, surprised to feel the absence of, well, anything. No wetness, no stickiness, just sweat and sore muscles and the lack of motivation to stand. Possibly it relates to the still uncontrollable trembling wracking his frame.

Taking stock, Rodney wiggles around some more, happy to find himself once again in control of his body. He pushes up against the soft floor, noting its vague give against his hands. He squeezes into a corner; glad the same material that coats the floors is also on the wall. His back is already starting to pull in uncomfortable ways.

His eyes are still tightly shut as he works to control his breathing further, so the tentative, "Rodney?" nearly gives him a heart attack.

His eyes snap open even as he gasps in shock, hand automatically going to his chest, palm pressing flatly against his sternum as if to calm the stuttering of its rhythm with external force. He sees Colonel Sheppard slumped forward, arms in a loose circle around his bent knees.

Sheppard looks as shaken as Rodney feels, hands clenched tightly in front of him, hair sweaty and matted, skin unusually flushed. Rodney's breath catches slightly, the picture oddly intimate -- something one should be invited to see, not stumble upon, half drunk with remembered pleasure.

"So," Rodney sighs, head falling back against the soft wall, "let's never speak of this again?"

Sheppard actually smiles a crooked smile and nods. "Anyone asks, there was horrible torture to endure."

"Possibly even a 90210 marathon level of pain."

The conversation ends and Rodney isn't too inclined to help it start again. He's tired and aching and he feels like he's been awake for thirty six hours straight and there's no coffee in his near future.

They spend an hour or so in cooperative quiet. Rodney attempting to create a mental wall between them, he wants to be alone and imagines the molecules thickening before his eyes.

Food arrives through a slot in the door. The trays are made of something similar to the covering on the walls and floor. They're firm and don't buckle under the weight of the food, but any hope of using one of them as blunt instruments dies a quick death. Even with Sheppard's most expert swing, it probably wouldn't do more than stun and not for very long.

The food itself is fairly appetizing; white meat of some sort, a vegetable like stew and some fruit. He watches Sheppard take a sample from each and then nod in his direction before he digs in. It's mostly a hollow gesture, because there's every possibility that Sheppard won't be able to taste the citrus he is looking for, but the gesture is not lost on Rodney. The act of eating -- after long drawn out seconds where Rodney waits for his throat to close -- and drinking clear cool liquid takes up time in a blissful sort of way. When he's done, Rodney finds he cares enough to look around.

The room is uniform gray and squinting at the far corner makes him a little dizzy. Curiously he wanders over to find a semi partition hiding a toilet and sink and shower. There are various dispensers that give out various multi colored substances. From their locations and smells and textures, Rodney deduces which are soaps, shampoos, hand creams and the like.

The towels and wash clothes pop out of the wall like some super large tissue dispenser. Through trial and error, he discovers they are only allowed two of each, and in order to get a fresh one he has to stuff the old one into what looks like a garbage can. Except that it makes a loud *whooshing* noise when the cover closes.

Rodney leans against the wall, a few feet from Sheppard. "On the plus side, we're apparently in the Ritz of prison cells."

From the floor, Sheppard nods in a reasonable sort of way, which annoys Rodney to no end.

Feeling fidgety, Rodney paces, because pacing is what he does when he needs to think and there are no computers around to play with. He doesn't know when it starts, just suddenly his knees buckle as he's taken by surprise when a rolling wave of something passes through him and makes jelly of his spine. He lands on his knees and slumps forward onto his hands.

"Rodney?" Sheppard gasps from his spot on the floor.

It takes two tries to focus on him, because the first time the sensation doubles back so astonishingly quickly Rodney gasps loudly. When he finally focuses, he sees Sheppard on his side, legs curled up towards his chest. He's hitting at the floor with an open palm, hips shifting suggestively.

Rodney closes his eyes tightly, because he really doesn't want to invade Sheppard's privacy and because he can't concentrate on anything but the building sensations inside his own body, but most of all because Sheppard with his head thrown back, mouth wide open and gasping, is not an image he needs at this very moment.

It's a dry pleasure that heaves through him; it's missing something he can't define. He figures out what unexpectedly. The waves come quicker and quicker and soon his arms can't support him anymore and he's stuck writhing on the floor, breathless and incoherent. There's a brief moment of clarity when he realizes he isn't hard, then the pleasure runs over again and the thought is gone. His muscles shake and shudder and all of it finally -- *finally* -- bubbles over and he nearly whimpers as the white hot screaming orgasm -- which he now recognizes is what happened earlier as well -- shatters over him.

When it's all over but the quivering, Rodney takes the time to feel violated. He's pretty sure you're supposed to agree in some manner or another before you experience something that devastating.

Sheppard actually crawls over to him, placing a sweaty, shaking hand on his shoulder. "You ok?" Even his voice sounds unsettled.

"No." Rodney feels the word in his mouth, over enunciating and possibly putting about eight million different thoughts and feelings into it.

"Right."

Rodney can feel Sheppard collapse beside him, breathing heavily. Their backs touch after an especially deep breath and Rodney jumps, still feeling over sensitized in ways he can't describe. "You?" He asks out of some left over sense of obligation ground into him when he was a child and possibly a bit of understanding, as he is the only other person who can possibly understand.

"I feel like a commercial for date rape," Sheppard's rough voice says and Rodney can hear the attempt to sound okay with it.

Rodney figures they can be manly men about it later, after he stops feeling quite so -- something.

Eventually they pick themselves up off the floor and take turns splashing water on their faces and using the toilet. Rodney takes a moment to reflect on the fact that he no longer looks upon figuring out an alien toilet as anything stranger than a European one.

Sheppard attempts to institute some layers of normalcy, prodding Rodney to investigate their surroundings more thoroughly. They look for seams in the wall, the floor, the drains. Anything they can use to their advantage.

In the end, they have nothing.

"So, do you think they're going to uh... you know..." Sheppard studiously does not look at Rodney as he speaks.

Rodney really desperately doesn't want to have this conversation. "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me?"

Sheppard laughs nervously. "So basically we're screwed?"

"Probably."

It happens once more before the lights lower for what Rodney assumes is their rest period. They shake and whine and muffle themselves in their arms until Rodney is sure he's going to have bruises in the morning. Like the previous times it all ends in a bone meltingly, spine chillingly dry orgasm.

He shivers into the darkness, feeling listless.

"Rodney?" Sheppard calls through the darkness. "You ok?"

"No," Rodney calls back. "You?"

"No."

******

While he sleeps, he remembers. The planet was Rodney's type of place, all long glossy lines running at right angles to each other. Order placed firmly within a beauty that spoke directly to him.

Teyla and Ronon looked tense and bored and Rodney had done a little dance, a part of him glad to have switched places with them. Missions rarely call for him to run the show these days; it had been nice to flex the muscles.

He flashes to later, when there was screaming and arguing and one small scientist crouching on the floor, unmoving. Rodney doesn't know if she's dead yet.

Suddenly, treason and betrayal and intellectual privacy were bandied about above their heads along with words like assault and prison.

He tosses and turns, a burning pain working its way into his back, dead center. It gets sharper and clearer until his entire body feels like flames are licking at his skin. He screams into wakefulness, hoarse and panting.

Falling back to the floor, he decides he just might like waking up the other way better.

Looking across the room, he sees Sheppard as a dark shadow moving silently to him, Rodney waves him off before he's halfway there, but Sheppard persists anyway. Rodney struggles into a sitting position, his thigh is stiff and his back *hurts*.

Reaching behind to scratch at it, he freezes just as Sheppard sits next to him. "I think I..." Rodney starts before twisting around and pulling the back of his shirt up. "Is there something there?"

"Hold on," Sheppard says sounding like he just woke up. "I'm still adjusting to the darkness."

Rodney can feel agile hands settled on his sides, pushing the material of his shirt up and then resting lightly. Two points of heat on his sweat cooling skin. He can feel the goose bumps start to rise even before Sheppard takes one hand and slowly traces down Rodney's spine, gently feeling each bump. Rodney shivers when the hand stops about three inches below his shoulder blades and rest there.

"There's a bump just under the skin." Sheppard says. "It's hard to tell, but I think I feel a scar, I'm going to have to look once they turn the lights back up to be sure."

Swallowing harshly Rodney nods. "Great, I knew it would come to this. I'm now officially part of the experiment instead of running it."

Rodney lets go of his shirt and it slides back down his body and stretches unevenly -- Sheppard hasn't moved his hands. He's about to say something scathing and deeply cutting when he realizes why. Clawing up from the base of his spine is a sensation he remembers quite clearly.

Behind him Sheppard gasps, fingers tightening on Rodney's skin, but Rodney is too caught up in his own rolling wave of pleasure to care. He arches back, head colliding with Sheppard's shoulder, they both fall back further, until Sheppard hits the wall, leaving them with approximately a forty five degree incline.

Sheppard's legs curl upward, cradling Rodney's body in heat. This time the steadily building feelings are less overwhelming. The feeling of disconnect, like a live wire jumping around, flailing in the air is missing. Together they moan, heads thrown back, moving restlessly, hips shifting suggestively.

Rodney loses any train of thought he might have with the next cresting wave of sensation rattling through his bones and making every muscle clench. Around him, Sheppard holds firmly, fingers digging into his arms, breath hot in his ear.

Tension spirals inside his body, hot and tight and he can feel himself clench tightly, breath stopping in his chest. He's dizzy and flushed and his skin feels tight and tingly and his thighs twitch spasmodically as it all finally tumbles over again. He gasps for air, sucking in great lungfulls as his body relaxes for the first time in what feels like hours.

Rodney can feel Sheppard's chest behind him heaving even as Rodney sinks into the softening muscles.

"Rodney?" Sheppard croaks.

Rodney can feel Sheppard's muscles getting ready to say more, the chest expanding behind him, taking in breath to speak. Before more words can be uttered, he just shakes his head. "No. Not ok," he shifts enough to give Sheppard an innocent look, "but comfortable."

He gets a shove for his trouble, which is pretty much what he was looking for. Rodney rolls to his side, shaking too hard to sit up, he curls into himself slightly and looks up at Sheppard who looks like that shove took the last energy out of him.

Breakfast is served soon after. It's similar to their last meal and Rodney takes comfort in knowing he won't have to spend another tense five minutes waiting.

They eat in silence and then wash up in silence. Rodney emerges from their semi private bathroom and sits down next to Sheppard. "I should look at your back."

Sheppard looks up startled before something registers in his eyes. "Yeah, sure."

Instead of waiting for Rodney to slide the shirt up, Sheppard just slips it over his head, leaving it still wrapped around his arms and sitting in his lap.

Rodney sees it instantly in the light. A small reddened bump between the third and fourth vertebrae. He traces it with his fingers ignoring the tense muscles surrounding it.

"Okay then," Rodney says withdrawing. "I think I've figured out the cause of the--" he stops, because really, who wants to verbalize the phrase 'strange, spine tingling, utterly unprompted orgasms'?

Sheppard slips his shirt back on and slides back to the wall. "Gee Rodney, you really live up to that genius nametag sometimes."

"No one appreciates my intellect." Rodney mumbles. "So," he says into the silence he can't stand anymore, "any ideas why?"

It takes Sheppard long seconds to answer and when he does it's slow and contemplative. "Lots of reasons. With our luck? It wasn't supposed to-- you know--" he makes an expressive and slightly lewd gesture, "Darwinism and all that, 10,000 years of separation might have changed us enough."

"Parallel evolution?" Rodney asks, intrigued.

Sheppard shrugs. "Then again, it could be the gene."

Because that thing just does nothing but cause trouble.

They play chess to pass the time, the fact that the board has to be visualized in their heads makes it that much better a distraction.

The longer they go, the tenser Rodney feels. He can see it in Sheppard as well, tight lines around his eyes and lips, his usual sprawl a tighter coil. Rodney can feel his spine tighten and fuse together.

They're waiting and they both know it.

A visitor shows up in the middle of their second game. He stands in the closed doorway with a blinking device, aims it at both of them for several seconds and then leaves.

Possibly," Sheppard suggests when he's gone, "there is someone in the Pegasus Galaxy that believes in the Geneva convention. That looked an awful lot like the exams Beckett started giving after he got his hands on the ancient scanning devices."

Rodney nods. "Complete with voodoo gleam."

With the excitement over, the foreboding is back and it only intensifies with their next meal. They eat slowly and carefully, not looking each other in the eye.

When they finally finish, Sheppard pushes his tray with his foot lazily. "Maybe if we don't return them?"

"Maybe these things have a reverse polarity?"

Sheppard winces. "Okay, point taken."

They return the trays, Sheppard going so far as to put some force into it, but the receptacle just takes it gently, absorbing the extra energy effortlessly.

The chess game continues.

"Knight to B-- oh!" Rodney gasps.

Sheppard makes a sharp choking sound and Rodney can see him curling in on himself.

Formless pleasure once again invades every nerve ending leaving Rodney choked for air and flailing. It's invasive and pervasive and he wants to recoil from it even as his back arches into the undefined sensation.

Bracing himself on the floor with one hand, Rodney closes his eyes tightly, hoping that focusing will just get it over faster.

It doesn't. All it does is make him feel dizzy and more out of control. Blindly he reaches out and finds his hand on top of Sheppard's sweaty one. Their fingers tangle urgently, holding tightly and desperately.

Then Rodney finds his face buried in Sheppard's shoulder, deep wheezing gasps breathing in the remnants of the man's aftershave and the alien soap.

They wrap around each other just as it all doubles into a white hazed rush of shuddering and sweet vague release.

When Rodney can finally think again, he's on the floor with a limp Sheppard draped over him and he feels absolutely wrecked. His fingers are resting lightly on Rodney's waist, moving restlessly.

"So," Rodney says nervously.

"You know what?" Sheppard speaks up. "New rule, moratorium on... everything for now, okay?"

That is actually-- very undescriptive. "What do you mean?"

"I don't know." John admits. Slowly he rolls off of Rodney and lands heavily next to him. "How about 'Whatever gets us through this?'"

"Right. Okay. So I wasn't the only who noticed--"

"Yes Rodney," John interrupts firmly. "And now we commence a brand of denial perfected over centuries by several religions."

"I can do that."

They recover slowly and Rodney discovers numerous strained muscles. Too much convulsing he thinks sourly. This is not what he meant when he asked for that fantasy vacation.

By now they've guessed the pattern and Sheppard is surprisingly good at time keeping so they're at least sitting once again when it hits the next time. There's no hesitation this time. Their hands and arms wrap around each other and they slide the rest of the way to the floor holding tightly.

Rodney concentrates on Sheppard's chest, it heaves under him, pressing against him in uneven waves.

Then it changes. One moment it's everywhere, the next it's focused where Sheppard presses firmly against him, where his hands clamp down tightly, where his breath puffs heavily onto Rodney's damp skin.

It's instinct to move then, no thought involved when his head tilts and his lips seek warm skin.

They kiss, deeply, tongues meeting and stroking, lips pressing messily against each other. Finally, they break apart; mouths open wide in simultaneous gasps of climax.

"Oh-" Sheppard lets out a breathy sound.

It ends gently, with them staring at each other with wide eyes. Then Sheppard darts forward, kissing him again, urgently, hands cupping his face gently.

Oh.

They separate with a wet pop and Sheppard once again looks down at him with surprise all over his face. "Well, I didn't expect the plan to be shot to hell that quickly."

"No," Rodney says quietly, "I'm really happy with not talking about this at all while we're here."

There's clearly more to say, or rather, to not say, but John just looks down at him, rearranges their limbs and settles them in just in time for the lights to lower. Surprisingly, Rodney falls asleep pretty quickly.

He wakes a few times in the night, not used to long limbs impeding his own movement. The last time his eyes open, John is behind him, their legs tangled and a hand thrown over Rodney's waist.

There's also a familiar shock of pleasure as John strokes absently at the skin under his shirt. Hot lips kiss the back of his neck and Rodney surrenders under the rising tide, turning and pinning a surprisingly pliant John to the floor.

They kiss through most of it, deep sucking kisses that are dirty and arousing and strangely perfect and grounding. John bucks up underneath him, gasping into his mouth and curling a leg over Rodney's hip.

It's all instinctual as he grinds down, because there is no hard erection to press against, no hot, hard flesh to grind in time with. It still feels good and this time when the pleasure explodes through them, it's a little easier to recover from.

That's not to say they don't rest against each other for long minutes regaining the feeling in their toes.

"So, how about that weather," Rodney breathes into the silence, he was never very good at heavy silences.

John snorts into his shoulder. "Well at least you didn't try for sports."

The door opens and they both scramble to their feet. This isn't part of the pattern, right about now food should be sliding through the small space that opens at the bottom of the door. Instead, there's a tall and intimidating figure in a red, streamlined suit standing in the doorway with nothing more than what looks like a glorified remote control.

"There are two guards outside," the man says, "you will follow them or I will use this," he gestures to the device, "by now you have no doubt become aware of the power the implants hold over you."

Next to him, Rodney sees John nod cautiously.

"Yeah." John says, "We've got a pretty good idea."

"My name," the man says, bowing slightly, "is Frawan. My apologies for not appearing sooner. Your arrests have caused much paperwork."

"Yeah," John nods warily, "that paperwork's a real bitch."

Frawan tips his head in acknowledgment. Apparently they've been doing this first contact thing all wrong and Star Trek really did get it right. Bureaucracy really *is* the only constant in the universe. Also, arrest?

A flash of memory, the extremely pretty and fairly brilliant young woman whom Rodney had been introduced to -- still and lifeless and surrounded by a pool of blood, they couldn't possibly think, could they?

Rodney frowns. "Do we get to know why we were arrested? Or does that sort of thing not matter in your society?" Considering the cushiness of their cell, Rodney sort of doubts it. He suspects they're about to be treated with the utmost respect and tolerance. His stomach is already cramping at the thought.

"That is why I am here," Frawan answers, "a delay of this long between processing and pronouncement is inexcusable. You may be potential criminals, but that does not afford you the lack of simple respect."

"And if we're guilty?" John presses.

Frawan smiles a bland sort of smile. "You will have the rights to food and shelter, just as any other."

Oh, that doesn't bode well.

"If you would follow the guards?" Frawan gestures to the open doorway.

John takes Rodney by the wrist and does as he's asked, pulling Rodney along with him. The corridors are well lit and buzzing with some sort of electrical current that Rodney can't identify. For all he knows it could be the lights or the air circulation, but he can't be sure.

They're led to a large room with comfortable couches and tables and large imposing padding chairs. Up front is an older woman, long gray hair bound loosely around her head and immaculate white suit with gold trim managing to look years old and freshly new at the same time. She looks up as they enter and the air of the over-worked civil service hits Rodney square over the head. Wonderful. They are so screwed.

John and Rodney are seated on one of the couches off to the left and he feels a strange itch in his back, sharp and sudden as it makes contact with the back of the sofa. It makes his fingers twitch wanting to take the thing apart. He sees John flinch as he settles in and it confirms that the sensation was not just in his head.

The proceedings happen just out of earshot for the most part. Someone Rodney assumes to be their lawyer spends a lot of time at the judge's table arguing with another woman, both dressed in varying shades of gray.

A loud bell rings and John tenses, one hand shooting out to clamp down on Rodney's thigh, aborting his impulse to jump out of the chair.

"The accused may present themselves," the judge pronounces and Rodney can't help but notice that suddenly everyone's words are as clear as bells. He frowns, *really* wanting to start taking things apart.

John looks at Rodney and Rodney looks back. They both shrug and stand slowly.

"This good enough?" John calls out and Rodney flinches automatically awaiting the sting of reprisal. It's pretty much become habit.

She nods, not even looking up. "The evidence presented is lacking, as well as the procedure sloppy, you are to be sent back to processing for removal of the implant. Your personal belongings will be returned to you and you will be allowed to dial any address at the circle you wish."

Rodney's frowns in confusion. It's never that simple. To his right John looks relieved but cautious as well.

"Stay calm Rodney," John mutters. "Just stay--"

"NO! HOW CAN YOU LET THEM GO?!" There's a loud noise and the sound of lots of feet running.

John pulls him to the floor and they find cover behind the large couch.

The commotion gets louder and Rodney gets tenser.

"No, get her away--"

"They have to be punished!"

More clattering and then muted explosions. So they do have weapons. Interesting. Then another sharp noise, a body hitting the floor. Another. And then--

White hot pain and John's scream echoing his own. It claws from the center of his back outward, hot pinpricks stabbing him, closing his chest in a tight painful vise. Each breath-- each movement is torture, John's screams hurt his ears, his own screams hurt his mouth and throat and lungs and it just keeps going. He can't pass out. He knows somewhere inside his pain he shouldn't be conscious anymore, but he is.

He's so very conscious.

Tears burn down his skin and each breath is like fire into his lungs. Oh god, make it stop. Make it stop. Makeitstop. Stopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopst--

Nothingness. Then mercifully, darkness.

******

Rodney wakes to familiar voices, though he's never heard Carson yell that loudly before. Oh god his head hurts. He feels tired and wrung out and every muscle aches in a way that threatens to hurt a lot more if he tries to move. So he settles for blinking the film out of his eyes. The colors come into focus and he's faintly puzzled to realize he's not on Atlantis.

Carson must have some sort of doctorial sixth sense because he's next to Rodney by the fifth blink, checking monitors and touching Rodney in various places. He flinches away from the first few, his skin extra sensitive but soon he falls into the rhythm; pulse, pupils, palpitation. It's oddly comforting.

"How're you feeling Rodney?" Carson asks when he's done.

"Like someone plugged my nervous system into an electrical socket?" He rasps, grumpily.

Carson nods, frowning. "Well, that's a fairly good description of what happened."

Wonderful. Rodney doesn't voice his response; he's still recovering from the first sentence. Also, he needs to ask, "Sheppard?" which just about takes the rest of it out of him.

Carson nods to his right. "Behind the curtain over there, he's already been awake once or twice."

Rodney nods. Good enough. It's time for more sleep, before he passes out.

******

When he wakes for the second time he feels a lot better. For one, his clothing no longer makes his skin twitch and his head feels a lot clearer. For another, John is sitting up in a nearby chair, frowning into a computer screen.

"What time z'it?" He asks, because there's a big black hole in his memory and searching it sort of hurts.

"Tomorrow," John answers putting his computer down. "Early afternoonish."

Rodney can't imagine what makes John give him such a vague answer when the time is probably right in front of him, but the usual upraised twist of lips just makes him narrow his eyes. That man will one day make an important part of his brain scream in agony and then die. He's sure of it. "I bet you're the guy who says 'Thataway' when giving directions to the driver of a car."

John smiles, wide and lopsided like he's *proud* of that fact. Freak.

Carson appears right then, his super amazing doctor sense obviously pinging. He fusses in an entirely annoying manner and Rodney is too caught up in realizing they're actually *not* on Atlantis to really make that big a deal out of it.

When he's done, Carson sits down and faces the two of them, face oddly blank and grim.

"Why are you making that face? We've got weeks to live don't we?" John's looking at Rodney like he's insane, but *someone's* got to say it.

"You're not dying," Carson says, giving Rodney the eye.

"But?" Rodney presses, because damnit, he *knows* that look.

"But," Carson admits, "we can't take the implants out quite yet."

John's frown deepens and his right eyebrow bounces up and down. "Okay then, I thought this week couldn't get any worse."

"Other than that," Carson moved on obviously ignoring John, his face lightening, "you're fine, recovering nicely, free to go even as soon as you feel up to it."

"Wait," Rodney's eyes narrow "why can't they come out?"

"Oh um," Carson waffles, making strange faces, "well they appear to have... fused to--"

"FUSED?" Rodney interrupts. "Fused is *never* a good word in relation to any part of my body!"

"Aye," Carson nods, "I know that, but really, they're not endangering your health in anyway and the Jenians have handed us your remote controls and shown us the schematics and directions on how to change the frequencies. Really, you'll have nothing to fear."

"I have." Rodney seethes, "A remote. Control."

"I'm afraid doc," John adds, not looking all that pleased, "I'm gonna have to go with Rodney on this one."

Oh great. It *is* the end of the world.

Before they leave, Frawan makes a final appearance, brushing off invisible lint and looking completely put out.

"My apologies once again," He half bows, "our security has never been so lax."

"Really?" John asks, eyebrow raised. "I feel special."

"I feel criminally assaulted," Rodney snaps wearily. "What the hell happened anyway?"

Frawan folds his hands together in front of his chest. "The sister of the deceased was not satisfied with the ruling."

"So," John's eyebrows twitch, "she rigged the control for self destruct?"

Frawan nods. "I suppose you could phrase it in such a way, she was a lead researcher in our hospital and thus knew enough about the implants to do much damage in little time."

After that, Rodney and John both want out as soon as possible. They leave with a computer full of schematics and directions. Thankfully, the perimeter controls weren't damaged in any way so it's just a matter of a moving a dial and flipping a switch before they gate out. Frawan also hands them a large book about the social and physiological implications of the implant, including a brief history of its use. The soft sciences are going to have a field day, and Rodney is going to have a wonderful time imagining people staring at him.

It occurs to Rodney after the really long and painful briefing that he and John maybe should talk. Or grunt at each other. Or stare in awkward silence or something.

But his bed looks so comfortable and he's been sleeping on the floor and hospital beds for nearly a week so he decides it can wait for a while. At least long enough for him to get some sleep.

And possibly until Lorne's 'Your Remote and You' comment fades to a dull ache in the back of his head.

******

Rodney slides back into the rhythm of things fairly easily. First order of business is to distribute the information from the Jenians. It has wider implications than just his own predicament and Rodney needs to assign someone to work jointly with medical. Someone who understands their language and will be able to write concise reports without use of words like 'biology' or 'cellular'.

In the end he sends the project to one of the newer people and tells Zelenka to supervise. Not that he won't be taking a stab at it himself, but there needs to be someone working on it who has more than his own self interest in mind. Carson has assured both of them over and over again that the chips are dormant and that even a blast from an energy weapon won't affect them -- as long as they aren't drawing power, but that's not very comforting when faced with the prospect of living with that thing attached to his nervous system for the rest of his life..

They're both grounded for the time being, to make sure there are no long term surprises waiting for them. John even volunteers to be stunned by one of their cache of wraith weaponry just to be sure of what will happen in the field, if it should come to that.

When Rodney finds out, he's furious, because seriously who *does* that sort of thing. "You're insane," he tells John. "Absolutely insane!" He turns to glare at Carson but finds he's already looking pretty pissed. "Without medical supervision? Are you sure this thing didn't mess with your head?"

John manages to look like a great big twelve year old and completely apologetic all at once. "But it worked, right? Or rather, it didn't."

Upon copious hours of examining test and scan results Rodney and Carson both have to agree, grudgingly, that if it becomes necessary they both can return to the field in case of emergency.

Rodney is still pissed.

Mostly because they haven't found a way to safely remove his dog collar yet.

A few days later -- surprise, surprise -- an emergency comes up. John, Rodney, Teyla and Ronon suit up and ship out and get shot at and almost find amazing things and get shot at some more and get scraped and bruised and come back dirty and tired but successful.

By successful, Rodney means they're alive and so are the people they rescued.

He showers and changes and lays in bed restless and tense. His hand skims past his stomach, fingers drawing nonsense patterns, pulling up goose bumps. When he reaches under the waistband of his boxers, he's unsurprised to find himself completely soft. It's been a long day and he's tired. But he won't sleep without a little help so he grabs the lotion and makes himself comfortable. Long sweeping strokes feel wonderfully good, working the lotion into the skin, pulling little shivers out.

Nothing happens.

He gets frustrated and even tenser and eventually throws the lotion across the room instead of getting more for a *fourth* time.

A small niggling sense of something forms in the back of his brain. Oh no. Oh god no. He jumps out of bed and reaches for his own copy of the materials that were sent through from Jenia.

"The implant is only successful if it controls all of these impulses. If the prisoner can relieve his own suffering, it is of no use, or at the very least not at its most effective."

"To prevent damage in case of long term use, the device also stops sperm production so that the organ in question is not damaged."

It takes a lot of effort not to throw the computer across the room to follow the lotion.

He dresses, makes a quick stop by the lab, and finds himself standing in front of John's door. Right. Well, he meant to talk about this at some point anyway.

John's door opens quickly after he announces his presence. His eyes are wild and his hair more mussed than usual. He takes in Rodney and the remote in his hands and then Rodney once more before stepping aside to allow him entrance.

The door closes and they're kissing without preamble. Rodney finds his back pressed against the wall as John plasters himself along his front.

"Oh thank god," John whispers into his lips. "Can we do this first?" He asks reaching for the remote.

"Yes," Rodney gasps when John's teeth find his neck. "Yes, yes, *oh*," his finger flicks the button on the remote. "Yes." He says again when that first wave of pleasure rolls through him-- them.

Their knees buckle as one and they slide to the floor in a pile of hands and legs and arms. Clinging tightly through it. They gasp into each other mouths, kissing solidly. Rodney runs a hand through John's hair, then along his neck and eventually under his shirt, pressing them together.

Heat, skin and near silent sounds mix into the building sensation and it winds so tightly and so high that it ends with them clamped so forcefully together they're barely moving. Rocking in tight, hard little shoves that are perfect despite the generalized sensation until they both freeze and stop completely.

Then Rodney's shuddering so hard his eyes roll back and his extremities numb. He's sweaty and out of breath and John's hands shake as they clench at his waist.

Rodney's head droops as the last of the waves subside, making a dull thud on the floor. John follows, collapsing on his side, head pillowed on Rodney's shoulder.

"Do you have to turn that thing off?" John rasps.

"No," Rodney swallows convulsively, trying to wet his dry throat. "It's cyclical. One flick, one cycle."

"Cool." John's breath chills the sweat on Rodney's neck.

"Yeah."

Eventually they stand unsteadily and make it to the bed. Rodney's hip throbs from where they landed, but every other part of him is so relaxed and loose he can't begin to care.

"So," Rodney can't resist asking as they settle down. "How long have you known?"

"Second night back I suspected," John answers, peeling off his pants. "You know, there's something to be said for not having to clean up the mess."

"I choose to ignore that metaphor," Rodney yawns, but keeps one wary eye on John who freezes momentarily.

"Yeah," he says eventually, flopping down bonelessly next to Rodney. "Ignorance is bliss."

******

He wakes to the sound of John jumping out of bed and cursing.

"What?" Rodney asks puzzled and barely conscious, minorly worried this might be some delayed reaction freak-out.

"Overslept." John yells curtly from the bathroom.

Shit. Double shit. Rodney jumps out of bed and checks the time. Oh god, so late.

He's wrinkled and unshaven and *caffeineless*. Coffee. He needs coffee; everything else can wait or be explained away.

The morning turns into one long rushed blur, he never manages to get his caffeine to blood ratio about right and propriety and Radek beg that he at least slip away to change his clothes. 'We are not running a college lab here, Rodney'.

Somewhere along the way someone asks where the remote went and Rodney has a heart attack while scowling indignantly and proclaiming he doesn't trust anyone else with it, and why should anyone need it anyway, no one's touching it without turning in a twenty page report detailing just what they're going to do right down to what they're going to have for breakfast *the day before*.

That, thankfully, settles that. Rodney still feels harried though, despite something pleasant and fuzzy thrumming under his skin. He doesn't really connect it to anything until his late lunch in the mess where he runs into John.

Rodney takes the seat across from him because the room is mostly empty and it'd be easily noticed if he didn't. "Hey."

"Hey," John looks up through his lashes.

"Good day?" Rodney asks.

John blinks slowly, dirty smile running across his lips quickly before disappearing. "Oddly, yes."

"Me too."

******

Rodney lasts a whole five days before 'going to pick up the remote he accidentally left in John's room'.

This time the emergency happens out by pier four and it's Rodney stuck with several of the science team in a room fast filling with water and John's ragged face peeking out of a burnt hole in the ceiling, pulling them to safety. Then there are more tense minutes of solving the problem before the next room floods and some seriously important systems malfunction.

Rodney saves the day, of course, and John stands behind him and manages to drawl and speak quickly all at once, offering lame jokes and actual suggestions. He is surprisingly helpful -- in his own way of course. Never mind the saving Rodney from certain death. There should be a fund somewhere that sends out a muffin basket every time someone ensures his brain is still around to solve the next crisis. Possibly something should be sent to his savior as well.

John comes up to him at the end of it all, looking tired and worn and a little uncertain. "You left that thing in my room," he says with as much nonchalance as a twelve year old looking for gifts.

"What thi-- oh that," Rodney's had a long day, he's allowed to be slow on the uptake when someone's not going to be specific like that. "Yes, the that, you want me to..." he searches for a phrase that doesn't sound dirty or is too obvious, "pick it up?" He obviously fails miserably.

"That's good, see you 'round eleven." He's off before Rodney can get out an answer.

******

There's no pretence when the door opens for him. The room is dark enough to make it all shadows and soft edges. John is barefoot in just his pants, looking utterly tense as he grants Rodney entrance.

He grabs Rodney's shirt when the door closes and tugs at it gently. Rodney lets him take it off. "Bed. " He says when it falls softly to the floor. "This floor is a lot harder than the one on Jenia."

John nods, but reaches out to cup his jaw, thumb rubbing lightly over bone. "Sure," he says before kissing him, slow and mellow and just a little desperate.

It seems a little odd when they lay down facing each, the deliberateness of it all lending to the unreality. John takes his hand and threads their fingers together. Rodney stares at their joined hands for a few seconds before squeezing back. "I'm not sure how..."

"Press the button?" John offers, completely unrepentant.

"I meant," Rodney frowns at him, thoroughly unamused, really. "How to do this without worrying about breaking the thing."

John contemplates that for a long moment, lips pressed together, brow furrowed unevenly before saying, "Here," and rolling onto his back.

It takes Rodney a few seconds to figure out what John wants. Until John tugs at their hands, pulling Rodney up a bit. Oh. On top. Right. Carefully he crawls up John's body and it's so strange because there's nothing pushing him other than the knowledge that they're about to not have sex together.

They settle and Rodney is very aware of John underneath him, firm but yielding, breathing shallowly. He puts the control on the nightstand and does a mental three count. Then flicks the switch.

It's good. It's really good. It sends him inside out and upside down and his brain just *shuts down* and he nearly stops breathing there for a minute.

When it's over he can barely move. John's fingers are twisting in his hair, petting and bunching together and shaking.

"Oh god," John's voice actually trembles. "This probably isn't a good idea."

Rodney suddenly realizes they're using completely new and *malfunctioning* technology without proper documentation or supervision. Oh god, what if it's addicting? John's slick stomach breathes in and out and he almost loses his train of thought. "We have to tell Carson."

"What?" John tries to sit up, but his arms won't hold him yet so they both fall back to the bed with a whoosh of air.

"We have to tell Carson," Rodney insists again. "What if this is dangerous?"

"It is dangerous, Rodney." John says in a low, unamused voice.

Rodney winces. "Right. Right. Sorry, I didn't mean--" He stops and shakes his head, which is still somewhere near John's neck and that just sort of makes them both a bit dizzy. "Look, he's our doctor right? And he's gotta know how these things are affecting us. What if there's permanent damage or something?"

He can feel John take long, deep breaths, his heart beat hollow in Rodney's ears. "Tomorrow." John finally says tightly.

"Tomorrow," Rodney echoes.

They fall asleep tangled together, hands restless. John wakes him in the middle of the night, eyes bright and kisses him over and over again and then rolls him on top and reaches for the remote, stopping long enough to get a silent nod of permission from Rodney.

He shouldn't say yes, but god he wants to, he wants to roll John around him and cry out in pleasure and lose feelings in his toes and be sweaty and grunt and grind with him. He shouldn't say yes, but he does.

******

They don't oversleep this time, but they do wake slowly, still plastered together, bodies still sweat-slick where they're touching. They both look at the small, slim, rectangular device sitting on the nightstand and Rodney worries that they'll never fix this. That some alien device is going to be his only way to almost orgasm for the rest of his life and he doesn't want to share.

They go to Carson together but when it comes time to answer Carson's innocent stare. They can't.

Until Rodney can't take the silence anymore. He blurts it all out and he's not really sure what he said, but the word impotent was used at least once.

Carson blinks at them for long moments and then sighs and takes out a diagnostic tool. "Both of you then?"

They nod in tandem.

"And it took you nearly two weeks to come to me?" He asks, and Rodney is pretty sure it's just to humiliate them further.

"Look," John says, saving Rodney from another embarrassing explosion of words, "it's the kind of thing you hope is stress and cross your fingers that it will go away."

"I'm sorry," Carson relents, "I'd read the material myself nearly ten days ago, I was just wondering when you'd come to me." He taps some buttons and takes some more scans. "I really didn't expect you two to come in together."

Rodney's eyes go wide in shock and righteous indignation, "You *knew*?"

"Doc," John's voice joins his, sounding dangerous, "isn't that the sort of thing you discuss with your patients? Not let them discover it on their own."

"Well yes," Carson nods, "Normally I would and I suppose I should have, but I had hopes that the damage inflicted had affected that as well and knowing how this one," he waves a finger at Rodney, "reacts to a paper cut, I thought it'd be better to let it play out."

Rodney's eyes narrow and he crosses his arms in front of his chest. "Isn't there some oath you're breaking right this very minute?"

"I've no idea what you're referring to," Carson says innocently.

Rodney's eyes remain narrowed.

"Well gentlemen," Carson says when he's all done, "I don't know what I can do, they didn't exactly supply me with a plethora of erectile dysfunction--" they both flinch "-- drugs, but we can start with what I do have and I can order more for the next supply run."

John frowns deeply. "That's... isn't that better for... you know people who have hours of uninterrupted time and stuff?"

Carson nods. "Aye, and ideally with a partner close at hand."

Rodney continues to stare straight ahead, hoping John is doing something similarly non-suspicious next to him.

"Right," Rodney says into the silence, "so we were thinking, that is, it's sort of frustrating to go for weeks and not --" he waves his hands and belatedly realizes it was a slightly rude gesture. To make sure he doesn't do it again, his stuffs his hands under his thighs.

Putting on his best doctor face, Carson manages to erase the worst of his amusement and nod seriously. "Well then, do you want to try the drugs after all?"

"Well," John hedges, "we were actually wondering if using the remote was a possibility for now." He's sitting ramrod straight, eyes forward. The best imitation of a soldier Rodney has ever seen him do.

"Okay then," Carson sighs, "how many times have you already tried it?"

Rodney makes all sort of indignant sounds and next to him John lifts three fingers. "Betrayer," Rodney frowns. John just shrugs.

"Well," Carson nods, "according to your scans so far there's no-- wait a minute," his eyes narrow and Rodney gets that lead feeling in his stomach, "didn't we tune you two to the same frequency?"

Their silence is just as damning as Carson's startled, "oh."

Whose brilliant idea had it been to put them on same frequency anyway? Probably Zelenka, the evil little troll. Carson fights an obvious blush through the rest of their visit and Rodney resents him immensely for it.

In the end they get permission to use the devices at their discretion, though they're admonished not to overdo it. In the middle of the conversation Rodney remembers that there's a diagnostic cycle on the damned things and promises to add that to his daily routine.

Carson tentatively reminds them that they can work off separate frequencies.

Rodney resolves that they really need a better answer than silence and staring at the ceiling for that sort of question.

"Alone," John grates out, "is not... comforting."

"Okay then," Carson eyes them both warily. "Call me if there are any problems."

Rodney freezes. "Like?"

"I have no idea," Carson shakes his head, "but I hear it's the thing they say on those popular medical dramas."

Wonderful. Someone is going to have to be punished later.

******

With permission comes reluctance.

Even though they're still grounded there's still a multitude of things to take care of, at least for Rodney. John's presence is scarce, they pass in the hallway and the mess and at briefings they're both supposed to be at. Status quo is suddenly hollow and flat, but Rodney can't bring himself to change it.

John's not distant, not by any means, he still smiles and nods and sends jabs in Rodney's direction that he happily volleys, but something still holds them back.

In the meantime, another emergency comes up and Rodney is surprised it's taken as long as it has. Somewhere in the galaxy several members of the Atlantis expedition are being held hostage by a rag tag group of Genii soldiers demanding medical and munitions supplies.

Rodney is left behind.

There's no reason for him to go, he knows that. He shouldn't want to go. There's nothing for him to do on that sort of mission but be in the way and waste bullets. So he paces in small little circles in his lab and then later in his room.

The alarm, when it finally comes, startles him badly and he nearly spills coffee all over himself.

He cleans up the mess on the table and the floor and washes his hands thoroughly.

He does not, however, go the control room.

Waiting is the worst thing ever. Every loud sound has Rodney's head snapping up waiting to hear his name being called over the intercom. Or worse, hear the call for Carson. He's deep into reorganizing his notes for his secondary idea for the Grand Unifying Theory, and two pages into a memo that talks about power redistribution when his door opens.

John, encased in shadows, stands in his doorway, long fingers with white knuckles clutched tightly around something small and rectangular. His face is open and questioning, giving Rodney a look that makes him flush from his ears to his toes. He's waiting for Rodney to give him a sign. So he does. He closes his laptop with a final click.

Long arms are around him in a flash, lifting and pulling and holding him close. Hot kisses on his mouth and neck and chin make him dizzy. Rodney's hands bury themselves in John's hair, pulling him back up for another kiss, long and deep and messy. They both reach for the control at once flicking the switch and falling to their knees.

It's Rodney's last coherent thought to make sure that the remote makes it safely to the ground. Then it's all John's skin and scent and voice as the rippling pleasure pools inside them. A leg wraps around Rodney's hip, scorching hot and pliant, he uses it to pull John closer and then rolls so John's weight pushes into him from above. It's fantastic, one long kiss after another and skin rubbing against cloth rubbing against cloth rubbing against skin. But as the last, large wave comes cresting over the ridge they both stop moving, stop breathing, eyes dark and pupils wide meeting until it finally explodes and everything grays.

Tense to limp in under a second leaves him shuddery and vulnerable. John is wilted on top of him, fingers twitching, breathing hard.

"Nguh," is about the extent that Rodney can express.

John's lips kiss his neck in an uncoordinated manner. "Jnuh."

******

They sleep on the floor -- the thought of actually moving is laughable -- and Rodney wakes in a fair amount of pain, muscles aching in strange ways, his stomach tight and sore. Rodney flexes his fingers as he watches John sit up and roll his neck.

"I..." Rodney starts, but has no idea what he was going to say, so he changes tracks, "You okay?"

John's movements stop with his head bowed and his arms braced on his knees. "Not a good time to ask that question, Rodney."

"Right," Rodney's throat dries and the word cracks as it's coming out.

The silence is loud and echoing, it's edge sharp and biting, rending virtual flesh with tiny little cuts and Rodney is compelled to speak. "I think I broke something," he moans, rubbing his back. "Definitely too old to sleep on the floor," he sends a mock glare to John, "I blame you."

"You could have moved," John says amicably.

Rodney throws him a look that could melt plastic. "I would have tried but someone was dead weight."

"What can I say?" John smiles, finally looking up, "I'm that good."

He looks tired. Dark circles under his eyes, hair extra messy. And tense, weirdly tense around the crinkles of his eyes and the edges of his mouth. Rodney swallows, their gazes catching. "No Colonel, I'm that good, as you were dead weight." It's a stupid thing to say, but he can't seem to get out of their pitch and volley routine.

"Sure," John says stretching, "why not? But just remember who took longer to speak in complete sentences."

John's shirt rides up a bit, exposing a pale strip of hairy skin that Rodney can't seem to tear his eyes away from. The impulse to touch feels strange and foreign in his mind. John moves toward him, eyes suspiciously innocent, an arm brushes across Rodney's chest for the briefest of moments and then it returns to his eyeline and he sees John is holding the remote.

"Oh god," Rodney's head flops to the floor, "not again. I'm still not sure I can walk straight."

"Just making sure no one steps on it." John smirks. He moves the remote to a nearby table but that leaves him unnervingly close to Rodney, arm and part of his body hovering close, breath warm little puffs on Rodney's face. The impulse rockets through Rodney, strong and breathtaking and completely irrational.

He wraps a hand around John's wrist and pulls gently until John is chest to chest with him, almost draped over his lap. Eyes wide and surprised meet Rodney's and he has no idea what he's doing, even as he tugs once more and their lips touch.

It's less a kiss and more breathing one another's air, a slow glide back and forth and a low buzz of arousal that just won't budge. They sink to the floor in one long sweeping dramatic kiss that feels utterly outside of them. John makes a small choked off noise that Rodney echoes and for brief seconds the kiss is violent in intensity, tongues licking and swirling, hands pulling, chests heaving before it gentles again. Then ends with a soft pop and one quick sweep forward for an extra brush of lips.

"I think," Rodney licks his lips, "we need to do that when the --" he makes a vague gesture to their necks "-- you know, things, are finally removed."

John licks his lips and nods mutely. "If we do, we might not able to string together complete sentences for hours."

Sitting up, painfully, Rodney nods. "Yes well, that's a risk I'm willing to take."

"You're a martyr to the cause." John mocks affectionately.

Rodney back now literally *hurts* and his left leg is asleep. "Yes well, there are certain causes I'm willing to lay it all out on the line for."

******

He limps all day and is very upset about that. Even if he feels pretty good about the morning. That is, until Rodney realizes that he proposed actual sex. Which is a far cry from mutual electronic orgasms necessitated by their circumstances.

He panics through most of his morning staff meeting.

Rodney also panics through lunch and most of his afternoon research. Zelenka leaves an offering of the good coffee near his desk and Rodney makes a concerted effort to panic more internally than externally.

He ends up with a stomach cramp and woefully behind on his work.

Somehow, Rodney will find a way to blame it on John, because he's sure it's all his fault.

******

A few days later Carson submits a proposal to return to the Jenian home world, which actually pleases all of them for a number of reasons. Though of course, the one they actually voice is concern that the flagship team has been grounded for nearly a month.

Carson gives Rodney an eyebrow at the line, but merely points out their own bodies are helping the implants degeneration along. That as well as some of the extra use generated by Rodney's 'research' -- and he can just *hear* the quotes when Carson says it -- has changed some of the initial conditions. Coupled with the rest of the science and medical team's research, removal is now feasible.

Elizabeth approves the proposal even as John and Rodney start to argue their case. They get a head tilt and a look and then get assigned to Major Lorne's team. When they argue, it's pointed out that keeping Ronon in an enclosed space with nothing to do but wait has never turned out as well as they hope.

Rodney would be outraged if he wasn't so happy about the thought of getting his erection back. He makes the mistake of thinking that while looking at John and starts panicking all over again. He's been doing that on and off all week. He even thought about hunting down a paper bag just in case it *did* come to hyperventilating.

On Jenia they're examined using the specialized devices built for dealing with the implants. Microsurgery is what Carson called it when he spoke about it. The implants literally interrupts the nerves and the usual procedure for removal needed to be retooled to work around the damage the implants received as well as both Rodney and John's slightly different physiology.

"Surgery?" Rodney balks, "*here?*"

John makes a noise of agreement.

"I'm sorry gentlemen," Carson says, "but they have the specialized tools, developed over years of dealing with the implants and I'd rather get those things out of you sooner rather than later. I'm sure that's your preference as well." He pauses giving them an annoyed stare. "It was all in the briefing memos."

Goddamnit, Rodney really needs a lackey to summarize things for him.

He doesn't argue however, because all that erectile dysfunction research is driving Rodney insane. Despite the literature, he's sure there's a build up of fluid somewhere that's very unhealthy. Who trusts an alien instruction manual written for slightly different physiology than his own anyway? He has however, stopped shy of actually measuring his balls, but mostly because he couldn't come up with a decent excuse to purloin some string from Miko.

The surgery, according to Carson, will take a few hours apiece, but recovery could take up to several weeks as their bodies heal and get used to working without the implant interpreting all of it's signals.

John and Rodney face each other from different exam beds, the air between them is serious and charged, but they don't speak because there are other people in the room and god knows what Rodney will say if they start. So they sit and stare and Rodney's last memory is of John's heated look brushing over his skin.

******

A thin slip of a shadow is hovering over him, old and crusty, it cries cold tears over his body. Rodney can't move as it reaches for him, long shadowy fingers pointing ominously. The room is full of shadows and he can't make out enough details to understand what's going on.

"No!"

The shadow disappears and Rodney struggles up to consciousness. There's a noise to his right and his eyes clear to see John clumsily holding someone to the floor.

His fingers won't work the way he wants them to and when he slides off the bed his knees sink to the ground. John is slowly losing the fight and Rodney reaches out to help.

The best he can do is be dead weight, so he slumps over the person's legs crawling slowly up to his torso. John moves accordingly, doing something up by his head that Rodney doesn't think very hard about. But the struggling ceases and they both sink, graceless to the floor, draped over the now still figure. Rodney will not think that he's probably half asleep on top of a dead body.

"Rodney?" John's voice croaks, slow and thick.

He has to blink heavily to get his eyes to focus. He recognizes this feeling; heavy anesthetic is still working its way through his system. "Yeah?"

"The guards are either unconscious or dead." John's voice is moving closer, "we have to move."

"Carson?" Rodney asks, crawling off the body.

"Don't know," John says after a long silence.

His strange alien IV is already slipping out and Rodney's arm, thin trickles of blood leaking down it. It distracts him for indeterminate seconds as the harsh red bleeds in and out of focus.

"Rodney!"

"Right," he jerks up, taking the rest of the wires off his body. "Where are we going?"

"Somewhere," John comes up behind him and hands him a jacket that he's managed to scrounge up somewhere, "that's not here."

"Good answer," Rodney says as he swings a steadying arm around John's waist, feeling the tremors wrack through his thin body, Rodney knows John needs it just as much as he does. It's comforting, however, when John's arm latches around his shoulders.

******

They weave down darkened hallways, stopping to raid some supplies along the way, shoes, bandages, a portable looking computer terminal. Everyone they come across is unconscious, passed out in the middle of whatever they were doing. John picks up a few of the local weapons along the way. Rodney looks at their shaking hands and wonders if the phrase 'broad side of a barn' has occurred to John.

John somehow manages to find a defensible position in some small room somewhere. There's no way they can deal with the outside world in their current condition, so Rodney just nods eagerly and slides down the wall. "Oh thank god," he says, swallowing repeatedly and closing his eyes tightly. "I'm not sure how much longer I could have done that for."

Walls too bright for his eyes, even in the dark, make his head throb. Next to Rodney, John slides down as well, slumping against his side, warm and inviting. "What the hell happened?" Rodney asks, moving his arm just enough for John to slide under it.

"N-no i-idea,' John's teeth are rattling hard.

The world spins and shakes and possibly turns strange colors. They try to take turns staying awake, but their bodies both laugh at them and make them sick. A long period of time passes before Rodney feels closer to human. They've barely moved since they sat down and Rodney's skin has that sweaty grimy feeling of a fever that's been burned off. John is limp against him, mouth open slightly, eyes shut tight. Their hands are tangled together, fingers cramped and twisted.

It's a surprising sight that makes Rodney's heart hammer a little harder and spark a low heat in his belly. He gasps, head jerking up. God that's a sensation he's *missed*. Not that it's an incredibly convenient time for it. Then again, his body tends to enjoy the incredibly *in*convenient times the most.

"Rodney?" John mutters into his chest, already trying to sit upright. His free hand moves to rubs his eyes. "How long?"

Rodney checks the little computer they stole. "If I'm reading this right? Five hours?"

John nods, pushing himself completely upright. "Feel better?"

"I slept half sitting up with a full grown man practically in my lap," Rodney says by way of answering.

John kisses him softly. "Sorry?"

All his righteous indignation fizzles out of him like air from a leaky tire. "Later, when I have eaten and have guzzled a gallon of coffee and do not have god knows how many alien drugs running through my system, it will not be that easy to gain my forgiveness."

Another kiss, just as soft and, oh god, really sweet and weirdly defenseless.

"Okay, maybe I'm a little easy." Rodney concedes.

John's face is unsettlingly vulnerable, hovering over his, uncertain as it peers down at him. Rodney reaches out with a still shaking hand and uses one finger to trace an absurdly high cheekbone. "Maybe a lot easy," he says, leaning in for another kiss.

If kissing before was pleasant, this is exhilarating, despite the fact that they're practically limp on the floor, still exhausted and shaking. Rodney honestly thinks that if John were to ask, he'd be ready to give it a shot right here on the floor.

The spirit, however willing, loses when the flesh is weak. Oh so weak is the flesh. John ends the kiss with a low chuckle that burns inside of Rodney's skin, but even that's not enough to give him the energy to have sex *and* run for his life. As much as he likes sex, he *loves* his life. Continued life means possibilities for more sex later. Later, Rodney will make himself pie charts and graphs.

"Okay," John says, slumping beside him, "first order of business, figuring out what the hell happened."

"Here's a thought," Rodney mutters, "someone is trying to kill us. A lot."

"Hrmm?" John asks while attempting to remove a stray hair from his line of sight by *blowing* at it.

"Come on!" Rodney presses, patently ignoring the pursed wet lips, "like this is all a coincidence!"

"I don't believe in coincidences," John reaches for their bag of loot off to his left.

"Well thank you, Han Solo."

John freezes and then tosses him a dirty smile, "You're welcome, your worship."

Rodney simply doesn't have the words.

******

It takes them far too long to stand up without bumping into a wall or each other. Which is great, but Rodney's still pretty sure if he has to shoot, he's more likely to hit himself than a wall.

The hospital staff are still out cold on the floor. "God, what did they give them?" Rodney wonders.

"Better question," John murmurs, looking around a corner, "why didn't it affect us?"

"I bet Carson could answer that question." Rodney says.

"Yeah Rodney, I wish he was here too." John leans heavily on the wall. "Just so he could tell me I'm not actually dying."

He looks like shit, Rodney observes, now that they're in the hallway and the natural light is seeping in through the blinds on the windows. John is pale and shaky and Rodney shouldn't be able to count the visible veins. Rodney really doesn't want to look in a mirror any time soon.

The room spins momentarily and Rodney flushes hot then cold. Jesus, he really wants Carson back. "Are parts of you going numb at random intervals?"

"Yeah," John grunts, motioning for him to follow, "and it's not making me happy."

They walk around in no discernable pattern that Rodney can figure out, but they're fast approaching the point where he's going to need to sit down again.

John abruptly stops in front of a large, stylish door. "Here."

"Here?" Rodney asks, "what's here?"

"Surgical Lounge," John says smugly.

Rodney's arms drop to his sides. "How on earth can you know that?"

John winks, absurdly comical and overdone. "Just trust me sweetheart."

"You're not really Han Solo, you know that right?"

John smirks and salutes him with his gun. Rodney rolls his eyes.

Inside they find Carson slumped over a comfortable looking chair, groaning. Rodney has never seen a more pleasant sight in his life. Then John bends over to check Carson's pulse. Oh god, it's really been a good day.

******

It doesn't take much to get Carson the rest of the way awake and it's decided that they could really give a crap about what happened, at least until they get back to Atlantis. Carson directs them to where Lorne and the rest of the escort had been escorted prior to the surgery.

They're groggy but, thankfully, still well armed.

Rodney nearly pledges his undying devotion to the flash grenade hanging off Lorne's vest.

John looks like he's eyeing the P90 with suspiciously wet eyes.

The hospital is connected to all of the major portions of the city through what Rodney thinks of as a glorified elevated train. Of course, he's still angry they wouldn't share exactly how the things manage to glide along so smoothly and silently.

The group of them stumble around drunkenly like an outtake from Shaun of the Dead, trying to make it to the train entrance on the third floor without losing anyone.

John and Rodney are the worst of the group, because at least as Carson, Lorne and the rest move around, their movements become more coordinated, whereas John and Rodney just get slower and clumsier. Eventually they each have a strapping marine to hold onto to stay upright.

Carson mumbles worriedly about the fact that they're up and moving around at all and Rodney fights visions of being permanently paralyzed forever. He wonders if the civil liability and litigation laws reach this far off the planet.

The concussion grenade type thing nearly gives Rodney a heart attack. First because he's thrown to the floor, second because someone heavy lands on top of him and third because, ow, loud.

There's machine gun fire going on over Rodney's head, and then hands tugging at him, helping pull him over to the side. John and Carson help prop him up and John promptly loses all balance and falls flat on his face. In Rodney's lap. And he'd really like to be able to enjoy that more.

Once they get John sitting up again, he takes a position just dangerous enough to be able to see the action and still have to flinch away every so often.

"Who's attacking us?" Rodney whispers loudly.

"I don't know," John frowns, "but whoever they are, they're organized."

"They're government troops. Secret squads."

They whirl. Well Carson whirls, John and Rodney sort of spin slowly.

Frawan is on the floor behind them, looking as far from neat and tailored as possible. "There was a deal made," he frowns, "your lives for this planet."

Rodney frowns, "Who the hell would want--"

"The wraith," John interrupts. "They made a deal with the wraith."

"Oh god, again?" Rodney is really getting tired of the same script, different week game.

Frawan raises an eyebrow. "I don't know what your prior experiences are, but our government was approached in secret and were promised that if we somehow took the two of you out of the equation, our planet would be spared from culling."

John snorts. "They believed them?"

"Some did," Frawan nods, "others felt our souls were not worth that price no matter the level of veracity of the claim." He nods to the fading sounds, "Your men are almost finished, but more agents will be here any minute. Gather them and I'll lead you to the StarCircle."

With someone who actually knows where they are going, the rest of the trip seems like a breeze. Rodney blames his still incredibly drugged state on the fact that he didn't see the obvious path on the hospital map before.

The tram leaves them mere feet from their destination and they hurry to dial as they are quickly garnering attention.

The odd silver glow of the gate only makes John look worse. Before they step through, John stops and turns. "I had your job once," he says to Frawan, "don't ever let them tell you it wasn't worth it." They share a strange stare of the governmentally abused before John turns back and tells Rodney to go through with a quick nod of his head.

Rodney, however, doesn't move until he sees John's stumbling footsteps start towards the gate as well.

******

Epilogue:

Rodney has always appreciated the concept of masturbation. As a teen it was salvation from a dreadful family life. As an undergrad it allowed him to flex his brain as the traditional 'oh god breasts', pull pull pull method's glowing response began to wane. Creativity was the key; math too, as calculating trajectory was used as a method to prolong release. As a postdoctoral candidate, it was how he managed to finish his thesis despite a lack of coffee and sleep.

Now. Oh now, he's fourteen again and a stiff breeze can make him come and while it's annoying, he's really not complaining.

Carson, the smart, smart man, lets them recover away from the relative non-privacy of the infirmary. Rodney is admonished to stay in bed, unless otherwise necessary. He stares at his washcloth and lotion bottle and finds he's unusually okay with bed rest.

Rodney is reminded of that time classes had been cancelled for a freak snowstorm and in a fit of utter laziness he had closed his books and stayed in bed. All day. It had been a good day.

A week later, the dizziness, the random numbness and the uncontrollable napping are all but gone and Rodney is cleared for light duty. That's when he learns there are a whole host of things he needs to get used to again. The implants controlled and damped far more than he had realized.

Smells and tastes are the most immediately apparent. That's easy to handle, he eats more and with gusto for a little while and it eventually normalizes. The hard part is when he's leaning over Radek's shoulder, pointing at something important and doing something completely normal and he's suddenly assaulted by his senses; feeling the heat of the body near him or smelling Radek's shampoo and even, for god's sake, getting little shivers when he curses in Czech.

That is just freakish enough that he really does stick to a light workload and to small projects that don't require other people in close quarters.

There are things about his colleagues he never ever needed to consider. Ever.

Oh god, this afternoon with Miko demonstrates he still shouldn't be allowed in public.

Of course, his incredibly manly and thoroughly strategic retreat is halted when he runs into John. Not that they haven't seen each other across a crowded mess or in a hallway, but this time he actually *runs* into him. When they step apart, his chest still burns where John and he touched.

They stare and start to speak at the same time and stop and stare some more. Finally, John throws his hands up and Rodney pinches the bridge of his nose.

"Sex?" John whispers.

Rodney's head snaps up. "Here?"

"No, in the mess so we can put out a hat to collect money," John snaps.

"Sorry!" Rodney waves his hands in front of him. "You surprised me."

They make their way to John's room in what Rodney feels is an incredibly suspicious manner. Though he's wondering when he agreed to actual sex. Actual sex, while a nice thought, is possibly a very stupid idea.

The door closes behind them and John turns to face him, shoulders tense. They stare some more. John's shoulders eventually slump. "This was so much easier when we just had to press a button."

Rodney lunges, he can't take the pressure. Their lips meet clumsily and John's body is tense under his hands, but his lips are soft and pliant. Instantly, Rodney can feel the difference. Before it was a warm buzz, now it's a flashpoint, heat burning through him. A few moments in and they both make pathetic, broken sounds and jump into action.

Shirts and pants disappear in an awkward whirlwind of hands. Rodney nearly falls on his face because he forgets to take his shoes off first.

Laying down makes it all better though. Miles of skin pressing into Rodney, firm and elastic and John's hands trailing everywhere, his neck, his chest, his ass, squeezing nicely.

"Oh god," Rodney groans, startled when they manage to line their cocks up by complete accident.

"Oh-- yeah that's," John buries his face in Rodney's neck, licking and kissing. "Oh god, yeah."

Oddly reminiscent of their first time using the implant on Atlantis, it's all tight fast movements that tumble off Rodney's nerves, drowning him in pleasure. Except now the underside of his cock is snug against John's hip, rubbing perfectly, friction building hotly.

Rodney presses his feet to the mattress, grinding up, orgasm suddenly clawing at his belly, hot and intense and breathtaking. Freezing momentarily, breath caught in his throat, Rodney shudders hard, twisting frantically, rubbing against any surface he can find and comes his brains out.

Above him, John stops moving, kissing him through it with lots of messy tongue and wet sounds. When Rodney finally quiets, John's hips start moving again, slow at first, but quickly the pace becomes a race. Rodney can feel it in John's stomach before he actually breaks rhythm with four final frantic thrusts.

They collapse -- well Rodney goes boneless and John falls to his side breathing heavily.

"Oh god I missed sex." Rodney mutters.

"You weren't having any before the implant," John accuses, his face still planted in Rodney's sternum.

"Yes, hence why I miss it." Rodney frowns, hand absently petting John's hair. "Are we still not talking about this?"

John looks up, face flushed, pupils dilated and looking so completely post coital and warm it just isn't fair. "I would love to never talk about this, ever."

"So, same time tomorrow?"

"Of course."

THE END