Negotiations - posted January 31, 2006
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: Aliens made them do it … but they didn’t
have to try very hard. Set in S2 somewhere - no real spoilers, though,
although perhaps a small reference to "Duet."
knew from the look on Teyla’s face that their day had just gone to
hell. It figured. They couldn’t seem to arrive at a planet, share a
meal, shake hands on a trade deal, and fly home to Atlantis without at
least one major obstacle, fiasco, or catastrophic incident of galactic
“You’d think it would be easier to make a deal with
people who don’t talk,” Rodney murmured to Sheppard. “I mean, how many
ways can you possibly screw up ‘we come in peace’ in sign language?”
A slight shrug was the only response. “Teyla? What’s up?”
smiled and inclined her head. “The Vendi are quite eager to trade with
us: food for medical supplies. They only require a sign of our
willingness to conduct open trade. This is not unusual.”
rolled his eyes. He knew what that meant. One of them, or all of them,
having to perform some ridiculous feat of skill or eat something
unidentifiable. It usually ended with bruises or nausea, or worse, a
trip to the infirmary, and Rodney was already anticipating the worst.
It was just easier that way, and so far he’d rarely been disappointed.
He was pretty damn sure SG-1 didn’t have these kinds of problems.
do they want us to do?” Sheppard asked, resignation in his voice.
Rodney recognized the tone; the sooner they found out what they had to
do, the sooner they could get it over with and go home. Rodney was in
complete agreement for once.
“A gesture of trust.” Teyla looked
towards the Vendi leaders standing a few feet away. They fluttered
their hands like butterflies caught in a net. Rodney bet they were
great at shadow puppets.
“Well, where we come from,” John said,
speaking slowly and clearly as if the Vendi were hearing impaired
rather than sworn to silence, “we shake hands to seal an agreement. It
means we’re allies. We trust each other.” He passed his P-90 to Ronon
and extending his right hand towards the Vendi leader, reached out and
clasped the man’s hand, shaking it firmly.
There was polite
nodding from the Vendi, then a series of the rapid hand signals
directed at Teyla. She turned back to John. “Because they do not speak,
the mouth is considered sacred to the Vendi. Therefore, I believe, a
kiss is required to convey acknowledgment that an agreement has been
Rodney rolled his eyes and poked John in the side.
“Sure, the last planet we went to, I was blindfolded and poked with
sticks like some kind of ceremonial piñata, but you they
want to kiss. It figures!”
muttered “Kirk” under his breath, and ignored the glare he knew was
directed at him in spite of John’s reflective sunglasses.
Sheppard said evenly. “You’re welcome to do the negotiating. Feel free
to put your money where your mouth is. Or at least put your mouth where
it might do us some good.” Sheppard gestured to the all-male Vendi
contingent who continued to smile at them hopefully.
“Oh, no, no, no. That’s your area of expertise, Colonel. Making the
natives breathless is not my job.”
if you’re not up to the task, McKay,” John said casually, and Rodney
sputtered in response. He’d just been insulted by a man who couldn’t
even control his own hair, and there was no way he was going to take
that lying down.
“What—you think I wouldn’t? Just because they’re male?”
eyebrow quirked up over the edge of his sunglasses. Rodney knew a
challenge when he saw one, and he felt his cheeks flush.
Rodney said, thrusting his notepad at Ronon, who growled because he was
now carrying Teyla’s pack, Sheppard’s gun, and Rodney’s computer.
“Fine, Colonel. I’m not as homophobic as the next man, apparently.”
not homophobic!” Sheppard started, but Rodney didn’t hear the rest. He
walked confidently across to the Vendi leader—a tall man with curling
dark hair—and reached his hands up to cup the man’s face. It had been a
while since Rodney had done this—with anyone—but it came back without a
thought. The slight tilt of the head, his eyes snapping shut, and the
soft feeling of lips pressed against his. His heart was racing—not
because he felt any particular attraction for the man, but simply
because Sheppard was watching. Everyone was watching, and Rodney hadn’t
known that was a particular kink until now, but the thought of
everyone’s eyes on him made him kiss a little harder, his long fingers
grip a little more tightly along the Vendi’s smooth jaw line. Rodney
could sense the Vendi leader was pleased—there were large hands on
Rodney’s shoulders, kneading him gently, and then the Vendi opened his
mouth slightly, inviting Rodney’s tongue inside. A quick flicker of
tongues meeting, and Rodney stepped back, pink-faced and winded, and
there was Sheppard staring at him from behind his shades with an
expression Rodney couldn’t quite read and wasn’t sure he wanted to.
“What?” Rodney snapped, walking back to Sheppard’s side. “It’s not like
you’ve never seen me kiss a man before.”
“What are you talking about?
“I thought that was Cadman,” Sheppard pointed out.
“Well, it was,” Rodney said, “but that’s not—I mean, you don’t need to
seem so shocked. It’s not that unusual. I know you’re a little
backwards south of the border, but really, step into the twenty-first
not shocked, Rodney.” Sheppard’s voice was careful and even, and he was
fondling his holstered 9 mm in a way that Rodney was pretty sure
wouldn’t seem inappropriate if he hadn’t just kissed another man.
interrupted with a somewhat delicate cough, and the two of them stopped
arguing long enough to notice that the Vendi leader had turned to the
second negotiator and was repeating the kiss with the same enthusiasm
he had shown McKay. Well, damn.
Sheppard clapped Rodney on the
shoulder. “Ah, don’t feel too bad, McKay. It would’ve never worked out
anyway. I can’t quite picture you with the strong, silent type.”
funny,” Rodney murmured as the other two men broke the kiss with
pleased smiles. They turned and looked back at Rodney expectantly,
hands carving out delicate patterns in the still air.
Teyla nodded, turning to John and Rodney with an apologetic look. “The
Vendi are most satisfied with your gesture, Dr. McKay.”
“Yeah, it seemed like it,” Sheppard said with a hint of a smile. “The
way he went straight for—”
“Oh, and I suppose you think you could’ve done a better—”
“Well, as a matter of fact—”
Teyla interrupted. “The Vendi share the kiss between their leaders to
demonstrate there is commitment and trust among their own people, as
well as to our new alliance. They have a saying—”
“A saying?” John and Rodney both said skeptically.
translated, the open mouth hides no secrets. The man who cannot kiss
his brother cannot be trusted. Therefore, you must also share the kiss.”
opened his mouth to protest, but really, what was the point? And
seriously, he hadn’t had much action since he’d arrived in Atlantis, so
maybe it was time the universe threw some kissing his way.
“Teyla?” Rodney asked hopefully, and she shook her head.
know Ronon and I are not of your world. You and Colonel Sheppard are
the true representatives of Atlantis. Therefore …” she trailed off,
hand gesturing vaguely in the air.
Rodney looked at John, but
there was nothing in his face except the usual thoughtful expression he
wore when he was trying to figure something out.
said, trying to intervene. This was not a good idea. For any of them.
“Tell them it isn’t allowed in Colonel Sheppard’s … culture. Tell them—”
perfectly capable of speaking for myself, McKay,” Sheppard said
suddenly. “And besides, it’s not exactly like the Vendi are going to tell
anyone about this, are they? And the team’s not going to say anything.”
He matched Rodney’s glare with one of his own. “So let’s just get on
“Get on with it?” Rodney squeaked and took a step
back. “Are you out of your mind? You can’t seriously think this is a
good idea. I’m not going to kiss you just to—”
“You had no trouble kissing him.” John gestured towards the
Vendi leader, who waved back enthusiastically. John frowned and pushed
Rodney back another step.
“That’s different. I don’t know him.”
“Oh, so you don’t mind kissing strangers, but—”
us a minute,” Rodney tossed over his shoulder at the Vendi as he
grabbed Sheppard’s arm and hauled him aside. He didn’t care that his
grip was leaving red marks on Sheppard’s skin or that the Vendi were
beginning to lose their shiny, happy looks. “I don’t want to do this.
You don’t want to do this. We’ll figure something else out.”
Sheppard pulled away from Rodney and crossed his arms. “A man who
cannot kiss his brother …”
“You’re not my brother! And for the record, ew!”
“It’s a figure of speech, Rodney!”
not so much with these people, John!” Rodney hardly ever used
Sheppard’s first name, and particularly not when they were working, but
he didn’t know how else to get through to him. “Look. We have to work
together, and that’s aside from the fact you’re in the military, you
idiot, and they can court-martial you for doing exactly what you’re
thinking about doing. This is insane.”
“And you’re out of your mind.”
stepped closer. “You’re chicken. All talk but when it comes right down
to it, you’re scared. You think I’m going to be better than you are,
and the great McKay ego just can’t take anyone being better at
“That’s ridiculous,” Rodney sneered, not believing
what he was hearing. He honestly hadn’t thought he’d ever be trying to
talk John out of kissing him, but this wasn’t how Rodney had
wanted it to happen. He’d thought about it—he was pretty sure he wasn’t
the only one on Atlantis that had a few wayward fantasies about the
colonel—but the point was Rodney knew that’s all they were. Fantasies.
Not reality. Not even a remote possibility, except for the fact that
John was standing close enough that Rodney could feel John’s breath on
his face. And yes, John was right. Rodney was scared of what would
happen if they went through with this idiotic plan, but not for the
reasons John thought.
“Colonel Sheppard, Dr. McKay.” Teyla’s
voice was edged with concern. “There is a time-limit for the completion
of the ritual. If you wish to seal the agreement—”
Rodney said, but he was looking into the reflective surface of
Sheppard’s sunglasses, and the words didn’t carry any weight. Rodney
felt his stomach tightening as Sheppard took a step further into
Rodney’s personal space.
“Rodney, just do it, okay?”
you’re a poster boy for Nike in your spare time?” Rodney could tell he
was losing the argument and losing ground. Sheppard’s hands settled on
his waist, the grip of long fingers pulling him closer.
John whispered, leaning in and smiling. His tongue darted out and
licked his lips, and Rodney found his breath escaping.
but you’re not hiding behind these,” Rodney said, grabbing the edge of
John’s sunglasses and tossing them aside. He never heard them land
because in the next instant John’s mouth was on his and there was the
initial awkwardness of bumped noses and where to put his hands, but
then Rodney decided if he was going to do this, he was going to do it
right, and who the hell was Sheppard to imply Rodney wasn’t as good a
Rodney slipped one hand behind John’s neck,
tilting his head for a better angle, wrapped an arm around Sheppard’s
waist and pulled him in tight. The lean heat of Sheppard’s body was
enough to make Rodney want to plaster himself closer, and it was only
when he felt Sheppard’s hand slide under the back of his shirt, hot
against his skin, that Rodney thought maybe they were both in over
their heads. Rodney started to open his mouth to say something, to
whisper stop or enough or something equally meaningless
because the last thing Rodney wanted was for John’s lips to stop
gliding against his, and Rodney had a bad feeling that now he’d had a
taste of this, what this could feel like, it was never, ever going to
John’s kisses were persistent, relentless, and Rodney
had to concentrate on giving back as good as he got. John’s lips parted
for an instant, and Rodney took advantage of the opening and pushed his
tongue into John’s mouth. The sense of triumph was short-lived when
John retaliated by sucking on Rodney’s tongue and when a moan escaped
Rodney’s mouth, he could feel a tremor of laughter coursing through
Fine. Two could play at that game. Rodney nipped
John’s lower lip—hard—and licked the spot with the tip of his tongue,
tracing the edge of John’s lip as he went. Hooking his fingers in the
waistband of John’s BDUs, Rodney hauled him closer, pushing a thigh
between John’s legs, and getting a breathy “Jesus” as Rodney connected
with the heat of John’s groin.
“Colonel Sheppard! Dr. McKay!”
suddenly realized Teyla was calling them, both of them. Loudly.
Repeatedly. He wanted nothing more than to pretend he couldn’t hear
her, that there weren’t a half dozen Vendi watching them with surprised
interest, and oh my God, was that applause? Rodney flushed, put a hand
on John’s chest and shoved him away.
“What--?” Sheppard asked
breathlessly, hands still clutched in Rodney’s shirt. He seemed to
realize the situation, and let go. He looked as wrecked as Rodney felt.
stepped forward and laid a hand on his arm. “Colonel, the Vendi are
assured of your sincerity. They are most pleased with your … um,
demonstration.” Rodney noticed she wasn’t quite meeting their eyes, but
the Vendi were all smiles. Ronon handed Sheppard his sunglasses. He
slipped them on, glanced around, and shouldered his P-90, not looking
“Let’s wrap this up and go home.”
They didn’t talk about it.
Life in the Pegasus galaxy went on exactly as it had before.
Vendi had allies on three other planets, and Sheppard’s team made
contact with all of them. At each one, John and Rodney enacted the
joining ceremony precisely as they had the first time. Well, not
precisely, perhaps, since the second time Rodney distinctly remembered
John’s hand grabbing his ass, and the third time John’s shirt was
halfway off his body when Teyla’s fighting stick whacked him on the
ass. “Hey,” he said, rubbing his ass, but the Marahni seemed pleased
nonetheless, and Rodney was already happily consuming the ceremonial
wine. John slid his shades back on and joined the party.
P90-900, which John not-very-cleverly called P-90 and Rodney called
“The Planet of Penile Fixations,” it was immediately evident that no
one there had ever heard of anything remotely resembling “don’t ask,
don’t tell,” nor would they have understood it if they had. “Why do you
not declare yourselves?” the aliens asked, hands constantly caressing
one another until Rodney thought he was going to explode. “It is plain
for everyone to see,” they said, and John wasn’t entirely ungrateful
when Rodney developed a pain in his head that could only be an aneurysm
and they were forced to return to Atlantis before any ceremonies could
be planned. Lorne’s team was sent back to continue negotiations.
P14-691 and MX6-998, the aliens called it a “spilling of seed” to
ensure the continued benevolence of the local gods who had brought them
together for trade. Rodney started to point out how the local gods had
been pretty remiss in giving them an endless supply of tubers, but
nothing resembling alcohol or coffee, when he found himself flat on the
ceremonial altar with his pants around his knees and John Sheppard’s
mouth on his cock. He really didn’t have anything to say after that.
M03-921, it was the “Ceremony of New Alliance.” John and Rodney looked
at each other and sighed—John shrugging out of his vest and handing his
weapon to Ronon, Rodney already tugging his shirt over his head—when
Teyla said she would be happy to “take one for the team” this time if
it was required. John stared, stunned, and Rodney managed to get
himself tangled in his clothing, shouting “where the hell did she hear
that phrase, Colonel,” before stomping off angrily and refusing to
participate. It turned out the ceremony was purely symbolic and
required no nudity whatsoever, so John shared a cup of wine with the
leader of the state. It tasted strangely bitter in his mouth.
M17-379, it was considered distasteful to touch other people for
reasons other than procreation. Naturally, they discovered this the
hard way, and John’s casual slap on the back ended with them running
for their lives across the biggest grassy meadow Rodney had ever seen,
their names being declaimed as desecrators and sinners while arrows
whizzed past their heads, and Rodney whiffled and sneezed as John
dragged him towards the Gate. “That is the last time—achoo—you are ever
touching me,” Rodney shouted as they dove through the wormhole to
safety. Once they were through to the other side, he sneezed on John
again, and John was sure it was purely out of spite.
Rodney found a half-depleted ZPM, Ronon found a shiny new sword, Teyla
negotiated a trade that included fresh fruit, and John found a
girlfriend. Rodney was too excited by the ZPM to notice John’s new
interest until the girl had already convinced him to stay behind.
Nothing the three of them said could convince him to return to
Atlantis. Rodney was getting ready to order Ronon to just pick Sheppard
up and carry him back when Teyla suggested Rodney try talking to the
Colonel one last time. Rodney was forced to climb a rose-covered
trellis, got stuck with thorns three times in impractical places, and
finally fell on his ass in the middle of John’s bedroom, where,
luckily, he was alone. Rodney pinned John to the wall, hoping to talk
some sense into him, when John did exactly what Rodney didn’t
expect—and hit him. “You broke my nose,” Rodney moaned, pulling out a
handkerchief and trying to stem the bleeding. John blinked unhappily
and stared at Rodney as if he were a stranger. “Fuck this,” Rodney said
and grabbed John’s face in both hands, kissing him hard. John shook his
head as if waking up from a dream and said, “Jesus, Rodney, what
happened to your nose?” “It took you long enough,” Rodney said, and
kissed him again. The young woman walked through the door and began to
cry. “Why does this always happen to me?”
On M49-672, they
kissed their way through two treaty signings and one state dinner.
Kissing was a sign of openness and acceptance. Everyone was doing it.
Even Teyla and Ronon were starting to get into the spirit of things.
After three glasses of ceremonial wine, John and Rodney ended up in one
of the palace bedrooms, soft unidentifiable animal pelt in front of the
blazing fireplace, and it really was entirely too warm for clothing of
any kind. “They must have drugged the wine,” John murmured as he kissed
his way down Rodney’s stomach. “God, yes,” Rodney said, his hands
clutching at John’s dog tags and pulling him closer, “sneaky bastards
drugged the wine.” When John slid inside him for the first time, Rodney
arched his back and whispered again, “Oh, god, John. Yes.” When
Rodney woke up in the morning, the outline of dog tags pressed against
his skin, John was already gone.
a while, word spread through the galaxy that there were people once
again in the city of the Ancients. They were known as honourable
traders. Honest. Loyal. Courageous. They were accepted at their word.
No one required them to prove themselves any longer. Ceremonies were
considered superfluous. Unnecessary.
It had been almost four months since John had touched Rodney.
Neither of them said anything about it.
P89-713, the high priest requested their participation in a
purification ceremony. Teyla smiled and nodded, assuring Colonel
Sheppard and Doctor McKay she would try to ascertain the exact terms
before agreeing to anything. Ronon surveyed the perimeter of the
village and flirted with the women gathered around the well. John
slouched against a ceremonial pillar, P-90 resting against his hip, and
counted off the number of guards around the temple, the weapons they
were carrying, and how far the team would have to run back to the Gate.
A mile, give or take.
Rodney took off his vest, his jacket, and
started to unzip his shirt when Sheppard caught sight of what he was
doing and laid a hand on Rodney’s arm.
“Has heatstroke set in already? Didn’t you wear your SPF1000 sunscreen
blinked at him in the bright sun, and sighed. “Look, Colonel, we both
know what a ceremony means. How many times have we done this now? How
many worlds? Friendship, joining, bonding, alliance, union, commitment,
unification, fusion, purification,” Rodney undid the zipper at the neck
of his blue shirt, “it all amounts to the same thing. Somebody’s going
to get kissed, sucked, or fucked. I’m just getting ready.”
“Rodney!” Sheppard said through clenched teeth, and pulled him behind
the pillar. “Don’t give them any ideas.”
“Maybe I want to give them ideas.”
heard me, Colonel.” Rodney crossed his arms over his chest and waited
for the implications to sink in. “And take the goddamn shades off. You
know I hate talking to you with them on.”
John bit nervously at
his lower lip, but he took off the sunglasses, folded them carefully,
and slipped them into the pocket of his vest. They were Serengeti
aviator shades, after all. He wasn’t going to let Rodney throw them on
the ground again. The two of them stared at each other for at least a
full minute, and John realized that Rodney was angry. Not upset because
this was taking longer than it should and there was an energy signal
that needed tracing, not cranky because he’d had too much sun and too
little sleep, not even annoyed because John was being his usual
laidback self. Rodney was angry. It was clear in his blue eyes and the
set of his jaw, the tension radiating off him like heat rising from the
sand. John took a step backwards, and let out a breath.
“Okay, you’re pissed off. I see that.”
“Gold star, Colonel.”
the background, John could hear Teyla’s voice discussing seating
arrangements and menu selections. Negotiating on some of these worlds
was worse than trying to plan a wedding, John decided, even though he’d
only ever had nightmares about that.
“Look, maybe this isn’t the best time to discuss whatever’s bugging
you. When we get back to Atlantis—”
laughed. “You don’t get it, do you? I thought—I mean, I really thought
there was something—but, wow, I guess I’m just stupid when it comes to
stuff like this. Smartest man in two galaxies, but, huh, I know shit
John licked his tongue across his very dry
lips, and felt as if his insides had turned to sand. He knew exactly
what this was, why this was, and McKay had every right to be angry, but
John couldn’t bring himself to give an inch. He wasn’t any good at
relationships either, and Rodney had him cornered on a strange planet.
John felt completely exposed, and he fingered the side arm of his
sunglasses, but resisted the urge to put them on.
started and stopped. He couldn’t think of anything to say, and the sand
inside him started running through an hourglass, and he could see in
Rodney’s face that he was out of time to fix this. He’d had four months
and now he was out of time.
“No, don’t play dumb. It doesn’t
work with me. I actually know you. At least a little—or I thought I
did. And yeah, this is my fault too because it was enough. It was
enough in the beginning to have this. These missions, these
times we could blame on someone else. Aliens made us do it, the wine
was drugged, it was the only way we could discourage the nubile alien
priestess from kidnapping Sheppard. You know the routine.”
John opened his mouth, but it was the truth, and there really wasn’t
anything he could say.
know,” Rodney leaned back against the pillar and looked at him, blue
eyes brighter than the sky behind him. “I have lube in my flak vest.
I’ve replaced it twice—well, once was because it got shot on that
planet with the purple trees—but it got used. A lot.”
seemed to be waiting for some kind of acknowledgment, and John nodded
almost imperceptibly, but it was enough. Rodney kept going. “The tube
in my bedroom? Back on Atlantis? Not even opened.” The laugh Rodney
gave was bitter and a little sad, as if he was aware that the joke was
on him and it wasn’t funny at all. “I think there might even be dust on
“I’m sorry,” John said, knowing it was the best and the
worst thing to say. Maybe the only thing to say, and they both knew it
wasn’t an apology so much as an excuse. John had been hiding behind the
military for a long, long time.
“You know what? Me too,” Rodney
said, and he held John’s gaze for a moment before looking away. When he
stepped past him, he laid a hand on John’s shoulder and squeezed. Then
he was gone, walking away across the square to where Ronon was leaning
against the well. John slipped his shades back on, and waited in the
When the ceremony came, it was one of the
simpler ones. They shared a meal, a cup of wine. They were required to
spend a night in the temple.
“Two of you,” the priests
requested. “Two of you to be made pure and new. Who will step forward
and receive the blessing of Osha?”
“I’ll do it,” John said
because it was his responsibility. It was always him. He waited for
McKay’s familiar voice to volunteer with him, and found himself
listening to silence.
Teyla cleared her throat and began to
speak, but Rodney cut her off with a sigh. “I’ll do it.” But something
in his voice told John this was the last time. He tried not to notice
the ache he felt inside.
The priests were busy hustling them
towards the open doors of the temple. “You must enter the temple free
of any belongings. You must be unencumbered to greet the new
incarnation of yourself.”
“Great,” Rodney said, as he pulled his
shirt over his head and dropped it on the growing pile. “The days are
40 degrees, the nights are sub-zero, and clothing will naturally
interfere in my ability to interact with my higher self.”
undressed and stood shivering beside Rodney, not glancing over at him,
and secretly hoping there was a fire inside. He was pretty sure he
couldn’t count on Rodney to huddle together for warmth. Not this time.
in there?” John couldn’t help asking, and when the priest replied,
“Only what you take with you,” it was no surprise to hear Rodney
“You’ve seen Star Wars too many times, McKay,”
John interjected, cutting Rodney off before he could point out that
John probably had too. “Okay, we’re ready,” John said, looking at the
“You must leave everything behind, Colonel Sheppard, to be truly free.”
head turned towards him, and John looked down at himself. All he saw
were miles of hairy, pale skin. There was nothing else.
“Seriously, guys, I’m not hiding anything. This is me. This is all
means your dog tags,” Rodney said softly, and John realized he didn’t
even notice them anymore, dull silver glinting against his chest.
John stopped because he knew it sounded foolish. They were just there,
part of him. As much as anything else ever had been. He wondered if
this was how people felt about their wedding rings after so many years
of never taking them off.
Rodney moved then, stepped in front of
him and John looked into blue eyes that were still bright even in the
fading twilight, and there was a hint of exasperation playing at the
corners of Rodney’s mouth, but the anger was gone. A finger slipped
neatly under the chain that held the tags, and Rodney looked at him and
asked the question without saying a word. John felt himself nod and
then Rodney’s fingers were tracing the edge of the tags, lifting the
chain away, up and over, fingers trailing lightly across John’s skin,
through his hair, and then there was a soft thud as the tags landed on
the pile of clothing beside them.
“Now you may enter,” the priest said, and they stepped through the
doors, naked. Unencumbered.
found the first tapestries that looked expendable, threw one on the
floor and wrapped the other around himself. Then he stoked the fire
that had been left burning for them, and sat down in front of it.
stood in the middle of the room, completely naked. He stared at the
space on his chest where the hair was thinner, flatter. Where his dog
tags usually settled. It was strange not to see them there.
“Never realized you were an exhibitionist, Colonel.”
“I never realized the damn things weighed that much.”
nodded and scooted closer to the fire, leaving an empty strip of
tapestry beside him. John sat down and watched the flames shift,
feeling strangely lighter. He stretched his hand towards Rodney,
threaded their fingers together, and simply held on as the shadows
danced around them.
Rodney’s door chimed, which in
itself was not unusual except for the fact it was one in the morning
and he’d been in his room less than five minutes. If he didn’t know
better, he’d suspect someone was using the city’s monitoring system to
check his location.
“Hang on,” he said, going to the door, which
slid open to reveal Colonel Sheppard standing in the hallway, dressed
in jeans and a faded blue button-down shirt. It looked like it was soft
with years of washings, and Rodney had to stop himself from reaching
out and touching the sleeve. He took a step back. “Colonel.”
I come in?” John’s voice was soft, like his shirt, and Rodney knew this
was monumental because John had never actually come to his quarters
when there wasn’t an emergency.
“It’s late,” Rodney said, shaking his head. “I—I don’t think I can do
John’s face crumpled just a little, and Rodney didn’t think he’d ever
seen him look like that. Like he wasn’t trying to hide anything at all.
“Just—can I just come in? Please.”
It was the please that did
it, and Rodney moved back, so Sheppard could step past him. The door
slid shut and Rodney turned, “Colonel—”
“I’m sorry,” John
whispered, and there were hands holding Rodney’s face, thumbs stroking
gently across his cheeks. Rodney closed his eyes and leaned into those
hands, let John’s lips press soft apologies against his nose, eyelids,
across his forehead, down rough-stubbled cheeks. When John’s lips found
his, Rodney’s hands were buried in the soft fabric of John’s shirt, his
mouth opening naturally, eagerly, wanting John to be exactly where he
was, where Rodney had wanted him for so long. It took every ounce of
willpower for Rodney to pull away.
changed, John.” He swallowed and leaned his forehead against John’s.
They were both breathing hard, John’s fingers caressing the lines of
Rodney’s face. God, those fingers were beautiful. Strong. So damn sure
of themselves most of the time. Rodney knew exactly what they could do;
he closed his eyes and shivered with the memory.
aren’t I? I’m here,” John said. “I heard what you said, and yeah, I was
stupid, but I didn’t know—I didn’t know what this was. How important
Rodney could feel John’s breath ghosting over his
skin when he talked, sending small shivers down Rodney’s spine. He
curled his hands around John’s waist and dragged him closer, knowing
there was no way he was ever letting John leave again. Rodney had
waited his entire life for something like this, and no, it wasn’t easy,
but right now Rodney couldn’t think of anything he wanted more.
Rodney’s fingers stroked under his shirt, touching skin he hadn’t
touched in a very long time, and John’s mouth moved over his,
whispering his name, I’m sorry, a mixture of words and kisses
sweeping over his skin.
was hiding from everyone,” John said, standing back and reaching for
the open neck of his shirt. “From you.” Long fingers undid the buttons
as Rodney watched. “From me.” Pale skin and dark hair appeared where
the blue fabric slid apart. Rodney reached out, fingers trailing across
John’s bare chest as the shirt slipped from his shoulders. “I thought
it would be enough.”
Rodney’s fingers caught in the chain of
John’s dog tags; he wrapped them around his fingers and pulled John
closer. Kissed him, tongue pushing between wet lips and seeking out the
corners of John’s mouth, the places where he kept his secrets. John
opened up and let him in, and Rodney sank one hand into John’s hair and
held on. They kissed until they were breathless and hard, until John’s
mouth was red-lipped and swollen, and Rodney’s erection was straining
against his zipper.
Hazel eyes looked into his and Rodney kissed
John more deeply, softly. Sweetly. Eyes open, mouth relaxed, no
secrets, no surprises.
“I never thought I could have anything
else,” John whispered, and Rodney understood perfectly. Understood
wanting and not believing. Understood settling for less when it was all
you imagined you could have. John slid his fingers over top of
Rodney’s, caught the silver rectangle of tags between their hands.
“This is still who I am, who I’ll always be. It’s something I have to
live with. Do you understand?”
“Yes.” Because he did. And in
spite of everything, John was still here, naked to the waist, and more
open than Rodney had ever seen him, and Rodney knew this wasn’t
settling, this was accepting they could have more, even if it meant
being careful. It wasn’t impossible. It was incredibly easy, and he
lifted his arms to let John take off his shirt, and then they were both
tugging at belts and zippers and pants that were suddenly too tight and
in the way, shoes that refused to slip off and left them tumbled in a
laughing heap on Rodney’s unmade bed. John tugged him on top, and
Rodney saw the glint of silver that was John’s tags hitting the floor.
“I want this, Rodney. I want everything. Here. With you.”
slid down John’s body, kissing everywhere his mouth could reach,
licking the soft crease of his thigh, nose buried in the nest of curls
around his cock. Rodney eased John into his mouth and curled his tongue
around the leaking head. Licked carefully and slowly, slowly, opened
himself to take John inside, sliding down the shaft with deliberate
strokes, lips pressing against sensitive skin, fingers stroking firmly
from thigh to balls and finally to John’s opening. Spit-wet fingers
pushed, pushed again, knuckle slipping past the tightness and the heat,
and John’s hips arched off the mattress, cock sliding deeper into
Rodney’s throat, and he sucked and sucked until John was gasping and
spent beneath him.
A tug on his shoulder and Rodney found
himself rolled onto his back, John above him, kissing wet and sloppy,
tongue lapping into his mouth and Rodney knew John could taste himself
there, taste both of them in his mouth, and so he let John lead him,
kissing so deep and fragile, Rodney could feel John trembling against
When John eased them over again, Rodney slipped a hand into
the drawer and pulled out the lube he’d put there when he was hoping
against hope for a night just like this one, when John would show up at
his quarters and everything they did on alien planets and under dubious
circumstances would be legitimized because this was home. Atlantis.
Where they didn’t have to hide—at least not all the time. Then
Rodney slipped down John's warm body, kissing each rib, each curl of
hair as he went, until he was pulling John’s legs up and apart,
licking into him with a determined tongue.
Rodney heard John’s head hit the
pillow, watched his fingers grab at the edges of the sheets and pull as
Rodney slid his tongue inside, once, twice, a quick flicker of wetness,
and Rodney could feel his own cock aching with the anticipation of
sliding into that wet, warm place. It had been far too long, and
he nipped at John's thigh with his teeth once before reaching for the
sorry it took me so long,” John murmured in a voice that sounded so
broken, Rodney cracked
the seal on the tube and coated his fingers liberally.
thing there's no expiration date,” Rodney said, licking John’s thigh
while he spread his legs further apart and slid two slick fingers
letting John adjust, muscles tight against his fingers. Rodney kissed
his balls, licked the hair that curled along his groin, inhaled the
musky odor he’d come to recognize. Appreciate. Want. Rodney rubbed his
face against John’s half-hardened cock, delighted when it twitched
against his cheek.
Two fingers became three, three gave way to
four, and John was hard again and pushing onto Rodney’s hand, making
soft whimpers and quiet moans that promised not to stay quiet very
long. Then he was shifting, cock slick and hard, and John so
incredibly wide and ready, so that Rodney slid home in one slow push.
It was the best kind of slow because John was looking at him with wide
eyes and a slack mouth, and when Rodney bent to kiss his neck, he could
John’s cock bouncing into his stomach, and Rodney said, “you’re
incredible.” When John moaned “fuck me,” Rodney was helpless
to do anything but obey.
He was deep, buried to the hilt, and
John’s legs were splayed open, heels pushing against Rodney’s spine,
driving him deeper. With every thrust Rodney felt John tighten around
him, and he knew the moment he hit John’s prostate because the moaning
became sharp and desperate, and “Yes, Rodney, oh fucking God, right
there!” was the only thing Rodney ever wanted to hear as he slid out
and deeper, out and deeper, harder, and John pushed up and back, his
hand reaching down and grabbing his cock while Rodney felt the
tightness across his back and in his spine, the nerve endings wrapping
around one another as he pushed and sweated and burrowed inside John
until he had no idea where he ended and John began. Rodney thrust again
and again, gazing down at John’s face as he came with Rodney’s name on
his lips, and Rodney pushed once more, driving home, driving John
backwards up the bed, and Rodney felt his cock pulsing like a broken
dam, tremors weakening his knees until John said, “Come here. Rodney,
come here,” and Rodney slid out and into the space between John’s legs,
head pillowed on John’s bare chest, fingers running softly through his
hair, the pounding of John’s heart echoing Rodney’s own.
you,” John murmured into Rodney’s ear when he was almost asleep, and
Rodney smiled and decided he’d let him have that one, once, let him
hide a little while longer if he needed to. But only a little while.
Rodney closed his eyes and drifted weightless into sleep.
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