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Title: Shielded by the Hands of Love
Author: starbuckssue
Recipient: taste_is_sweet
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or any of the characters; I just play with them once in a while...they haven't complained yet.
Summary: They never knew what to expect when they stepped through the Stargate, but this was something Rodney McKay could never have imagined.


Rodney hesitated outside John's door for a moment before tapping the chime, a tray from the mess balanced in one hand and laptop tucked precariously under his arm. John hadn't long returned from Earth following his father's funeral and Rodney wasn't sure whether or not his friend really wanted company, although he thought John would probably appreciate the distraction.

John didn't deal easily with emotions and Rodney wanted to be around when he returned, guessing that he may be feeling a little lost. Rodney knew how he'd felt when his own father died as they hadn't had a close relationship either. He knew John would try and brush things off but Rodney also knew him well enough to realize that the estrangement and lack of resolution would bother his friend.

John rarely talked about his family but in unguarded moments over the course of their friendship, usually when they'd had a few beers, he'd shared a few confidences. Rodney was aware that John had lost his mother as a child and hadn't had a close relationship with his father and that in later years the two had drifted further and further apart after John chose the Air Force rather than the family business. Rodney had sensed John's regret and understood his longing for a closer relationship with his only remaining parent.

The door opened after a few moments and John stood before him, a picture of exhaustion and misery, wet hair sticking up in all directions, sleep pants and t-shirt a clear indication that he was preparing for bed. He looked tense and uncharacteristically vulnerable: the look on his face a strange mixture of hope and need which made Rodney wish he could pull John into his arms. The fledgling friendship they had forged in Antarctica had developed over the years and Rodney found it very hard to keep up the appearance of simple friendship when he'd been in love with John for so long.

"Hey, Rodney," John said wearily.

"Hi. I thought I'd see if you needed-" Rodney stammered and waved the tray and its contents somewhat precariously. "I brought food," he finished a little awkwardly, still feeling unsure of his welcome.

John stepped back to allow him in, rescuing the laptop as Rodney passed him to set the tray on the desk.

"I had a meal with Dave before I left the house so I wasn't really hungry when I got back to the SGC. I'm still a little sore so I was just going to lie down," he ducked his head and rubbed the back of his neck, a familiar gesture that Rodney recognized as the one John used when he was feeling awkward or uncertain. "I'm not really tired though," he admitted. "What have you got to watch?" He dropped back on his bed, wriggling to the far side and propping the pillow behind him against the wall, leaving room for Rodney to sit beside him.

Rodney passed him a mug of hot chocolate and sat his own coffee and muffin down on the night stand before holding a sandwich and second muffin out in a silent question.

John took the food and dropped it into his lap as Rodney settled down beside him on the bed, opening the laptop and inserting the DVD.

"The Bourne Ultimatum. One of your new marines, Greenham...Greenburg, something like that, brought it with him and Lorne said the action wasn't bad." He clicked on play and reached over for his coffee.

As the movie played on John slowly relaxed and finally Rodney risked stealing a glance at him to discover that John had fallen asleep. To Rodney, John looked completely exhausted, both physically and emotionally. There were dark circles under his eyes and the look of deep weariness and vulnerability were still there even in sleep, but at least the tension that had been apparent when Rodney first arrived had eased.

In truth, Rodney was worried about his friend, had been worried even before John's father's death. The Pegasus Galaxy had never been an easy place to live. Peaceful times were few and far between, but the past few months had been traumatic even by Pegasus standards. John and Rodney had quickly formed an unlikely friendship after John joined the Expedition but since Carson's death the two men had become even closer: the shared grief and then the added responsibility they had experienced over the Replicator attack, the flight from Lantea and then Elizabeth's death had been bad, but that hadn't been the end of it, particularly for John.

As Military Commander, John felt responsible for the lives of all Atlantis personnel and every death hit him hard. The losses of Aiden Ford, Carson, Elizabeth and more recently Kate Heightmeigher, in particular, had been hard for John to face. Rodney wasn't totally convinced John had really dealt with any of it; he was far too good at repressing things he didn't want to face.

Rodney turned the volume down and settled in to watch the rest of the movie, John looked at peace now and he didn't want to disturb what looked to be the first proper rest he'd managed in days and if John found comfort in falling asleep curled against him then Rodney wasn't going to deny him the comfort that he knew John would, or possibly could, never ask for.

Rodney woke up slowly as the early morning sun filtered through the windows. He hadn't meant to sleep but John's even breathing had eventually lulled him into a doze. He eased himself carefully off the bed; John made a soft noise of complaint at the disturbance but quickly settled down.

He slipped quietly out of the room and down the hall to his own quarters, fortunately meeting no-one on the way; the last thing he wanted was for rumors to circulate of him leaving John's quarters at this time of the morning. He showered quickly; glad he'd had the foresight to speak to Sam while John was on Earth to get the go ahead to explore M7X-279, one of the planets in the Ancient database recently visited by SGA-3.

SGA-3 didn't have a scientist on their team, but like all the Gate Teams, they had two gene bearers. M7X-279 had been deserted, but they'd discovered an Ancient facility which looked worth exploring further as it had given off a strong energy reading. The facility wasn't accessible by Puddlejumper, its gate inside a ruined bunker, so it was a three hour hike from the gate. But it meant that a Wraith dart couldn't access the planet any easier, which was at least some consolation.

With Teyla restricted to Atlantis for the remainder of her pregnancy and Ronan having been drafted in to assist Lorne with the training of a batch of newly arrived marines it left John and Rodney at somewhat of a loose end, hence Rodney's request to explore M7X-279 because he knew that John would want to get back on duty straight away.

In Rodney's eyes it was just the sort of mission they needed, enough to keep John distracted and feeling useful without having to visit inhabited planets where he would have to interact and play nice with other people and be constantly on guard against trouble and dangers.

Once he was showered Rodney dressed, grabbed a quick breakfast and made his way to his lab to load up the information he'd found in the Atlantis database about M7X-279, which admittedly wasn't much. He knew John had to report to Sam after breakfast and after that, would probably head down to the labs to find him.

"Hey, McKay, watcha doing?" the familiar voice drawled from the doorway. John sauntered into the lab, appearing in Rodney's line of vision a moment later waving a mug of fresh coffee under his nose.

"Yes, yes, yes. Tease the caffeine-deprived scientist why don't you?" Rodney complained, glaring quickly at John and making a grab for the mug as John pulled himself up on the bench.

John chuckled and Rodney tried not to feel smug at the relaxed grin on John's face. Rodney closed his eyes and inhaled deeply as he took his first swallow of coffee.

"Okay, so now that you've placated me with coffee, what did you come down and interrupt me for?"

"Sam mentioned you wanted to explore M7X-279, we have a go providing we take a team of marines to stay by the gate in case we run into any trouble. I've read through Andrews' mission report and it looks like if we leave after lunch we could be there tonight and be ready to start exploring the place early tomorrow. Can you be ready?"

"Yes, today's good. It'll take me about half an hour to finish up here and then I'll need to get everything together so I'll meet you in the mess in, say, an hour?" He looked at John expectantly.

"Cool." John swung himself down off the bench. "See you then." He turned and walked out to get ready himself, leaving Rodney to finish up what he was doing.

They gathered enough provisions for a few days; according to Andrews' report the facility was quite large and they didn't want to have to return to Atlantis before they'd fully explored it. By the time they'd had lunch, geared up and collected SGA-8, an all Marine team led by Sergeant Weller, it was nearing mid afternoon.

They stepped through the gate to what looked like a pleasant, sunny afternoon on the planet. There was a slight breeze which Rodney was grateful for; he was never keen on walking but the breeze would make the hike much more comfortable.

After a quick radio check and agreeing upon check in times with Weller's team, John and Rodney headed off in the direction of the Ancient facility, following an overgrown path.

The planet itself looked much like Earth, with wide expanses of grassland, and shrubs and trees dotted around in all directions. The terrain was relatively flat and there was a forest to the South and a small grove to the East in the direction they were headed.

The sun was just beginning to dip below the horizon by the time they finally arrived at the facility. Rodney was keen to go straight in and start exploring so, having contacted the marines at the gate to confirm their safe arrival and update them of their plans, John agreed. Despite the somewhat derelict and overgrown appearance from the outside, the building itself appeared to be solid and in good shape.

"Hmm, definitely a strong energy source somewhere in the building," Rodney commented looking up from his data pad at the unrelieved gray expanse of the walls. "The question is how do we get in? There doesn't seem to be any windows or doors in this section."

"There should be an entrance on the East side, according to the report Andrews filed," John replied. He started walking around the side of the building with Rodney following and they soon found the entrance, half hidden behind an overgrown shrub.

"Here we go, let's see if it'll let us in the easy way." John walked up to the door and pressed his hand to the panel to the left of the entrance. The door groaned loudly as it came to life and grudgingly opened part of the way, but still providing enough room for the two men to enter.

John stepped in slowly, prepared for any unexpected surprises but there was no reaction to his presence except for a dull glow as the lighting high in the walls flickered into life.

"Well, either the power source is more depleted that it appears or these lights aren't meant to be very bright," Rodney commented with a frown. "Let's hope there's better lighting further in."

They continued along the main passageway, stopping to explore each room and side passage as they passed. The outer rooms appeared to be reception or meeting rooms; further in were obviously the living quarters, with small individual rooms branching off from side passages. Beyond those were what looked like communal living areas and finally, after passing what could have been offices, they found laboratories, branching off into two passages to their right and left.

"So, which way looks more promising?" John asked as Rodney consulted the hand-held device. "Can you pinpoint the energy source?"

"Yeah, down the left corridor, I'm picking up some strong energy readings, definitely strong enough to be a ZedPM," Rodney replied enthusiastically.

Rodney could see that John was amused at his obvious excitement but he didn't care. Nothing made Rodney happier than the thought of finding a ZPM and this occasion was no exception. They walked side by side down the dim passage which ended in a large, open plan lab, fitted out with numerous consoles and Ancient equipment. John snickered at Rodney's glee when the lights blossomed brightly into life around them.

Rodney quickly dumped his backpack on one of the desks, carefully retrieving the laptop, tablet and other equipment he'd brought with him. Outside of Atlantis, he'd never seen such a large and well equipped Ancient lab and he wasn't sure where to start.

"Yes, yes, laugh at me if you will, Colonel, but if you give me enough time I can find out what they were researching here and download any useful data as well as finding out if there's a ZedPM to take home," he glared at the smirking man who was standing at a safe distance. "Now let's see if we can get this console activated," he muttered half to himself as he stood in front of what looked like the main workstation.

"Well I'm not rushing you McKay," John replied calmly. "As long as we check in with Weller's team when we're supposed to we've got enough provisions for three or four days, I'm sure we can find some water around here."

"Okay, now no touching anything until I can work out what this equipment is for," he shot back quickly, seeing that John was about to touch something on the wall.

John pulled back looking a little guilty. "Sorry, got carried away," John apologized with a grin, scratching the back of his neck self-consciously.

"Yes, yes, well why don't you see what's through that door over there, we never did find another entrance and I would have thought in the interests of safety there would be more than one way out of the complex."

John nodded and wandered lazily over to the door set at the back of the room and disappeared from view, leaving Rodney to initialize his chosen console.

With the database up and running Rodney connected the laptop and watched as the Ancient language scrolling up the big screen mounted on the wall was auto-translated by the program on the laptop.

He dropped onto the stool in front of the workstation and tried to follow the text as it appeared on the screen and was soon lost in the data. He didn't notice John return until he was leaning over him and resting his forearms on Rodney's shoulder. Still Rodney barely noticed, he'd long ago become used to the usually touch-shy Colonel leaning on or against him, but had never really stopped long enough to think about it.

John pulled back with a yawn after watching Rodney for a few minutes.

"There's no exit back there, it's just another room and doesn't go anywhere. It looks like some kind of break room though, there's comfortable seating, running water and a restroom," he reported. "We could camp out there overnight instead of making camp outside, although we'll have to go out to check in with Weller as the radios don't work in here, sounds more like interference than anything else though."

"Hmm, the complex could be shielded somehow, although we could pick up the energy source from outside...interesting," Rodney commented with a frown. "How long before we have to check in again?"

"An hour, we wandered around a bit on our way back here but I think we should be able to make it back out in about ten to fifteen minutes if we don't dawdle. Anyway, I'm going to check out the other passageway, there may be an exit down there. I don't think it's far so shout if you need me."

"Try the radio again," Rodney looked up with a frown and put his own radio back in his ear. "I took mine off as I thought I was getting interference from the equipment but just because we can't get a signal outside of the complex doesn't mean it won't work inside."

John turned and walked out of the room, disappearing from Rodney's view, a few moments later his voice came over the radio.

"Sheppard to McKay, can you hear me?" He asked quietly.

"Yeah, there's some interference but I can hear you," Rodney replied. "At least we know we can contact each other. Keep in touch Colonel, and don't get into any trouble."

"Will do. Sheppard out."

Rodney worked quickly while John was exploring the facility, scrolling through the index on the database and setting the most promising information to download to his laptop. Once the information was downloading he grabbed a power bar and started exploring the lab.

There were three workstations in addition to the main console, along with various pieces of equipment and several smaller consoles. From the information in the database he'd already found that the Ancients had been reviewing their data on Ascension and there was evidence that they had been testing something to do with the ZPMs but from what he'd seen the main studies within the facility's database appeared to revolve around the vegetation on the planet.

Finally, in a small nondescript unit located near the back corner of the lab, he found the ZPM. As it rose from the unit he keyed his radio, eyes widening in excitement as the full extent of his find sank in. "Sheppard," he called eagerly. "I've located the ZedPM and it's got almost a full charge. We'll be able to activate the shield, cloak and full weapons and have enough power to run everything."

"Cool," John replied enthusiastically. "Wonder what the drawback is, whenever we find a ZPM there's always a curveball somewhere along the way. Anyway, I've come to another dead end with no sign of any exit and am on my way back, we'd better head out for the check in when I get there so be ready to go."

"Yes, yes, I'll be here," Rodney replied impatiently and a little distantly. Part of him just wanted to grab the ZPM and head straight for the Stargate, so many times they'd come close to getting their hands on a ZPM only to have it stolen from them at the last moment that he could barely believe how easy it seemed this time.

"Good, about time we stopped for some food too," John commented. "Can't have you passing out on me Rodney."

"That's what power bars are for, Colonel. Haven't you eaten anything since we got here?" Rodney asked sharply, he knew he was being a bit of a mother hen but John's lack of self care always brought out that reaction. He'd studied John carefully over the years and prided himself in being able to see past the walls and barriers that his friend had erected to protect himself; there were occasions when Rodney thought that John willingly dropped his walls when they were alone and it was a trust that Rodney knew he would never betray.

By the time John had made it back to the main lab, Rodney was ready to head out, realizing they were already running a little late. It didn't stop him from dragging John over to show him the ZPM, however, and even John was impressed.

"It must have been recharged or replaced just before they abandoned the place it's almost fully charged. Luckily the facility has been powered down until now which is why it's barely depleted." Rodney exclaimed, his eyes bright with excitement. "I can't wait to see Sam's face when we get back."

They turned to head out for the check in and John looked at him in surprise.

"You leaving the laptop here?" John asked, seeing the machine still attached to one of the consoles.

"Yes." Rodney replied with a glance over at the console. "I'm trying to download as much of the database as possible in a compressed format. I haven't had a chance to read through it all but hopefully there's something useful in there. That console is like our main database and much of the information is a repeat of the Atlantis database, but there are some variations and studies exclusive to this planet and that's what I'm trying to capture."

"So do you know what this complex was for?" John grabbed his backpack and they set off towards the main entrance.

"The Ancients were doing some work on the ZedPMs and there's some stuff on there about Ascension but I'm really not looking too closely at that." Rodney shuddered, remembering his own experience with Ascension. "There are studies that the botanists might find interesting. It looks like there are some rare plants on this planet that they were experimenting with and that may be why the complex was built here in the first place.

Night had fallen on the planet when they were inside the complex and what had been pleasant warmth during the day had turned uncomfortably cool under the cover of darkness. There were stars scattered across the deep blue of the sky and two moons flooded the planet with a silvery light.

"Are you sure you want to stay and eat out here?" Rodney grumbled, rubbing his hands up and down his arms for warmth. "I'd rather go back inside if it's all the same to you."

"Yeah, I think I agree." John walked a little further away from the entrance and keyed his radio.

"Sheppard to Weller, come in."

"Weller here, Sir. No sign of any life apart from the wildlife." The tinny voice of Sergeant Weller came over the radio. "We did try calling you about ten minutes ago but couldn't get anything apart from interference."

"No sign of life here either." John responded. "There's some interference from inside the complex, we tried to raise you earlier and just got static but we can communicate with each other while inside. "We're going back in now until morning as there's living quarters we can use and I'm pretty sure McKay will probably work through most of the night, so don't expect to hear from us again until 06:00 Atlantis time, we'll head back out for check in then."

"Roger that, Colonel. Speak to you in the morning. Have a good evening." Weller replied with amusement.

"You too. Sheppard out."

John turned and walked back to Rodney who was huddling in the entrance.

"Come on, let's go back and have some food." John clapped Rodney on the shoulder as he passed him and they made their way back to the lab, with Rodney talking animatedly about the ZMP all the way.

They set up in the small break room off the main lab and unloaded their overnight gear. Rodney set up the small camping stove on the worktop next to the sink to boil water for coffee leaving John to dig out the MREs.

By the time the drinks were made John had fallen into a light doze and Rodney was filled with concern at the exhaustion on his friend's face.

"John," Rodney spoke his companion's name softly while rubbing his thumb over the sensitive inside of John's wrist in a way he knew would rouse him gently. He'd long ago discovered that waking John suddenly was not a good idea; years in the military had taught John to wake on full alert and waking John during a nightmare had left Rodney with bruises on more than one occasion.

"I'm fine, Rodney. Just a little tired." He grinned weakly but it didn't reach his eyes.

"Yes, I'm sure you are, Colonel." Rodney sighed and softened his voice. "Listen John, I know you're not fine. It's obvious you've not been sleeping well and you've probably not been eating properly either, I know what you're like when you're stressed-"

"I'm not stressed, Rodney." John grumbled.

"Well maybe not stressed," Rodney admitted, scratching his head distractedly. "But you're exhausted and upset and trying to ignore it. We've all been through a lot over the past few months, you more than anyone, but I think you're the only person who hasn't actually dealt with any of it." He stopped with a frown. "You...you know I'm here if you want to talk." He finished self-consciously.

John swallowed hard and sighed, dropping his head.

"It's...it's difficult, Rodney." He explained quietly. "I know you're right, but some of the time I'm just completely numb the rest of the time there are just so many different emotions that I don't even know how I'm feeling." He shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not trying to shut you out; I just don't know how to explain it."

Rodney bit his lip and nodded.

"Okay, but if you do want to talk things through, you know I'm here, right?"

"Thanks, Rodney," he said softly. '

"You're welcome. Here, drink this while it's hot." He handed John a mug of coffee. "Now let's eat."

They chatted quietly while they ate, well Rodney talked and John just butted in with a few questions here and there. When they were done, Rodney rinsed out the mugs and collected up the rubbish, taking a sideways look at John as he got up.

"You look exhausted, why don't you lie down and try and get some sleep?" Rodney suggested; he'd noticed John's eyes drooping while they'd been eating. "I'm just going to be in the lab and I'll wake you if there are any problems."

"Yeah, I think I will, just make sure you do wake me if you need me." John mumbled as he swung his legs up so he could lie down on the wide, cushioned, bench which ran the length of the wall.

Rodney pulled out one of the sleeping bags and spread it over him. "There, you should be warm enough," he rubbed his hand over John's shoulder a few times. "Get some sleep, John."

"Hey Rodney?" John mumbled half asleep. "I missed you when I was on Earth".

Rodney frowned as he stood and made his way back to the lab. He'd realized a long time ago that John was a little more open, more tactile, with him than he was with other people, especially those outside of the team. Rodney had been surprised at the fledgling friendship in Antarctica but, with his experience of friendships, hadn't expected it to last, especially once they'd got to Atlantis.

Even when they weren't working they spent a lot of their spare time together finding that, despite their differences, they had enough in common for them to enjoy each other's company. Rodney had even found himself enjoying things he hadn't thought he liked simply because doing or watching them with John brought a new dimension to whatever they were doing.

But this, this was something more, it was like returning to Earth for his father's funeral had made John more open, more willing or able to show his vulnerabilities and reach out to Rodney for companionship and comfort. There was something else that Rodney knew he was missing but it quickly slipped his mind as he immersed himself once again in his work.

Rodney was so engrossed in the database that he didn't realize that John was up and wandering around until he heard a startled exclamation of 'oh crap' from behind him and the familiar sensation of Ancient technology initializing. He turned just as an explosion ripped through one of the wall mounted interfaces and all he saw was a cloud of dust as chunks of rubble came raining down.

"Sheppard? Sheppard? John can you hear me?" Rodney called anxiously as the dust started to settle. He could see a hand and arm and as the room cleared, he realized that things possibly weren't as bad as he'd first imagined. Although the bench beside the console had been crushed the legs hadn't completely buckled and despite the fact that it had rather a lot of debris on top of it, looked like it had partially protected John from the worst of it.

Rodney looked up in concern at the ceiling trying to decide whether any more was going to start falling, it was just typical that the console John appeared to have activated had been the one closest to the door of the lab and the collapse had completely blocked the doorway.

"Weller, this is McKay do you read?" Rodney shouted into his com. "Dammit," he swore as he suddenly remembered that they couldn't get a radio signal from within the complex.

"Colonel? John, are you okay?" He shouted frantically inching his way cautiously to where John lay. He reached out carefully and wrapped his hand around John's wrist, grateful when he felt a fairly strong pulse almost straight away.

"Okay, okay, you need to get him out of this," he muttered out loud to himself. Knowing they weren't due for a radio check for another hour or so he resigned himself to the knowledge that John was relying on him for rescue.

Moving as carefully as he could to ensure he wasn't disturbing anything that might trigger further collapse, he assessed John's position. That John was unconscious most likely indicated a head injury, not surprising under the circumstances. He could see most of John's body but it looked like part of the heavy console that had been adjacent to the door had landed on the lower part of John's leg and Rodney wouldn't be able to move John until he'd moved the console.

After a few minutes crawling around the floor and viewing John's position from all angles Rodney was pretty sure he knew exactly how and where to lift the console without bringing down any further debris. The only problem was that he really needed John conscious and able to help in moving himself.

As if on cue, there was a groan from the man on the floor and his eyelashes fluttered open.

"Rodney?" John called dazedly.

"Don't try to move," Rodney said anxiously. "I think you hit your head and you've probably got a concussion. There was an explosion of some sort and you're pinned under the console, I need to get the weight of your leg before you can try sliding out."

"Yeah, I kind of guessed that," John replied somewhat blearily. "Are you sure it's safe?"

"I had a good look round while you were unconscious; I think that if I just move the workstation slightly it should give enough for you to slide out. The question is are you okay, you seem lucid enough, do you think you can maneuver yourself out?"

"I'm fine Rodney, well, apart from the headache from hell and pain from the ankle," John replied with unusual honesty. He lifted his head, wincing slightly as the movement increased the headache. "Go for it, Rodney, then let's get out of here before any more of the ceiling comes crashing down."

Rodney moved around to get as close as he could to the part of the workstation he needed to lift.

"Ready?" He looked over at John, who set his face and nodded, maneuvering himself so he was resting on his lower arms with his hands flat on the floor ready to push himself away the minute the pressure eased on his ankle.

Rodney took a deep breath and lifted slowly, ensuring he disturbed as little of the surrounding debris as possible. He watched John carefully, he knew John had a high tolerance for pain but even so, the act of trying to move was going to jar the injured leg and Rodney was well aware that the pain could be enough to make John pass out again. To his relief, John grimaced but remained conscious, although he was very pale, and was able to drag himself clear.

Rodney gently lowered the workstation and was quickly at John's side, slipping one arm around John's back so he could lever the injured man up and help him through to the break room.

He helped John over to the bench and lowered him gently onto the cushioned seat, carefully lifting John's legs up so that he was lying down.

"Just stay here while I go and get the laptop," Rodney patted his arm gently as he stood and disappeared back into the lab.

He entered the lab with trepidation, hesitating as a small shower of debris fell from the doorway; there was nothing further so he started over towards the workstation where the laptop was hooked up. Halfway there, a cracking noise caught his attention and he looked up in concern as a large crack snaked along the ceiling towards the center of the lab, before even more debris fell to the floor.

"McKay! Rodney?"

There was undisguised fear and panic in John's voice but Rodney wasn't hesitating, he'd already turned tail and was barreling through the door between the lab and the break room just as it shut with a resounding bang, triggering more collapse from the adjacent room.

"Dammit, McKay," John shouted angrily, his voice cracking with relief. "What the hell were you thinking?" His voice broke and his breathing was ragged. He glowered at Rodney and then closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose, trying to steady himself against an onslaught of fear and relief.

"Hey, hey, it's alright. I'm okay," Rodney reassured as he made his way over. John opened his eyes and stared: his face completely open, as relief warred with need and desire and a myriad of other emotions that passed too quickly for Rodney to pinpoint.

Rodney stopped and looked at John, knowing he had a look of surprise on his face as everything fell into place. This was what he'd been missing, the looks and touches, John's relaxed demeanor when he was alone with Rodney, the trust and willingness to open himself up.

He took too long to respond and John looked quickly away, color flooding his face when he realized his emotions were on display.

Rodney crossed the room quickly and dropped to the bench beside him.

"Hey, look at me," he said softly, cupping John's face and turning it back towards him.

"I'm sorry," John whispered. "Our friendship means a lot to me, I didn't want to ruin it by letting you know how I felt. I've been able to deal with it up 'til now and I thought I could handle it," his voice cracked again but he carried on, dropping his eyes. "I love you Rodney, I can't lose you as well, not now. I don't think I can do this without you."

"Why did you think you'd ruin our friendship?" Rodney asked softly.

John looked back up at him in surprise, shrugging his shoulders.

"I didn't know how you'd feel if you knew I was bi. You had a thing for Sam Carter, you've had a relationship with Katie Brown and you've never shown any sign-"

"Yes, right, because I've had so many relationships in the past four years," Rodney replied a little sarcastically. "Unlike you who's bedded just about every alien female we've ever met."

"Yeah, well, it might have looked like that but there hasn't been as many as you think, I like women but I prefer men, but I'm in the military Rodney, I can't exactly have an open relationship with anyone out here."

Rodney nodded in agreement. "I know what your military is like. I can be discrete, you know."

John looked at him with surprise. "You're okay with this?"

"John, I'm more than okay with this. I've wanted you for years," Rodney reassured gently. "I just haven't really met anyone special before, until you. I went through a phase when I wanted Sam and it was Katie who made the first move in that relationship and it was just easy to go along with it," he confessed.

John looked at him apprehensively, eyes full of hope. "So, you interested?"

Rodney responded by pulling John in for a kiss. It started out tenderly but quickly became more passionate until John hissed with pain as he jarred his ankle.

"Damn. This is not the right time for this." Rodney exclaimed breathlessly. "But does it answer your question?" He asked with a smug grin.

"Yeah, it does. Our timing really stinks though." John blinked rapidly as the waves of pain reminded him of his injuries.

"Hmm, now let me take a look at your leg, it looks like your boot could have protected the ankle but I do need to get it off, it's swelling badly." Rodney pulled the pant leg up and surveyed the damage, carefully undoing the laces and holding John's leg steady as he gripped the boot, he looked over at John. "Ready?"

John nodded, laying back and gritting his teeth against the upcoming pain, hands clenched into fists as he braced himself.

Rodney was as gentle as possible but even so, tears of pain had filled John's eyes by the time the boot was off, although he could feel the relief straight away where the boot had been getting tighter over the swelling flesh.

"You know," Rodney said conversationally as he inspected the ankle. "I know it hurts like hell but I don't actually think it's broken, just very badly bruised and sprained," he rose and dug through John's pack, finding the first aid kit and a washcloth from the overnight kit which he soaked in cold water and wrapped over the ankle.

He moved back up to John's head, lifting it to rest on his thigh as he probed it with gentle fingers to find where John had hit it when he'd fallen. Throughout his ministrations John had just lain there with his eyes screwed shut, tension radiating from him. As Rodney ran his hands across his head the tension lessened and even when he'd finished inspecting the head wound Rodney continued to massage John's temples as it seemed to help and after a while John drifted off into a doze.

Rodney carried on until he was sure John was completely relaxed before extracting himself and laying John's head gently onto the bench. He soaked a second washcloth in cold water and pressed it to the bump on John's head before taking out the Tylenol and a mild sedative.

"No falling asleep John, not yet." Rodney murmured gently. "Come on, I've got Tylenol and water and we need to figure out what we're going to do."

John groaned as his eyes fluttered open again. "Lemme alone 'kay."

"No I'm not letting you alone," Rodney admonished. "Now come on, you need pain pills first."

Rodney helped him sit up and take the pills with some water before allowing him to lie down again, re-soaking both washcloths and placing them back on John's wounds.

"What's the time?" John asked.

"Around 05:00," Rodney replied. "It's an hour until we're supposed to check in and then, depending how long Weller takes to report us going off the grid, another three hours before anyone gets here to see what's happened. Even once they do, they may have to request structural engineers depending on the severity of the damage in the passageway."

"We seem safe enough here and there's nowhere else to go, so let's wait until they contact us and then see what the options are," John decided closing his eyes.

Rodney sighed, frustrated that he hadn't got his laptop, although glad that at least he had the tablet, he decided to work on the door between the break room and the lab. Since the last collapse, there had been silence from the lab and he was hopeful that if he could get the door open he could at least retrieve the laptop if it was still in one piece. The ZPM would just have to wait until they were rescued as they needed the power source for the light, heat and hot water.

( Shielded by the Hands of Love - Part 2 of 2 )


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 18th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
sga_newsletter: 17Dec2012
User dossier referenced to your post from sga_newsletter: 17Dec2012 saying: [...] : Shielded by the Hands of Love (1/2) [...]
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