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For once, no one's trying to blow them up and so a whole bunch of them declare it's past time for a break and haul off to PX-something or other, with woods and fresh air and did we mention no one shooting at them?

Rodney grumbles about going, sullenly flails about with his bottle of SPF 70 and accuses three separate people of putting limes in the beer chest (only slightly mollified by Sheppard then refusing to drink anything not tightly sealed and de-citrified, a process that Rodney makes a LARGE mental note to start on when they get back to Atlantis.)

Ronon and Teyla immediately get convinced that they need to learn about volleyball and the game is close enough that Rodney can hear Teyla's patient yet growing more incredulous questions over the rumble of Ronon's laughter.

Miko had a camera, of all things, because it turned out that one of the Marines (and don't even get Rodney started on what his name was, they all look alike, scared of him and awed of John, don't even need to tell them apart) was into photography and, as his personal object had smuggled a small batch of developing chemicals that he'd let Miko use in return for some of her stash of jellybeans that her aunt... Rodney had zoned out after that, and after frowning mostly on general principle, he takes the camera, because if there was any documentation to be done, he is the most objective one to do it.

The sun lay hot on the back of Rodney's neck (probably going to get burned and then oh, the jokes from Carson would follow, with a new nickname if he was really lucky) and he glanced through the lens of the camera, watching the patterns of leaves on the ground, the way that everything sounded cleaner, quieter without the hum of adrenaline.

He must have wandered further that he'd thought (he was hoping to get a picture of Teyla and Ronon and maybe have some amazing blackmail material on Zelenka, if the rumors of his "swimsuit" were anywhere near true) when he passed another huddle of trees and oh.

John had found a spot far enough away from the rest of the crowd that it was almost completely silent, except for the muted drag of paper as he turned pages. A pile of rope (some of the botanists were planning to climb one of the trees, of all the crazy things) was curled forgotten on the ground and John looked so... peaceful. So focused on his book and the world that he'd blocked out for himself of paper and ink. God only knows where'd he'd gotten the chair, probably conned it off of one of the nurses with a smile and a wink, but the canvas stretched and held the slouch of his shoulders, pale wood against the black of his clothes (and only John would be crazy enough to wear something that dark and heat absorbing while they were all out having fun), a line of shadow tracing down around his wrist, catching the edges of his ragged bracelet, the way his muscles bent as he rested his boot on his knee, his neck folding down, his eyes, dark, intent, focused...

...on Rodney.


Rodney felt the plastic of the camera strap start to slip as his hands warmed, at the surprise crinkling John's eyes, the shy little boy smile as he straightened a little in his chair, tucked a finger into the pages of his book.

Rodney swallowed, clung to the camera.

"Smile," he whispered, and pressed the button.