Pairing: Sheppard/McKay, implied Beckett/Ford
Spoilers: Season 1 up to and including 'Defiant One'
Summary: He'd have put it out of his mind completely months ago if it hadn't been for the way Rodney looks at him sometimes.
Seconds Drawing Out
All in all, a good day, John thinks as he leaves the briefing room. Sure, Ford had nearly been blown to bits pulling McKay away from yet another Ancient device gone wrong, but they both got away mostly unharmed. Nodding his head to Teyla and McKay, heading in their separate directions, John heads towards the infirmary to check up on the lieutenant. Early on, the team came to an almost entirely unspoken agreement that on occasions when one of them was superficially wounded, John would be the first to visit them in the infirmary. Unlike occasions when one of them is badly wounded and not even a direct order from Elizabeth could pull any of them away.
Rounding the corner, just inches from the door, John hears Ford's voice. There is a tone to it he is unfamiliar with, a melancholy that he doesn't associate with the young marine, it stops him in his tracks.
'That was a close one, huh doc?' Ford asks, and John peers around the doorway, concern and curiosity keeping him silent.
'Aye, it was,' Beckett replies, attention on the heart rate monitor, the IV line.
'Carson,' John can hear Ford begins quietly. The informality, the tone surprises John, but not as much as the reply.
'Aiden, please, I can't- just, don't?' the doctor asks, his fingers touching the back of Ford's hand, his voice pleading, broken. Ford turns his hand under Beckett's, pressing their palms together. Beckett sighs and sinks into the chair at Ford's bedside, carefully not meeting Ford's eyes, but not pulling his hand away either.
John isn't stupid, he knows that look. The look of someone left behind, waiting with bated breath for their lover to return home. Alive, or not. He's seen it enough time to know that he never wanted to look into the eyes of someone who loves him as he ships out. He backs away from the door, retreating up the hall. He pauses, giving them a moment before returning, whistling this time, to the infirmary.
Beckett is taking Ford's blood pressure when he strides into the room, and Ford smiles brightly at him. John returns the smile with a slow, easy one of his own.
'So, how's my boy doin' doc?' he asks, as Beckett turns to greet him, a smile on his face that doesn't quite meet his eyes.
'Oh, the same as usual Major,' the doctor replies with what John used to think of as exaggerative worry, but was now questioning.
'He's tough. Bullets and shrapnel don't bounce off of him, but I suspect the Lieutenant may be starting to think they do,' he continues, rolling his eyes as Ford grins at him. 'Minor abrasions and a small fragment of what looked suspiciously like Ancient technology I had to remove from his thigh. He'll be up and around in a day or so.'
'Excellent, we're still on schedule for our next mission, then. I know McKay would hate to miss out on an opportunity to irrevocably damage some advanced technology or offend an indigenous population,' John says, touching Ford's shoulder briefly, smiling lopsidedly at him.
'Yes, sir. Really can't disappoint Doctor McKay,' Ford replies with a grin.
'Oh, he whines and complains, but he loves it really,' John tells him and they laugh.
'Well, amusing as this is, I am a busy man. Make sure you don't pull the stitches, take your antibiotics, and I'll clear you for duty in two days,' Beckett says, pushing Ford back onto the bed and shushing him when he leans up trying to protest. 'And no arguments Lieutenant. Minor surgery it may have been, but surgery it was all the same.' Beckett turns his eyes on John to make sure he isn't going to try to argue as well.
'Sounds like an excellent and very wise course of action, Doc,' John tells him, tongue firmly in cheek.
Beckett rolls his eyes and moves away.
'Yes, well, just don't do anything too strenuous, alright?' Ford nods, barely able to keep from rolling his own eyes. He and John grin at each other, sharing a moment of affection for their physician.
'I'll tell McKay and Teyla you're okay, they'll be by at some point, no doubt.'
'Thank you, sir,' Ford says, and John knows he'll be glad of the company. Even McKay's.
'Doc, wait up,' John calls, jogging the short distance Beckett has covered.
'Yes, Major?' he asks, arms crossed against his chest.
'I just, I really do try to keep them all safe, just some days are harder than others,' John tells him and if Beckett has even the slightest clue as to why John suddenly feels the need to reassure him, he doesn't show it.
'I know Major, you've demonstrated your unique ability to cheat death many times over,' Beckett tells him, almost amused.
'Ford's a good guy, an excellent soldier, there's no one else I'd want covering my back. He and Teyla are about the only people I trust to keep McKay from blowing himself up,' John says, very carefully not saying 'Ford's a good kid,' because he's not, not really. He's twenty-five and from what John can tell, in love.
'Why are you telling me this Major?' Beckett asks, and this time there is a flicker of worry, suspicion.
'I just, I just want to make sure you know that I value the life of every single person in this city,' John says, hoping that will be enough. 'I know out of the four of us, other than me, Ford is the one in here the most often and I want you to know it's not for the lack of me trying to keep him safe,' John gives Beckett his most sincere and innocent face, trying to convince the other man that he has no ulterior motive.
'He's a marine, Major, a soldier. It's his job. I know how well you fight for the lives of the people in this city, I know,' Beckett tells him, solemnly, and John nods. Neither of them say it, but they're both thinking of the Genii attack, too recent in memory to not leave a bad taste.
'Right then. Well, as long as that's clear. Teyla and Rodney will be along at some point, you're forewarned,' John jokes, winking at the doctor. Beckett nods, smiles long-sufferingly and rolls his eyes once again.
'And what a joy it will be.' He and John share a laugh, and whether they both know the reason John's hand rests on Beckett's shoulder for a moment longer than usual, neither say.
John radios Teyla as soon as he leaves the infirmary,with a smile and a wave for Ford. He goes to tap his radio again, to tell Rodney as well. He looks down and realises his feet have already taken him half way to the lab.
Rodney is arguing with Zelenka when John arrives, both of them, arms waving and voices raised. John smiles to himself and leans against a counter to wait it out. Zelenka notices him first.
'Oh, Major!' Zelenka exclaims and Rodney whips around, a slightly guilty look on his face.
'Doc.,' John acknowledges with a smirk.
'Major, what're you-' Rodney begins, and then, 'Ford, is he...?'
'He's fine. Thought you might like to know.'
'Good, good. I'll uh, I'll check in on him soon,' Rodney says, obviously relieved.
'You make sure you do. Be nice to Doc. Beckett, I think he's getting a little sick of patching the Lieutenant up. Pulled a lump of something shiny out of his leg today, and you know how surgery makes him cranky,' John tells him with mock severity.
Rodney looks as though he's about to say something but John quirks an eyebrow and he doesn't.
'Yes _sir_,' he replies archly.
'And after that, you're joining Teyla and me for dinner. You're welcome too, Doc.,' John says, smiling at Zelenka, who nods, smiles, attention already elsewhere.
Rodney's eyes linger on John's for a moment before he too nods, turning back to the table of gadgets.
'Mess hall, one hour, McKay,' John says and Rodney waves his hand in recognition. John knows he'll head over to the infirmary before too long and from there Teyla will drag him to dinner.
John's fingers twitch as he moves away from the two men. Out in the hallway he stops for a moment, leans against the wall, Atlantis' warmth comforting him. The memory of Rodney's eyes on his, the itch to put his fingers on Rodney's skin lingers. John closes his eyes, breathes deep. It's a feeling he's used to, he shakes it off easily enough most days.
He'd have put it out of his mind completely months ago if it hadn't been for the way Rodney looks at him sometimes. The look John sometimes catches on Rodney's face when Rodney thinks he isn't looking. There are moments, too, when John's fingers linger a moment longer than they should and the seconds draw out, Rodney sways against him, John closes his eyes and every time, Rodney has moved away when John opens them again.
They never talk about it, Rodney's eyes are always scared and pleading in those moments and John lets it go. Doesn't think of them until he finds himself again with his hand on Rodney's shoulder, or fingers around his wrist, the silence growing heavy between them.
An hour later, John is in the dinner line and hears, rather than sees, Rodney arrive. John and Teyla manage to keep Rodney and Zelenka in the mess for an hour before they start making real noises about getting back to the lab. John invites Teyla to watch the latest movie making the rounds. This week it's "Star Wars" courtesy of Stackhouse, and accompanied by an everlasting supply of mocking from the other marines. John manages to embroil Rodney in an argument about whether or not Episodes 1 through 3 are any good that lasts right through to the opening drum roll. At which point, Rodney capitulates and settles in on the only comfortable seating in the city, which they've set up in a corner of the briefing room for nights just like this.
Beckett and Ford appear twenty minutes in, Ford leaning heavily on Beckett's arm and John tries not to stare at the way they are pressed against each other where they sit, side by side. John can't even imagine how they keep it secret, how they can bear to. He smiles affectionately and pulls Rodney away as the end credits roll, Teyla having already said her goodnights. When he looks over at the other side of the room, he sees that Ford has fallen asleep, slumped against Beckett's shoulder.
'He's on the good drugs, huh, doc.?' John asks and Beckett nods, a small smile on his lips. 'I'll leave him to you?' Beckett nods again, his hand already on Ford's arm, to shake him awake.
'I think, perhaps, I was remiss not to insist he went straight to bed,' the physician replies as Ford stirs against him and curls closer.
'It's those puppy dog eyes,' John says, pushing Rodney out the door, 'they'll get you every time.'
'Quite,' Beckett replies. 'Goodnight Major. Rodney.'
Rodney manages to wave an arm in response before they are out of sight and the doors are swinging closed again at John's silent request.
'Major, would you please stop manhandling me?' Rodney asks him, squirming in John's hands and Grodin looks up from his console with a questioning grin.
John grins back, gives a little wave of his hand and lets Rodney go. Steps back.
'I just wanted to save Ford a little embarrassment. He doesn't need us there when he wakes up and realises he's drooled all over Doc. Beckett's shoulder, does he?' John asks, walking them both to the transporter.
'Oh,' Rodney replies, looking abashed.
'Not a bad night, all said and done though?' John asks, once the buzz of the transporter has stopped ringing in his ears. 'It's nice to get out of the lab once in a while when it's not a mission, right? Hang out with friends,' he finishes, making his way slowly down the corridor towards his quarters.
'We make a funny bunch of friends,' Rodney says, yawning widely.
'Not awful though?' John asks looking at Rodney from the corner of his eye.
'No, not awful. Just, odd. I mean, take Carson and Ford for example.'
'Yes, well, I guess they got to know each other pretty well, all the time Ford's spent in the infirmary,' John says with a small grin. Rodney snorts softly. 'What?' John asks and Rodney looks at him as though he is sizing him up. It makes John nervous and uncomfortable, as though Rodney could find something he didn't already know, something he disliked.
'They grew... close,' Rodney begins, obviously choosing his words carefully, 'back in Antarctica.'
John stops walking and looks at Rodney. Rodney fidgets under his gaze.
'How close?' John asks and Rodney can't not look away.
'Major, I hardly think-'
'You know?' John asks, incredulous.
'_You_ know?' Rodney replies, eyes snapping back to John's. 'How long?'
'Just today. You?'
'Antarctica. It was harder there to explain why a marine would spend so much time with a scientist.'
'Huh,' John says.
'Just, I only found out because I overheard them talking earlier and here you are, Mr. "I don't notice when a woman finds me attractive", and you, you just know.'
'Contrary to popular belief, I'm not totally blind. Also, y'know, _women_,' Rodney says. Like that explains everything, up to and including his not having time for them and their position as a complete mystery to him. 'You're not, you don't mind?' he asks and John looks at him. 'I mean, military,' he continues, with a wave of his hands.
They're outside John's quarters now, and John stares at him as though he's never seen him before and Rodney looks as if he's going to say something more and the time stretches, the silence fills the places where their words should be. John closes his eyes and Rodney says goodnight. By the time John opens his eyes, sending a request to Atlantis to open his door, Rodney is half way down the corridor. He turns, when he reaches the bend, raises a hand, dips his head and is gone.
Their next mission is cancelled because two of the scientists studying the long range sensors, Gaul and Abrams, have found a weapons satellite at the edge of their system. It falls to John and Rodney take them out to investigate.
After, when John is safely ensconced in the infirmary, Beckett has stitched him back up and his wonder drugs are working through his system, John thinks about the two new names he must add to his list of people lost. Two more, gone, from the dwindling ranks. He thinks about the men that have died and is silently both thankful and guilty that Rodney is unharmed. Though with every new day comes a new reason for John to be unsure as to how long that will continue to be true.
Rodney had followed John to the infirmary, pale and subdued, when John finally let Beckett drag him away from Operations. When he quietly slips away, presumably off to his lab, John is grateful. He finds he can think again, can breathe, relax. He is no longer waiting for Rodney to crack.
The other man had told John, in fits and starts, what had happened on the ship. What Gaul had said, had done. How he had taken his own life rather than be a burden, rather than keep Rodney from helping John. He had looked, for one long moment, as though he was going to break. But he didn't, and John was grateful, for the simple reason that if he had, John would have been unable to keep from reaching out for him.
He turns his mind to Wraith, the ever present threat, and finds that it doesn't help at all to take his mind off the problem at hand, his increasing need to be with Rodney.
Beckett finally discharges John at three a.m., approximately 3 hours after John begins dropping heavy hints that if anyone wanted to have a relationship with one of the marines, John wasn't going to stand in their way. He eventually makes a big enough nuisance of himself that Dr. Beckett all but pushes him out of the door with nervous, shaking hands and strict instructions to go straight to his quarters and absolutely not leave until at least ten o'clock.
Two hours later, John finds himself outside Rodney's quarters. A quick check with Atlantis tells him that Rodney is not at home. Which is fortunate really, as in his drugged, hazy, sleep deprived, highly emotional state, not even a locked door could keep him from Rodney. Especially not a locked door, because all John need do is ask Atlantis to unlock it. Because Atlantis never denies John anything, and John is always grateful.
John turns to go, and there is Rodney, eyes red rimmed, short hair messy and looking at John with concern and something else.
John's fists clench and he says simply; 'Rodney.'
Rodney steps closer, too tired, too drained, too lonely and too shaken-up from the mission to keep up the pretence of friends that they've clung to all this time. John's fingers unclench, curl around Rodney's wrist, his shoulder, and this time, when Rodney sways against him, John doesn't close his eyes, and Rodney doesn't move away.
'John,' he says and John falls against him, their lips crashing together. Rodney makes a sound, low, in the back of his throat and his hands fist in John's t-shirt. He starts to move away as the door opens with a hiss. Their eyes meet and in silent agreement, Rodney follows as John backs into the room. 'We can't,' Rodney says as John's fingers find Rodney's fly and he replies simply,
'We can.' Because this is what they've been working towards, all the joking and sniping and touches and smiles and moments have been building, inevitably, to this. To _more_.
Rodney smiles at him, softly, slowly, and his smile is too good, too kind. John has to press his mouth against it, trace it with his tongue, learn its shape from the outside in. Rodney touches long, trembling fingers to John's lips, a light in his eyes John has never seen before and looks at John as though he is something precious. Something new and exciting and groundbreaking that Rodney has discovered.
Pulling Rodney across the room, John's face betrays none of the urgency he feels, but his fingers give him away as they shake and slip slide across the bare skin of Rodney's belly and chest as John divests him of his shirt.
Falling in a heap onto the bed, they steal kisses where they can between stripping off their clothes. Licks and nips replace John's shirt and leave him breathless and flushed. Rodney's hands falter as they come to rest on John's fly, suddenly unsure, suddenly nervous. John slips his fingers into Rodney's hair and lifts his hips up off the bed in permission. Rodney smiles and his eyes dip away from John's as he unbuttons his BDUs and pulls them off. John pushes up against Rodney, pressing their bodies flush together and Rodney moans softly, breath fanning out across John's face, making him want Rodney even more.
'I don't, I can't, is this really happening?' Rodney asks haltingly, his eyes closed, hands gripping John's arms.
In answer, John presses his mouth against Rodney's, kisses him slowly as his hands explore Rodney's skin. When he pulls away, he arches a brow at Rodney, who beams back at him dazedly and nods. John smiles in reply and rolls them over, so that Rodney is spread beneath him. His face open and trusting, telling the world and John, everything they want to know because Rodney has never learnt how to hide what he is feeling, be he has never before met anyone worth hiding from.
John leans down and kisses Rodney again, gently, teasingly, tongue flickering at his mouth. Rodney's hand moves up to cup the back of John's head and John pinches at Rodney's nipple. Rodney's breath hitches, and John's stomach lurches pleasantly, as he curls his hand, for the first time around Rodney's cock. Arching up into John's hand, Rodney sighs softly, his eyes falling closed, mouth open, fingers in John's hair. John rests his forehead against Rodney's, his own eyes slipping closed, as he brings Rodney to climax. Rodney comes with a small whimper, which John closes his mouth over, kissing Rodney lazily as he rides the aftershocks of his orgasm.
Rodney turns and shifts so he is lying on his front beneath John, turns his head to look up at him and John's hands still, fall away. He looks at Rodney, surprised, the question unspoken between them. Rodney touches light fingers to the bandages on John's arm, leans up and kisses him. Rodney nods, mostly to himself, and pulls John's hands back to his skin. John smiles and leans forward, kisses Rodney again and pushes him down into the mattress with confident hands.
John's fingers slide down Rodney's back, tracing the hollow of his spine. Rodney arches up and John replaces fingers with tongue, his hand moving to Rodney's ass. Fingers slick with sweat spread his cheeks, and then push into him slowly, confidently. John lays his other hand flat in the small of Rodney's back, supporting himself, soothing Rodney. When John pushes into him, carefully, Rodney's short, harsh breaths of pleasure and pain peak, and then lengthen, drawing out, into a low moan, as John's cock hits that sweet spot inside Rodney. As John hits it again and again, fingers, leaving their prints on Rodney's skin, Rodney can't keep himself from shifting up, leaning back, kissing John forcefully, his hand buried in John's hair.
John comes with Rodney's name on his lips and when they have both recovered, and are lying, side by side, limbs entwined, Rodney explores John's face with gentle touches. They fall asleep, hot, sticky, wrapped around one another, faces so close they are sharing air.
John wakes slowly, the warm Lantean sun filtering through the coloured glass windows, painting the room shades of blue and green. One arm is curled around the body of the man sleeping at his side, the other is dangling over the edge of the too small bed. Rodney's face is pressed close into John's neck and John is fairly sure Rodney is guilty of drooling, but John finds himself unable to find it anything but endearing. All too soon, John knows he will have to get up, make his way back to his own quarters, but he won't do it without first saying good morning.
Rodney stirs against him, pushes his face further into John's neck as he stretches and fidgets, pulls his arm tighter across John's chest. John smiles and strokes his fingers lightly down Rodney's arm. Rodney snorts softly and then pulls away sharply, sitting up in the bed.
'I-' he begins, but John cuts him off,
'We, you, I, um. Morning,' Rodney stutters, 'Is that the, I mean, what is the time? I really should be-' John leans across and kisses him to silence, soft lips pressed against Rodney's own, reaching up and tracing the steps with his fingertips when he moves away.
'Rodney?' he asks, and Rodney nods, John's fingers still against his lips. 'Shut up.' Rodney nods again and thankfully he does. John smiles beatifically. Nothing can touch him like this, skin to skin with this man. John has spent his life letting people think they know him, think he's let them in and now, when he least expects it, here he is, in love