chelle

Atlantis

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In Which Rodney Dates, John is Curious, and Cadman Helps

chelle

Title: In Which Rodney Dates, John is Curious, and Cadman Helps

Author: chelle

Author's email: chelle@chelle.slashcity.org

Author's URL: http://chelle.slashcity.org/

Fandom: Atlantis

Archive: Ask first

Rating: NC 17

AN: Post "Duet" fic written before "Critical Mass" aired. Thank you to Grrrl and Rachel Saboitni for their criticism.

"How are you feeling?" John asked putting his tray down and sitting on the other side of the small table without so much as a 'may I.'

"Fine," Rodney answered. "I wasn't nuts, you know."

"I know," John said in a conciliatory tone.

Rodney didn't answer, doing his best to ignore the colonel and focus on his breakfast. The entire situation was ripe for the colonel's particular brand of teasing and Rodney wasn't quite up to facing it. Not yet.

"Must've been weird," John said casually, waving his toast as he spoke, "having someone else in your head."

"Yes, it was very weird." Rodney used his best 'how clever of you to state the obvious' tone. Unfortunately, it had no impact on Sheppard.

"So Cadman has a thing for Beckett."

In an effort to discourage conversation Rodney had been avoiding looking at Sheppard, but now he leaned back in his chair and shot a glare across the table. "Get it over with."

"What?"

"Whatever teasing you feel you need to do. Let's do it now and get it over with."

"I'm just making conversation."

Rodney wasn't convinced, but Sheppard looked so sincere that Rodney couldn’t find it in him to doubt him. "Yes, she likes Beckett."

"Interesting choice, you know, for a Marine," John said, taking a sip of his coffee. Rodney rolled his eyes, and John said, "What?"

"You've got a thing for her, don't you?" Which figured. At least this one wasn't an alien priestess who worshipped herself.

"She's under my command, Rodney."

"Right, of course," Rodney answered, returning his attention to his rapidly cooling eggs. He wasn't convinced but he was willing to let it go.

"What was it like, kissing another guy?"

"How would I know?" Rodney snapped.

"Well, you…"

"That was her, not me."

"Right. I just thought maybe you'd felt it, too."

"I didn't."

"Okay." John was using the conciliatory tone again, and it was annoying Rodney even more.

"I didn't."

"I believe you."

"Right." Rodney studied him. John was wearing his earnest look. Even Rodney knew enough not to trust the earnest look. "Why do you want to know?"

John shrugged. "Just curious."

"Curious?"

"Yes, curious."

"Sorry, I can't assuage your curiosity." There was bite in Rodney's tone, but not enough that he was sorry for it.

John smiled at him, a partial lift of one side of his mouth. "No big deal. You can't answer every question. You don't need to be embarrassed, you know."

"Right. Because kissing another man in front of a roomful of people is no big deal." John nodded and Rodney added, "Of course if that's true one has to wonder why you were assuaging your curiosity by asking me."

John leaned back in his chair, one arm draped casually over the back of it. "Because you've done it and I haven't."

There was something in his attitude, in his casual, artful draping, that irritated Rodney. "Maybe the reason you haven't done it is because it is a big deal."

After taking an ostentatious sip of his coffee, John put his mug back on the table. "I just never had the chance."

"To kiss another man in a room full of people? What a sad and disappointing life you've led."

"Good thing I have you to do these things for me." John's posture was lazy, so was his tone and his smile.

Do these things for him. That's what Rodney was there for. To do things for John. Because John was the hero and Rodney was the guy who kissed other men in front of half his staff. Standing, Rodney leaned over the table, took hold of John's jacket and pulled him out of his slouch. Then he kissed him, hard. "There are some things you should do for yourself," he said, letting go of John with a slight shove.

Then he pushed his breakfast tray to John's side of the table. "Put this away for me, will you?" He turned and walked away.

Away and straight into Katie. "Rodney?" she asked.

"Oh, um, hi." Realizing that she had probably just watched him kiss Sheppard, Rodney flushed. "I can explain…" he pointed a thumb in Sheppard's direction. "It, um, wasn't what it looked like."

"It looked like you kissed Colonel Sheppard," Katie said, with a slightly puzzled but still friendly look.

"Well, yes, but only because he provoked me." Her expression grew more puzzled and Rodney added, "It's a long story."

"Okay, you can tell me over dinner."

She really was nice. Most women wouldn't have reacted so calmly to seeing the man they were interested in kiss another man, at least Rodney didn't think they would. "I can," Rodney agreed. Then realizing what she'd said, he added, more brightly. "I can."

Katie smiled at him. "Tonight around seven, my quarters."

Rodney smiled back. "I'll be there." He had nothing to add, and they stood there for a long moment in awkward silence. "I should, um, get to my lab. I'll see you tonight."

She nodded and Rodney smiled, even as he started to walk away. Still smiling at her, he walked straight into Ronon.

***

One of the best parts of having the power to open up more parts of the city was that Rodney got his own lab. His alone. A place where he could work in peace, except it was hard to concentrate when he had a date upcoming and he'd kissed Colonel Sheppard in front of her.

It was all Cadman's fault. He wouldn't have kissed Sheppard if she had been able to keep her--his--hands off of Beckett.

Tossing the Ancient device he'd been studying onto the counter, he glanced at his watch. It was almost 5:30. He'd gotten nothing accomplished all day, and it was beginning to look like he wasn't going to. Maybe he should just leave, take his time getting ready for his date.

Before he had reached a decision the door slid open.

"Hey," John said, stepping into the lab.

Rodney leaned back on his stool and crossed his arms.

With a quick glance over his shoulder, as though making certain the door had closed behind him, John stepped close to Rodney's bench. "I wanted to apologize for this morning. Make sure we're okay," John said in his quiet, trust me voice.

Rodney glanced up at him. "We're fine, Colonel."

"I thought I was cool."

Rodney glared at him.

"I really wasn't trying to tease you. I was just--"

"Curious," Rodney finished for him.

"Right, curious." John agreed with a half-nod.

"And now that your curiosity has been satisfied, you'll go away."

"Sure, except--" John shrugged, his voice trailing off.

"Except what?" Rodney asked even though he knew he shouldn't.

"Except it wasn't really."

"What do you mean it wasn't?" Rodney had kissed him, what more did he want?

"I mean it wasn't. It's not like I actually got to participate."

"Are you saying I kiss badly?" Rodney didn't give him a chance to answer, adding, "You are. You think I kiss badly."

John held up his hands. "I did not say that. I said I didn't get to participate."

"Which means you didn't enjoy it. Which means I kiss badly."

"It wasn't bad, Rodney. Just a little one-sided, that's all."

"Great. I'm a one-sided kisser. That's just perfect." He was a one-sided kisser and he had a date tonight, with a very nice woman, who he was going to kiss in a one-sided way. And then she'd never want to see him again.

John's hand on his neck caused him to look up, and when he did John leaned down, brushing his lips against Rodney's. Then John's lips touched his again, a little more firmly, and they were tasting and feeling one another with careful kisses.

"See," John said softly, drawing back, "participation is good."

Rodney wanted to say something sarcastic, but he couldn't think of anything, probably because all of the blood had left his brain in favor of his penis. "You kissed me," Rodney said at last, his voice somewhere between astonished and horrified.

"You kissed me first."

"I was trying to make a point." Rodney stood, which probably wasn't a good idea because John didn't back up and now they were standing so close they were almost brushing against one another.

"So was I."

"Yes, well, you made it."

"Good." John's breath caressed Rodney's face when he spoke.

Rodney could feel John's warmth, and his breath was sweet, and he was so close. He pressed his mouth to John's before he could stop himself. This kiss wasn't careful. It was hot and wet, and Rodney wrapped his arms around John simply because he needed something to hold onto. John did the same. Rodney could feel John's erection pressing into his hip. He'd made John hard, which was weird and oddly exciting.

When they finally broke apart, John backed out of reach. His expression was one Rodney had never seen before and on anyone else Rodney would have classified it as panicked. John cocked a thumb in the direction of the door. "I should--"

"Right, of course," Rodney answered.

John continued backing toward the door. "Right, I'll, um…" The door slid open and John stepped through it.

Drawing in a deep breath, Rodney dropped onto his lab stool.

***

Katie greeted him with a broad smile that immediately made Rodney want to run away. She really was beautiful, and Rodney liked beautiful women. He just wasn't used to beautiful women liking him. It threw him off his game. If she hadn't liked him, he would have known exactly what to do. But she did and he didn't, and the entire situation was enough to almost make him wish Cadman was still stuck in his head.

He thrust the plant he'd asked Beckett to bring back for her from the mainland into her hands. "Here, I brought you this."

She studied the plant for a moment, holding it up and turning it this way and that. "Thank you." Taking a step back from the door, she invited him to sit.

The table was decorated much as it had been the last time he'd been here. "I really feel I should explain about earlier." She turned to put the plant down on a small table near the window, and Rodney continued speaking to her back. "Major, I mean Colonel, Sheppard and I, we were just having an argument, and I was trying to make a point." Turning back to face him she smiled, and Rodney paused for a moment. "He couldn't, even if I wanted to, which I don't. And neither does he. We were just--" Realizing that he was babbling, Rodney stuttered to a halt.

"Arguing."

"Yes, yes, arguing, that's what we were doing."

"With your lips."

Rodney flushed and she laughed, but it wasn't a mean laugh. "I understand, really. Conversations can get away from you sometimes. Like ours did the last time you were." Her smile was intimate, and Rodney's blush deepened.

"Right. The last time, about that…"

"I have to confess I was a little surprised by your aggression."

"I, um, I wasn't quite myself." Rodney considered, again, explaining what had happened, but he wasn't quite up to telling her that it had been Cadman she'd kissed and not him.

"But you are tonight?"

Rodney swallowed. "Yes, yes of course." Tonight he was fully, 100% himself. The self that had kissed John Sheppard a little more than an hour earlier.

"Good. Shall we eat?"

***

Pushing his plate forward, Rodney leaned back in his chair. "That was spectacular, really."

Katie blushed slightly. "Thank you."

"I'm so happy we have Earth rations again. You would not believe some of the stuff we were eating before we got the ZPM. There were these small, bright green fruits that Carson kept making us eat because they were full of vitamin A or B or some such thing. Sour." Rodney made a face and Katie laughed.

"I'm glad I missed it."

He nodded. "You should be. Even Major Sheppard was starting to like MREs and he hates them. I like them. Airline food too, not that you get food on airplanes anymore." Katie was smiling warmly at him, and Rodney kept talking, wanting to keep that look on her face. "He, Major Sheppard, tried to convince the jumpers to make turkey sandwiches for the first month we were here. In fact, I think he tried it with every Ancient device we found. I told him replicators only exist in Star Trek. Food replicators anyway. You can't say 'Earl Gray, hot' to one of the real replicators and get a cup of tea."

"Replicators?"

"You haven't heard about the replicators?"

She shook her head, and Rodney leaned forward, beginning the story of SG-1 and the replicators.

***

It was nearly midnight when he finally prepared to leave. Katie escorted him to the door, and Rodney smiled at her. "I had a good time. Thank you."

"You're welcome. We'll have to do it again."

"I'd like that," Rodney said. She was smiling at him, an expectant look on her face. Leaning in, Rodney kissed her lightly. "Good night."

"Good night."

Back in his quarters, he pulled off his shirt and brushed his teeth. Rinsing, he stared at his reflection. He'd just had a successful date. He, Rodney McKay, had had a pleasant evening with a beautiful woman who gave every indication of liking him. He'd even kissed her good night.

He'd also kissed Colonel Sheppard--three times. And they'd been better kisses.

Rodney sighed and dropped his chin to his chest. That was typical of his life. Absolutely typical.

***

The next day Rodney did what any good scientist would do. He hid in his lab, avoiding the mess by eating power bars for both lunch and breakfast. Unfortunately, he wasn't sure he was going to be able to skip dinner, mainly because his stomach was making its views on the possibility of power bars for dinner abundantly clear. He glanced at his watch. It was a little after six, if he could just hold out for another half an hour the mess should be mostly empty.

His lab door slid open and Cadman sauntered into the room. He'd always thought only men sauntered, but Cadman had proved him wrong. Maybe it was a military thing. "So," she said, stepping up to his lab bench, "I heard the date went well."

Why she would think he wanted to talk about it, let alone talk about it with her, Rodney couldn't comprehend. "It did."

She grabbed a stool and pulled it over to the other side of the bench. "Spill," she said, sitting.

"She cooks well."

"I knew that."

"And she's pretty."

"Knew that, too."

"And she's smart, and charming, and a good listener." Okay, maybe he wanted to talk about it. "And she likes me."

Cadman grinned. "Yeah, but does she kiss as well as Colonel Sheppard?"

Rodney felt himself blushing. How did Cadman know? She couldn't know.

"I heard about what happened in the mess hall."

Oh, that, Rodney had forgotten about that. "He pissed me off."

Cadman nodded. "He's good at that."

"Then he had the nerve to claim that I am not a good kisser."

"After the lessons I gave you?"

Rodney glared at her. "Yes, thank you for that. The grab and press method of kissing is always such a hit."

"Carson liked it," Cadman pointed out.

"Don't remind me."

"He really accused you of being a bad kisser?"

"He said it was 'one-sided.'" Rodney made quotation marks with his fingers as he spoke. "Of course he wasn't saying that when he left."

Cadman didn't say anything for a moment, then she exclaimed, "You kissed him again."

Rodney looked down at his laptop. "I've got work to do. I should really--"

"You did. You kissed him again."

"Yes, yes, I kissed him again, and it was quite good, but that--"

"Was he better than Katie?" Cadman asked, cutting him off.

That was something Rodney didn't want to think about. "I'm not answering that."

She smirked. "He was. Of course he is prettier."

"He is not."

Cadman shrugged. "So what are you going to do now?"

"Look, Lieutenant…"

"Call me, Laura, Rodney. After all, we are rather intimately acquainted."

He glared at her. "Really didn't need to be reminded of that, thank you." She grinned and Rodney wondered if there was a grin test you had to pass before being allowed into Officers Candidate School. "I kissed Colonel Sheppard. In front of people."

"We covered that bit already."

Clearly, the ability to process information quickly wasn't one of the entrance requirements. "He's military," Rodney said.

"I wouldn't worry about the kiss in the mess. You kissed him, and since word has already gotten around about you and Carson…"

"That wasn't me. That was you."

"Looked like you," Cadman pointed out.

"Are you saying that people think I'm… that people are assuming I'm…"

"Gay. Yup, that's what they're assuming."

"But Katie doesn't…"

"She has evidence to the contrary."

"Right, right, of course." Rodney frowned, thinking. People thought he was gay, which was no worse than what people usually thought of him. But John, if people thought that about him… "What about Colonel Sheppard? What are people saying?"

"They only know about the kiss in the mess, and they think that was just you being weird. Most people are impressed the colonel didn't deck you."

"Good, good." Rodney leaned forward on his stool. "But you know, about…" He waved his hand as though it could finish the sentence for him.

"I'm not going to tell."

Rodney found that hard to believe. Cadman seemed pretty willing to tell people a lot of things. "You won't?"

"Who Colonel Sheppard kisses is his business," Cadman said. Rodney continued to look at her, and his doubt must have shown in his face because she added, "I can keep a secret, you know. Top secret mission, I’m on it, just like you."

Rodney waved at her. "Okay, okay."

"So what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to ask Katie out on another date."

"What about the colonel?"

"What about him?"

"Are you going to see him again?"

"I'm not seeing him now."

"Just kissing him."

Rodney glared at her until her smirk faded.

***

The thing about not seeing Colonel Sheppard was that he had to see Colonel Sheppard, every day. But just because he had to see Colonel Sheppard that didn't mean he had to look at him. So he didn't. The entire meeting he kept his eyes on either Elizabeth or the table. As avoidance techniques went, Rodney thought it was a pretty good one.

Sheppard apparently thought otherwise because he turned up at Rodney's lab a half hour after the meeting had ended. He just sauntered in, stopped in front of Rodney's bench, put his hands on his hips, and said, "You can't avoid looking at me forever."

"I wasn't planning to," Rodney answered, not looking up. "I figured I'd just wait until the awkwardness had passed."

"It's not going to pass if you don't look at me."

Sheppard had a point. Drawing in a breath, Rodney looked up. His eyes immediately settled on John's lips, which wasn't his fault because John was pouting, not a lot, just a little, just enough to remind Rodney that roughly 48 hours earlier those lips had been on his. "Fine. I’m looking at you."

"You don't have to make it sound like such a chore."

The problem was that it wasn't a chore. It wasn't a chore at all. John had a really interesting face, with the curvy lips and the narrow cheeks and the crazy expressions.

"It's weird for me, too," John added in a softer tone.

Tearing his eyes from John's face, Rodney walked over to the Ancient console set into the wall near his bench and pulled up the information on one of the potential missions they'd discussed at the meeting. "This is the planet Roberts was talking about."

"I can't read Ancient."

"Oh, right. Well, it's Earth like, at least it was 10,000 years ago, and…" He stopped when John's hand touched his shoulder.

"We should really talk about this," John said in his understanding tone.

Rodney turned to look at him, his eyes connecting with John's. Something sparked between them, and before he could stop himself, he'd pressed his lips to John's.

John should have pulled away, but he didn't. He slid an arm around Rodney's waist and kissed him back. Which was absolutely the wrong thing to do, because then Rodney slid his arms around John and deepened the kiss, and they were pressed against one another again, kissing, both of them hard.

"That's not talking," John said, letting him go and stepping back.

"No, no definitely not," Rodney answered, resisting the urge to tug John back and kiss him again.

"So," John said, taking another step back, "kissing is not something to freak out about."

"Right, no freaking," Rodney agreed, nodding.

"And we can still work together."

Rodney nodded some more. "We're adults."

"No more not looking during meetings."

"Looking at meetings, I can do that."

"Okay, good. That's good." John pointed his thumb over his shoulder. "I should--"

"Go," Rodney said at the same moment as John.

John fled and Rodney sank onto his lab stool, resting his head in his hands.

***

Rodney put off dinner for as long as he could, but eventually his stomach made it clear that avoiding the mess was no longer an option. The mess was nearly empty when he arrived, with just three people sitting at a table in front of the windows. Unfortunately, those people were Teyla, Major Lorne, and Colonel Sheppard. With the rest of the mess empty, Rodney couldn't not sit with them, not without it looking weird.

Naturally the empty seat was the one across from Sheppard. "Hey, Rodney," John said lazily, smiling up at him.

"Hello." Rodney nodded at Teyla and Lorne as he sat.

"You finally dragged yourself out of your lab," John added. "There are rumors you're becoming a hermit."

Keeping his eyes on his tray, Rodney waved a piece of bread in John's direction. "Just working. Discoveries to make, problems to solve." No way was he going to admit that he'd been reviewing other teams' mission reports and it had taken him twice as long as it should have because every third paragraph he'd find himself thinking about Sheppard's lips.

"How are you feeling?" Teyla asked, smiling softly at him.

"Fine, fine, all recovered." Rodney smiled at her around his bite of broiled chicken.

"I can't imagine having someone else in my head," Lorne said.

"It was odd," Rodney said. "I'm not sure if it would be odder with someone I already knew well or less odd. Of course, Cadman is--"

John cleared his throat, raising his eyes, and Rodney turned to see Cadman standing behind him, tray in hand.

"Cadman is what?" she asked, taking the seat beside his.

"Charming, generous, considerate. You couldn't ask for a nicer person to have stuck in your head," Rodney finished.

She grinned at him, ignoring his sarcasm entirely. Her ability to do that was one of her more annoying traits. "I miss you, too, Rodney."

Rodney's gaze narrowed. "What happened to Dr. McKay? You used to call me, Dr. McKay," he said, taking a bite of his dinner roll.

"That was before I saw you naked."

Rodney managed to avoid spitting his roll at Colonel Sheppard, but it was close. As it was, he made so many choking noises that Lorne started pounding his back. "Thank you for that completely unnecessary reminder," he finally managed.

"It's not as though you have anything to be embarrassed about." Her eyes slid meaningfully towards his lap, and Rodney had to fight the urge to cover himself with his hands.

Lorne was visibly fighting back a laugh, while Teyla was smiling her 'you people are so amusing' smile. John simply raised an eyebrow.

Rodney flushed.

"On that note, I think I'll call it an evening," John said standing.

Painfully aware of what part of John would be at eye level if he looked up, Rodney rose to his feet while keeping his eyes on his tray. "Me, too."

"So what do you think about tomorrow's mission?" John asked as they left the mess.

"I would have preferred P83-772."

"It's on the list for next week."

"I know, I know." In truth, Rodney was simply grateful that they weren't discussing Cadman, or kissing.

"This one's got ruins," John said.

"Which would be fascinating if I were an archeologist."

"You shouldn't be so narrow, Rodney," John replied stepping into the transporter. Rodney followed him and the door slid shut.

They were alone.

Considering what had happened the last two times they'd been alone, Rodney decided that the prudent thing to do would be to stand as far from John as he could. Moving into the corner, he clasped his hands together, painfully aware of John doing the same thing on the other side.

They waited.

"I think one of us has to tell it where to go," John said.

"Right, of course." Rodney turned to press their destination. So did John. Their hands brushed. They both froze for a moment, and then Rodney pulled his hand back. "You should…"

"Sure." John pressed the transporter area in the hallway outside his quarters and Rodney returned to his corner.

The transporter rematerialized and Rodney stayed where he was, letting John step out ahead of him. "See ya," John said with a wave.

"Right, see ya," Rodney answered. John gave him an odd look and left. Breathing a sigh of relief, Rodney sagged back against the wall. Another potential disaster averted. It wasn't until Elizabeth entered the transporter that he remembered this was his stop, too.

***

The next morning he went to the botany lab. Katie smiled at him as soon as he entered. "Good morning, Rodney."

"Good morning," he answered, stopping next to the table where she was working and clasping his hands behind his back. "I wanted to thank you for the other night," he said quietly, hoping she was the only person who could hear him. "I had a good time, a really good time."

"I'm glad." She looked up at him and smiled before turning back to her plants.

"You're transplanting?"

She nodded. "I'm trying to create a hybrid potato that will grow on the mainland."

"I like potatoes."

"So do I."

Rodney leaned forward almost into her space and swallowed, reminding himself that Katie liked him. "Would you like to have dinner? With me? Tonight?"

"Yes."

He smiled broadly. "Around seven?"

"Seven would be fine. Would you like me to cook?"

"Would you? That would be great. Your food is just… good."

"I'm glad you think so." She smiled again, and Rodney found himself staring. He'd imagined a beautiful woman smiling at him like that, but he'd never expected it to actually happen.

"I should, um, get to work," he said, making no move to leave.

Katie nodded. "I'll see you tonight."

"Right. Tonight."

"Tonight," she confirmed.

Rodney took a step backward. "See you then."

"Bye, Rodney."

"Bye." Turning, he left the lab, smiling all the way back to his own.

He had stopped smiling and had begun whistling when his lab door slid open and Cadman entered. "Don't you ever work?" he asked, barely glancing at her before returning to his own work.

"I'm on a break."

She leaned across his lab bench, resting her weight on her elbows. "So, what happened with Colonel Sheppard last night?"

"Nothing. Why in the world would you anything happened with Colonel Sheppard?" he asked, stopping his examination of the power schematics for the north tower long enough to glare at her.

"Let's see, you've kissed. You left the mess together last night…"

"To go back to our quarters." Cadman grinned and Rodney added, "Our separate quarters, separately."

"Uh-huh."

Rodney scowled and returned his attention to his schematics. After a moment, he looked back up. "By the way, what did you think you were doing last night?"

"Helping."

"Helping? How was implying that I have a large penis helping?"

"Men care about that sort of thing. Besides I didn't imply that it was large, just adequate."

"You have no idea how deeply relieved I am to know that you consider my penis adequate. But I still have no idea why you mentioned it at dinner."

"Colonel Sheppard," she said, looking at him like he was denser than meitnerium. "He's a man…"

Rodney got it. "And you think men care about that sort of thing," he said, nodding.

"Don't they?"

"Our own, sure. Other guys', not really."

"But if you're sleeping with them," Cadman pointed out.

Holding up a hand, Rodney said, "Stop right there. I am not now, nor will I ever be, sleeping with Colonel Sheppard."

"So you're just going to what? Keep kissing him?"

"I am not going to keep kissing him. We are done kissing. There will be no more kissing."

Cadman's expression clearly said that she didn't believe him.

"I have a date with Katie tonight. I'll be kissing her, not the colonel."

"If you say so, Rodney."

"I say so."

Four hours later he was leaning against his lab bench with his arms around John's shoulders and John's mouth on his. John had stopped by the lab with some questions about some alien tech Lorne's team had found on their last mission. Rodney had been pointing something out on his laptop, while John looked over his shoulder. Then he'd looked up at John, and the next thing he knew they were kissing again.

When the kiss had ended, Rodney had stood, intending to put some distance between them. It hadn't worked.

Now John was sucking on the side of his neck, and Rodney was arching, pushing himself against John while tilting his head back, because John clearly needed more room to work.

John's body was lean and hard. Rodney liked soft and curvy. His brain did, anyway. The rest of him seemed to like hard and lean just fine.

"I have a meeting," John said, pulling back a little and drawing in a shaky breath.

"With who?" Rodney asked, not really caring as he slid his lips along John's neck. After all it was his turn.

"Cadman. Duty rosters. Unless she wants to talk about your penis again."

"Don't let her," Rodney said, his words muffled by John's skin. "I have a date."

"Katie?"

"Mmmm." Rodney was too busy trying to classify the taste of the skin beneath John's ear to answer properly.

"You like her, don't you?"

"Mmmm." Rodney nibbled lightly on John's ear lobe and John groaned.

Then he took a step back. "I really have to go."

Rodney nodded.

"Have a good time tonight," John said backing toward the door and Rodney nodded some more, his eyes on the front of John's pants. John was hard and he'd done that to John, again. John was almost to the door when he suddenly walked back toward Rodney.

Taking Rodney's face in his hands, John kissed him again, long and deep. Rodney felt like he was being claimed. No one had ever claimed him before. Holding onto John's hips Rodney didn't just let it happen, he participated. Eagerly. Giving John everything he asked for and then asking John to give in return.

When they finally parted, John didn't step back right away. Sometime during the kiss he'd slid his arms around Rodney and he tightened his hold. Rodney held on too, breathing John in.

After a long moment, John let him go. Stepping back he pointed his thumb over his shoulder. "Meeting."

"Right," Rodney said, staring at him.

John backed toward the door, not taking his eyes off of Rodney until he reached the door.

Rodney glanced at his lab stool and sighed. Maybe it was the stool's fault. Maybe there was something in the air in the lab. Maybe… Rodney looked around his lab, searching for something else he could potentially blame. Not finding anything, he sat.

***

Katie made chicken for dinner, stuffed with broccoli and cheese. Rodney was sure it was delicious. He had trouble tasting it. For some reason his tastebuds were clinging to the taste of John's skin.

Fortunately, Katie was quite willing to talk about her work and Rodney found himself slowly growing intrigued as she discussed the intricacies of interbreeding and genetic manipulation.

When they finished dinner he offered to help clean up, but Katie insisted she'd take care of it later.

"I can't believe I'm actually finding plants interesting," Rodney said as they settled onto the couch.

"I can't believe I'm actually finding worm holes interesting," Katie answered, smiling up at him.

"Touché," Rodney said with a tilt of his head.

Reaching up, Katie cupped his cheek in her hand and guided his mouth to hers. Her kiss was sweet, soft and inviting. Rodney didn't find it hard to accept her invitation at all. He slid his hand up her back, enjoying the feel of her breasts pressing into his chest.

She kissed his neck. Gentle kisses that somehow weren't quite as gentle as John's.

Rodney shoved that thought aside and claimed her mouth with his. Katie moaned softly and molded herself more tightly against him. Rodney moaned too. It had been so long since he'd had sex and she felt really good in his arms.

"Stay," Katie whispered when they parted.

Most of Rodney wanted to stay. The only part that objected was the part that kept remembering the taste of John's skin and the way John had kissed his neck as though Rodney's neck was the key to solving the mysteries of the universe.

Not that Rodney was sure John wanted to solve the mysteries of the universe. Not unless it meant there'd be cool things to fly.

"I can't," Rodney said.

Katie's face fell. "Why not?"

"I have a mission."

"I thought that wasn't for another two days."

"It isn't, but I need to prepare. Off world missions are dangerous, and I have to prepare for them thoroughly."

"I see," Katie said, but she didn't sound as though she saw.

"I, um, we can talk when I get back."

"Talk," Katie echoed, withdrawing her arms from around Rodney's shoulders. He immediately missed them. "Of course."

Rodney stood. "I'll call you." She frowned at him and Rodney realized what he'd said. "I'll come by and see you. Maybe we can spend more time together then. Tonight was really nice. The food was very good. Thank you for cooking, and the company was nice. And I should go." He gestured towards the door.

"Of course. I'll walk you out."

Katie followed him to the door and Rodney leaned down to kiss her on the cheek before leaving.

He started berating himself as soon as her door slid closed.

***

Rodney was still berating himself the next morning. He tried to stop, because insulting yourself was far less gratifying than insulting other people. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that a beautiful woman had wanted to have sex with him and he had run away, because all he could think about was Colonel Sheppard, and his hot kisses, and his lean body, and he, Rodney McKay, could have gotten laid.

John, that master of impeccable timing, chose that moment to saunter into Rodney's lab, all studied nonchalance. "Hey," John smiled, "how was your date?"

"You made me gay."

"Excuse me?" John said.

Rodney stood. "You made me gay." He walked around his lab bench, waving a hand in John's direction. "With the hair, and the lips, and the… hair."

"My hair made you gay?" John rested his hands on his hips.

"Well, look at it."

John lifted a hand to his hair. "What's wrong with it?"

"It's…" Rodney waved his hand again.

"It's what?"

"Attractive."

"Oh." John dropped his hand. "What's wrong with attractive?"

"It made me gay," Rodney repeated.

"How do you know your hair didn't make me gay?"

Rodney didn't need words to convey how absurd an idea that was.

"Right," John said with a small nod. After a slight pause, he added, "But you said it wasn't just the hair."

"Well, no." Rodney tilted his head to the side. "There's the lips and your insistence on using them."

"Ah," John pointed at Rodney, "but you kissed me first."

"But then you kissed me and your kiss was better."

"True."

Rodney shook his head. John was so damn confident. "I did better the next time."

"Yes, you did," John agreed with a smile that made Rodney want to kiss him.

Backing around to the other side of the bench, Rodney pointed at him. "There. That. That's how you made me gay."

"I thought my hair made you gay."

"It did."

John walked around the bench as well, and Rodney tried to decide if he should take a step back or a step forward. "And you have a problem with that," John said, moving into Rodney's space.

"Not a problem exactly--" Rodney said. Then John's lips were on his and he was sliding his hands into John's hair.

They really needed to stop doing this, Rodney thought as he leaned against the bench and pulled John closer. Eventually.

Eventually came far too soon when Rodney was paged by Zelenka. This time he was the one backing toward the door and trying to figure out how he was going to hide his erection.

***

Arriving at John's door, Rodney raised his hand to knock and hesitated. Maybe talking about this wasn't the best idea. Every time they talked, they ended up kissing. Lowering his arm, he bit absently at his thumbnail. He could convince John that they needed to stop. He was sure he could. He'd thought about it all afternoon while helping Zelenka analyze sensor data.

And they had to stop. What they were doing was insane.

Straightening his shoulders, he knocked.

He had almost given up on John answering when the door slid open to reveal John in nothing but a pair of light blue boxers. "I thought it was you," John said, stepping back to let Rodney in.

Rodney stared. John was almost naked and Rodney wasn't used to seeing other people naked. Or even almost naked. He'd seen John's chest before, but there had been that whole life-sucking bug, imminent death thing to deal with. John's chest looked even better with his back and arms bare too, letting Rodney see how everything fit together. His eyes locked on the front of John's boxers. Not quite everything.

"Rodney."

Forcing his eyes back to John's face, Rodney stepped inside. He looked around, his eyes settling on the bed John had clearly been in until a few minutes before.

"What's up?" John asked.

Rodney looked back at John, keeping his eyes above neck level. "We have to stop."

"Okay."

Rodney started to breathe a sigh of relief, then stopped. Nothing with John was this easy. "You agree."

"No, I'm just trying to draw you out," John said in his diplomatic voice, the one that people who weren't Rodney seemed to find surprisingly convincing. "What do we have to stop?"

"You know damn well what." Rodney gestured impatiently between them. "This."

John took a step into his personal space. "This what?" There was a smirk lurking somewhere on John's face. Rodney could hear it in his voice, even if he couldn't see it.

"Us," Rodney said. He hated it when people were deliberately obtuse and John excelled at it. "The kissing."

"I like the kissing." John was smiling now, somehow managing to look innocent and naughty at the same time.

Rodney shifted his gaze from John's face to the space over his shoulder. "That's not the point."

"What is the point?"

"I'm seeing someone."

"Why can't you see two someones?" John asked. "The two of you are just dating, right?"

"Well, yes, but--" Rodney made the mistake of looking back at John's face. The innocence was gone, leaving only naughtiness. He swallowed. "I can hardly tell her about you, now can I?"

"Do you need to?"

"It hardly seems fair otherwise."

John shrugged and somehow he managed to make that look naughty too. "Life isn't always fair."

"Thank you for that profound bit of wisdom, Mr. Sun Tzu."

"You're welcome." John's eyes focused on Rodney's mouth, his thoughts completely transparent.

"John." Rodney tried to sound admonishing, failed utterly. John's mouth closed over his. Rodney knew he should pull away, but it felt so good. When John sucked on his lower lip, he groaned, and when John's tongue brushed his, intent and playful at the same time, Rodney reached out, his hands settling on John's waist.

He was touching bare skin, bare, warm skin. Smooth skin that invited his hands to touch more. Rodney tried to stop them, but they moved of their own accord, sliding up and down John's sides.

They parted with a series of brief kisses, but John didn't draw back and Rodney didn't remove his hands. John was staring at him, eyes wide, hair more mussed than before, even though Rodney hadn't touched it. Rodney looked down. John was hard, and his erection was pushing against his boxers, creating a gap in the fabric that Rodney could see darkened skin through.

"Come to bed with me," John whispered, sending a jolt of desire to Rodney's cock and one of fear to his brain. "We don’t have to do anything we haven't done already. We can just kiss, pretend we're teenagers making out." John sounded so reasonable and so seductive. It was the sort of combination only John Sheppard could manage.

"The first time I made out with someone, I got mono," Rodney answered.

John smiled, snorting softly in amusement. "Only you."

"Not just me. That's why they call it the kissing disease."

John rested his forehead against Rodney's. "I won't give you mono."

"I know." What John was doing to him was far worse. "The kiss was worth it."

Drawing back, John smiled again. "I'm sure it was."

"I want to touch you," Rodney confessed, because he still had his hands on John's waist and John was smiling at him.

John kissed him quick and hard. "Me, too." Stepping back, John took his hands and began walking backwards toward the bed, pulling Rodney with him.

When they reached the bed, Rodney kicked off his shoes while John settled into the center. Rodney found himself rooted in place, unable to do anything but stare. John's skin looked warm and it didn't help that Rodney knew it was warm, could still feel John's heat in his palms. The hair, Rodney wanted to touch the hair, too. Looking at John's legs it seemed ridiculous that women shaved theirs.

John was watching him, waiting to see what Rodney would do. Rodney couldn't disappoint him. He climbed awkwardly onto the bed and John sat up, wrapping his arms around Rodney and pulling Rodney down with him.

They were kissing before John's back reached the mattress.

Heat everywhere, under him and around him, coming from John's mouth and John's skin. He was lying half on top of John and he ran one hand over the half he wasn't lying on.

No matter where he touched, John's skin was warm and smooth, the rough softness of his hair a teasing contrast.

John's hands slid under his shirt, and Rodney drew back. "I thought we were just kissing."

"You're touching me."

Rodney couldn't argue with that so he kissed John again.

Kissing and touching and Rodney thought that maybe John was right and it hadn't been this good since he was a teenager.

John tugged at his shirt, and Rodney sat back, lowering the zipper and pulling it over his head. John stared at him, his mouth slightly open, desire in his gaze. Then he lifted one hand and pressed it to Rodney's chest, moving it slowly downward. "You feel so good," he said softly, "you look so good."

Rodney flushed. "So do you."

John gave him a tiny smile and Rodney was going to kiss him again when John's fingers brushed a nipple, causing him to suck in a shaky breath. Smile broadening, John said, "You have sensitive nipples."

Rodney nodded.

"Cool."

Moving his hand across John's chest, Rodney brushed his own fingers across a nipple. "What about yours?"

"It feels nice, but not really nice."

"What about this?" Rodney asked, leaning down and capturing John's nipple with his mouth. He sucked gently at first and then harder, receiving a soft moan in return.

"That's good," John said when Rodney lifted his head, sliding his fingers through Rodney's hair.

"But not really good."

"To get really good I think you'd have to suck something else."

Grinning, Rodney let John guide him into another kiss. It was sweet and deep, and when John started to roll him onto his back, Rodney went. John trailed sucking kisses down his neck and along his collarbone, one hand caressing Rodney chest.

When he reached Rodney's nipple, Rodney arched, pleasure sliding from his nipple to his dick with every pull of John's mouth. John switched sides and Rodney groaned, want deepening the sound.

"God, John," he said quietly when John raised his head.

John nodded. "I know." He licked his upper lip quickly. "I want to take your pants off. Can I?"

Rodney answered by reaching for the button holding his pants closed. He could feel the heat in John's eyes on his hands. After only a little fumbling, his pants were open, and Rodney lifted his hips while John tugged his pants down.

By the time John had them all of the way off he was standing at the foot of his bed, looking down at Rodney, hunger and something else in his eyes. Rodney suspected it was the same thing he felt when John touched him. Unable to look too closely at that something, he lifted his foot. "Sock."

John peeled it off and Rodney lowered his foot, raising the other one. When that one was bare too, Rodney wiggled his toes before lowering his foot.

With a shake of his head, John knelt on the bed between Rodney's legs and Rodney sat up. He touched John's cheek with his fingers, then leaned in for a kiss. Rodney closed his eyes as affection swelled in his chest, twisting with the desire, intensifying both.

Somehow they managed to lie back down without breaking their kiss or injuring anything. It was odd how sex could make you graceful, but only, Rodney supposed, with the right person.

John moved against him, rubbing their cocks together through their boxers. Rodney groaned and John did it again, pressing his lips to Rodney's ear and whispering, "Jesus, Rodney."

Rodney tightened his hold on John, sliding a hand down John's back to his ass and cupping a cheek. Firm and curved, it filled his hand. "You have a nice ass," Rodney whispered and John laughed. "What? You don't like compliments?"

"I just never thought I'd hear you say something like that."

"I never thought I'd say something like that," Rodney said.

John smiled at him and then kissed him, sending desire on a slow, winding course through Rodney and into every cell in his body.

Groaning, Rodney tugged at John's boxers. "You should take these off."

"I will if you will."

"Deal."

John shifted back onto his knees and after a fair bit of maneuvering managed to get his boxers off. Rodney thought about pointing out that there were easier ways to get your boxers off, but he was enjoying watching far too much.

Then John was naked and Rodney had never seen another guy's erect dick before, not in the flesh. It was interesting, the shape of it, the way it angled upwards as though looking for attention.

"Your turn," John said, brushing his hand lightly over Rodney's cock. Rodney could feel the warmth of John's hand even through his boxers.

"Right," Rodney said, still feeling an echo of John's touch. He lifted his hips and pushed his boxers down to his knees. Then he sat up to get them the rest of the way off. John was still kneeling between his legs, forcing Rodney to pull his legs back. It was awkward, but he wasn't willing to ask John to move.

At last he was done and they were facing each other, naked and inches apart, Rodney sitting and John kneeling between his legs. John was staring at Rodney's dick the same way Rodney had stared at his. Reaching out, he curled a hand around John's cock and gave it a light stroke. John's cock was firm and smooth in his hand. Rodney touched the head with the fingers of his other hand. It was smooth, too, almost delicate.

"You have big hands," John said and Rodney looked up at him. John was watching Rodney touch his cock.

"Yeah. They're a pain sometimes." Mostly when he was trying to work in small spaces.

"Not from this end." John grinned at him, and Rodney had to kiss him.

Rodney traced the slit with a single finger, and John sucked in a breath. His hands were on the outside of Rodney's thighs and he tightened his grip slightly. "So was that really good?" Rodney asked, only partially teasing.

John laughed a little and kissed him again. Rodney began to stroke, this time in earnest, and John broke their kiss, resting his forehead on Rodney's shoulder and looking down at Rodney's hand.

Rodney looked, too. He was touching John's cock, but not just touching it. He was getting John off. Rodney could tell because John was breathing faster and making quiet sounds that weren't anything like the sounds men made in porn movies. Needing to touch more of him, Rodney slid his hand up the center of John's back.

"God, Rodney," John said softly, his words barely louder than the sounds he'd been making.

"Yeah," Rodney agreed.

After just a couple more strokes, John came, fluid leaving his cock in long spurts that landed on them both, while Rodney stared, his hand still moving. John groaned and Rodney could feel him shudder.

As the shuddering eased, Rodney slowed his strokes, finally stopping altogether, but he still held on, letting John's cock soften in his hand. Wrapping his free hand around John's shoulders, Rodney held him as well as the position they were in would allow. Then he closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath, smelling sex and John.

He opened his eyes when John's hand curled around his cock. As he watched, John began to caress him with long sure strokes.

"How's this?" John asked.

"Good," Rodney breathed, not taking his eyes off of John's hand. "Really, really good."

Then he had to stop looking because John kissed him the way he had in the lab just before Rodney's date, deep and slow. Certain that John was the best kisser he'd ever met, Rodney kissed him back.

Rodney made a regretful sound when they parted and John touched his cheek lightly. Giving Rodney's cock a gentle squeeze, he drew Rodney's gaze from John back to his cock. His cock looked really good with John's hand around it, Rodney decided. John had stopped stroking Rodney while they were kissing and now he started again, sending pleasure coiling up through Rodney with every movement.

Finally letting go of John's cock, Rodney moved his hand to John's waist, holding on as though he needed John to keep him balanced.

Maybe he did because watching someone else touch him was really strange, watching John touch him… John's hands flew jumpers and pulled triggers, did all sorts of hero things, and yet there he was, stroking Rodney's cock as if that's where his hand belonged.

Rodney pulled in a shaky breath. He was so close. His orgasm was right there, getting closer with every stroke. For an instant, he wanted to tell John to stop, wanted to keep it from ending. But John moved his hand just right and Rodney came, clutching at John as his body shook and his fluid went everywhere.

It was the best orgasm Rodney had had in a really long time and having John there with him just made it better.

Slowly exhaling, Rodney relaxed, resting his cheek against John's and closing his eyes. John rubbed the back of his neck with his fingers and Rodney relaxed even more.

"Cadman was right," John said softly.

"Excuse me?" Rodney said, not willing to move and completely unwilling to get riled up at the mention of Cadman during afterglow.

"You do have a nice penis."

"She'll be glad to know you were impressed," Rodney answered, stifling a yawn.

"You can't tell her," John said pulling back and taking away the shoulder Rodney had been leaning against.

"She already knows. About the kissing," Rodney added hastily. "She won't tell anyone. She swears she won't. She was even trying to help. That's what that whole penis comment was about. She thought you'd be impressed if you knew my penis was adequate."

John's expression shifted from surprised to amused. "It's definitely adequate."

"I'm glad you think so. Can we sleep now?"

"Sure," John said, kissing him lightly.

It took only a little maneuvering to get them both settled beneath the covers. There wasn't much room, but Rodney figured they'd manage. Snuggled comfortably against John's side, Rodney muttered, "It was definitely the hair."

"My hair did not make you gay."

"It's an observation, not a complaint."

"If my hair made you gay, then what made me gay?"

"My irresistible manliness?"

John laughed until Rodney hit him with the pillow. Then he laughed harder.

***

Warm, gentle suction tugged at him and Rodney opened his eyes.

John smiled up at him. "Good morning."

"Good morning," Rodney answered, still trying to process that fact that John was kneeling between his legs. "You… were you just…"

"I figured you'd be less inclined to freak out if we were having sex when you woke up."

"I was not going to freak out. I am a highly trained scientist," Rodney said as John stretched out over him. He placed his hands on John's waist. "Not to mention an intergalactic explorer. I do not freak out."

The corners of John's lips started to twitch.

"I don't. I may get a little afraid once in a while, but that's a perfectly reasonable response to danger."

John nodded, which Rodney would have taken for agreement if John hadn't been pressing his lips together in a clear attempt to keep from laughing.

"If you keep laughing at me in bed, I'm going to develop a complex."

John buried his face in Rodney's neck. "We wouldn't want that," he said, but hiding his face didn't keep the amusement from his voice.

Rodney sighed and wrapped his arms around John. "Can we go back to what you were doing when I woke up? I couldn't fully appreciate it, being asleep."

John shifted slightly, smiling down at him. Maybe it had been the smile that made Rodney gay. "That could be arranged," John said.

"I'm not going to date Katie any more," Rodney said suddenly.

John's smile broadened. "Good."

Unable to resist that smile, Rodney pulled him into a kiss. Maybe being gay wouldn't be so bad after all.