chelle

Atlantis

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A Song of Companionship

chelle

Title: A Song of Companionship

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: Thank you to Grrrl, Danvers and Lamardeuse for their comments and criticism, and to Grrrl for incredibly patient handholding. Title is taken from Whitman.

Summary: When Rodney realizes John is attracted to him, he's determined to find a way around the rules.

Fantasizing about your team wasn't against regs, but John was pretty sure that didn't make it a good idea.

Which didn't stop him.

Besides, he was certain it was impossible to look at Teyla and not wonder what she looked like naked. Curves and muscle, everything about her was hot. He could picture her in that skirt, slits going practically to her hips; he could picture his hands opening it, could picture it falling to the floor.

She'd be wet and warm around his fingers, leaning against his shoulder as she gasped in pleasure. There was something about the idea of turning Teyla on, making her hot, making her lose the serene mask she tried so hard to keep in place, that never failed to get him hard.

It'd never work between them. John knew that, but that didn't stop him from thinking about it.

He thought about Ronon, too. He was just so damn big, and the idea of being inside him was enough to make John grip his cock and squeeze, hard. Fucking Ronon would be like riding a bull or bronco, something powerful and restless, which meant John would probably get thrown off but he figured the ride would be worth it. Sex with Ronon would be wild, edgy, kind of desperate.

Fucking Rodney, though, that would be another thing entirely.

His cock knew what was coming, and John had to placate it by opening his pants and shoving them down his thighs. Then he settled back against his bed, closing his eyes against the late afternoon sunlight coming through the window.

Whenever he thought about fucking Rodney it was the same: Rodney under him, clutching at his shoulders as John gently worked his fingers inside. Rodney would tighten against him at first, but John would kiss him, soothe him, and Rodney would open up, would let John slide his fingers in deep.

John would take his time, exploring, caressing, showing Rodney how good it could feel. He'd kiss Rodney, too. Easy kisses, deep kisses, kisses that made Rodney gasp and push against John's fingers.

Kisses that made Rodney ask, that made Rodney plead for John to enter him, to push inside him, to fuck him.

He'd turn Rodney onto his hands and knees. Then he'd take a moment to just enjoy Rodney's ass, to look at it and squeeze it. John knew it would more than fill his hands.

John would kiss Rodney's back and tease Rodney's opening with his fingers, until Rodney rocked back on his knees, trying to get John's fingers inside.

Then he'd push in, slowly, carefully, feeling Rodney give way around him, opening to him.

John squeezed the head of his cock, and then slowly slid his hand downward, his grip tight.

Rodney would groan, and John would whisper reassurances, would reach around and take Rodney's cock in his hand. He'd stroke it lightly, and Rodney would open more. John would slide slowly home until he was buried in Rodney's glorious ass.

He'd press his chest to Rodney's back and kiss the back of his neck, whisper in his ear and tell him how good he felt.

His movements would be small at first, almost not there.

John shifted his hips, his cock moving back and forth in his hand.

Rodney would start to move with him. Between them the movements would get bigger, the strokes longer, until John was pulling almost all of the way out every time he drew back. He'd hold Rodney's hips in his hands, guiding him, and he'd look down at his cock, watching as he moved in and out of Rodney.

Rodney's arm and shoulder would start to move, the flexing of muscle matching John's thrusts, and John would regret that he'd put Rodney on his knees, because he wanted to see Rodney touch himself, wanted to see Rodney's hand on his own cock.

So perfect, being inside Rodney was so perfect. He was smooth inside, soft, and every thrust felt like a caress. Rolling onto his stomach, John thrust into his hand. That was the rhythm he'd fuck Rodney with, long and steady.

When Rodney came, he'd come so hard his whole body would clench around John's cock.

Pushing his cock through his fist, John tightened his fingers around the base. It was too soon to come. He glanced at the clock on the table next to his bed. Way too soon.

Holding onto himself but not stroking, John shifted his focus to something less likely to make him lose it.

Blowing Rodney. Blowing Rodney would keep him hot, but not so hot he exploded. John was sure Rodney had a nice thick cock, one that would fill his mouth, give him something to really suck on. And the way Rodney would look at him, like John was the best cocksucker ever. Rodney would be quiet when John fucked him, but he'd babble when John blew him. Lots of "oh God" and "yes, please," and "don't stop."

John liked the way Rodney sounded when John blew him.

And the first time John got on his knees for him, Rodney would almost lose it. His wide hands would cup John's head and he'd stare down at John, eyes like saucers. John would look in his eyes and slide back and forth on his cock. Then he'd stop and wait. After a moment Rodney would get it, and his eyes would get even wider, then his hips would start to move.

John squeezed the base again. He couldn't hold back much longer.

Because Rodney would suck John, too. He'd wrap that big mouth around John's cock and move it back and forth and up and down, and it would be so fucking good. He'd have more enthusiasm than finesse, but John wouldn' t care. John would show him how it's done, guide him with little touches and whispered encouragement. He'd make Rodney McKay the best blowjob giver ever. Oh, yeah, that's exactly what he'd do.

Rodney would let John come in his mouth, would want John to come in his mouth. He'd let John move, let him slide his cock back and forth, fucking, while Rodney looked at him, Rodney's own desire clear in his eyes. John would come looking into those eyes, watching what his orgasm did to Rodney.

He had to stroke, had to. He kept it light, trying to hold on.

"Colonel Sheppard."

John came at the sound of Rodney's voice in his ear, pleasure exploding out of him, his hips bucking as he thrust haphazardly into his hand, his come making everything wet and slick.

"Colonel Sheppard," Rodney repeated, and John hit the button on his radio with his free hand.

"Yes, Rodney." Aftershocks were still shuddering through him and just saying Rodney's name made him shudder harder. He moved back and forth in his hand, just a little.

"I've finished analyzing the energy readings from P89-32X."

He needed to clean up. "I'll be there in about ten minutes."

Rodney made an exasperated huff. "Fine."

"Find anything interesting?" John asked just to keep Rodney talking.

"Mildly."

It took John's sex-addled brain a moment to come up with an answer. "That's better than not at all."

"Mildly," Rodney repeated and terminated the radio connection with a decisive click.

John pressed his face into the pillow. The aftershocks had passed, leaving behind the hollow feeling John hated. Fantasizing about your team was bad. But he was pretty sure timing it so Rodney would radio just as John was ready to come made him a pervert, a really big pervert.

Sitting up, he grimaced at the mess he'd made in his bed. He had ten minutes to get cleaned up and into a place where he could talk to Rodney like he hadn't just been imagining him on his hands and knees.

Maybe if he took a really quick shower.

***

Colonel Sheppard walked into Rodney's lab with a smile and a cup of coffee. "So what have you got for me?" he asked, taking a sip of the coffee.

Glancing up at him, Rodney frowned. "Your hair is wet."

"Thought I should shower before the reception."

The reception. Rodney smiled at the thought of it. Sheppard's hair had better be dry before the reception.

"Rodney," he prodded. "The energy readings."

"The fluctuations might be natural."

"They are," Radek said.

"I think they're man, or, you know, alien, made."

"He has no evidence," Radek said.

"Yes, yes." Rodney waved at him dismissively. "It's a hunch. I'm allowed to have hunches."

John raised his coffee. "I didn't say you weren't."

Of course he didn't, because Rodney was. "Is that what you're wearing?"

John looked down at his shirt. "It's my uniform."

"I was going to wear a suit." But now he wasn't so sure. Maybe a suit would be overdoing it. "Should I wear my uniform? It's not exactly formal."

"I'm sure whatever you wear will be fine," John answered with a small smile. "It's not as if they're going to change their minds about honoring you because of the way you're dressed."

It was a valid point. "It's about time someone honored me." Which it was, long past time. Hopefully, the rest of the expedition would take the reception as a sign of how they should regard Rodney.

Radek muttered something under his breath and walked away. Sheppard grinned and Rodney reached for his coffee.

***

When the Athmar chose to honor someone, they brought the party to the honoree. Now the mess was filled with tables of food and a small band of musicians had set up near the windows.

"Think we can get them to play the cantina theme from Star Wars?" Sheppard asked leaning close and speaking in a soft voice.

Rodney was too busy fiddling with his tie to answer.

"You look fine, Rodney."

"It feels crooked." He had to look good because he was being honored in what would undoubtedly be the first of many such receptions.

"Here." Stepping in front of Rodney, Sheppard placed his hands on Rodney's shoulders. Rodney stopped and John loosened his tie, then tightened it again. "Better?"

Rodney reached up to feel the knot, his fingers brushing Sheppard's. "Yes, thank you."

"You're welcome." Sheppard stepped back to his side.

Elizabeth was looking their way, standing with Chancellor Heilyn and his daughter Evande.

"It is good to see you again, Dr. McKay," Evande said as they approached, her father nodding in agreement.

"You really didn't have to do all of this," Rodney said, because it was the polite thing to say and he did have some manners.

She smiled softly, but Sheppard said, "You really didn't. Do you have any idea how much you've fed his ego?"

"Given what Dr. McKay has done for us, it is the least we can do. The weapon he repaired will save thousands of lives the next time the Wraith attack," Heilyn said.

Elizabeth smiled approvingly at him. "Rodney is a talented scientist."

Rodney nodded in agreement.

"As long as you know how to motivate him," Sheppard put in.

Rodney rolled his eyes and turned so he was facing Sheppard. "What you call motivation reasonable people would call creating unnecessary stress."

Sheppard simply smiled, clearly pleased with himself. Rodney scowled. Sheppard's smile broadened and he rocked back on his heels holding Rodney's eyes with his.

"Dr. McKay, would you be willing to accompany me to the food table?" Evande asked.

Rodney turned toward her, his argument with Sheppard completely forgotten. "I would," he said.

She slid her arm through his, the touch of her hand surprisingly intimate. Rodney sucked in a breath and tried to control his nerves--an attractive woman wanted to spend time with him. He just needed to stay calm and not babble. "What would you like to see first?"

"The food."

"Oh, right, the food."

"I wanted to introduce you to some of our more interesting dishes, since you didn' t have much time to eat when you were with us, and we are quite proud of our cuisine."

"You don't use lemons or citrus, do you?"

"Lemons?"

"Yellow fruit, sour, juicy. They make me sick. Actually, they can kill me."

She shook her head, auburn curls moving over her shoulders. "No, we do not have anything like that."

"Good."

"It must be worrisome, knowing food could kill you."

Finally, someone who understood. Rodney nodded vigorously. "It is."

She smiled, which made her even more attractive, and removed her hand from Rodney's arm. Picking up a plate, she handed it to him and began filling it. They moved away from the table to the edge of the party, and began sharing the morsels she'd selected. Rodney had to concede that they were quite tasty, especially the one that tasted vaguely of tandoori.

Evande was even better than the food, tilting her head up at him and smiling. Rodney smiled back.

When her smile suddenly faded, Rodney looked over his shoulder, trying to see what had captured her attention. "Something wrong?"

"I was just wondering how long it will be before Colonel Sheppard joins us." Her gaze shifted from where Sheppard was still talking with Elizabeth and Heilyn to Rodney. "He makes his claim to you very clear."

"He is kind of..." Rodney stopped. "Claim to me?"

"Yes, his claim to you, boasting about how he is the one who knows how to motivate you, the way he is watching us now."

"He's watching us?" Rodney looked over his shoulder at Sheppard, who smiled and looked away as though he had just happened to glance in their direction. "The colonel is very protective of his team members, that's all."

"Of course." Evande stepped closer and rested one hand on the center of Rodney's chest, using her other hand to select an item from the plate and lift it to Rodney's lips.

Flattered and a little confused, he accepted it.

"It shouldn' t be long now," she said.

"What shouldn't?" he asked, chewing. "Hey, that's good. What's in it?"

"Seaweed."

"Really?"

Laughing softly, Evande nodded. "Is the seaweed here not tasty?"

"I've never tried it."

"Perhaps you should."

"Should what?" Sheppard asked, hands in his pockets, looking as casual as could be as he joined them.

"Seaweed," Evande answered, her smile fading slightly. "Dr. McKay likes our seaweed. I was just suggesting he might want to consider tasting more."

"Rodney has to be careful when trying new foods. He's allergic."

"But only to certain fruits." Evande glanced at Rodney for confirmation and he nodded. "Seaweed isn't a fruit."

"You never know with strange foods."

Rodney looked back and forth between them, trying to make sense of the weird undercurrents.

"Strange isn't always bad. It is why you are explorers, is it not?"

"We like exploring strange new worlds." Sheppard put an odd emphasis on the last word.

"And meeting new people," Rodney added, shooting a glare at Sheppard.

Patting Rodney's chest, Evande removed her hand. "I am sure you do."

***

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Rodney asked, matching his stride to Sheppard's.

"Nothing's wrong with me."

"No, no, of course not. A beautiful woman flirts with me, feeds me food, puts her hand on my chest, and you just have to wander over and ruin everything. Is it just me you feel compelled to torture this way, or everyone on the team?"

"Just you," Sheppard said, stopping and turning to face him, flashing a quick grin.

Rodney pointed at him. "Don' t do that. Don' t you dare smile at me. Not when you just ruined... You know what, never mind." Spinning on his heel, Rodney walked away.

He couldn't believe Sheppard had done that to him. Again. He'd done the same thing with Norina, and he hadn't exactly been helpful with Alina. Clearly, the man was trying to stop him from getting laid, which was selfish, and rotten, and not the way a friend should act. At all. Striding into his quarters, he tugged at his tie.

Everything had been going so well. Smiling and flirting, and she'd fed him. If Rodney closed his eyes and thought about it he could still feel her fingertips against his tongue.

Then Sheppard had come along, just like Evande had said he would.

Just like.

He makes his claim to you very clear.

Rodney shook his head. Sheppard didn't have a claim to him. He dropped onto the foot of the bed. Although maybe Sheppard thought he did. Rodney wouldn't put it past him to think that with his brains and his looks and his overall coolness meant he could just...

Could just what? Claim whoever he wanted?

Like Rodney.

That didn't make any sense. The colonel was just protective of his team members, that's all. There wasn't any way it could be anything else. Rodney was sure of that.

Mostly.

***

"We okay?" Sheppard asked.

It was the second question he'd asked Rodney, the first being permission to join him for breakfast.

Rodney wanted to say 'no', but Sheppard looked so damn sincere that he found himself nodding. "As long as you understand one thing: the next time a beautiful woman flirts with me you are not to come anywhere near us."

"What if she's a spy?"

Rodney glared at him.

"Seriously, half the galaxy knows how useful that oversized brain of yours is. What if she's been sent to kidnap you and take you off to some underground cavern where you'll be forced to do all kinds of nefarious experiments?"

"If it gets me laid, I can live with that."

"What if they take Teyla and Ronon and me as hostages to insure your cooperation?"

"Like I said, 'I. Don't. Care.'"

"Anything goes as long as it gets you laid." Sheppard held up his hands. "I got it."

"Good."

"Can I rescue you after you get laid?"

"Yes, Colonel, if it will make you happy, you can come in with guns blazing and save me from the beautiful woman who only wants me for my brains," Rodney said, making it sound as though he was taking this all very seriously.

Sheppard grinned. "Deal."

That should have been the end of it. They'd argued. They'd made up, and even if Sheppard hadn' t exactly apologized, he had acknowledged the value of Rodney's brain which was almost like an apology. It should have been behind them.

Except Rodney couldn't get Evande's words out of his head.

On their next mission a brunette with enough curves to put Marilyn Monroe to shame practically climbed Ronon in full view of everyone. Sheppard reacted by catching Rodney's eye and grinning.

Even though it would be kind of hard to kidnap Ronon, at least without drugging him first, and Rodney wasn't entirely sure what the natives would have wanted him for, other than the obvious, it still seemed as though Sheppard should have been a bit more protective or at least concerned.

When they got back to Atlantis, Rodney went to his quarters, opened his laptop, and began making a list of every time someone had shown interest in a member of the team and what Sheppard's reaction had been.

It didn't take long for a pattern to emerge. When Ronon was the one being pursued, Sheppard did nothing. With Teyla, he watched closely but didn't intervene. It was only with Rodney that he either interfered directly or was actively discouraging.

He sat staring at the screen for a long time.

Then he hit print.

***

John handed the duty rosters back across his desk to Lorne. "These look good. Go ahead and post them."

"Yes, sir."

Now that the routine part of the meeting was over, the fun stuff could begin. "How is that new sergeant doing?" John had his own ideas about how the sergeant was doing, but he wanted to hear Lorne's first.

Lorne grimaced. "Well, he managed to piss off Zelenka, and that's not--"

Before Lorne got any further the door slid open. "I need to talk to you," Rodney said, stepping inside.

He had his intense look on and that was never good. John sat up straight. "I'm in a meeting."

"We can finish this later, sir," Lorne said, rising.

John nodded. Rodney didn't say a word, merely glaring at John as the door slid shut behind Lorne. "What's on your mind?"

"This." Rodney tossed several pages onto the desk.

Picking them up, John began reading. It was a list of times a native had shown romantic interest in one of his team members and John's response all laid out in a four column table.

"The way I see it, there are only two explanations," Rodney said. "One, you really do think people are out to kidnap me for my brain. Or two, you're interested in me."

Swallowing, John schooled his face into as impassive a mask as he could manage. Then he raised his eyes to Rodney's. "I'm not interested in you, Rodney."

"You're not?" There was a hint of belligerence in Rodney's voice, but John could still hear the doubt. He just didn't know if Rodney doubted John's honesty or his own conclusions.

Deliberately flicking his eyes down Rodney's chest, he raised his gaze to Rodney's. "No."

The anger drained from Rodney's face. His body followed, visibly deflating as John watched. "Oh." Without saying another word, he turned and left.

Heart pounding, John closed his eyes. That had been way too close.

***

He didn't see Rodney for the rest of the day, or the day after that, except for the image of a deflating Rodney that John couldn't get out of his mind. They had a mission coming up, and John knew the smart thing to do was to clear the air before they went off-world. Maybe Rodney would yell at him. John knew how to handle an angry Rodney.

Squaring his shoulders, he left his office and started for Rodney's lab.

Unfortunately, Rodney wasn't alone. John ignored the others, heading to Rodney's bench. "Hey," he said quietly. "Can we talk?"

"It's not really necessary," Rodney answered without looking up. "I leapt to conclusions. I should have known better."

The resignation in Rodney's voice made John's chest ache.

"Rodney," John said, his own voice tense probably from the constriction in his chest. "Even if you were right, I couldn't confirm your conclusions." He left before Rodney could answer.

***

Rodney had spent the entire day thinking about Sheppard's visit. Even if you were right, I couldn't confirm your conclusions. Pacing the length of his quarters, he turned the words over and over in his head. Sheppard's meaning was obvious. He couldn't confirm Rodney's conclusions because he was in the American military and the Americans were governed by idiots, homophobic idiots.

Rodney had been right. Sheppard did have feelings for him.

Sexual feelings.

Rodney didn't know how he felt about that. When he'd confronted Sheppard he'd been pissed, too pissed to think through what it might mean if Sheppard was interested him.

Sitting on the end of his bed, he lay down on his back, feet on the floor, and stared at the ceiling. Sheppard was a really good looking guy. Rodney might be straight, but you'd have to be blind not to notice how good looking Sheppard was. Plus, he was cool, and smart, and heroic.

And he had feelings for Rodney.

He was sexually attracted to Rodney.

Freaky, no other way to describe it. Freaky, freaky, freaky. Having Sheppard say he wasn't interested in Rodney had been humiliating, but the opposite was... freaky.

And kind of cool. John was cool. And he wanted Rodney. Which was flattering, very flattering.

On the other hand, Rodney had no experience with men. He'd never even been attracted to a guy. But John was different. Rodney could be attracted to John, maybe. Sex with the best looking person in Atlantis, he'd have to be an idiot to turn that down. The colonel would be good at it, too. Rodney was sure of it. After all, he was good at everything else.

Bouncing to his feet, he went in search of Sheppard.

***

John was in his office when Rodney entered. "Hey, Rodney," he said leaning casually back in his chair, hiding his surprise.

"Yes," Rodney said, standing on the other side of John's desk.

"Yes, what?" Sheppard asked, frowning.

"Yes to." Rodney waved his hand back and forth between them.

Eyes widening, John sat up a little straighter. "You can't say yes to that."

Rodney frowned at him. "Why not?"

"Because I didn't ask." Rodney's shoulders began to curl forward. John hated the way it made him seem smaller. He was probably the only person in Atlantis who thought that sometimes Rodney didn't take up enough space. "I can't ask."

"Just because of a few stupid regulations."

"Regulations which could get me sent back to Earth, dishonorably discharged."

"I thought they weren't looking anymore, that as long as you didn't flaunt it..."

John shook his head. "Officially, the brass can't go looking, but if someone complains and the complaint is valid...hell, the accusation alone is enough to ruin a career." Taking a deep breath, John said, "I can't risk it, Rodney, being sent back. I just can't." He looked directly into Rodney's eyes, willing Rodney to understand. Atlantis was home, was where he belonged, where they both belonged.

After a long moment, Rodney nodded and John let out the breath he'd been holding. Rodney dropped into the chair almost no one but Lorne ever sat in. "That's just typical, a gorgeous person wants me and we can't do anything about it."

"Sorry," John said, Rodney's bitching relaxing him a little.

"Your bosses are idiots. Homophobic, shortsighted idiots."

John nodded.

Rodney sighed, and John relaxed further, relieved that they were going to be okay.

***

He could be having sex. If there was any justice in the world, he would be having sex. Right now. Hot, passionate, gay sex.

Gay sex. Rolling onto his back, Rodney stared at the ceiling and wondered if gay sex included kissing. He liked kissing, and Sheppard had nice lips, curvy and soft looking. Sheppard was a good kisser, Rodney was sure of it. How could he not be with those lips?

They'd touch, too. Rodney would have to put his hands everywhere, because the colonel's body would be unfamiliar territory. The colonel would probably do the same. For someone so lazy, he could be extremely thorough when he thought it was necessary.

Rodney frowned. The colonel had chest hair, lots of chest hair. That would be-- Rodney ran a hand through his own-- maybe not so weird, just different. No breasts, hair, he could work with that. There'd still be nipples. He tried to remember what the colonel's nipples looked like. The few times he'd seen the colonel shirtless had all seemed to involve possible death, not exactly the right time for taking notes.

They were guy nipples, so probably smaller than a woman's, maybe not as sensitive, but still fun to play with, as long as he didn't get chest hair in his mouth.

What else? Nicely shaped arms. How about that? Rodney had never thought about Sheppard's arm before, but the man had some nice biceps. And shoulders. Not so broad as to be overwhelming, but nice.

Rodney could totally work with this.

Annoyingly flat stomach. Considering his age and how much the guy ate, he could at least get a little paunch. Still, it'd be kind of nice to touch, to run his hands across, maybe kiss a little, blow a raspberry into the center of it and make him giggle.

Sliding his hand into his boxers, Rodney gave his cock a pleased stroke.

Cock. Sheppard had a cock. Stroking his own, Rodney thought about that for a moment. It would probably feel a lot like his own. Touch Sheppard's cock, he could handle that. He was open, willing to experiment, and Sheppard would probably get a lustful look on his face, or maybe get all soft and unfocused, lost in what Rodney's was doing to him.

He'd have to experiment a bit, try different strokes, faster, slower, change the pressure, change the angle. The colonel would gasp when Rodney got it right, maybe groan.

Oh, yeah. Rodney stroked a little faster. Maybe there would be blowjobs, too. Rodney hadn't been blown in forever, and he was pretty sure the colonel had experience. He'd know just what to do.

He could almost picture it. Sheppard's mouth on his cock, the knowing look in his eyes when he made Rodney whimper, which would be annoying if he didn't have Rodney's cock in his mouth, the suction, the sweet, sweet suction.

His orgasm came sooner than he wanted it to, an intense, aching pleasure that left him still staring at the ceiling, no closer to sleep than he'd been when he started..

Okay, Rodney thought, the guy thing isn't such a problem. Which was kind of freaky, but Rodney had had far stranger jerk-off fantasies.

After a few minutes of pointless ceiling-staring, he pushed aside the covers, wiped himself off and pulled on his pants. There had to be a loophole somewhere. Rodney was a genius. He'd find it.

***

John's relief faded the next day. Rodney was distressingly quiet during the briefing, the kind of quiet he got when he had passed beyond mad to seething. Worse, he kept looking at John.

It was enough to make John squirm.

The planet was cold, with a bitter wind that felt like it was cutting through John. Hunched down into his coat, Rodney marched along in silence, causing Teyla to look questioningly at him before catching John's gaze. He shrugged as though he had no idea why Rodney wasn't complaining.

"Well?" John asked, moving to Rodney's side.

"There's nothing here. No life signs, no power signatures, nothing."

"According to the database, there was a thriving population here."

"Ten thousand years ago. But, yes, by all means, let's rely on information that was compiled when humans were still wearing skins."

"Okay." John grinned.

Rodney didn't grin back.

"We'll just look a little farther. You and Ronon go left. Teyla and I will go right."

"Fine," Rodney said and turned away.

John stared after him for a moment before starting in the other direction.

The long grass beneath their feet was brown and crunched as they walked. It was an oddly satisfying sound. John liked walking across alien planets with Teyla; she was quiet. Not as entertaining as Rodney, but certainly a lot more soothing. But after a half hour of walking he was bored. Pressing his radio, he said, "Hey, McKay, you guys find anything?"

The answer he received was swift and brief. "No."

"Why are you so pissy this morning?" John had thought they were cool. He'd been pretty sure of it.

"Your military considers sex between two consenting adult males the equivalent of bestiality."

"I know."

"You and I having sex would be the same as you screwing, oh, I don't know, the family sheep."

Definitely seething then, John thought. "Rodney."

"Baa."

"That's not funny, and can we not talk about this now? We're on a mission. And 0 an open radio channel."

"Ronon and Teyla--"

"Shouldn't have to listen to your bitching," John said, cutting him off.

"Fine, but for the record, you asked."

"I promise we can talk all about your moral outrage later."

Rodney grunted his agreement.

"Great. Start back. Teyla and I will meet you guys at the gate."

***

The debriefing was blissfully brief, and then John hid in his office. He was pretty sure it was the reason he'd been given an office in the first place. Unfortunately, afternoon was turning into evening and if he was smart he'd talk to Rodney before dinner rather than risk the subject coming up during it. And John was definitely smart.

He had pretty good timing, too: Zelenka and the others were just leaving for the mess when he arrived. Rodney, as usual, had one more thing to finish up. Hoisting himself onto Rodney's lab bench next to his computer, John began swinging his legs back and forth.

"Stop that."

Having gotten Rodney's attention, he stopped. "You did some reading."

"Research. I assumed there'd be a loophole. Something." Rodney glared at him. "I thought the whole idea behind Don't Ask, Don't Tell was that it was supposed to work like the Clintons' marriage. They don't ask and you don't tell."

"Yeah, well, it didn't turn out that way."

"Have you read the code? What's this obsession with orifices and penile insertion? Can they only throw lesbians out if they use dildos? 'cause last time I checked cunnilingus involved more licking than penetration."

John couldn't help it, he laughed. He was half convinced that finding the absurdity in any situation was Rodney's secret superpower. "I think they use a really broad definition of orifice."

"They must if it includes a clitoris."

John chuckled again.

"It's not funny," Rodney said.

"No," John agreed.

"It's unfair, unjust, and wrong."

"Yes," John agreed, although he couldn't help but think that it might have been nice for Rodney to notice the injustice a little earlier, maybe when it didn't affect him personally.

"There isn't a loophole, is there?"

John shook his head. "Come on. Let's get some dinner."

"Fine." Rodney closed his laptop and they started toward the door.

"No more conversations like that on open channels, okay? Even if it is just Ronon and Teyla who can hear us."

"Okay. O--" Rodney snapped his fingers and then turned around heading back towards his bench.

"What?"

"You go on ahead. I'll catch up."

***

John knew it was Rodney before he'd even opened the door. He'd been expecting something ever since the finger snapping in Rodney's lab. Clearly Rodney had had an idea.

The idea of Rodney having an idea made John's stomach tighten.

"Colonel," Rodney said and John took a step back, letting him in. "I brought you something." Rodney held out a radio, and John automatically took it from him.

"I have a radio."

"Not like this. I altered it. Press the button for three seconds and you'll get a private, encrypted channel connected to one other radio." Rodney pointed at the radio in his own ear. "This one."

John frowned, turning the radio over in his hand. A private radio connection...

"Just because you can't do certain things, that doesn't mean you can't talk about them. Unless the US military considers your ear an orifice."

Lifting his gaze to Rodney's face, John heard the words echo in his mind. Talk about them.0 Him and Rodney, talking, where no one else could hear. "What if someone overhears us?"

"What part of private and encrypted didn't you get?" Rodney's annoyance was almost pleasant. Which made no sense, but then little about Rodney did.

"What if I mess up? Get the wrong channel by mistake."

"Press the button for three seconds and you get the private channel. You've got a watch, time it."

"I need to think about this."

"I thought you would." Rodney's voice was softer, less annoyed.

John considered thanking him, but didn't.

"When you decide, just..." Rodney pointed at his radio again.

"Okay," John said, following him to the door.

Once in the hallway, Rodney turned to look at him. "Good-night, Colonel."

His hand closing around the radio, John wished him a good-night.

***

Turning onto his back, John glanced at the clock next to his bed. It was nearly midnight. Rodney had to be alone by now. He'd told himself that he wasn't going to do this. The risk was too great. What if they got caught? But then he'd heard the words "private" and "encrypted" in his head in Rodney's annoyed tones, and the thought of hearing Rodney, of talking to Rodney about all the things he'd only imagined, of maybe listening to Rodney come, had had him practically reaching for his cock. Besides, Rodney was right. They couldn't throw him out for talking about it.

Reaching for his radio, he tucked it into his ear and pressed the button, carefully counting out three seconds. "Rodney?"

"Yes, Colonel?"

Colonel? Maybe he hadn't worked the radio properly. "Are we?"

"Alone? Yes."

Relieved, John let out a long breath. "Good." After a moment he added, "Why did you call me Colonel?"

"Habit. Sorry." Rodney actually sounded sorry, and nervous.

John was a little nervous himself. Maybe more than a little. "It's fine. You can call me colonel if you want to."

"John."

John didn't sound quite as sexy as colonel. Maybe he shouldn't have mentioned it. "So-"

"I had phone sex once," Rodney said, abrupt as always, but at least it was out in the open. John would have danced around it all night. "Well, I tried it once."

"You didn't like it?"

"It was one of those 900 numbers and every time she tried to describe what she looked like I'd start wondering what she really looked like. It was distracting. I finally hung up and watched porn instead." Rodney still sounded nervous, but also oddly matter of fact. It always amazed John, the way Rodney could talk like that about sex. Not that it made John stutter; he was too cool for that. But Rodney acted like it was perfectly normal.

Which it was, except Rodney had paid someone to talk to him. John hated the thought of Rodney being that lonely, even though he'd been that lonely more than once himself. He'd just never made the call. "You know what I look like," he pointed out, because he had to say something.

"Most of you, anyway." Rodney paused. "You do have a nice chest, and back, a whole nice upper body really."

"I'm flattered you noticed."

"Mmmm," Rodney agreed absently, and John wondered if Rodney was thinking about him naked. He hoped so. "Your nipples were flat."

"I wasn't cold."

"Are they hard now?" It was just like Rodney to get straight to the personal questions.

"I don't know. I don't usually notice when they get hard."

"Oh."

"I can check," John offered.

"Okay."

John slid his hand under his shirt and touched his left nipple. It was flat, but his dick was starting to take an interest in the conversation. "What about your nipples? Do you notice when they get hard?" John asked, teasing his own.

"Sometimes. Depends on why they're hard, I guess. The blue t-shirts? Really irritating."

"That's why your nipples are always hard. I'd hoped it was me."

"Sorry to disappoint you." John could hear Rodney's smile, and why was it that the weirdest conversations seemed perfectly normal with Rodney?

"Mine are hard now," John said.

"Really?"

"I've been playing with them for you."

"Oh."

John closed his eyes, imagining the look of pleased surprise on Rodney's face. He shifted to his right nipple. It was hard and he rubbed his thumb across it. Wow, they were really doing this.

"Do you like it?" Rodney asked.

"Like what?" John asked just to make Rodney say it.

"Touching yourself like that."

"My nipples aren't all that sensitive."

"That's unfortunate," Rodney said and John wondered if Rodney had thought about John's nipples. "Do they feel good to your fingers?"

John hadn't ever thought of it quite that way. "Yeah, they kind of do." Firm skin under his fingers, it was nice. Although it'd be nicer if the nipples were Rodney's. "Do you like having your nipples played with?"

"Oh, yeah, especially sucked on."

"I want to do that." He really did. He'd imagined it more than once and knowing it was something Rodney enjoyed made him want to do it even more. The thought of Rodney's nipples tiny and hard against his tongue aroused him more than teasing his own had.

"Oh."

"Touch them for me." It was easier than he'd thought it would be to tell Rodney what he wanted. "Pretend it's me. Pretend I'm touching you."

"John." Rodney sounded turned on and breathless.

"Does it feel good?"

"Yes."

It was making John feel good, too. "I've thought about it so many times, the things I want to do to you, the way I want to make you feel," John confessed and simply saying the words was its own kind of pleasure.

"Tell me, please."

John closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and let the words come. "I want to kiss you for a long time, until you beg me to do more. In my mind, I've touched you everywhere. I've stroked your back, felt the curve of your shoulders, the hair on your chest..."

"You've really thought about all that?"

"Yeah."

"That's just..."

Rodney didn't finish the sentence and John waited as long as he could before asking, "Just what?"

"Wow."

"Wow," John repeated.

"Wow," Rodney said again.

John decided he could live with wow.

"Did you touch other places?" Rodney asked, sounding surprisingly tentative.

"Sure."

"Are you going to tell me where?"

John smiled to himself. "If you want me to."

"Colonel."

"I touched your cock. Sometimes with long, slow strokes, sometimes with shorter, faster ones."

"Did you jerk off when..."

Rodney's inability to finish that sentence was oddly touching. "When I was thinking about you?" John said, finishing it for him. "Yes."

"Oh, wow."

Rodney sounded amazed and flattered and more than a little vulnerable. "You're my favorite fantasy," John told him because he hadn't been prepared for a vulnerable sounding Rodney. The silence stretched and John was beginning to think he'd said too much.

Then, in a voice full of desire and nervousness, Rodney said, "Tell me how to touch myself and I'll do it. I'll do it for you."

"Rodney," John said, a jolt of arousal going through him.

"You don't have to."

"No, no I want to. I really want to. It's just that the thought of you touching yourself makes me so damn hot."

"Me too, you know, the other way around."

John did know. "Are you naked?"

"No. Fully dressed, actually. But I'm taking off my shirt now."

"Run your hand through your chest hair."

"Okay." Rodney sounded a little amused by the request. He'd just have to get used to it because John liked chest hair.

"Is it soft?"

"I guess."

John smiled, picturing Rodney in his quarters, standing next to his wall of degrees, bare-chested, hand on his own chest, puzzled but aroused. "I can just picture you."

Rodney was quiet for a moment. "Let's only tell each other the truth. If you're dressed, don' t say you're naked."

"I won't. I'll only tell you what I'm really doing."

"What are you doing?"

"I'm in bed, under the covers. I've got my boxers on, but I'm resting my hand on my cock. I don't want to touch myself yet, but the thought of you... I needed a little contact, you know?"

"Because of me? Because I make you hot?" Rodney should have sounded smug, but he didn't.

"Yes."

"That's--" Rodney breathed.

It was. "Undress for me, Rodney. Get undressed so I can touch you."

"I want to touch you, too."

"You will."

"Okay, okay, I'm taking off my pants."

John tried to picture Rodney pushing his pants down, maybe bending over...

"Damn it."

"Rodney?"

"Forgot my shoes."

Now that John could picture. He listened closely, wanting to hear Rodney moving around.

"No more shoes," Rodney said. "Just boxers. I'm getting into bed."

"Tell me when you're settled."

"I'm settled. It's not like I have to crawl across a great big bed. Unfortunately."

John didn't smile at Rodney's words. This was it, his chance to do more than imagine, or at least to imagine with Rodney instead of alone. "Rest your hand on your cock like I am. Everything I tell you to do, I'm going to do, too. Okay?"

"Yes."

"Right, so." John pulled in a breath. "Is your hand?"

"It's resting on my cock."

"Are you hard?"

"You do realize we're having phone sex, right?"

John ignored that. "Are you-- what's your cock like? Are you cut?"

"Yes. Are you?"

"Yeah."

"You aren't going to make me measure it, are you?" Rodney asked.

"I wasn't planning on it."

"Good."

"Um, Rodney, why did you think I would?"

"In gay porn they're always talking about how long it is."

Filing that bit of information away for later, John said, "I'm sure it's long enough to get the job done."

"Of course it is."

John smiled at Rodney's tone. "Touch yourself with your fingertips, through your boxers, all the way from the head down to the base."

"Okay." Rodney's voice caught on the second syllable. "You, you too."

"Yeah, I can--" John touched himself lightly, shivering at the thought that Rodney was doing the same thing. "Rub the head with your thumb. That's me touching you, learning the feel of it, the way the head slopes."

He could hear Rodney's breath quicken. He couldn't wait any longer. "Slip your hand inside your boxers."

"Can I push them off? I want--"

"Do that. Take 'em off, Rodney." The thought of Rodney naked, of Rodney wanting to be naked, made his heart pound.

"You, too."

"I am." John pushed his boxers down and off, kicking them to the floor. He spread his legs a little, wanting Rodney to be able to look at him, to touch him.

"I wish I could see you," Rodney said quietly.

"Me, too. I've thought about it so many times, what you'd look like, what it would be like to touch you..."

"John."

"Touch yourself for me, Rodney. Pretend it's me. Pretend I'm touching you. I'm wrapping my hand around the base of your cock. You're full and thick in my hand. I start to stoke you, nice and slow. I want to feel every inch of you." He did. He wanted to feel Rodney, every bit of him, and since he couldn't feel him, he was going to talk about it, imagine it.

Rodney moaned. It was a small sound, but it went straight to John's dick.

"Let me hear you. I want to hear you. I want to know you like what I'm doing to you."

"I like it."

"What do you like? Tell me."

"I like, I like the way you're touching me." Rodney hesitated. "I like the feel of your hand on my cock."

Stroking himself, John groaned. He hadn't meant to.

"John?"

"You said cock. It was hot."

"Me saying cock is hot?"

"Yeah."

"It's hot when you say it too, really hot."

A pulse of arousal went through him and John tightened his grip on the part in question. "I turn you on when I talk about touching your cock?"

"Yes."

"Cool."

"It is cool. Can we please--"

Hearing the arousal in Rodney's voice made John want to get him off all the more. "Yeah. Stroke yourself all the way up to the top. Touch the head with your thumb. Is it smooth?"

"Yes."

"Perfectly round?"

"No, it slopes a little lower on the underside."

John tried to picture it. "Touch the slit. Do you like that?"

"Yes."

"Is it wet? Am I making you leak?"

"A little."

"Taste it."

"John."

Maybe he'd pushed too far. "You made me leak, Rodney. You're making me so hot," John said, because he wanted Rodney to know what thinking about him did to John. He was tired of hiding. He wanted to tell someone. He wanted to tell Rodney.

"Are you tasting it, too?"

John raised his thumb to his mouth and pressed it to his tongue, tasting the remnants of his fluid. "Yes. Salty."

"Me, too."

John groaned. He wanted to taste Rodney, wanted to take the head of Rodney's cock into his mouth and suck. Another time. "Stroke yourself again, all the way to the base. You're so hard in my hand. I start to stroke you a little faster. Up. Down. Up. Down." John stroked himself, pausing in between words so he could hear Rodney breathe, fast and shallow. "I want to make you come."

"You're going to. You're going to."

He'd never heard Rodney sound like that, aroused, caught up in pleasure. "I start stroking you faster, gripping you a little tighter."

"Yes. John."

"Come, Rodney, please. I want to watch you. Want to feel your cock pulse in my hand. Want to see you come all over both of us."

"So close."

"A little faster, a little harder. Do it for me, Rodney. I'm going to kiss you when you come. I'm going to cover my mouth with yours and kiss you, deep and sloppy. I'm gonna come too, with your cock pulsing in my hand."

"John, John." The words were groaned as much as spoken. Then Rodney made a small, vulnerable sound and John knew he was coming. He'd done it. He'd made Rodney come. Wanting to come with him, he began to stroke a little faster.

All it took was a couple of fast, hard strokes and he was spilling out onto his belly, imagining it was Rodney's fluid landing on him even as his body shook with the pleasure of release.

Slowly, his body calmed and his breathing returned to normal. He could hear Rodney's breath slowing as well. "Rodney?"

"Yes?"

"You okay?"

"Fine. You?"

"I'm fine, so--" Having no idea what to say John stopped.

After a moment, Rodney said, "Yeah."

John grimaced. "This is awkward."

"You noticed."

"Of course I noticed." The tone in Rodney's voice had been one John had never heard before. "Are you sorry?" he added, suddenly uncertain.

"No, no. Are you?"

John let out a relieved sigh. "No. It's not like I wouldn't have--" Unsure he should finish that sentence, John stopped.

"Wouldn't have what?"

Sucking in a deep breath, John said, "Wouldn't have been thinking about you and jerking off."

"Oh. Right." After a moment Rodney added, "This made it better, right?"

"Oh, yeah, much better. Much, much better."

"Good. Well, um, I should--"

Even in separate rooms John could see Rodney's hands moving as he talked. "Sleep. Good-night, Rodney."

"Night."

John lay awake staring at his ceiling for all of fifteen minutes before drifting off himself.

***

Stumbling into the shower, Rodney turned on the water and reached for the soap. Mornings were not his favorite part of the day, never had been. It was a biology thing and couldn't be helped except by really strong coffee.

Starting to soap up his chest, his thoughts mostly on the coffee, he stopped. Some of his chest hair was dried to his skin, matted down with come. He'd come all over himself while having phone sex.

With Colonel Sheppard.

John.

Whose voice got low and dirty when he was turned on.

Resting his forehead against the wall, he let the water cascade down his back. He'd started the whole thing--pressing things with John, altering the radios--so he couldn' t very well freak out now.

Except he'd had phone sex with Colonel Sheppard. The same Colonel Sheppard he had a meeting with in half an hour.

He was starting to get hard just thinking about it.

One of these days he'd remember that just because something seemed like a good idea, that didn't mean it was.

***

He'd showered quickly and eaten most of his breakfast en route to the meeting, but he was still five minutes late.

Elizabeth didn't say anything, just gave him a questioning look as Rodney sank into the only empty chair. It was almost directly across from John, and Rodney glanced away as soon as his eyes landed on him.

But his eyes moved immediately back. John was looking at Elizabeth, expression schooled into one of careful attention. He was gorgeous. It made Rodney a little light-headed, knowing that someone that gorgeous wanted him. Not that there wasn't any reason for John not to want him.

Except for the whole bad with people thing, and being petty. Still, being a genius had to compensate for at least some of that.

John evidently thought it did.

A quick glance, a small smile, and John looked back at Elizabeth. Rodney turned his attention to her too. She and Teyla were discussing the possibility of trade with the residents of M7S-472.

Rodney's eyes shifted back to John.

John was a guy, a gorgeous guy. He was also Rodney's friend. And Rodney had imagined stroking his dick, had imagined John's hand on him, had described it all to John.

He dropped his eyes to the table in front of him and took slow calming breaths until it was his turn to talk.

Rodney was the first one out the door when the meeting ended. He headed straight to his lab, because he had important work to do. Very important, which meant that he didn't have time to linger after meetings and chat with his teammates.

When he got to the lab everyone was busy with their own projects, heads down. They barely acknowledged his entrance. Rodney was fine with that.

He'd been working for about an hour when John's voice sounded in his earpiece. "Rodney?"

"Here," he answered, fingers automatically hitting the button.

"Can you talk?"

Rodney glanced around the room. Everyone was focused on their work. Still, with John using the private channel, he should probably find somewhere private to talk. Rising from his chair, he walked toward the lab's storage closet, pausing at the entrance to jerk his thumb at the door. "I'm just going to get some pens and stuff." No one even glanced at him as he ducked inside. "Okay, I'm alone," he said into the radio.

"Good." He heard John take a breath. "I just wanted to be sure you aren't freaking out."

"No, no, of course not. What gave you that idea?" He didn't need to see John to know what his expression was. He was infinitely familiar with John's disbelieving look. "Okay, maybe a little. But it's not what you think. It's not about you being a guy."

"Okay," John said slowly. He didn't bother to add, "what is it about," but Rodney heard it anyway.

"It's about you being, you know, you, which is, fine, a guy. A really, really, really good-looking guy who is also my friend. And--"

"You knew that when you gave me the radio."

"Yes, but now we've... We've done naughty things."

John's chuckle was low and dirty and way too close to how John had sounded the night before. Rodney could feel desire starting to coil in his gut. "More kinky than naughty," John said.

"I don' t think hand jobs are all that kinky."

"Yeah, but we talked about them. We didn't do them."

"That is kind of kinky, isn't it?" Rodney said, feeling himself starting to smile.

"Oh, yeah." It sounded like John was smiling, too. "So you're okay?"

Rodney thought about that for a moment. "Yeah, yeah I am."

"Good. Want to talk tonight?"

"Kinky talk?"

"It won't involve any feathers, or chickens, but yeah," John said.

"Can we talk about blowjobs?" Rodney really wanted to talk about blowjobs.

Another chuckle, and Rodney was going to have to convince his dick to stop reacting to that sound before John chuckled at the wrong moment. "Sure, Rodney, we can talk about whatever you want. See you at lunch."

"See you then," Rodney answered automatically, realizing too late that he'd agreed to lunch with John.

***

Rodney dragged Radek to lunch with him, figuring a third wheel would be good, provide a distraction. They ran into John--Sheppard, maybe Rodney should try to think of him as Sheppard when they weren't being kinky-- just outside the mess.

"Radek. Rodney," he said with a nod and a smile.

"Colonel," Radek said.

"Um, hi," was the best Rodney could manage. It wasn't his fault. John smiling like that did weird things to him.

John shot him a glare that said, "Stop being weird before you give the game away."

Rodney shot one back that said, "You're the one who had to go and have fantasies about me, not to mention being ridiculously hot, so don't blame me." At least he hoped that's what it said. He had a sinking feeling it merely made him look constipated.

Still glaring, they approached the line. "Salad day, again," Radek said, stopping a couple of feet from the food service area.

Rodney patted his shoulder. "It's not so bad."

"Not so bad for you. You have a big stomach. Me, I fill up on lettuce and hour later I am hungry again."

"My stomach is not big," Rodney said, ignoring John's laugh.

Radek simply grinned at him and took his place in the line, John following. With a huff, Rodney got into line behind them.

Unfortunately, being the last of the three of them through the line meant that by the time he reached the table John and Radek were already sitting on opposite sides. Now he had to choose, sit next to John and feel the heat radiating off him--Rodney had sat beside him enough times to know he would--or sit across from him and spend all of lunch looking at him. Rodney sat next to him.

John gave him a small smile and stuck his fork into his salad. Rodney did the same, only he wasn't sure the smile came out quite right.

"I have been studying the power readings from P89-32X," Radek said.

Rodney was pretty sure he'd told Radek to put that aside. "Didn't I tell you to stop worrying about it?"

"You were the one who thought they were artificially created," Radek pointed out.

"So what? Alien-made, natural, they aren't worth wasting time on." Rodney had no intention of explaining that he had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.

"Why not?" John asked. "We can always use more power, right?"

"In case it's escaped your notice, not all power is the same, and it isn't all compatible with our systems."

"I thought energy was energy," John said.

Before Rodney could say something biting in reply, Radek said, "Just because it might not be compatible with our systems doesn' t mean it might not be useful on Earth."

John nodded and pointed his fork at Radek. "He has a point."

Looking back and forth between them, Rodney said, "Fine, continue checking into it. It's not like I could stop you anyway. You'd just do it in your off hours."

Radek grinned, and Rodney focused on his salad.

John, apparently sensing the need for a change of subject, asked if Rodney thought they should show Ronon the Batman movies. Rodney got so caught up in explaining the various ways in which the films got it wrong and why the cartoon was better that he forgot all about P89-32X.

He even forgot that he and John had done naughty things together the night before.

After lunch, when John turned down the corridor leading to his office, Rodney remembered. He couldn' t look at John's ass and not remember. It was a nice ass, not very prominent, but nice, and John moved in a way that was kind of sexy. Rodney hadn' t noticed before now, but he should have because... Radek was staring at him. Clearing his throat, Rodney straightened his shirt and said, "Come on" before heading off toward the labs.

***

It wasn't quite nine o'clock when Rodney pressed the button on his radio, counting out "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three" in his head. "John?" he asked softly.

"Rodney?" was the immediate answer.

"Yeah, it's me."

"Good. That's... good." It was reassuring that John was as bad at this as he was.

"Yes, I suppose it is," Rodney said.

"Yup," John said for no reason Rodney could discern.

"How was your run?"

"Someone needs to make Ronon's legs about six inches shorter."

"He beat you, huh?" Rodney asked.

"He always beats me."

"Teach him chess."

"No way."

"Why not?"

"How would you like to lose to Ronon at chess?"

Rodney considered that for a moment. "You think he might be that good?"

"You never know. Who knows what kind of strategic training the Satedan military did?"

"Good point." It was definitely better to hang on to the illusion of intellectual superiority than risk losing it.

It was a moment before John answered, but Rodney was so busy contemplating the horror of losing a game of chess to Ronon that he didn't notice. "So, are you?" John asked.

"Oh." Rodney's heart beat faster at the question. "I'm, um, in bed."

"Naked?"

"Boxers. What about you?"

"I just got out of the shower."

Rodney's brain immediately supplied an image of John in nothing but a towel, still slightly damp, a drop of water just above a nipple. "Oh."

"Rodney?"

"What are you wearing?"

"Nothing."

"Not even a towel?"

"No. I'm standing next to my bed."

Rodney closed his eyes. "Naked."

"Yeah."

Busy changing the image in his mind to one where John was naked, Rodney barely heard him.

"Rodney?" John asked again.

"Hmm? I'm just thinking about, you know..."

"About what?"

"You know, you, naked and damp."

"In that case, don't let me interrupt," John said, sounding amused but pleased. "I'll just get into bed and lay down."

"Are you hard?"

"I was hard before you called. From, um, thinking about it."

John had been thinking about him. He'd said that last night, too, that he thought about Rodney, but Rodney had been so caught up in the kinky phone sex he hadn't really thought about it . John was thinking about him. 0 Naked. About them, together and naked and doing things. Naughty, naked, kinky things. "Tell me," Rodney said. "Tell me what you were thinking about. Please."

"Blowing you. That's what you said you wanted to talk about, right? Blowjobs?"

"Yeah, yeah, you... Tell me."

"Okay. Well, I was thinking that since it was the first time I'd blown you, I'd want to take my time, you know, really, um, enjoy it."

Rodney nodded. "Taking time is good."

"You came to my quarters and as soon as you stepped inside I kissed you. Slow, taking my time."

"I kissed you back," Rodney said, because of course he'd kiss John back. Who wouldn't respond to those lips?

"You did. We kissed for a while. We were both getting pretty turned on, but I don't think either of us wanted to stop. I slid my hands under your shirt, stroking your skin, but I wanted more so I pushed your shirt off."

"I reached for yours because I hate being naked alone."

"Once both our shirts were off, I led you over to the bed and knelt down to untie your boots."

John on his knees in front of him, untying his boots, that was... Rodney resisted the urge to touch himself. "Go on."

"Once they're off, I take your socks off too. Then I rest my hands on your knees, sliding them up your thighs. I can see how hard you are."

"I'm really hard."

"Me, too. I want to taste you so damn much. I undo the first button on your pants, then the second. My fingers keep brushing against your cock."

"I can feel them," Rodney said, giving his cock a light brush of fingers through his boxers.

"I get your pants open, and tell you to stand. You do and we push your pants down together. I'm still on my knees and your cock is right there in front of me, pushing against your boxers."

"I'm so turned on. Just the idea of you sucking me gets me hot."

"Yeah, yeah, me too." John breathed deeply enough that Rodney could hear it. "Are you still in your boxers?"

"Yes."

"I mouth you through them."

Rodney groaned.

"I focus on that spot on the underside just beneath the head."

"I love that spot."

"Me, too."

"I have to sit down. I' m not going to be able to take this standing up."

"Wait, wait, let me take your boxers off first."

"Okay," Rodney said. "I'm taking them off."

"Your cock bobs free and I lick my lips at the thought of sucking it. You sit back on the bed, and I use my hands to spread your thighs. I want to see everything, Rodney, your cock, your balls, your ass. You look so good I don't know where to start. Leaning in, I rub my cheek on your cock and take a moment to just smell you."

"Oh."

"It's like your smell goes straight to my cock, making me even harder."

"John, please."

"Please what?"

"Suck me. I want you to suck me."

"Touch yourself. Get yourself off while I tell you how I'm gonna suck you."

"Yes." Rodney wrapped his hand around his cock eagerly, almost desperately. "Tell me."

"Wrapping a hand around the base, I hold you steady while I lick the head. Little touches at first, then bigger ones until I'm swirling my tongue around it."

"I like it. I like it a lot," Rodney said, rubbing the head of his cock with his thumb.

"Good. I like it too, like the way you taste, the feel of your skin against my tongue. I close my mouth around the head and start to suck."

"It feels so good, but the way it looks. God, John, do you have any idea what your mouth on my cock looks like?"

"It's hot, huh?"

"It's incredible."

"Maybe someday you can fuck me like that, just take control and slide your cock in and out of my mouth."

Rodney squeezed the base of his cock in an effort to control the arousal that went shooting through him.

"Rodney?"

"Yeah, just I can't believe you said that. Would you really let me?"

"Yes, I would," John said, his voice wrapping softly around Rodney.

"I'd be careful, really, really careful."

"I know."

Rodney closed his eyes and just listened to John breathe, adjusting to the idea of being with John like that. "Your mouth is on my cock," he said at last.

"Yeah, it is."

"What are you doing to me?" Rodney asked when John didn't seem inclined to say more.

"I'm sucking you, slow and steady, sliding my mouth down your cock."

Rodney stroked his cock slow and steady, wishing it was John's mouth he was feeling.

"I love the way you fill my mouth, the way you taste. Cupping your balls in my hand, I rub 'em with my thumb, feeling them shift."

Cupping his balls, Rodney did exactly as John had described. "Are you touching yourself? Please tell me you're touching yourself."

"I am."

"Is it the same rhythm you're using on my cock?"

"Yes, Rodney."

Rodney could hear John's smile. "Good. I love the feel of your mouth. Warm and wet and the suction is perfect, not too hard, not too soft."

"Just call me Goldilocks."

Rodney laughed. "Okay, that is not a sexy image."

"Not like my mouth on your cock."

"That's an image likely to cause spontaneous combustion."

"I want to suck, want to make you come so hard you see stars. Want to feel you spurting into my mouth."

"You swallow?" It was a stupid thing to ask after what John had just said, but the thought of coming in John's mouth seemed to have short-circuited his brain.

"Oh, yeah."

"Do you have any idea how hot that is? How hot you're making me? The thought of being in your mouth, of feeling you sucking, of watching it, and then you swallowing0 . I want to stop jerking off or at least slow it down, but I can't because I have this image in my head of you on your knees and your mouth, and Jesus..."

"I want to touch my cock. Kneeling between your legs, sucking you, it's making me so hot, but I want to focus all my attention on you, learn what you like, enjoy the taste of you, so I'm trying not to, but it's really hard."

"Give in. Touch yourself for me. I want you to."

"Rodney."

"Suck me. Suck me hard. Stroke your cock at the same time. Get us both off. Please, please."

"I am. I'm sucking you hard, taking you deep, moving back and forth on your cock. My hand on my dick matching the rhythm, making me move faster."

"John," Rodney gasped. "John." Then he was coming all over his own hand, pleasure shooting through him.

"I'm swallowing," John said in his ear, his voice low and raw. "I'm drinking you down. Give me all of it, Rodney. Give it to me."

Groaning, Rodney kept stroking, wanting to come more and harder for John.

Muscles twitching a little, Rodney closed his eyes. "John?"

"Almost."

"Good. I want to hear you when you come." He'd been too caught up in what was happening last night to really listen. Tonight he wanted to hear.

"You--" Whatever John was about to say was cut off by a sharply in-drawn breath. Then his breath seemed to stop for a moment before coming out in a long, low pant, followed by a soft, barely audible groan.

"Oh, wow," Rodney said, because it was totally wow, hearing John groan like that, knowing it was because of him. "That was the best orgasm I've had in ages."

John chuckled. "Glad to be of service."

"Seriously, I think you killed a couple of brain cells."

"Good thing you have some to spare."

"Very good thing," Rodney said. Then he sighed contentedly. "I should've gotten a towel earlier. Now I don' t want to move. This morning I woke up with dried come in my chest hair."

"Me, too."

"Shouldn't you be better at advance planning than that?"

"I was distracted. But I've got a towel tonight."

"Of course you do," Rodney muttered.

"You're the one who wanted me to be prepared."

"Tomorrow night I'm blowing you."

"Okay," John said agreeably.

"Okay?"

"You didn't expect me to object, did you?"

"How do you feel about having your balls sucked on?" Rodney asked.

"You're asking now?"

"Research."

"Of course." Rodney could hear John's smile. It was a really nice sound. "I like it, but the suction's got to be soft. Too hard and it hurts."

"Anything else I should know?"

"I think you should try things and I'll tell you if I like them."

Rodney hated not being prepared. "Fine."

"It'll be good. I' m sure of it."

"Because you've thought about it."

"Yup."

"Oh, great, no pressure there."

"No, Rodney, there really isn't. Trust me, this isn't something you can do wrong."

"Okay, fine, I'll think up things all on my own."

"That's the spirit."

"I'm Canadian. We don' t have spirit." John laughed again, and Rodney smiled. "Good-night."

"Good-night, Rodney."

***

When Rodney arrived in the mess the next morning, John was sitting with Teyla and Ronon. He looked up as Rodney approached and gave him a soft smile that was some weird mix of cocky and shy, and suddenly all Rodney could think was "I'm going to blow him tonight."

He sat at the end of the table before his body could react to the thought and began cutting his pancakes.

"Good morning, Rodney," Teyla said.

Rodney smiled at her around a forkful of pancakes.

"Hungry this morning?" John asked, grinning as though he knew what had caused Rodney's hunger.

"No more than usual," Rodney said.

John nodded. "Of course not."

Rodney glanced up at him, mouthful of pancakes, and their eyes met, just for a moment, and the flush of joy that went through him startled Rodney enough that he dropped his fork, drawing puzzled looks from Teyla and Ronon.

John merely smiled.

Picking up his fork, Rodney loaded it up with another mouthful of pancakes. He was having a secret affair with another man. And it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Well, maybe the coolest thing since ZPMs and puddlejumpers and the Aurora.

Still, it was definitely in the top five.

***

John sat at his desk debating what he should do next. Normally, he'd just pop on down to Rodney's lab and check up on him. The others too, but mostly Rodney. He didn't go by every day, just a couple of times per week. He hadn't been by at all in the last few days, and he should go. People might notice his absence and think it was weird.

On the other hand, Rodney might act all weird. He was still doing that, not that John could blame him. He was having trouble not acting weird himself.

Or, worse, Rodney would smile up at him when he walked in. Rodney did that sometimes, especially if John was carrying food or coffee that Rodney could appropriate for his own. Not that John had ever walked into the lab with a newly opened powerbar in his hand just to watch Rodney smile and take it from him, biting where John had just bitten.

John dropped his head to the desk. He had it bad, and Rodney talking about blowing him last night hadn't made it any better. John had apparently unleashed some sort of monster, because Rodney had described blowing John in more detail than John had known was possible.

And John had read a lot of porn.

He was getting hard just remembering it. Rodney talking about his balls, about mouthing them and sucking them gently, really gently, his hand lightly stroking John's cock. Telling John how he'd explore John's cock with his tongue, taste the entire shaft, brush the head with his lips and his tongue, suck him. By the time Rodney had finished with him John had been lifting his hips, fucking his own hand, desperate for release.

Getting up from his chair, John locked his door and then grabbed some tissues before sitting back down. Stretching out his legs in front of him, he opened his pants and pulled out his cock.

It was a stupid thing to do, jerking off in his office, but he was so hard it'd take forever for him to get soft and he had things to do.

Like visit Rodney. Tonight on the radio, he'd tell Rodney about this, about how thinking about him had gotten John so damn hard.

He'd tell Rodney he'd imagined Rodney walking in on him, imagined Rodney's eyes getting wide before he dropped to his knees in front of John and took him deep, sucked him slow and sweet.

John ran his hand up his shaft. Just like that. Except wet and hot and Rodney.

There wasn't any way Rodney could fit under his desk, but it would still be hot. Rodney under his desk, blowing him while John talked to Lorne or Caldwell. John would do his usual thing, nod and smile blandly at ninety percent of what Caldwell said while Rodney worked his cock, right under Caldwell's nose.

John tightened his grip, stroked a little harder. It would be so hot, trying to keep control, to not let his pleasure show on his face while Rodney worked him over, made him want to moan and squirm and thrust.

Finally, Caldwell would turn and go, and John would come as soon as the door slid shut. He'd come hard, shooting into Rodney's welcoming mouth, feeling Rodney swallow.

Covering the end of his cock with the tissues, John let himself shake, let the orgasm take him over.

Tossing the tissues into the trash, he zipped himself up and closed his eyes.

He was so screwed.

***

"How's it going?" John asked, striding into the lab and rubbing his hands together. Realizing his hands might still smell of things they shouldn't smell of, at least not in the middle of the day, he stuffed them into his pockets.

"Fine." Rodney frowned at him, and John scrunched up his face in return, trying to say, "I just jerked off and it's all your fault," without actually saying it.

"What are you working on?"

"Propulsion. For the jumper retconning."

"Ahh," John answered nodding. He doubted they'd ever be able to build a jumper, at least in his lifetime, but if anyone can do it, it was Rodney. "What about those energy readings?"

Rodney's mouth twisted as he looked at John. "Ask Radek."

Before he could ask, Radek was next to him in front of Rodney's bench. "They strongly resemble the readings given off by naquadriah."

"Naquadriah?" John asked, turning to look at Radek. "Isn't that the stuff that killed Jackson? When he ascended?"

"Yes," Rodney answered, somewhat huffily, shooting one of those looks at Radek. Clearly, this conversation had started without John.

"But what are the odds that it is naquadriah?" Radek asked, getting only a glare in answer. "Whatever it is, it's very powerful."

"Powerful can be good," John said cutting in.

"At the very least we should take a closer look," Radek added, looking pointedly at Rodney.

"A second jumper trip," John said and Radek nodded. "What can it hurt?" John asked, smiling his most winning smile at Rodney.

"There is no rational reason not to take a closer look," Radek said. "If it looks as though the material is too unstable, we will stop investigating."

"Fine. We'll go," Rodney said.

Giving Radek a victory grin, John said, "I'll talk with Elizabeth."

***

Fingers poised above his radio, John wondered if he should call Rodney tonight. He'd skipped dinner, which wasn't like him, and Radek said he'd been grumpier than usual all day. They didn't need to have radio sex every night. That would be clingy, and John wasn't a clinger.

Before he could make up his mind, he heard Rodney's voice in his ear. "John?"

He touched the button on his radio. "Hey. You missed dinner."

"I had work I wanted to finish up so I'd be free tonight. Grabbed a sandwich and ate in the lab."

"Ah."

"So, how was your day?" Rodney asked, but small talk wasn't his forte and it came out sounding, well, like small talk.

John was pretty sure he could get them past the awkwardness. "I jerked off in my office."

"You what ?"

"You heard me. I was thinking about you."

"You... Really?"

"Of course really." That Rodney would still ask that after the last three nights made John hurt a little. "Who else would I think about?"

"Good point," Rodney said, sounding pleasantly smug. "Jerking off in your office, isn't that kind of kinky?"

"Nah, unless you count the fact that you were hiding under the desk blowing me while I talked to Caldwell."

"That's definitely kinky," Rodney agreed in a tone rich with amusement. "Guess that means the blow job last night went over well then."

"Are you kidding? Thinking about it was what got me hard in the first place."

"Good."

John grinned.

"Just so you know, I'm hard now," Rodney added.

"And you think we should do something about it."

"I do. In fact, I think we should try a '69'," Rodney said.

John gave his cock a slow stroke. He was lying on his bed, naked, with Rodney's voice in his ear, so there wasn't any reason not to. "I used to do those with my wife. She always stopped when she started coming, something about not wanting to bite me."

"Wife? Did you say wife?"

"Yes." He had. It had just sort of snuck out when he wasn't looking.

"You were married?"

"That is what having a wife means."

"To a woman?"

"I like women."

"Huh," Rodney said. John didn't have to see his face to know Rodney was processing this new tidbit, adding it to his storehouse of John info. "When?"

"Right after I made captain. It was part of my whole John Reform Plan."

"Reform plan?"

"I thought maybe I'd try playing by the rules, doing what was expected of me."

"So you got married."

"Yes." It had been more complicated than that of course, but it was still the best explanation John had.

"What was she like?"

"Brown hair, brown eyes, taller than Teyla but not as tall as Elizabeth."

"That doesn't tell me anything."

"She was nice, smart, fun. She went to Rutgers."

"Did you love her?"

"Sort of. I cared about her. I liked her. She was fun to hang out with."

"So why did you leave her?"

"She left me."

"She had you and she threw you away? Clearly she wasn't that smart."

John smiled at the disgust in Rodney's voice. "I wasn't exactly a great catch."

"You're sexy, you're cool, you give good phone sex. Plus, you've got that whole rakish hero thing going on."

"You think I'm a rakish hero?"

"Tell me why you weren't a good catch."

It didn't escape John's notice that Rodney had dodged the question. "She wanted me to tell her stuff and I didn't have anything to tell."

"You mean you weren't comfortable telling her," Rodney said.

"I didn't get why we couldn't just hang out together, why there had to be confessions0 ."

"That's what therapists are for."

"Exactly." John had known Rodney would get it.

"Although no one ever complained that I don't talk enough."

"Really? I'm shocked." John gave his cock another stroke, just to keep it interested.

"Apparently I don't listen."

"Sure you do."

"That's what I thought."

"Women are weird," John said.

"They really are," Rodney agreed. "I think we should suck each other's cocks now."

"Okay."

***

Nearly a week went by before they were able to go to P32-89X. Radek had tried to hide his impatience, but he was itching to know more. Curiosity wasn't new for him, but having the curiosity be strong enough to override his natural inclination against unnecessary risk was. Perhaps he was becoming like Rodney.

It was a disturbing thought and Radek pushed it aside.

They came out of the gate and flew smoothly into the planet's upper atmosphere in one long easy line. At least it looked easy. Radek knew it wasn't, that there were multiple forces pulling on the ship as they entered the planet's atmosphere. They reached the mountain chain running along the western coast of the main continent within minutes, and Radek turned his attention to his instruments.

"Rodney," Radek said.

"Yes, yes, I see it," Rodney answered from the navigator's chair.

"See what?" the colonel asked.

"Energy readings," Rodney said.

"Powerful energy readings," Radek added.

"We knew that. It's why we came, right?" Lorne asked, resting a hand on the back of Rodney's chair and leaning forward in his own, looking at the panels in front of Rodney. He pointed out the cockpit window at an area toward the end of the mountain chain. "That's where the readings were strongest."

Sheppard guided the jumper to where Lorne was pointing, and Radek watched the energy readings steadily climb.

"Something is pumping out a hell of a lot of energy," Rodney said.

"But with no life signs," Sheppard said. "Kind of creepy."

"You like creepy," Rodney answered without bothering to look up from his console.

"So what is it?" Sheppard asked.

"How should I know?"

Radek was barely listening to their conversation. He was focused on the readings in front of him, watching them fluctuate as they climbed. "We should land."

"With that level of radiation? Are you nuts?" Rodney asked, looking up from his console long enough to shoot a disgusted glare at Radek.

"We have to find out what it is."

"Why? Why do we have to find out what is causing the potentially fatal levels of radiation?"

"Fatal?" Sheppard said, Lorne echoing him.

Ignoring them, Radek said, "Because we need energy. Because determining the answer is what we do."

There was a long pause before Rodney said, "When we come back, if we come back, it's with the proper protection. No one is setting foot on this planet without a radiation suit."

"Agreed," Radek said, somewhat reluctantly.

"Does that mean we're going home?" Sheppard asked.

"No, it does not mean we're going home. We need to get some more readings first. Just fly where I tell you."

"Yes, dear," Sheppard answered.

Rodney ignored him, pointing straight out the window and saying, "Let's see how far this extends."

Radek had the feeling it was going to extend pretty far.

***

It was late afternoon when Rodney and Radek finally finished with the new readings from P32-89X. Taking his place at the table in Elizabeth's office, John shot a smile across the table at Caldwell. "Colonel."

"Colonel" Caldwell answered, and that was that until the meeting started. Caldwell wasn't much for small talk, and John was trying not to think about jerking off in his office. It was entirely possible he had issues. His mouth twisted at the thought and Rodney gave him a weird look, then glanced at Caldwell and flushed. Fortunately, no one else seemed to notice.

"Well, gentlemen, what did you find?" Elizabeth asked, her back ramrod straight as she folded her hands in front of her.

"Radiation," Rodney answered. "Lots of radiation."

Shooting a quick glare at Rodney, Radek pushed his glasses up his nose. "Whatever is there is a powerful energy source. The patterns resemble naquadriah."

"Naquadriah?" Caldwell asked. "The stuff the Goa'uld made?"

"Yes, the stuff the Goa'uld made," Rodney answered. "The very dangerous, explosive stuff the Goa'uld made."

"Actually, it was only one Goa'uld," Radek said, and this time it was Rodney's turn to glare. "There is no reason to believe this substance, whatever it is, is as unstable as naquadriah."

"The energy readings were all over the place," Rodney said, turning to face him.

"Which doesn't mean the substance is explosive."

"What do you think?" Elizabeth asked John, cutting off Rodney and Radek's argument.

He shrugged. "I think it's worth a closer look."

"I concur," Caldwell said, not that anyone had asked him.

"Rodney?" Elizabeth asked.

Crossing his arms, Rodney leaned back in his chair. "A small team, all fully protected, with the understanding that they get the hell out at the first sign of a problem. And we need to run some more tests on the data first."

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow, before shifting her gaze to Radek and Lorne. "A small team, but I want to see those tests Rodney was talking about first. We've made enough mistakes with alien power sources, I don't want another one."

With a last look around the room, she dismissed them, and John immediately stood, hoping to make it to the door before Caldwell.

"Colonel," Caldwell said, stopping John before he'd taken three steps.

"Sir."

"A moment of your time."

John bit back a sigh. Caldwell's moments always took at least an hour or seemed to. Maybe he should ask Rodney to check into the possibility that Caldwell could bend time, making it move slower, or backwards. Catching his gaze, Rodney gave him a sympathetic look before falling into step beside Radek.

***

\cf1

\cf0 "Why are you so against this, anyway?" John asked. "You're usually the first person in line to check out new power sources." He was settled in bed, alone with his radio and Rodney.

"I know. I'm not sure what it is."

There was an obvious reason. John hated to mention it, but he thought maybe he should, especially if it was keeping Rodney from thinking rationally. "Jealousy, because it's Radek's discovery, not yours."

"I know I can be petty. Really petty," Rodney said. John wasn't surprised by the admission, although he suspected others might be. "But I don't think that's it. I have a bad feeling about the whole thing."

"I can understand that."

"You can?"

"Sure. Everyone has those sometimes. And, hey, you were right about Chaya."

"I was, wasn't I?" Rodney said, making John smile. "Although I never quite figured out what the attraction was, other than the obvious. Could you have stared at her chest any harder?"

"Probably not," John admitted.

"So what was it? Some sort of weird, Ancient gene thing?"

"I was..." John hesitated. If he couldn't tell Rodney the truth, who could he tell? "Lonely."

"Oh." There was a small pause and John could just picture the look of awkward sympathy on Rodney's face. "I guess I can understand that. Just for the record, I was right there. You didn't have to go throwing yourself at some ridiculous goddess wannabe who doubled as her own priestess."

"I'll try to remember that next time."

"Yes, well, see that you do."

John chuckled softly, but only for a moment. There was something else they should probably talk about. Not that John wanted to talk about it. "What about Doranda? Could that be affecting how you see things?"

It was a long moment before Rodney answered. "Maybe. I don't want any more deaths on my conscience, you know?"

"I know."

"I still think about Collins. Him, Gaul, Abrams, Grodin, Dumais, all of them."

"You can't blame yourself for all of them."

"I don't blame myself for Dumais; I just wished I could've figured out the damn nanites a little sooner."

"Gaul and Abrams aren't your fault either, and neither is Grodin."

"Collins is."

"No, he isn't."

"I was the one arrogant enough to think I could succeed where the Ancients failed."

"Okay, yes, maybe it's a little your fault," John conceded because anything else would be a lie.

"The thing is while you probably can't destroy an entire solar system with naquadriah, you can still do a hell of a lot of damage. Radek's just seeing the possibilities. Not that I blame him, they're pretty cool possibilities."

"He's a pretty level-headed guy. I don't think he'll run off half-cocked."

"I know. It's just... I don't want him to have his own Collins."

"No," John said, "me either."

Rodney didn't say anything, and John figured it was time to change the subject, maybe try for something a little more cheery. "Caldwell reminds me of my father. The way he takes up so much damned room." Okay, so not cheerier, but at least it was different.

"What did he want, anyway?"

"To go over refused requisitions."

"Exciting," Rodney said.

"Very."

"So what was your father like?"

John could hear the curiosity in Rodney's voice, but it didn't have the almost aggressive edge Rodney's curiosity usually had. "Military," John answered. "He was an army officer. Got a bronze star in Vietnam. Saved a whole platoon, or so the story went."

"Is that where you got your 'no one gets left behind' thing?"

John considered that for a moment. The thought of getting anything from his father made him want to squirm. "Maybe."

"So he took up a lot of room, huh?"

"More like sucked the energy right out of it. He called me Johnny. I hate being called Johnny."

"You're not really a Johnny," Rodney agreed. "Although I wouldn't mind seeing you in a hospital johnny."

"You have the weirdest kinks, McKay."

"That's why you like me."

"Maybe," John said, but he was smiling.

"It must've made him happy when you joined the Air Force."

"Not really. He was Army and only fags join the Air Force. Fags and wusses."

"He said that?"

"More than once."

John could practically hear the wheels turning in Rodney's head. "How could you... with a father like that? It must've been hard," Rodney said.

"I always figured anything my father hated had to be worth doing." It was easy to say things in the dark, even knowing Rodney could hear him. Maybe it was easy because Rodney could hear him.

"Is that why you?"

"No. I got over that a long time ago. I haven't even been with a guy since my freshman year of college except for, you know." Them. This.

"Why'd you stop?"

"I met someone. Her name was Clarice. She was smart, funny, gorgeous."

"All of which goes without saying."

John smiled at the hint of resentment in Rodney's voice. "She was the first person who didn't think there was something wrong with me, that I needed improving. I loved her so damn much."

A moment passed before Rodney asked, "What happened?"

"It was a college romance. She went off to Oxford to do a Ph.D. and I went into the Air Force. We tried to keep it going, but we were moving in different directions."

"I'm sorry," Rodney said. John believed he really was.

"It happens." John still missed her sometimes, but he wasn't going to tell Rodney that. It wasn't something Rodney needed to know.

Rodney didn't answer and the silence grew until John began to think Rodney had fallen asleep. "Rodney?" he asked quietly, not wanting to wake him but wanting to make sure.

"You're the first person who hasn't thought I needed improving," Rodney said.

Something in the way he said it made John's chest tighten. Rodney was always so damned truthful. "I know."

"I should get some sleep, so should you."

"No, not yet." John wasn' t ready to cut the connection between them. If they'd been in the same room, he could've put his arms around Rodney and they could have drifted off like that, letting their bodies connect them. But all he had was Rodney's voice. "Tell me about M theory."

"M theory is a crock, which I may have mentioned oh, a half-dozen times."

"Tell me again. I didn't follow it all."

"It's late."

"Time is relative."

"Okay," Rodney said, "okay."

Closing his eyes, John listened to the steady cadence of Rodney's voice.

***

Rodney's mind was usually fairly good at following orders. He told it "think about this" and that's what it thought. Not today. Today he told it "think about this" and ten minutes later he was thinking about fingers and lube. And John.

Then he'd find himself shifting around on his stool trying to get comfortable and hide the fact that he'd been thinking about sex, not that anyone would know he'd been thinking about kinky gay sex with Colonel Sheppard. He wasn't even sure anal sex qualified as kinky. If you were gay, anal sex might be considered strictly vanilla, especially if you were facing each other and kissing. And you were doing it slow and easy, trying to make it last--

"Rodney."

He jumped. "What?"

Radek frowned at him, holding out a tablet. "Miko has finished."

"Oh. Thank you," Rodney said, accepting the tablet. It had taken three days, but the additional tests on the P32-89X power source were complete. Which meant Radek was back to doing his job--keeping the underlings away from Rodney. Trying to show his gratitude, Rodney smiled.

Radek's frown deepened, but he turned and went back to his bench.

Rodney took a deep breath and refocused his attention on the work in front of him. It wasn't as though his concentration hadn't gotten a workout the last few weeks, with John being all hot and horny and naughty in his ear almost every night. Shaking his head, Rodney began to follow the equations with his brain as well as his eyes.

***

Thinking about sex with John was more pleasant than thinking about tomorrow's mission. He didn't have a problem with their mission. It was a standard meet and greet, but the people were friends of friends of the Athosians, so the mission fell to their team. Rodney was okay with that.

He was less okay with Lorne and Radek going to P32-89X.

Everyone else had left for dinner, but Radek was still at his station, working away. "Reviewing the data for tomorrow?" Rodney asked.

"Mmmm," Radek answered.

"Richards has gone over it?"

"Several times. You've seen his reports."

"If he's right and those tunnels are mines..."

"Which we will know tomorrow."

"If they're mines," Rodney continued. "Someone abandoned them for a reason."

"Such as being killed by the Wraith."

Rodney sighed. It was too much like his own arguments about Doranda.

Radek turned to look at him. "I will be careful, Rodney. So will Richards and Major Lorne."

"Listen to Richards. He's our best geologist."

"I will."

"And get out at the first sign of trouble." Rodney wagged his finger in Radek's direction.

"I will."

"And wear the damn radiation suit."

"I will."

Out of admonitions, Rodney said, "Okay. Ready to get some dinner?"

"Yes."

As they started toward the mess, Rodney began planning to have a little chat with Lorne before they left. The man was entirely too cavalier about radiation exposure; if he wanted to kill himself that was fine, but Radek and Richards were Rodney's responsibility and they were going to wear the damn suits.

***

"Rodney?"

"Here."

"Something wrong?" Rodney could hear John's frown.

"I had a bad day." For a moment, Rodney considered telling him about his conversation with Radek, but John knew about his concerns. There wasn't any point in going over them again.

"I thought you were happy now that Zelenka is done with the power analysis stuff. What was the phrase you used? 'Pulling his weight again?'"

"Yes, yes, that part was fine. I just couldn't concentrate. My mind kept going wherever it wanted to."

John chuckled. "You mean like a normal person's?"

"No, like a person who can't stop thinking about fingers and sex."

"Fingers?" Of course that would be the part John would fixate on. "As in my fingers?"

"Yes, as in your fingers. Who else's fingers would I be thinking about?"

"Could be anybody's."

"Yes, because I'm having hot secret radio sex with half the base."

"You were fantasizing about me." John's voice had dipped into that register, the one that was a little smug, a lot dirty, and all hot.

"I didn't say I was fantasizing," Rodney tried to sound put upon but John had used that voice and Rodney was already hard, his whole body thrumming with anticipation. "They were more stray thoughts."

"About my fingers."

"And other things." He sounded aroused, even to his own ears.

"Tell me." John spoke the words softly, insistently.

"I'm not even undressed."

"Tell me anyway."

"Hold on, just--" Rodney tugged his shirt over his head, then kicked off his shoes.

"Rodney."

"Let me get my pants off." He tugged his uniform pants open, sending a button flying. He ignored it in favor of pushing his pants down.

"I thought about you, too. Thought about touching you the way we talked about last night. Thought about the way you'd look when I touched your prostate for the first time, the sounds you'd make, the way my fingers would look sliding in and out of you."

Rodney sat down hard on the edge of his bed, trying to find enough concentration to pull off his socks when all he wanted to do was slide a hand into his boxers.

"I thought about sucking you. Thought about how hot it would make you to have me sucking your cock and fingering you at the same time."

The thought of John doing that to him--Jesus-- Rodney bit back a groan. "Stop. Please. I don't even have my socks off."

"Leave 'em on."

"I can't sleep with them on, and we both know I'm not going to have the energy to take them off afterwards."

"You used to sleep half-clothed."

"That was before I started sleeping in a sticky puddle of my own semen every night." Stripping off his boxers, Rodney dropped them to the floor.

"Such a romantic image."

Not bothering to answer, Rodney retrieved the lube from the drawer where he'd hidden it and turned the lights down before climbing into the bed. "Okay, now you can talk dirty to me."

"You're supposed to be talking dirty to me."

"Oh, right. Well, um--" It wasn't like he couldn't do this, hadn't done it before, hadn't described in detail how he imagined touching John and sucking John. But this was-- "I thought about how it felt last night when I was touching myself, about what it would be like to feel your fingers instead. You were kneeling between my legs, and I watched your face as you pushed inside. You were looking down at your hand."

"How did it feel?"

"Good. All those nerve endings at the edge. I wanted it. You were being slow and gentle and I pushed my hips down because I wanted it all." Rodney heard John's breath catch.

"You're so smooth inside. Feel yourself, feel yourself for me."

Rodney didn't want to, not yet, but it felt like he'd been aroused for hours. Snapping open the lube, he drizzled some onto his fingers and then traced his opening. Definite nerve endings there. Then he added some more lube and pushed the tip inside. "I'm doing it."

"You're so warm and smooth around my finger. I'm moving my finger back and forth, slow and easy, getting us both used to the feel of it."

"Give me more."

"Rodney."

"More." They'd done slow and easy the night before when John had talked him through fingering himself for the first time until Rodney had come so hard he thought he might've broken something. Tonight, he didn't want slow.

"I slide in a second finger, feeling you stretch tight around me."

"Yes."

"I'm fucking you at a nice steady pace. In, out, in out."

He matched his fingers to John's. "John, yes, I'm--"

"That's it. Feel it, Rodney. Feel me fucking you."

"You keep brushing my prostate, creating these little bursts of pleasure."

"I kiss you. I'm kissing you deep and hard, sliding my fingers in and out of you."

"I wrap my arms around you, pulling you close. I can feel your cock against my thigh, but that's not where I want it. I lift my hips, trying to tell you." This was it, what he'd thought about all afternoon.

"Tell me what?" John asked, arousal deepening his voice.

"I want you to fuck me. I want to feel you inside me."

John groaned. "Yeah, yeah, I want that too. So damn much. I wish I was there. Wish I could kiss you."

"Me, too. Please, John." He was still moving his fingers back and forth, the arousal building even as every nerve in his body seemed to focus on the voice coming over the radio.

"I pull my fingers out slowly and squirt some lube onto my hand."

"Do it," Rodney said. "Do it for real. Put lube on your hand."

"Oh, um, okay," John agreed, and Rodney could hear the drawer in his bedside stand being opened, then closed again.

"I watch you coat your cock. I love seeing you touch yourself, and your cock looks so good like that, glistening with lube."

"Ready to fuck you," John said and it was Rodney's turn to groan.

"Yes."

"I move between your legs and look down at you. You look hot like this, nipples tight, cock so hard it's angling up from your belly, hair disheveled. I want you so damn much."

"So take me."

"I push forward."

"I can feel you, stretching me, opening me." Rodney pushed three fingers into his ass, opening himself almost as much as John's cock would.

"You feel so good. I don't want to hurt you."

"You're not. You're not. I can't stop looking at you. Push into me, all the way. I want to feel you."

"Oh God, Rodney."

"Roll onto your stomach. Wrap your hand around your cock and move your hips like you would if you were fucking me."

"Yes, I--" Whatever John had been going to say was lost in a moan.

"I'm on my back, legs apart, fingers inside myself. Tell me the rhythm. Tell me how you're fucking me."

"I'm pushing in. So deep it feels like I'm going to slide into you forever. Then I pull back--slow--but it doesn't take as long as pushing in did. Now I'm pushing back in. I can feel you under me. You're so warm, and the way you're letting me in--."

"My arms are around you."

"I'm kissing you."

"I'm lifting my hips, matching your rhythm."

"Wait, wait. I have to look, have to sit back so I can see. I'm watching my cock slide in and out of you. It's incredible, seeing that beautiful ass of yours just take me in. I stop part way inside and touch you, tracing around your opening, feeling you, feeling me inside you. Wanted this for so long, Rodney."

"Oh, God."

"I push forward just a little, feeling myself slide into you."

"I lift myself up, resting my weight on one hand, and slide the other into your hair, pulling you into a kiss."

"I can't get enough of your mouth, of kissing you. I move my hips back and forth just a little, fucking you as we kiss."

Listening to John, pretending he could feel John's lips on his, Rodney moved his fingers in and out, brushing his prostate, fucking himself the way he wanted John to fuck him. "I lay back, pulling you with me."

"I'm pushing into you harder now, faster."

"Yes, John, please."

"I'm fucking you. I'm fucking you."

That was just what Rodney wanted, for John to fuck him. He had the rhythm now; it was easy to match John's pants. Someday he was going to make John masturbate like that, on his stomach, fucking his own fist so Rodney could watch and remember this. Maybe afterwards he'd finger himself for John and John would fuck him and come inside him.

"Stroke your cock," John said, voice now desperate and aroused.

"I--"

"Please. I need--"

"Okay, okay." He had no idea how he was going to coordinate both hands at once, but he wrapped his hands around his cock, pleasure going through him. He'd needed this all day, a hand on his cock, easing his hardness. Slowing the motions of his fingers, Rodney began to stroke.

"Tell me how I'm fucking you," John said, his voice low and rough in Rodney's ear.

"Steady. In, out. In."

"Tell me what you feel."

Why did John always ask that when Rodney was nearly incoherent? "I feel you. Inside me. Stretching me. Opening me." Rodney gave his cock a slow stroke, pressing his fingers into his ass.

"I want to make you feel good."

"You are."

"I feel you all around me," John said. If he closed his eyes, if he really tried, he could almost feel John all around him, in him, surrounding Rodney with his warmth and his scent.

They were both panting now and Rodney thought maybe he could hear the lube squelching as John's cock slid through his fist, but it might've been from his fingers. In his head they were making that sound together.

He gasped John's name just before he came, pleasure blotting out everything but his own hands and John's voice in his ear whispering, "I can feel you. I can feel you coming all around me, squeezing me."

"Come, come." It was the only word Rodney could manage with the pleasure shooting through him.

"I... I..." The words ended on a choked groan. John was coming too. Rodney wanted to see it so damn much, wanted to be holding John when it happened, wanted John to empty himself deep inside Rodney.

The hand on his cock slowing, Rodney slipped his fingers free. He'd forgotten to get a towel again. He really should wash his hands anyway.

"Rodney?"

"Yes."

"You okay?"

The post-coital relaxation was starting to hit and Rodney snuggled down into the pillows, even though he still had to get up. "I'm good. It was good. Better than good, fantastic really."

"Yeah, it was." He had to smile at the content tone in John's voice.

"Now I probably won't be able to get anything done tomorrow either."

"Probably?" John asked.

"Just once you should be the one distracted all day by thoughts of sex."

"Who says I'm not?"

"True. After all, you did find thoughts of me so overwhelming that you had to jerk off in your office.\rdblquote

"You're never going to let me live that down, are you?"

"Nope."

John chuckled softly, the sound making Rodney smile. They had a mission in the morning, and he should probably say good-night, but it couldn't hurt to talk to John for a little while longer, even if all Rodney did was listen to him breathe.

***

Watching the leader of the J'dawn, a pretty brunette, smile at John, Rodney smiled to himself. She didn't stand a chance. John wasn't lonely anymore.

He had Rodney, and Rodney had gotten pretty good at this secret affair thing. The sex was fantastic, especially for sex that didn't involve any actual physical contact. All Rodney had to do was mention putting his mouth on John's cock and he could practically hear John get hard.

He'd gotten pretty good at the secret part too. No more needing to glance away from John to keep from blushing, and he almost never stared at John's ass. When he did he made sure there wasn't anyone around. He still didn't laugh at John's jokes, although later when it was just the two of them he sometimes grudgingly admitted they were funny.

So, yup, they had this whole secret affair thing down pat.

If only the damn priestess or whatever she was would talk faster. Rodney wanted to get back to Atlantis and find out what was going on with Radek's team. Maybe he could sneak back to the jumper, open a wormhole, and radio Elizabeth. It'd only take a couple of minutes. The priestess would never notice he was gone.

But Rodney's team would. So he sighed, shuffled his feet, and tried to find something to think about that didn't involve Radek on a planet that might go boom or John naked.

The pickings were surprisingly slim.

They were almost back to the jumper when Elizabeth's voice sounded in their ears. "Colonel Sheppard, this is Atlantis."

"Sheppard here."

"John, I need you and your team to come back immediately. It's Lorne's team."

Rodney barely heard the last part; he had already broken into a run.

They weren't far from the jumper, but it still felt to Rodney as though they'd been running for forever. Minutes after reaching the jumper, they were landing in the bay.

Elizabeth was waiting for them`.

"What happened?" Rodney demanded rushing down the ramp, the rest of his team immediately behind him.

"They found what Radek thinks was an abandoned mine. It collapsed."

Rodney's chest constricted. He ignored it. "We'll need Sanchez."

"He's helping to load the jumper. Lt. Miller has already assembled a rescue team."

"Good," John said, moving to Rodney's side. "What about Beckett?"

"He's on the jumper."

Nodding at Elizabeth, John touched Rodney's shoulder as he moved past him. "Let's go."

They finished loading the jumper and Rodney took the seat next to John's, dialing the gate from inside the jumper, his eyes on John's hands as John took them into the wormhole.

***

Breathe, Radek thought, just breathe. The colonel would come, so would Rodney. The colonel didn't leave men behind, and Rodney would never pass up a chance to gloat. They'd come for him. Rodney would be pissed at him for losing his radiation helmet, but Radek could live with that. All he had to do now was breathe and he'd be fine as long as the air didn't run out.

As long as he took shallow breaths, slow shallow breaths. Which wasn't hard because he couldn't feel anything the middle of his ribs, and could only move his left arm, everything else was trapped by something he couldn't see, but assumed was fallen rock. He sucked in a fast desperate breath before stopping himself.

Breathe. Slow. Shallow.

That was all he had to do.

Maybe he should try calling for Major Lorne again. The Major had been ahead of him when the explosion happened, bringing down the mine around them. Or Richards, but Richards had been behind him, and Radek couldn't turn around.

Radek had still tried, just like he had with Lorne, but they were probably unconscious, or the rock was keeping his calls from being heard.

Breathe and wait, it was all he could do. Maybe he'd call for Lorne again later, no point in wasting air and energy. Although they might have all the air they needed. Radek had no way of knowing and no way of finding out.

"Lorne. Major."

It wasn't loud enough. Radek tried again.

"Lorne. Major. Richards."

Then he breathed.

***

John stayed back, letting Rodney and Sanchez, the geologist, assess the situation. They were standing in front of the mine shaft, talking quickly, looking back and forth between Rodney's laptop and the pile of rocks in front of them. Rodney was in full-on crisis mode, focused, determined. Nothing was going to stand between him and Radek.

Lawrence, the only member of the team who hadn't been in the mine when it collapsed, was standing next to him, looking pale and a little shocky beneath his radiation suit. John had already gotten his report, but Lawrence didn't seem inclined to move away, and John wasn't about to force him.

Rodney turned his head and John was at his side before Rodney could finish saying "Colonel."

He pointed at the screen of the laptop he was holding balanced on one arm. Cables were running off it, connecting it to the jumper's sensors. "We have two life signs. Here and here."

Two. Fuck. "How do we get to them?"

"The fastest way will be to dig here," Sanchez answered.

"Through the wall?" John asked. Digging through the wall of a mine that was already partially collapsed seemed like a really bad idea.

"We think this was an access tunnel." Rodney indicated a line on the screen that ran into the main shaft. "It comes out between the two life signs. We cut into the tunnel, take it into the main shaft, and bring out our guys."

"Why not just go in the main entrance?"

"Digging out the debris would take a couple of hours, and we don't know how much time we have," Sanchez said.

Didn't know how much time the two survivors had, that's what he meant. "All right. Let's get started."

Rodney's plan involved using a single drone to explode the wall, but that meant lowering its charge so that they could create a hole without bringing down the whole damn mine. He was sitting in the jumper's co-pilot's chair, working through equations at a speed John couldn't follow, determining the needed adjustments.

Finally, he handed the entire laptop to Sanchez. "Check these."

"What else do we need to do?" John asked. He'd already ordered everyone else back away from the blast area.

"You could get the jumper into position."

"Right." John wrapped his hands around the controls and took the jumper into the air. The target wasn't far away and they were in position within minutes.

"They look good to me," Sanchez said from behind John.

Rodney nodded and began feeding the results he'd worked out into the computer. "All right," he said turning toward John. "It's ready."

"Right." Fire the drone, save their friends, assuming Rodney was right and that he hadn't made a mistake. John hit the button on his radio. "Teyla, I'm about to fire. Have the rescue teams ready."

"We are ready," she answered, calm, competent, reassuring.

Drawing in a breath, John thought "fire." The drone left the jumper and flew straight toward its target, a wall of rock located above some scraggly vegetation. The rock crumbled, leaving a nice jumbled hole, just about big enough for a person to get through. Rodney and Sanchez were already leaving their seats, moving toward the back of the jumper as John set it back on the ground.

John scrambled from his seat, racing to catch up.

"Looks stable," Sanchez said, shining his light around the entrance.

The hole John had created led into a small tunnel. Nodding at Sanchez, John took a step forward when Rodney's hand hit him in the center of the chest. "Let Sanchez lead. He knows what to look for."

His instinct was to disagree, but there were no enemies here, just falling rocks, and if Sanchez was better at spotting them then the smart thing to do was let him lead. He nodded.

Sanchez stepped into the hole; John ducked his head to follow, Rodney right behind him. Ronon and Teyla followed Rodney, with Beckett and his technicians bringing up the rear. Miller's team was waiting at the entrance with Lawrence, just in case.

Progress was annoyingly slow. Sanchez kept moving his light around, shining it on every part of the walls as they moved. Stooped over in the dark, it was disorienting.

He wasn't the only one getting impatient. "Can we go a little faster, please? Not that I want rock to fall on my head, but this is a rescue mission. It would be good if we got there while there was still someone to rescue."

"I'm sure he's going as fast as he can, Rodney," John answered automatically, resisting the urge to poke Sanchez and make him go faster.

"We should be--" Sanchez said, and then he stepped forward and stood.

John followed, relieved to be fully upright. The area they were standing in was still dark, and only about twenty feet across. The ceiling was only six inches above his head.

Rodney wasn't looking at anything but his life signs detector. "One of them is that way," he said, pointing to his right with the detector. "And one of them is that way." He pointed to his left.

"Adams, take Morelli and Peters and go left. Newcomb and Boyce, you're going right with me," Beckett said.

John nodded in agreement. "Teyla, you and Ronon go with Adams. Everyone else, you're with me and Beckett."

"You should've brought two doctors," Rodney said as they started down the tunnel.

"Adams is an excellent paramedic," Beckett answered in a tone which said the matter was not open for discussion.

"Why do you think they were so far apart?" John asked. Not that the distance was huge, but John didn't like to let his team get that spread out. He doubted Lorne did, either.

"How should I know?" Rodney asked. "Maybe one of them stopped to look at-- Oh, God."

Before John could stop him, Rodney was running forward, kneeling next to Zelenka, or at least the parts of him that weren't under rock.

"Rodney," Radek said. "Knew you'd come."

"Of course, I'd come. Just--"

"Rodney," Beckett said, touching his shoulder. "Why don't you move back?"

"Right, right," Rodney said, moving backwards on his knees and looking up at John. John met his gaze for one long, grim moment, and then reached for his radio.

"Teyla, Ronon, Miller, we've found Zelenka. He's injured pretty bad and trapped by some fallen rock; we're gonna need the excavation equipment."

Miller answered immediately. "Do you want us to start bringing it in now?"

John glanced at Beckett who looked up long enough to nod. "Yes. Go through the hole and when it opens up turn right."

"Rodney," Radek said, his voice unnervingly weak. "Richards was behind me."

Rodney shook his head. "There were only two life signs. Yours and one about 20 feet in that direction," Rodney said pointing back the way they'd come. "I'm sorry."

Radek merely lay his head back down on the rock floor.

There was an odd clanging sound like metal on rock and John turned around, searching for the source. "Anyone else hear that?"

"Yes," Rodney said, rising to his feet.

"Colonel," Teyla said, pulling John's attention away from the sound. "We have located Major Lorne."

"How is he?"

"He reports that he is fine. He is trapped on the other side of some fallen rocks."

"Reports?" John asked. Lorne's radio was definitely out of commission. They'd tried to reach him on it several times.

"He and Lt. Adams are communicating using something called Morse code."

"That would explain the banging then."

"Yes."

"If Adams is satisfied that Lorne's uninjured, then we'll concentrate our efforts on getting Zelenka out first."

"I shall let him know."

"Good, and then I want you and Ronon to join us. We're going to need all the muscle we can get."

"Understood."

***

It took more than an hour to get Zelenka free. He passed out once they got the biggest rock off of him, which John supposed was a good thing. Now Carson's team was settling him onto a gurney. Rodney was standing to the side, his face ashen beneath the dirt smeared helmet of his radiation suit. At least he'd put his gloves back on. He'd insisted on taking them off, claiming that it was easier to dig. John hadn' t argued with him; he'd simply slipped his own off.

"How bad?" Rodney asked.

Carson didn't look up from his examination of the newly freed parts of Radek. "He's had extensive organ damage. I won't know the full extent until we're back in Atlantis."

"Let's go then," John said. He'd been planning on having Miller fly the jumper and staying here to head up the operation to rescue Lorne, but looking at Rodney's face, he changed his mind. "Teyla, you're in charge until I get back. Since we know Lorne is fine, don't do anything risky. Be careful."

"We will," Teyla said, nodding at him. She touched Rodney's arm, and he nodded at her, before starting out after Carson's team.

John followed.

In the end, Miller flew Radek and Carson back to Atlantis. Rodney stopped John with a hand on his arm, as Carson was getting Radek settled in the back of the jumper. "We should stay here," Rodney said quietly. "You still have a man trapped. It's not like we can do anything for him anyway."

They stayed.

***

Two hours later they stumbled from the jumper, exhausted, filthy, and covered in sweat beneath their radiation suits. Lorne managed to exit the jumper under his own power, although he had a broken arm he hadn't bothered to mention until they'd finished digging him out. John was going to have to talk to him about that later.

Elizabeth was waiting for them. "Major Lorne," she said warmly.

"Ma'am."

"Report to the infirmary."

"Yes, ma'am." He left with Adams beside him.

"How's Radek?" Rodney asked.

Elizabeth's expression turned grim. "Still in surgery."

"It's been hours."

"Carson says there was a lot of internal damage. He might not make it."

John edged closer to Rodney, ready to do something, anything, but Rodney simply nodded. "I'll be in the infirmary."

"Me, too," John said.

Elizabeth let them go without another word.

It seemed as though half the science staff was either in the infirmary waiting area or milling around outside. John half-expected Rodney to tell them to get back to work, but he simply nodded and sat when Simpson rose silently from her chair. Someone whose name John didn't know, stood and offered John the chair next to Rodney's. He sank into it gratefully.

John had discovered early on that the infirmary was proof of relativity. Time moved slower there. It downright crawled. He thought about asking Rodney what had gone wrong, but he knew Rodney didn't know. He could always ask anyway, give Rodney something to get snippy about, but Rodney didn' t look like he needed to be snippy. He looked beaten, as if the Pegasus galaxy had finally succeeded in kicking his ass. John knew it wouldn't last. Rodney always bounced back, and he'd bounce back from this.

But right now, John just wanted all the damn people to go away so he could reach up, squeeze the back of Rodney's neck, pull Rodney into his arms and whisper stupid words about how everything would be all right.

Instead, he pressed the side of his leg against Rodney's and waited.

***

Carson had finally emerged an hour later, looking as exhausted as John felt. "We won't know for a couple of days," he said when Rodney asked if Radek was going to live. Then he'd left. Gone to shower and grab some food, maybe some sleep, which is exactly what they needed to do.

"Come on, Rodney," John said standing. "You need to shower."

Elizabeth was standing nearby and she nodded. "You both need to rest."

Ronon and Teyla had brought them food, which put them one up on Beckett, but they both needed sleep.

"All right," Rodney said scrubbing at his eyes. "All right."

John walked Rodney to his quarters without a single snide comment or request that John carry his books. He thought about following Rodney inside, about wrapping his arms around Rodney and holding on, just for a minute. But John didn't know how to start something like that, or end it without the whole getting weird and awkward. So he settled for patting Rodney's back with a grim smile and heading back to his own quarters.

He lingered in the shower, letting the warm water wash away the sweat and grime. Unfortunately, it couldn't do anything about the image of Radek's trapped body.

***

It was still dark out when John woke. He glanced at his clock--3 a.m. He started to reach for his radio, then stopped. If Rodney was asleep, John didn't want to wake him. Rolling to his side, he rose from the bed and went in search of clean clothes.

Picking the life signs detector up from his desk, he headed for Rodney's quarters. It was empty. John wasn't really surprised.

Rodney was in the infirmary, sitting at Radek's bedside. His head was tilted awkwardly to the side and he was snoring softly. Someone, probably one of the nurses, had placed his laptop on the floor next to his chair.

Approaching quietly, John squatted down, placing a hand on the armrest for balance. "Hey." No response. "Rodney." Reaching up, he brushed Rodney's cheek with his fingers, before taking hold of his shoulder and shaking it gently. "Rodney."

Rodney came awake with a start, turning to look at John. "John? What?"

"It's late. You should go to bed."

Rubbing a hand across his face, Rodney said, "I'm fine."

"You were asleep in the chair. Go to bed. I'll sit with him."

"He woke up. I gave him some ice chips, then he went back to sleep. That's got to be a good sign, right?"

"It does," John agreed, even though he had no idea if it was a good sign or not. "Come on." He stood. "Get up so I can take over."

Rodney looked up at him for a long moment. "All right." He looked back at Radek's bed. "Just wake me if anything happens."

"Will do."

Standing, Rodney rolled his shoulders. He was grey around the edges and so close that John could have touched him without really trying. John clenched his hands into fists to keep from reaching for him; the urge to pull Rodney into his arms and hold on, just for a minute, was almost irresistible. Almost.

Rodney began to shuffle toward the door, but he turned back after a few feet. "Thanks," he said.

"Anytime." John watched him go, then sat where Rodney had been and pulled a paperback from his pocket.

***

After two days, Carson declared Radek's bedside off-limits, which they all took as a good sign. John settled into his bed and reached for his radio. It seemed like forever since they'd had a chance to talk. "Heya, Rodney."

"Hey."

"You in bed?"

Rodney sighed. "If I say 'no' will you tell Carson?"

"No, but you do need to get some rest."

"Yes, Mom."

Rodney sounded so much like himself that John grinned. "Tell me about the first person you ever loved." It was something he'd wanted to ask about for a while and he had the feeling Rodney wasn't going to be up for talking about much else tonight.

"What?" Rodney said.

"Tell me about the first person you ever loved."

"Why?"

"Because I've told you about my wife, about Clarice, even my father, and you've barely told me anything."

"You already know almost everything. I used to tell you when we were playing the game, remember?"

"Rodney." John made it into three syllables, just because he could.

"Okay, okay, just stop whining."

John smiled to himself, the way he always did when he had managed to get Rodney to use that tone. "So was it love at first sight?"

"More or less."

"A woman, right?"

"Kind of. I was pretty young."

"So what was she like?"

"She had the biggest, bluest eyes I'd ever seen."

John snorted.

"What?" Rodney asked, using that tone again.

"If you want to see blue eyes, all you have to do is look in a mirror."

"She was almost as annoying as you are."

"Must've been some woman, then."

"She was." There was no mistaking the affection in Rodney's voice and John felt a small pang of jealousy even though he knew it was ridiculous. "I fell for her the moment I saw her. She kind of gurgled at me and jerked her arm. The nurse said she had gas, but I thought she liked me."

Gurgled? Nurse? "Rodney, are you talking about Jeannie?"

"Yeah. Is that weird? She was just so amazing, this little half-formed person that kind of looked like me, but was too small to take care of herself. She needed me."

John smiled at the thought of a young Rodney falling for a baby Jeannie like that. "How old were you?"

"Six. I used to race home from school to Mrs. Peterson's. She lived across the street and she looked after Jeannie while my parents were at work. If I tried, I could get to her house in time to feed Jeannie. I'd sit on the couch with a pillow on my lap and Jeannie on the pillow. I got really good at it too. After a while I didn't even need the pillow."

"Do you have pictures?"

"My parents weren't big on pictures, especially candids."

John wasn't surprised by that. "Does Jeannie know you used to feed her when she was a baby?"

"I doubt it."

"You should tell her."

"Why?"

"Because she'd like to know." John could practically hear Rodney's frown. "Just trust me on this and tell her."

"Okay, I'll tell her. Someday."

They fell silent. John was trying to find a way to tactfully ask Rodney if he'd ever been in love, but he had the sinking feeling the answer was no. "What are you thinking about?" he asked instead.

"Jeannie. I wish I could tell her."

"About what?" Jeannie had a pretty high level clearance now, although communicating with people on Earth who were outside the SGC was a pain in the ass.

"You and me."

"Oh."

"Pretty stupid, I know," Rodney said. "It's not like this is--"

"This is what?"

"A relationship."

"It's not?" Okay, thinking about this thing between him and Rodney as a relationship was kind of weird, even freaky, but what else could it be.

"Do you think it is?"

"Yeah, I do."

"Oh." After a moment, Rodney added, "Okay. I still have no idea how I'd explain it though. I have this person in my life whose name I can't tell you, which is probably just as well because we never actually get to have sex."

"When you put it like that."

"Don't get me wrong. This is good, great, the best relationship I've ever had."

John thought about how he'd felt in the infirmary, when he couldn't comfort Rodney, not the way he'd wanted to. "You just wish it could be more."

"Is that really greedy of me?"

"No. Not unless I'm really greedy too."

Rodney sighed. "Want to talk about sex?"

"Sure."

\cf1

\cf0 ***

When Rodney visited the infirmary the next day, he found Radek awake, not sitting up, but awake. "Don't upset him," Carson said, letting Rodney in to Radek's curtained room.

As if Rodney would. He glared at Carson before turning to Radek. "Hi."

"Hi," Radek answered. He was still pale, really pale.

"How are you feeling?"

"Awful."

Pulling up a chair, Rodney sat. "Carson's pretty happy with your recovery so far."

"He told me."

Rodney jerked his thumb toward the doorway. "If it's too hard to talk, I can come back later."

"No."

"Okay." He leaned back, trying to get comfortable.

"Have you gone over the data?"

Rodney squirmed. "Not all of it. It was good idea, keeping the jumper's sensors trained on the mine."

"Major Lorne suggested it. Rodney, what caused collapse?"

"I don't know."

"You have a theory."

"What part of 'I don't know' eluded you?"

"It's been four days," Radek said.

"I've been a little distracted," Rodney shot back.

Radek closed his eyes. "Tell me once you know."

Rodney nodded. "Sure." Rodney would tell him, but only when Radek was strong enough to hear it.

***

Elizabeth called a meeting bright and early the next day. Rodney was feeling a bit bleary when he joined John, Teyla and Ronon at the conference table in Elizabeth's office.

"Rodney, how are you coming with the analysis from P32-89X."

"It's nearly done. From everything we've been able to gather, the substance on the planet, whatever it is, is like a combination of naquadriah and plutonium. Tremendous potential, but it decomposes at an uneven rate."

"Which is what makes naquadriah so dangerous," John said.

Rodney nodded. "We've been able to overcome that problem with smaller containers, letting us use naquadriah in our hyperdrives, but the stuff on P32-89X can also achieve criticality all on its own, like liquid plutonium."

"And by criticality you mean?" Elizabeth asked.

"The level of density required for an explosion."

"Is that what happened?"

Shaking his head, Rodney said, "Possibly. I don't know. The odds are slim. It could have been some other natural phenomena."

"Just often enough to make mining hazardous," John said.

"Quite likely, yes."

"Is it worth further investigation?" Elizabeth asked, meeting his gaze.

"Everything is worth further investigation."

"Rodney."

"Maybe. It's certainly not going to blow up a solar system or nearly obliterate an entire universe."

"Which puts it ahead of some of our other experiments," John said and Rodney shot him a dark look.

"The SGC has people with experienced who are more experienced with naquadriah than any of our people. If, and that's a big if, we decide to do more research on this stuff, we should bring them in."

"Noted," Elizabeth said. "Thank you."

Rodney nodded.

"Now, John, I'd like your team to pay a return visit to the J'dawn."

"Why?" Rodney asked. The last thing he wanted to do was visit Princess Curves again.

"They have requested that we return," Teyla said.

"Apparently, they've changed their minds about trading with us," Elizabeth said.

"We have been invited to attend the Cherline Festival."

"Cherline Festival," John said to Rodney. Rodney rolled his eyes.

"It lasts for two days and one night," Teyla said.

"I think I should stay here," Rodney said, drawing a glare from John.

"Why?"

"Because with Radek still in the infirmary, I'm needed in the labs."

John looked like he was about to argue, then he nodded.

"All right." Elizabeth looked from Teyla to Ronon to John. "The three of you will leave first thing in the morning."

***

"Rodney?"

Rodney pushed the button on his radio. "Yeah."

"Are you alone?"

Taking a quick glance around the lab just to make sure, Rodney said, "Yes."

"Good." John sounded relieved.

"Something wrong?" Rodney asked frowning and saving his work before he became completely distracted. Working while having a private conversation with John never worked.

"Suck me... please."

John had never just asked before, and the unexpected words went straight to Rodney's cock. He shouldn't do this in such a public place, but there wasn't anyone to hear and he didn't want to make John wait. "I push you up against the wall and drop to my knees, opening your pants. I ease your cock free and give it a long stroke."

"Rodney."

Rodney closed his eyes. It turned him on so damn much when John said his name like that. That's what he needed, to be turned on, to forget about everything but John. "I close my mouth around the head, sucking hard. I know it's what you want, for me to just take you in and get you off. I want it too, and I start sliding my mouth up and down, back and forth, taking you in as deep as I can on every stroke."

"I love the feel of your mouth. The way you suck, I think you found nerves I didn't have before."

"Are you looking at me?" Rodney asked, because he wanted John to look, wanted John to see him on his knees with John's cock in his mouth.

"Yes. I always look when you blow me. Seeing my cock in your mouth turns me on so damn much. I slide my hand into your hair, and then down along the side of your face, feeling the way your cheeks hollow when you suck me."

Rodney couldn't help it, he ran his own fingers along the side of his own face. "I like it when you touch me while I'm blowing you."

"I move my hand to your mouth, tracing your lip where it presses against my cock. Your lips are so soft, even wrapped around my cock. You stop moving while I touch you. Cupping your head in both hands, I push in a little further and then wait."

"Looking up at you, I nod, just a little." His pants were constricting his cock, and Rodney adjusted himself.

"Not believing you're letting me do this, I begin to move back and forth, staring down at you as I slowly fuck your mouth."

Rodney groaned softly. The thought of John doing that to him... He shouldn't like it, shouldn't want it, being submissive like that, being on his knees, but he did. He wanted it so fucking badly. "I stare up at you, hands at my sides, letting you use my mouth."

"Rodney."

John wasn't just needy now, he was turned on, desperate; Rodney could hear it in his voice. "You're fucking me so carefully. Your cock sliding over my lips and tongue, it feels so damn good. You're pressing deep, deeper than I've ever taken you before. I like it." Hard, panting breaths in his ear, John's breaths. Rodney loved getting him so hot he'd pant. "I want you to go deeper, to fuck your way into my throat. I want your whole cock in me, want to feel your balls bumping against my chin."

John groaned his nearly-there groan.

"Go ahead, John, fuck me. Do it faster. The head of your cock is bumping the back of my throat and I'm trying to swallow around it, trying to take you deeper. I want you to come, want to feel you shoot straight down my throat."

"Almost... almost... oh, fuck, Rodney."

Rodney closed his eyes, trying to picture John on his bed, hips lifting into the air as he came, his fist wrapped tightly around his cock, eyes closed as he imagined coming in Rodney's mouth. "I swallow, drinking you down. I want it, want every last drop of your come."

"Oh damn, Rodney." It was John's coming down groan. "Damn. That was good." After a few deep breaths he added, "Thank you."

"You're welcome, although I am kind of wondering what brought this on."

"You."

"Me?"

"All day, you just kept doing hot stuff. Every time I looked at you."

Pressing his lips together, Rodney tried to determine what it was he'd done differently. It wasn't as if he'd been having that great a day.

"Maybe you were just having a good hair day," John said. "Whatever it was, every time I saw you I wanted you."

"Oh, well," Rodney said, trying to cover how flummoxed he became when John said stuff like that.

"Where are you?"

"Lab."

"But you're alone?"

"No, I just gave Simpson an earful."

"You must be hard," John said, and Rodney closed his eyes against the suggestion in John's voice.

"Not here."

"Why not?"

"Someone could walk in."

"It's the middle of the night."

"We're awake," Rodney pointed out to both John and his aching cock.

"I want to walk in," John said. "I want to walk in and see you sitting at your lab station, legs apart, cock in hand."

"John." Unfortunately Rodney was too turned on to sound discouraging.

"Your eyes are closed and you don't realize I'm there."

"I'd hear the door."

"Your eyes are closed and you don't realize I'm there," John said again.

"Fine, my eyes are closed and I don't realize you're there."

"You're stroking yourself with short, quick movements, and I stare at your cock, watching the head appear and disappear in the curve of your fist. I'm hard, but I don't touch myself. Instead, I inch closer to you, trying to stay quiet."

"But you aren't quiet enough and I open my eyes."

"For a long moment we both freeze, but then you start to stroke again, your eyes glued to my face. I step closer, drawn in by the sight of your cock, thick and hard and tempting."

The idea of John there, of John watching him, was too much and Rodney opened his pants. John should look at his cock, should watch Rodney touch himself. They both wanted it. Hand curling around his cock, Rodney groaned.

"I'm between your knees, staring down. Kneeling, I place my hands on your thighs and lean forward, closing my mouth around your cock. You're still touching yourself and I match my rhythm to yours, my mouth moving up and down with your hand. We're getting you off together."

"Your mouth feels so good. Warm and wet, and the suction... oh, God, the suction. Right there at the head of my cock, hitting all the right places while I'm moving my own hand up and down my shaft faster and faster. I want to come for you."

"I want it, Rodney. Want you to flood my mouth, want to taste and swallow..."

"John, I'm..."

"You're doing it, aren't you? Sitting in your lab, with your legs apart and your cock in your hand. Thinking about me, listening to me."

"Yes, yes," Rodney panted. He was so close. He tried to slow his hand, but it felt too good, he couldn't make his hand do what he told it to.

"I'm picturing it, Rodney. Picturing you letting me look at you."

"I can feel it, feel you, looking at me."

"You're so hot like this. More than hot. You're fucking beautiful."

"John, John." John's name was more a gasp than a word, but Rodney couldn' t help it, because he was coming. He closed his eyes and John was there. John was watching him. Helpless, Rodney couldn't have stopped, not with the way the pleasure took away his control, made his entire body shake.

John did this to him every damn time. If John ever actually touched him, Rodney was half-convinced his heart would give out before it was over. It'd be worth it.

He stayed where he was, cock hanging out, head thrown back, panting as he slowly came down.

"Rodney?" John said softly.

"I'm a mess."

"Me, too."

"Yes, but you're in your bed, near a shower and a fresh change of clothes. I'm in the lab."

"Want me to bring you some clothes?"

Yes, I want you to bring me clothes. But if John brought him clothes, Rodney wouldn't be able to resist. He'd kiss John and John would kiss back and they'd end up fucking right here in the lab, and then they'd get caught, and John would get sent back to Earth. "No, I'll be okay."

"Okay." John paused. "I should probably have waited until you were back in your room. Sorry."

"I didn't have to go along with it."

"True." John sounded damned pleased with himself, and the rush of affection Rodney felt for him in that moment made his chest tighten.

"Go to sleep."

"I'm hard again."

"John."

"Well, I am."

"You're going to have to take care of this one on your own. I'm going to go clean up and then sleep." The idea of being in his bed instead of a lab chair had definite appeal.

"Good-night, Rodney."

"Night." Closing the connection, Rodney sat and stared, thinking about John turning over onto his side to sleep and what it would be like to curl up behind him, wrap an arm around his waist and tuck his face into the pillow just behind John's neck. By the time he rose to his feet, part of him was doing just that.

Neither of them mentioned that John was going off-world without Rodney the next day.

***

Radek was sitting up when Rodney slipped into his curtained room.

"Rodney, you will bring me a laptop," Radek said, not even waiting for Rodney to say 'hello.'

"Not unless Carson says I can."

"I hate you."

Sitting in the far too familiar, yellow plastic chair next to Radek's bedside, Rodney said, "Of course you do."

"What have you found out?"

"Nothing conclusive. It's all theoretical."

"Perhaps you should give me the data."

"Radek."

"If you cannot work out the cause--"

"Radek," Rodney repeated, harsher this time.

"Richards is dead."

"I know."

"It's my fault."

"No, it's not." Rodney leaned forward in his chair. "Look, we all agreed to the mission."

"I was in charge. I was the person who insisted on investigating further."

"Which doesn't make it your fault."

"Is that what you tell yourself about Collins?"

It was a low blow, and Rodney was sure Radek knew it. He rose from his chair. "I'll let you know when I have an answer for you."

\cf1

\cf0 ***

Rodney lay on his back staring at the ceiling. He wanted to get his conversation with Radek out of his head. He wanted to talk to John.

Wanted John whispering filthy things in ear so he could think about something good.

For most of his life he'd managed to think filthy thoughts all on his own. No reason he still couldn't. This thing with John was spoiling him. He could even resurrect a few old fantasies, think about Carter's breasts for a change.

Or he could think about John.

John touching him. John inside him. The two of them kissing and fucking. It was kind of freaky how the thought of John's cock inside him could make him rock hard. Somewhere along the line, he'd become a guy who got off on being fucked.

But only by John.

He'd thought about other guys, or rather he'd tried to think about other guys. None of them had turned him on even a little. Not even Ronon, and if you were into man meat then Ronon was prime rib. Or maybe veal. No not veal, because veal came from calves and Ronon was definitely not a calf. Not that it mattered, because Rodney wasn't into Ronon.

He was into John, with his crooked smiles, and his weird, twisty eyebrows, and his hairy chest. And his sexy voice, especially when he was talking about all the things he wanted to do to Rodney, and it got low and deep.

Rodney gave his happy cock a nice, slow stroke.

This thing with John was good, really, really good.

Closing his eyes, Rodney thought about what he'd do to John when he got back. Like kiss him deep and slow until John was panting with arousal. He'd drop to his knees just to see the look of stunned lust on John's face.

He'd take John in, take him deep, make love to John's cock with his mouth, his throat. John would growl his name and hold onto his shoulders, trying to keep from thrusting. He'd cup John's balls in his hand, and John would try to spread his legs wider, except his pants would be in the way.

It'd still be far enough for Rodney to rub John's opening with his finger, to make him gasp. He hadn't done that for John, not yet, but he wanted to, God he wanted to. Wanted to slide his fingers into John's warmth.

Fumbling for the lube, he squirted some onto his fingers and reached between his legs. He slipped one finger inside. That's what John would be like, tight and warm and soft all at once. Rodney would take his time, easing them both into it, then he'd start to explore until he found that place, the one that made his entire body want more now, right now, right there. He'd find that place and he'd make John feel like that.

He'd take John's cock in his mouth, and suck lightly at first, but then harder, faster. John would rock his hips, moving between Rodney's fingers and Rodney's mouth, completely lost in the pleasure of it.

Wrapping a hand around his cock, Rodney rocked his own hips. John was so damn hot when he went to that place outside himself, when Rodney took him there.

Afterwards, after John had exploded in his mouth, Rodney would kiss him, nice and dirty, his fingers still in John's ass. He'd tease and taste, turn John on again, make him want. Then he'd settle between John's legs, and John's eyes would get wide, but he'd tilt his hips, offer himself up.

And Rodney would slide into him.

He'd be careful, so careful. Small strokes, tiny movements of his hips. Rodney rocked into his fist.

Slowly, so slowly, he'd start to move faster, holding back until John was reaching for him, begging for him, open and wanting.

Rodney would soothe him with a kiss.

They'd start to move together, the pace building slowly, until they couldn't hold back any longer.

John would come all around him, and Rodney would push in deep and just, just--

He stroked himself harder, faster, tightening his grip, hitting that spot, right there. Then he was shaking, fluid going everywhere, whispering John's name.

Breathing hard, Rodney fell back against the bed. Only ten more hours and John would be home.

\cf1

\cf0 ***

"So," John said, settling comfortably into the center of his bed, "did you miss me?"

"What do you think?" Rodney answered.

"I think you were bored every night."

"You were only gone for one. And I wasn't bored."

"You weren't, huh?" John asked.

"Shocking as it may sound, I am capable of entertaining myself."

"I'm sure you are." His tone had just enough amusement to annoy Rodney. Rodney harrumphed and John grinned to himself. "So how did you entertain yourself?"

"I did some reading."

"Reading."

"Journal of Physics."

"Uh-huh."

"And then I went to bed."

"And thought about me."

"You are so arrogant."

"Confident, Rodney, the word is confident. Besides, it's not so much being sure of myself as it is knowing how horny you are."

"I wasn't this horny before you came along."

"You're welcome," John said brightly.

"Yes, fine, I thought about you."

"And what did you think?" John asked, sliding his hand into his boxers, the combination of darkness and Rodney's voice in his ear already getting him hard.

"Well, you were naked."

"Pervert."

"And lying on your stomach. I was straddling your hips."

"You were rubbing my back, weren't you? I love backrubs."

"Actually I was kissing the back of your neck."

"That works too." John closed his eyes and tried to imagine Rodney kissing him there. "Kind of nibbling?"

"Sure."

"I get the feeling you're humoring me."

"I kissed my way down your back. Taking my time, getting every one of your bony vertebrae."

His vertebrae weren't bony. Still, it sounded nice. "Okay."

"Until I got to your ass. Then I sort of licked the top."

John opened his eyes. "You thought about rimming me?"

"Whenever I did it to women, they liked it." Rodney answered, sounding oddly defensive.

"You rimmed women? And they liked it?"

"I just said they did. Nerve endings are nerve endings, and it's not like your tongue can reach a prostate anyway, not unless you're Jar Jar Binks."

Screwing up his face at the thought of Jar Jar's tongue in his ass, John said, "I suppose."

"Not everyone has your ass hang-ups."

"I do not have ass hang-ups."

"Right. Do you want to hear this or not?"

John wasn't sure. "Maybe I should tell you what I thought about."

"You thought about fucking me," Rodney said but he sounded annoyed. John frowned. Rodney was never annoyed by the thought of John fucking him.

"Yup," John said.

"How original."

Wait a minute. John sat up in the bed. "Are you saying my fantasies are boring?"

"No, just predictable."

Oh, well, predictable wasn't horrible. "We all have preferences."

"And yours is that the only ass which gets fondled is mine."

"I never said that."

"Every time I suggest going anywhere near your ass, you change the subject."

John opened his mouth to deny it, then stopped. "I just don't like having my ass played with, that's all."

"You tried it before?"

"Once. I let a guy fuck me."

"And you didn't like it."

"I hated it."

"Why?"

"It didn't--I don't know--feel right."

"What felt wrong about it?"

"I don't know," John bit out. How many times did Rodney need to hear the answer before he listened?

"Or you don't want to talk about it."

They couldn' t talk about everything. "There's nothing to talk about it. I didn't like it, that's all."

"Maybe the guy didn' t do it right."

"Maybe," John said, closing his eyes.

"You were pretty young, right?"

"What difference does that make? Getting older isn't going to change how my ass is wired. Not everyone likes it, you know."

"Right, of course not." The anger in Rodney's voice was palpable.

"Rodney," John said.

"Guess I should stop then." There was something in Rodney's tone that made John wary.

"If that's what you want."

"What do you want?"

The wariness increased. John was on thin ice, and he had no idea how he'd gotten there. "We can keep going."

"That isn't an answer."

"Sure it is."

"John, do you want me to describe fingering you?"

"If you want to."

"In other words, no, because you don't like it," Rodney said, his voice disturbingly calm. He sounded more disappointed than anything. "Translation: you're too much of a man to take it up the ass."

"Rodney--"

"Good-night, Colonel."

"God damn it, Rodney." But the radio was silent in his ear. Rodney had cut him off.

Staring up at the ceiling, John slid his hand from his pants. No need to hold onto a softened cock.

It wasn't like that. It really wasn't. There was no reason for Rodney to be so sensitive.

***

Radek was partway through reviewing Simpson's work on upgrading the naquadah generators --Rodney was still refusing to hand over the data from the accident-- when Colonel Sheppard stepped into the curtained off area that passed for a private room in the Atlantis infirmary.

"You're looking better," he said by way of greeting.

"I feel better," Radek answered.

"Rodney's put you to work already. Why am I not surprised?" Sheppard asked, sitting in the chair next to the bed.

"I was bored."

Sheppard nodded sympathetically.

"You have some influence over Rodney," Radek said, getting a twisted grimace in answer.

"Some."

"He is still hoarding the data from the accident."

"And you want me to get him to hand it over."

"Yes. He is not being rational."

"You almost died," Sheppard said, unnecessarily in Radek's opinion. "You scared him."

Before Radek could answer Rodney burst into the small curtained area, an open laptop cradled in one arm. "Radek--"

"Hello, Rodney," Sheppard said.

"Colonel," Rodney said, frowning at him.

Sheppard frowned back.

Wondering what was going on between them this time, Radek frowned at them both.

Rodney looked past Sheppard to Radek. "Can you double-check the power projections?"

"Yes."

"Good." Reaching into his jacket pocket, Rodney pulled out a muffin wrapped in plastic. "There were blueberry muffins for breakfast. Don't tell Carson."

Radek accepted the muffin. Food was Rodney's preferred method of making amends. "Thank you."

"Should you be giving him food Carson doesn't approve of?" Sheppard asked.

"He's a grown man. He can decide what he wants to eat."

Unwrapping the muffin, Radek said, "I certainly can."

The colonel was still frowning at Rodney, too intent for it to be about a muffin. Radek looked between them. Rodney was close-lipped, chin slightly in the air, looking angry and a little defiant. When Radek shifted his gaze back to the colonel, his expression had softened slightly, but only slightly.

Giving up on deciphering the weird undercurrents, Radek gently tugged the top off of the muffin and took a bite.

***

Jogging to catch up with him, John followed Rodney from the infirmary. "Hey."

Rodney didn't slow down. "Colonel."

Yeah, Rodney was still pissed. Keeping in a sigh, John said, "Radek wants to see the data from the accident."

"He can see it when I'm done with it."

"Rodney."

"When you become the head scientist you can hand over data to whomever you please. In the meantime, the decision is mine, and I will give it to him when I am ready and not before."

John was smart enough to recognize when he'd lost, and he let the subject drop. "On your way to lunch?"

"I just had breakfast."

"Oh, right." Stopping, John reached out and touched Rodney's forearm briefly, getting him to stop and look at John. "Look, can we talk later? I want to work this out."

John held his breath as Rodney looked at him, all that perception focused directly on him. "Okay," Rodney said at last.

Letting out his breath, John said, "Good. That's good. So, um, later then?"

With a single nod, Rodney resumed walking toward his lab. John watched him until Rodney turned down a side corridor and disappeared from sight.

***

"So," John said into his radio, still undecided about whether or not later had come too soon or not soon enough. At the moment, he was leaning toward too soon.

"So," Rodney answered.

There was silence, a long, painful, uncomfortable silence.

"I've had anal sex with women," Rodney said.

John had no idea what that had to do with the two of them. "Okay."

"I know what it feels like to be inside someone's ass, how it's soft and clingy at the same time, like pushing your cock into--" Rodney's voice tapered off.

"Something soft and clingy," John suggested.

"Yes, precisely. That's why I want to have anal sex with you."

"So you can feel that again."

"No, so you can feel that, in me, so that I can give you that feeling."

"Oh." From there it was easy to connect the dots. Rodney was hurt that John didn't want to give him that feeling, too. "It isn't that I don't want to make you feel good, because I really, really do," John said.

"I know that."

"Even before we started this, most of my fantasies involved figuring out how to get you off in the best way possible." It was stupid, this need to defend himself.

"This isn't about me or us. It's about your own hang-ups. I figured that out. Genius and all that."

"Right," John said, wanting to point out that he didn't have hang-ups; he simply didn't like anyone playing with his ass. It wasn't a hang-up; it was biology. "So, um, we're cool?"

"We're fine."

"So if I told you how much I've missed sucking your cock, you wouldn't object?"

"No, I wouldn't object."

"Would you get hard?" John wheedled.

"Probably."

"What if I nuzzled your balls first, maybe sucked them a little?"

"That might work," Rodney conceded.

"What if I was lying on my back with my head at the edge of the bed and you were standing over me?"

"Are you naked?" Rodney asked.

"Yes."

"With your legs splayed and your own hand on your cock?"

"You want to watch me jerk off while I suck you off."

"Hell, yes."

John grinned. "Then that's what we'll do."

***

"How are you feeling?" Elizabeth asked, taking the seat at Radek's bedside.

It was mid-morning, but Radek was still trying to blink the sleep from his eyes. He hated sleeping pills. Maybe tonight he could convince Carson that he could sleep without them. "Better. Carson has been letting me work." Elizabeth frowned and he added, "A little. That is why I asked to see you. I have been examining the internal sensor logs. Is something we have planned on doing, but have never had the time."

Elizabeth nodded. "What did you find?"

"Encrypted radio transmissions."

"What?" Elizabeth stood and Radek pulled the tray holding his laptop back across his bed.

"Here," he said, pointing at a line moving across the screen. He paged down through the file. "And here."

"How many are there?"

"Almost one a day, sometimes two, going back three and a half months. Almost all are at night."

"Where are they coming from and where are they going?"

"I don't know the precise origin yet, but the signals are remaining in Atlantis. No one outside is being contacted. And the frequency is one our radios generate, although we do not use it."

"Someone is. Can you figure out who?"

Radek nodded. "I believe so. We will need to rework the sensors so that the transmissions are recorded, then I can begin decrypting them. Rodney--"

Elizabeth shook her head. "I'd like to keep this between us, if possible. Can you make the adjustments from here?"

"Yes." Radek frowned at her. "I can put the necessary code in place over the network, but--"

"It could be anyone, Radek." She patted his hand. "I trust Rodney, too, but remember what happened with Colonel Caldwell."

Radek doubted Rodney was a Goa'uld, but he nodded.

"I think we should keep this just between us for the time being."

Still frowning, he nodded.

"How long before we find out?"

"I will make the adjustments to the sensors tomorrow. Then it will depend on how complicated the code is."

"Good. You'll keep me posted."

"Of course."

She started toward the curtains and then stopped to look back at him. "It there anything I can bring you?"

"No, thank you."

"Good-night, then."

"Good-night."

***

\cf1

\cf0 Rodney walked into the lab carrying a tray with two large mugs of coffee and a plate stacked with donuts. Resting the tray on the edge of the bench, he placed a cup in front of Radek, along with the plate of donuts.

"It was an explosion on the eastern edge of the continent. Shock waves caused the mine collapse," he said quietly.

"An explosion caused by?"

"The jumper. Maybe it was the repeated trips, or maybe we hit something just right, but the pressure created by the jumper's sensors when they contacted a small bit of the material was enough to move it, forcing it closer to more of the material."

"Creating a critical mass."

"Yes."

Radek picked up a donut and studied the pattern of the frosting. "How long have you known?"

"I suspected almost immediately, but it took a while to find the location of the original explosion. The sensors were pretty narrowly focused."

"So I am responsible."

"Radek."

"Don't, Rodney, this is something I have to live with."

"I know," Rodney said with an unhappy sigh. "I just wish you didn't."

"You will be recommending to Elizabeth that we conduct no further experiments."

"I will."

Radek nodded. "Good." He took a drink and Rodney raised his own mug, clinking it against Radek's.

***

Radek double checked the lock on his door before sitting at his desk and running the de-encryption program he'd written. The whole thing made him uncomfortable. He was a scientist, not a spy, but at least it gave him something else to think about. Something other than Richards, her family, her death. Elizabeth had written to them while Radek had been stuck in the infir--

The program beeped at him. Sighing, Radek plugged his headphones into the laptop. He'd started with the first file he'd recorded. It was the smallest.

Pen in hand, he pressed play.

"Rodney," Colonel Sheppard's voice.

"Yes, what?"

"Are you still in the lab?"

"Just leaving."

"Things still backed up without Zelenka?"

"How'd you guess? They're letting him out in a couple of days."

"I know. You told me at lunch, and dinner."

"I did?"

"Yes." The colonel sounded amused.

"Well he's a good scientist, as good as Samantha Carter, not quite as good as me, of course."

Radek snorted.

"Rodney, I thought we talked about this. Radek's your friend. It's okay to admit you care about your friends."

"Yes, because you're the poster child for the open expression of emotion."

"Thank you," Sheppard answered, ignoring Rodney's sarcasm and making Radek smile. "You back in your quarters yet?"

"Just walked in."

"If you're nice to me, I might be willing to express a few things openly." That sounded like innuendo. Hearing the colonel's innuendo voice was unsettling and wrong. Very, very wrong.

There was a pause before Rodney said, "I'm kind of beat."

"Is that your way of saying 'not tonight dear, I have a headache?'" They were-- Radek had never been happier about someone else's headache in his life.

"Yes. Sorry, I just--"

"Don't sweat it. No one is in the mood every night."

"Except for honeymooners."

The colonel snorted. "You only say that because you've never been on one. Come to think of it, that might've been a sign."

Radek frowned. The colonel had been married?

"You, a hotel room, a large bed, she was obviously deranged if she didn't take full advantage of the situation."

"No hotel, no bed. We went camping, hiked halfway up a mountain."

"On your honeymoon? I take it back. You're the one who is deranged."

"Her idea."

"Uh-huh."

"Are you brushing your teeth?" the colonel asked.

"Yes."

"Couldn't you wait?"

"This way you can imagine kissing me good-night when I'm all fresh and minty."

"Wouldn't want to miss that."

"See," Rodney answered, sounding smug.

"Just don't tell me if you take a piss."

"Already done," Rodney said and Radek made a face. That was information he did not need.

"The romance is dead." Evidently the colonel didn't need it either.

"I'm getting in bed now."

"With your headache."

"Unfortunately. It's ridiculous, really."

"Hey, Rodney, want me to read to you?"

"You are not reading me Anna Karenina."

"Lorne's got some Twain I could borrow."

"No."

"You're so uncultured," the colonel said, and Radek smiled at the thought of a relationship in which the colonel was the cultured one. "I know," he added, clearly teasing. "I'll order some Whitman. 'I sing the body electric.'"

"Just because I love you that doesn't mean I want to listen to homoer--" Rodney stopped and there was a long silence. Radek held his breath, waiting to hear what would be said next.

"I feel the same way," the colonel said softly.

"About Whitman?" Rodney asked, a slight hitch in his voice.

"Yes, Rodney, about Whitman."

"That's--" Rodney cleared his throat. "That's good."

"Yeah, yeah, it is."

Rodney didn't say anything for a long moment, and Radek could hear him breathing. He should stop listening. This was private. This wasn't any of his business.

"I wish you were here," Rodney said at last.

"I know. Hey, the regs have to change sometime, right?"

"I just hope it happens while we can both get it up without Viagra."

The colonel chuckled, but it didn't sound quite right. "Me, too. You get a good night's sleep, okay?"

"I will. You too."

"Will do. Night, Rodney."

"Good-night."

Radek pulled the headphones from his ears and leaned back in his chair. Rodney and the colonel were lovers, or as close as they could be given the position of the American military on homosexuality. It was... oddly appropriate, although Radek was amazed they'd managed to hide it. Rodney wasn't exactly subtle or restrained.

Glancing at the other files listed on his laptop, Radek closed the window. He'd heard enough. The last thing he wanted was to overhear Rodney McKay having phone sex.

That Rodney and the colonel might be doing exactly that at this very minute was something Radek wasn't going to think about.

***

John could do this. He knew he could. It couldn't be that hard. Plus, Rodney liked it, and other men he'd known had liked it. The least he could do for Rodney was try it.

Spreading his legs, he squirted some lube onto his fingers. Then he reached between his legs and found himself having to search a little to find the hole. Rodney had square fingers. If Rodney was doing this, it would be like fitting a square peg into a round hole.

It was a stupid thought, because Rodney did this all the time. Did it for John. Touched himself so John could imagine being inside him, fucking him. The least John could do was touch himself in return.

That's what lovers did. They gave parts of themselves to one another. And this was a part Rodney wanted, and John was going to give it to him.

Of course, it'd probably be easier if he got hard first.

Closing his eyes, he thought about Rodney. Rodney on his knees sucking John's cock, or Rodney as he'd been the other night, leaning back on his lab stool, still clothed, jerking himself off, hard cock sticking out of his pants, nice big hand on it, mouth open, eyes wide with pleasure...

Oh yeah, that was better.

John wanted to strip him bare, right there in the lab. Or maybe just his pants. Expose that perfect ass, bend him over the lab bench. Rodney and the lab bench, they were like the perfect fantasy couple.

Bend Rodney over the bench and work his fingers inside him, listen to him pant as John twisted and turned, taking him hard, making him groan.

When Rodney started pushing back, trying to get more, John would draw back, teasing. He'd make Rodney work for it, slide that beautiful ass back and forth on John's fingers. Just when Rodney was getting really worked up, John would ease his fingers out and ease his cock in.

Rodney's soft insides clinging to him as he pushed his way in, slow but unrelenting, opening Rodney up, taking him.

Rodney would clutch at the bench, and spread his legs wider, trying to get more of John inside him. Because Rodney loves it when John pushes into him, when John fucks him. John would make it good for him, taking him slow and deep, stopping Rodney from stroking himself by covering Rodney's hand and holding it still, so the only stimulation his cock gets comes when John thrusts hard enough to push Rodney's hips forward.

He'd take Rodney right to the edge and keep him there. He'd make it last for both of them, because he wanted to do this to Rodney, with Rodney, all the time. Never wanted it to stop. Fucking forever and ever, amen.

John pulled his hand from his cock, leaving it sticking up in the air, covered with lube. This wasn't what he was supposed to be thinking about, and maybe Rodney had a point. Maybe he did have problems with control, with giving up all the things Rodney was so willing to give to him.

Give it up for Rodney, he could do that. He was going to do that.

Taking a deep breath, he squirted more lube onto his fingers. He was a grown man; he could play with his own ass.

He touched the edge of his opening, frowning at the feel of hair beneath his fingertips. A hairy ass just didn't seem sexy at all, but he'd be damned if he was going to shave it. Trying to ignore the hair, he traced the outside where Rodney said all those nerve-endings were. He could feel his fingers, but it wasn't really pleasurable just weird.

Maybe he should go for it. One finger, how bad could it be? He pushed. Tight ring of muscle, but with a little effort he was past it, in up to his knuckle. Inside he was soft, just like the guys John had fingered. It was kind of nice. He pushed a little more. This wasn't so bad. Drawing his legs up, he pressed his feet into the bed and tilted his hips.

Pulling his finger back, he pushed it in again. It wasn't a bad feeling. Still weird but not bad, so he tried it again, and again.

He was doing it. He was fucking himself.

Like any other fag.

He stopped. Stopped everything and just stared at the ceiling. Where the hell had that come from? Because he wasn't a fag. He was bisexual; he hadn't even been with a guy in years, and, aside from that once, he always topped.

Fuck, Rodney was right.

Hearing his heart pound, John let out a slow, steadying breath, drew one in. He wasn't a homophobe. He couldn't be. He was involved with another man. He liked sex with men, and looking down on other people for liking what he liked, for liking it with him would make him a hypocrite, which John wasn't.

He shoved his finger in all the way. There. Turning his finger, he felt around trying to find his prostate, because he was going to like this. He was going to like doing it alone, and he was going to love doing it with Rodney.

With his free hand, he hit the button on his radio and counted out three seconds. "Rodney?"

"Here."

"You in your quarters?"

"Yes."

"Good. Fuck me. With your fingers. Tell me how you'd do it, what you'd do to me."

"Are you sure?" Rodney asked.

Given his history John probably shouldn't have been annoyed by the question, but he was. "Sure enough that I have a finger in my ass. Come on."

"Okay, okay. Leave your finger there, but don't move it."

"Rodney," John scolded or tried to; it came out more whining than demanding.

"I'm not fucking you without foreplay."

"Fine."

"We're lying on your bed, and I bend down to kiss you. Taking my time, tasting you. I love the way you taste."

John sighed grumpily.

"I touch you, too, running my fingers through your chest hair, sliding my hand over your shoulder and down your arm. I love the way your biceps curve beneath my hand."

John did have nice biceps, even if they weren't as big as Rodney's or Ronon's.

"Brushing a nipple, I bend down to take it into my mouth, sucking lightly at first, then harder," Rodney said, and John teased a nipple with his fingers, pretending the pleasure was coming from Rodney's mouth. "I kiss my way down across your stomach to your cock and take the head into my mouth."

"Oh, yeah." There were few things John loved as much as Rodney's mouth. He rubbed the head of his cock with his fingers.

"I suck a little, tease the head with my tongue. Then I squirt some lube onto my fingers, and trace your opening with a single finger, getting you ready. With each circle, I work my finger a little deeper, until the only thing left to do is push inside."

John was ready. He already had a finger in his ass, after all. "Do it."

"I'm pushing into you. The muscles just inside close around my finger, tightening up, but it isn't enough to keep out a single finger. Letting go of your cock, I sit up so I can watch your face as I push inside you for the first time."

"It's soft inside." John started moving his finger again, figuring if Rodney was talking about it, he could do it.

"I know."

"I want you in me, Rodney. I do. I want you to feel every part of me." John hadn't even realized it was true until he said it.

"I want that too," Rodney said, his voice soft and serious. "I turn my finger, exploring you."

His finger brushed something that wasn't quite as soft and oh, wow, that was good. "You found my prostate."

"I did?"

John touched it again just to be sure. "Oh, yeah."

"How did it feel when I touched it?"

"Weird and intense, but good."

"Want me to touch it again?"

His answer was out before John could think about it. "Yes."

"I brush my fingertip across it, a small touch."

John brushed his fingertip across it and gasped.

"I do it again, and again, staring at you, drinking in the pleasure on your face, the noises you're making. Pleasure makes you look so hot."

Doing as Rodney instructed, John brushed his prostate again and again. Clutching at the sheet with his free hand, John said, "Rodney."

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Everything. Touching his prostate again, John tried to get used to the way it made him want to spread his legs wider, open himself up, take more. "I wish you were here. Wish it was your fingers." He wanted Rodney here, wanted the reassurance of his solid presence and that big reasonable brain, telling him it was just nerve-endings being stimulated, that's all. Stimulated in a good way, in a way that pleasured them both.

"I do, too. I want to feel you all around my fingers, soft and warm. You are soft and warm, aren't you?"

"Yes." He was soft and warm, just like Rodney.

"And it feels good? You like it," Rodney suggested, sounding hopeful.

"It's... it's kind of intense."

"It's the direct stimulation, I think. I wonder if it's less intense with a cock, because the contact would be different."

John couldn't imagine a penis being less intense than fingers.

"Of course," Rodney continued, "with a penis there would be different possible angles."

\cf0 "Tell me you haven't been drawing force diagrams for anal fucking."

"Don't be ridiculous. Although that's not a bad idea. I'd need to get some anatomy--"

John laughed. He couldn't help it. He laughed and pushed his fingers in deep, and there was laughter and pleasure all mixed up together with the sound of Rodney's offended huff in his ear. "Kiss me," John said.

"I'm stretched out on my side next to you and I lean down to kiss you, slow and easy."

"I return the kiss, trying to spread my legs wider so you can get deeper." He wasn't sure where that came from, but it was what he wanted, Rodney's lips on his, Rodney's fingers inside him.

"I brush your prostate again and again, sliding my fingers back and forth, nice and steady, easy."

"Please," John said, lifting his hips, matching them to the rhythm of his own touch, the rhythm he imagined Rodney would use, steady, even, reliable--measured.

"Touch your cock. Stroke it for me, John."

"Okay, okay, let me..." Wrapping his free hand around his cock, he tried to get his hands to work together. It wasn't easy; Rodney was right about that.

"Seeing your hand on your cock always makes me so hot," Rodney said.

It was incredibly intimate, touching himself while Rodney touched him, too. He was moving past words, to just breath and noise and pleasure.

"I push my fingers in deep just as your hand brushes that spot on your cock." Rodney's voice is low and dirty in his ear, full of all kinds of promise.

John pushes his fingers in deep, twists them, offers himself up to that voice, to those words, to Rodney.

"I kiss you as I draw back, covering your mouth with mine, swallowing your groan when I push back in."

\cf0 "I'm stroking faster, harder, jerking myself off for you. It's all for you."

"I know, John. I know."

That's what did it, what pushed him over the edge. Rodney saying his name, strong and soft and reassuring all at once, full of things John would've put a name to, if the thought didn' t scare the hell out of him.

He spilled over his hand and belly, feeling his ass tighten around his fingers, that Rodney loved him a disjointed thought in some primitive part of his brain. Relaxing into the pillow, he lay there, eyes closed, breathing hard.

"John?"

"Yeah?"

"You okay?"

"Other than my brain dribbling out my ears, I'm fine."

"Good. That's good."

"Yes, it is," John answered, smiling up at his ceiling.

"No, um, issues then?"

"Yes, I mean no." How was John supposed to sort out the answer to a negative question when his brain had dribbled out his ears?

"Which is it?"

"There may have been issues," John said carefully, his smile fading.

"Anything you want to talk about?" Rodney asked, his tone as careful as John's.

Not really surprised that Rodney wasn't gloating, John surprised himself by saying, "My father."

"What about him?"

"I always thought I was some big rebel, angry and proud, even if I wasn't out. Every time I blew a guy it was like a big 'fuck you.' But there was still a part of me that was..."

"Was what?"

John closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and spoke. "Ashamed."

"Of wanting men," Rodney said, voice quiet and steady.

"Of being a faggot," John countered, his voice distressingly far from quiet and steady.

"Look at it this way, you're such a good faggot you turned me."

John laughed, but it was higher than normal. "I did, didn't I?"

"In a big way."

"Made you want all kinds of perverted things," John said.

"Yup," Rodney said happily.

"Like my ass."

"It's a nice ass."

"I think so too."

"Good thing I'm not into modesty," Rodney said.

"Yup," John said, adding, "So, you're still hard, aren't you?"

"You going to do something about that?"

"Maybe," John said, fully intending to do lots and lots of things.

"So get on with it, already. I haven't got all night."

"Maybe I want it to last all night." Relaxing into the sheets, John started planning the best method for getting Rodney off and annoying him at the same time. Because as a combo those two things just couldn't be beat.

\cf0 ***

"Dr. Weir."

She smiled up at him as the door slid open. "Radek, come in. How are you feeling?"

"Fine, thank you." His glasses were sliding and he pushed them back up. "I decrypted one of the radio transmissions."

"And?" She asked, gesturing at the chair across from her desk.

He sat. "It was Rodney and Colonel Sheppard. The conversation was..." He paused, wanting to find the right word. "Personal, private, not connected to Atlantis in any way."

Elizabeth frowned. "Personal? But if that's the case, why not just talk to one another? Why go to all the trouble of encrypting the conversations?"

It was tempting to suggest that Elizabeth simply listen, but Rodney's privacy had been violated enough without someone else overhearing his declaration of affection. "They're lovers."

"Did you say lovers?"

Radek nodded. "Except they can't be together because of American military regulations so they--"

"Talk about it," Elizabeth finished for him.

"Yes."

Leaning back in her chair, she said, "John and Rodney?"

"They care for one another. Is not so hard to imagine."

"No, I suppose it isn't."

Radek held out the flash drive he'd prepared for her. "I decrypted three of their conversations in case you wished to verify what I told you. I only listened to the first file."

"Thank you, Radek."

"You're welcome." Radek stood. "I have stopped all recording."

She nodded and he turned toward the door.

"Radek."

He paused.

"I'm glad you're better," she said with a warm smile.

Flushing a little, he said, "Thank you," and left for the lab.

***

The call came the next day at 1100. Radek knew because he'd been watching Rodney all morning. Glancing at him often enough that Rodney caught him and frowned a couple of times. Then he'd go back to his work, Radek's glances apparently forgotten, or at least filed away for later.

He watched Rodney walk into the hallway, wondering what Elizabeth had in mind. Radek was certain she wouldn't tell the military about Colonel Sheppard, but she might order John and Rodney to stop. They were on the same team, needed to be able to work together, not that it had been a problem so far, at least not as far as Radek had seen. Still, he could see where their relationship might not be the best idea.

Darting after Rodney, Radek caught up with him in the hallway, grabbing his arm to make him stop.

"She knows," Radek said when Rodney looked at him, surprised and annoyed.

"What?"

"Elizabeth," Radek whispered urgently. "She knows. About you and the colonel."

Rodney's entire body stiffened. "What about me and the colonel?"

"Rodney," Radek said.

"She knows. Really?"

Radek nodded.

"How?"

"Is long story. I wanted you to know."

"And that's what this meeting is about? You're sure?"

Guilt making him want to look down, Radek met Rodney's gaze and nodded again.

"Fuck," Rodney muttered.

"It will be fine."

"Does anyone else know? Did she tell you what she's going to do?" Rodney asked, firing questions faster than Radek could answer them.

"No, but Elizabeth values both of you, and she is not a bigot."

"Right," Rodney said, breathing deeply. "Right." He pointed in the direction of Elizabeth's office. "I should probably..."

"Good luck." Radek watched him until he reached the end of the corridor and then went back to the lab to wait.

***

Rodney could see John sitting in Elizabeth's office, chatting. Damn, he'd hoped to get a chance to warn him. Heart pounding, he approached the door.

"Rodney," Elizabeth said, as he entered. "Have a seat."

Glancing at John, Rodney sat.

"As I was telling John, I've decided that we need to move some of the quarters," Elizabeth said. Rodney frowned at her, but she continued, "The way we settled the city all of our more experienced people are clustered together. I think we should spread them out, intermingle their quarters in amongst those of the new people."

"Why?" Rodney asked, trying to figure out why she was talking about quarters. If she knew, why wasn't she saying something? Unless she didn't care, which didn't seem very likely. "It's not as though anyone spends much time in their quarters."

"Why don't you look at the plan first? Then we can discuss it."

"Yeah, Rodney," John said. "Let's look at the plan first."

Shooting a quick glare at John, Rodney stood to look at the map Elizabeth was unrolling across her desk. John moved in next to him, too close, way too close, even though they weren't touching. "Your quarters will be here, Rodney." She pointed at a room not that far from where he was now. "John, you'll be here." She moved her fingers to the quarters next to Rodney's.

"Wait, isn't there an adjoining balcony?" Rodney asked, frowning.

"It's not on the plans," Elizabeth said with a smile.

"But I know it's there," Rodney said.

"Maybe once you've moved in, you and John can look. It's probably the perfect place for late night conversations."

Rodney stared at her for a moment, then he began to smile, a great big smile. "Yes," he said, walking around the desk. "It probably would be," he finished, pulling a surprised Elizabeth into a hug. She hugged him back with a small laugh. Letting her go, he took a step back and tried to look dignified. "Your idea is an excellent one, Elizabeth. In fact, I think we should all move as soon as possible. Don't you, Colonel?"

John grinned at him. "Whatever you say, Rodney."

Looking back at Elizabeth, he asked, "How did you--"

She shrugged, her smile turning secretive. Rodney would have to ask Radek.

"Yes, yes fine, I won't ask. Just, well..."

"Thank you," John said, cutting off his mumbling.

With a sharp nod, Rodney added his own "thank you."

"You're welcome," she said warmly. "Now get out of here. I have people to inconvenience."

She was going to do it. Elizabeth was going to make other people to move so no one would notice that John and Rodney were getting adjoining quarters.

Still smiling, Rodney started for the door.

"Stop grinning," John whispered as they passed through the door, bumping his shoulder into Rodney's. "People are going to start wondering what you've been up to."

"I'll stop when you stop."

John forced the smile from his face.

"Damn," Rodney said.

John grinned again.

Rodney was still grinning when he entered the lab. Catching Radek's eye he smiled some more. Radek nodded and smiled back.

***

They moved two days later, at the same time as everyone else whose quarters were being switched. There was quite a bit of grumbling going on but John backed Elizabeth, giving people no one to gripe to but one another.

They spent the morning moving his stuff and Rodney's. With Ronon and Teyla's help it didn't take long, even with the additional stuff John had acquired since the Daedalus had started making regular trips back and forth.

Rodney's stuff took longer, but that was mostly the bed and his stupid prescription mattress. They hadn't had to bring John's bed. He had a new one in his quarters, a double. He supposed he had Elizabeth to thank for that, too. It was weird, knowing she knew. He still had trouble meeting her gaze. She was his boss and she knew he was queer.

And it didn't seem to change her opinion of him in the slightest.

As much as he hated to admit it, it was baffling.

He tucked the blankets in around the corner of the bed, making perfect hospital corners, and then sat on it, looking around. There wasn't anything left to do. Everything was here-- Johnny Cash was hanging above his bed, looking like part of the landscape; his guitar was in the corner, next to his skateboard; books were stacked neatly on the one set of shelves he owned--except for Rodney.

He glanced at his watch. Almost 1800. Rodney had gone off to the lab for "just a minute" immediately after lunch, and John hadn't heard from him since. Several times, he'd stopped unpacking and reached for his radio only to drop his hand again. Rodney had to come to him.

All John could do was wait. He lifted a sweaty arm. And shower.

Maybe shave.

***

"The internal sensors," Rodney said.

Radek looked up from his work, and looked around the lab, finding only Rodney standing behind his lab bench. His stomach growled and Radek glanced at the time on his laptop, hoping he hadn' t worked through dinner. He hadn't.

"That's how Elizabeth found out," Rodney continued. "You were going through the internal sensor logs. I should've thought of that."

Shifting so that he was facing Rodney directly instead of at an angle, Radek said, "Yes, I found traces of your conversations in the sensor logs."

"Then you started recording them. It's what I would've done." There was no anger in Rodney's voice, but there was something, something Radek couldn't quite name.

"It took some time to break the encryption," Radek said.

"It should have," Rodney answered, causing Radek to shake his head even though Rodney's ego was hardly a surprise. "Did you listen or did you just hand them over to Elizabeth?"

Radek looked away. He couldn't blame Rodney for wanting to know. He'd want to know if he was in Rodney's place. "I listened to one. I don't know if Elizabeth listened."

Flushing, Rodney looked intently at his laptop, although he clearly wasn't paying attention to it. "What did you hear?"

"You were talking about literature."

"Oh." Rodney's flush deepened. "I suppose that's better than--"

Radek nodded. "Yes, yes, much better. I would not have wanted to hear other things."

"No offense, but I'm glad you didn't." Rodney was now looking in the general direction of the floor about halfway between his bench and Radek's.

"As am I."

"Not that I'm ashamed," Rodney said. "It's just personal."

"Of course."

"And hey." Rodney looked up. "We got adjacent quarters out of it, so it's not all bad."

That's when it connected. Rodney had had today off. "Aren't you supposed to be moving today?"

"My stuff is all moved," Rodney answered, his tone the same as it had been that time Radek had found an error in Rodney's power output equations. "All I have to do is unpack."

"Then why are you here? Why are you not unpacking?"

"I wanted to check on Simpson's progress."

"Which you and I both know does not need checking on."

Rodney opened his mouth and raised a finger, but before he could speak, Radek said, "Do not let fear keep you from the person you love."

"I'm not."

Radek simply looked at him.

"I'm not. It's just he's--" Rodney waved his hands in a way that no doubt expressed exactly what the colonel was in Rodney hand-speak. "And I'm--" More waving.

"Rodney, he shares your feelings about Whitman."

"I-- I know but--" The defensiveness suddenly vanishing from his voice and the set of his shoulders, Rodney said, "What if I mess it up? What if I'm not good at it?"

Giving Rodney McKay sex advice was the last thing Radek had ever wanted to do. "Take your time. Do not do anything that does not feel right."

Rodney gave him a look that asked, not very politely, what the hell planet he was from. "I don't mean the sex. I mean the other stuff."

"You have been doing the other stuff for a while now, have you not?"

"Good point." Rodney raised his hand and pointed a finger at him. "That's a very good point."

"Yes, yes. You should go." Radek waved him toward the door. Surprisingly, Rodney actually started to move. He was a foot from the door when he stopped again.

"What if I'm bad at the sex?"

Radek sighed.

***

Their balcony faced west, and the sun was just starting to sink toward the horizon. John suspected that in a half-hour or so the view would be utterly spectacular.

He had a sinking feeling that he'd be enjoying it alone.

He couldn't even be angry with Rodney, not really. Imagining being together was one thing, but actually doing it, especially when Rodney had always been straight.

The door slid open behind him and John turned. "Hey," Rodney said, stepping from his quarters out onto the balcony.

"Hey," John answered as Rodney came to stand next to him.

"Radek sent me home. I brought dinner."

"That's good," John said, his hands tightening on the railing.

"His exact words were 'stop being an idiot.'"

"Always good advice."

"Yes, well, I'm not being an idiot," Rodney said. "I'm just nervous. Okay, terrified. But that doesn' t make me an idiot. In fact, anyone with half a brain would be scared. This isn't just--"

"Rodney," John said, stopping Rodney in mid-arm wave. "I'm nervous too."

"Oh."

"Yeah, oh." Letting go of the railing, John turned to face him.

"You shaved." Rodney looked him over. "And showered."

"Yup."

"And you're wearing jeans."

"Day off."

"And the button down shirt."

John shrugged. "It was at the top of the pile." It wasn't as if John had put it on top of the pile because the last time he'd worn it Rodney had spent twenty minutes describing how he was going to get John out of it.

"Oh," Rodney said, as though that was a sufficient explanation. He was staring at John, mouth slightly open, eyes wide, and John forgot all about the shirt. He took a step toward Rodney. Then another. "John," Rodney said, tilting his head to keep his gaze looked on John's.

John started to lean down. Rodney was only a couple of inches shorter than John, and his mouth wasn't that far away. Still, it seemed to take forever for John to get there, for his lips to touch Rodney's.

Rodney's eyes were even wider now, and his lips were a little chapped, but John didn't care. He pressed his lips to Rodney's again, firmer this time, lingering. Rodney's lips were softer than John had imagined, even with the chapping, and he heard some strange sound come from the back of his throat.

Rodney reached for him, his arms curling around John's neck. Wrapping his own arms around Rodney's waist, John pulled him close. Rodney was substantial, real, solid and there, in John's arms, where John could hold onto him.

So he held on and let Rodney guide them from one kiss to another. Easy, so easy, the rest of the world falling away until there was only the breeze, Rodney, and the soft sounds of their kisses.

John thought stupid, sappy thoughts like if the world ended tomorrow he could die happy because he'd had this, but mostly he just kissed Rodney. Teasing and taking. Not hiding anything, not his want or his fear, not anything.

Rodney, God Rodney, Rodney just gave in return, everything, anything, brave and fearless in John's arms. He let John feel him and taste him. Let John want him.

They parted slowly, kisses slowing and shortening, until they were left holding onto one another, Rodney's face buried in the curve of John's neck, his breath warm and moist on John's skin.

"I made the bed," John said, his voice coming out quiet and hoarse.

"Can you bounce a quarter on it?"

"I doubt it, but you can try if you want."

"Can I bounce you on it?"

John smiled and slid a hand up the center of Rodney's back. He was still wearing his jacket. "Depends on your definition of bounce."

With a small laugh, Rodney loosened his hold. John did too, and they slowly disentangled themselves until they were two separate entities again, no longer touching. John wasn't sure how it happened, but his hand brushed Rodney's and then their fingers entwined. ""So show me this bouncy bed of yours," Rodney said.

"Ours," John corrected.

"Ours," Rodney said, his thumb rubbing the side of John's hand too smoothly to be deliberate.

John led Rodney through the door and into his quarters, one half of their quarters. He stopped at the foot of the bed. "So this is it."

"Our bed."

"Yup."

"Where we can..." Rodney's voice trailed off.

"Read," John suggested. "Play chess, watch movies. Sleep."

"I was going to say have sex."

Squeezing the hand still clasped in his, John said, "That too. We can definitely do that too. Often. In fact, I think we should probably do that more than anything else."

Rodney nodded. "We should. Definitely. Best thing to do in bed."

"Sleep's pretty good, too," John said, turning to grin at him.

"But not as much fun."

"True," John said, pointing at Rodney with his free hand.

Rodney smiled, a smile that was pure, unadulterated Rodney, and John's breath caught in his chest. Reaching up he brushed Rodney's cheek with his fingers. "We should probably try it out first. Make sure it's suitable."

A single nod and then Rodney was leaning toward him, tilting his head, angling his mouth toward John's.

John groaned when Rodney's tongue touched his. He wanted to wrap his arms around Rodney and strip him bare at the same time. Wanted to press so close air couldn' t get between them; wanted to touch and rub and kiss until the ache inside him went away.

Rodney fumbled for the buttons on his shirt, and John let him draw back far enough so he could see what he was doing. Rodney was moving from one button to the next, large fingers pushing one small button after another through its hole, nothing like the slow unveiling he'd described. As if sensing John watching his fingers, Rodney looked up at him. "I want to see you. All of you."

"I want to see you, too," John said, brushing his fingers across Rodney's brow and down his cheek, because he could do that now, could touch. "So damn much."

Flushing, Rodney dropped his gaze. "I'm not... I may not have gained--"

John stopped him by pressing his fingers to Rodney's lips. "I like love handles."

"I do not have love handles. Okay, maybe I do."

John kissed him before he could say anything more, and Rodney slipped a hand inside the open part of John's shirt, resting his whole hand in the center of John's chest. It shouldn't have been enough to make him shudder, but it was.

They parted and John straightened, looking down at the hand on his chest. Rodney's hand. Rodney rubbed with his thumb. It wasn't a nipple; it wasn't a part of John's body that he had any reason to believe was more sensitive than any other part, but it still sent a startling spark of pleasure through him.

Rodney was watching him, studying his reactions, and John stood completely still while Rodney did it again, his gaze on Rodney's. Then Rodney slid his fingers to the side, letting them catch on John's hardened nipple, but the small gasp was Rodney's.

John reached for the remaining buttons on his shirt, undoing them as quickly as he could with Rodney's hand on his chest. Rodney slid his hand downward, almost touching the waistband of John's jeans. Then he slid it upward again, adding his other hand, using them to push John's shirt from his shoulders.

The shirt pooled at his feet.

Rodney was using both hands now, running them over John's chest and shoulders, even down his arms, sometimes touching with his whole hand, sometimes with just his fingertips. John wanted to touch, too, wanted to strip Rodney naked, mouth his nipples, his stomach, his cock. Instead he stood completely still, because it was what Rodney seemed to want, and more than anything else John wanted to give Rodney what he wanted.

At last, Rodney slid a hand up the side of John's neck, and John took that as permission to move, to meet Rodney halfway as he raised his mouth to John's.

Sliding an arm around Rodney's waist, John pulled him tight against him, rubbed their erections together, making Rodney gasp. John swallowed the sound, swallowed it and pushed his way into Rodney's mouth looking for more. Rodney's arms closed around him and they were clinging to one another, kissing like it was the last kiss ever going to be shared by two human beings anywhere, like when it ended there would be nothing left.

Except they were still there, and Rodney was still wearing his damn jacket. John pushed it from his shoulders and then tugged it free, letting it fall to the floor with his shirt. Then he put his hands under Rodney's shirt, resting them on the bare skin of Rodney's waist long enough for another kiss before pulling the shirt up and off, leaving Rodney's chest as bare as John's.

His fingers immediately found a nipple, as if they'd been waiting for this very chance.

Rodney kissed him again, and the feel of Rodney's bare skin on his was enough to make him forget about the nipple and use his arms to hold Rodney against him.

Breaking the kiss, he slid a hand over the smooth skin of Rodney's back, dropping his mouth to Rodney's neck, where he kissed and teased warm, wonderful skin.

Hands on John's ass, Rodney pushed his hips forward, rubbing his cock against John's, sending yet another shock of pleasure through him.

"John."

"I know." Cupping Rodney's neck in his hands, John kissed him again. "I know, Rodney. I know."

"Okay," Rodney said, breathing hard, resting his forehead on John's.

"We need to get the rest of these damn clothes off."

"Yeah."

"And then we can get in bed."

"And make each other come," Rodney said. "Because I really want to make you come."

"You will," John whispered. "Probably so damn hard I won't be able to get it up for a week."

"If that happens, I'm giving you Viagra."

John laughed a little breathlessly. "Let's just lose the clothes first."

Taking a step out of John's arms, Rodney sat on the end of the bed and bent down. "I need to get my shoes off."

"Here," John said, dropping to his knees and untying Rodney's other sneaker.

"Jesus."

"What?" John glanced at Rodney's hands which were no longer untying his shoe.

"You're on your knees."

"That does it for you, huh?"

"At this point I think you could stand on your head and I'd find it a turn-on."

"Kinky." Lifting Rodney's foot, John tugged his shoe off, then peeled his sock from his foot. Setting it down, he reached for the other foot, picking up where Rodney had left off.

"The second time we talked, you described undressing me like this."

"I did, didn't I?" John grinned. "And then I described blowing you. I could do that right now. At least once we get your pants off."

Rodney shuddered hard enough that John could see it pass through him. "Not yet. I want to do a few other things first."

John tried to hide his disappointment. "Like what?"

"Things."

Placing a hand on the outside of each of Rodney's thighs, John leaned forward, moving his hands upward. "Can't do them unless you tell me what they are."

Instead of answering, Rodney kissed him, reaching a hand between them to cup John's cock. "I want to touch you. Skin on skin. Nothing between us." Rodney's eyes were on his again, like they'd been when he'd touched John's chest.

John covered Rodney's hand with his own. "I want that, too. So damn much."

Rodney's lips were parted and the look on his face--John didn't think anyone had ever looked at him like that before, with open, unguarded want. It stripped away the few words John had, all the ones he'd found in the dark, leaving him with nothing but his own need to lean forward, to press his lips to Rodney's, to kiss Rodney with everything he had inside him.

And Rodney was so damned brave that he took it all.

A small tremor passing through him, John buried his face in the curve of Rodney's neck.

Rodney stroked his back with a firm touch, undeniably strong.

"I'm in love with you," John whispered.

"I know."

"It scares the shit out of me."

"Me, too." Another stroke, warm and reassuring. "But you know what? I wouldn't give it up for anything."

"Not even a Nobel?"

"Not even a Nobel."

"What about a chance to prove Carter wrong?"

"Oh, please, those are a dime a dozen."

"A ZedPM?" John asked, deliberately pronouncing it like a Canadian.

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Sorry." John smiled into Rodney's skin. "Having an element named after you? McKaynium, it has a nice ring to it."

"It does, doesn' t it?"

"Yup."

"You know," Rodney said, squeezing John's cock through his jeans. "I might give you up for that, especially if you don't take your pants off."

"Yes, dear," John said, kissing Rodney's neck before rising to his feet and reaching for the button on the top of his jeans. Once it was open, he slid the zipper down and, with no boxers to stop it, his cock pushed forward. It felt so good that John sighed a little.

Rodney didn't sigh. He just kind of stared and licked his lower lip. Stunned lust made him look kind of, well, stunned, and in other circumstances that was not a good look for Rodney, but this time John thought it worked. Really well.

Rodney reached for him, running his fingers over the shaft. Half afraid he might come just from that light touch, John took a step back. "Let me get undressed first. And you should, too."

"Right," Rodney said absently, standing.

Wanting to watch, John scrambled out of his own pants. Rodney moved a little more slowly, unbuttoning his pants before pushing them down, leaving him in his boxers. He had his hands on the waistband when John stepped forward. "Let me."

He eased Rodney's boxers downward, making sure he didn't catch the elastic on Rodney's cock. He lowered himself along with the boxers until he was squatting while Rodney stepped free, and there was Rodney's cock, right in front of him, thick and proud, just like John had known it would be.

Rodney had said he wanted to touch, wanted to be skin on skin, and John wanted to give Rodney what he wanted, but it was right there, drawing him in. He touched the tip with his tongue and Rodney gasped. So he did it again. Then again. Finally opening his mouth wide enough to take the head inside, to swirl his tongue over smooth skin, to taste the salt in the tiny bit of fluid in the slit.

"Oh God."

With a final swirl of his tongue, John let go and looked up at Rodney, who was staring back, eyes a little wild. "We better get in the bed or I'm going to blow you right here."

"Right," Rodney said and stumbled the three steps to the bed.

John followed him and then they were kissing. Crazy kisses, wild kisses, raw and uncontrolled, holding onto one another. Rodney had one leg bent, his knee over John's hip, and John was moving with him, rocking with him, trying to get closer.

He couldn't think, couldn't pull himself back from it enough to figure out what he should do, what he needed to do.

"I want to watch you come. Promise me I can watch you come." The words were panted into his ear, Rodney's breath on his skin as full of sex as the words.

"Yes, yes, whatever you want." Cupping the back of Rodney's head in his hand, John pulled him into another kiss.

Rodney rolled them and John went with it, parting his legs, letting Rodney settle between them, arms tight around Rodney's shoulders. Lifting himself up, Rodney rocked his hips. John was about to protest that he was too far away, to pull him closer, but the look on Rodney's face stopped him, made him press a hand to Rodney's cheek and lift his hips, give himself over to Rodney's rhythm.

Then he was falling into it, blinding pleasure. It was too soon; he wasn't ready, didn't want it yet. Rodney was still moving with him, staring down at him. John stared back, ignoring the way everything but Rodney went fuzzy, rocking his hips as his cock pulsed between them, giving Rodney his pleasure.

"John," Rodney said and then he was coming too. John could feel Rodney's cock against his belly, could see the pleasure in his face. Rodney went still for a moment, then shuddered. Reaching for him, John pulled Rodney down onto him, his arms tight around Rodney's shoulders as Rodney shuddered and bucked against him.

As the shuddering eased, John stroked his back. Rodney had such smooth skin. It was like touching a woman. He was never, ever going to tell Rodney that. "Hey," he said softly.

"I think you just lowered my IQ by 20 points," Rodney muttered.

Smiling, John stroked his back again, a long, lazy touch, just because he could. "I'm sure you're still a genius."

"If it's like that every time we have sex I'll be a moron inside a week."

"Don't worry; I'm sure it'll be boring and familiar eventually."

"Doubtful, but okay."

Laughing, John kissed Rodney's shoulder.

"That was incredible wasn't it? Like off the charts incredible?"

"Yes, Rodney."

"Just checking. I was worried." Lifting himself onto one elbow, his lower body still covering John's, Rodney said, "I didn't think there was any way the real thing could live up to the stuff we talked about."

"Guess you were wrong."

"I was--" Rodney started, then stopped. "Huh, I was, wasn't I?"

Grinning, John nodded. "And I was right. Because I knew it would be incredible."

"Oh, please, like you weren't as nervous as I was."

John let his grin turn smug. "Doesn't mean I didn't know it would be incredible."

"Okay, Mr. Incredible." Rodney shifted to the side, depriving John of his weight. "Since you were right, you get to go to my room and get the food."

"Shouldn't that be the job of the guy who was wrong?"

"Consider it a reward."

John knew he should argue. Giving in would be a lousy precedent to set, especially this early on, but he was hungry. And Rodney was smiling at him. A smile that was joyful and rare, and there wasn't any way in hell John was doing something that might make it falter, not even something as unimportant as making Rodney retrieve his own dinner. He slid toward the foot of the bed.

"Where are you going?"

"Dinner," John said, picking up his jeans and tugging them on. They weren't necessary, and it wasn't like they hid the smears of come on his stomach and chest, but he couldn't go out on the balcony completely naked, even knowing no one could see him.

"You went commando," Rodney said.

"You just figured that out?" John tugged up his zipper, careful not to catch it on anything vital.

"I was distracted." Rodney stared at his crotch. "That is hot. Really hot."

Bending down, John kissed him. "In that case, you should think about it while I'm gone." He started for the door.

"Oh, I will," Rodney called after him. "I definitely will."

Hurrying across the balcony, John stepped into Rodney's room. Spotting the sandwiches perched on a pile of boxes, John snagged them along with the two packages of cookies that were lying there.

Rodney had pulled back the covers and was sitting up in bed with the blanket pulled over his lap when John got back. John tossed him the sandwiches, holding onto the cookies. "You didn't get any drinks."

"I figured we'd just have water, better for replacing lost bodily fluids."

They definitely needed to do that. With a small chuckle, John picked up the only two glasses he owned and took them into the bathroom, returning with two full glasses and the bags of cookies hanging from his teeth.

"Hey, no hoarding the cookies," Rodney said, reaching for them as John sat, and dropping them protectively onto his lap.

"I wasn't hoarding," John said, putting one glass on the stand next to the bed and taking a long drink from the other. It tasted really good. Maybe Rodney was right about the whole fluid thing.

Already partway through his sandwich, Rodney said, "We should get a small table with a couple of chairs for when we don't want to eat in the mess. We could put it in my room."

Busy chewing, John nodded his agreement.

"Maybe a cooler for the occasional beer."

John nodded again. "We could build a drawer into the table for storing the chess board."

This time it was Rodney's turn to nod, except he stopped mid-nod, eyes growing wide.

Swallowing, John said, "What?"

"We're living together."

John's own eyes got a little wider. "I guess we are."

"We went from phone sex to living together."

"Is that a problem?" John asked, looking at his sandwich, just in case Rodney thought it was a problem.

"No, no, of course not."

Relieved, John took another bite.

"I have to tell Jeannie. She has this weird thing where she wants to know if I'm happy, and she wants me to ask her if she's happy." Rodney waived his free hand as if it could somehow convey the depths of Jeannie's weirdness.

"I don't think that's so weird," John said, trying to ignore the small burst of something happening in his chest at the thought that he made Rodney happy.

"Mmm," Rodney said, but John could tell he'd already moved on. "I could use the code."

"The code?"

"It was a code we developed when we were kids. We could hide messages inside notes, letters, anything written. It was quite clever."

"I'm sure it was," John said. "And what did you use this clever code for?"

Holding up a finger, Rodney chewed the last of his sandwich and then swallowed visibly. John tried to decide if that was a turn-on or not; he was leaning toward not, but the very fact that he was thinking about it might mean it was. "Cookies."

"Cookies?"

Rodney nodded. "My mother could never keep track of what groceries she'd bought when, so Jeannie and I would take the cookies and hide them. She'd think she'd forgotten them and buy more. Then we'd have two bags of cookies."

"Good plan, but why'd you need a code?"

"To tell one another where we'd hidden the cookies, plan our snacking, decide whose turn it was to bring the milk."

"Stupid of me not to have thought of that," John said and Rodney nodded. Biting back a grin, John added, "So you think she'll approve?"

"Of course she'll approve. She likes you. Besides, she married an English major, it's not like she's in any position to judge."

"I'm a better catch than an English major, huh?"

"Way better."

"Gee, McKay, I think I'm flattered."

"Just promise me that you'll never cook me tofurkey."

"I promise to never cook you tofurkey."

"Good enough." Rodney tore open one of the packages of cookies and held it out to John, who happily reached inside for a not-Oreo.

"We shouldn't eat these in bed. Crumbs. Don't you have sensitive skin or something?" John said, finishing off his cookie and reaching for a second one.

Locking his eyes on John's, Rodney bit a cookie in half, sending crumbs dropping onto the blanket.

"Guess not." The affection in his voice was a little embarrassing, so John distracted himself by opening the cookie and eating the half the filling was still attached to.

Reaching past John, Rodney placed the unopened package of cookies on the stand. "I think we should save those for later."

"We may need to keep our energy levels up," John agreed, shoving the last of his cookie into his mouth.

Rodney flashed him a smile John had never seen before, one that could only be described as teasing. "I still have a lot of unpacking to do."

"That does take energy," John agreed, crumpling up the sandwich wrappers and dropping them to the floor.

Rodney's hand landed on his crotch. "Oh, look, I think I found something that needs unpacking."

Looking down at his hardening cock, John said, "I think you're right. Can't leave that all packed away." John would have said more, but Rodney kissed him. Kissed him in a way that was dirty and giving and completely Rodney.

Shifting until he had room to lie down, John drew Rodney down with him. There were a lot of things that weren't going to be packed away anymore.

He was good with that.