Pairing: John/Rodney, also features explosive squid
Warnings: None, unless you are squid intolerant
Summary: Wherein John handles squid, and Rodney makes a death pact. Sort of.
A/N: Beta'd by the always tolerant rabidfan.
"Rodney, hurry it up, we haven't got all day," John growled in Rodney's ear.
"Man working here!" Rodney snapped, though his fingers went noticeably faster.
John sighed. His hands, buried in Wraith flesh-colored wires that reminded him too much of intestines, shifted in response.
Rodney's eyes goggled. "I thought you said you had steady hands. You have to have steady hands!"
"I'm getting tired," John admitted, though he manned up and held the fistful of (slippery, slimy) wires (intestinal tubes) with a deeper frown of concentration. The green light on the Wraith dial clicked up another notch.
"Did you miss the part where there's a countdown? One way or another we will be done very soon! And I for one prefer the ending where we aren't sprayed over the gateroom like chop suey!"
Rodney shouted in John's ear, which didn't help the "hold steady" thing, though somehow Rodney's hands hadn't slowed one bit. Zelenka once theorized that Rodney had a compartmentalized brain, with completely separate functions for yelling. Kind of like the hind brain on a T-Rex.
"Could you just get on with it?" John said. He wasn't whining, nuh-uh. Even though holding wires in this case meant compressing skin-colored tubes so that they stayed closed. But commanding officers didn't whine. Instead they expressed displeasure. That was it. He and his cramping hands were displeased.
"There," Rodney said, ignoring John. His shoulders sagged and a look of relief washed across his face.
The Wraith dial lit up another green notch. They only had four left.
"No. No, no, no, no...." Rodney said, diving back into the guts of the Wraith bomb.
For the first time John was worried.
"Does that mean I can't let go?" John asked. He wished he'd kept the quaver out of his voice.
"Let go of those wires and I'll find a way to kill you before the bomb gets us both, possibly by running the current from the subprocessor through your heart." The clamped set of Rodney's jaw said he meant it. John probably shouldn't find it reassuring that Rodney could dismember a bomb and plot the death of his commander at the same time. But he did. Oh, definitely, absolutely he did.
Then Rodney paused. It was his "um, this is very, very bad" pause. John met Rodney's frightened eyes.
There came a dainty click.
After a moment or two, nothing continued to happen. John's eyes flicked to the Wraith countdown dial. It hadn't moved. Shouldn't it have moved by now? Time had shifted into high gear since the Wraith cruiser had fired this after them through the gate, and it had bounced like a wiggly football into the Atlantis gateroom. John had no idea how long he'd been standing there over what looked like a giant squid.
Their radios crackled to life. "Talk to me," Elizabeth said. "What's your status?" Not to mention the status of all Atlantis. If the bomb had gone off, the Atlantis gate would be on its way to the bottom of the ocean.
"It appears to be disarmed," Zelenka said from across the gateroom. He peered over the console like a gopher sniffing the wind.
"That should not have worked," Rodney admitted with breathless honesty. He hadn't moved.
"I knew you could do it," John said. "Can I let go now?"
"That--I should have blown us up," Rodney said, eyes still wide.
"I'll take that as a yes." John let go and wiped slime covered hands on his BDUs. He had dishpan hands. He wanted a food and a shower, though not in that order. He tapped his radio. "Elizabeth, if you can hear this and I'm not in some strange squid-infested heaven, then I'd say we're A-okay."
"Good. Thank you. That's good to hear. I'll begin bringing back the evacuated personnel." Elizabeth added, "Good work, Rodney."
John stretched his arms overhead. "What about me? I squeezed squid guts for, like, hours."
"You, too, John," Elizabeth said, her voice tinged with amusement.
"I could have blown us up," Rodney repeated, his face still shell-shocked. "And I was staring right at you. What an idiot. I don't want to see you blow up."
John postponed the dinner part of his plans and used Rodney's shower for the sake of efficiency, on several fronts. For one thing, Rodney's quarters were closer to the mess hall.
"Hey!" Rodney spluttered. "You're blocking all the hot water!"
The fact Rodney was in the shower at that moment was quite efficient. John nudged him back against the wall. "Did I tell you about the time I nailed that girl in the shower? She slid up and down the tiles; it was great." Rodney's neck smelled like soap and still faintly of sweat. John nuzzled that spot and asked, "Think it'll work with a guy?"
"The angle's entirely wrong," Rodney said, but his eyes looked somewhere between terrified and hopeful.
"Gravity's a wonderful thing," John said.
Empty plates beside them on the pier, Rodney grudgingly admitted being impressed with John's time management skills. They'd hit all the essentials before the adrenaline had worn off and now were gliding down into a buzz of contentment. Atlantis was safe and sparkling under the stars. John had opened a six pack, and was working on his second beer. The shower experiment, while a failure, had led to more tried and true maneuvers on Rodney's messy bed, leaving them both warm and bright-eyed.
John tipped back his beer with a sigh, the slosh melding with the wash of waves against the outer pier. The water beside them inside the "snowflake" of the inner pier was as smooth as a tropical lagoon.
"I'd've watched you blow up," John said.
Rodney choked on his beer. After several moments of pounding on his chest, he managed to gasp out, "That's grotesque!"
"Well. If it was the last chance I had to see you."
"Chop suey!" Rodney reminded him, bug-eyed.
"It's not bad, as these things go. Dismemberment, now," John gestured with his beer bottle. "That would be hard to watch."
"Technically, being blown up is dismemberment."
"Yeah, but a lot quicker. Plus I was going at the same time. Not like I'd be haunted for the rest of my life."
"Point." Rodney frowned in thought. "How about a gunshot wound? You know, the whole World War II romantically dying in each others' arms?"
"Overrated." John wrinkled his nose. "You go cold as the blood runs out of your body and you can't think about anything else."
"What about hypothermia?" Rodney suggested.
"Falling asleep?" John said. "That's not bad."
"Except I'm sure my higher faculties would function longer than yours and if you started hallucinating and taking off your jacket, I'd be really ticked off."
John tipped his head. "Drowning supposed to be an easy way to go."
"True, that's what I've heard," Rodney agreed.
"No, wait, wait, forget it," John said. "Knowing you, you'd slip under the water first and I'd spend the last moments of my life feeling guilty I couldn't keep you afloat."
"How do you think I would've felt if I'd set off that bomb?" Rodney turned to him.
"Oh. Right," John said, suddenly getting it. "So. It would have to be a Wraith cruiser blowing up our ship, something beyond our control."
"Going out in a blaze of glory?"
John tipped his beer bottle toward Rodney. "Blaze of glory it is."
They clinked their bottles together and were quiet a long moment.
Then Rodney said, "We didn't just make a death pact, did we?"
"This is all hypothetical, Rodney--" John said, but Rodney had continued without pause, "Because I'm really, really okay with dying of advanced old age, preferably in my third or fourth Asgard cloned body."
John gave him a squinting stare. "You'd have yourself downloaded into one of those naked guys?"
"I'm sure they'd want to save my intellect," Rodney insisted, straightening defensively. "One can live for thousands of years that way. Imagine what I'd accomplish." His eyes went misty at the thought.
"You'd be one of those naked guys without any, um--?" John raised his eyebrows, amused.
"No! A cloned version of my own body," Rodney said. He added graciously, "You could have one too. I'm sure they'd find a use for you."
"Ah," John said with understanding. "So the deal is blaze of glory, or otherwise cloned bodies where we live for thousands of years."
"That's acceptable," Rodney said primly.
"Deal," John said, clinking bottles with Rodney again. "Merry Christmas, Rodney."
"It's not Christmas."
"I survived a bomb today. Close enough."
"Uh. Right. Hmph. Merry Christmas then."