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Opening Moves


Title: Opening Moves

Author: chelle

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Fandom: Atlantis

Archive: Ask first

Rating: PG

AN: docmichelle wanted a first kiss and crownglass had planted some interesting ideas about hands in my head.

"Meditation ritual," John repeated. Teyla nodded. "That doesn't sound so bad."

Teyla smiled. "It's perfectly harmless, I assure you."

"Well then, shall we meditate?" He gestured at the temple a few feet away. Rodney rolled his eyes, but surprisingly kept his mouth shut. Ronon simply followed Teyla into the temple.

Inside, people were sitting in pairs on mats laid out around the floor seemingly at random. Teyla and Ronon sat on one, John and Rodney on another.

"Why is it that communing with God always has to take place in discomfort? Why not commune with God on a nice soft bed? Or at least a comfortable couch? Why is it always mats on the floor or kneeling on boards?" Rodney said as he folded his legs into something approximating a crossed-leg position.

John glanced over at Ronon and Teyla; they, of course, were sitting gracefully, while John wasn't much better off than Rodney. "Sacrifice, Rodney, it's all about sacrifice," he murmured.

Rodney snorted softly.

The priest rose and began to speak. It was in a language John didn't understand, but the cadence was pleasant. Gradually, his mind began to drift, although not so far that he didn't notice the men and women walking amongst the mats and setting small metal cones on the floor from which an almost sweet smelling smoke was rising.

Then the priest stopped talking, dropping his head to his chest. Apparently that was some kind of signal because the other couples shifted so that they were facing one another and held up their hands, fingertips touching.

John turned toward Rodney, raising his hands. Rodney held up his own hands, touching his fingertips to John's, surprising John by not rolling his eyes. The men and women who had distributed the incense now stood in a semi-circle around the priest and began to chant. Noticing that everyone else was looking directly at his or her meditation partner, John focused his attention on Rodney.

And found himself looking into very blue eyes. He wondered vaguely if the semi-dark of the temple was making them appear more blue than usual. Rodney's fingertips were warm, and it struck John as odd that he could feel such a small thing. If their entire hands had been pressed together, feeling Rodney's warmth would have made more sense.

Rodney had broad fingers, his fingertips were slightly wider than John's own, although it was hard to tell, because only the pads were touching. John's hands were a little longer though, and he wondered whose were broader, wondered if anyone would notice if he pressed his entire hand to Rodney's.

Gradually, thoughts of hands and fingers fell away, and his breathing slipped into rhythm with Rodney's. It was peaceful, calming.

And yet, Rodney's fingertips were still warm. More and more of his attention was focused on his fingers, on the ten places where his body touched Rodney's. The touch was light, and yet it almost felt like an odd sort of energy was passing back and forth between them. Maybe it was the warmth.

His eyes were still locked on Rodney's, which seemed to have grown larger. Rodney's lips were parted slightly, and John realized that his were too. He didn't close them. Instead he simply existed, there, in the moment, with Rodney.


The rest of the mission went smoothly. They made trade arrangements, or rather Teyla made trade arrangements, while John tried to keep Ronon from scaring people. Rodney was oddly quiet, sparing John his usual task of having to keep Rodney from offending people.

They went home, debriefed and showered, did all of the usual post-mission things. John had dinner and read a little War and Peace. He had had to revise his schedule a bit. Life and death emergencies had a way of disrupting even the best laid plans. Then he turned out the light and stared up at the ceiling.

After a few minutes he shifted onto his side.

Then he shifted onto his other side, taking time to punch up his pillow. Real men do not fluff their pillows, at least that's what his college roommate had claimed.

The meditation with Rodney had been weird. Relaxing and energizing at the same time, which was weird enough. But it had also beenů intimate. Touching hands, looking into one another's eyes, breathing at the same time, no other word for it.

His thoughts on blue eyes and warm fingertips, John drifted off.


The next night was chess night. One moment of weakness and John was doomed to a weekly ritual of chess playing.

Rodney had been so subdued after blowing up most of a solar system and nearly killing them both that John had taken pity on him one night and suggested that Rodney teach him chess. They'd been playing once, sometimes twice a week ever since.

In truth it wasn't so bad. Rodney was entertaining, even if he wasn't the most gracious winner John had ever met. Eventually John was going to be good enough to beat him. He was really looking forward to that moment.

John nonchalantly moved a pawn to E5 and then leaned back in his chair. Rodney hated the Danish Opening. He hadn't even taught it to John; Radek had, claiming it would drive Rodney crazy. He'd been right. The first time John had used it, Rodney had launched into a fifteen minute lecture on why it was a poor choice, creating chaos on the board, and why John would be further ahead trying to gain control of the center.

Rodney didn't even scowl, simply moving one of his own pawns. "You rely on that opening too often."

John merely smiled, and moved.

The game progressed quickly. John had control of the board, but barely. It was a little unsettling. He was used to being the underdog.

Rodney's fingers were on the black queen, but he hadn't moved her yet. John looked at his fingers, wondering if they were warming the piece. "Did you think it was weird?"

"Did I think what was weird?" Rodney asked, without looking up.

"That meditation thing."

"All religious rituals are weird."

"I know, but I feltů" John stopped himself before he could say it. Saying it would be bad.

Unfortunately he'd said just enough to attract Rodney's interest. Letting go of the queen, he looked up at John, sharp eyes settling on John's face. "Felt what?"

"Odd," John said, because he wasn't going to say the words 'close to you' to Rodney. Ever.

Rodney nodded. "I think there may have been some sort of narcotic in the smoke."

"Wouldn't Beckett have found traces of it during our physicals?" John hadn't felt stoned.

"Maybe not. It is an alien substance, after all."

That made sense, except it didn't. "I don't think we were drugged."

"Why not?"

"I just don't."

Rodney sat back, crossing his arms. "What do you think it was?"

"I don't know. Endorphins?"

With a tilt of his head, Rodney conceded the point. "It's possible." He stood. "There's an easy enough way to find out." He stood. "Come on."

Rising, John followed him to his bed. Rodney sat in the center, cross-legged, and looked up at John. "Well?"

John sat across from him and Rodney held up his hands. Feeling silly, he pressed his fingertips to Rodney's. Their eyes met. Rodney's eyes were just as blue as they had been in the temple and suddenly that was too blue. But the experiment wouldn't work if he looked away, so he looked and matched his breathing to Rodney's.

He wondered vaguely if Rodney always breathed more slowly than he did. It seemed unlikely because Rodney was in worse shape than he was, by far.

His thoughts tapered off, and there it was again that peculiar relaxed energy, coming from his fingertips. John slid his fingers to the side, slipping them between Rodney's, stroking the sides of his fingers. He only went partway down before raising his fingertips back to Rodney's.

Rodney then slid his fingers between John's and it was John's turn to pull in a surprised breath. Rodney's fingertips returned to his.

The next time John slid his fingers all the way down Rodney's to the skin between them, stroking it lightly with his fingertips before raising his fingers.

Rodney copied him, and when his fingertips reached the skin between John's fingers, John realized he was getting hard--from touching Rodney's fingers.

He pulled his hands away. Rodney stared at him for a heartbeat, hurt clear in his face, and then stood. "We should finish our game. I believe it was my move."

Cursing himself, John stood, too, placing a hand on Rodney's arm when Rodney tried to move past him. "Intimate," he said, "it was intimate. On the planet. Not odd."

"Endorphins," Rodney said, not quite looking at John.

John dropped his hand to his side. "Right. We should finish the game."

They returned to the table and John quickly lost control of the board. He didn't care. He was too busy thinking. Endorphins, intimate touching, weird energy, if Rodney was a woman he'd know exactly what it meant, but Rodney wasn't a woman. He was a guy. A guy with blue eyes and warm hands, and touching him made John's body release all kinds of cool endorphins.

And that was just touching his hands. There was so much more of Rodney to touch. Stunned at the thought, John sat back in his chair.

"It's your move."

John looked up to find Rodney's eyes on him, wide and vulnerable.

It was his move.

John stood and walked around the table. Rodney looked up at him, puzzled. Cupping Rodney's face in his hands, John leaned down and kissed him. The angle was awkward, but Rodney's lips felt good against his and John lingered as long as he dared.

Then he stood, dropping his hands to his side. "Your move."

"I think that was checkmate," Rodney said, his voice full. Then he stood and placed a hand on the back of John's neck, leaning in to kiss him. This kiss was better, with both of them standing. It was still a little tentative, but Rodney's lips were warm and touching them left him oddly energized.

"Endorphins," John whispered when they parted.

Rodney nodded. "Oh, yeah." Then he kissed John again.