Disclaimer: I don't own these characters; too bad, so sad.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to S. for helping me brainstorm!
Summary: Rodney has always liked John's hands.
"Don't it feel like sunshine after all, the world you loved forever gone." ~Jimmy Eat World, "The World You Love"
Rodney wakes slowly, groaning as he realizes he fell asleep at his desk, his face mashed into his keyboard. He rubs the sleep out of his eyes and refocuses on the email he'd been in the middle of writing. The final sentence trails off into lines of random letters from Rodney's face-plant onto the keyboard, and he deletes the gibberish and finishes the message before hitting "send."
With that done, Rodney is finally free for the long weekend.
It's been a long couple of weeks, and he'd already put off visiting John once; he's just grateful that that he's met his deadline this time.
Rodney stretches, and immediately feels a muscle in his shoulder twinge and pop, and he yelps at the pain. The last thing he needs right now is a stiff neck, which is only going to get worse after hours in airports and on planes and behind the wheel.
Since Rodney has just enough time to grab a shower, he's hoping that the hot water will ease his sore muscles. But although he empties the hot water tank, he still can't turn his head without a sharp pain shooting down his arm and his back. Rodney rubs his neck ineffectually and takes some ibuprofen, but he's still wincing with every movement some hours later when he climbs into his rental car.
Navigating I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs with a stiff neck just ratchets up his tension, until the muscles of his neck and shoulders are so knotted up, Rodney isn't sure he's ever going to be able to relax. There's no reason for it, really; he's just finished a big project under-time and under-budget, and he's going to spend a few days with John.
He should be in the best of spirits, but right now, all Rodney can think about is how much he's hurting.
John's directions are clear and easy to follow, and Rodney pulls up in front of the nondescript apartments with a sigh of relief. He's forgotten how much he hates interstate driving, and he wishes he'd accepted John's offer to meet him at the airport.
Because while meeting John in the airport would have been easy-normal, even-this feels strange. It had been one thing to hang out on Atlantis, but Rodney isn't sure he's ever had a friend he could stay with for a long weekend with no particular plans. The idea of a weekend spent with John had seemed like a good idea while he'd been at Area 51, but now that he's here, he's nervous, and he can't even say why he's nervous, except that he doesn't want things to be awkward between them.
On the other hand, John had been the one to invite him, so maybe it won't be weird.
His neck and shoulder protest mightily as Rodney gets out of the car, and he can't help but give voice to his complaints. "Ow," he says. "Ow, ow, ow."
He's still muttering when John opens the door, reaching for Rodney's bag immediately, and Rodney is treated to a sharp, penetrating look. "You okay?" John asks.
"It's nothing," Rodney replies, seeing the shadow of a bruise on John's jaw. "What happened to you?"
John shrugs. "There was an off-world training accident. No big deal."
Rodney has never had a problem making his complaints known, but he's usually risking his life right alongside John. He's not sure he wants to admit that he's hurting because he was stupid enough to fall asleep at his computer.
"Come on in," John says, not pressing the issue, and he waves Rodney inside. "Mi casa es su casa."
Rodney looks around curiously. The furniture is threadbare and mismatched-a scarred brown leather couch, an overstuffed green chair, a battered metal table and a couple of straight-backed wooden chairs. Rodney sees the familiar Johnny Cash poster on the wall opposite the entertainment center, which takes up one side of the room and seems to be the only luxury.
"I got most of this stuff from people going to other postings," John admits, sounding a little embarrassed.
"I hope it was cheap," Rodney replies, unable to keep from snarking at John.
John shrugs. "Everything but the entertainment center was free. There didn't seem to be much point investing in furniture."
Even when Rodney had believed that he'd stay in Atlantis, he had kept his apartment on Earth, so he isn't sure he agrees. "You aren't going to stay in Colorado?" he finally asks.
John hesitates, and then says, "I'll put in my twenty, but I guess we'll see after that."
"Where would you go?" Rodney asks, because he can't imagine John not flying-but then, John isn't flying now that he's stationed at Cheyenne Mountain, not even jumpers.
John sets Rodney's bag next to the couch. "Maybe find a job flying choppers, or charter flights. I don't know. What would you do if you got out of the SGC?"
"Consult," Rodney says immediately. "Research and development. If I got the right offer, I might go to a university."
John smirks. "You'd teach?"
"It would have to be the right offer," Rodney emphasizes.
He's thought about it, of course. Rodney has any number of contingency plans just in case something goes wrong. Just in case he comes to hate working at the SGC. Just in case they want to send him to Siberia again.
For all of his planning, Rodney has never once thought about what it would mean to leave John, though. Even this separation feels temporary, just a small bump in the road until he's transferred to Cheyenne Mountain, or they ask John to fly test planes in Nevada.
The idea that they won't work together again eventually makes Rodney intensely uncomfortable.
"Do you want a beer?" John asks, and Rodney is grateful for the change in subject, because he doesn't want to think about losing John to distance or to another job.
Rodney clears his throat. "Only if it isn't the crappy kind you seem to like."
John laughs. "There are a lot of decent microbreweries around here. I stocked up."
The beer is good-dark, with a pleasant nuttiness-and John breaks out the Xbox. There's video golf, which doesn't surprise Rodney, but John has a few first person shooters and RPGs that Rodney hasn't played before, including Half-Life 2.
"I keep meaning to check this out," Rodney says, holding it up.
John smiles. "Let's do it."
They play for hours, pausing only to grab more beers from the fridge and order pizza. If not for the pizza-and unusually ugly furniture-it might have been any other night on Atlantis.
But Rodney's not wearing a radio, and neither is John, and no one is going to call with an emergency to interrupt the evening.
Rodney can't remember the last time he's had a beer buzz like this going; they hadn't been able to risk it on Atlantis, not with the chance of being called out at any time, and he's been too busy at Area 51 to do anything other than work and sleep.
Now, though, he's loose, relaxed, and full. Everything would be perfect, except that he forgets his stiff neck as he pushes himself up off the couch. The movement sends a hot flash of pain through his shoulder, and Rodney yelps.
"Seriously, McKay, what's wrong with you?" John asks with real concern.
Rodney shakes his head. "I fell asleep at my desk, and my shoulder is knotted up."
John shoots him a disbelieving look.
"What?" Rodney asks. "It hurts!"
John's expression softens. "Yeah, I know, buddy. I've had it happen to me, too."
"I'll be back," Rodney says a little sulkily, hobbling to the bathroom.
John is standing in the middle of the living room when Rodney emerges, a strange expression on his face. "So, you want some help with your problem?"
Rodney isn't sure what John means. "Help?"
"Your neck," John says. "I can work on it."
Rodney's stomach flips. "I don't know."
"You trust me, don't you?"
"Of course," Rodney protests immediately, without thought. Of course he trusts John; there's no one else he trusts more. "I just-didn't know you did that."
The tips of John's ears turn pink. "Do you want a hand or not?"
"Yeah," Rodney says. "Yeah, okay."
John waves him to a spot in front of the couch. "Sit down."
The situation feels a little strange to Rodney, who settles himself gingerly between John's legs. Rodney swallows as John's hands hover over his shoulders, and then settle.
Rodney has always liked John's hands, and John has touched him before, but Rodney has never had John's hands on him in quite this way. He's gentle at first, and then his clever fingers begin to dig into the muscles, finding the knot that's causing so much pain. His thumb presses in just the right spot, sending a bolt of combined pain and pleasure through Rodney.
The pain dissolves slowly, leaving nothing but pleasure in its wake. Rodney hangs his head, knowing that he should stop John now that the worst of the knots are gone, but he's not ready to give this up when it's been entirely too long since Rodney's had anyone touch him.
But now that the pain has faded into nothing, other parts of his anatomy begin to respond. If he doesn't stop John soon, his predicament is going to become very obvious.
Rodney clears his throat and says, "Uh, thanks. It feels better."
John's hands stop and then pat Rodney's shoulders in what might almost be a caress. "Good. I'm glad to hear it. I, uh, I'll be right back."
John moves quickly, disappearing into the bathroom so quickly, Rodney wonders if maybe John had seen his erection after all, and is angry, or maybe he just wants to give Rodney a chance to calm down.
Rodney buries his face in his hands, more than a little irritated with himself. He'd been able to ignore his vague interest in John while they were in Atlantis, but he has no idea how he's going to get through the next few days without giving himself away.
"So, uh, you feeling okay?" John when he reappears, arms crossed tightly over his chest.
Rodney nods. "It's a lot better, thanks."
"Anytime," John replies, not quite meeting Rodney's eyes.
Rodney chances a look at John, whose ears are now a bright red, and his cheeks are faintly pink as well. Rodney stares, fascinated; he can't remember ever seeing John quite this flustered.
And then Rodney's eyes drift downwards, and he realizes that John is also half-hard. Rodney can't help but gawp, and his eyes dart upwards, to see John look even more flustered.
"Look, McKay," John begins, scratching the back of his neck.
"I know you're straight," Rodney blurts out, wanting to prevent John from giving him the gentle letdown, because Rodney isn't sure he can handle that right now.
John blinks. "I thought you were straight."
It takes Rodney a moment, but he gets the implications pretty quickly. "You're not?"
"I don't think you're supposed to ask me that," John replies cagily.
Rodney rolls his eyes. "Oh, please. Like I care about your military's antiquated rules."
John chuckles. "Yeah, I guess. Let's just say that I'm open to a lot of possibilities."
There's something in John's voice, something in the way he says it, that tells Rodney that this might not be a spur of the moment thing.
"How long?" he asks, because he has to know.
John shrugs, and Rodney doesn't think he's going to answer at first. Then, John says, "Awhile. You were on my team."
Rodney wants to know exactly when John became interested, but he doesn't think he can press for answers now. Maybe later, John will be more amenable to talking.
If John is ever amenable to talking, which is pretty much never.
"I'm not on your team anymore," Rodney points out.
"Yeah, I know," John says.
He's still standing there, and Rodney doesn't think he's going to make a move, but that's okay, because Rodney has no problem going first under the circumstances.
Rodney grips John's shoulders, but he keeps the kiss chaste and non-threatening at first. Just a brush of lips, and when John doesn't pull away, Rodney presses a little harder, his tongue tentatively exploring. John's mouth opens under his, and everything explodes, three years of potential igniting all at once.
It should be awkward, Rodney thinks. He half-expects John to change his mind at any moment, but John puts his hands on either side of Rodney's face and holds on tight, his lips and tongue as clever and arousing as his fingers had been.
Oh, to have John's hands all over him, Rodney thinks.
As though responding to his thoughts, John releases Rodney's face and shoves his hands under Rodney's t-shirt, callused palms blazing trails across his belly and sides.
Rodney has the presence of mind to say, "I think we need a bed."
"Lucky for you I have one," John replies, and he pushes Rodney back, steering him toward the bedroom, both of them stumbling over their feet. Once they're inside, John wastes no time in pulling Rodney's shirt off over his head, his fingers caressing Rodney's nipples and soft belly.
Rodney pulls back, suddenly shy. John has seen him naked before, but that had been different, and he doesn't like being the only one so exposed. "You, too," he manages.
John skims off his own t-shirt and drops it on the floor. He's hairy where Rodney isn't, his skin just a shade or two darker than Rodney's own. Rodney trails his fingers down John's chest, feeling John shudder under his touch.
When Rodney gives him a questioning look, John says softly, "It's been awhile."
Rodney doesn't reply, other than to meet John's lips with a gentle kiss, and they're taking their time now.
They've got time-they have days, in fact, where neither of them has to leave the apartment. There is no Atlantis now, no real responsibilities, no life-or-death decisions. It's just them-just bare skin on bare skin, and long, exploratory kisses in between removing the rest of their clothing.
Once they're naked and sprawled on the bed, John seems to be all awkward limbs, and his touch is demanding, as though he's denied himself for so long, he can't wait one more minute. Rodney grabs John's hands, rolling onto his back and pulling John along with him.
It's been a long time since Rodney has done this, but it's John, and Rodney manhandles him into place, until they're rubbing up against each other at just the right angle, with exactly the right amount of friction.
John drops his head onto Rodney's shoulder as they move together, and Rodney can't believe how good this is. "God, Rodney," John whines against his shoulder.
Rodney can't keep the words from spilling out-how good this is, how good John feels, how good he feels, how it's been too long, and he doesn't want it to end.
And then he's coming, and John follows shortly thereafter with an inarticulate shout.
They just lay there for a few minutes, side-by-side, and John says, "I should have known you never shut up, even during sex."
"I can be quiet!" Rodney protests.
John lifts his head, and there's a dark promise in his eyes that sends another flare of arousal through Rodney. "Yeah, I'll bet you can under the right circumstances."
Rodney flushes, and the silence that falls between them feels a little strained. He's not sure he wants to know the answer, but he has to ask the question. "So, what is this exactly?"
John sighs. "I don't know. It doesn't change the fact that I'm here and you're in Area 51."
"I'm not there right now," Rodney points out, trying to keep his voice level. "And I may not be there forever. You won't be here forever."
"No, probably not." John rolls and rests a hand on Rodney's chest. "I guess we make the best of what we've got."
There's a vulnerability in John's voice that pulls at him. Rodney misses Atlantis, of course, but not the way John does. He's never brought it up, though, because he doesn't think John would appreciate the reminder of what they'd lost.
But right now, Rodney feels the need to say something. "I miss it, too."
John grimaces, a complicated series of emotions going through his eyes, and then he smiles and pats Rodney's chest. "There are some decent trade-offs, and we've got the weekend."
"Yes, we do," Rodney says stoutly, although he's already uncertain that he could be happy with just the weekend. He suspects that he's going to want more than four days.
But John's right: they make the best of what they have. It's what they've always done.