chelle

Atlantis

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Standing

chelle

Title: Standing

Author: chelle

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

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

Fandom: Atlantis

Archive: Ask first

Rating: PG

AN: This story is set after the end of 1.20 "The Seige." Since it ended on a cliffhanger and we won't know for months how it will all be resolved, I made a bold leap and assumed that all of the series regulars survived.

John stepped quickly down the stairs leading into the gateroom, searching for familiar faces. He spotted Elizabeth first, coming toward the stairs to greet him. Rodney was behind her, standing next to the gate console, but he was looking at John.

"John," Elizabeth greeted him, the relief in her voice palpable.

He didn't bother to answer, just pulled her into a hug. She was shaking a little and he tightened his hold. "Ford? Teyla?"

"They're both safe," she said.

He knew he'd start hearing about those who weren't soon enough. Rodney was staring at him, his arms crossed in front of his chest. Letting Elizabeth go, John started toward him, his arms open. He dropped them when Rodney only glared, lifting his chin as John approached. "Rodney," John said quietly. It was part acknowledgment of their survival and part question.

"Major."

They'd nearly died, nearly lost Atlantis, and Rodney was pissed. Somehow that seemed just like Rodney. He tried to think of something to say, but while he was thinking Rodney started talking.

"How many times do you have to be told to fly away from the nuclear explosion?"

"I did," John protested. He'd survived. Couldn't Rodney be happy about that? He was happy Rodney had survived.

"You put a nuclear warhead in the cargo bay."

"I didn't put it there!" He hadn't. Zelenka had put it there.

"You flew the jumper, knowing it was there." Rodney countered. "Then I shouldn't have expected any different. Given your hero complex."

"I do not have a hero complex."

"Oh, please. You're always ready to throw yourself into danger without actually bothering to find out if it's even necessary."

John took a deep breath. He could feel his anger rising to match Rodney's. He knew it was just stress, and exhaustion, and too many stimulants, and too much… everything. They'd both been through too much of everything. "Rodney," he said resting a hand on Rodney's forearm. "It's okay. I survived."

Rodney looked down at his hand and then back at his face, his expression making it clear that he expected the hand to be removed. Now.

John withdrew his hand.

"How nice for you," Rodney said and walked away, leaving John staring after him.

"It's just the exhaustion," Zelenka said and John looked to the side, feeling guilty that he hadn't spotted the man among the survivors. "He'll be better once he's slept."

John nodded. Rodney needed an outlet and he was convenient. Just once, he wanted to be inconvenient.

***

Elizabeth had called a halt to their efforts to take stock of the damage about an hour later and sent everyone to eat and then sleep.

John couldn't imagine sleeping. On the other hand he couldn't imagine taking another step either. He hadn't seen Rodney since he'd walked out of the gateroom. He'd checked in with both Ford and Teyla and now he needed to see Rodney, needed to be sure Rodney was okay before he even contemplated sleeping.

Rodney was in his quarters. He looked like hell. John knew he didn't look much better. "How are you doing?" John asked as the door to Rodney's quarters slid closed behind him.

"How should I be doing?" Rodney asked, walking away from him to sit on the edge of the bed.

"Badly."

Rodney snorted. "That's how I'm doing."

"Me too." Taking a deep breath John crossed the room and sat next to him on the bed, close enough that his arm brushed Rodney's. He was gratified when Rodney didn't move away.

"So many," Rodney whispered.

"Yeah." John didn't know if Rodney meant the number of people they'd lost or the number of Wraith that had entered the city. "Yeah."

Rodney made a choked sound and John put an arm around his shoulders, pulling Rodney to his chest. He could feel Rodney trying to hold back, trying to keep it all in. He wrapped his other arm around him and began to move slowly back and forth. "It's okay," he whispered.

He felt Rodney shake his head, but he sobbed anyway. John pressed his cheek against the back of Rodney's hair, letting his own tears fall as he slowly rocked them back and forth.

He rocked until Rodney's sobs subsided, and then he kept rocking.

Rodney's breathing gradually deepened and evened out and John realized that he'd fallen asleep. He wanted to sleep, too, and, as much as he didn't want to let go, he was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to sleep like this. He shifted, trying to lay Rodney down on the bed without waking him. He managed to get Rodney onto his side and had gotten up to lift his feet from the floor onto the bed, when Rodney opened his eyes. "John," he said quietly.

John put Rodney's feet onto the bed and patted his ankle. "Go to sleep."

Rodney gazed up at him with wide, red-rimmed eyes, looking more bereft than John had ever seen him, more bereft than John could handle. He slid onto the bed next to him and Rodney shifted close. John stretched out an arm and Rodney settled against him, his head on John's chest. Fingers absently stroking Rodney's hair, John closed his eyes.

***

Rodney woke to the insistent tug of his bladder. He needed to piss. He really needed to piss. But he was warm and safe. He hadn't been either in so long. Ignoring his bladder he snuggled closer to the warm body beside his.

Warm body. He opened his eyes.

He was wrapped around Major Sheppard who seemed to be equally wrapped around him. It took a moment and then it all came back. John had come by to check on him and Rodney had cried himself to sleep in the man's arms. Deciding he didn't have the energy to be embarrassed, Rodney began to carefully disentangle himself. Once free he headed into the bathroom.

Rodney leaned one arm against the wall as he relieved himself, too tired to remain upright.

He looked into the mirror as he washed his hands. He looked like hell. He inhaled, and he smelled worse. Unable to recall when he'd last managed a shower or a change of clothes, he began to strip.

Rodney had intended to shower quickly, but it felt good so he stood there for a few minutes letting the warm water run down his back. When his exhaustion began to catch up with him, he turned off the shower and grabbed a towel.

After taking a moment to run a toothbrush over his teeth, he went back into his room. John had rolled onto his side. Rodney dropped his towel and pulled back the sheets. Sliding between them, he lay on his side facing John.

John opened his eyes.

"Go back to sleep," Rodney whispered.

"You showered," John said sleepily.

"I smelled."

"I smell."

"It's not that bad. Go back to sleep."

John ducked his head and took a breath. Then he made a face.

Rodney was too tired to find his expression amusing. "You can take a shower if you want. You can even use my toothbrush."

"I don't know. I might get scientist cooties."

Rodney snuggled deeper into the pillow, and John rolled to the edge of the bed. Rodney closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of John in the bathroom. A flushing toilet shouldn't be reassuring, but it was. The shower started and Rodney felt himself starting to drift.

John showered quickly and Rodney was still on the verge of sleep when he emerged from the shower damp and naked, and slid between the sheets.

Rodney opened his eyes. John was lying on his side, gazing intently at Rodney. "You okay?" he whispered.

Rodney nodded, because somehow John's question had made his throat tighten.

John shifted a little closer and placed a hand on Rodney's shoulder. Then he slid it down Rodney's back. "Go back to sleep," he whispered, stroking gently.

Rodney inched closer and closed his eyes. He hadn't known John could be like this, giving and gentle. No one had been gentle with him in a long time. He wondered if anyone had been gentle to John. Then he let go, let John's hand lull him back into sleep.

***

There was an arm around Rodney's waist. He noticed it as soon as he opened his eyes. Then he noticed the hand pressed to his chest and the warm body snuggled up against his back.

John. Rodney closed his eyes again. He was naked in bed with John and he didn't care.

"Rodney," John murmured.

"Yeah?"

"What time is it?"

Rodney looked at the clock on his bedside table. It said 1 pm. "One in the afternoon."

"How long have we been asleep?"

"I have no idea." For all Rodney knew they'd slept for days.

"I should get up. Go…" John's voice trailed off.

Go out there. Face what the wraith had done, face the death and the destruction.

Rodney didn't want to move. He wanted to lie here, warm and unknowing, for as long as possible. Maybe the rest of his life.

He was still so damn tired.

John squeezed him with the arm around his waist and then rolled away, taking his warmth with him.

Rodney rolled onto his back and watched John go into the bathroom.

He emerged fully dressed except for his boots. He perched on the edge of the bed next to Rodney and bent to put them on.

Rodney studied the curve of his back, resisting the urge to reach out and run his hand over the length of it.

John sat upright and turned to look at him. "I'll see you out there."

Rodney nodded.

John nodded back. He looked like he wanted to say something but had no idea what. Rodney knew the feeling. He started to rise and Rodney reached out, curled his fingers around John's forearm. John sat back on the bed and gazed at him with those warm eyes.

"I…" Rodney stopped. "Thank you."

John covered Rodney's hand with his own. "I needed it, too."

Rodney had known that on some level, but he hadn't consciously considered it. Now, seeing the loss in John's eyes, all he wanted to do was make it better. He lifted his free hand and touched John's cheek, because that's what John had done. John had touched him and somehow made it all bearable.

He pushed his fingers into John's hair and John leaned toward him. He leaned toward John.

Their lips met. John's lips were a little chapped, but he kissed Rodney gently, almost delicately. Rodney kissed him back with every bit of tenderness he possessed.

They parted and John gazed at him for a long moment before squeezing his hand and rising from the bed.

Rodney watched him walk to the door where he turned and looked back at Rodney.

"I'll see you out there."

It was more a question than a statement, and Rodney nodded. John would see him out there.

"Okay." The door slid open and John stepped through it.

Pushing the covers aside, Rodney stood.