Disclaimer: Not mine
Author's Notes: The request was: "The pairing of my heart is John/Rodney, though I love the OT4 too. It can go from friendship to more racy stuff, no problem. The thing with me is that I am easy: I'll take schmoop to angst and it can make me happy. Favorite things are: humor and banter is adored, pining/obliviousness, first times (that is very large, from experiences to kisses to more), possessiveness/jealousy, tattoos/marking, sentient Atlantis, etc..."
Summary: How Rodney gave John his first tattoo. Well, sort of.
"John?" Rodney shot out into the darkness.
"I am now," John said, deadpan.
Rodney shifted on his bed, wincing at John's response. "I mean, I know you were up. Um. Am up. Are... anyway. I knew you were awake." Rodney tugged nervously at his shirt, and rolled over so he could look at the other man, the moonlight through the curtains revealing little more than John's silhouette framed on the other bed. He waved a hand in John's general direction. "I was being polite."
At that, Rodney could sense John's raised brow, even in the dark. Rodney added quickly, "I'm trying." He hesitated. "To be polite. With people. All right?"
"And we appreciate that, Rodney."
Rodney gave a heavy sigh, which he tried to cover by faking a yawn. He couldn't tell if John was being sincere or sarcastic, and yet John was actually one of the few he actually did try with, because despite the fact that he had the most difficult time in the world actually reading the man, he liked him. And yes, as his little sister used to say, in that way. Damn it. But as someone who tended to deal with social interactions from more of a "don't be an idiot, you idiot" perspective, it was, admittedly, a bit hard, and he wasn't any good at it, and he knew it. But for John - for that man, he did try.
He also tried to come up with an excuse to continue the conversation. "I wanted to ask what you thought of the Atharians." He rolled his eyes again, this time at himself. That was so lame.
Rodney saw John sit up on his bed. "Nice people. Snappy dressers."
Rodney snickered, pushing himself to a seat as well. The Atharians had greeted them at the Gate stark raving naked, but for the tattoos each of them wore. In fact, they were so marked, it actually distracted from their nudity, for which he was grateful. He'd seen a lot of things since he joined Atlantis, but the view of the Atharian security or warriors or whatever, all there in a row behind their leader, standing at attention (in more ways than one) was something he'd have a hard time forgetting. Not that he necessarily had minded the view, but it had been a bit... distracting.
All in all, other than an excess of nudity, or perhaps because of it, this place wasn't bad, and not just because the Atharians hadn't seen a Wraith in decades, although woah, major benefit. But the food was good, the company pleasant enough. Still, all that socializing had left him pretty much tapped on the politeness front. But he was trying. For John, he was trying.
He looked up when soft light flowed through the curtain covering the door. Teyla came in, parting the fabric with her arm as she slid through. She raised the lantern high, casting its glow throughout the small room and setting the clay walls ablaze with light. "They believe you are a couple," she said without preamble.
"They... what?" John said, just as Rodney said, "Why would they...?" Rodney could feel himself blushing frantically. Did it show? Oh, God. What if he wore this... whatever it was... for John so blatantly on his face that even strangers could tell...?
Teyla smiled softly, setting the lantern down on the floor as she settled, cross legged, onto an empty bed. "I explained that in our culture, it is possible for two men to share a meal without being together in quite that way."
"The fruit?" John asked.
"Did they believe you?" Rodney added.
Teyla inclined her head in a way that Rodney had learned meant she wasn't quite sure.
John was suddenly all business. "Will that be a problem?"
"I don't believe so," Teyla said. "There don't seem to be the prohibitions against such things as exist on your planet."
Ford darted through the curtains, plopping himself down on the bed next to Teyla's. "It's not a big deal," he said. "In fact, several of the guys I ate with were dating."
"Several?" Rodney asked, having picked up Ford's emphasis.
"Several," Ford said forcefully. He bounced slightly on the mattress. "AND I found out how they all keep themselves at attention," he said, laughing, with a vague wave toward his groin.
Teyla gave him a sharp look, then quickly said, "It is the tattoo issues that have been hard to get past." She looked to John. "They don't see you as the leader without them, and since none of us have the appropriate markings, none of us can be seen as leader, either."
John leaned back against the wall, draping hands over bent knees. "The Air Force is no-go on visible tattoos."
"So, what? They're good with the hair, but not tattoos?" Rodney asked. John gave him what Rodney considered, "The Look", before returning his attention to Teyla.
Teyla shrugged slightly. "It makes the Atharians uncomfortable, to look at you and not see the symbols they expect of a leader. I am afraid we won't make much progress."
John's eyes roved the others in the room. "Is it worth staying and fighting this one out?"
Rodney could tell that despite the terminology, John wasn't talking weapons, but negotiation.
Ford said, "Their food is a heck of a lot better than what we've got on base right now."
Teyla nodded, "They have medicinal herbs that..."
John held up a hand, pausing the conversation. "So, what do we need to do?"
At that, Teyla leaned forward with a smile. "I may be able to offer a solution."
Rodney picked up a brush and, as he'd been instructed, wet it with his tongue before dipping it into the black powder piled on the dish before him. He looked nervously at Teyla. "So, it doesn't matter what I draw?"
Teyla shook her head from her position on the bed, looking down to where John, Ford and Rodney were seated on the floor. "You may draw what you please. It's the placement that's important, not the subject matter."
"I'm doing Mickey Mouse over here," Ford added, peering over John's shoulder to where Rodney was sitting and facing John's bare back.
"All right," Rodney murmured, more to himself than to anyone else. Anything. He could draw anything. Pursing his lips in thought, he then smiled slightly, and began drawing. All that time with the Russians was about to come in handy.
First, he traced the Russian word for peace, myr, in Cyrillic, on John's shoulder, above the shoulder blade. Then their word for health, which he sent spiraling up the back of John's neck. Prosperity went around the curve of his throat. Rodney could see goose-bumps raising on John's skin, so he placed his own hand along the back of John's neck as he worked. "Tickles?" he asked.
"Nah, I'm good," John answered softly.
This was probably the first time he'd ever touched John's skin - well, in quite this way. Feeling the occasion was deserving of something special, Rodney slid himself along the floor so he could better reach John's face. Then he let the Russian for caring curve along John's jawbone, up over one cheek. He looked to where Ford was working beside him, and sure enough, there was Mickey Mouse in all his glory, adorning the right half of John's chest. Mickey Mouse in tack vest with P-90, mowing down several Wraith. He met John's eye for the briefest of seconds, and couldn't stop himself from smirking.
John raised a brow. "I think I'm afraid to ask."
"You should be," Rodney replied as he sent the Russian for desire swirling up John's temple. He felt John's breath against his wrist, and his hand trembled. Closing his eyes against the sudden sensation of feeling, he lowered his head and dipped the brush in the pigments again.
"We just need to do his chest on up, right?" Ford asked.
"That is where such tattoos would be expected, so yes, that should be fine," Teyla said. "I believe what you've done should be enough."
"You want to do one before we wrap up?" John asked.
"They insist such markings can only be made by those of the same gender."
"How would they even know?" Ford asked.
Teyla simply said, "I'd know."
Ford put his brush down and, with satisfaction, announced that he was done. "Masterpiece!" he added, pushing himself up off the floor. He held his hands out in front of him, fingers blackened by the powder. "I've got to wash my hands."
Teyla stood as well. "There is a ritual for that. The powder is not easy to remove, and yet..." As she lead Ford from the room, Rodney looked down at his own fingers, now blackened at each tip.
"I can see what Ford drew," John said, voice quiet.
Rodney looked up, meeting John's gaze.
"What did you draw?"
"Russian words", Rodney said, shrugging.
"This one, back here, is peace," Rodney said, placing his hand where the symbols were.
John reached around and touched Rodney's hand, then raised it to his neck. "And this one?"
"And this?" John said, tugging Rodney's hand along his jaw.
Rodney's hand shook. "Caring," he said, his voice cracking slightly.
"And this?" John asked, tracing the figure on his temple.
"Desire," Rodney said softly, pulling his hand away.
"Desire," John repeated. He gave Rodney a half-smile, and then reached out and grasped the brush from where it had fallen on the floor. He took Rodney's hand and turned it, palm up, and began to draw. Rodney recognized the character as Asian - Chinese or Japanese. When John finished, he blew on Rodney's palm, causing goose bumps to raise all along Rodney's arm. Then he looked up at Rodney, green eyes bright through is fall of hair. "Desire," he repeated softly. He curled his hand around Rodney's, closing it. Then he smiled softly.
Rodney heard someone approaching, and pulled his hand away - but not before he returned John's smile with an awkward one of his own.
"You guys ready?" Ford asked, poking his head through the curtain.
"I am," John answered, holding Rodney's gaze... And Rodney felt that gaze to the pit of his stomach, and at that moment, he knew. John was ready. And so was he. Hell-yeah, so was he.