"Did you have a nice evening with Dr. Robertson?" Rodney's voice held an odd undercurrent, his arms folded in front of his chest as he cut off John’s path to his quarters. He looked almost hostile and John frowned at him.
"Yeah, in fact, I did. He's a pretty interesting guy. We were talking about-"
"You know what? I don't want to know. I'm sure you had a wonderful time smooching around on the East pier, watching the moons or something, but I need him bright and sharp for work. So if you could limit your romantic dates to days when he is off duty the next morning, I'd appreciate it."
John stared at Rodney. What the hell? What had crawled up his ass and died? Why was Rodney so angry? It sure as hell wasn't the supposed slacking off of his staff member he’d used as an excuse. John didn’t like the way Rodney had cornered him, as if he’d done something wrong. "What's your problem? When have you ever cared about one of your underlings having a date the night before work?" He certainly never snapped at Lt. Thompson when he flirted with Miko.
Not that John had been out on the pier flirting with Robertson. He'd been too enthusiastic about his work for John to get much of a word in edgewise, let alone flirt. And since when had Rodney been aware John was bisexual? Don't Ask, Don't Tell had only recently been repealed.
"What's my problem? What's my problem he asks! My problem is that every time I have to save the city, I have to do it single-handedly because my staff are a bunch of trained moneys who can't be bothered to do their job right. Robertson happens to be one of the smarter ones of the bunch - don't let him know I said that - but that doesn't mean he won't be useless after he spent the night in your bed, Kirk. It was bad enough when you were just hitting on all the alien princesses, but I draw the line at my staff."
He was getting more and more agitated by the minute, and John was getting angry as well.
"I was not hitting on your staff, Rodney. I was having a talk with a friend. You'd know the difference if you had any aside from our team. Jesus, what the hell is with you today? I thought we were over that whole you calling me Kirk stuff. You know it's not true. But even if I had been on a date with Andy ... Dr. Robertson, it would still be none of your business."
John glared at Rodney, who was turning an interesting shade of red.
"It is my business when it means lowered productivity and a sharp drop in IQ in one of my people!"
"What is your obsession with who is in my bed? The only person who has a problem with me flirting or spending time with people is you, McKay."
Rodney sputtered. He lifted his chin and crossed his arms, but John noticed he couldn't meet John's eyes. Some of the anger seemed to have drained out of him; not gone completely, but suddenly tempered somehow. John didn't know what to make of the sudden change in his friend's temperament. Rodney always made a big deal out of John's non-existent Kirk tendencies, but the last time he'd been this worked up had been about Chaya.
"I don't have a problem with you spending time with people, Sheppard," Rodney said. "I have a problem with whom you choose to spend that time."
"I don't know if you've noticed, but Atlantis is kind of a closed society. There's not many options."
"I realize that!" Rodney snapped. "Though I suppose with the repeal of that asinine military rule, your options have just increased exponentially."
Was that what this was about? Was Rodney homophobic? That didn't seem like him at all. If Rodney had thought about it, he'd have realized John's options hadn't increased at all; the fraternization rules weren’t gone. John wouldn't have wanted to date one of his men anyway - too much potential for abuse on both sides.
John sighed heavily. "What is this really about, Rodney? Is it the repeal of DADT? Are you freaking out because I might get involved with a guy? You know I wouldn't date one of my Marines. Can't really, to be honest. Power imbalance may be a kink for some, but not for me. I don't need to be called by my rank in bed."
John ducked his head and rubbed his neck. This talk was making him uncomfortable. And he felt a little hurt, too. John had thought that they were over this whole Chaya/hitting on alien women thing. Now Rodney seemed to have extended his irritation to the Atlantis staff which left John without any options at all. He'd long since resigned himself to the fact that the one person he did want in his bed, he'd never get to have.
As he watched, Rodney threw his hands up in agitation. "Well, thank you very much Colonel. I don't need to hear about your kinks. Just keep your hands off my staff and we'll be fine."
With that he turned around and walked away, leaving John staring after him.
By the next morning, Rodney still felt the hot jealousy that had burned through him at the idea of Sheppard with one of his minions. It wasn’t that Rodney wanted Sheppard to be alone forever. Their jobs were stressful and Rodney knew how well sex would help with that. Before the repeal, however, he'd resigned himself to John only directing his flirting at women. To see him look at someone like Robertson like that...
John favored pretty, leggy brunettes. Rodney figured he'd go for equally good-looking, fit men - if he went for men at all. But Robertson was rather plain, and no fitter than Rodney. How could John look at Robertson but not Rodney? It hurt. Rodney needed time to regain his balance, to fall back into that place where John's flirting didn't make him want to shake the man and scream look at me.
So Rodney did what he did best and avoided the problem, slipping from the room after meetings before Sheppard could approach him, and refusing to leave his lab for a more private location. By the end of the day Sheppard was sending him frustrated, thoughtful looks and Rodney was seriously contemplating finding a supply closet to sleep in, where Sheppard would never find him.
Of course, Rodney should have known trying to avoid Sheppard was an exercise in futility. Sheppard had Atlantis rolling over for him, begging for attention, and if Sheppard wanted to be alone with him to talk, he would. So it wasn't really surprising that Rodney found himself locked into a transporter with Sheppard, shortly after he'd decided to make his getaway to his own room.
"You have to stop running away from me, Rodney," Sheppard growled, getting up way into Rodney's personal space. He looked livid and slightly rumpled and unfairly ... hot.
"We need to discuss this. You can't just run around, ordering me to stay away from your minions and creating conflict between the command staff. So I'll ask you again, Rodney: what the hell is your problem? Your scientists go on dates all the damn time. So why is it that you take offense on my spending time with Andy? I told you, Robertson is a friend so mine. So what is this really about?"
John's ... Sheppard's eyes narrowed at him, his look calculating and somehow dangerous. Like he would leap at Rodney's throat if he said the wrong thing. Which was ridiculous of course. He hadn’t locked them in a transporter together to harm him. But ...
Rodney's stomach did a little flip and his breath sped up when Sheppard leaned even closer to him, intense green eyes focused solely on him. He was close enough that Rodney could smell his aftershave and feel the warmth of his body. It was ... distracting. No, it was torture.
He closed his eyes, hoping that being unable to see Sheppard standing so close would stop the inevitable. But just the warmth and smell of him was enough for his body to react. Rodney pressed back against the wall of the transporter as far as he could, but the space was small and there was nowhere for him to go. He probably shouldn't be enjoying the idea of Sheppard cornering him so much, but he was, and it wouldn't be long before Sheppard noticed. Rodney opened his eyes.
"If you could just step back a little, Sheppard. I'm terribly claustrophobic you know, and a panic attack is not how I want to end my night."
John backed away from him, but his gaze was still very intent. Rodney missed the warmth of his body, though if they remained locked in the transporter for long, that would be the least of his problems.
Rodney didn't know what to say, how to explain his reaction any more than he already had. He supposed it wasn't really fair to put this all on Sheppard, and the best thing would be to apologize and try to deal the next time he saw Sheppard give someone that warm smile.
"I - I apologize for, uh. My reaction yesterday. It was out of line. Of course I have no say in who you see, even if they are - I mean, Robertson, really? You could do so much better. But it's your choice, and I will be happy for you when you fall in love with that - that man, and get married, and adopt Pegasus babies, and live happily fucking forever." Whoops, that last bit was slightly too bitter.
John raised an eyebrow. He was leaning against the wall, hips out, and Rodney idly wondered how he'd react if Rodney dropped to his knees and offered him a blowjob. Not that Rodney would, not if John was seeing someone. Though Rodney no doubt gave much better blowjobs, and he had been reliably informed that his ass was one worth fucking...
Something rushed over Sheppard's face. Something Rodney couldn't quite identify. But it couldn't have been anything good. For a second Rodney wondered if his thoughts had shown on his face, if his eyes had given him away, like one of his past lovers had claimed they did. She'd said his eyes spoke the truth louder than his voice ever had. Rodney really hoped Sheppard hadn't caught on to his thoughts. He'd really hate to lose their friendship over his misplaced jealousy.
"It's interesting that you say that, Rodney," Sheppard drawled, voice dropping low. "So, theoretically, you wouldn't mind being my best man should I propose to Andy? Get him to marry me? So we can have that happily ever after you said I could have?" He tilted his head, watching Rodney with an intensity that made his skin tingle and his breath catch.
"I... sure. If that's what you want. We… we're friends, right? It's what friends do. You... you helped me out when I was... when I was going to propose to Katie. So it's only fair I be there for you when you... when you get married to Robertson. As I said... if he's the one you want, then I'll be happy for you." Rodney clenched his hands at his sides and tried to control his breathing. The thought of John getting married to Robertson was like acid in his gut.
He could do this. He could be the friend Sheppard deserved. So what if his own heart broke a little bit more with every word Sheppard said? He'd dealt with his unrequited love for John for years now, he would learn to deal with seeing him happily married, raising a family, and belonging to someone else. Rodney was a genius, he'd overcome other tough situations in his life, he could learn to deal with the loss of the man he loved.
"Sure Rodney," Sheppard said. "We're friends." He slowly moved closer, a smile curling his lips. "You just want me to be happy, right?"
Rodney swallowed heavily. "Right. Of course." Were Sheppard's hips more loose than normal or was that Rodney's imagination? Don't stare, don't stare, Rodney chanted silently, forcing himself to move his gaze up to Sheppard's face.
Sheppard nodded. He was still smiling. Rodney licked his lips. He could sense an undertone to the conversation, one he couldn’t quite pinpoint, but something had changed. Sheppard was just outside Rodney's personal bubble now, close but not too close, and the way he was looking at Rodney was scorching.
There was no way Sheppard could miss his erection now.
"You'd be happy to help me get the guy I want," Sheppard murmured. No, John, he was John, with the leaning in and the sharp smile and the way his eyes dipped to look at Rodney's groin, at his hard cock straining his pants.
"Uh, yes?" Rodney squeaked. He trembled, panted, caught and pinned in the corner of the transporter and he really, really wanted John to touch him now. He didn't know John could be like this, had never dreamed it could be so good.
John reached out and rubbed at Rodney's bottom lip with his thumb at the same time Rodney nervously licked his lips again, the tip of his tongue flicking over John's warm skin.
"So helpful," John murmured, and leaned in.
The hand that had been at his lips a second ago slipped into Rodney's hair, carefully cradling his neck. John's breath ghosted over him before Rodney felt the first gentle press of John's mouth. It was hesitant and a little searching, an odd contrast to the almost predatory energy that had radiated off of John just a moment ago.
John shifted, body pressing close. John’s hard cock was pressing up right against Rodney's own, making his head spin and his senses go haywire. Someone moaned, but Rodney wasn't quite sure which one of them it was because John's other hand had found its way around, grabbing Rodney's ass.
Rodney had felt slightly cornered only a moment ago, now John's embrace felt comforting and safe and so damn arousing. It was a heady combination, even if the turn of events confused the hell out of him. How had they gone from discussing John's future with Robertson to John kissing him, stroking him, holding him?
Desperately, Rodney grabbed a handful of John's black t-shirt, using it to keep him close. John didn't seem to mind, pressing closer, kissing harder. Rodney rolled his hips, rubbing his cock against John's, friction at just the right place, and this time John broke the kiss to groan, eyes closed and mouth open.
"Not here," he gasped. "Your room, we should go to your room."
Rodney whined, rubbing against John, chasing that burn of pleasure. It had been so long since he'd felt like this, almost out of control with desire. He felt lit up, every inch of him sensitized to the press of John's body, and he didn't want to stop for the time it would take to make it back to his rooms.
"Rodney," John panted. "If you don't stop I'm going to fuck you right here in the transporter, and I haven't got anything on me."
Grumbling, Rodney forced his fingers to relax their grip, to move away from the warmth of John's body. Rodney's own body was screaming at him, begging for more kissing, more touching, an orgasm that Rodney could already tell was going to be explosive. It didn't help that John looked rumpled in the best way, pupils dilated, lips swollen, an attractive red flush darkening his cheekbones.
Rodney slapped the transporter map location for the assigned quarters, thankful that the transporters took no time at all. He stumbled out, giving a quick, furtive glance around. For all that he wanted back to his room now, he certainly didn’t want any of his minions to see him with a hard on. John followed at a more sedate pace, going for casual. Rodney didn't want to take his eyes off him, didn't want John to take an opportunity to slip away unnoticed. He had to smirk at the way John's gaze seemed fixated on his ass, hands curled into fists as though to keep him from reaching out to touch.
He looked the furthest thing from casual and Rodney wanted it, wanted all of that desire and intensity. Rodney knew they needed to talk, but this might be his only chance and he was going to take it. The moment the door to Rodney's quarters closed behind them, John had Rodney pinned to the wall once more. "You're thinking too damn much, Rodney," John complained, nipping at Rodney's earlobe and sending shivers down his spine. "Relax. Enjoy. Sex is supposed to be fun, you know. And I think we're gonna have a lot of fun together." John's hips ground forward again, their cocks rubbing together.
It was heaven. It was glorious. It was ... nothing more for John but scratching an itch. Physical. For a second Rodney wondered what the fuck he was doing here, rubbing up against John, about to get fucked by his best friend. He wanted this, oh how he wanted. John's hands on his skin, John’s mouth on his own, John’s cock up his ass.
But would it be enough? Would one time, one romp between the sheets, ever be enough? Could they go back to being just friends? Would John want to be fuck buddies instead? Someone he could bump boots with every once in a while? What was this?
As much as Rodney wanted to take advantage of this while he could, wanted to have this moment of pleasure while it was offered, he couldn’t. Rodney's brain, which never quit working, was continuing to think, to wonder. Could Rodney spend the night with John and then watch as he returned to Robertson - or hell, anyone else for that matter? Rodney didn’t share well, and if that was what John wanted...would he really be willing to let John go?
"John, wait," he gasped. He couldn't stop his hips from twitching toward John one last time, but he forced himself to stay still. He thought about how much it would hurt to see John with Robertson after this, and the ache he felt at the idea dampened his arousal. "I - I don't think I can do this."
John froze. After a moment, he pulled away slowly until only his hands were touching Rodney. He looked confused and a little hurt. "Why not?"
"I -" he hadn't thought this through, but it was a little late for hesitation. "I can't do this and have you move on to someone else. To...to Robertson."
John pulled away completely. Rodney felt the loss keenly and swallowed hard.
"I wasn't lying before. I’d support whomever you choose to be with, but I'm not sure I could be...completely happy. After this, I mean. I don't want...I don't want to just have sex with you. There are...feelings involved. On my end."
John still stared at him incredulously so Rodney pressed on. "I mean, this is something like a 'last hurrah', right? This is you having fun before you get hitched, committing yourself to your partner? That's what this is, right?" Rodney was nervous. He'd just basically admitted to being in love with John and the man was just standing there, looking dumbfounded. What the hell was Rodney supposed to think?
John rubbed his hand over his mouth and shook his head. He looked exasperated. "Rodney, I never actually said I was with Robertson. I sure as hell never said I was going to marry him. You were the one who brought up the whole...marriage, adoptions, happily ever after. I told you more than once that Andy is just a friend."
Rodney stared at him for a moment. "What? No. You...I...oh my god."
John nodded. Rodney slapped his hand over his face and groaned. He was usually smarter than this. Even if he was bad with people, he could usually at least recall who said what with some accuracy. John was right; Rodney had come to a conclusion without any evidence, something he berated his scientists for all the time.
"I'm sorry," Rodney said finally, recalling his unnecessary jealousy and the anger it had manifested as.
"Not necessary," John said immediately. He was looking at Rodney like he was waiting for something, eyebrows raised. Rodney wondered what he was waiting for, why he hadn't resumed the touching. If John were a free man -
If John were a free man. John was single.
Hope made the words Rodney wanted to ask clog his throat, blocking the way. Eyes wide, he gestured between them a bit helplessly. Rodney wanted to know, and his desperation pushed words through.
"Does this mean....are we?"
John ducked his head. He rubbed at the back of his neck. The tips of his ears looked pink.
"Uh, yes? There are. Emotions. On my part." John looked like he was going to swallow his tongue, so Rodney stepped closer, making the first move, reaching up to touch John's ear as he had always wanted to do. John looked up at his gentle touch, and when Rodney hesitantly smiled, John smiled back.
"In that case, let's take this to bed," Rodney said and grabbed John’s hand.
"Sounds like a plan, buddy," John replied, and the happiness Rodney could hear in his voice warmed his heart.
They were going to be just fine.