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Fic: Black Sapphire (McKay/Zelenka, McKay/Sheppard/Zelenka, NC-17)

Title: Black Sapphire
Author: dingochow
Recipient: x_post_facto
Pairing: Rodney/Radek, Rodney/John UST, Rodney/Radek/John
Rating: NC-17. Like rather a lot, really. Eventually.
Disclaimer: The following story is a work of fiction, meant solely for entertainment purposes. The characters and their common background are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, the Sci-Fi Channel and possibly other very important people and companies. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: x_post_facto wanted a romantic comedy with the requisite misunderstandings, UST and happy ending and at least a few of the tropes off a very lively list. The result is perhaps more romance than comedy, though I hope it has some funny moments. Happy winter holiday, x! This started out as a story about Rodney, and turned into a story about John. Stories are strange that way. And while this is definitely set in the SGA native universe, no attempt whatsoever is made to adhere more than vaguely to canon. Consider this part of a sixth or seventh season of an alternate series.

Warnings: mild dom/sub themes, dirty talk, voyeurism and exhibitionism, toys Summary: Years in the closet may have blunted John's normally catlike reflexes, at least when it comes to matters of the heart (or at least the libido). How else did he manage to lose the bedroom initiative to ... Radek Zelenka?

Black Sapphire

The night John found out something was going on

It wasn't that he really wanted to play video games, or chess, or watch a movie for the dozenth time. And it wasn't that he wanted to be with Rodney, in particular. It was just that it was late, and he couldn't sleep, and John found himself standing outside Rodney's quarters, like he sometimes did, once in a while. It wasn't that late, and the door opened to his touch, as always.

John bounced around like a small ball bearing in a very large pinball machine in his own new "department head size" quarters, but Rodney was *nesting* in his. Somehow he'd gotten a real, overstuffed leather couch for movie nights, and a large wall monitor to watch the movies on, and he'd commandeered a table somewhere, and a couple of chairs. The table was usually covered with computers and works in progress, like it was now, but if you cleared it off you could eat there. But Rodney's pride and joy was in the back room: the bed, bigger than a king size, that he and Teyla had gotten in a weirdly complicated polygonal trade that cost them the secret of horselike creature shoeing (and the services of Dr. Callon, who turned out to be a trained farrier), a thousand bushels of that red fruit that gave everybody from Earth the runs, and a "genuine African mask" that John happened to know was made in Malaysia. (Not to mention all the things Rodney had had to trade for to get the mask, and the fruit, and the favor.) But it was an awesome bed, and it looked perfect under that window that let the moonlight in. And if John sometimes thought about sleeping there (and maybe doing other things), nobody had to know about that, least of all Rodney.

Rodney must have turned in early. The bedroom was quiet except for soft breathing, and dark except for the moonlight, spilling through that window onto that bed. He was on his back with no shirt on, the line of his strong shoulders and powerful arms pale against the dark sheets. And he wasn't alone.

John didn't know why he was shocked. He certainly found Rodney attractive, although he absolutely was not in love with him, so why wouldn't someone else feel the same way? Someone who was slender, with lots of soft, rumpled brown hair sticking out from under the covers at Rodney's side. Someone who had put that relaxed, almost happy look on Rodney's face. Someone who normally wore the glasses discarded on the bedside table.

Someone who'd looped one wiry arm around Rodney. Someone who was resting a hairy calloused hand with a half grown-out black thumbnail on Rodney's shoulder.

Rodney was in bed with a man. Specifically, Rodney was in bed with Radek Zelenka. And it wasn't liked they'd just collapsed fully dressed on the nearest horizontal surface after a rough day of science. That was easy to imagine, an adorable, innocent, genius puppy pile, but this wasn't that. Their clothes were scattered across the floor; Rodney's one visible nipple was red and puffy, and there was a distinct bite mark on Zelenka's back right where his shoulder met his neck. John did not want to think about what two guys might be up to for one to bite the other, hard, just there.

Zelenka rubbed his battered thumb against Rodney's collarbone. John remembered that day in the lab, and the entertaining burst of Czech when Zelenka hit himself with the hammer. Rodney had laughed his ass off, and Zelenka had promised he, Rodney, would never sleep peacefully again until he, Zelenka, had his revenge. This put a whole new interpretation on that threat. Had they been together then? Were they *flirting*?

He must have made some kind of a noise, because Zelenka woke up. He lifted his shaggy head and gave John a vague shortsighted look. There was recognition there, but no shame or panic. Zelenka didn't care that John was there, or what he saw. When he put his head down again, Rodney gave him a clumsy pat, squirmed a bit to settle down, and started snoring like a band saw. John made a run for it under cover of the noise.

The next few hours

Emotions were the shit. John knew what he felt was unpleasant; he might even describe it as painful. But giving it a name was a waste of time. Why, then, was it impossible not to try? He tossed on his own bed for a while. (It was a standard double he'd ordered from Earth, and it had seemed luxurious until he saw Rodney's and then Rodney had gotten Zelenka into his big bed instead of John and no he was not thinking about that.)

Sleeping was out, so what about running? He would get so tired he couldn't think, and maybe that would have worked if the rhythm of his pounding feet hadn't made him think of other rhythms, other rhythms he had missed for so long, not just fucking but breathing and heartbeats and someone else's bare skin moving softly close by. What would that be like, with a guy? John had plenty of experience of the back room, storage closet, dark corner, and bathroom stall variety, but the number of times he'd actually laid down naked to sleep with another man was, well, basically, none.

Rodney and Zelenka had looked pretty comfortable, curled up there in the moonlight, Rodney's big arm tight around Zelenka's shoulder.

That stabbing pain wasn't an emotion. It was that stitch he got sometimes, low in his belly, where the arrow had come out, and Rodney had bent over him, applying pressure, his face full of tears and pain and worry. That was Rodney, always right there: his Rodney, his teammate and friend, who cared for John so much and so well and who had the common sense to never, ever talk about it and risk things getting more complicated than they had to be .

He pulled up and slowed to a walk. He had to do something about this. Normally he was a live and let live kinda guy, perfectly willing, even eager, to let well enough alone. Other people did the relationship thing, and that was cool if it worked for them. But this was Rodney. He was John's best friend. He did not belong to Zelenka, except maybe during the work day, in the lab. Not in Rodney's bedroom, and certainly not in Rodney's bed. Zelenka was a good enough guy but he was … not hot. He was certainly not hot enough for Rodney.

This wasn't exactly a conclusion, but he felt sort of satisfied by it until he ran into Teyla strolling back from some kind of dawn meditation thing, and her calm voice and the clear compassion on her face and her being so strong and beautiful kinda broke it down again.

She steered him to her quarters and made him tea before she started the interrogation, and he told her the whole story, of course.

"I am sorry you had to find out that way, John. It must have been a shock."

Shit. She knew. She knew about him, about his stupid feelings, about everything. But then, she was Teyla. "You knew about this?"

"I knew that Rodney and Radek have been circling closer and closer to each other for some months. And I was not sorry to see it, though I knew it would cause you pain. Radek is a good man, honest and strong, and he and Rodney are well matched in many ways. I did not know that they had become lovers, and I do not think it has been going on for very long." Good, John thought, and Teyla must have read it on his face. "Please don't do anything rash, John. I know this will not be easy for you, but you have made your sacrifice." She put her hand on his arm, and it was strong and warm. "I understand that to stay here and lead and serve your people, you must preserve your military career."

She coaxed John closer and touched his forehead to hers. "I respect the choice that you made, and I grieve for you. It is too bad that the choices of your own leaders make your life, and the lives of so many of your soldiers, even more difficult than they have to be. But please, consider carefully before you stand in the way of Rodney's happiness. He too has sacrificed much, and he, as well as you, will suffer without need if you let this break apart the friendship that you both cherish."

John sipped his tea and thought about that. Could he and Rodney still have what they had always had, even if Rodney was also having some kind of thing was Zelenka? That might actually be sort of possible. It was probably just a fling, anyway. Rodney sucked at relationships. Though Teyla seemed to be pretty positive about this one.

He'd try not to worry about that. And also about the fact that Teyla seemed to know he was gay. At least she was someone he could trust to keep her mouth shut. Absolutely.

He avoided the mess, and Rodney, and whoever else Rodney might be having breakfast with, and his slightly improved mood lasted until midmorning, when Ronon cornered him in a (thankfully) deserted corridor near the gym.

"Hey, Sheppard," he asked. "You going to hassle McKay about his new boyfriend? Sorry you got skipped over -- must be seriously crappy for you. But people won't wait forever for someone who won't put out."

"Hey!"

"OK. Can't put out. Those are some seriously stupid regs. But face it, you can't compete with someone who's willing to share blankets. Not fair, but there you go."

Crap. Did everybody know? Apparently he wasn't quite as closeted as he thought he was. But Ronon's rough and ready sympathy was actually sort of reassuring. And there were things he could say here that would be just plain awkward with Teyla.

"Yeah, but Zelenka? Really? I know they have all the science stuff going on, finishing each other's sentences and all that, but in the sack?" To his surprise, Ronon grinned lasciviously.

"I bet Doc Z keeps McKay's blankets nice and warm. I like 'em like that: little and tough and really, really smart."

"Isn't it usually women for you?" John wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer.

"Usually. But women can be little and tough and really, really smart." John was relieved; that pretty much described Ronon's last couple of girlfriends.

"At least *you're* not hot for Zelenka."

"I dunno. If he'd offered, I probably wouldn't have said no. I like the way he talks." Ronon smacked John on the shoulder while managing to ignore the way his mouth was hanging open. "Talk to McKay, though. He seemed sort of worried at breakfast."

John sat there in the corridor for a while, with his back against the wall. Apparently he had no secrets, at least from two thirds of his team. Or half, if he counted himself. And it seemed like he wasn't going to be able to fool John Sheppard for too much longer.

He didn't want to know what secrets Rodney knew, or, Ancients forbid, which ones he would want to share. It was time to hide in his office.

Rodney finally cornered him there after lunch, which John had replaced with power bars out of his desk drawer. By this time John was sort of resigned to having this conversation; he wouldn't be able to skip meals forever.

"Sheppard."

"McKay."

"Radek told me you came by last night. Sorry if you were embarrassed or anything, but if you were, it's your own fault. If people who happen to have a telepathic connection to a certain Ancient city use that connection to let themselves into other people's bedrooms-- other people's *locked* bedrooms-- in the middle of the night, then they run the risk of seeing the kind of thing that goes on in bedrooms. In the middle of the night. Anyway, it shouldn't have been that shocking. You're certainly familiar with that particular activity." John couldn't believe it; Rodney was actually blushing. Not that that would shut him up when he got going. "Admittedly, not with men, seeing as you are the Kirk of the Pegasus galaxy, working your way through tribal headwomen, priestesses and glowy Ancient bimbos but it's basically the same thing, more or less."

"Not that Radek's a bimbo, or whatever you call it; far from it, he's a quality person, but you know that. And I know he and I are taking some serious risks, with our professional relationship, and the military atmosphere all around which is not exactly friendly to same sex pairings, but you know what I'm like with other people, with women, and well, with people I like who don't like me back, and Radek does. Like me, I mean. And John ..."

Rodney never called him John. Not unless someone was dying or something.

"John, I know you're not a homophobe, so please get over it. This has just started; don't wreck it, please. Don't hate me."

Rodney looked so small, like he thought maybe John really would hate him, and John had to give him half a hug. More like three quarters of a hug, really, and that was more than he probably would have done before he knew that Rodney was gay. Or bi. Or flexible. This sucked.

"Rodney. I don't hate you. And who you sleep with is not my business, OK?"

They talked about work for a while after that, and by the time Rodney left they were kinda back to normal, although it was pretty clear they were both working at it.

Time passes in spite of everything

This went on for a while, with everything more or less normal and everyone working more or less hard to keep it that way. It got easier over time, and John had to admit that it had a lot to do with Zelenka, who was really pretty amazingly gracious about the whole thing. He ate some meals with Rodney and the team, and turned up at the occasional movie night (with welcome gifts of popcorn and hooch) but he stayed out of the way a lot too, letting the team have their "group time", and John and Rodney their "best friend time" to play stupid games and watch TV. There was something to be said, John supposed, for sleeping with somebody who actually had some basic social skills. Teyla nodded approvingly, Ronon was amused, Rodney seemed happier and more relaxed, and John could almost pretend that nothing had really changed. Except now Zelenka was almost always in the Gateroom to see the team off, and waiting there when they returned, and when John visited the labs to do math or play light switch and the three of them were alone, he would catch Zelenka watching him with a sly, appraising look.

Then, of course, the usual Pegasus shit hit the fan, and they had to fight for their lives for a while. At the end of this particular series of random horrors. Rodney was in the infirmary with the aftermath of not one but three "through and through" gunshot wounds. And then one of the latest recruits, with an ATA gene almost as a strong as John's, managed to activate yet another meaninglessly dangerous Ancient device, which (from across the city no less) filled Zelenka's lab with something yellow-green and corrosive, forcing John to gallop to the rescue. Rodney and Radek were still fighting over the radio about its original purpose while the medical team was stripping Zelenka and John, running them through the decontamination showers and shoving them into an isolation room while they "ran some tests".



Decontamination

Well, this was awkward: crammed into a small windowless room without his clothes and with Rodney's boyfriend. John turned off the monitors with a quick dose of the ATA gene and rushed to cover up with one of the two small towels handily provided. Zelenka didn't bother, just stretched, shook out his wild hair (thinning more every day in the front and on the top, John was glad to see, but still thick in the back) and put his own towel down in the plastic chair before he sat down. The little guy had a rock solid ego, that's for sure, and John had to admit that he had nothing to be ashamed of in the naked department either. He was lightly built, but toned and nicely hairy, and he was pretty distinctly out of proportion where it counted.

Rodney's taste was better than John had given him credit for, more's the pity.

"Do you think, Colonel, that this would be a good time to have that talk we have been so carefully avoiding?"

"If we have to. But you start." Zelenka smirked.

"Why I am I not surprised? Fine. First, do not think I do not know exactly what is going on here. Other people involved may be clueless, but not me. I am a little poacher, yes, sneaking around in Lord John's territory and taking something that belongs to him. Rodney is yours, in your mind and in his own as well. I know he has a big crush on you. A Very Big Crush." This should be news to John, but it wasn't really. It was all so stupid.

"This kept him out of my arms, where I very much wanted him to be, and out of anyone's else's also, for many years. And you could probably still have him, even now. I know if you pointed one finger, and said to him 'Rodney, you are the one and only for me and I am in love with you. So now you must come live with me and be mine forever,' he might leave me without looking back." Zelenka made a this-way-that-way gesture with one hand. "He might, he might not, but I think that is what it would take. Perhaps I have an ego as big as Rodney's, if that is possible under present understandings of physics, but I am sure he would not go for less than that, not to be a dirty secret, even if it is to be your dirty secret. Do you have that to offer him, Colonel?"

"Do you?" Zelenka shut his eyes for a moment and smiled strangely.

"Oh, yes. For what it is worth, I offer him my primary loyalty, and yes, my love, though that is not something I speak of, or that he wants to hear. And I offer him concrete reality, someone who will be with him every day and every night, in his lab and in his bed for as long as he wants me there."

Zelenka stood up and loomed over him. It was a pretty convincing loom for a hairy little naked scientist without his glasses.

"When you can do the same, I will not fight you. You could kill me with that same one finger, and I know it well. One day you will decide you are ready. Then you will tell Rodney how you feel, and we will let him decide. If he chooses you, he will go with you and I will say nothing. But if you take him away from me and you hurt him, you will Never. Sleep. In. Peace. Again."

Zelenka, John decided, gave a good rant. Not in the major league, Rodney McKay class, but very passable. And he got half hard while he was doing it, which was impressive and disturbingly hot. He was really something.

"Yeah, I get it. That makes sense, mostly. Thanks for clarifying."

"And now we will be the strong silent types and pretend this never happened."

"Pretty much."

They managed to grin at each other, and it was sort of good to have everything out in the open with at least one person. John was surprised how sympathetic he felt. Zelenka did seem to be genuinely emotionally involved, and Rodney had a very, very bad track record when it came to relationships. This was going to blow up in both their faces, and John was glad he was forced by circumstances to keep his own connection with Rodney strictly on the friendship level. He was glad. Really.

Victory is one of those words that looks better on paper

It was about two hours later that the sensors found the hive flotilla. They gave John back his pants and his gun, and Zelenka back his glasses, and Rodney, from his hospital bed, superintended the delivery of Carson's latest retrovirus. It worked.

In the aftermath, John and Carson had to go back to Earth to debrief, and to enjoy (at least in theory) four weeks of R and R. What Carson did in Scotland, John had no idea (and didn't want to know), but John went to Hawaii to surf and get laid. The first turned out to be superb, the second only trivially pleasurable, until the night he cruised the expensive tourist hotels for a balding middle aged man with blue eyes and a plush but muscular body. John kept him quiet with a hard hand over his soft mouth, and spent himself over and over again, against the man's thick thighs and against his rounded belly and deep inside his powerful ass. He slept contentedly with his fantasies, his face buried in a strong, smooth shoulder.

Then he was back in Pegasus, and that felt good enough that he geared up and went through the Gate to join his team for a shopping trip already in progress. In the windswept marketplace on Altavista (and yes, the geeks thought the name was a bit of a scream), John saw Rodney and Teyla in front of a jeweler's tent, bent together over a tray of loose stones. Relief rushed through him; the thing with Zelenka had run its course while he was away. He hadn't realized how much it had bothered him, Rodney with another guy, but now that it was over the broken tension actually made him weak in the knees. Not that he didn't feel bad for Zelenka; he'd really seemed to care about Rodney and it must have hurt. But, as expected. Rodney had returned to form, buying fancy jewelry for yet another poor woman who he would never understand and would never understand him, and would almost certainly dump him and leave him confused and alone (except for John), again. Not that this was a good thing, but it was something John understood. And yes, that made him a jerk.

He stepped closer and admired a sapphire, like a drop of black blood in Rodney's broad palm. It was small, but it had a perfect, symmetrical white star in its heart. Interesting choice. John wondered who the woman was, and what she would think of a jewel like that. Rodney turned and smiled at him, his blinding, honest, just-for-John real smile, and they had to go meet Ronon at the alehouse and Rodney's new girlfriend and her gift were forgotten.

Two days later he saw the black sapphire blinking from Zelenka's newly pierced left earlobe and he knew he was in real trouble. Because Zelenka had been shopping, too (or Rodney was very generous with the presents, which would be exactly in character), and his new soft leather jacket (very dark brown), tight native pattern shirt (grey blue to match his eyes, and John so did not want to know that), plus the earring made him look …really good. Then Rodney appeared a few days after that with an earring of his own: a small titanium bolt held through the piercing with a titanium washer and hex nut. And Rodney had always looked good.

The deal with the earrings

For the first time, John's own Very Big Crush made him actually open his mouth and initiate a conversation. Thank whatever they were sitting alone way out on the pier when he lost control.

"So, McKay. What's the deal with the earrings?" Rodney looked down into the water, and John thought, shocked, that he might be blushing.

"I don't know. It was Radek's idea, primarily. I just wanted to get him something beautiful, for himself, you know, because he's so beautiful to me," Whoa, John thought, that old injury's really stabby today. "And I saw the sapphire. I know about star sapphires, of course. Asterism, crystal structures, titanium and iron impurities, all of that. But I'd never seen a black one like that, black like Radek's evil, evil heart-he really is wicked, in the very best possible way, you know." John nodded, not liking this at all, and knowing he was going to like the rest of it even less. It was like a train wreck; horrible but you had to keep watching..

"So yes, jet black, but with a bright white star right in the middle. You get the metaphor." Yeah, John got it. Really, Zelenka better be everything Rodney thought he was, or there would be hell to pay. And since when did John ever hope one of Rodney's little romantic ventures would succeed?

"So I had to buy it for him. Teyla helped me with the bargaining, but still, it was a stretch, since they don't pay us in Pegasus trading marks. But it was so worth it. I didn't consider what to do with it until afterward; I'd never bought a loose stone before. I suppose I was thinking of a ring, but of course that wouldn't work under the circumstances." Of course not. Even Rodney wasn't that clueless, to give a ring to another man and expect him to wear it in public …

"It'd never work. Radek is an engineer; his work is even more hands-on than mine is. A ring is just an open invitation to machinery, much less Ancient machinery: please tear off my finger now. And I like Radek's fingers exactly where they are, thank you very much." Rodney nodded decisively. "Teyla pointed out that a lot of the civilians have pierced ears, and post earrings are pretty safe to wear and the Athosian jewelers are used to making them for us. I was frankly surprised that Radek went along with the idea, because needles, ew, but he didn't so much as squeak. Don't worry, we did it at the infirmary; that tall nurse with all the tattoos has a nice little sideline going piercing God knows what. Earlobes are the least of it, from what you hear."

"That explains Zelenka, McKay, but what about you?"

"He did it for me. I did it for him." Rodney shrugged. John waited for further explanations and justifications, but they weren't coming. Wow. Just wow. You wouldn't think, when a guy had been your best friend for five or six years, that he could still surprise you. John leaned into Rodney's shoulder and Rodney leaned back, resting his head against John's. This wouldn't have happened a year, or even six months, ago. Before Zelenka. John sort of liked it, even though it was almost certainly far too late.

Bug

Then John got turned into a bug for the third time. Or maybe it was just a relapse; he felt sometimes like he'd never quite gotten over the first time. This time was the worst. He kept his consciousness while losing control of both his emotions and his behavior. Not to mention his body; he ended up climbing the walls of the makeshift security installation (the regular brig wouldn't hold him), and he was skittering across the ceiling like a Florida palmetto bug before it was over. Everyone abandoned him, eventually, even the medical staff. Only Rodney was left behind to shove his food slop through the slot in the door and hose his shit down the floor drain while he lurked on the ceiling and made chittering noises and tried to kill him. In between episodes he sat in the corridor and worked to find yet another cure.

Rodney never left, and he never slept, and he was standing at Lorne's shoulder when his second in command shot John with a modified tranquilizer cartridge containing the first dose of the three part cure.

When John stepped out of the infirmary, fragile and trembling and permanently blue in a couple of places, and so bitterly ashamed he couldn't look directly at anyone, much less Rodney, he faced a hearing that was the next thing to a court martial. It was only Rodney's arguments (and the steadfast refusal of almost all the Atlanteans to say more than the minimum to any outside investigators) that kept John from being sent back to Earth for good. It was good they protected him, because the way John felt he would have walked quietly through the Gate and straight into Leavenworth, staring at his boots the whole time.

Carson recommended rest, and Elizabeth gave him leave, and Rodney was there, too, offering to go to the beach with him. John woke up enough to object: this was above and beyond the call for Dr. McKay, considering how he felt about sun and sand, and anyway he didn't deserve a best friend for company as much as, say, armed guards.

McKay told him he was full of crap, and Elizabeth, Lorne and Zelenka saw them off. Elizabeth was concerned and compassionate, Lorne impassive and serious, and Zelenka looked completely exhausted. John assumed that he was worn out from doing Rodney's work as well as his own while Rodney had been protecting John, and he knew it was good he was thinking clearly enough to draw such a complex conclusion, but it still made him sick to his stomach.

"Thanks, Doc, for sharing him," he whispered as he passed Zelenka in the Jumper Bay, and was surprised by the gentleness of the smaller man's hand on his forearm.

"Be well, John." And John was pretty sure Zelenka would have kissed him, if there hadn't been witnesses.

To add to his confusion, Rodney did kiss him, while they were on the beach. Not sexy kisses, but loving ones, on the forehead or the top of his head, buried in his hair, when John came in from the water, or woke up from a nap. John only asked about it once, and got another one of those weird short answers. This time it was "You're here," and John knew just what he meant.

It was like a twisted version of his trip to Hawaii a few months before, though with somewhat less surfing and much less getting laid. At first it was long naps and short swims, but later the ratio was reversed, and he began to feel better, going from barely human to more or less himself.

McKay worked, of course, though he got in his share of the naps as well. Teyla visited twice, and Ronon once, bringing baskets of fresh food and staying to play in the water with John until he was ready to sleep again. Rodney talked to Zelenka a couple times a day over the radio on the open circuit, and once every evening over a homemade contraption which John was pretty sure was secured and encrypted. He stayed away from that conversation, not wanting to hear even Rodney's side. Was he in love with the little Czech? Did he say it out loud? Were they having *phone sex*? The mind boggled.

Their last night on the beach, Rodney built a fire, and brought out a half bottle of really good Scotch. John hadn't been allowed even a solitary beer during his recovery, so his tin cup of smoky, peaty, iodine-y single malt went down extra smoothly, and made him a little loopy.

"Rodney?"

"Yeah, John?" (First names? All right …)

" Is Zelenka OK with this? I mean, a lot of people wouldn't like their boyfriend going away on a beach vacation with somebody else. They'd just assume he was cheating."

"It's not a vacation when you have a prescription. This is medical leave. And you're not some random 'somebody else'. You're you. You're John."

"Yeah, but what does that mean?"

"It means you're my best friend, and he understands that. And he trusts you. And he trust me."

"I don't know whether I should be flattered or insulted." Rodney cuffed him on his shoulder and it was almost like old times. .

"Be flattered." Rodney filled up their cups and sat looking into the fire for a long time. Then he said something really strange. "And anyway, it's not clear at this point whether it would even *be* cheating. Radek knows how I feel about you. He says it's up to me what we do, as long as when it's time to go home, I end up with him. Which I will, since Radek is my home now."

"Yeah." Damn it anyway. Damn little geek and his earring.

"But you … you're my home, too. Or I want you to be."

"Jeez, Rodney. Don't say that." But it had been said, and John couldn't help thinking about it. "How would that even work?"

"I don't know how. But that's what I want."

There was nothing John was willing to say to that. He wondered for a few minutes whether something was going to happen, there in the sand by the dying fire, but they just sat knee to knee for while, talked about other things, and drank some more scotch. It tasted pretty damn good.

What is seen cannot be unseen

After that, it was sort of understood that John was not just Rodney's best friend, but somehow the best friend of the Rodney/Zelenka relationship, too. He spent more and more time with them in Rodney's quarters, which were unofficially Rodney and Zelenka's quarters, and it was sort of interesting. John was plenty gay, inside, but he'd never spent any time with gay couples before, or even thought much about what it would be like.

He was obscurely surprised when it was just … ordinary. Sometimes Rodney and Zelenka bickered like they did in the lab, about work assignments and math and the obscure intentions of the Ancients, and sometimes they bickered like a couple about things like laundry and Rodney's snacking habits. And they played chess and tried to beat each other's high scores on the laptop games, and watched movies and listened to music. John was free to join them in any or all of these activities, and he sometimes did, though he gave the laundry bickering a pass. Sometimes it was a little much and John was happy to get back to the quiet shadows of his own room where there was nothing to hear but Atlantis' steady state hum. But there were also times when it was tough to leave at the end of the evening, and his room seemed empty and silent.

The thing that surprised him most was how little time Rodney and Zelenka seemed to spend having sex. They were friendly, even sort of cuddly, in private, but Rodney touched John almost as much as he touched Zelenka, and seemed just as likely to lean against his friend as he was to snuggle up to his lover. John's own experiences were all about the sex (they pretty much had to be), and he couldn't help wondering what it was like between them when they were alone.

He wondered a lot, actually. More than he should, and a lot of this wondering took place in his bed or in the shower, with one or both hands on his cock. He wanted to be ashamed of this turn in his fantasy life, but he kind of liked the orgasms, which were better than most of the ones he had had recently.

Then one memorable afternoon he found out just what happened in the private lab where the CSO and his chief deputy kept all the stuff that was too dangerous for the general run of the minions. John had only a vague idea where it was, and he was surprised when a door opened in that corridor with no intention on his part and he heard Rodney and Zelenka's voices inside. And hey, he was curious. Why was Rodney standing facing the wall, with Zelenka pressed up close behind him?

"Not in the lab, Radek. That's the rule."

"Your rule, Rodney, not mine."

"And I make the rules in the lab."

"You do, do you?" Zelenka stood up on his toes and rubbed his face in the back of Rodney's neck. Rodney squeaked. Had Zelenka nipped him? "Perhaps you do. But who makes the rules in the bedroom, Dr. McKay? And in other places as regards … matters of the bedroom?"

"You do, Dr. Zelenka." Rodney's voice made John shiver.

"That is the correct answer, Dr. McKay, if you want to have an orgasm this afternoon. If you want to come all over the wall while I fuck you blind. Do you want to come, right now, stuffed full, while I pound your tender prostate on every stroke?"

"God yes, Radek, please."

"You change your tune quickly, my friend. But of course you do. You are a slut. Strip, now, please."

"No, come on, it's too dangerous, I'll just drop my pants and bend over. You can do me from behind; you like that."

"I do. I intend to do you from behind, and you will be naked when I do it, and I will like that very much. Get fucked now and come while I fuck you, or wait until I am next in the mood. It is your choice." Not much of a choice, John thought, clamping his hand down on his own crotch while Rodney stripped without teasing, muttering all the time.

"'Next in the mood', my pink arse, call me a slut, you slut, your so-called moods are like rush hour buses, if I miss one there'll be another in five minutes; I don't know why I let you order me around anyway."

Zelenka, minus his lab coat and shirt, pants around his ankles and way more hung than he had any right to be, took one cheek of Rodney's magnificent ass in a hairy hand.

"You let me because you like it, Rodney. You like it very much to be told what to do, don't you?" He squeezed hard, and Rodney moaned. "Tell me you like it."

"Yeah, I like it. I love it, you know I love it."

"Yes, I know. Bend over now, and hands against the wall." Rodney bent, and Radek prepped him, slow and easy, to an accompaniment of moans and cursing. He lubed himself in a leisurely way, leaving Rodney dangling for a long moment. (No condom! John had never been inside anyone without a condom, ever.) "All right, Rodney. If you want this, tell me now."

"Aw, please, just do it, I'm all ready, I want it now, please." Zelenka rubbed against his ass, but it didn't look like he'd pushed inside. "C'mon Radek, you know I can take it, I'll take anything for you, you know it'll be so hot in there, all tight around your dick, you fill me up so perfectly, please stretch out my hole and fill me up, fuck me now, please dammit you little shit."

"Oh yes, when you start to call me names, that is when I want to fuck you." But apparently it was, because Radek was in with one almighty shove and his ass looked incredible while he did it. He rode the bigger man hard against the wall for a long, long time, until even Rodney's motormouth was reduced to incoherence, a muffled howl marking every time Radek, as promised, hit his prostate. Radek finally reached around and brought Rodney off with about three tugs, and he spilled, also as promised, all over the wall. John came in his pants, pressing hard against the heel of his hand.

Then Rodney and Zelenka were kissing passionately, for the first time in the whole sequence, and John, baffled and still aroused, unlocked the door with his mind and slipped away without either of them noticing. Or so he very sincerely hoped.

Outed

John had his suspicions about Zelenka. In the weeks after the Lab Incident, he noticed more and more of those appraising looks from the Czech. John felt … evaluated, and he couldn't help wondering if Zelenka knew he had been watching and was waiting for him to show some evidence of a reaction, either to the sex itself or to some of the details, like all the dirty talk, or the Rodney taking orders thing, which was kind of strange. (But also strangely hot.) Apparently John passed the evaluation, and he was welcomed even more deeply into their circle. Now Zelenka (Radek?) occasionally sat at John's feet with his head against John's leg the way Rodney sometimes did, or leaned on one of Rodney's shoulders while John was leaning on the other. Rodney liked this a lot.

One of the side effects of this increased intimacy was that John sometimes felt comfortable enough to fall asleep in Rodney's quarters. And that was why it happened.

He woke up sometime after midnight on Rodney's couch, respectably alone, since the lovers had retired to bed a long time ago. Was it Rodney or Radek who had covered him with the quilt and set his boots where they'd be easy to grab? And why was that couch so damn comfortable? It would be easy just to stay there, snug and warm, listening to Rodney's familiar snoring from the next room, but old instincts wouldn't let him rest, whispering 'never spend the night, never never never'. So he slipped guiltily away, as if a game of chess and a nap were anything to feel guilty about.

He had the patrol schedule memorized, so he felt perfectly safe stepping out into the corridor. Right into the path of Major Lorne. They collided sharply, and both pinwheeled in a comical way to avoid falling. Lorne, who was not known for his sense of humor, stifled something that sounded suspiciously like a giggle.

"Sorry, sir. Good night, sir." Before John had a chance to offer any kind of explanation (and he had a perfectly reasonable one ready) his second in command was off on his way to wherever he was going in a calm and businesslike way.

That was the beginning of three very hard days. He and Lorne had served together for four or five years, and they got along well enough, but they weren't particularly friendly. Lorne was a by the book kind of guy and John was not, and they had few common interests, so they just didn't cross paths much outside of work. And John was sure, absolutely sure, that Lorne was straight and not inclined to ignore a "situation" involving a gay superior officer and a violation of his precious regs. But Lorne didn't say anything, and as far as John could discover, he didn't send in any extra reports. The stress was incredible. If he wasted his chance with Rodney to preserve his career, and then lost everything anyway …

Eventually he joined Lorne on a scheduled patrol and stopped him on one of the catwalks far away from the center of the city.

"Lorne, I'd like to talk, off the record."

"Sir?"

"Not sir. Sheppard. About the other night."

"What about the other night? Guess we were both having trouble sleeping. You were checking on the patrols, I was checking on the patrols, and we happen to meet in a corridor. Nothing to note." Lorne shrugged and turned to go.

"Lorne …"

"Sheppard. It's OK. You, and McKay, and Doc Z, you work harder than anybody, and put your lives on the line for this city every damn day. What you do in your spare time is your own business. Everybody's known for months and nobody cares. Even the gossip died down a long time ago. The three of you are hardly the only ones out there who have something going on; and I should know. And besides, you have as more on me than I have on you-you never said a word about me and David and Katie when you caught us that time … you remember that Harvest Festival, on whatever world that was?"

John remembered; that world the botanists loved, and Doctors Parrish and Brown sitting under a boat tipped sideways on the beach with one of the officers or another, all of them giggling in a cloud of sweet smelling smoke. Had that been Lorne? But what had they been up to, beside smoking some kind of Pegasus loco weed? Everyone who went off world had done that; it was no big deal.

"Drugs from our own greenhouses *and* three-way loving," Lorne went on cheerfully. "My Pegasus family makes you and your pet scientists look like models of respectability. But what happens in Pegasus stays in Pegasus, right, as long as we are careful to keep it strictly out of the office, and the official reports." And Lorne winked. He *winked*. Then they went back on patrol.

Apparently John did not know the Major as well as he thought he did. He was inspired to put his ear down and listen more carefully to the jungle drums of Atlantis gossip, and Lorne was right. If even a tenth of those stories were true, and not just wild speculation as John had always assumed, John, Rodney and Radek's "Pegasus family" would qualify as conservative even if they were sleeping together.

There went his last real excuse.

Non-sectarian Winter Celebration Time is here

That was two weeks before Christmas, or two weeks before The Official Atlantis Non-sectarian Culturally Sensitive Winter Celebration, as Rodney insisted on calling it long after the joke got a little thin. The customs of this holiday were an amalgamation of customs from two galaxies, authentic and invented, and the whole thing was a lot of fun if you were into that kind of thing, which Rodney and John were not. Radek was a little more in touch with the holiday spirit, mostly because the celebration provided an excellent market for the products of his stills. He also had an interesting arrangement with some of the offworld teams, involving cornering the supply of a Pegasus plant almost identical to mistletoe.

Soon there were clumps of small soft green plants with white berries hanging in doorways and from light fixtures all around the city. Elizabeth had to order all hands to ignore them while on duty, but that left plenty of other opportunities for miscellaneous, if not promiscuous, displays of kissing.

Rodney, who only kissed certain people, and only in private, and John, who(with very limited exceptions) preferred not to kiss at all, particularly disliked mistletoe, and Rodney had banned it from his quarters. Radek was in favor, not just because of the profit element but also the potential for gossip, blackmail and general mayhem. Rodney also suspected him of enjoying the occasional illicit kiss himself, but he could never catch his lover in the act, and claimed didn't much care as long as it never went further than kissing.

With all this minor tension in their strange little household, it was inevitable that the three of them would get caught in a stuck transporter under a big bunch of the stuff, tied with a big red ribbon. Rodney backed away, claiming to be on duty, but Radek pointed out it was after dinner, and they had been working all day. John, sensing mischief, encouraged him. But he wondered if he had miscalculated when Radek pulled Rodney down into a highly authoritative, and searingly hot, kiss. It went on forever, with lots of pulling back so John could see their twining tongues and hear the small wild noises Radek made. Rodney's moans as he was taken, and that was the only word for it, went straight to John's cock.

Then the were finished, and Rodney stepped back, almost staggered, mouth soft and eyes unfocused. Then he turned to John, and smiled. "Go ahead, said Radek, and John shuddered. Rodney put one hand on John's shoulder, all questioning attention, and John closed the gap between them. Privacy, and Radek's approval, and mistletoe-he would never have a better chance.

They kissed, and it was awesome. If Rodney liked to be submissive to Radek, it didn't necessarily extend to his behavior with other people; he met John fair and square, man to man, and it was everything John had ever wanted. If he had his way it would go on forever, stuck in the transporter with no past and no future and no consequences.

They only broke apart when the door creaked before it opened, and thank whatever that it did because Cadman and Kusanagi were waiting there with the testing gear, and they would never have stopped giggling.

And that would have been the end of it if there hadn't been a single lonely sprig of green and white dangling by a piece of fishing line from the ceiling outside Rodney's quarters. Rodney was already standing in the doorway waiting for them when Radek stopped John with a hard, hot hand in the middle of his chest. Very deliberately, the smaller man stepped up onto John's feet so they were face to face. The soft soles of his trainers draped across the steel toes of John's boots as he kissed the hell out of him. John took a deep breath, opened his mouth, pulled Radek tight against him and kissed back as well as he could. It was good, and he enjoyed it more, a lot more, than he thought it would.

When it was over, Radek rubbed his nose affectionately against John's cheek, and John could feel himself smiling like an idiot. Over Radek's shoulder he saw Rodney watching them and he looked very, very pleased.

"You know," he said, "the two of you look ridiculously cute together."

The night It finally happens

After that, Rodney and Radek were a lot less discreet. They kissed each other, and kissed John, and sometimes hands began to wander, or bodies to press against each other. It was always John who stopped it, who went home, or changed the subject, and the other two seemed to be in agreement that he was in charge of how far things went. John wondered if they had discussed it, and he supposed they had. The idea made him uncomfortable, that they'd talked about him, maybe naked, maybe in bed after they'd … no. Just no. But that didn't stop him from coming around.

One evening they had made a sort of not-a-date to watch some new car chase movies Radek had traded for, and John let himself in. There was no one in the front room, and John was reminded of that first night, when he had seen Rodney and Radek sleeping in the moonlight. He stuck his head through the open doorway to the bedroom.

They certainly were not asleep. Radek was sitting up, and Rodney was on his back, one leg draped over Radek's shoulder so he was spread out, wide open. Radek was stroking Rodney's hard cock with one hand, shiny with lube, while the other worked a dildo, a very thick bright purple dildo, into his wide-stretched hole.

"You love this," said Radek, conversationally. "You love it when I stick this thing up inside you, when I fuck you with it. It is very big, and you take it so willingly, filled up and opened wide. You look beautiful, Rodney, so beautiful being fucked." Rodney moaned softly. "I bet you wish John could see you, legs spread and taking everything I give you, taking a fat fake dick for me, getting you all stretched and slick and ready for anything . Ready for John's dick, maybe. Would you let John fuck you? He'd want to if he saw you. An angel would want you, looking like this."

"John," Rodney moaned. "Would you like to watch that? Me with John? Me on my back, no, on my belly, ass in the air, John mounting me, fucking me?"

"Oh yes, very much. John is very beautiful, almost as beautiful as you are. The two of you together, it would be exquisite."

"Not just watch …" Rodney was breathing faster. " You'd play too. You've kissed him … his mouth …"

"Wonderful, yes." Radek twisted his hand around Rodney's dick, rubbing his palm over the head. "His mouth is so sweet. I would like it on my dick while you fuck him, on your dick while I fuck him. I want to see hot come overflowing onto his chin."

"Mine or yours …?" Rodney was whimpering

"Either. Perhaps, both?" Radek twisted his hand again, thrust hard with the dildo, Rodney half screamed, his eyes squeezed shut. John could practically feel him struggling not to come, and moaned in sympathy.

Rodney's eyes flew open, then widened in recognition and he came hard, all over Radek's hand and his own belly. Radek smirked at John and started to lick his hand clean, finger by finger. John, special forces soldier and combat pilot, turned tail and ran, hiding under the blanket on the couch, trembling with lust and humiliation.

After a while (he had no idea how long), he felt the couch move as someone else sat down. It wasn't a big enough movement to be Rodney. He uncovered his head and looked up at Radek, sitting there looking all ironic and compassionate, but sort of sweet at the same time.

"I am sorry about that. We lost track of the time, probably."

"Or not. Did you do that on purpose? Was it some kind of seduction? Because if it was, it was pretty crude."

"Oh, John. Do not call it seduction. But was it part of our courtship? Perhaps. Crude, yes, maybe that. Though in our defense, you have spent many months ignoring our attempts to be subtle."

"Attempts? What attempts? What are you talking about?"

"What attempts? Meals and chess games? Movies? Hugs and kisses? Cuddles on the couch? The best friendship we can give to you, and the most love? We have been courting you for a long time, wanting you for a long time, but you are clearly too thick to notice. Come back to the bedroom now, and talk to Rodney. I know he is embarrassed, and afraid that you are angry with him." Radek stood up, magnificently naked, and held out his hand. For the first time, John sort of understood Rodney's delight in submitting to this man; he was easy to follow.

Back in the bedroom, Rodney was hiding under the covers. Radek finally had to order him to get his face out of the pillow and sit up, but he followed it with coffee and a damp towel and a strong arm around his lover's shoulders. John, still half dressed, was sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to think of something to say, when Rodney spoke up, softly.

"I'm sorry, John."

"No, *I'm* sorry. I shouldn't have made a scene. It's my fault, I guess, for not picking up on all the clues Radek says you've been giving me. I really am pretty thick, but it's hard to imagine that this could happen. That you'd really want a threesome. Why take the risk? You have each other, and you seem to be happy. Why would you want me?"

"Why?" Rodney sounded half hysterical. "Why? You're John Sheppard-who wouldn't want you? Who couldn't want you?"

"A lot of people, really," said John, and then Rodney was kissing him hard, and pushing his shirt off his shoulders. Someone was tugging down his unbuttoned pants; that was Radek, he supposed, and then there was skin all around him and he was bare in Rodney's arms. His aching dick rubbed against something hot and soft and good, and moments later he was gasping for breath with a cock in his mouth and another pressed against his lower back. He came once in three slick, squirming, hands, and again, much later, in someone's mouth, and in between he fucked Rodney for a long time, and got fucked at least once and maybe twice, although the second round might have been with Rodney's favorite purple toy. He crept into his own quarters at dawn with his boxers in his pocket and a sore ass, and he hadn't done that and felt happy about it in a long, long time.

Two nights later

Two nights later, he was getting ready to do the same thing, telling himself cheerfully that it wasn't a walk of shame if he wasn't ashamed of it, and he so wasn't. He looked up from slipping into his unlaced boots, and saw Radek standing in the bedroom doorway.

"John, beautiful friend, I am getting very tired of having relationship discussions with you while I am naked. At least I am not all horny and frustrated this time, and perhaps it is true that a third time will pay for all." He sat down again, next to John. "Why are you leaving?"

"I always leave."

"I know that. I ask why. The bed warm, there is plenty of room for all, and Rodney very much wants to sleep with you, not just to have sex. He wants you near, and he grieves when you leave him cold on one side. There is no need for it."

"Look, Radek, this is nice of you, but it's the two of you who are lovers; you just invited me into the bed for some friendly fun times. In the morning you'll be getting ready for work; you'll want your own routine and no company messing things up. I'll sleep where I always do, and see you both at breakfast."

"John Sheppard. You stubborn ass. Do you even know what the word 'courting' means?" Radek made a frustrated noise. "Did I ever tell you, John, about the first time I had sex with Rodney?" John shook his head. " We had a long and clumsy courtship of his own, and I too assumed I was just a fuckbuddy, invited only for the fun times; so of course I went home afterwards. And in the morning Rodney would not speak to me. I had underestimated him, his courage, and his ability to feel love, even when he is not gracious about expressing it. So the next time, I stayed all night. That was the night we had a visitor." They looked at each other seriously for a moment. "I hurt him, John. The son of a bitch will deny it forever, but there were tears. I do not want that to happen again. Not to you either."

"I never cry," said John.

"Not on the outside, no. It would be good for you if you did. Maybe I can fuck you until you do."

"Dr. Zelenka, you are welcome to try." They shook on it. He was shaking hands with a naked Czech scientist in their shared lover's living room, while that lover snored in the bed next door. This was not the way his life was supposed to have gone.

"This isn't going to be easy." John stepped out of his boots and unbuckled his belt. Radek shrugged.

"If you wanted easy, you would not still be in Pegasus." He stood in the doorway, looking tenderly at Rodney in the bed. "And it is Rodney. What is he worth to you?"

John looked at Rodney too, unable to say anything about what he felt, but knowing it had to be written all over his face. Radek shrugged again, and waved him through the door with a little "after you" gesture.

They stretched out on either side of Rodney, who wriggled, half awake, until he had one of them on each shoulder, his big arms wrapped around them. They both stroked him until their hands met on his belly. They clasped, holding on suddenly tight, then Radek slid their joined hands up to where they could both feel Rodney's heartbeat.

"Are you guys holding hands on my chest? You're a couple of big saps, you know that."

"Shut up Rodney."/ "Shut up, Rodney."

"Hey. Stereo boyfriends."

4 AM

John woke up at about 4, badly in need of a piss. When he got back from the bathroom, he stood by the bed for a moment, watching his friends, Or were they his lovers, now? Rodney was still on his back in the middle of the bed, with Radek tucked compactly into a small space on his far side and John's own larger share waiting right by his knees, sheets folded back, inviting in the first grey light of dawn.

If he didn't get back in, he'd just be getting up early. He'd just be going for a run, not running away.

"John." Radek's voice wasn't quite a whisper, perfectly pitched to not wake a sleeping Rodney. As John watched him he sucked obscenely on two of his own fingers and reached across, pinching one of Rodney's nipples gently into hardness. "Come back to bed and suck on this, please."

"You'd like that?". He was shocked by the huskiness in his own voice. Something this straightforward should not be so hot.

"Yes," said Radek, and his voice was perfectly steady, the kinky little bastard. "And so will Rodney."

John got in, and Rodney was so warm, so smooth, so silky, and Radek gently guided his head until he was lapping at the nipple Radek had chosen. Rodney moaned in his sleep and began to harden against John's belly, and Radek stroked gently behind his ear with wet fingers as he sucked.

This was going to be a lot of fun.

Three months later

Three months later, DADT was repealed, and nothing much changed in Pegasus. John started wearing something under his usual wristband. Very few people ever saw it except the infirmary staff (who didn't gossip as a rule), but rumor had it was a small bracelet made of silver and black wires twisted together around a fragment of broken crystal the color of the Atlantean sky. No one ever asked him about it, and he felt no real need to explain. But if someone had, John would have told them that the idea of getting pierced really creeped him out.
Tags: genre: slash, genre: threesomes and moresomes, pairing: mckay/sheppard, pairing: mckay/sheppard/zelenka
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