Rating: Light R for swearing
Disclaimer: None of this is mine.
Summary: Taibhsearachd is the Gaelic name given to “second sight”, the involuntary ability of seeing the future or distant events. (Definition from http://en.wikipedia.org)
The next morning during the mission briefing, John noticed that Rodney sat down as far away as possible from him. He tried to catch his gaze, but Rodney kept looking away, talking with an emotionless voice. When John asked him something, he didn't answer, talking about something entirely different to Elizabeth instead. Was he mad at him? John realized that his actions the previous evening hadn't been the most sensitive and thought-out ever, but were they a reason for Rodney to ignore him like this?
“You seem bad-tempered today,” he overheard Teyla saying to Rodney when they left the conference room to prepare for their mission. Although he didn't understand his answer, Rodney's tone was unmistakable, as it proved Teyla's thesis.
Half an hour later, the team moved out, heading for the planet where Gruslaf's people lived. When they arrived on P6X-918, the area was deserted. Broken tents, footsteps, fireplaces and animal bones were evidences that humans had lived here not long ago, but all of Gruslaf's people were gone. About 40 people had literally disappeared from the face of the planet. Searching the surroundings, they found more indications of a hasty departure. Clothes, pots and blankets lay forgotten in the dirt. Evidently they had fled from something, possibly the Wraith.
“Where did they tell you were they going to move next?” John asked the others when they gathered together in front of the 'gate again after ending their unsuccessful search for humans.
“They said they were planning on going to P5S-799 next,” Teyla answered. Rodney dialed the planet, but as they stepped out of the event horizon and into a dark forest, Teyla winced immediately. “Wraith,” she hissed. “Many of them, but they're not close.”
They agreed on skimming the area around the 'gate to look for Gruslaf's people, but when after half an hour all they had come across was a single, dead Wraith, they decided to call it a night and return to Atlantis.
“Either our friends have already been captured by the Wraith,” Teyla said later during the debriefing in Elizabeth's conference room, “Or they left the planet again and headed elsewhere.”
“It's very likely they killed the Wraith we found,” John added. “And then left the planet immediately before they ran the risk of running into a bigger group of Wraith.”
“So there's no way for us to find out where they are?” Elizabeth asked.
“Theoretically I could examine the DHD on P5S-799 to see which addresses were dialed lately,” Rodney said. “But we'd get several dozen of addresses and the odds are high they’ve already fled the second planet as well. And I also wonder whether it's worth risking our lives, because we can't take the entire device home.”
“Then our only option is to wait until they dial us,” Elizabeth concluded, sighing. “Looks like we'll have to wait a little longer until we get more answers on your ability, John.”
With that, the meeting was finished. As they walked out of the room, Teyla asked who would join her for lunch. Rodney was first to agree, but changed his mind, telling her something about the labs that couldn't wait, when John said he'd join her too
“Rodney is in an odd mood today,” Teyla remarked when the three of them were sitting in the mess hall a little later.
“Maybe it's one of his days,” Ronon guessed. John remained silent.
After lunch, John passed Lorne on his way back to his quarters.
“Major, wait,” he called him back. “You better be careful what you eat today.”
“Yes, sir,” Lorne answered with a frown. “But may I ask why?”
“I, uh, know you're going to upset your stomach,” he explained, gesturing at his head.
Lorne pulled a face. “Ugh. Thanks for the warning, sir.”
In the late afternoon, as he was watching Ronon giving one of his fighting lessons to some of the marines in the gym, he talked to Sergeant Cole who told him that Lorne had been taken to the infirmary not long ago. John asked himself whether he could have kept the major from throwing up if he'd told him not to eat anything at all until the next day.
After dinner, when he settled down in his quarters to catch up on a few mission reports he hadn't typed yet, he knew it was going to rain the next day and that the Daedalus would be delayed when they arrived next time, which was in about two weeks. He wondered what the future wanted to tell him with this information and what he was supposed to do with it, but he couldn't come up with an answer.
When he met Carson this evening, the physician obviously noticed that something was troubling him, because he suggested that he could talk to Dr. Heightmeyer about his prophecies, an idea he dismissed immediately.
The knowledge that he was going to have a row with a friend the next day didn't exactly make sleeping easier that night.
“Rodney, when was the last time the Syvaans checked in with us?” John asked during the mission briefing the next morning.
“Oh, yes,” Rodney snapped in response. “Why try and think yourself when you can ask Mr. Superbrain?”
Here we go, John thought, rolling his eyes. “I just thought you'd know.”
“In fact, I do know,” Rodney spat. “And with a little thinking, you'd remember the date yourself. It was fourteen days ago, when they brought us the fruit baskets.”
“And none of our teams visited their home planet in the meantime?” John asked, earning an honest-to-god eye roll for the question.
“Did that future-seeing erase your memory or what?” Rodney snorted. “No, there was no contact at all for fourteen days.”
“Gentlemen,” Elizabeth warned them quietly. “Calm down, please.”
“Then our plan looks like this,” John summarized for everyone, looking pointedly away from Rodney. “We visit Kvayeen's people, trade food--”
“Don't forget my scans,” Rodney sharply threw in. “We have to round Syvaan so--”
“I was just coming to that,” John interrupted him coldly. “We'll--”
“Will you let me finish?” Rodney hissed.
“Well you interrupted me first!”
“This isn't about who did what first, this is--”
“Gentlemen!” Elizabeth yelled insistently. “Focus, and if you need to fight, do it after the briefing!”
John's and Rodney's eyes didn't meet in the embarrassing silence that followed her words.
“Sorry, Elizabeth,” John muttered, feeling stupidly childish. For the rest of the meeting, he took care not to address Rodney in any way, nor to give him an excuse for shouting at him.
It went on like this during their mission on Syvaan. Rodney kept looking away from him, talking to Ronon and Teyla exclusively. Once he even asked Teyla to tell John that he needed another ten minutes, even though John was sitting right next to him. Teyla and Ronon were noticeably confused by their behavior and John felt sorry that they had to suffer from their argument, however there was no chance for him during the mission to apologize or to show gratitude that they didn't address the issue openly.
Back on Atlantis, though, Teyla mentioned it during their training session in the gym. “John, I noticed you and Rodney were evading each other today,” she said casually when they paused for a moment to drink something and catch their breath. “And Rodney was in an aggressive mood yesterday as well. Did something happen?”
“Well, we had a fight,” John muttered, not sure what to tell Teyla and what not. “Didn't talk about it yet.”
“You should,” Teyla advised softly. “There is an uncomfortable silence between the two of you.”
“Sorry if working with us was problematic today,” John apologized.
“I saw Rodney shooting you odd looks today,” Teyla said, frowning as she tried to describe them. “I may misinterpret them, but they seemed very hurt to me.”
“He looked at me?” John asked with surprise, lifting an eyebrow when Teyla nodded. “Well... I guess I should talk to him.”
“As soon as possible,” Teyla agreed. “Whatever problem you have, it is not doing Rodney well, and you either, if I may say so.”
John smiled. “Thank you, Teyla.”
She briefly squeezed his hand before picking up her sticks again. “Shall we see whether you beat me this time?”
“We shall. And we will.”
In the afternoon, John found himself on the way to the physics labs more than once, but he always changed his course before he actually ended up at Rodney's working place. He worked out apologies, explanations and offers of peace, but the words just never seemed right. When Teyla looked at him pointedly when Rodney sat down elsewhere for dinner, John decided to give it a go. It was not like he could make things worse.
“Can we talk?” he asked Rodney hesitantly as he visited him at his working place in the evening.
“No,” Rodney replied curtly, his gaze focused on the screen of his laptop. His fingers raced insanely over the keyboard, so fast John doubted that the words Rodney typed were making any sense at all.
“It's unfair toward Teyla and Ronon,” he insisted, a bit too harsh maybe. “We can't go on another mission if we still won't even exchange a glance.”
Finally, Rodney looked up and John could almost see how his brain contemplated the suggestion behind these sparkling blue eyes. “I'll give you three minutes,” he agreed reluctantly, getting up and leading the way out of the labs into a small, quiet corridor John hadn't ever noticed before.
“So,” Rodney said, his expression composed and indifferent. “What is it?”
“Rodney, why are you mad at me?” John asked, startling a little when Rodney gave a derisive laugh.
“Well, guess,” he asked, his voice sounding hurt and offended.
“I... I don't know!” John admitted quietly. “Is it because I kissed you? If that's it, I'm sorry, and I promise not to do it ever again. Is it because I didn't answer your question? Let me tell you, Rodney, this is just as confusing for me as it might be for you! Did I receive the premonition that we kissed because it was going to happen, or did we kiss because of the prophecy? I really don't know, okay?”
“You're an incredibly oblivious man, Colonel Sheppard,” Rodney snorted. “You're walking through the world with a blindfold over your eyes, aren't you?”
“I don't know about you, but I wouldn't kiss someone just because someone told me that it's going to happen,” Rodney went on. “When I kiss a person, I mean it. There was nothing behind the kiss for you, was it? You just kissed me because some weird intuition from a Great Mother or whatever told you to do so. And I always thought you of all people wouldn't hesitate to question authorities.”
“Rodney--” John didn't stand a chance against Rodney's quick flow of words. Slowly, it dawned on him what Rodney must have felt like when he'd left the storage room.
“I'm not someone to fulfill prophecies with, Colonel,” Rodney said hoarsely. “What comes next? If the Great Mother tells you to fuck me, will you come to my quarters at night and rape me?”
“Yes, I know, you wouldn't do that. But kissing is fine, eh?”
“There's quite a difference--”
“My point is: I don't want to be abused as a means to make any prophecies come true! What I want from you is a meant kiss, not one that is--”
He stopped abruptly, closing his eyes, and John knew he'd gone further than he'd intended to. Rodney wanted him to kiss him, and mean it. Slowly, the thought sunk in. Was Rodney in love with him? He'd called him an attractive man. John had dismissed it as something casual, but had there possibly been more meaning behind those words?
“Now you know why I'm upset,” Rodney said hurtfully, quiet, a lot calmer than the words he'd thrown at John a few seconds earlier. Meeting his gaze, John read fear, pain and something like resignation in his eyes. He tried to come up with the right words, with a witty phrase that didn’t destroy their relationship even further, with words that brought a smile back on Rodney's face, something that described his own, messed-up state of mind. He wanted to say that he was sorry, that he hadn't meant everything to happen like this, that he had never intended to abuse Rodney, that he knew the answer to his question now.
“I'm really bad at this whole putting your feelings into words thing,” he said instead, softly, the apology hidden in his quiet tone. Hoping that his face expressed his emotions, he looked Rodney in the eye, tilted his head a little and raised a hand to put it to rest on Rodney's neck. “I was never good at it,” he added, as if it made things clearer, as if it could substitute everything else he had to say.
Rodney flinched almost imperceptibly when John's hand touched his skin, his eyelids fluttering as he drew in a breath that was more nervous than sharp. His lips parted slightly. John had seen many people parting their lips like this, and it had always been more an invitation than a rejection. With one flowing movement, he pressed his lips on Rodney's, drowning in his warmth again.
Closing his eyes, he felt Rodney's tongue tipping against his own and he opened his mouth further, invading Rodney's with his tongue until all his world was focused on the one big, wet cave they were sharing now. A slight taste of coffee lingered in Rodney's wetness, as well as a nuance of a fruit, maybe apple or one of those round green blobs the Athosians bred on the mainland.
Rodney groaned somewhere deep in his throat, what John felt more than heard. A hand grasped his waist, another moved up his back, pulling him closer.
I mean it, John tried to transmit with the movements of his tongue, the caress of his other hand on Rodney's shoulder. Boy, I mean it.
For what seemed like an eternity, the kiss ruled John's thoughts and his entire mind was focused on the contrast between Rodney's soft lips and his rough cheeks, the intelligent tongue that entangled with his own and the strong hands holding him tight, caressing his back, his waist, his soul.
When they parted, John wished they hadn't. “John,” Rodney whispered, the name hardly more than a breath caressing his lips. Still close enough, John felt it on his own skin; and right that moment, when all that mattered to him was Rodney, the world and the reality crashed down on him again without pity and patience.
As he startled and grimaced, he was glad for Rodney's arms that held him close. “What is it?” Rodney asked, subtle panic coloring his voice. “What happened?”
“Ronon,” John muttered. “He's... he's going to be a father.”
“Well, that's... that's good news, isn't it?” Rodney stated softly, looking up at him with a tad bit of confusion in the eyes.
John gave it another thought. “Yes, but I don't know whether it's going to be his own, or who'll be the mother, or when the child will be born. It could be tomorrow or in ten years.”
“I don't think I should tell him,” John said quietly. “What if he's looking forward to the child for a decade and when he finally receives it, it's... I don't know, disappointing? And what if he doesn't ever want to become a father?”
“Yes, I guess it's best if you remain silent about it,” Rodney agreed. “Either way, it would take a lot from him to know this maybe years in adva--”
“Colonel Sheppard?” Carson's voice interrupted their conversation.
“Damn,” John muttered, tipping on his radio. “Yes, Carson?”
“You're half an hour too late, son,” Carson chided him and John grimaced. “We had an appointment, did you forget?”
“Yes, I'm sorry. I'll be at the infirmary in a minute.” He switched off his radio and apologized to Rodney. “I've got to go.”
“Never mind,” Rodney said, smiling, and was that relief in his voice? He breathed another soft kiss on John's lips and hurried off to the labs. “See you in the mess hall tomorrow,” he yelled when he was almost round the corner.
“Yes, bye,” John called back, not offended by Rodney's almost cheerful departure at all. He probably needed a bit of time to think about what had just happened, just like John.
Quickly, so he didn't anger Carson any further, he made his way down to the infirmary.
“I've got great news for you,” Carson greeted John as he arrived, indicating him to sit down. “Or maybe not so great news, whatever the viewpoint is.”
John frowned. “What's up?”
“I discovered some tendencies concerning the electric jolts that cause the premonitions,” Carson told him. “Maybe my calculations aren't fully correct, but I'm fairly sure you'll stop experiencing them in fifty hours, give or take.”
“Yes, the effect is wearing off,” Carson confirmed.
“That's...” For a moment, John didn't know whether he should be sad or relieved. Then he remembered his prophecy with Ronon's child, and he guessed that it was probably not bad to get rid of this ability that allowed him way too many insights into other people's private lives – and private futures. “Wow. Frankly, I wasn't expecting it so soon.”
“Do you regret it?” Carson asked.
“Humans aren't made to see the future,” John replied, surprised by how philosophical he could sound if he just wanted to. “I'm glad I don't have to live with this... gift for my entire lifetime.”
And he really was. Sinking down onto the daybed so Carson could run one of his scans, he felt the warm feeling of anticipation spreading in his chest. 50 hours until he didn't know things he couldn't prevent from happening anymore.
As John was lying in his bed a few hours later, he softly touched his own lips with a fingertip, recalling how the kiss with Rodney had felt. The real kiss, not the desperate lips-pressed-on-lips they had exchanged in the storage room. He didn't know whether they were going to start a relationship, whether they would actually start seeing each other.
Remembering the way the world had faded around him when he'd kissed Rodney, and the way his eyes had beamed after they had parted, John's heart told him that it would be worth the risk.
After his daily check-in with Carson the next morning, John went to the mess hall to eat something for breakfast. Rodney and Teyla were sitting at one table already and he joined them with a smile for both of them, receiving an honest-to-god grin from Rodney and relieved glee from Teyla in return. She'd gotten already that they had settled their argument – and more than just that.
“Good morning,” John greeted them, taking a seat next to Rodney, whose hand brushed his arm oh-so-accidentally not ten seconds later.
“How was your appointment with Dr. Beckett?” Teyla wanted to know. Before John could answer, Ronon dropped on a chair next to her.
“Tomorrow evening my ability will wear off,” John informed the three of them, startling when Rodney shrieked next to him. “What? It's not that bad. Sometimes I don't want to know the things I... know.”
“That leaves one and a half days for you to see my future,” Rodney said hastily. “Did you receive some premonitions that seemed incoherent and barely understandable to you? If yes, that was maybe the information that I'm going to resolve the birth of the universe.”
John rolled his eyes. “No, Rodney, I still haven't seen you receiving the Nobel Prize for developing a method to blow up the galaxy.”
“Hey, I'm not Baron Destructo,” Rodney complained.
“Baron who?” Ronon threw in.
“Never mind,” Rodney dismissed it. “My point is, I'm not planning on killing us all.”
“Good to hear,” Ronon commented dryly and started to eat.
“Did you find a way to control your ability already?” Teyla asked.
Eyeing her innocently, John answered, “You mean I should have tried that?”
“Of course!” she replied vigorously. “The science team is off to P5C-118 today with Major Lorne, is that correct? That means we have the entire morning to meditate.”
“Teyla, listen, I...” John tried to get out of it, but when it came to meditating, Teyla was like a rock: she wouldn't move until he sat down in her candle-lit room for at least one hour.
“I am looking forward to it,” she said brightly, and John swore that he saw some malicious gleam in her beaming eyes.
“I'll think of you when I’m doing easy work with Radek on P5C-118,” Rodney said encouragingly, patting his shoulder, his hand lingering a moment or two longer than necessary.
“Why, that's reassuring,” John muffled dryly, but couldn't hide the smile that snuck onto his lips.
He had almost forgotten how bad he was at meditating. Sitting in Teyla's warm quarters on the floor, he really tried to 'get to the core of his ability', as the Athosian put it, but he lacked the concentration and probably also the willpower and motivation to get deeper into his mind. While Teyla's lulling voice tried to guide him and the candles around them warmed his body and soul, he had to be careful not to drowse off. To distract himself, he remembered the kiss of last evening, conjuring up every single second of it in his mind again. The sensations of Rodney's hidden touches during breakfast stole themselves in between and he wondered why he'd never felt electrified before when Rodney had touched him during their work.
Did it only take a kiss to make a man subordinate to these caresses? Rodney was going to return from his mission during the afternoon and John already calculated when was the best opportunity to grab him and pull him into some deserted room or corridor. Only the thought of kissing Rodney again sent sparks from his spiky hair to the tips of his toes.
“Hm?” Slowly, he opened an eye to see Teyla eyeing him suspiciously.
“Have you fallen asleep?”
“No,” he drawled. “I was... I was in my very core.”
And in a way, that was the truth.
The day passed by way too slowly for John. He killed time by reading through military reports for hours on end, a short conversation with Weir about his health status and a sparring session with Ronon.
Rodney, the other scientists and the marines returned in the late afternoon. However, John had to wait another hour until he had the chance to get a few private minutes with Rodney – he was busy fighting with Radek and Kavanagh on whether his calculations were right, whether the data from the DHD helped them, whether this electron had something to do with that electron and whether the world was too stupid for the ingenious ideas of Dr. Rodney McKay. John stood waiting in the physics labs for a couple of minutes, not understanding what they were talking about. When Rodney had mentioned the mission in a meeting a few days earlier, he had stopped listening when Rodney had started bombing them with the first scientific terms.
After an hour of loitering in and in front of the labs, acting as if he had some very important things to do here, John decided that it was enough and went to Rodney's desk, sat down on the chair and waited for Rodney to come back from the discussion with Radek in the room next door.
“We have to talk, uhm, about the mission on Syvaan,” he announced when Rodney finally returned, his head still red from the anger at minor beings.
“Oh, right, yes,” Rodney agreed, the way his face lit up upon John's words telling him that he was glad to see him. They went to the deserted corridor of the previous day again. “Thanks for pulling me out of there. You wouldn't believe how utterly stupid these people behave sometimes. They would discuss elementary physics with you just to have a reason to disagree with you on something. That moron Kavanagh's driving me up the walls, nothing he says makes any sense, you should hear him when he starts babbling about things he doesn't know anything about but pretends to--”
John cut him off by placing a quick kiss on his lips. With an amused smile, he drew back. “If there was a championship for ranting, you'd win the world cup.” He paused, arcing an eyebrow. “Would you share the prize money with me?”
“And I thought the SGC was paying you well,” Rodney snorted, and an instant later his mouth was on John's and his tongue was circling his and hands were all over his torso. John drowned in the sweet roughness of Rodney, the world an unimportant minor character in the play that was this kiss. “I have to return to the labs,” Rodney apologized regretfully when they parted after what seemed like an eternity – a way too short one in John's opinion. “Or they’ll totally mess up the test results.”
“Okay,” John said quietly. “Take care they don't eat you.”
“Oh, I'll rather eat them,” Rodney laughed. “Do you... do you have time tonight?”
“Yes,” John answered, not even trying to hide the smile that suddenly washed over his entire face. “See you at my quarters when you're done working?”
Rodney beamed back at him. “Sounds good. And if I don't turn up, I'm probably lying half dead in the infirmary because the mind-blowing scientists over there upsetting my stomach.”
Rodney earned a pinch on his side for that, and giggling, he walked off. Giggling, yes, and John noticed that he was quietly giggling to himself as well when he made his way back to his quarters.
John ate dinner with Ronon and Elizabeth in the mess hall since Teyla had traveled to the mainland for the evening and Rodney was still busy in the labs. Although he tried, John couldn’t concentrate on the conversations about their latest missions. His thoughts kept drifting away to Rodney, which caused him to smile and grin more than was appropriate for a talk about difficult negotiations with an alien culture. When Elizabeth got up to get herself another sandwich, Ronon looked at John with amusement in his eyes.
“Looking forward to something, huh?” he asked.
“Yeah,” John said, grinning into himself. “Yeah, you could say that.”
Surprised by Ronon's intuition, John raised an eyebrow. “You could say that, too.”
He was aware that he was acting like a teenage boy who'd fallen in love for the first time, but he didn't care much. Actually, he caught himself sending “You are done working now okay” thoughts in the direction of the physics labs when he was pacing his quarters after visiting Carson and taking a quick shower. Wasn't that even more teenage? He didn't know, and didn't really care since his door bell chimed softly, announcing Rodney's arrival.
“Hi,” John greeted him with a nervous smile – this was their first real date after all – and let him in.
“Have you eaten already?” Rodney asked, holding up a paper bag. “I brought us some doughnuts.”
“Yes, but I'm hungry anyway,” John said, lying a little, but Rodney was probably happy if he could eat the doughnuts all on his own.
They settled down at John's table, sitting across from each other which gave them many opportunities to smile, beam and smirk at each other while they ate (or better: while Rodney ate and John watched him) and chatted about casual things. In retrospect, John couldn't quite tell how it happened, but not a long time later they ended up on his bed, making out. When John sunk his tongue into Rodney's mouth for the umpteenth time, he wondered why it had taken a stupid sauna session off-world to make him realize that there was more between Rodney and him than just friendship. Perhaps Rodney had been right when he'd described him as a man walking through the world with a blindfold over his eyes. Exploring Rodney's body through the thin layer of his clothes, he also wondered why he'd never thought about starting something with him. He'd always believed that Rodney wasn't an unattractive man, but his thoughts had never gone beyond this statement.
As they snuggled together in a comfortable position a while later, exhausted from the long kissing, John's head placed on Rodney's shoulder, his hand caressing his chest idly, Rodney asked the question that had lingered in John's mind all day.
“Are we in a relationship now?” he said softly, his one hand playing affectionately with John's spiky hair.
“Would you mind?” John asked in return.
“No,” Rodney answered immediately, and that was it. They caressed each other into a lazy doze, and John drifted off with a smile on his swollen lips, hugging Rodney and being held tight in return, in Rodney's embrace, where he belonged.
He awoke because he felt cold. In the first moment he couldn't tell why, but then he noticed that Rodney was gone. Disappointed, but realizing that they couldn't really risk being caught leaving his quarters together in the morning, he doddered into the bathroom, brushed his teeth and dressed in more comfortable clothes before he dropped onto his mattress again, drowsing off into sleep land within seconds.
The next morning, John tried to smile as casually as possible at Rodney when the scientist rushed into the conference room at last, only a few minutes too late so he didn't have the honor of receiving one of the murder-death-kill glares Elizabeth used to send everyone who turned up late.
“So, what's today's schedule,” he asked, adjusting his laptop on the table.
“We'll visit our Genii friends,” John reminded him. “And Teyla will be in trouble.” Only when he noticed the shocked, puzzled faces of the others, he realized what he had just said. “I'm sorry.”
“Do you know more about it?” Elizabeth asked seriously, understanding immediately that he'd been allowed a spark from the future again.
“No,” John said regretfully. “That's all.”
“I suggest you don't go on the mission, Teyla,” Elizabeth proposed. “Where the Genii are, trouble isn't far off. And I'll have Major Lorne guard you today.”
“He's still in the infirmary,” John told her.
“Right, then I'll inform Sergeant Cole,” Elizabeth said. “If you're alright with that, Teyla.”
“Yes, of course,” Teyla answered, her voice shivering lightly as if she'd just come to understand that today wasn't going to be an easy day for her. While Elizabeth talked to Sergeant Cole over the comm, instructing him to wait outside the conference room, John asked himself whether the guarding would keep whatever was supposed to endanger Teyla from happening. He'd experienced quite a lot of premonitions in the last couple of days, but the prophecies had always come true, no matter what he'd done to prevent them.
“Thank you, John,” Teyla muttered to him on their way outside after the briefing. “I will be prepared for whatever will come.”
“I'd guard you myself,” John replied, nodding over to Ronon. “We'd all guard you. But you know how easily the Genii are offended and I'm afraid that if we blow off today's negotiations...”
“Do not worry about me,” Teyla assured him with a self-confident smile. “I have managed to come out of every kind of trouble without being harmed.”
Even though John knew that she was right and that he shouldn't worry too much, he quietly warned Sergeant Cole once again not to let her out of his sight.
The negotiations with the Genii turned out to be just as tricky and difficult as they had feared, but Elizabeth showed off her great skills again and they went back to Atlantis with a shiny new contract about the mutual crafting and use of nuclear weapons. During the talks, John focused on guarding Elizabeth if something went wrong, so he shoved all thoughts of Teyla at the back of his mind, but when they returned from the mission he remembered his premonition again.
Radek, who had replaced Elizabeth during her time off-world, welcomed them with a darkened expression. “I've got bad news for you,” he revealed immediately, not even bothering to ask how the negotiations went.
“Teyla?” Ronon asked, a warning implied in his voice. John knew the answer.
“Yes,” Radek confirmed, and the four of them audibly drew in a sharp breath. “Sergeant Cole evidently mistook the meaning of 'guarding' and attacked her when they were alone.”
“How is she?” Rodney asked, quicker than the others.
“She's fine, although she received some serious bruises Dr. Beckett is taking care of right now,” Radek told them. They had reached Elizabeth's office and she dropped her equipment, but none of them bothered to take a seat. “Sergeant Cole keeps denying it, but according to Teyla he not only attacked her but also tried to abuse her.”
“That motherfucking son of a...” escaped John's lips. Simultaneously, Ronon's hand bolted to his gun.
“He's tied up in the infirmary as well,” Radek informed them. “Obviously he underestimated Teyla's power. His injuries are far worse than hers.”
Satisfaction visibly spread on the faces of Ronon and Rodney, only Elizabeth managed to remain composed. John assumed that his own face was equally shaken by emotions.
They dropped their weapons at the armory and followed Radek straight to the infirmary, where Teyla sat on one of the beds while Carson adjusted a plaster on her forehead. Her face lit up as she saw her friends arrive, but the smile with which she greeted them was more grim than anything.
“Are you okay?” John asked her, his gaze wandering through the room for a moment but he couldn't spot Sergeant Cole anywhere.
“My pride is harmed,” Teyla grumbled. “But apart from that, yes, I am. The bruises will heal.”
“Where is he?” Ronon asked Carson, not leaving any doubt as to who he was talking about.
“We tied him up in the next room,” Carson told them. “I figured it was better to have him separated from Teyla.”
By putting a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder, John kept Ronon from rushing to Cole and blowing his head off.
“What happened exactly?” Elizabeth asked, sitting down on a chair next to Teyla's daybed.
“We were walking to my quarters,” Teyla told them. “Sergeant Cole had been on my heels for hours and I needed some time for myself. However, the corridor to the private quarters was deserted and the Sergeant apparently believed that nobody would notice if he attacked me. I admit that I did not expect it – he grabbed my wrists and pushed me against a wall, trying to kiss me.” She grimaced, pronouncing the words with loathe and disgust. “I tried to fight him off, but of course you did not assign the weakest of the marines to guard me. We had a hard fight, during which he kept touching me at... inappropriate places.”
“Bastard,” Rodney muttered quietly.
“In the end, I sent him to the floor, made sure that he could not move for a few moments and ran away, informing the control room,” Teyla continued. “Sergeant Cole was captured by a team of soldiers Radek sent his way and brought down here to the infirmary. I am afraid that his bruises will take some time to heal.” The last sentence she spoke with a hint of pride in her voice. “I do not understand why he believed that I would let him treat me like that and not tell anyone.”
“We'll talk to him,” John said firmly, swallowing hard upon Teyla's words. “I'm sorry, Teyla.”
“For what?” she asked, frowning. “You are not to blame.”
For a moment John considered answering, but he figured that this was something private between Teyla and him that not everyone had to overhear. Instead, he nodded at Ronon. “Let's hear Cole's version of the story,” he said and Ronon growled dangerously in the back of his throat. Rodney followed them to Cole while Elizabeth and Carson remained with Teyla.
Cole was lying behind a fully closed curtain. He was tied to his bed like a lunatic, unsuccessfully tearing at the strips on his wrists and legs when John drew the curtain back. A bandage was drawn around his head, his lips and his left eye were swollen and his entire face looked like Teyla had seriously worked on it with her fists.
“Don't believe a word that Athosian bitch told you,” Cole spat immediately and John had to grip Ronon's shoulder to keep him from pointing his gun at the Sergeant.
“Then tell us your version of what happened,” John demanded sharply, noticing Ronon gritting his teeth at the man tied to the bed.
“We were walking to her quarters,” Cole started. “And suddenly she threw me against a wall, placed her knee in my groin and started punching my face.” He tried to point at it, growling when he remembered that his arms were still tied to the bed. “You see what I look like now. Of course I defended myself, but she was quicker. And now she's telling everyone that I tried to kiss and abuse her and that just ain't right!”
“Then tell me, what reason did she have to attack you?” John asked, raising his eyebrows.
“I don't know! Ask her! I really have no idea!”
“Well, that's because there is no reason for her to beat you up,” Rodney snorted.
“You don’t believe her, do you?” Cole shrieked. “Sir? You know that she's lying? She's lying all the way, that goddamn alien whore!”
“Hey, that's enough!” John yelled warningly.
“Sir, you're not going to believe an alien instead of me, who served the United States for over seven years!”
“That is entirely my decision,” John hissed. “And right now, I tend to believe my friend.” He nodded at Ronon and Rodney. “Let's leave him here. I'll send someone down here to hold him back in case he tries to flee and Colonel Caldwell's going to get a notice from me that there's someone he's going to have to pick up on his next trip back to Earth.”
Ignoring Cole's desperate calls, the three of them left and returned to Teyla, who was free to go according to Carson, although he prohibited any sparring sessions for the next couple of days. Elizabeth took her along to her office to take her statement and John ordered two marines to the infirmary, although he doubted that Carson would give Cole any opportunity to get rid of the belts that strapped him to the bed. As soon as he was relieved, they would bring him to the brigs anyway.
Ronon didn't feel like eating, but John and Rodney went to the mess hall and had a late lunch on the balcony. A chilly breeze kept away most of the other Atlanteans, granting John and Rodney something like privacy.
“What a mess,” Rodney muttered as they started eating.
“And it's my fault,” John replied quietly.
“What?” Rodney gave him a genuine frown. Firmly he added, “How could you have known that Cole was the culprit?”
“If I hadn't had the vision, Teyla would have accompanied us on the mission,” John said, thoughtfully prodding around in his lunch. “And Cole wouldn’t have attacked her.”
“Maybe he would have done it after we returned,” Rodney emphasized. “John, you're not to blame, and Teyla isn't blaming you! You heard her. She didn't just say that to make you feel better. She meant it.”
Still not entirely convinced, John sighed. Rodney reached over the table and squeezed his hand. “I just want these premonitions to pass,” he muttered.
“Tonight you'll get rid of them,” Rodney reminded him gently. “And since we can't establish contact with Gruslaf's people at the moment, they're not going to return any time soon.”
John closed his eyes for a moment. Elizabeth was going to lose a friend on Earth. The thought (the knowledge) startled him, and Rodney's grip tightened.
“You okay?” he asked.
Although that was everything but true, John nodded. It was enough that he knew this sad news in advance – he didn't have to put the weight on Rodney's shoulders, too.
In the evening, after a dinner which John had spent alone in his quarters, he waited for Rodney to visit him again. There had been problems in the labs concerning the mission yesterday that John hadn't accompanied them on, which had kept Rodney busy throughout the day, and obviously were still keeping him busy.
When the door chimed, however, it wasn't Rodney but Teyla who stood in front of him. She smiled, and John was glad to see her. He had tried to talk to her all afternoon, but first she had been talking to Elizabeth and then he'd wanted to give her some time on her own, and when he'd wanted to dine with her, Ronon had reported that she'd taken the evening off to meditate.
Which she had obviously finished. “May I come in for a moment?” she asked him and he stepped back so she could enter. “I want to clarify again that I do not blame you for what happened,” she explained softly after the door had closed. “In the infirmary I had the impression that you believed that Sergeant Cole's actions were your fault.”
“If I hadn't had that premonition...” John started, knowing already that any attempt to contradict was in vain.
“John, you cannot change the future,” Teyla insisted. “Because of your warning, I carried a knife with me which I used to defend myself against Sergeant Cole. If you had not warned me, I would not have possessed this weapon. And while I took care not to cause life-threatening injuries, the knife was a great help during the fight.”
“What I am trying to say is that I want to thank you,” Teyla said. “Sergeant Cole is not as quick and skilled as I am, but he is stronger and I do not want to know how the fight would have ended if I had not carried the knife with me.”
Grasping his shoulders, she tilted her head and with a relieved smile on his lips, John mirrored the movement. For a moment they just stood there in the middle of John's quarters, touching foreheads and not saying a word, until the sound of the door chime pulled them out of their friendly gesture.
This time it was Rodney, and he was obviously surprised to see Teyla there, but relief spread on his face when he noticed that they hadn't fought. “I was just...” he started explaining, but Teyla interrupted him.
“I am gone already,” she said to him, passing him on her way out. “Enjoy your evening.”
John couldn't tell whether the smile that she sent them before closing the door meant that she did or did not guess what was going on. Before he could give it another thought, however, Rodney's greedy lips were on his own and they stumbled onto the bed, entangled in an embrace. John felt the heavy load of the day being taken from his soul as he gave in to Rodney's touches and held his warm body tight to him, savoring every little bit of Rodney he could get.
“Patience,” Rodney ground out under his kisses. “I didn't – even – take off – my – shoes.”
John chuckled and sank back onto the pillows to give Rodney a moment to get rid of his shoes. As soon as he was done, he drew him to himself again, touching bare skin below the clothes this time.
Rodney was all over him, his hands never lingering on one spot for long before they moved on to discover new places, making John moan and sigh upon their touches. For a long time they just explored each other in a way they had never done before.
Later, when they were threatening to drowse off again, John pulled a blanket on top of them and they snuggled together below, in the same position as the previous day, just that it was Rodney this time who got to lie his head on the other one's chest. When Rodney's breath was already calm and even, John's connection with the future tickled one last time. The movements of his chest as he tried to muffle his laughter woke Rodney.
“What's up?” he asked sleepily, but John just kissed him on the tip of his nose.
“Nothing, Rodney,” he calmed him, smiling. “It's nothing. Sleep on.”
Rodney succumbed immediately and John closed his eyes as well. The smile, however, remained on his lips, and he wasn't going to tell anyone, not even Rodney. Because sometimes, it was better to let things rest and allow destiny to go its own way, wherever it would lead.