chelle

Atlantis

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Kind of Beautiful

chelle

Title: Kind of Beautiful

Author: chelle

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

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

Fandom: Atlantis

Archive: Ask first

Pairing: John/Rodney

Rating: NC 17

Notes: Written for the GPFG Studios community on livejournal, an AU in which the women of Stargate run a porn company and the men are in front of the camera.

This story follows after Yin's Their Debut and beadittude's Pleasure Doing Business.

Summary: Colonel Stone and Dr. Mensa have some downtime, and they intend to spend it having the kind of sex that takes all day. John isn't sure how he feels about that.

Scene 1

Interior: JOHN SHEPPARD and RODNEY MCKAY's bedroom; partial lighting. Both men are on the bed, chests bare, lower bodies beneath blankets. Rodney is lying on his side, facing John but not touching him, eyes closed. John is on his back, staring up at the ceiling.

"Go to sleep," Rodney mumbled, sounding tired and vaguely irritated.

"I am."

"Are not."

"If we argue about this, you won't get any sleep," John said reasonably.

"It won't be us, you know. It'll be Colonel Stone and Dr. Mensa."

"I know that, Rodney."

"Uh-huh. So why are you lying awake staring at the ceiling?"

"Because your talking is keeping me awake."

Shifting closer, Rodney lifted himself up on one arm and kissed John briefly. Then he turned onto his other side, away from John, and John had to grab hold of the blankets to keep Rodney from taking them all with him.

"Good-night," Rodney said.

"Night," John answered, brushing the small of Rodney's back with the back of his hand. Then he closed his eyes, because they had to be on set in the morning. Colonel Stone and his new lover had a day off. A day off they were going to spend having sex. Teyla, GPFG's main writer, had explained it as Jake and Ryan finally getting a chance to have sex that wasn't hurried, frantic or desperate. They were going to have time to explore, she'd said.

The thing was John had already explored Rodney's body--multiple times. He knew all of Rodney's sensitive places, knew how to make him squirm and writhe and beg. Knew where to kiss and where to touch, when to use a light brush of fingertips and when to touch with his whole hand.

It wasn't information he cared to share.

Scene II

Interior: The quarters of Colonel Jake Stone. The crew is finishing the last of the set-up, one woman adjusting lights, while another is standing at a stationary camera. A woman with a handheld camera is talking quietly with SAMANTHA CARTER. RODNEY MCKAY is dressed as Dr. Ryan Mensa in a button-down plaid shirt and tan pants. He is pacing next to the bed, muttering what may be lines. JOHN SHEPPARD is sitting on the edge of the bed, dressed as Colonel Stone in jeans and a black t-shirt. He has an open script in his hands. The margins of the script are filled with hand-written notes.

"It's too cold in here," Rodney said aloud, stopping his pacing. "My feet will freeze."

"No socks," Carter answered without looking at him.

"How can you expect me to get a hard-on with cold feet? All my blood will flow south as my body desperately tries to keep them warm. Cold feet mean no erection."

Rodney was well aware of the no socks rule. He'd tried to keep them on once only to have the entire crew chorus "No socks" which meant Rodney was being annoying on purpose. John looked up at him. He was glaring at Carter, apparently Mr. Yale Drama wasn't taking this any better than he was. It made John feel a little better.

"We have a fluffer," Carter answered and Rodney scowled, but he let the subject drop. Carter clapped her hands together once. "Okay. Everyone ready?" She looked down at John. "John?"

He stood, opening the drawer in the bedside stand and stuffing his script into it. "All set."

"Rodney?"

Rodney nodded and walked through the fake sliding doors to the fake hallway outside of Stone's quarters.

"All right, then," Carter said. "Action."

There was a knock and John went to answer it, moving his hand in front of the controls, opening the pretend door.

"Hey," Rodney said, giving him a nervous smile.

"Hey." John took a step back, giving Rodney room to enter.

Rodney reached his mark and turned to face John. He opened his mouth and then shut it again. Apparently, Dr. Mensa was too nervous to speak, which left it up to Colonel Stone. John took two steps forward onto his own mark, closing the space between them. "So--"

Rodney twisted his hands together, and John took hold of one of them, stopping him. Rodney looked up at him, nervous and hopeful, and John hoped they were getting this because Rodney sure knew how to act. Cupping the side of Rodney's neck with his free hand, John stroked his jaw almost all the way to his ear, and then back again to his chin.

Moving a half-step closer, Rodney pressed his lips to John's. John kissed him with relief, because that was what Stone was feeling, relief that Ryan wanted to spend their downtime doing the same things he did, and John let go of Rodney's hand to slide an arm around his waist.

Needy kisses, not desperate, just like they couldn't stop. Stone didn't want to stop, so John didn't. He kissed Rodney again and again, deep kisses, light kisses, kisses that might actually last for three days if they didn't need to eat.

Rodney slid his hands up John's back and pressed against him, offering himself, only John didn't know if it was Rodney or Ryan who was doing the offering. He wasn't sure it mattered.

Drawing back, he eased away just enough to get his hands on the buttons of Rodney's shirt. He started at the top, taking his time, letting his fingers brush exposed skin. Rodney kept still, his eyes following John's hands. When the last button was undone, John slipped his hands inside it, curving his palms around Rodney's waist before sliding his hands upward.

For a guy Rodney had amazingly smooth skin, not that John had touched many women, but he'd touched a lot of men, and Rodney's skin was smoother than most. He bet Stone would appreciate that about Ryan. Maybe with all the violence in his world, Stone liked having something soft to hold onto.

He pushed Ryan's shirt from Rodney's shoulders, renewing their kissing and sliding one hand down Rodney's chest and the other around to press against the small of his back.

Rodney was tugging John's shirt free from his jeans. John lifted his arms, letting Rodney remove it and drop it to the floor. Rodney immediately began running his broad hands over John's back. He liked John's back for some reason, so much so that John's chest sometimes felt neglected.

Placing his hands on Rodney's hips, John tugged him forward, closing what little space was between them, pressing their chests together. Skin against skin, John was sure that was what Stone would want. They'd had too much semi-clothed sex. The couple of times they'd been naked, Stone had loved it, had loved feeling Ryan's smooth skin against his own.

Rodney kissed him, desire and lust, none of it hidden.

Hands cupping Rodney's ass, John kissed him back.

When Rodney started rubbing his erection against John's, John took hold of his shoulders and guided him back onto the bed, kneeling in front of him do undo his shoes and slide both shoes and socks off.

"My feet'll get cold," Rodney said softly.

John cradled one in his hands. "If they do you can put them on me."

Rodney pointed at him, smiling softly. "I will hold you to that."

"I know you will," John said and reached for the fastenings on his pants.

After stripping Rodney of his pants, John stood, intending to remove his own, only to have Rodney reach for him. Hips jutting forward, he watched Rodney undue the button on his jeans and then slowly lower his zipper, fingers brushing John's erection.

"That's cheating," John said, smiling anyway.

"Nope," Rodney answered, holding the jeans open and softly kissing John's stomach.

Sliding his hand into Rodney's hair, John pulled in a breath, letting all of Stone's affection for Ryan show in his face, hoping Rodney could feel it in the brush of fingers along the back of his neck.

Rodney blew a raspberry into the center of his stomach, causing John to bend forward. "Hey!" John protested, covering his stomach with his arms.

Rodney grinned up at him. "That's cheating."

Pushing Rodney onto his back, John climbed on top of him. "I'll show you cheating."

"No, you won't," Rodney said and pulled him into a kiss.

Rodney was right, he wouldn't.

They kissed for along time, stripping off their remaining clothes between kisses. Pressing, rubbing, skin sliding along skin, until John had to have more. Lifting himself onto one elbow, John slid his fingers through Rodney's chest hair, thinking about what it would mean for Stone to touch his lover like this. He'd be amazed that he could have this, could have this man in his bed to touch and kiss. He'd want to taste every bit of Ryan's skin, slide his fingers everywhere, make Ryan squirm with pleasure and lust.

John mouthed his way along Rodney's neck, and Rodney arched, pressing his cock into John's, making John gasp into his skin.

He drew a small, pointed nipple into his mouth, sucking lightly at first, then harder.

Rodney stoked the back of his neck with one hand, the other curved around John's biceps.

John kept sliding downward, tasting and touching along the way, imagining that he was Stone, learning for the first time that a firm touch on Ryan's side would make him press into the touch, while a light one would tickle and cause him to move away; that a small gasp meant "that's perfect," and a groan meant "more;" that his left nipple was for some unknown reason more sensitive than the right, but both would tighten in response to the pads of his fingers.

When he reached Rodney's cock, John curled his hand around it, sitting back on his heels and just looking. Rodney didn't fit any of the standard porn categories. Nothing about him was remotely twinkish and while his shoulders were broad he wasn't a jock. All anyone had to do was look at him to see that. He had a thick cock and a beautiful ass, but what had made Rodney a star was his charisma. When he was in a room, it was almost impossible to look anywhere else.

At least it was for John.

When he was lying naked in front of John, John's hand on his cock, pretty much the only thing John could do was lean forward and guide that cock into his mouth.

Which was exactly what he did.

Rodney groaned, but John ignored him. Stone had blown Ryan before, but never like this, never with unlimited time, and Stone wouldn't rush it. So John couldn't. Resting Rodney's cock in his palm, he rubbed his cheek against the underside, then brushed his lips across the sensitive spot just beneath the head.

"Jake," Rodney said, reaching for him almost blindly.

John shook his head and sucked on that same spot. Rodney gasped.

He went down on Rodney for a long time, taking him deep, then sucking lightly on the head, rubbing his lips along the shaft, lightly stroking saliva-slick skin with his hand. He had Rodney almost to the root when Rodney sat up and pulled on his shoulders.

"Come here."

Letting go, John went.

Rodney pulled him down and rolled him over, covering John's body with his own. He kissed John like he couldn't get deep enough, hands moving restlessly over John's skin.

He broke the kiss before John was ready, sliding to the side and latching onto a nipple, cupping John's balls with his hand. A single finger brushed John's opening and he gasped.

With a soft squeeze Rodney let go of John's balls and reached for the lube on the stand next to the bed. He sat back to coat his fingers, and John watched him, heart pounding. So far nothing had gone anywhere near Colonel Stone's ass, not even a tongue. But now his lover was going to touch him there and John wanted it as badly as Stone did.

He spread his legs, hoping Rodney would see how much Stone wanted this, trying to give him something to work with.

Kneeling beside him, Rodney traced John's opening with a single finger, then pushed the tip just inside. John clutched the sheets with one hand, reaching out to curl the other around the first part of Rodney he could reach, his wrist.

"Okay?" Rodney asked an odd, gentle note in his voice. It wasn't Rodney asking, it was Ryan.

John nodded. "Yeah."

Rodney inched his finger in deeper and John placed his feet on the bed, sliding them back and using the leverage to push his hips downward. Resting a hand on his belly, John's hand still curled around his wrist, Rodney said, "Let me."

Holding still, John let him, let him push his finger slowly deeper and slide it back and forth, twisting, searching for something Rodney knew damn well where to find, but Ryan wouldn't.

John cried out when he found it, pleasure shooting up his spine.

Two fingers then and Rodney's mouth on his cock, and John was going to come from this. No way he couldn't.

Except Rodney released his cock, let it go and stretched out next to John, fingers pushed deep into John's ass, and kissed him. John loved being kissed and fingered and Rodney knew it. Deep kisses and small touches, then a light brush of lips and Rodney's fingers pushing deep, it wasn't fair. Rodney was using all the things he knew about John's body, the things Ryan had no way of knowing, not yet.

John didnít care.

He broke away from Rodney's mouth, pressing his cheek to Rodney's. "Fuck me."

"Are you sure?"

The words were an abrupt reminder that they weren't alone, that there were lights and cameras all around them. Rodney wouldn't have asked if they were alone; John didn't bottom on camera.

"Yes." It wasn't just that Rodney had him crazy hot. Stone wanted this, wanted Ryan. John knew it.

"Okay." Rodney kissed him again. "Okay." He sat back and began searching for the lube, looking nervous and aroused, like a man who was about to top someone he cared about for the first time. Finding it behind him on the bed, he held it in his free hand, a confused frown on his face as if he'd just realized that he couldn't lube his cock with one hand and might have to remove his fingers from their current home.

Sitting up as well as he could, John took the lube from him. "Here." Flipping open the lid, he squeezed some onto his palm and then rested the bottle of lube against his hip, using his fingers to apply the lube to the head of Rodney's cock.

"Cold," Rodney said, managing to actually sound cold.

"It'll warm up," John answered, closing his fist around Rodney's shaft and stroking. When Rodney's cock was slick and glistening, John lay back on the bed, legs apart, Colonel Stone offering himself to his lover.

Rodney's eyes went up the full length of him before he moved between John's legs and slid his fingers free, pressing the tip of his cock to John's hole. His gaze locked on John's, Rodney moved his hips, pushing into John, making him stretch and give.

John groaned, wincing a little because it had been a while for Stone.

"Is this--" Rodney asked.

"Good. It's good."

Nodding, Rodney lifted one of John's legs and rested it on his shoulder. John lifted the other one, and Rodney moved his hips forward again. He moved back, then forward, working his way carefully inside, as if John really hadn't taken a cock in a long time.

John closed his eyes, trying to focus on what Stone would be feeling--the stretch and burn of a cock pushing into him, the high that came from being penetrated by someone you wanted as badly as Stone wanted Ryan. Ryan's cock would strip him bare, Ryan would strip him bare, but Stone wouldn't pull away.

Opening his eyes, John lifted a hand, reaching out for Rodney, trying to let it show in his face, the burn, the desire, all of it.

Rodney leaned forward, far enough that John could slide his hand along Rodney's cheek and into his hair.

A handful of slow strokes and John couldn't wait any more, he tugged Rodney down and into a kiss. Rodney was over him and in him, his cock moving inside John sure and easy. John groaned into his mouth, holding tight to Rodney's shoulders.

Somehow Rodney managed to work a hand between them. Taking John in hand, he began to stroke, light, steady movements that were pushing John closer and closer to overload.

He came with his face buried in Rodney's shoulder, moaning loudly, shaking as Rodney kept moving, kept stroking, drawing it out.

As the last aftershock shuddered through him, Rodney stopped moving. John relaxed into the mattress, loosening his hold on Rodney shoulders.

"Jake," Rodney said quietly, a plea and a promise all bound up in one syllable.

"Please," John answered, because he wanted it. He wanted Rodney to fuck him, to find his own pleasure in John's body, in John's ass, to flood John with his come. It was what Stone would want too, if he was real, if Ryan was real.

Lifting himself onto his arms, Rodney started to move, less careful now, pushing in hard, going deep.

John slid his fingers through the fluid on his stomach and raised his hand to Rodney's mouth. Rodney let him in, sucking eagerly on John's fingers.

It didn't take long for Rodney to come. Releasing John's fingers, head dropping forward as his hips jerked and his cock pulsed in John's ass, filling John with his warmth.

He was still panting when John pulled him into his arms.

"Cut," Carter said from somewhere behind them, confusing John. They had lines yet, a whole post-coital scene. The main lights were turned off, and John closed his eyes, listening to the sounds of the crew leaving.

"You did great, guys," Carter said quietly. "We'll pick it up again tomorrow."

"Fine with us," Rodney said, his voice muffled by John's skin.

"Take all the time you want," Carter answered, and then she was gone.

"You okay?" Rodney asked after what felt like a couple minutes of silence but was probably only thirty seconds.

"Fine. Other than turning into a pretzel."

"Sorry," Rodney said, moving back and giving John room to lower his legs.

Cramps had been threatening to start in his hips and John stretched each leg as he lowered it. "That's better."

Rodney frowned at him, and John could see the questions forming in his eyes. Sitting up, he gave Rodney a quick kiss. "You ready? I could use a shower and it is kind of cold in here. Your feet must be freezing."

The look on Rodney's face said there was no way John was going to be able to dodge him forever. "Thought you were going to keep my feet warm."

John leaned over the edge of the bed, and came back up with a sock dangling from his fingers. "Oh look, sock."

Rodney snagged it from his hand. "Fine, let's go."

Scene 3

Interior: Apartment of JOHN SHEPPARD and RODNEY MCKAY. John is sitting on the couch in sweats reading. There is an open laptop on the coffee table in front of him. Rodney enters, carrying two beers.

"Here," Rodney said, holding out a beer.

The best part about making dinner was that Rodney had to do the clean-up and for some reason doing dishes made Rodney want beer. John had no objections to that, as long as he got one, too. "Thanks." He took a long drink before holding out the bottle to look at the label.

"It's the good stuff." Rodney picked up his laptop and sat beside John on the couch, not close enough to crowd, but close enough that moving just right might cause their arms or shoulders to brush. He glanced at the spine of John's book. "Achilles and Patrolocus were doing it, you know."

"Is that what they taught you at Yale?"

"Nope," Rodney said with a shake of his head. "I figured it out on my own."

"I'll bet you did."

Grinning, Rodney took a drink from his own beer.

"They didn't explain Homer's obsession with the phrase 'rosy-fingered dawn' did they?"

Rodney waggled his fingers at John, but he said, "I think it has something to do with the rhyme."

"Probably." John went back to his reading, Agamemnon was being an ass, which was what pretty much what John had remembered from the first time he'd read The Illiad. He glanced at Rodney. In spite of the way Rodney had looked at him in the studio, he hadn't asked John a single thing about the scene. It was unexpected, sort of. Rodney had been working on controlling his curiosity, giving John time to sort things out in his head. John appreciated the effort. It was a hell of a lot better than the fights they had when Rodney pushed.

He took another drink from his beer. It was the good stuff and he savored the flavor for a moment. Unfortunately if Rodney waited, it meant that John had to talk eventually. It wasn't a formal agreement or anything, just an unspoken understanding.

John watched Rodney type, frowning at his computer, and thought about asking what he was working on. "It was what Stone wanted." Rodney turned to look at him. "For Ryan to fuck him," John added, in case it wasn't clear.

"I see," Rodney said, sounding like he didn't see at all.

"You think I don't get motivation? That I don't know what the guy I'm playing wants?"

"Of course that's not what I think. You've put a lot of time into Stone, into trying to understand him. I know that."

"Oh," John said, somewhat mollified.

Rodney was watching him carefully. "Why did you think that's what Stone wanted?"

John looked down at his beer, smoothing a wrinkle in the label with his thumb. "He cares about Ryan. They're lovers."

"Like Achilles and Patrolocus," Rodney said, turning back to his computer.

Taking another drink, John watched him for a moment before returning to the siege of Troy.

Scene Four

Interior: Dressing room for JOHN SHEPPARD and RODNEY MCKAY. They have just arrived and haven't yet begun to undress. Enter SAMANTHA CARTER.

"Good, you haven't changed yet," Carter said. "Elizabeth wants to see you."

John and Rodney exchanged glances. In the five months they'd been working for GPFG they'd only met with Elizabeth Weir twice.

Carter tilted her head toward the door. "Come on."

Scene Five

Interior: ELIZABETH WEIR's office. She is sitting behind a large desk, dressed in an immaculately tailored dark blue suit. Enter SAMANTHA CARTER followed by RODNEY MCKAY and JOHN SHEPPARD.

Elizabeth stood. "Come in, please. Would you like something to drink?"

"Coffee?" Rodney asked.

John shook his head.

Elizabeth glanced at Carter who immediately went over to a small bar in the corner and began pouring a cup. Taking a seat, Elizabeth gestured at the chairs in front of her desk.

Rodney and John sat. The chairs were heavily upholstered and more comfortable than they looked.

"Black, right?" Carter asked.

"Yes."

Carter brought Rodney his coffee and then perched on the corner of Elizabeth's desk, facing John and Rodney.

"We wanted to talk to you about yesterday," Elizabeth said.

It was exactly what John had feared. He'd veered too far from the script, and now he'd blown the best gig they'd ever had. "I'm sorry," he said. "I improvised and I--"

"No, no, that's not it at all." Elizabeth held up her hands cutting him off. "We don't mind the improvisation, in fact we love it." She glanced at Carter who nodded her agreement. "Teyla's already written a new post-coital scene to go with it." She paused, leaning forward in her chair, back still ramrod straight, and linked her hands, resting them on the desk. "The scene is beautiful. It's exactly what we were hoping for when we started this company."

John gave Rodney a sideways glance, but Rodney was looking straight ahead.

"The thing is," Elizabeth continued, "it's intense, and we don't want to use it unless you're both okay with it."

"Why wouldn't we be?" Rodney said, visibly bristling. "We're professionals--"

"I know that, Mr. McKay," she said, cutting him off before he could get started. "Kate tells me that filming something like this is different from other types of acting, that it's harder to keep the line between character and actor. I imagine that's even more true when you're on-screen lover is your real-life partner."

John nodded in agreement.

"Out of respect for the two of you, for your privacy and your relationship, we want you to take a look at it. If you don't want us to use it, we won't."

"Oh," Rodney said, sounding stunned. "Um, thank you. That's really nice of you."

John just kept nodding, wondering what was on that film.

Scene Six

Interior: Viewing room. There are a cluster of chairs in front of a large television screen. SAMANTHA CARTER is fiddling with equipment at the back of the room. JOHN SHEPPARD and RODNEY MCKAY are standing next to the chairs.

"It's just a rough cut," Carter said. "There's still a lot of editing to do. If there are shots you want taken out, we can do that."

"Okay," John said. "We'll let you know." He kept glancing at Rodney and then at the screen, because he'd never worked for anyone who'd given the actors any say at all in what went into the film, let alone veto power. He'd never even heard of anyone doing that.

Carter came over to them and handed Rodney a remote. "Just press play." Then she turned away.

They waited until she was out of the room to sit, moving two chairs so that they were side-by-side directly in front of the screen.

Rodney pressed play.

It started with Rodney knocking and John opening the door.

They had gotten that shot of Rodney looking hopeful and nervous and wanting. He really was good.

John squirmed a little, which was ridiculous because it wasn't as though he'd never watched himself and Rodney on screen before, even if they didn't do it often, but those were some serious kisses.

They undressed one another and that little bit they'd added with the feet seemed to work pretty well, at least in John's opinion. It lightened things up, and it was a good way of showing Stone's feelings, because you had to love someone to agree to let them put their cold feet on you.

More kissing, only they were naked now.

"We look good together," Rodney said.

"Yeah." Only John thought Elizabeth was right and it was more beautiful than good. He wondered if that was what they looked like when they were alone together.

John watched as he lifted himself up onto one arm and slid his hand over Rodney's chest.

"You used to look at me like that," Rodney said quietly. "With wonder in your eyes."

"I donít anymore?"

"Not often."

"I still feel it," John said softly, feeling Rodney look over at him. He kept his eyes strictly on the screen until he felt Rodney's gaze shift away.

It got hotter after that. John blowing Rodney, looking up and catching Rodney's gaze. The look on Rodney's face made John go perfectly still. He didn't know if Rodney was acting, if that was Ryan looking at Stone or Rodney looking at him and if it was Rodney why hadn't he seen it before.

On the screen Rodney's fingers were in him, and he was completely exposed.

"God, you're beautiful," Rodney said. There was nothing John could say to that, so he reached over, intending to squeeze Rodney's knee, but somehow Rodney's hand ended up in his instead.

When Rodney's mouth closed around him, John began making these small, panting gasps, nothing like the "fuck, yeahs" and "oh, yeahs" he'd muttered on screen before they'd started working here.

Then came the moment it had all gone off track, when John said, "fuck me" in a voice that sounded nothing like his own.

John's heart was pounding as he watched, stunned by the sheer eroticism of it. There weren't any close-ups. No endless shots of Rodney's cock going in and out. Mostly the camera showed the two of them, moving together, kissing. Rodney had never been graceful, but he was in this scene, muscles flexing with a surprising beauty. John's biceps were bulging from clinging so tightly to Rodney's shoulders, and there were sounds John couldn't remember making or hearing.

He wanted to look away, but he couldnít quite bring himself to.

Making it worse, the camera caught his face, orgasm over, staring up at Rodney, eyes bright with emotion.

Rodney was just as bad. His expressive face hid nothing, and he was looking at John like sex with John was the greatest thing ever invented.

"Well," Rodney said thirty seconds after the screen went dark. "What do you think?"

"I don't know." John let go of his hand and stood, pacing over to the corner of the room. He needed space. At sixteen John had come out of the closet, guns practically blazing. It had cost him his chance at the Air Force, but that had been a dream he was willing to give up. He'd never hidden his desires, but there were other things. Other things that he preferred to keep private.

He looked back at Rodney who was watching him carefully. "What do you want to do?"

Rodney shrugged. "I'm an actor." It wasn't an answer, and Rodney knew it.

"Right. And there was nothing of you on that screen."

"Of course there was. That's what acting is. Taking what you need from inside yourself and twisting it around making it the character's instead of yours."

"So all of that was Dr. Mensa?"

John watched Rodney's chest rise and fall three times before he answered. "Dr. Mensa is in love for the first time in his life. I took what I needed to from inside me to create that."

Throat aching, John looked away from him. Rodney had had lovers long before him.

"Ask me what I took, John."

Forcing himself to meet Rodney's gaze, John said, "What did you take?"

"My feelings for you." Rodney's voice was soft, but there was an undercurrent of "you stupid dolt" that made John smile.

"Colonel Stone's in love, too."

Rodney nodded. "I know."

John looked back at the screen. "You want to let them show it?"

"It's up to you. We can always re-shoot it with less improvising."

John thought it over. "There's some good acting in that scene."

"There is."

"Okay then, let's let them use it."

"Good," Rodney said, clearly pleased. "Good."

"Yeah," John said, letting out a long breath. It was good.

And kind of beautiful.