sgasesa_admin (sgasesa_admin) wrote in sga_santa,

Fic: Ancient Solutions (McKay/Sheppard, NC-17)

Title: Ancient Solutions
Author: aqualegia
Recipient: viva_gloria
Pairings: John/Rodney
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis © Brad Wright & MGM. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Notes: viva_gloria asked for Plotty, witty McShep with John and Rodney's relationship (not necessarily their sexual relationship) being central to the story. Sex good, SF good, AU good. First times good.

Summary: A return visit to a trading parter starts a new chapter in John and Rodney's relationship.

Ancient Solutions

It was about ten minutes before dawn, and still mostly dark outside, when Chuck looked up from the diagnostics he was running on the control systems as footfalls on the Gate Room floor echoed around the huge space. He nodded a greeting to Colonel Sheppard, as the man glanced up at the control gallery, and the Colonel flashed him a grin in reply. Sheppard stopped at the bottom of the stairs, then having placed the backpack he was carrying on the floor, he stood still with his hands clasped on the stock of the P-90 hanging from his vest.

Movement to his left claimed Chuck's attention, and he turned to greet Doctor Weir as she walked across the Control balcony towards the top of the stairs where she stopped to lean on the railing.

Chuck followed her gaze downwards and saw that the Colonel had been joined by the rest of his team who were now checking each other over to make sure that they were ready to depart.

When the four team members were all ready Sheppard looked up at Doctor Weir with a grin and a raised eyebrow. She nodded, then turned to Chuck and said, "Dial the Gate."

Chuck turned to the D.H.D. and punched in the symbols for Rataq.

Weir had turned back towards the Gate, and as soon as the wormhole had stabilized, she said, "Colonel Sheppard, you have a go."

The four members of AR-1 started forward; as they reached the event horizon, Sheppard turned to wave a hand at Doctor Weir, who murmured "Be safe," as the team disappeared from sight.


It was mid-morning when they arrived on Rataq and they all blinked as they emerged into the bright sunlight. The Rataqean Stargate faced the side of a wide gorge which was why they had not been able to bring a jumper through with them.

John immediately donned his dark glasses, and led the way off the paved area surrounding the Stargate on to the road which would take them to the Trading Hall where all on and off-world deals took place.

As the road turned to follow the river upstream, a light breeze started to blow in their faces, cooling the air around them.

"Thank God it's not as hot here as it was the last time we came," Rodney exclaimed, rubbing a little more sunscreen on his face.

John turned and grinned at his teammate. "You did look as if you'd been in a sauna after you'd fixed that glitch with their irrigation system, Rodney, but it was all in a good cause; we took home almost twice the amount of food than we had originally expected."

Rodney bounced slightly. "Yes, we did, didn't we."

"What happened?" Ronon asked from behind them.

"They gave us some almost-chicken, to go with the almost-wheat for which we'd originally come to trade, because I managed to make their irrigation system a little bit more efficient. An hour's work by me will have saved them many hours, maybe even days, of manual labour."

John laughed. "Rodney took one look at the inefficient way they the were moving water from one level to another and ordered them out of his way. He said it hurt his sensibilities."

"Well, it did! You've got to admit that the solution to their problem was so very simple. You might even have come up with the same idea if you'd been there."

When he got a raised eyebrow from John, he said, "You have seen irrigation systems in the near and far east where they haul buckets of water up from a pool and pour it into another channel." He waited while John nodded, then went on, "If the pool was being filled from a waterfall, what would you expect to see?"

John thought about it for a moment, seeing the scenario in his mind's eye. "I'd expect to see an aqueduct of some kind connecting the water from a point before the waterfall to the start of the new channel to funnel the water... possibly with a gate at the entrance to the duct to prevent flooding."

"And that's exactly what I gave them," Rodney said, a huge grin lighting up his face... a grin that John echoed moments later as he bumped shoulders with Rodney.

"There is a carriage approaching," Teyla called out as she moved away from the river's edge to the tree-lined side of the road.

The three men behind her followed suit. They moved along in single file until the carriage, drawn by two animals that looked half Zebra and half horse, was long past them, then spread out again into their normal 'off-world walking' configuration.

Rodney took out his Ancient detector and took a look at the readings, while John kept him walking in a fairly straight line.

"Anything new?" John asked after a while.

Rodney shook his head. "No, everything is pretty much the same as it was the last time we came. I'm still getting those anomalous readings over to the west, and there's still those faint readings off to the north, too. I'd really like to see what they are all about."

"Me too, buddy, but as we can't bring a jumper through the gate, we'll just have to wait to be invited to take a look."

"What about getting the Daedalus to do a scan?"

John looked uncomfortable. "I'd rather wait for permission first. It would be different if Rataq was an abandoned world, Rodney, but these people are our trading partners and pretty good ones at that. We could jeopardize our trading position if we were to do anything underhand."

Rodney cocked his head, studying John for a moment, then said, "In other words you don't trust Caldwell to have the expedition's best interests in mind."

"No, I don't. I know we need weapons, but just think about it.... As soon as he heard about Project Arcturus he was all over both of us, pushing us to succeed where the Ancients had failed."

"You do have a point, and now that I've had time to think about what happened, it does seem that every time I turned around he was there, egging me on to complete the weapon."

"So, we're agreed; no going anywhere without permission from the Rataqean authorities."

"Agreed!" Rodney promptly replied. "And I certainly won't mention anything about the readings in my report this time, just in case he still has a hard on for stirring things up."

"Yeah, thanks. I'm still trying to sort out things from where he took over during the 'bug thing'. I'm sure that back on earth with purely USAF personnel the measures he put in place would have worked well... but here, in our multinational environment, it's a disaster. Thank God for Lorne and his level head. I've got him working on putting the previous Atlantis regulations back in place."

"Good. Do you think he was glad to get you back?"

John grinned. "Judging by the huge smile on his face when he said; 'Welcome back, Sir' as soon as Carson released me for light duty, I'd say: Yes."

"Colonel, we are approaching the Trading Hall," Teyla warned him in a low voice, shortening her stride so that John and Rodney were both soon walking beside her without having to increase their pace, then they, too, shortened their stride so that Ronon could draw abreast of them.

They halted in a line some ten yards from the group of people who had come out of the building at their approach.

"Councillor Sallis, it is good to see you again," Teyla greeted the leader of the group in front of them.

Sallis inclined his head to her. "Teyla Emmagan, it is good to see you again."

Teyla smiled, and said, "You will no doubt remember Colonel Sheppard and Doctor McKay who accompanied me on my last visit here." She waited patiently while the three men exchanged the ritual greeting, then said, "My other companion is Ronon Dex, formerly of Sateda."

"Ronon Dex." Sallis gave him a small nod.

"Councillor Sallis," Ronon replied with his own nod.

The formal greetings now over, Sallis invited them to join him in his private office inside the Market Hall.

Once they were seated, and the assistant had left the room after serving refreshments, Sallis said, "Many of the farmers have admired the new water channel you created, Doctor McKay. Some of them have been able to copy your design for their own use, releasing more people to work the fields. I am told that we shall have extra grains and tubers to trade since they have been able to open up some new fields."

"Hauling the water up by bucket seemed such a waste of time and effort, so I'm glad I was able to help," Rodney beamed back at him.

"There are other farmers whose only access to water is raising it from a nearby stream, and they have asked, should you visit us again, if you might be able to help them."

Rodney looked taken aback. "Er... well... um-"

"Perhaps an Archimedean screw?" John asked in a low tone.

Rodney shot him a surprised look, which seconds later morphed into grateful smile. "Ah, yes! It would depend, of course, on the levels of water involved, but I think the Colonel and I might be able to help."

Sallis looked at John with a raised eyebrow. "You are familiar with farming, Colonel?"

John shook his head. "No, not farming; but as Doctor McKay reminded me this morning, because I'm in the military I have travelled extensively, and have seen a number of different methods for moving water from one level to another."

"Splendid! Could I prevail on you both to take a look at a few examples after lunch?" Sallis asked.

At John's nod, Rodney said, "We could do that."

The Councillor rang the small hand bell on his desk and his assistant entered the room a few seconds later.

"Lamik, Doctor McKay and the Colonel will be taking a tour of the nearby farms we listed as examples of our water problems as soon as we have eaten lunch."

Lamik smiled in their direction, as he answered, "I will arrange for the transport, Councillor. The table in the next room is laid ready for your lunch, and the meal will be served at your convenience."

"Thank you, Lamik." Standing, Sallis turned to the Team. "Lady, and gentlemen, I suggest we go though to the other room and eat our lunch."

Teyla rose, and spoke for the team, "Thank you Councillor, we would be honoured to break bread with you."

Sallis led the way into the room next door, and the Team were hard put not to gasp at huge amount of finger foods laid out on the table for them.

Lunch was obviously not going to be the small, quick meal they were used to eating.


An hour after they had finally finished eating the delicious meal, John and Rodney were ready to set out. They left their heavy backpacks with Teyla and Ronon to be taken to the accommodation they had been allotted. They each had a light carry sack which held only the things they thought they might need on their farmland tour; which in John's case included his P-90. They were accompanied by another of Sallis' assistants, Camil, who ushered them inside a large carriage, drawn by four of the creatures they had seen earlier in the day.

At their first stop, Camil led them from the road along a riverside path. John noticed that Rodney seemed unusually quiet, so he slowed their pace a little until Camil was out of earshot.

"What's worrying you, Rodney?"

Rodney pulled a face. "Aqueducts are easy to build, you just need a trough and enough of an incline for the water to run down. However, despite having a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, I've never actually seen an Archimedean screw, although obviously I know how it works..."

"I've seen one in use, and saw a new one being built while in... er... Asia." John looked a little uncomfortable. "I helped make some of the parts, too."

"So you were somewhere you shouldn't have been, and were trying to blend in with the locals."

"Yeah. We had a guy with us who had and MS in history, and as part of his thesis, he had made models of historical machinery. Since I had an MS in Mechanical Engineering, he insisted that I should help him. Not that woodworking was much like making engine parts; although I do know how to make screws," he finished with a laugh.

Rodney shook his head in despair. "So, MS in Mechanical Engineering... what Bachelors?"

"We can talk about it later, Rodney, we seem to have arrived."

John and Rodney looked at the scene in front of them. There was a line of men stretching from the river bank to the start of an irrigation ditch, as the last man in line emptied a bucket he gave it to one of two other men whose only job seemed to be to take the empty bucket to the top of the back and drop it in the water to be refilled and passed up the line, to be emptied again.

"The ultimate boring job," John muttered, as Rodney stared as if mesmerized by the repetitive actions of at least a dozen men. "Camil!" John called in a louder voice. "Is there someone here we can question about the river's flow?"

"Yes, Colonel Sheppard." Camil pointed obliquely behind them. "Abrel, the landowner, should be here at any moment."

John turned to look and saw a tall man riding a zebra/horse thing. "Perhaps we ought to call it a zebreq," he muttered. "I wonder how easy they are to train and ride..."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Well I guess it's better than calling it a horzeb. Also, why do you want to know about riding them?"

John flashed him a grin. "If they're easy to ride, maybe we could use them when we can't take a jumper and then I wouldn't have to listen to you complaining about having to walk."

"I'd just get a sore butt instead of sore feet."

"How about concentrating on the upside of a faster getaway from angry natives."

"You have a point there... but can you imagine Elizabeth's face when we rode into the Gate Room."

"It would be worth the effort of trading for one just to see her expression." John replied, as Abrel dismounted a few feet away from them.

Rodney rubbed his hand over his mouth to contain the laugh that wanted to escape.

After the introductions were made, John and Rodney quizzed Abrel about the river levels at different times of the year, whether they ever had flash floods, and if they ever got a lot of debris being swept down river. Rodney retrieved a surveying tape from his carry sack and, with the help of Abrel's men, took a lot of measurements while John jotted the results down in a small notebook where he'd drawn a rough sketch of the area. They also probed the bed of the river checking it for stability.

Having done all the survey work they could, John thanked Abrel and his men for their help, and promised that they would design a solution to their problem as soon as possible.

They took a brisk walk back to the road, and were soon on their way to the next example. Rodney used the time in the carriage to apply more sunscreen, then studied the drawing and notes that John had made.

When the carriage came to a halt, they were pleased to see that the water raising operation was less than a hundred yards from them. The bucket gang were standing on bare rock their row of buckets attached to a windlass by long ropes. They let the windlass run freely to let the buckets fall to the river flowing some fifteen to twenty feet below where they stood, they waited for the buckets to fill then slowly wound up them up and emptied them into the irrigation system.

Camil introduced them to Oreg, who had been working alongside his men until the carriage had drawn up.

Oreg greeted them politely, but didn't seem to have any high expectation of any replacement for the system he was using. He showed them the path which had been cut into the rock so that they could take a closer look at the river bed. while they were climbing back up Oreg explained that they had originally used the steps to pass buckets along a line of people until they had put the windlass on the top of the cliff.

Once Rodney was happy that he had gleaned all the pertinent information, they said goodbye to Oreg, and went on their way. They stopped in the next town they entered and Camil presented the town's Mayor with a letter from Councillor Sallis. The Mayor handed a key over to Camil who took John and Rodney into an official traveller's rest house, where they used the facilities and were served some very tasty refreshments.

After finishing his first cup of tea, John tipped his had back to look at the stucco ceiling. "This is certainly a different way to spend the afternoon: I wonder how Teyla and Ronon are faring with their trade negotiations."

"As long as Ronon doesn't get too restless, everything should be fine," Rodney murmured, his head buried in John's notebook again.

"I'm not going to hold my breath," John replied, "He's calmed down a lot since he first joined us, but he hasn't quite grasped the concept of 'there's no I in team' yet."

"Yeah, well, it's not an easy concept to grasp, especially if you've only had yourself to rely on for so many years."

John rolled his head to the side so he could look at Rodney. "I know...." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "So, how are you doing over there?"

"Well, just so you know, I'm totally going to pick your brains about the Archimedean screw you and the historian made.... Do I have to keep referring to him as 'the historian', or does he have a name?"

"His name's Jeff Bromley, and he had some very interesting things to say about the artisans, engineers and scientists who lived anything up to five thousand years ago. I remember laughing at his digression from talking about Roman aqueducts still in use in France to the benefits of Roman central heating, and the stupidity of the ancient Europeans in not continuing to use such an excellent method of heating their homes."

"Talking of home... we'd best be on our way again, we've still got one more site to visit before we can go back to join the others for dinner."

John laughed and got to his feet, then reached over to pluck his notebook from Rodney's hands.

"I was reading that!"

"You can have it back when I've finished writing up our investigations."

Rodney grinned, picked up his carry sack and made his way out the door to where their carriage was waiting.

John thanked the Mayor for his hospitality, and followed his team mate into the vehicle.

Camil also spoke to the Mayor whilst handing back the key he'd been given, then climbed up beside the driver and gave the order to move on.

The road slowly climbed into the foothills, passing between fields where fruit was being harvested from bushes and trees before arriving on a vast plain enclosed by high cliffs. The road then followed the river towards the point where water fell from the cliff top like a veil of mist. The road turned into a rutted track some distance from the bottom of the falls, and the carriage was forced to come to a halt.

Camil explained that the site they had come to see was only a short walk away, just the other side of the small wood they could see in front of them. So they got out and walked. A few minutes later they followed the path through the screen of trees, then a narrow gateway and found themselves in a large paved courtyard belonging to a large house.

A large man left a group of people sitting in the shade near the house, and walked towards them. He, apparently, was the owner, and once again Camil performed the introductions. Doken greeted them jovially, and then barked some orders at an employee who had been hovering nearby. He offered them some refreshment and, when they accepted, he seated them round a table in the shade, and a young girl poured them drinks from a stone pitcher which had been standing in a nearby pool of water.

John tasted the drink, rolling it over his tongue. When he was satisfied that there was no citrus in the liquid he surreptitiously nodded to Rodney, who then took a small sip himself.

Doken sipped his own drink, then said, "I, like many others, went to see the aqueduct that you had constructed, Doctor McKay, hoping that I might be able to adapt it for use here. However, as you have no doubt seen, my waterfall is much too high for me to use the same solution. So I was very pleased when Councillor Sallis' courier told me that you would be coming to see me today."

"We've certainly been set two very interesting problems, so far," Rodney replied.

"Who did you visit?" Doken asked.

While Rodney was happy talking about the people they'd met and the differing environments they'd encountered, John let his eyes wander over some zebreqs, as he was now mentally calling them, which had been brought out from the stable yard.

The tack seemed to be made from leather and bronze, and the saddle wouldn't have looked out of place in most of the southwestern states of the US, and he wondered if he could talk their owner into letting him ride one.

He tried to take another sip from his drink and realized that the glass was now empty. He placed the glass back on the table, and tuned back into the conversation where Doken was talking about going to look at his water problems.

Rodney nodded his agreement, and they all got to their feet. As the stable hands brought the three saddled animals towards them, Rodney stopped in horror. "Er... I don't...."

"Doctor McKay is city bred, so he doesn't have any riding experience," John broke in smoothly. "Would it be possible for him to be provided with some other form of transport."

"But of course, I did not realize that not everyone was familiar with riding a quagga." Doken spoke to one of the hands, who led his quagga away, and came back a few minutes later driving a lightweight, two-wheeled vehicle.

Doken swung up into his saddle as John helped Rodney climb up to sit beside the driver and placed his carry sack behind his legs, he then walked to where the second quagga was being held and swung up into the saddle, too. He waited while the length of the stirrups was adjusted, then signalled his readiness to move out.

They left through a gate on the opposite side of the courtyard to the one through which they had entered. The paving on the road, though not as finely laid as the courtyard still had a fairly smooth surface so Rodney wasn't jostled in his seat as much as he had feared he would be. They travelled for about five miles before arriving at the spot where Doken's men were extracting water from the river for his irrigation system.

They watched the men working and Rodney had to bite his tongue whilst Doken explained the cycle of water flow down the river.

"At this time of year the volume of water is at it's lowest; and as this is our harvest time, it is fortunate we do not need so much to keep our crops alive. In a few weeks, as we approach winter, the rains will come and the river will rise, so we are able to fill the tanks with water easier. Once the winter snow starts we close the stations. Only when the snow has melted, do we open the stations again. The river is very deep at that time so we have to use a slightly different method to get the water." He pointed to a long low building nearby. "Each station has it's own rest area, and we keep all the equipment the station needs in part of the building. My nephew, Piet, will be happy to show you anything you wish to see, Doctor."

"Each station?" John queried.

"Yes, there are three others. There is another one, halfway between here and the waterfall. The other two on are on the other side of the valley, where we were able to use Doctor McKay's aqueduct method."

"Do your sketch, then leave me your notebook Colonel." Rodney requested. He had his camera out and was taking pictures of the watercourse. "I'll take the measurements with Piet's help. Then when I've finished here I'll go along to the next station. I'd like you to go and take some photographs of that stupidly big waterfall." He held out the camera for John to take.

John stepped close to him. "I'm not sure it's a good idea for us to split up," he murmured.

Rodney sighed. "It wouldn't be my first choice either, Colonel, but unless we want to stay here tonight, and most of tomorrow morning, it's the best thing to do. You can cover far more ground on that horse thing than I can in that... vehicle."

"It's called a gig," John told him. He reluctantly took the camera in exchange for his notebook. "Okay, I'll check in with you every hour."

John got back into the saddle with a groan, and asked Doken to lead the way to the waterfall.


Just over two hours after John and Rodney had left on their fact-finding mission, Teyla and Sallis had agreed a trade of food for medicines and a visit to the planet by a medical team. She graciously accepted the offer of a carriage to the gate, so that the trade terms could be conveyed to the Lanteans as quickly as possible.

However, when Teyla tried to get Ronon to stay at their assigned lodgings to wait for John and Rodney to return, he steadfastly refused to consider it. "Colonel Sheppard ordered me to stay with you, and that's what I'm going to do."

"I understand that," she assured him, "However, I would prefer you remain here so that you can tell the Colonel what has been agreed, and where I am."

"Okay. I'll ride with you to the gate, and when I know you are safely through, I will run back here... I could do with the exercise anyway."

Knowing that was the only concession she was going to get, Teyla agreed. They went out and climbed into the carriage and Sallis wished them a safe journey, then they were off.

When they reached the gate Teyla dialled the Alpha site. She spoke briefly with Lieutenant Worth, then passed through. She confirmed to Ronon that she had arrived safely, then the wormhole blinked out of existence.

Ronon, grinned, jogged a short way to loosen his muscles, then ran flat out for the city. He slowed as he approached the Market Hall and asked Lamik if Sheppard and McKay had returned. On learning that they hadn't he went back to the house, and had a shower, then went back to loiter around the Market Hall, wondering which members of his team would arrive back first.


As soon as the wormhole from Rataq closed behind her, Teyla dialled Atlantis. She sent through her IDC, and walked into the Gate Room when told she was cleared to do so.

She went straight up the stairs to Elizabeth and handed over the scroll on which the trade agreement details had been written down. Elizabeth took a quick look, then indicated that they should talk in her office.

"What happened to the others that you came back alone?" were the first words Elizabeth spoke, as she was walking to her chair.

"I apologize if my return alone has worried you, there is no need. If you remember, during our last visit to Rataq, Doctor McKay fixed up an aqueduct for one of the landowners and we reaped a reward of extra food on top of the agreed exchanges."

Elizabeth nodded. "Yes, it was an unexpected, but very welcome addition to our meagre rations."

Teyla nodded her agreement. "When we arrived at the Market Hall this morning, Councillor Sallis spoke about the number of farmers and landowners who had adapted the aqueduct's design for their own needs. He also mentioned that there were others for whom that solution would not work. Doctor McKay agreed that he, and Colonel Sheppard, would take a look... perhaps drawing on the Colonel's travels in what he called 'the far east'."

Enlightenment started to dawn on Elizabeth's face.

"They had not returned to our lodgings by the time the trade agreement had been concluded, so Ronon accompanied me to the gate, then went back to the Market Hall to await their return."

"Any surprises?"

"Separately from the main trade, we have been asked to provide access to a doctor and nurse for their medical people to consult. When the consultation has taken place we will get the extra trade items mentioned."

"Thank you, Teyla. Go and get some rest while I talk to Carson about the medical mission and to Major Lorne about the transport of the trade goods."

"A pot of tea would be very welcome at this time; I will see you later," Teyla replied as she left the office.

Forty minutes later she was sharing a second pot of tea with an Athosian friend when she was called to the Jumper Bay. When she arrived, Major Lorne was ushering a squad of Marines into two of the jumpers, while Doctor Beckett and his chief nurse, Marie, were already seated in the back of another, talking to Elizabeth who was standing just outside the small ship. When Teyla joined them, Beckett started asking about the reason he and Marie had been asked to visit Rataq.

"I'm sorry, Doctor Beckett, I really don't know any more than the explanation Sallis put in the trading agreement." Teyla told him with a sad smile. "I don't understand much about your medicines, apart from the first aid course that is mandatory for all members of gate teams."

"Och, well, we'll find out soon enough," he consoled himself with the thought.

Major Lorne approached Elizabeth and reported that they were now ready to leave.

Elizabeth wished them all good luck and retreated to the Gate Room where they could see her standing on the balcony as their jumpers drifted down to pass though the gate to the Alpha site. Lorne and the squad of marines would wait there until they were called to bring the medicines to swap for the fruit and grains. Teyla, Carson and Marie carried on to Rataq.

They hadn't been walking long when an empty transport pulled up beside them and offered them a ride to the Market Hall, which they were very pleased to accept. They thanked the driver profusely when he dropped them off at the edge of the market square, since he wouldn't take any payment for his kindness.

Ronon materialized at their side as they made their way towards the Market Hall. He accompanied them to Lamik's office to notify him of the arrival of the doctor and nurse, and then made their way to their lodgings where Teyla rearranged the room allocations so that Doctor Beckett had a room to himself and Marie would be sharing with her. Ronon would also have a bed to himself as he was so tall, which left Sheppard and McKay to share the biggest bedroom between them.

The sun had already set by the time the carriage bearing Sheppard and McKay pulled up outside. Arra, the caretaker's wife, let them in and very bluntly told the Colonel he needed to bathe and change before he sat down to dinner. She handed him a cloth bag, and instructed him to put all the clothes he was wearing in it, and she would have them ready for him to wear in the morning.

Teyla then guided them both in the direction of the large bedroom, while she told them of the new sleeping arrangements she had instigated because of the arrival of Carson and Marie.

"I will wait here for the bag," Teyla told them as they both disappeared inside the room.

Standing between the door and a large dresser, John dropped his carry sack, toed off his boots and dropped his socks in the bag. He then emptied all his pockets into the top drawer, added his still holstered gun to the pile, and then stripped off all his clothes, stuffing them into the bag. Only then did John look across the room to where Rodney was sitting on the bed watching him with an odd expression on his face.

Ignoring the import of what he was seeing for the moment, John asked, "Is there anything you want cleaned?"

Rodney jerked his eyes away from John's naked body. "Um... yes?" he replied, looking flushed. He removed his T-shirt and socks, then pointedly not looking at John, he added them to the bag and opened the door just enough to hand it over to Teyla with a quick word of thanks.

While Rodney's back was turned, John slipped into the bathroom, pleased to find that his toiletries had moved with him in the reshuffle. Wondering what he was going to do about the naked want he had seen on Rodney's face, he turned on the taps for the deep oval bath and started to wash himself as soon as it was deep enough. Once he was clean from his head to his toes, he let the water out and stood at the hand basin to shave. That done, he wrapped the towel he used round himself to preserve his modesty, and went back into the bedroom to get dressed again.

Rodney was sitting at the dressing table, typing on his laptop, and only looked up when John said, "Hey, Rodney, the bathroom's all yours."

Still avoiding eye contact, Rodney saved his work, and took his toiletry bag, and a change of clothes, into the bathroom with him.

John considered the closed door thoughtfully; the fact that Rodney knew that he had been caught staring, was like another person in the room with them, and there was absolutely nothing that he could do about it at the moment. It wasn't as if Rodney's feelings weren't reciprocated, just that the discovery had come at an inopportune moment. They would be called to the evening meal in a few minutes, and that wasn't nearly enough time for them to have any kind of meaningful conversation.

He fetched his carry sack from beside the door, and before putting it with the rest of his gear in the closet, he retrieved the camera Rodney had given him to take to the waterfall and some notes he had made about the terrain. He hesitated for a moment, then decided to leave them beside Rodney's laptop on his way back to the dresser to reclaim some of the articles he had dumped there earlier. He was just strapping his watch on when there came a knock on the outer door; he opened it to find Teyla standing there with her hand still raised.

"Dinner?" he queried.

"Yes. Arra is putting the dishes on the table." she replied with a grin.

Leaving the door open, he went across to the bathroom, rapped on the door, then called, "Rodney. Teyla says dinner is on the table, hurry up or it will get cold."

"I'll be right there," came Rodney's muffled reply.


John went back to the dresser, and was putting his dog tags over his head when the bathroom door flew open and Rodney bustled out.

"Let's go then," Rodney said as he passed John and joined Teyla out in the hall.

John grinned and followed him out, closing the bedroom door behind him.

During the delicious meal John and Rodney were plied with questions about their travels around the countryside, the people they had met and the problems they had been asked to solve.

First though they had Rodney explain about the aqueduct and how he'd got involved in the first place, then it was on to what they had done today. Rodney threw John to the wolves when it was time to explain what an Archimedean screw was and how it worked. To cut out a lot of unwanted questions John prefaced his explanation by reminding them that he'd been in the military a long time and had travelled all over his home world before stepping though the Stargate to Atlantis.

After John had finished Rodney went on to explain what else they had seen, and a possible solution to at least one of the other problems that had been set before them.

As soon as the question and answer session was over everyone agreed that with a busy day ahead of them tomorrow it would be a good idea to get some sleep. There was a chorus of 'good nights' as people left the table and sought their beds, until just John and Rodney were left in the room.

Rodney was standing by the fire, staring unseeingly at the embers and jumped when John put a hand on his shoulder.

"Come on Rodney, time for bed."

"Ah... you go on, I'll-"

"Now, Rodney!" John wasn't going let him stay awake and brood all night; he had other plans entirely. "We need to talk."

"I'm not-"

"I would prefer somewhere more private, but we can have the conversation here if you insist."

Rodney glared at him, and stalked along to the end of the corridor and into their room; where he crossed his arms across his chest and raised his chin, giving off 'don't mess with me' vibes.

John followed him into the room, shutting and bolting the door, then walked straight up to Rodney, grasped his wrists to pull his arms out of the way and pushed him up against the nearest wall.


John didn't give him a chance to say anything else, as his lips closed over Rodney's open mouth, and kissed him deeply.

Rodney froze for a moment, then his brain caught up, and he kissed back enthusiastically. Freeing his wrists from the now lax grasp, he slid his arms around John's waist and held on tight.

When his hands let go of the wrists John stroked them down Rodney's sides to his hips, then slid them around his waist; his rapidly filling cock rubbing against his new lover's leg. When Rodney shifted to get more friction on his own erection, John found the strength to pull away. "Bed. Naked. Now!" he gasped.

Reluctantly Rodney let go of John just long enough to strip out of his clothes and follow him to the bed.

John threw back the covers before stripping out of his clothes, then flopped backwards on to the bed with an armful of scientist. He rolled them over, then reclaimed his lover's lips as he rubbed them both off. almost in unison they stiffened, their cries of completion were lost in each others' mouths; John moved slightly so that Rodney wasn't taking all his weight, then stilled.

Some time later, when his limbs no longer felt as if they were made of rubber, John rolled on to his back, his shoulder still touching Rodney's, unwilling to move any further away. Finally though, the sensation of cooling semen on his stomach was irritating enough to get him moving again. He went into the bathroom emptied his bladder, and cleaned himself up. Taking a warm washcloth back into the bedroom he cleaned Rodney up, too.

"Thanks," Rodney muttered. He caught John's arm before he could move away, and pulled him down for a kiss, then took the washcloth from John's hand and disappeared into the bathroom himself.

John watched him go, then remade the bed. He turned the main lamps out, and only left a small one on the nightstand alight.

Rodney turned down the lamp in the bathroom and partially closed the door before walking over to the bed.

John lifted the covers so Rodney could slide under them: John then put an arm around his waist and pulled him closer so that he could spoon up behind him. He kissed Rodney's neck, and whispered, "Je t'aime."

Rodney patted the hand on his stomach. "Moi aussi," he replied, and felt a breath of air on his neck as John laughed, then kissed his neck.

They lay quietly holding and being held... and drifted off to sleep, knowing that whatever happened to them in the future, they were no longer alone.

Tags: genre: slash, pairing: mckay/sheppard

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