Word Count: ~21,000
Spoilers: takes place somewhere in late season 3
Summary: Great. Obviously he was now destined to see dead people.
He was hurrying down another long corridor when a wall panel began beeping insistently at him. Stopping to check it out, he was startled to find a message written in English blinking at him.
“Check for the transponder now,” it read and if writing could smirk, he’d swear this message did.
Rodney pulled out the LSD and grinned when he saw John’s subcutaneous transmitter emitting its normal signal. Of course, the AI must have been suppressing it before. And probably his as well, which is why Atlantis accepted news of their demise so readily. He took off at a limping gallop in the direction indicated. Doors opened for him well in advance of his approach, swinging open slowly in a manner that reminded him of the opening sequence of Get Smart and he wondered if John remembered that too and would be juvenile enough not to open one set of doors so he would walk face first into them.
If he ever got back home to Atlantis, he was taking a week off. Maybe two.
Fortunately, John took his rescue seriously and played no moronic pranks on Rodney as he entered the room where the signal indicated he was located. A stasis chamber, much like the ones on the Aurora, lay on a dais in the middle of the room; a bright white light shining down on it from above. Rodney approached worriedly; afraid of what he’d find when he looked down within.
John was lying inside, dressed in his field uniform, minus the tac vest, the familiar black tee and BDU pants making Rodney smile. He had a cut lip and an ugly bruise on the side of his head—Rodney was momentarily surprised until he realized that the stasis chamber was holding John in the exact condition in which he’d been placed. Rodney could only hope John wasn’t seriously injured when he’d been placed in the unit.
He reached for the control panel on the side of the chamber, the tray of crystals sliding out towards him, winking in the bright light. As he began to activate the wake cycle, a voice suddenly said, “Who are you? What are you doing?”
Rodney jumped and looked around for the voice, griping Ronon’s gun, but there was no one there. There had been an odd quality to the voice; as though several people were speaking at once, resonating in the open chamber.
“I’m releasing my friend from the stasis pod,” Rodney said, reaching for the panel again. A small arc of electricity jumped out towards his hand and zapped him. “Ow!” he yelped, putting his fingers in his mouth to suck on them and then shaking them out vigorously. “Cut that out!”
“Why would you remove your friend from our service? It is not permissible.”
A cold wave of fear washed over Rodney as he realized that he was dealing with the AI itself. He looked back at John, sleeping in the glassed-in chamber like every other cliché in the book and then he lifted his head to speak to the AI.
“Your systems are damaged. You have been killing the people in your service, not helping them to Ascend. Check your own records if you don’t believe me.”
This time, when the voice spoke, it had deepened, sounding more masculine. “Sometimes sacrifices are necessary in order to protect the City. The City must be protected at all cost. What are a few lives compared to that?”
Rodney knew in a flash he was arguing with the personalities of everyone who’d ever served the AI, that this must be part of the programming that allowed the AI to grow over time. It frightened him now to think that the person he was really arguing with was John.
“Everyone who has ever served in the past came willingly,” Rodney began desperately. “This man was captured and forced here against his will.”
“This man has done great harm to the galaxy. It is only right that he should give his life to serve and protect now.”
“What? No, no, you can’t say that. The waking of the Wraith was an accident—and besides, he’s given of himself over and over again to try and make things right. You can’t do this; you can’t take this from him.”
“He must serve and protect. He must atone.”
“And how will you atone?” Rodney demanded. “Your programming is flawed. Your mission is corrupted. You’ve killed every person on this planet who still had the Ancient technology gene and now you’re reaching out across the galaxy to feed your hunger. There are no more Ancients—just some people who happen to carry the gene. And with each cycle, that person sustains you for a shorter period of time. Centuries at first, then decades, then months, now a matter of weeks. What will you do when it’s only days? If you keep going in this fashion, people will die needlessly and you will still ultimately fail. I can fix your systems if you only let him go.”
“There are no more Ancients?” The AI sounded confused and weary at the same time. “How can that be?”
“They lost the war with the Wraith. They left this galaxy eons ago and came to our galaxy where the gene got passed on. We came here as explorers—we knew nothing of the Wraith until we stumbled across them. You have access to his memories, you know this.”
There was no sound in the room for several long minutes and then the voice said flatly, “You will fix the systems so that no more must die. But this one stays. He is needed here.”
Rodney should have known that the Captain Kirk method of disabling evil computers by talking them into destroying themselves wouldn’t work in the Pegasus galaxy.
“No,” Rodney folded his arms across his chest. “Your proposal is unacceptable. I need him more.” He tapped his fingers impatiently against one arm. “And just so you know, I once blew up five-sixths of a solar system.”
The sound of the stasis pod opening had him turning sharply to look over his shoulder. The lid was sliding back as Rodney reached its side; inside John was opening his eyes and blinking in confusion. “Hey,” he said thickly, and then passed his tongue over his lips. “What happened?”
“Rescue now, explanations later,” Rodney huffed, reaching in the chamber to put an arm around John and haul him up.
They were making their way slowly towards the door, with Rodney trying to support John and John trying to persuade Rodney he could walk just fine, when it opened before them. Rodney released his grip on John so he could bring Ronon’s weapon round to bear, but his hand jerked upwards when Lia came into the room, followed by several of the council members.
“A large, armed party has come through the Ring looking for you,” Lia said in an amazingly chipper voice for someone under attack. “I told the council that they had been deceived by Delkin into committing actions that were not honorable and they have seen the error of their ways.”
“You must believe us, Dr. McKay, Colonel Sheppard.” The tallest man in Lia’s party stepped forward, wringing his hands. “We accepted Councilman Delkin’s story at face value. We had no idea that the Colonel had been given to the Heart nor that your stay here was not voluntary. You must accept our deepest, most humble apologies.” He looked stricken, his wispy, beaded mustaches quivering in agitation.
“Get me a radio,” John demanded, holding out a hand. He looked as though he’d been in a hard fight, but was ready to go at it again if needed and Rodney thought that was simply unfair. And also the most beautiful sight he’d seen in a long while. “I’ll talk to my men and let them know what’s going on.”
Rodney went over to the console and pressed a few buttons. “Here, before Lorne and Co. tear this city apart. This comm should be able to link with the radio’s frequency.”
“We have a vehicle waiting to take you to the council chambers,” the self-proclaimed leader of the bunch made a little half bow and indicated the door. “Perhaps we can all sit down and discuss the matter peacefully?” He looked painfully hopeful.
“We could have driven over here?” Rodney said balefully, in aside to Lia.
She just laughed. “I’m not old enough to drive.”
No, Rodney was wrong, the most beautiful sight in the world was entering the chambers to find Lorne and two SGA teams of marines, armed for bear and looking for a fight. And Ronon. And Teyla.
Rodney felt his face split into a wide grin and he turned to John and punched him in the arm with glee. John’s mouth twitched into a smile, but with more relief than happiness and his smile vanished quickly. Rodney had no time to think about that further before Ronon was moving towards them with a determined, frowning purpose and Rodney gulped as Ronon bore down on them. He held Ronon’s gun out at arm’s length by the handle, wincing in expectation of a blow as he turned his head aside and hunched up his shoulders in self-defense. “Seriously, big guy, I was just bringing it back to you.”
“You thought he was dead, Rodney,” John drawled and Rodney couldn’t figure out what was wrong with John before Ronon enveloped him in a python-like hug that probably cracked some ribs.
“Ugh,” Rodney wheezed as Ronon released him. He also took back the gun.
“I don’t kill that easy, McKay,” Ronon said with a grin. “You should know that by now.” He looked rough though, patches of frostbite on his cheeks, stitches across one cheekbone and his wrist in a cast.
Rodney shifted his glance to Teyla, who was beaming at them both, and she too looked like she’d been in the wars, dark circles under her eyes and one arm in a sling. “Oh Teyla, your hair,” Rodney breathed, startled to feel the sting of tears in his eyes.
Teyla reached up with one hand to touch her hair, which just brushed the bottom of her jaw line now. “The nice thing about hair, Rodney, is that it grows,” she said with a laugh.
“Well, some people’s do,” John said but without his usual zing.
“I thought you were dead,” Rodney began rapidly, feeling his respiration rate rise as a sort of delayed panic set in, “all of you. They told me you were dead, they brought me proof, I thought…I thought…”
“Well, we’re not. We’re fine. Get over it.” Ronon’s words sounded hard, but he reached out and squeezed Rodney on the shoulder just the same.
“Let’s go home,” John said shortly.
It turned out that Ronon and Teyla had been captured as well, only they’d been held in a different, older section of town and had managed to escape from their cell, albeit without any weapons or gear. When they realized that they would need reinforcements to find and free Rodney and John, they decided to head to the gate on foot. They actually had seen the first jumper sent to investigate their disappearance fly overhead, but had no way to contact it. Teyla glossed over the description of their journey to the gate, merely saying that it had taken longer than they had desired, but Rodney had been outside in that weather, had lived in Canada, Siberia and Antarctica; he knew how arduous and dangerous a task they’d undertaken. It humbled him, listening to the story of their journey on the flight home, to hear of the consternation, joy and outrage their contact of Atlantis had caused. John was pretty silent on the return trip, answering questions only when Ronon or Teyla asked. He took his tags back from Rodney without a word.
Somewhere on the trip home, Rodney dozed off, and he woke up in time to grumpily comply with the mandatory infirmary check. Elizabeth appeared briefly to say that she was sure that he wanted nothing more than a hot meal and a good night’s rest; she could wait for a debrief until tomorrow afternoon. Eventually freed, dressed in his own clean clothes again, he made a beeline for the mess hall, where he was not surprised to find Ronon and Teyla waiting for him. And no sign of John.
“You and John have said little of what happened to you on Soldar,” Teyla said with that gentle smile of hers and Rodney suddenly found himself spilling most of the details, the display of the ‘death’ items, the demands of Delkin, the gift of Lia, the appearance of John that only he could see and hear.
“Probably had something to do with the gene,” Ronon rumbled. “No offense, McKay, but I’m glad I don’t have it. Seems like it causes more trouble than it’s worth.”
“That is not what I recall you saying when we were unable to fly the jumper back for help,” Teyla said sweetly and then grinned slyly at Rodney when Ronon made a face at her.
“You know,” Rodney began, only to stop again. His meal lay in decimated ruins on his plate, he was warm and full and tired and glad to be with his friends. It should be easy to say what he wanted to say, but somehow it still wasn’t. “You know,” he started again, “I probably don’t say this nearly enough…”
“Like ‘ever’,” Ronon inserted and Teyla smacked him with the back of her good hand.
“Yes, well, right, as I was saying,” Rodney paused to glare at Ronon before clearing his throat and continuing, “I just really…appreciate…you guys.”
Teyla beamed at him as though she just might possibly shed tears. Ronon stretched his long arms along the table, appearing to study his clasped hands, until he looked up with a warm grin that Rodney was not accustomed to seeing on his face. “You gonna tell Sheppard how much you appreciate him too?” Ronon’s green eyes seemed lit up from within with their own secret joke.
“I already did,” Rodney said morosely, without thinking. “I think that’s why he’s in hiding.”
Ronon made an inelegant snorting-choking sound and Rodney looked up to see both Ronon and Teyla staring at him, eyes round with both surprise and suppressed humor.
In horror, Rodney replayed what he’d just said over again in his mind. “That’s not what I meant!” he sputtered. “Oh, come on, guys, you know that’s not what I meant.”
Teyla fixed a stern look on Ronon before turning back to speak to Rodney. “It is alright Rodney. Ronon and I have understood now for some time how you and John care for each other. I’m glad you finally had the courage to say something.”
Rodney stared at her for a long, appalled moment and then gave up.
“I thought he was dead, Teyla.” He found himself resting his head on his forearms on the table.
“As well he could have been. Do not waste this opportunity, Rodney.” He looked up as she rose to return her tray, some unseen signal causing Ronon to join her. “Go talk to him.” Teyla moved off with her usual dancer-like grace; Rodney bet within a month, every woman in Atlantis would have copied her new hairstyle. Ronon glanced back over his shoulder at Rodney and shot him an amused grin.
She’s right. You know she’s right. It didn’t make it any easier though. Still, it was best to find out now how John was reacting to the fact that Rodney had revealed feelings for him and he was not dead after all. Eyes narrowed in thought, Rodney mapped out his plan of action.
He was waiting for John when he exited the bathroom, with only a towel slung around his narrow hips, and Rodney’s plan almost derailed then and there.
“What the hell are you doing here, McKay?” Uh-oh. He did not sound particularly pleased to see Rodney and it occurred to Rodney this whole thing could backfire badly.
Rodney cleared his throat. “Oh, never mind me, I’m not really here.”
John paused in the act of opening a drawer to look at him, peeved irritation at war with the chance to make Rodney look silly. “You mean to say, if I throw this lamp at you, it will just go right through you?”
“Lamp?” Rodney eyed the sturdy light fixture that John had indicated. “I only threw a pillow, you blood-thirsty fiend. And no, it would not go through me because I’ve already learned how to manipulate solid matter on several ethereal planes.”
“How could I possibly remember that you’re a genius,” John said, rolling his eyes at the ceiling, “without you telling me every couple of hours?”
Rodney chuckled and then found himself staring at John once more. When John’s face tightened and he turned back towards the dresser again, Rodney knew a moment of panic. Ye gods, Lia was right. He was just a tiffin in private and he didn’t even know what a tiffin was.
“Where’s your laptop? I’ve got to show you something,” Rodney said suddenly, spying the computer and hurrying over to it, waking it out of sleep mode without asking for further permission, connecting to the website he wanted. “I saw this a few weeks ago and I meant to show it to you then. I think we should order them for the team.” He spun the laptop with a flourish so that John could look at the screen as well.
Rodney held his breath as John casually approached the table, seemingly as unselfconscious that he was wearing only a towel as he would have been in full uniform. He stood close enough to Rodney that he could feel the heat coming off John’s damp skin, could smell the Athosian soap that he used. Rodney fixated on the few silver strands of hair in John’s sideburns as he frowned and leaned into the computer screen—Rodney had never noticed them before. Rodney waited while John read the screen and then joined in with his sudden bark of laughter.
John was still laughing when he said, “Somehow I don’t think that would fly, Rodney. We wouldn’t get through the gate without being shot.”
“But team night, right? We could wear them then. Or during long boring briefings with Elizabeth. We could all come in with our jackets buttoned up and then at the same time…”
They both burst out laughing again.
“Ronon and Teyla will love them,” Rodney added, as though that were the most important part.
“Ronon will love it,” John corrected, “I’m not so sure about Teyla.”
“Aw, she’ll love it, you know she will. She might pretend it’s not amusing and that she thinks we’re all a bunch of overgrown kids, but you know she’ll wear it and kick the ass of anyone who thinks it’s not funny.” Without thinking, he pushed his shoulder into John’s and then froze when he realized what he’d done.
“Sorry, sorry,” he stammered, starting to move away, but John reached out and grasped his arm.
“Rodney,” he said, and this time the two-note drawl was soft and warm. It made something inside Rodney ache and pulled him a step closer to John at the same time, as though he’d been sucked into John’s gravitational field.
“I’m not taking back what I said,” Rodney said stubbornly. “On the planet, I mean.”
“Good,” John said seriously, and then his half-smile appeared. He pulled Rodney towards him by his arm until they actually bumped together, Rodney looking down anxiously to make sure he wasn’t going to stomp all over John’s bare feet and then sucking in a little breath at the feel of John’s erection pressing up against his own groin. He looked up so fast he almost bumped noses with John and was on the verge of saying ‘sorry’ again when John kissed him.
And his brain went ‘oh thank god’ and suddenly Rodney knew what to do.
His hands reached up and grabbed John by either side of his head, holding him steady so Rodney could devour him with his mouth. John had not yet shaved and his stubble rasped and pulled at Rodney’s skin as their lips moved against each other. He knew that if anyone saw him later there’d be no doubt that he’d been thoroughly kissed and that filled him with a secret glee and pride.
John’s hands fisted Rodney’s shirt on either side of his waist, pulling it up and starting to tunnel underneath his clothing when the kiss went on and on. Rodney trailed a hand down John’s back, nails digging in slightly and was rewarded with an arch and a buck of John’s pelvis as his hand completed its course, from cervical to lumbar spine.
They broke their lip lock for air. “You’re good at this,” John said with a breathless laugh and Rodney couldn’t let that pass.
“You had doubts?” His fingers reached for the edge of the towel where it was tucked in at John’s waist and he removed it with a snap before letting the towel drop to the floor. With John before him naked, some of his bravado disappeared in sheer appreciation of the view. It was always like this with Rodney—the first time he saw a nebula through a telescope, the first time he saw the answer to a complicated theorem, the first time he laid eyes on a complex piece of Ancient tech—there was always a moment where the stark beauty of what he was looking at took his breath away.
He placed his hand on John’s chest, fingers splayed for maximum contact and then he lightly drew his hand down John’s body, noting the firm planes of muscle, the slight softness to his belly, the way his skin twitched as Rodney’s fingers glided past, the way his cock jerked upwards as though reaching for Rodney’s touch.
Rodney turned his hand when he reached the heavier line of hair approaching John’s groin so that the back of his hand trailed through it, and then he rolled his hand again so that his palm closed around John’s shaft. He couldn’t help the pleased grin that broke out over his face at the contact, the prospect of yet another new conundrum to solve, the secret of bringing pleasure to John Sheppard. John’s hand closed suddenly over his own and he looked up, something of his delight evidently still showing because the little frown of uncertainty that had been on John’s face smoothed away. And because Rodney wouldn’t have believed that John could ever be uncertain in such matters, he grinned and kissed him again, stroking his cock, occasionally reaching down further to palm John’s balls, thrilling to the groan this elicited from John.
Dragging his face across John’s mouth and jaw, he found a spot under John’s ear that made him sigh when Rodney mouthed it, and Rodney placed a hand on John’s shoulder for support, letting it trail down John’s body as he sank to his knees. John was looking at him with that same sleepy-lidded expression from the other night on the planet, a banked light in those hazel eyes, a hunger that watched him from the edge of the forest.
Rodney closed his mouth around the end of John’s cock, tasting the tang of precome and trying not to grin as John’s thighs bumped up against his shoulders. Holding him steady with one hand, Rodney worked his mouth up and down John’s shaft a few times, feeling the soft, smooth head of John’s cock touch the back of his throat in a way that made Rodney moan with pleasure. He applied suction next, using his tongue at the same time to stroke the end of John’s dick, and then he pulled off with a pop to lick the entire shaft and slick it down again. He went through several cycles of this, and was back to licking when suddenly he was being pulled up by his arms and John was kissing him intensely again.
This time when they broke apart, John began pulling at Rodney’s clothes. “I want you to fuck me now,” John demanded, his eyes dark with lust. Rodney wanted to protest—who interrupted a blowjob right in the middle? But John knew what he wanted and was insistent, and who was Rodney to argue with that? When he was reasonably assured that Rodney was indeed taking off his clothes, John stalked over to the bedside table and roughly pulled out the drawer, fishing around until he found some lube and condoms, tossing them onto the bed, where he proceeded to lean down on his hands, one hip cocked, presenting himself to Rodney.
A part of Rodney knew that this was how John had always had sex with men before—standing up, on the fly, against a wall, always in a rush, in hurried secrecy. He knew it was going to be up to him to show John that it could be different.
“Come on,” John said, sounding angry, when Rodney took his time placing the condom on his own cock and lubing up his fingers. “Hurry it up, McK…oh.”
He went silent when Rodney circled his hole, and then eased one finger inside. Jeeze, John was tight. Rodney wondered how long it had been since John had done this and he instinctively knew a long time, probably not since before he was posted to Afghanistan, maybe not since high school or college. Rodney pulled out and added a second finger, sliding them inside together and pumping them ever so slightly. A light sweat broke out on John’s back and Rodney rubbed his hand through it, wishing he could see John’s face but recognizing through his movements that John was beginning to enjoy Rodney’s actions. Rodney began to pump a little harder, his own cock sliding up over one side of John’s ass as he could not help but get closer to John. He rotated his hand and pushed in harder, pulling out to add in three fingers now, alternating between pushing hard and opening John up verses subtle pulsing with his hand. As he felt John relax and open at his touch, he thought maybe he could do this all night.
John was fisting the bedspread and hanging his head low, his hair almost brushing the bed as he swung infinitesimally with Rodney’s movement. He had braced his feet wider apart, to let Rodney in, and now he was pushing back as well. Rodney pulled out, wiping his hands on the bedspread, earning a breathless chuckle from John while he lubed up his cock and lined up to press inside John. He went slowly, watching John arch up his back as he entered, but he continued his push forward until his balls were snug up against John’s ass. John let out a long groan and rested his head on his forearms briefly, but when Rodney started to move, he got back up on his hands again, rocking with him.
Soft, wordless grunts met each of Rodney’s thrusts; he began to pick up speed and push in harder, snapping his hips back and rocking forward again as John’s body eagerly accepted him. John was moving as well, the combined rhythm became erratic so Rodney used both hands to grip John’s hips and hold him still while Rodney felt his orgasm build. He let out his breath in a high pitched cry (that always embarrassed him when he thought about it), sharp and repetitive, ratcheting higher in pitch as his body tensed and his orgasm came exploding out of him. He could feel himself pulsing inside John as he collapsed down over John’s back. It made him feel extremely possessive, a fact he knew he could never reveal. John was panting underneath him, holding both of them up with his hands, his knees resting against the edge of the bed. Rodney reached underneath him and took hold of John’s cock, fumbling for more lube and then smiling into the skin of John’s back when he was able to easily slide his hand up and down John’s shaft. He pumped his hand the way he’d just pounded John’s body, bringing the palm up over the head of John’s cock with a twist before rotating back down again, taking the rhythm faster and harder. John began to pant harshly, making a noise that sounded like he was almost in pain, before repeating it again and shuddering into Rodney’s hand.
They both ended up collapsing into the bed, Rodney remembering to roll off John at the last minute. John lay face down like he couldn’t move. Rodney pulled off the condom, dropping it in the general direction of John’s trash can. Clean up could wait.
“Hey,” Rodney said after several long moments, when he was on the very edge of falling asleep. One hazel eye opened slightly to look at him. Rodney couldn’t help but smile; John looked so deliciously sated, all sprawled out over the bed and really, Rodney couldn’t wait to do it all again. Maybe this time in the bed, with John on his back, so Rodney could watch his expression…
“Hey,” Rodney said again, poking John in the shoulder. “I’m glad you’re not dead.”
The eye closed briefly, but when it reopened, it was joined with a smile. “I’m glad I’m not dead too. I’m glad you’re not dead either, for that matter.”
“So why the Great Silent Act on the way home today?”
John sighed and turned so he could face Rodney. “I had a lot to think about.”
“Like what I said or what the AI said?”
“Something like that,” John admitted.
“Well, which?” Rodney said peevishly.
“A little of both. Can we just leave it for now?” He turned so that he now lay on his back as well. Rodney recognized that this was just moments away from his getting up altogether.
He reached out and laid his arm across John’s chest, his fingers rhythmically moving in small circles on John’s skin. He could sense John turning his head slightly to look at Rodney, but he studiously ignored him so as not to spook him into running. “You think maybe you should have stayed with the AI?”
He felt rather than heard John sigh. “I thought we weren’t talking about this.”
“You do know who you’re speaking to, right?” Rodney said with his usual bite.
His gamble paid off; he made John laugh. Which was infinitely better than either retreating into silence or rolling out of bed in anger.
Rodney continued to trace idle patterns on John’s skin. After a long pause, John spoke. “I just think maybe I could have done more good if I had stayed in the machine.”
Rodney waited; something that did not come naturally to him.
“I think maybe it was selfish of me to want more.” John laid a hand over Rodney’s and closed his fingers briefly.
Rodney wanted to berate him soundly for his pathetic belief that he somehow did not deserve to have what he wanted in this world but instead, he made a humming sound, as though he were pondering the idea.
“We-ll,” he said slowly, drawing the word out into two syllables in an unconscious imitation of John’s drawl. “There is some merit to what you say. I mean, you’d have made a helluva addition to the Atlantean database. Of course, I’m not sure the expedition would have been ready for a city that played Johnny Cash in the transporters like some sort of insane Muzak. And while I bet I could have figured out how to download you into the puddlejumpers so that you could continue to be our number one pilot, we certainly would have lost out on the charming way you have with the natives during negotiations. Of course, given enough time, I’m sure I could have come up with a mobile hologram emitter…”
“Yeah,” John said quietly, in a voice that was pure sex. “But then I would have missed out on this.” His thumb began to stroke the back of Rodney’s hand in lazy circles.
Rodney tightened his arm around John briefly. “So when you were broadcasting yourself and you took on solid form…?”
He felt John’s shrug. “It was like I was watching myself on television. Nothing felt real or right.”
Rodney moved his hand slowly down John’s body and found his sleepy cock, palming and stroking it gently, reaching down to cup and roll John’s balls in his hand.
“Mmm,” John murmured. “Feels nice. But I don’t really think I can get it up again any time soon.”
“That’s not what it’s about,” Rodney said quietly.
John brought a hand up and placed it on the back of Rodney’s head, carding Rodney’s hair for a moment before letting it fall back to the bed. Rodney could tell John was about to fall asleep and Rodney realized he couldn’t stay much longer.
Slowly he withdrew his hand. “I should be going.”
There was a long moment of silence. Just when Rodney was about to heave himself out of bed, John said causally, “It’s still pretty early. You don’t have to go yet.” He reached down and pulled the blanket at the foot of the bed up over them. As he settled back in bed next to Rodney, he made a half-hearted gesture towards the wall switch and the lights began to dim slowly.
Rodney fell asleep grinning.
In the pre-dawn light, Rodney woke to the sound of someone moving around in the room. He was disoriented at first, until he realized he was in John’s room. Fascinated, Rodney watched John move about as he got ready for his day. He was dressed in his running gear, but was engrossed with something on the computer.
“What are you doing?” Rodney asked, uncertain as to why he felt the need to whisper.
John hit a button with a decisive move and looked up with a grin. He looked like he was about 12 years old while at the same time he was still the familiar face that Rodney had come to depend on. “Ordering t-shirts,” he said wickedly. “I’ve got to meet Ronon. See you later?”
Rodney waved a hand at him and let his eyes close as John left, contemplating with a smile the next long briefing. Elizabeth would go on and on about priorities and requisitions, and the IOA, and productivity and when the time was right, the four of them would reveal their t-shirts. They’d be black (of course) and in the upper right corner there would be a mock-up of those horrible peel-off stickers people wear at large conventions that say, ‘hello, my name is…’
In the space below, the tag would read ‘Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.’
Rodney lay in bed and sniggered loudly.