"It was a trap."
"They were waiting for us."
"I was unable to do anything to save Dr. Weir."
The lies fell from John’s lips with an easiness that surprised him. It was not as though he was improvising them: they were a crafted tale he had rehearsed and pulled apart several times since he reached his decision two days before. What surprised him was the coldness with which he delivered it, even pitching the right amount of distress and regret into his voice without a second thought. Like being a spectator in his own body, like if someone else had taken control over it, the words left his mouth without betraying anything he was feeling inside. I’m scaring myself, he thought.
Sitting silently at his right, Rodney backed up each one of his lies with a blank face and a curt nod when addressed, but John could see his hands were clenched tightly under the table, nails biting into his palms. But Colonel Caldwell and the others bought it, hook, line and sinker. After all, he was the brave Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, the dazzling hero that had saved them all, and he played on it for all it was worth.
After the briefing, John accompanied Rodney to his quarters. Carson had checked him before and none of his injuries, once properly tended, warranted spending the night in the infirmary if someone stayed with him. Nobody blinked twice when John volunteered.
Rodney walked stiffly beside him, their steps echoing in the empty corridors, and the silence, so unlike Rodney, was making John’s heart hammer against his ribcage and his stomach twist in knots.
When the door of Rodney's quarters slid shut after them, John stood in the middle of the room, shifting nervously from foot to foot, his mouth dry, looking everywhere but at Rodney. The soft rustling of fabric told him Rodney was shedding his jacket and, risking a glance, saw him folding it carefully over his desk chair. Trying pointlessly to swallow the lump in his throat, John waited for judgment, open and ready for sacrifice at Rodney’s hand.
He saw the fist coming, but didn't move to dodge it. The punch send him crashing against the wall with more force than he expected but, before his head cleared, Rodney was pinning him against the wall, taking his mouth in a bruising kiss, the coppery taste of blood mixing with the usual bitter taste of coffee and that indefinable something that screamed Rodney to him.
Their lovemaking that night was hard and desperate, with a touch of madness and a wildness they never felt before. Rodney tore their clothes away, ripping them when he lost his meager patience with buttons and zippers. Throwing John on the bed, he proceeded to map every inch of John’s body with mouth and fingers, leaving vivid bruises behind and not caring if they’d be visible or not in the morning. John clung to any part of Rodney he could get hold of, his short nails raising angry red welts on Rodney’s pale skin.
Using spit as only lubricant, Rodney took him roughly, sliding into him in one long stroke. Pain flared inside, but John forced himself to relax and accept Rodney into his body. Rodney stood still until John’s vice-like grip on his cock relaxed, and then started moving, riding him hard and fast. Pleasure mixed with pain, and John took it all, craved it all, needed it all like never had needed anything before. Rodney's teeth sank into his neck the moment he climaxed, biting hard enough to draw blood and sending him over the edge.
The sobs started almost immediately. His face hidden in John's chest, Rodney cried out the fear, the impotence, the desperation, the pain and the guilt and John held him tightly, riding the storm with him. Tears welled in his eyes too, but he kept them back, for he didn't deserve his guilt to be washed away. Absolution was for those who regretted what they have done but, with Rodney alive and safe in his arms, John wasn’t really sorry. Guilt was his penance and he’d wear it.
"I would have done the same," Rodney whispered against John’s chest once the sobs calmed down.
"I know," he answered, pulling him closer still.
Rodney fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion, his head pillowed in John's shoulder and John’s arms around him, his time at the hands of the Wraith and the events of the day finally catching up with him.
But sleep did not come for John Sheppard that night. Rest was a privilege of the quiet mind.
- END -